No more Zahara! No more Adele!
I like to think of myself as a man with a particular taste, which is just a fancy way of saying I don’t like people knowing what I know. Admittedly I was at some point smitten with the quantum vocals of both Zahara and Adele, now I am just plain pissed off. I thought South Africa was getting over this tendency of saturating our space with the same content, clearly I was mistaken. Every day I am bombarded by a mixture of Loliwe, or various other tracks from Adele’s still bestselling 21 album.
Admittedly these women are talented and I am sure that as they are still in their mid twenties they have long careers ahead of them, but I think I speak for more than a few people when I say NO MORE. I find myself silently hoping that I hear anything but these two women when I get into a taxi, but my prayers are hardly ever answered. Coincidently the invasion does not only end at taxi ranks or with people playing their music out loud on their cellphones (have you ever heard of earphones?). Even in the media and public culture these two ladies have become something of a fetish. I can’t help but be struck by the oddity of the whole affair.
Never in my life have I seen journalists consistently hug an artist more than they have with Zahara. She has become something of a totem, that is on the receiving end of nothing but praise. And I am sure that even she has been somewhat caught off guard by the meteoric rise of her career, and she has certainly helped restore some dignity to what seemed like a declining company. TS anyone? But I do find comfort in the fact that Zahara becoming a public fetish is not just a South African phenomenon.
British singer Adele has equally become something of a tool to be waved around in awkward situations. Quite often you can find people posting links to her music on facebook, writing lyrics to her songs or confessing how she has changed their lives. Can anyone say cheesy? So desperate we were for her, that someone decided to start a hoax saying Adele was coming to South Africa. The news was met with great ululation from many parties. However skeptics like myself figured out this was a scam much too quickly. How you say? Well because the message said she was gonna be performing in Durban. Everyone knows that no one comes to Durban, but that’s a blog post for another day.
But unfortunately when analyzing the similarity of these two artists often the conversation is bogged down by unjustified comparisons such as is Zahara better than Thandiswa Mazwai? (no) or is Adele the new Norah Jones . If you are luckily you will escape the comparative analysis and the debate might make it to some more reasonable ground where one party points out how these two ladies have revolutionized music forever, to that I say Dah dah dah.
I however think that there is a deeper issue at the heart of this whole torrid affair. And that is we are a generation that has become unaccustomed to authenticity, quality and originality. So much so that when we see it we become love struck and refuse to let go. You don’t agree? Well consider this, five years ago think of the most popular songs of that year. Done? Good. Now think about how many of those albums you could still listen to today and they would still be as potent. I am glad you see what I mean.
The fact is whether we like to admit it or not we are the most unoriginal generation to come along since a very long time ago. It is because of this that even if an artist is good they tend to be over credited (this applies particularly to Zahara). There is an urgent need to restructure public thinking especially in terms of the way we consume our culture. Now more than ever we need to place a higher value on excellence instead of fostering mediocrity. It is in this vain that I have boycotted shows like season nine of Two and Half men as well as popular local Soapie Generations. I categorically refuse to part take in my own torture. Unfortunately when it comes to music we have much less control over what we consume. Which is why I will have to sit down and seethe silently as my collogue is playing Loliwe 87 times on youtube. Its horrific I tell you just horrific. Even the little dignity the song has left is quickly washed away when my colleagues start noticing things like how dreamy the guy in the video is. Someone please get me a short gun. I am not hating-in fact far from it, but please we have had enough.