The Evanescence Hoax

Amy Lee from Evanescence Wind Up Records promo photoI used to watch music videos and just feel the mood they were trying to evoke. I’d believe that the peformers really were that cool. It was all so sexy and exciting. I just wanted to pass through that TV screen into a cooler and more passionate world.

Given that I kind of did manage to live my life so that I got to pass through the screen to the other side, I actually only got cable television because I was offered a really good deal on getting it with a cable modem. Time Warner Cable recently bought out Comcast, who I think bought out RoadRunner, and maybe AT&T was in there somewhere. I didn’t totally follow all the transfers and my cable bills literally did not have a return address on the envelope for a while because the changeovers were so hasty.

The upshot of all of this is that I recently had a channel line-up re-shuffle and it is easier for me to TiVo lots of music video shows, fast forward through stuff I don’t like, and still get to enjoy lots of videos I do like and might not have come across otherwise. Music videos used to be one of my favorite forms of entertainment and one of the only types of television I would watch. My college had a room in the student center with a gigantic projection TV and a friend of mine (who had a first and last name which were surreally both slang for penis – he was even more surreally named after his father) and I used to sit there and watch MTV on it, missing stuff we were supposed to do because we were just going to stay until the good video came on. When I finally had access to a television with cable and a closed door, I wasted no time finding which shows had the highest preponderance of rock videos I found worthy of self-pleasure.

My new Time Warner Cable line-up includes a couple of MTVs and VH1s and CMTs, and the delightful relative newcomer FUSE. I should be in heaven, but I have trouble stopping the negative ideation those video channels evoke in me today. The problem is that I have too much of a sense of how the sausage is made and I’m discomfitted by a lot of their cooking methods. I see a video with some teenage boy singing about how wrong it is to beat your girlfriend and the song is catchy enough and the boy is okay-looking and has a nice enough voice which works for the material. But I can’t stand the pretense that some teenager wrote the song.

Cablevision Systems Corporation, the corporate parent of FUSE, has sports holdings which account for nearly 20% of their revenues. I wish music understood teamwork like the world of sports does. Sports fans know and understand that, while some people are really standout stars, there are a number of positions which need to be played and the coaches get airtime too. If someone gets too flamboyant in drawing attention to themselves, they can get penalized for showboating. In the world of music, there is this desperation to pretend that the lead singer just came up with everything. Unfortunately, the product is so manufactured that a lead singer who really can come up with his or her own songs, style, and message is likely to be buried and ripped-off and asked to change, but never played by the music video stations. A headstrong artist is a pain in the ass and nowhere near as desirable as a compliant and good-looking youth who can sing and dance and sign contracts which offer a low percentage.

And I can’t stop myself from thinking about how the singer doesn’t understand the words he is singing. I can’t stop myself from thinking about contract law. I can’t stop thinking about how roughly seven companies own most media in America. I can’t stop thinking about how the music industry’s response to YouTube was not to offer kids in Peoria the video-directing opportunity of a lifetime, but to offer those talented kids in the boonies the opportunity to line the industry’s pockets for nothing. I can’t stop myself from thinking about how many talented musicians I know, who will never get a real chance, precisely because they are the whole package, in an industry which has come to prefer people who can fit snugly into small roles.

And then I find myself wondering about a band like Evanescence. The band has sold more than fourteen million albums worldwide and they tend to be marketed somewhat as a Gothic band. I’ve had some interaction or other with someone from most bands which are marketed as Gothic or industrial or deathrock or anything along those lines. If I haven’t, then someone I know has. Either I or someone I know will have interviewed someone from the band, partied with someone from the band, had sex with someone from the band, or at least shown up at a nightclub and had a conversation in line for the bathroom with someone from the band. But nobody I know has ever mentioned having anything to do with anyone in Evanescence. defines the band’s name as “to dissipate or disappear like vapor” and the top interview in a Google search for amy+lee+evanescence+interview explains the band’s name as “The word Evanescence means to dissipate like vapor, it puts an image in your head of like a ghost/specter that isn’t really there.” The interview has no interviewer credit. So I watch videos late at night and I finally start wondering if Evanescence really exists in any man-in-the-street sense of what a band is or if some enterprising producer for the surreally-named Wind Up Records just made up the whole thing to, you know, wind up the public. And sell fourteen million records. Which is a lot.

The question is, if Amy Lee and Terry Balsamo don’t really write Evanescence songs, don’t pick out their own clothes, don’t have the personal lives claimed for them, or maybe don’t even speak English, does that make their performances less enjoyable for their audience? If it does reduce the pleasure, does that mean it is good and reasonable to hide the origins of the music and the performers? Is it okay to lie, if it makes listeners happier? Is it still okay to lie, if it makes listeners happier, but the lies mean a genuine struggling band, who tells the truth, can not compete?

Someone, please tell me you have met Amy Lee from Evanescence and she speaks English like a goth girl from Arkansas. Someone, please tell me how to block the part of my brain which wonders if Evanescence is a hoax, when all I really want to do is watch some cool videos.


Posted by on February 16, 2007. Filed under Blue Blood. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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