Friday, March 16, 2007

D-Day for PBJ

Just as I was preparing to go out last night, I got an email tip that I should listen to the streaming archive of KEXP's live performance by Peter Bjorn and John yesterday. (You have to put in the date and time to find it: the band went on soon after 1:45 p.m. Austin time, so that's 11:45 a.m. Seattle time.) In particular, the tipster said, I should pay attention to "Young Folks." Let me tell you, it's worth a listen: it really pulls the veil back from this phony band.

One thing that a lot of us have probably thought when listening to "Young Folks," or seeing video of their live performances, is: How does Peter do such an awesome job of whistling? He seems to nail it every time. Well, the answer is: he's lip-synching the fucking solo. The KEXP performance is 100% proof. On at least two occasions, he accidentally starts singing over the solo. The entire facade of this band crumbles. They're like a Swedish Milli Vanilli. And worse: when he messes up and starts singing over the whistling, you can actually hear him laughing about it. You can almost hear what he's thinking: these stupid American hipsters will listen to anything. You can give them a song with a whistle solo (bad enough) but then you can fake the fucking solo and laugh about it, and the stupid Americans will still go along calling you the big "buzz" band of SXSW. And it's happening, too. You try to stop something but then you can just see it happening all around you. I read it in the blogs; I hear it when I'm walking along the streets; this is the goddamned band this year. And it sucks.

The thing that especially sucks is, you all are going to realize that I was right. I swear. Give it a year, and somebody will mention the name Peter Bjorn and John, and you're going to laugh and say, "Oh yeah, everybody was excited about that band, weren't they? How funny that anyone took that band seriously." It's inevitable. What's worse, I even think that you know this now. Yes, it's fun when we all like the same thing at the same time. And yes, it's easier with something light and vacuous. But where will that take our culture? What will indie rock be remembered for?

I still hope that some of you are going to come to the protest today. I need for it to be over just so I can have any sort of enjoyment here in Austin, or in my life in general really. I never did wind up going out last night. I'm also sick of all the insults -- in comments, and in email, and even on the streets (I don't know how people figured out who I was, but it seems to have happened). No, this is not viral marketing for the band (I think I've dispensed with that here and here -- if you think that a PR person would insult the band like I have then truly you have never interacted with a PR person). No, I am not a loser, or a douchebag, or any of the other things that people want to call me. I just am trying to advocate for the long-term aesthetic interests of all of us, and even if you don't understand it now then maybe you will later.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish you luck. I find this amusing. I like PB and J, but you make some OK arguments. But there is far worse shit out there, Decemeberists, to name one, that should be put a stop to. Anyhow--marketing tool or not, this was fun for a few days. Good luck with the protest.

Anonymous said...

ps. their bass was stolen, does that make you happy?

joshua said...

evidence you're right:

people care about your protest. If PB&J truely was a great band, no one could worry about some random kid trying to stop it.

my guess is that it's the swedish philosophy-of-marketing-cute. they're nice people and i'm not being racist by pointing out abba and ikea. it's just who they are most of the time; cute.

it's not bad to be cute, but it's not indie. i don't want indie kids to be remembered as cute.

but who says indie is all that important, anyways?

Johnny said...

PB & J blow...

Let me tell you about Sweden...

Fluctuations at a minimum
Hypochondriac tombstone
Sense of humour's gone astray somewhere

Too much time to think, too little to do
Too much time to think, too little to do
Too much time, too little to do
'Cos it's all quiet on the Eastern front

Anonymous said...

Another sad marketing ploy. You think we're idiots, some of us are smart enough to see through this. You write all you want about not being PR for the band, because you don't have to tell the truth. It is not illegal what you are doing, just stupid. Once it is uncovered, it won't matter, because you would have brought attention to the band and whats done is done.

Just think of this. The hardest thing for a band is to get attention. Once they get attention, it doesn't matter if they are good or bad, music is totally subjective. If you are truly someone trying to stop a band, the WORST thing you could do is bring attention to it (especially your transparent "I hate this band--be sure to catch their show here and here and watch this video etc. to see how bad they are".

