Daily Archives: July 25, 2011

Geographies of the Popular (Part II)

Although the poll I sent out last week is based on a small voting pool, I’m still a bit saddened that less than 5% who voted think David would be just as popular here in the U.S. as he is on his current Asian tour.  Seriously, people? Are things that dire? I think not!

For one, I do believe that the Asian countries where he’s touring actually play him on radio, so more people can actually be introduced to his music and actually buy it! Second, according to David in this interview (thanks for the link, Embe!), more American teenagers seem to “like dance music more than Asian teenagers” (translation: that’s the only music being played on radio and promoted elsewhere in the U.S. right now, so it’s not like teens “like dance music more”).

This statement of his really shows his age if he thinks the issue is kids’ preference and not what’s getting shoved down their throats at the moment.  But what I love, though, is that – even knowing this – he is still committed to moving his music in a different direction, for in the same interview, he says that he plans to “write more meaningful songs.” There is always hope!

Besides, now that Amy Winehouse’s classic Back to Black is topping the charts again, in the wake of her sudden death, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that – now that these young-uns are finally hearing what “real” music sounds like – they’ll soon be ditching this latest atrocity that is the techno dance craze and return to music.  Maybe then David will have more of a chance with his “more meaningful songs.”

It’s also funny that, while so many think David can’t be popular here in the U.S., nearly 60% polled think he has a much better chance at popularity in Latin America.  I wonder why there?  Well, it’s not hard to imagine.  David can sing so passionately in Spanish, and I do believe he’s got potential there, but still, I’m inclined to believe that what works in Asia – promoting and playing his music – would work anywhere else on the planet.  I guess I’m one one of those fans who believe David would be popular “anywhere he shows his adorable face” AND opens his mouth to unleash the Voice! 🙂

One of the things that has me wondering about his management is why they are treading familiar territory.  Yes, David is visiting new countries like Indonesia and Vietnam, but he has visited this part of the region before.  Is this just a case of “tried and true” follow the money?  After all, in the past few years, David has also been visiting the same venues in the U.S. (Salt Lake City, Southern California, the Southwest in general) more frequently than others.  Again, is this part of the “tried and true,” or are these the only places his management team has access to? And what does that mean for David’s career?  Would he feel comfortable touring in some new places around the country and around the world?  Touring and bookings don’t come easy, so I understand revisiting the same regions where there has been established success.  Would David have success elsewhere, or will he first have to build up his presence on the music scene to attract different crowds?

Finally, I remember reading some private emails lamenting that David is so popular in Asia but not here, and why oh why is that success not rubbing off over here.  Well, I’m not sure how these trends work, but I do know that, for some reason, Southeast Asia has never really been the trend-setter, only the trend-follower.  Plus, for regular Americans, Southeast Asia doesn’t really offer popular music that gets sampled and appropriated, the way music from India, the Caribbean, and Africa tend to.  So, in this instance, the region is not seen as “cool” enough, the way music from other parts of the world are.  I mean, if David became a hit in Latin America (whose music does influence the mainstream), he might get more “Latin cool” cache that would rub off over here.

Plus, in the U.S., “regular” Americans (by which I’m referring to white suburban youth) always seem to follow the trends put forth by urban communities (black, Latinos, white working-class, etc.), so my guess is that David just needs to do an urban collaboration and call it a day.  Heck, listening to both Amy Winehouse of late and Adele, who both have soulful bluesy vocals, I still say David can out-soul them any time of the day.  He just needs the right music to show that off.

In other words, David’s got what it takes to be popular in any part of the world (including RIGHT HERE in the U.S.). I’m glad he’s able to tour again and sing live and see different parts of the world.

But when he returns home, he will need to make sure he doesn’t pigeonhole himself in any particular niche.  The very definition of “pop” is to appeal to a mass diverse audience: those who may listen to a niche genre but who will nonetheless support the mainstream artist who can draw on the universal appeal in music.