Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Music and Culture

I love Rock Band. Some might even say that I'm obsessed with pretending to be a guitarist or drummer and "playing" those little plastic instruments. Even so, I love it, and part of the reason is the continued stream of extra songs that have been released. While not all have been to my taste, enough have been that I've had plenty of interesting new songs to "play" over the past six months.

Some of these new songs set my brain a-pondering. Last week the game released in Europe, primarily in the UK, France, and Germany. To give music fans overseas some localized flavor, they added 9 songs to the core game, some English, some German, and some French. To even things up across the pond, all 9 songs were released for download here in America.

Now I suppose I'm at a bit of an advantage, I've traveled a lot. I've seen music TV in France, Germany, and Japan. I've been exposed, primarily through my sister, to a wide variety of international music, and I've come to appreciate and even love bands that don't share my mother tongue.

So I was thrilled to see the release of one of my favorite songs, Hier Kommt Alex by German punk rockers Die Toten Hosen, for play on Rock Band. However, my joy was dampened when I was reading comments on Youtube (not exactly the location of American Intelligentsia I'll admit) decrying the release of non English language songs as a 'waste'.

It got me thinking about how American Pop-Culture has literally taken over the world, but with rare exceptions (Anime and Manga), the world's pop-culture rarely makes so much as a dent over here. Certainly we see this effect in the area of film too, where we see successful foreign films remade, rather than simply released into theaters. It is as if we cannot accept foreign actors, or indeed, foreign singers, when really a good dose of the new and different could provide quite the shot in the arm for both the film industry and the rapidly flagging music industry.

That brings another point the fore, the availability of foreign music. You'd think, in the age of the internet, that one could easily acquire any imported bit of music that one would wish, but that is manifestly not so. On the rare occasion that Amazon stocks import discs, they are invariably quite expensive and as for i-tunes, good luck! One of the recently released Rock Band tracks caught my ear, and I went onto i-tunes to see bout downloading it, and while I did find two of the band's albums, which is more than I can say for Die Toten Hosen, the studio version of the song I wanted as missing in action, as was their entire first album. Indeed, the controversial metal outfit Rammstein, who probably have seen the most state-side success of any German act, has a mere two of their five studio albums available for download on i-tunes.

At a time when illegal downloading is enemy number one to the record labels it would seem to make sense to make music as available as possible, but I guess as we see by the You-tube comments, there simply is no money in it. Alas.

1 comment:

Vesp said...

"Some might even say that I'm obsessed with pretending to be a guitarist or drummer and "playing" those little plastic instruments."
Who would say such a thing?