Reading Response 1

"We've been suffering the tyranny of lowest-common-denominator fare, subjected to brain-dead summer blockbusters and manufactured pop"
From the start of Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail" I began to recall a similar case of rise in demand for an "obscure" musical artist. On July 31st, 2007 Kanye West released his single "Stronger", which jumped to the top of the pop charts worldwide. Now to the general public Kanye appears to be a song producer extraordinaire, but all he really did was blatantly sample an obscure French House track by the electric duo Daft Punk. Daft Punk released "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" (song that was sampled by Kanye) in 2001 and as a result of the release of Kanye's "Stronger" have seen their own album sales skyrocket. If anyone knows how to take advantage of transforming an obscure "miss into a hit" it is Mr. West. Not only did he use this strategy when making "Stronger", but used an obscure Japanese artist (Takashi Murakami) to create his album art, and later used artist So Me to direct his "Good Life" music video. Kanye is the epitome of taking the talent of creative geniuses and playing it off as his own original style. Daft Punk and Takashi Murakami have both seen a huge rise in demand for their work after being tainted by Kanye West and are now more popular than ever. Kanye West learned the hard way that "if the 20th- century entertainment industry was about hits, the 21st will be equally about misses" when he lost the 2006 European VMA video of the year award to Parisian electronic duo Justice. At the time, Justice was dominating the pages of the online music blog scene and as a result this underground "miss" became a "hit". Kanye was so infuriated by his loss that he stormed the VMA stage in attempt to steal the title of video of the year. In his eyes he should have one because he spent millions of dollars on the video, had Pamela Anderson make a cameo, and most of all he is Kanye West! After much embarrassment, Kanye learned that the 21st century is equally about misses when he decided to use the art director of Justice's award winning video, So Me (who he interrupted at the MTV VMAs) to create the now successful hit video "The Good Life". So you see people really do enjoy the obscure culture of the underground, it's just not as accessible. Now that Kanye west has ruined three of my favorite artists by bringing them to the mainstream, maybe we will see other pop stars follow in suit. Rapper Will I Am tried to take advantage of this strategy by sampling another Daft Punk song (post Kanye's "Stronger") but failed miserably considering that Daft Punk would be caught dead before endorsing his shit music.

"Now that Kanye west has ruined three of my favorite artists by bringing them to the mainstream, maybe we will see other pop stars follow in suit."

What do you mean by West "ruined" your favorite artists? Does opening up new opportunities for an artist ruin them? Or does going mainstream destroy them?

I don't see how what you said makes any sense. For example, I loved Ray J, a R&B artist who recently started gaining popularity, for a while before his popularity increased. When people started to find out who he was, I was disappointed that I lost an "underground" artist that I liked as he surfaced to the main stream. However, I definitely did not consider him to be ruined. I still love his music, although he did have a slight shift in style.

Only problem I see with going main stream is that artists start to match what the main stream desires rather than creating what they enjoyed creating. That's the beauty of staying underground. Artists have the power to create what THEY want rather than be the bitch of media.