Seems like nowadays the trend is for bands to trade instruments for straight synths. For example, Panic! At The Disco, Linkin Park, and most recently Fall Out Boy have all fallen victim to this lame trend. Yet they won’t ever admit to selling out. No, no, no. They will claim that they are simply being forward thinking and innovating in a scene of music that can grow rather stale. They will cite that their new sound is what is most authentic for them. Sure, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they are telling the truth. I mean, who wants to make music that they don’t like or feel happy making? But I believe they are telling a half-truth.
See, this innovation should not result in a dramatic shift in sound. I should still be able to listen to a band’s song and be like, “Yea, this is still [insert band name here].” I shouldn’t have to question if all the members but the singer(s) have left. I shouldn’t have to question whether they just forgot to bring their instruments when they recorded the track. I shouldn’t have to say “It’s just one song; maybe the rest of the songs are gonna be different.” Yet this is what has been happening on a regular basis now.
I’ve listened to both Panic! and Fall Out Boy when they first started. I could vibe to their songs because they were fresh at the time. I knew the popular Linkin Park tracks that offered me a sufficient understanding of the scope of their music and how influential they are for the scene. I knew who they were before they’ve changed. Yet this change is simply too much. These bands sold out.
As far as I’m concerned, Panic! is simply Brendon Urie, evidenced best by “Death Of A Bachelor“, so he should simply scratch the name and use his own. His last album was catchy and enjoyable, I’ll grant him that, but it contrasts sharply with his older records with the ex-member(s). What ever happened to dark, cinematic altrock that existed in tracks like “Build God, Then We’ll Talk” and “The Ballad Of Mona Lisa”? Linkin Park too dropped the ball on their last single “Heavy” featuring glitch pop talent Kiiara. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve assumed that it was a sub-par track by The Chainsmokers. The song is bland, not even worth two listens, and sounds nothing like “Faint” or “Wastelands”. Then there’s Fall Out Boy who started their pop sound two albums ago with “Save Rock and Roll”, which is quite ironic since they shifted away from it instead. Gone are the emo altrock days that got them much acclaim. No more “Dance, Dance” and “Thnks fr th mmrs”, just a lame, revolting new track called “Young and Menace”, which is their most blatant pop song yet, and it’s not even done well. As if their latest album wasn’t pop enough, they decided to do some weird dubstep rock mixture that doesn’t sit well with me and should not sit well with any fan of Fall Out Boy or music alone.
If you don’t believe me when I say that selling out is a new epidemic, then here’s two videos, one from Fall Out Boys alt-rock days and the track they just released today.
You cannot, I mean, CANNOT tell me that they are simply being progressive. No, they are SELLING OUT. Hell, they already sold out, but this is just too much. The difference between these two videos is too drastic to chalk it up to just innovation. Nope, its an attempt at commercializing their sound for the sake of multiplying their fans and positions on the charts.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay for bands to desire an increase in audience. They should want to try to attract the casual listener. But they shouldn’t do so much sacrificing who they are and abandoning what got them where they are. They cite that they simply want to be authentic with the music they create, but adding synths, removing instruments, and simplifying lyrics is the opposite of authentic. And the fact that there exists people who defend this is beyond me.
All in all, selling out is both the latest trend and the latest epidemic. In the end, it works out for the bands because they sell out more arenas, sell more records, and chart higher. For every fan they lose, they gain another 10 fans. So unfortunately selling out works. But that one fan that they lose is the fan who was with them from the beginning, who admired them for what they brought to the table. And many will say that if that individual was a true fan then they would stick with the band and love them anyway. But the hypocrisy is overwhelming. We can’t even apply that logic to real situations apart from music. So why should it serve as the justification for diluting true music into commercialized cash-grabs?