Tuesday, September 7, 2010

race & doo-wop

Right now one of the classes I'm taking is "Development of Popular Music, 1954-1979." Ah, the beauty of a liberal arts education. Because of this class, some of my posts may align slightly with the material we cover in class. But! History of music is important in order to understand music of today! RIGHT???

So since the semester has just begun, my class is covering the pre-rock-n-roll early 1950s. A time of innocence, poodle skirts, and complete racial insensitivity. Case in point: until they changed the name to "rhythm and blues," the charts for 'black' music were called "race charts." RACE CHARTS! THAT'S OFFENSIVE!

Okay, I'll cool it. We all know of various white artists throughout the years doing what Eminem sums up so nicely in his 2002 hit, "Without Me."

I'm not the first king of controversy/I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley/To do black music so selfishly/And use it to get myself wealthy.
Back in the day, it was actually common for an artist to cover another artist's hit song only weeks after its initial release. I guess it was a good way to capitalize on a hit and make some money for yourself, no matter how shady. White artists would cover the songs from the 'race' charts, clean up the lyrics a bit, and release it in their own white-bread way.

I don't know if anyone is as into doo-wop as I am (probably not), but here's a good example of this phenomenon:

"Sh-Boom" by The Chords (original)

Aaaand the Crew Cuts release it in the same year (1954)

See how AWESOME the original is, and how TERRIBLE the cover is?

So there you have it. Just wanted to share some delicious doo-wop with y'all...but you learned something too, didn't you?

No comments:

Post a Comment