Recently, I ended up pondering for a few microseconds whether one should see Jean-Michel Jarre as
a) a visionary pioneer, bound by the technological shortcomings of his era
b) a talentless wanker guilty of some of the cheesiest music this side of Miami Vice.
For those of you who missed this particular episode of the apocalyptic genre that would come to be known as 80’s Synthesizer Music, here is a quick reminder:
Jean-Michel Jarre is the son of famous movie score composer Maurice Jarre (Lawrence Of Arabia
and heaps of others) and apparently was spoiled at a very early age with more machines and expensive Casio keyboards than one can only think of. The results was an uninterrupted string of somewhat catchy, electronic-ish, cheddar-laced tunes, played from the late 70s until now in front of massive audiences, whose attention was safely diverted from the insipid music by record-setting amount of eye-popping pyrotechnics and more laser lights than at a Jedi sex orgy.
Admittedly the sound of yesterday’s electronic synthesizers really sucked beyond words, and creating a track with of one these without raising immediately a vivid imagery of supermarket PA systems and tech support waiting time is a hopeless task.
But here is the problem: with roughly the same equipment, both Kraftwerk
and Giorgio Moroder
did better than him, before
him. Granted: a good 90% of Kraftwerk’s music would bore even the most neurasthenic East-German to tears while Moroder is himself guilty of things like Flashdance (oh yea, What a feeling
)… However, the formers also produced some of the most anthemic (and widely pillaged… err “sampled”) tunes of all time, and “I Feel Love” remains the mother of all electro tracks.
On the other hand, a quick listen to some of JMJ’s hits (yes, I went that far, that’s how dedicated I am), will quickly bring you the proof that, back in the 80s you could definitely sell *anything* provided it had long hair, dark glasses and a pastel suit. Give it a try yourself: if you strip these tracks from their three-note melodies and endless sequences of filtered pads, you come face to face with the depressing sight of a pathetically naked beat-box that has roughly as much depth as an ethiopian lake in mid-Summer.
Other than that, one positive aspect of it all, is that we are probably talking about one of the very few artist whose work doesn’t suffer in any way when converted to midi files
(aka: “all the power of a $30 Casio electronic organ into a $3000 computer”).
In conclusion, we can safely postulate that Jean-Michel Jarre is
indeed a talentless wanker.
Tomorrow, we’ll talk about the creative genius of
Vangelis Mike Oldfield and his seminal Tubular Bells.
Update: Indeed, prolonged exposure to JMJ’s music seems to yield some sort of brain damage, as I completely blanked on the actual author of that other monument of new-agey Bontempi music. Of course Vangelis was way too busy exploring the endless possibilities of the five “chorus” keys on his Yamaha keyboard… Lovers of crappy music among my readership will have rectified by themselves.
Thanks to Guru for ever-so-kindly pointing that out… I will gently overlook the lameness of his apology for the King of Cheddar (in a nutshell “You wrong. me right. JMJ great.”: I’m blown by such depth of argumentation), probably to be hanged on excessive marijuana consumption (or naturally limited intellectual capacities). While this might also be linked to his loose grasp of English syntax, I am not sure how it ties in with his morbid fascination for underage pornography (edited his post to remove the porn URL).
Since we are at it and since I seem to have stirred anger among the Supermarket-music fan masses: I shall temper my disparaging comments on JMJ by pointing out that, before eventually coming to the sad realization that most of it was utter crap, I used to actually listen to his music. And as most everybody know, you can only truly hate what you have at least once liked (even if you were only an influenceable 6-year old at the time). Kind of an oedipal post, I admit. But let’s face it: his music really sounds like what my cat could do, left alone with my cellphone and a metronome.