Cookie Monster Death Metal?


Circe and I riding were in the car the other day listening to the 70′s XM radio station and “Clap For The Wolfman” by The Guess Who came on – a Nilsson-esque little number paying homage to radio DJ of yore Wolfman Jack. We were immediately struck, one: by how different the song was from the band’s biggest hit American Woman, and two: that we knew instantly that it was Burton Cummings singing.
Why is this important? Well, over the last 25 or 30 years the powers that be in the record industry have caused, no, forced bands and artists to homogenize their sound. If you’re a hard rock band God help you if you want to put a jazzy song or swampy 30′s type blues or experiment with avant garde noises on your record. Labels (and I mean you so-called “indie”s, too) will not support it because they don’t know how to market it.
Too often have I and other talented artists I know experienced, “We really think you’re great but we don’t know what to do with you. Oh, can I get an extra copy of your demo for my wife? She thinks you’re great, too.” If I had a dime for every time I heard, “what are you doing playing HERE?” I wouldn’t need a freaking record contract.
I grew up in the 70′s. FM AOR radio was building steam but 93 KHJ AM still had a huge share of the market. When I was 10 in 1975 you could hear Deep Purple, Sly Stone, Helen Reddy, Stevie Wonder, Aerosmith, The Eagles, and KC and the Sunshine Band all right in a row. Music was just… well, music. We didn’t need this one flavored narrow minded programming because all of it was cool.
However, with the advent of MTV, video didn’t just kill the radio star, it killed the broad-spectrum artist as well. And, personally, I blame it on heavy metal of the early 80′s. You see, kids all over America could now see their rock-stars as well as hear them. And they started to gravitate to them more than ever before – dressing up like them, hair styles like them, etc. To be fair, the Duran Duran heads and The Cure clones were just as guilty. But metal seemed to have the greatest impact and it was then that the labels realized that they could aggressively niche market their bands which is why we got 2000 look-alike, sound-alike metal bands all forced down our throats for the next 8 years.
It’s clear why Nirvana had such a big impact and the term “Alternative” was coined. We needed an alternative. And what did we get? 5 years of Seattle based grunge spoon fed to us 24/7. Any band that called itself alternative quickly wasn’t.
Ok, so my “old fogey” might be starting to show but here we are, 20 years on, and artists are forced to be so compartmentalized that, wait for it, they all sound the same to me. And I’m a musician! It’s my job to find the intricacies and differences in music and I just don’t hear any coming out of my car stereo anymore. XM radio has 5 gabillion channels, each dedicated to one narrow type of music – whether it be R&B (which really isn’t anymore if Otis Redding and The Temps and Tops were R&B) or Rock or Pop or Dance or Trance or Schmance. And don’t EVEN get me started on Country. 80′s rock with pedal steel and fiddles? That’s not Country.
Not to mention, everyone needs to be so “edgy”. I’m sorry but edgy just means ugly to me. I’m badder than you. I have more money than you. I’m a bigger slut, alcoholic, gangster, druggie, shoe-gazer, complainer, fighter, screamer, whiner, agro-entitled-piss-on-the-world-5-second-attention-span rebel than you. Ugh!
I want a band that follows its bliss. Strawberry Fields doesn’t sound like I Want To Hold Your Hand which doesn’t sound like Helter Skelter. Whole Lotta Love doesn’t sound like Going To California which doesn’t sound like Kashmir. Just a couple of examples from bands who were not only allowed to express all sides of their artistry but encouraged to.
I call to the powers that be to embrace and nurture diversity. I mean, really, how much cookie monster death metal do think we can take? RAHGHRAGHRAGHR! That’s my favorite lyric.
– See more at:


Post navigation

  2 comments for “Cookie Monster Death Metal?

  1. Shelley
    2013/11/14 at 12:11 am

    Interesting topic here…I’m not sure who the “powers that be” are anymore, as so much has changed since the 70s and prior, but the true complaint seems to be a lack of diversity amongst a “band” and a question of where the blame lies for that lack of diversity. Is it truly in the record producers telling a band to sound like themselves (whatever that means), or does it lie within the band itself to be able to diversify? I feel you … and agree with the complaint …however, not sure who should be attacked here…the band itself, for its failure to be diverse, or some power that controls them and says they need to stick with their successful (whatever that means) style.

    I have a new CD by Robert Earl Keen…Ready For Confetti…that is, IMHO, quite diverse. Every song has its own style to it. REK is wildly popular among his fans, but not widely known outside his genre. Some of those cookie monster death metal bands all sound the same to me and maybe it’s because it just has no other place to go and isn’t very good to begin with (uh, is my age showing???), so you can’t compare it to past Led Zep, Who or Guess Who productions, because they haven’t the ability to begin with.

    In other words, I think if a band CAN diversify, they are able to and that there are no powers that be that prevent them from doing such. Only THEY prevent THEMSELVES by virtue of lack of talent or originality. If you can, you will…if you’re good enough…

    And then we go on to the judges of that, which is a whole different ball game…

  2. Randy Burbach
    2013/11/29 at 12:04 am

    Eloquently put, Mr. Nesmith. Now here it is from a fan’s perspective:

    I love music. I don’t care what genre. I live a block away from where Mitch Ryder grew up, a couple of miles from Marvin Gaye’s house. This is Detroit, where artists dare to blend country and rap, punk and polka and any other odd combination you can imagine. Punk was invented not far from here, by a bunch of guys who decided to throw noise against a wall and see what stuck and then threw naive jazz into the mix. Gordon Lightfoot and Public Image rest comfortably together in my CD cabinet, Jah Wobble and Haydn live there too, along with The Clash, Hank Williams, Howlin’ Wolf, Pat Methany, Buddy Miles and Miles Davis, Louie Armstrong, Gregory Isaacs and Chris Isaak, Blondie and your dad. I do think you got it wrong, though. MTV merely accelerated a trend that started in the 70s with the rise of Disco and the subsequent backlash, the rise of Punk and the absolute dread advertisers had about throwing up an ad after “Pretty Vacant.” No one knew what to do with The Stooges or VU either.

Comments are closed.

Contact Us