Wednesday, April 20

The Tail Wags the Dog* (draft)

Martin Edlund at Slate writes the whole story and still misses the point. In very businesslike fashion he dismisses the idea of leveraging Fiona Apple's imprisoned album into a "hit" like her debut. Keeping in mind that Apple's sophomore album went near-platinum (according to Edlund) despite mixed reviews and a title 90 words long, I nevertheless accept that Extraordinary Machine will not displace any of these jokers anytime soon.

What strikes me as odd is that Edlund disregards the potential of what he himself calls "a wonderfully complex album...by turns whimsical and solemn..." If one writes of culture, one is supposed to be above crass commercialism. Culture is about influence; if 90% of everything is crap (I heard "98%" myself, but whatever), why should it matter how many people show up this week? Does anybody remember the Velvet Underground, for example?

Right now, everybody wins. All sorts of people will be watching for Ms. Apple's next release, whatever it turns out to be; the label hasn't had to pay a flack to get attention -- in Slate, and Wired, and elsewhere) for a songstress whose last album was released when the all-important adolescent arbiters of cool were in elementary school.

This week's bonus Wikipedia-love is for classifying Sturgeon's Law in Philosophy. I've always admired the writer's keen mind (hey, he invented the Prime Directive apparently), and I've certainly never heard his law refuted. I see its general acceptance as evidence that cultural evolution has plenty to work with.


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*Isn't it time to reclaim that evocative phrase from a lesser Dustin Hoffman film?

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