Anonymous said...

^ Amen.

Johnny said...

Actually, that’s bullshit. I used to believe what you're saying Mr. above, but music actually is not subjective at all. It is really objective, and if you want to really get right down to it, we can agree on things that really suck. We're talking about "pop" music right? So ask yourself what that means. There is a general "agreement" as to what "pop" music is right? Therefore there is an "understanding" and agreement as to what determines how we listen to it thus what is good to hear. I actually believe that there are WAY too many "bands" out there. I also believe that there should be a moratorium on guitar sales for a few years at least. There should even be a "cooling off" period for any guitar purchase made. A back ground check would also help. Just because you "like" music, doesn't mean you should "make" music. Other people have to listen to it and "agree" that it’s good. I actually think that about 99% of music out there sucks so bad, that our level of "agreement" as to what is good has been lowered quite significantly over the years. Thus creating the "subjective ness" of what is "good" music. When actually its really horrible music but nobody can really tell the differnce as to what is good and bad becuase really... its all bad.
Thank you. Good day.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this blog is amusing, and I can't say I'm shocked the blogger confessed in his final post that he's in the middle of an emotional breakdown (which would explain the OCD fixation on a band that will otherwise be a one-hit wonder), but to address one point: I'm sorry, but who on earth would expect that the whistle in the song isn't electronic? It isn't humanly possible to whistle that well. Of *course* it's done by synthesizer.

Would you be shocked and horrified to find out, to use a better-known example, that the "violin" riff at the beginning of Madonna's "Hung Up" (yes, I know she stole it from ABBA) wasn't an actual violin?

Anonymous said...

he whistles along with a recorded whistle. not a big deal, and not really a big secret youve discovered.

Anonymous said...

he has as a matter of fact said it himself in an interview

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the previous comment. Who actually does like the Decemberists? They are seriously one of the worst bands ever, but they must be blowing all the staff at Pitchfork because every one of their stinking albums gets at least an 8.2.

Tom said...

peter said on the current radio station that the whistles on the album were just placeholders for actual riffs. they just left them in on the album is all. they confirmed that it's too hard to whistle live (and be audible) so they whistle along with the backing track. they also went on the say that the next album won't have any whistling. EVERYONE knows that the whistling live is tracked.

Peter said...

Yeah, just heard peter bjorn & john for the first time today...not an immediate fan. nothing really to it, lyrics kinda blow...all n all too simple and or lacks substance, no?

i give them credit for trying, but repetitive pop doesn't work in the long run. even if your jeans are tight and you're wearing a hoodie from urban outfitters.

yanks love anything euro…even more, we live for the day that we’re the “first” to find the next euro indie sound...this might help explain why people are jumping the gun on bands like bjorn.

does anybody recall being told to check keane? man, i’ll never get that hour of my life back.

well, that or people just honestly like them and my taste is too much that of a music prick.

Ryan said...

We take things all too seriously. In a world so full of shit, hate, death and under no uncertain terms, destruction; I think its a fun song. For those of you worried about the future of Indie, just witness what happened to Punk. If it is possible to box it, package it, wrap it and then sell it at Hot Topic for 29.99 a pop, they will. It is just music after all and Pete Bjorn & John's single is light. With the world so heavy, light is good.

Anonymous said...

Thank god...

Some people exist in this sad world that don't think this ...thing...is any good.

When I first heard "young folks"...I was in the orthodontist's office, waiting for her to adjust some machine or another and stick in in my mouth...anyway, I was thankful when the thing that was reminicent of a drill started...it blocked out "young folks"...

These are the people who are mercilessly stealing the term "indie" and putting it to shame...Anything that is "indie", somehow guarantees itself automatic credibility. You want real indie? Try "The (a little overloved, but still good) Arcade Fire", "Electric President", "Fair to Midland" (well...until Serj Tankian stole them) and Metric...
The Swiss are only good for chocolate and watches...ABBA and Ace of Base proved this years ago.

