Friday, February 25, 2011

Glee Thinks All Space Is Star Wars / From the Phantom Zone

Due to the vicious plague I contracted somehow (licked a pole on the C train?), I recently found myself on an unprecedented TV bender that included a couple of episodes each of Glee and American Idol, and ended with the (53rd Annual) GRAMMY (Award)s (show).

Which brings me to the subject of today's blog.

Glee, you make me want to punch teenagers. First of all, nobody goes to a competition called "sectionals." Did any of the writers on the show even bother to learn the basic vocabulary of the choir world? A choir competes in All-County, All-District, and perhaps they can go to "Regionals" or "State" competitions. In the context of music, a "sectional" is when the different sub-sections of a larger ensemble break off to rehearse their specific part. Like, the alto section has a sectional rehearsal. [It took me four seconds to find this on Wikipedia.] A correct usage would be the teacher walking into the room and saying "OK, guys. Remember that today we're breaking into sectionals, so grab your folders and get going." They also never encounter written music of any kind (??), have a multimillion dollar budget (I had $400 a year + whatever we made selling candy bars), and an invisible choreographer, costume designer, arranger, producer, several mix engineers, and a music licensing agent. Whatever, whatever, fine, I get it, it's an episodic musical on TV.

But still, I watch that show and the words of Cletus Spuckler and his friend say it best: "You know, one hillbilly has his way with one fat guy in Deliverance, and suddenly, people think that's all hillbillies do. I suppose you think all space is Star Wars!"


But the fact is, after 20 minutes of any of the above shows, I yearn for the rough 'n' shoddy sounds of the Country Bear Jamboree. And the real reason isn't the complete lack of basic research done by the show's writers, it's the over-production. It's not just Glee, it's...just about everything that makes it to the radio or TV and ends up in my iPod's gym mix.

I can suspend reality and roll with the shallow characters and over-the-top story lines. Sure, it's kind of fun. But listening to the canned vocals, the flat compression [THE WORST], the autotune, the pitch correction, the time correction, the sterilization of all emotional nuance (leftover are only power, cutsie-ness, and cheese, but that's my next blog entry) in the sound — that's what really sets me off.

It sounds like everyone on the show (and on the radio) is singing to us from The Phantom Zone.

WHY?? Is it just because we have a lot of sliders, buttons, and effects that we have to crank them up to 11? Are quality and authenticity of sound not something addressed in audio schools?