Picked to Death: A former Picked to Click insider is changing his vote
On the 20th anniversary of Picked to Click, I would like to offer this local-music icon a worthy gift: early retirement.
Time has not been kind to this bar-scene barometer that's scientifically suspect and laughably inaccurate. Of course, no CP editor would dare kill the sacred cash cow, so take it from a former CP columnist, two-time P2C poobah, and local-music fan who's looked at this poll from near and far: Stop in the name of self-love.
If P2C didn't exist, there would be no need to invent it because in these days of unprecedented local-music attention, the likely winners are already overexposed (and usually overrated) before the ink dries. Defining the term "new band'' has never been more hopeless, rendering the poll totally dysfunctional. Elections are hard to love. This one's hard to even fathom.
In theory, P2C allows working-world outsiders--like myself--a glimpse into local-music greatness without losing sleep. Unfortunately, it doesn't really work. I saw the 2006 champions the Alarmists at the Minnesota Music Awards new band showcase and they were derivative to a fault; Oasis clones when Oasis was already passé. I have nothing bad to say about 2009 landslide winners Red Pens. Just let me say that any 'panel of experts'' that favors the guitar/drum duo over the elegant Twilight Hours by an 84-3 margin has nothing to teach me. How about you?
Even more harmful is when P2C gets it half-right. Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles are ambitious and unusual for sure. Whether you like Lucy's flapper/stoner vocal style or not, the band obviously needs stronger material. The band members even admitted they were a work-in-progress in the CP article accompanying their P2C win. I bought their second album. They were correct.
The news of this intriguing, musically complex band probably should have waited until their compositions cohered. Unfortunately, Picked to Click has no time for old-fashioned ideas such as artist development. Consequently, the more seasoned Velvet Lapelles of 2010 are about to become overshadowed by another crop of future has-beens and flavorless kiddy meals fast-cooked in the P2C microwave.
Picked to Click is an idea whose time has come and gone because in the wake of CP music editor Andrea Swensson's ascendance, the advent of Vita.mn, and the outburst of fledgling local music blogs, new bands is all one hears about anymore. Another day, another holler. Back in the '90s, we would chuckle on occasions when a CD release party was also the band's farewell show. Today I am not amused how often the CD party is the live debut, accompanied by a breathless feature article in one media source if not five. There has never been a better time to be a mediocre new local band. Consequently, they are innumerable.
The print press would be easy to ignore if 89.3 the Current didn't play these tadpoles in prime time, which fuels yet another round of the music press Ponzi scheme; one glad-hand washes the other. But for those of us who've bought local CDs for decades, the bubble is bursting and the songwriting meltdown is heading toward freefall. Minneapolis used to be a city with more musical greatness than glamour. After 20 years of P2C--and six months of Gayngs--can the same be said?
Listen, I don't want to spoil the party. I was young once, and I know first-hand the allure of feeling like you live in a field of flowers. If young, energetic writers are truly impressed with our music creators, I'm thirsting to read a compelling analysis of a musician's thought process, driving passions and higher purpose (if any). But don't couch their worth in the fact that they won some ghoulish toddler pageant.
I may not get around the clubs much anymore, but I do get around the web, and I know I'm not the only one dismayed that today's local music coverage is less about music, more about style, "buzz,'' star-gazing and celebrity. Picked to Click is the engine that drives that inanity.
If we really do care for the welfare of Twin Cities music, treat it with the respect it has earned. Putting the stops on Picked to Click pedophilia would be a wonderful start.
Former CP local-music columnist Jim Meyer is still bitter his band only got two votes in 1994.