Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Hunter Hayes - the 30-instrument marketing hype

Part of the marketing campaign for teen country star Hunter Hayes, who debuted earlier this year, was the bold and proud statement that he played every instrument (30 of them) on his self-titled album. It was a clear sign that they were trying to push him as some kind of uber-talented, authentic young prodigy.

But why? Frankly I couldn't care less whether Hayes spent what must have been days and days in the studio putting down unnecessary drum tracks, strumming his guitar and tinkling the ivories. And I think that goes for the majority of people who would listen to his music on the radio or purchase his CDs. To the ordinary man, it's irrelevant whether you played your own instruments, hired studio players or brought in your live touring band. All that ultimately matters is whether it sounds good. Not why.

I remember when I was younger and was into pop acts when my friends were getting into rock and indie bands. Criticisms levelled at my favourite artists were that they didn't play their own instruments, and, more frequently, that they didn't write their own material.

But why does it matter? Why should I care that Claire, Faye, Lisa, H and Lee didn't program the keyboards on 'Tragedy', or that Max Martin wrote 'Baby One More Time' instead of Britney? When I'm dancing, or just enjoying my music, I'm not thinking about those things - I'm just enjoying it. Similarly, why does the fact that the Red Hot Chilli Peppers played the instruments on 'Californication' or that Muse wrote 'Time Is Running Out' automatically make them better songs?

Ultimately, the thing that decides if something is a good song or not is just that - whether it's good or not, whether you enjoy it or not. Hunter Hayes is, I'm afraid to say, rather a mediocre album, and no amount of grandstanding over who played on it is going to change that.

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