Tuesday, 5 January 2010
Hate the Mayer, not the game
Just to revisit my review of John Mayer's latest album, there was an excruciating piece on him in Saturday's Times review section. In a profile which openly aims to give some background to the artist as he is so little known (musically) this side of the pond, what the writer was essentially trying to say was much the same as me. He may come across as a tabloidy, god-complexy, celebrity-shagging douche bag, but the guy has made some pretty exceptional music. Unfortunately, the feature involved an interview with Mayer (promoting his UK tour starting this month) and he couldn't have ruined that core message more perfectly if he'd just dumbly stated, 'I'm a twat, I'm a twat, I'm a twat' over and over again. The writer reveals his humble beginnings in blues bars during high school and his attendance of a Boston music college renowned for its jazz. She suggests this album is a little more mainstream...
"I don't pay as much attention to being good as to being liked. I don't know that Battle Studies is the best record I've ever made, but I think it's going to be one of the most-liked records I ever made, and that's all I care about," he says.
Now correct me if I'm wrong, but that just summed up what I said in the review. It's lazy, calculating and plays on his tabloid image. I start to gag a little as I realize that I BOUGHT THIS ALBUM. Trying to salvage the profile, the writer then brings up his brilliant Tweets, quoting a few for effect. But then he starts describing Twitter as a major threat to his human relationships:
"It's questions of, do I want to share my desires with someone else or do I want to sate them myself with my laptop and my Twitter account?"
Actually, it's not a question of that for many people. But we'll take another shot at boosting your UK image. At this point the writer gives up and asks a broad, sympathetic question about how he is portrayed in our tabloids, and the man actually has a rant about her going off subject and how he's sick of everyone's "unbelievable curiosity about what it's like to be me." All in all, total interview suicide. I could have forgiven the self-conscious ramblings, the dismissal of relationships as less real than Twitter, the stunning insincerity of his replies, but his total agreement that this fourth album is nothing more than a tactical bid to attract a mainstream audience just makes him ridiculous.
"This time I just wanted to make a pop record, and I hope there are some people who are annoyed by that... I hope there are people who say "Why wouldn't you come out swinging with the guitar and the grit?" and I'll be like, "Well, why are you humming track five?"
.... yeah. I wasn't humming track five when I first listened, and I'm not now. Try harder next time, Mayer. In a world where many brilliant, honest unknowns are out there singing and playing their guts out with nowhere near his level of financial backing, this admission of laziness is in poor taste. But nice to know my reaction to the album was so accurate.