I need more cowbell!
My post about multimedia in gospel concerts has generated a discussion that might warrant a bit of elaboration: namely, innovation is one thing. Amateurism and shoddy gimmickry are entirely another.
Watching Sandi Patty’s use of visual imagery or seeing some country star’s multimedia show may have inspired many of the sg acts we’re discussing to incorporate visuals into their concerts. But splicing together scenes from a religious film that are out of sync with the song being sung is not innovative. It’s sloppy. Singing about God and country while showing video clips of purple mountain’s majesty and sentimental scenes of homespun bucolicry is not innovative. It’s just the multimedia equivalent of getting people on their feet by singing songs with “stand” in the hook. Using your handheld video camera to shakily capture some awkward scenes of your family and a songwriter during the recording of a song and then creating a pseudo-documentary actually is kind of innovative. But the idea was sabotaged by the amateurish videography and the fact that the song in question (”The Ride”) just doesn’t sound like the instantly legendary song the “documentary” made it out to be.
In each case, you get the feeling that, as so often in sg, genuinely innovative impulses degenerate into hackish imitations under the pressure of the omnipresent small-timerism that afflicts the industry. So much creative energy is spent trying to look like someone’s knock-off version of success that very little effort goes into actually contemplating how particular musical ideas may be most effectively communicated (and that may or may not include multimedia). If sg artists were really thinking seriously about professional, tasteful ways to sharpen particular concepts or create special moments in their shows, would so many uses of video clips involve singers on stage singing along with video recordings of themselves singing that same song somewhere more interesting?
This is technology as a solution that creates its own problem: extraneous concert bling. It reminds me of that old Saturday Night Live send up of the Blue Oyster Cult recording “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” with Christopher Walken as a self-important dimwit producer who keeps interrupting the session, with greater and greater degrees of exasperation, to tell the group how they just don’t get it … the song doesn’t have enough cowbell in it. “I need more cowbell!”Email this Post