Anonymous said...

dude who cares? do you honestly think that every artist out there actually sings live? no one does! every pop type singer/band lip-synics nowadays. the only people who actually do it live for real are hard-core and punk type bands.
and do you actually expect him to whistle for like 5 minutes everytime they perform? get over it.

Anonymous said...

who cares if the wistling in the song is recorded? its way to hard to whistle like that at every concert. its another story if they lipsync the actual words in the song.

pedro_the_pirate said...

I had the unfortunate experience of hearing them live at Virgin Festival in Baltimore --- they were too poppy and 'girly' for me...and hell, I'm a girl. As a vegan who loves peanutbutter and jelly and basically lives on these mucho delicious sandwiches, I'm offended by the not-so-sly use of PB&J for a ridiculously less-than-stellar band. Torture, I tell you. Pure torture to listen to their scheiss.

jackbusch said...

Anyone that thinks that whistling like that is impossible should seriously look into Andrew Bird.

Ryan said...

I have to say, all in all, love the band or hate them, this site prompted one of the more interesting and honest discussions of the current american rock movement (specifically its lack of movement and trendy flaws) that I've read just about anywhere else. It's nice to know there are others out there as beat down and tired of all the BS as I am. Touche! And good luck with that mental breakdown.

Anonymous said...

they are a band just like many others out there. I'm sure they try and are not evil. Keep in mind I'm a neutral person. You make really good arguments but they are not strong enough to make your point proven.

er1n0wns said...

I don't agree with somebody lip-syncing a whole set but if it's just the whistling part, come on now.. it's still a 'show' in which they are trying to entertain. I hardly see lip-syncing a 'whistling solo' a reason to compare this band to Milli V. That's a bit much. Without this lip-syncing mishap, isn't the voice still soft, unique and pleasant to the ear? I think so..

Anonymous said...

I JUST CAME FROM URBAN OUTFITTERS AND ALMOST HAD A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN FROM THE NOISE THEY'RE PIPING IN. ONE EMPLOYEE TOLD ME SHE JUST HAS TO TUNE IT OUT; SHE SAID THEY PLAY IT BECAUSE OF THEIR MARKETING GENIUSES--A BUNCH OF MANIPULATORS--THINK IT MAKES PEOPLE BUY MORE. IT IS TOTAL HORRENDOUS CRAP. UO SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES FOR BEING SO SELFISH TO BANG PEOPLES' PSYCHIC WITH SUCH GARBAGE. DO YOU KNOW WHAT BRAINWASHING TACTICS ENTAIL? I DO. ONE EFFECTIVE METHOD IS R-E-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N, R-E-P-E-T-I-T-I-O-N. GO TO HELL UO! I'VE NOTICED A LOT OF BARS ARE PLAYING THIS CRAP TOO. PEOPLE REVOLT AGAINST THIS MANIPULATIVE CRAP!!!

Anonymous said...

Man that Young Folks song is lame. I LUNGE for the radio preset button whenever it comes on. Thank you for calling out the lameness.

SoundsAreAstounding.com said...

I'm seeing them tonight...cause a friend bought the tickets, and a band I wanna see is opening for them. But I'm really not all that excited for PBJ.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, Kinda sad people can get all worked up over the success of a band they dislike...

Good luck on your Crusade.

Anonymous said...

dude your an idiot, of course they have a whistling track over it, thats why they even have the girls part of the track played over it. hey man did you know that the beatles lip synced when they were on the Ed Sullivan show, do you hate them too? PB and J is the shit

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Anonymous said...

IS IT REALLY THAT BIG OF A DEAL? I MEAN REALLY I DOUBT THAT YOU CAN WHISTLE THAT LONG EITHER. SO REALLY DUDE CHILL! STILL A GOOD SONG, STILL A GOOD BAND.

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McCall Keller said...

PB&J have soul. they do music because they found a way to express themeslves other than hating blogs. Bands like PB&J and the Smiths can't ever be perfect but they definetly aim for it.

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