By Sophia Lucente, A&E Editor
Published Sep. 24, 2014
Unless you were in Vegas this past weekend, you probably missed out on the fakest, most overblown musical event of the year.
Never fear – there is a place to fill you in on what you missed: your local Top 40 radio station.
The MGM Grand Garden Arena and its adjoining “Resorts Village” hosted internet platform iHeartRadio’s fourth annual music festival this past Friday and Saturday.
Much to the excitement of people who have too much money everywhere, the lineup was jam-packed with an assortment of artists you can listen to every day on most radio stations, including Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris, Iggy Azalea, Lorde, Nikki Minaj and One Direction.
A few older acts were thrown in there as well – for sentimental or variation purposes, or quite possibly just because they once earned a ton of money. (See: Coldplay, Usher, Weezer and Mötley Crüe.)
The man in charge is Ryan “isn’t-he-too-old-for-this” Seacrest, not surprisingly. Tickets ranged between $500-600 – and that’s for each day.
Am I subtly hinting that the event in question was a gigantic waste of time and money?
Yes. Here’s why.
First of all, there’s no sense in calling this a “festival”.
In reality, it is a pop music publicity stunt that is contributing nothing to American culture.
It’s a testament to many U.S. citizens’ unwillingness to give a shit about where their debatably hard-earned money goes for the sake of their social status.
In case you aren’t convinced, be sure to check out the festival’s “If Only Premier” ticket option, priced at $10,000 (yes, you read that right), which guaranteed the buyer a spot at the Saturday night, star-studded VIP party at MGM’s Grand Hotel and Casino.
Fortunately, the folks at iHeartMedia, Inc. understand that most people don’t have ten grand lying around and arranged for the entire festival to be broadcasted live on over 150 of parent company Clear Channel’s internet radio stations.
Yahoo did as well, and the CW aired a two-hour festival special on Saturday night.
Clear Channel Communications was founded in 1972, back when there were limitations on the number of stations one company could own in a given market.
Over the next 20 years, media laws were bent and relaxed and by ’95, Clear Channel owned 43 radio and 16 television stations.
Congress then passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which opened the floodgates: Clear Channel went on a buying spree, ending up with over 70 new stations and adopted media companies.
In a perfect world, this plan of action combined with the powers of reason should yield a diverse assortment of radio-listening options, online and via the public airwaves alike.
That’s not what we’re looking at.
Some people might argue that satellite is the best development that radio has ever seen, based purely on the fact that you can pick and choose exactly what you want to hear, all the time, sans commercials.
But the way I see it, by selecting “likes” and “dislikes” on every track you’re presented with – along with 15 potential skips per day – you are effectively placing extreme limitations on the scope of music you’re exposed to.
Maybe that’s the way you like it. But you can’t call it “radio”.
The iHeartRadio festivals, as well as Top 40 conglomerates across the country are criminally presumptuous when it comes to catering to the desires of young people.
Because the current American 20-something has likely been surrounded by technology since they were old enough to read and write, our culture boasts an underlying claim that everything should be easy and always at one’s fingertips.
Sadly, this concept has extended to music and art, and hardly anybody is taking that as seriously as they should.
“But we’re so busy!” “There are more important things to worry about!” “There are so few independent media outlets around these days!”
These excuses tout laziness, ignorance and – more ignorance, respectively.
Throughout American history, people have found time for relaxation and simple, aesthetic pleasures between hours of work.
They didn’t have iPods and for a good chunk of history, they didn’t have television, so they went to see live music and used shouting, laughing voices and clapping hands to show their appreciation for musicians.
Art is a way of life, an outlet for emotion and truth – and a basis for financial support for millions of U.S. citizens.
It isn’t fair to turn the other way and assume that open-minded listening just isn’t for you.
Not a whole lot of us even read great books anymore since the short-lived excitement of refreshing your Facebook feed replaced them.
Listening to music is arguably the easiest way to appreciate your own culture.
If you need new suggestions, tune in to college radio or NPR, the latter of which has exploded with new music programs in recent years.
There you’ll find more than music, and the pop’s endless cycle of repetition and selfishness.
You’ll find actual, breathing and creative human beings.