By Hans Ebert
It might be All About The Bass, but it’s definitely all about the hype. Funny word- hype. Once upon a Blind Faith, or that thing called a “supergroup”, or even “Dylan goes electric” was supposedly hype, and frowned upon on. But today, hype has become shtick and is celebrated and used to make the ordinaire and tedious be, well, hyped into being much more than it should be.
One wishes singers Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton all the best, but here’s hoping they also find themselves a room as all this outward showing of love for each other plus all the dopey publicity given to their icky- it’s the only appropriate word other than maybe “treacly” and “gooey”- first duet- please don’t record a second one- is cringeworthy.
It also tells you something about how music is marketed today, and this desperate need for there to be some shtick attached to give what is often the mundane greater importance than it deserves.
Gwen Stefani, an attractive, but average singer with a nasally voice who took the ska rhythms that had been knocking around the UK since Millie Small and turned nursery rhymes into Hollaback Girl hits, is coming off a messy divorce from Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, where, as has cursed many a recent celebrity marriage, a nanny is said to have been involved. Whatever.
So, after almost thirteen years of marriage with Rossdale and their three sons, the fortysomething singer with No Doubt and style icon, almost immediately falls in love with country artist Blake Shelton, another average singer, and one of her fellow judges on “The Voice”.
What happens? Shelton’s marriage to the talented singer-songwriter Miranda Lambert goes down the gurgler, “The Voice” is blessed with its own telenovela, and the television talent competition with all those revolving chairs and contestants and winners whose careers go nowhere after each season ends, dissipates into a cringeworthy spectacle of love that’s so over the top, it makes a mockery out of romance and everything to do with real love- the kind that’s enjoyed by two people in privacy.
Instead, this Gwen Stefani-Blake Shelton love act is played out in public, and on a television show, where recently debuted was the love struck couple’s first duet. It was shtick that was great for television ratings. The contestants? Relegated to cameo appearances.
The song is seriously awful, but audiences love it because they’re pre-conditioned into buying crap, and all those faked out back stories that would be telegraphed to those who saw through the con as to who would win “American Idol”, or who would at least make it to the Finals. Adam Lambert an “unknown” discovered on the show? Please. Adam Lambert had been knocking around LA for years as a failed lounge singer before “Idol” threw his career a lifeline. But back stories of the struggling singer or some contestant with a physical disability or a recent death in the family or some other sob story is part of the selling process- the marketing. The shtick.
And now there are two celebrity judges who just happened to find each other right after their divorces, and cannot help showing off their big love to the world. Over and over again. It’s quite nauseating. It’s also quite surprising that Blake Shelton, who seems to crave the attention he’s receiving these days, and cannot believe his good luck in hooking up with her, didn’t get into the act- and the car- when Gwen Stefani became part of The Late Late Show’s James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke segment with guests George Clooney and Julia Roberts.
Shtick, it’s all shtick just as much as the hugely multi-talented is the new Ricky Gervais model, and is selling his whole British USP shtick to America. And it’s being bought- the hysterical laughter when interviewing guests, often for no real reason- and, credit where credit is due, whoever on his team came up with Carpool Karaoke.
James Corden uses shtick intelligently because it’s hard to spot. It’s not the in-your-face shtick of every Kardashian, Blac Chyna, Tyga, French Montana, Mother Kris’ toy man Corey Gamble, basketball players Kris Humphries and Lamar Odom, and every other loser that the unreality show called Keeping Up With The Kardashians about richness and raking in more richness and completely void of reality dregs up and pimps out every season.
It’s all about the shtick, and through shtick machinery like the nauseating E! channel with its fawning hosts, the parasites at TMZ, the sycophantic Perez Hilton etc etc, the mediocre is turned into events of almost biblical proportions and which, like the feeding of the forty thousand, is gobbled up on social media by many who need to get out more often, and get a life after they get a grip on reality.
Love is reality- falling in love, being in love and making love work. The Kardashians, and all who have followed in their footsteps, have lost touch with reality whereas the term “reality television” is one of the dumbest terms to have been concocted in decades. It’s more shtick.
Sorry, but Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton devalue love AND music. Love is not cheap shtick. Neither is music. And accepting this crap without questioning the reasons behind it all is the stuff that has created a dopey society that lives online while when faced with functioning in the real world are usually seen taking an Instagram of their food while their date is busy on WhatsApp. So much for the art of conversation.
Somewhere, Gavin Rosdale must be kicking back with whoever is new in his life and watching his ex-wife with someone batting well above his weight and laughing his arse off. Gavin Rosdale doesn’t need any shtick. Through all this “Love Sexy” played out in public between his ex-wife and some previously unknown Country crooner to many, Rossdale has kept well away from the limelight. That’s admirable. Maybe it’s to do with British reserve. Maybe it’s to do with not wishing to be part of a tacky showbiz circus. Maybe he’s in the studio working on a new record.
As for me, I’m busy trying to stop the relentless spamming coming into my Inbox about Blake Shelton’s “body transformation secrets”. Shtick. It’s everywhere.