Music Between The Lines (September 2014)

Okay. Hold it ... What the ACTUAL f#@k is going on?  If you recognise the phrase ‘OH MY GOD. LOOK AT HER BUTT, then you are one of the tens of millions of individuals to have watched – and I say watched because surely no one’s playing this stuff on the radio – Nicki Minaj’s new track – and I say track, again because I can’t bring myself to give it the usual regulatory label of ‘song’. Now I don’t want to sound like some elitist music critic who dreams that Simon and Garfunkel were still around, but surely this isn’t what the music industry has come to?

I had the strange experience of watching the video for the new Nicki Minaj track Anaconda at work with the sound off, only to go home and watch it again with the sound on. Now I must admit, I was completely captivated during the first viewing. Irrespective of what anyone says, the ability it would require to execute that kind of booty jiggle synchronisation is actually exceptional. But on second viewing (the one with the sound on) I realised the song was just pure trip. I started to become genuinely worried that maybe this what established female artists needed to do to sell songs.

This contemplation of female pop stars in the 21st century is actually something I’ve been considering of late – particularly in relation to Katy Perry. Katy has taken more of a ‘clothes on’ approach shall we say, to the promotion of her most recent album, the follow up to the unbelievably successful album Teenage Dream. I genuinely liked the songs off that album but I always wondered how much of its success was based on the video clips of her ejecting whipped cream out of her bra and spitting fireworks out of her corset. The follow up album, Prism, has been markedly less successful than its predecessor and while I considered how much of it was due to this ‘clothes on’ approach, I came to the conclusion that it was genuinely because the songs weren’t good enough. Just to clear up. Previous album – Teenage Dream, clothes off, songs better, big success. Current album – Prism, clothes on, songs poor, less success.

Anyway this disillusionment with the current state of music has been accumulating over the last few months and shouldn’t be laid solely on Nicki Minaj. It’s been due to a combination of a few things. 1) The realisation that the secret hope I placed in Justin Bieber realising his mammoth audience, some amounts of potential and access to use whatever resources he wanted to work exceptional hard at his craft and become a genuinely great pop star, seems to be a case of squandered opportunity. 2) The shock and horror of watching The Voice Kids and seeing little children either being rejected or actually thinking they might become successful has also been upsetting. 3) The fact that Coldplay made an album that was actually as shit as every one of their critics had been describing them by for the last decade, has been the ultimate downer.

But there has been some hope in the mainstream this year. Ed Sheeran reinventing himself and saving the world and himself from another mopy singer-songwriter, a Sam Smith song here and there and Beyonce killing it as per usual.

And while 2014 has been bad, there is still hope. Adele, Frank Ocean, U2, Foo Fighters and Kanye West are all scheduled to release albums before the end of the year. 2014 has been dire, but there is still hope.

Kog Ravindran is a writer, occasionally sings for Melbourne band, The Scarecrows and currently has his debut solo EP Barricades out in the world. Find out all about him at or check him out on Triple J Unearthed.