During some of the six and a half years we’ve been writing Daily Duranie, I’ve wondered what the band would say if they read our blogs. I’ve written with the hope that they’d at least be proud to have fans reacting, but not expecting they’d agree with everything I said.
Nothing brought this to light more than a video I watched yesterday. A friend of mine directed me to a video by FBE. They had Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park watching teens react to their videos.
First of all, allow me to set the stage. I believe the video was done due to the blowback from Linkin Park’s new album. One More Light. The argument is that the band has sold out and abandoned their core sound for something that is more commercially welcome or “pop”. Fans are furious. There’s a deep divide in their fan community at the moment between those who approve and those who do not. Any of this sounding familiar???
Linkin Park has been around since 1996. Chester Bennington, their lead singer, has been with the band since 1999. If we do the math, there are teens in high school right now that weren’t even born when the band began. I’ll go one step farther and say most teens in high school right now probably weren’t listening to music when they had their first semi-hit, “One Step Closer”, in 2001. I’m not even getting into the debate of whether they’ve evolved over the years, so don’t send me mail about that. I’m merely reporting what has been said to give context about the video. The teens in the video (link below) are probably not Linkin Park fans for the most part. They’re kids who the band is likely trying to reach with this new album. Again, any of this ringing a bell???
So, my friend sends me this link, and of course I watch. At first, I’m amused. Not all of the teens recognize Linkin Park’s old videos. In fact, most do not. When a few do, they’re dismissive, saying that other kids “hate” on them. They might not even know the band themselves, but they know friends hate them, so they should too. (I had no idea, probably because I could be a parent to any of these kids!) Truly, if I didn’t know what year it was, or what band they were talking about, I’d automatically assume they were talking about Duran Duran.
Someone off camera explains to each of the teens that the first video they watched was their new single, “Heavy”, and that the band has gotten quite a bit of backlash from fans about it. One guy, in a hoodie who clearly knew the band well enough to recognize their hits over the years, agreed. A girl – the one who talks about the haters out there – said that their music all sounds kind of the same, and that this new song feels like a sell-out because it seems like they thought about doing what is trendy right now.
At this point, Mike explains that the “trendy” comment is funny because their album writing cycles are anywhere from 12-18 months, and so it’s either that they are lucky and anticipate the trend, or they do something that was trendy 18 months ago. Good point, and not something I’ve really thought about. Then other teens weigh-in, saying things like “bands evolve, and so fans have to suck it up” (point taken), and “there’s so many fans where if their favorite band doesn’t do the one thing, in the one category, in the one genre in the one sub genre they’re supposed to do, it sucks…and I don’t think they understand how music works because you’re supposed to change it up.” Mike claps at that comment.
I couldn’t help but see the parallels. We’ve had those moments with nearly every album Duran Duran has released. It would seem to be an impossible task, and Mike mentioned this when he talked about the vicious cycle of creating. There are always going to be a group of fans that like one particular “thing” the band does, and they’re going to demand the band stay within that realm. That said, Mike also explained that if they were to put out music that all sounded the same – it would drive them crazy. Not every song can be “Rio”, in other words, but they’re then always going to have fans that scream “sell-out” when the sound isn’t what they expect.
At the end of the video, Mike says that as long as he loves what they’ve done – he has to keep that foremost in his mind as he goes on stage or releases work. Linkin Park is still going to get a certain amount of hate in reaction to their new material. He says that if at least he doesn’t love what he’s done, then he stands to be very disappointed. The whole video gave me a new dimension to consider going forward.
On the other hand, as a blogger, I went from being mildly amused, to nearly cringing. I recognized myself in those teens as they filmed their reaction. Duran Duran puts their blood, sweat and tears into a new album, and then two yahoos from America decide to review it on YouTube. I am one of those yahoos, by the way, and my reaction isn’t always the best.
In any case, the video provided some perspective on the evolution of a band’s material. As I said to my friend yesterday, I appreciated everything Mike Shinoda had to say on the subject. It was clear from the way Mike spoke that he wasn’t just carrying on the “party line” or “talking points” straight from management. He spoke from the heart even though he is directly in the middle of the market launch of their new album. The words hit home and made me think about reviews I’ve done in the past. I can’t say I’d change what is done, but it does make me think as I move forward. -R