Published Friday, 31 January 2020 15:12
First and foremost, no, this is not about that kind of bedroom antics and for the purpose properly digesting the rest of this article I would oblige you to retrieve your mind from the gutter. That said, there are some metaphorical wars raging all over the internet after one teenage girl from California went and dominated the Grammy's with music made with her brother in their bedroom. By now you should already know that we are talking about pop phenomenon Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O'Connell, a duo who has been taking pop music by storm with a bombardment of music that is awash with authenticity, raw emotion, and humble, albeit connected (more on that later) beginnings. As with any new pop sensation, some manner of controversy is around the corner and though Eilish had escaped the seemingly inevitable, brother Finneas leapt into the deep end with one seemingly benign proclamation.
On the evening of 26th of January, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas were in attendance for the 2020 Grammys at the Staples Center located in Los Angeles, California. On stage in front of them were a who's who of legendary artists tasked with the incredibly difficult mission of opening an envelope and reading a name for the winning of the 2020 Song of the Year award. After several excruciatingly long seconds, the coveted award was given to Eilish and Finneas for the single Bad Guy and the two made their way to the stage and into history.
An obviously shell-shocked Billie Eilish accepted her award delivering the pablum that is expected of and delivered by so many who have graced that stage and accepted that award before her but it was Finneas who lit and the Molotov and set internet fingers ablaze. After Eilish rattled off names of people who had appeared at the forefront of her thoughts she implored her brother to cap off their acceptance speech. Twenty-two-year old Finneas layered on even more pablum and platitudes but it was one line that really did it. He closed the speech by saying, “this is to all the kids who are making music in their bedrooms today; you're going to get one of these” and that is it, the recording industry cratered and the world ended as a result...except it did not.
That is, however, what you would be led to believe if you took dozens of engineers and producers at their word when they crept out of their studio control rooms to respond to the salvo fired by Finneas. To these fine people, a great deception was at hand and the viewing public was falling victim to a coordinated assault on the recording industry norms they have clung to their whole career. Finneas had the audacity, the unmitigated gall, and the sheer absence of decency to tell a bunch of bedroom producers that a Grammy is in their future. To these enraged recording engineers, producers, mastering engineers and the like, the mere suggestion that taking advantage of the advances in music-making technology could provide a short cut to fame and stardom was a bridge too far and it even inspired some to take a deep dive into what actually led to the success of Billie Eilish.
Of course, that reasoning accounts for only a portion of the angry online hordes. Some are simply cynical of the process that selects out for the popular over the artistic. Some detest anything musical that does not consist of distorted guitars and blast-beat drumming. Whatever the reasoning behind the backlash to Finneas O'Conner's speech it should be known that no one of sound mind thinks that simply making music in your bedroom will lead to a wild success at the Grammys and a life of fame and fortune. It is obvious to anyone who takes their artistic career seriously that there will be a lot of blood, sweat, tears and a ton of money demanded of you before you even sniff the billboard charts. For all the pearl-clutching and gate-keeping, these folks should rest assured that the dictators of the status quo remain intact and their white-knight heroics are appreciated but not necessarily needed.
A bit of inspiration in these times is needed in these times and is a welcome respite from the daily bombardment of news of domestic and foreign conflict, belligerent world leaders and natural disasters. Dare we allow for a moment of wild-eyed passion on the biggest stage in music from two young adults just living their best life no matter the role played by their privilege. This entire piece could have been rolled into an easy “ok boomer” and left alone, but so much online energy has been expended in the other direction that this feels like the least that could have been done. Rest easy engineers and producers of the world, clients will still hire you for mixing, artists will still need professional mastering from a commercial-grade mastering house and companies will still rake in the big bucks from photogenic young models who just happen to be musically inclined. Take a breather, guys and gals, you have tracks waiting.