Ben Ratliff and the Myth of the Authentic (Nobel) Musician

Ben Ratliff, blah, blah, blahs about Slacker Divas... I am so bored with rockists who always assume that an artist's best work is the one that strips itself off unessencial production layers and aesthetic posture. They assume that behind every good popular musician there is a noble savage waiting to strip down to a simple truth about themselves and their art -- which in rockish means a (preferably acoustic) band with bass, guitar and very subdued drums (possibly just a tambourine!). But as the highest divinity of popular music often says: authenticity is so overrated in music and art. Why should we care about the inner turmoil of slacker divas? Isn't it much more interesting to creatively explore fictional scenarios and different aesthetic soundscapes? Did Ziggy Sturdust move us any less because he was fictional? Did Bowie excite us less with Glam than any angry folk chick screaming her confused pain out?

My mind moves to the Eurythmics now: why is the live acoustic rendition of their early 80's catalog, the pose that dear old Annie and Dave so enjoy to put on for their adoring amnesty international/save the whales/green peace fans, any more authentic than the original electronic versions? It is not! The art (dare I say authenticity) behind "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" is so much more impressive in the original electronic version (built up from the immensely fun Casio VL-Tone 1), than with the acoustic posturing of latter day Eurythmics Stadium (charity, ooops, solidarity) Rock. I am glad to see that they finally seem to agree with that too... (see the video for I've got a life on their web site)

Stripped down albums, from slacker divas or not, can entail as much of a pose as Cher re-packaged as a House diva. They can also simply entail lack of imagination (as in Simply Red's "Simplified"). Spare us the unplugged superiority, and plug us into some seriously exciting music instead. Hey, whoever said that Zen is barebone simplicity, has never visited this city! I'm back, in black, but ready for the laughing gas needed to play my Atlantic Ping Pong -- Yo!


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