Drake hosted and was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live last night.

I keep hearing about this guy.  Drake is everywhere.  He’s courtside at NBA games, dropping singles regularly which get tons of streams online, doing bit parts in movies; even Taylor Swift is falling for him.

He used to be on Degrassi Junior High.  I was of the Saved By The Bell generation, already living in the adult world, salary and benefits.  Plus, sitcoms were usually too watered-down and fake to appeal to me.

You never saw an episode where the kid’s still grounded from last week: “Nope, Jimmy’s still banished to his room, doing homework.  No high jinks this week.  Say, come help me stain my deck…”  They always get out of trouble, and never stay grounded.

Life’s real problems aren’t resolved in 30 minutes or less.  That’s the pizza guy’s territory.

So, I don’t know no whatnot about any Drake, just his brief performance in Anchorman 2 (which I’ve only seen a couple of times, because anytime I try to watch it, if anyone else is in the room, I’m told to turn it off because it’s so bad).

I was impressed with Drake’s acting.  The guy is good.  He was funny throughout the night, demonstrated a broad range, and there were scenes where he held it together for the rest of the cast.  He was the anchor last night, as opposed to other times when the host just can’t seem to find their rhythm.

Some of the sketches fell flat, the way SNL has always been.  But the show has created and housed so many icons that I feel compelled to tune in from time to time, when there’s a host or musical guest who piques my interest.  Because I want to see what the culture’s up to.

It’s had its ups and downs, but Saturday Night Live has undeniably remained a cultural beacon for over four decades.  The show pays attention to modern American culture, then butchers it, skewers it, throws it on the grill, and feeds it back to us.  It mirrors what the majority is talking about.

Plus, the cast and crew work hard on that show.  Really REALLY hard.  Because Lorne Michaels runs an incredibly tight ship.

Lorne Michaels has had the same job for over 40 years, and he does it at the highest level, week in and week out.  And he demands the highest level of everyone who works for him, every single week, because it’s live TV.  It goes out there in an instant, and it has to work.  It has to play to the audience, gain wide appeal.

And last night, he casually drops a “Drizzy, how’s it goin’?” like he and Drake are old friends.  https://youtu.be/3MQeexi0FPU

Genius.

Regarding Drake’s musical performances…

The first thing I notice is that his voice is unabashedly dripping with AutoTune.  Beyond that, he simply goes out there and essentially does a one-man karaoke thing; not a ton of flash, no controversy, just his songs, his way.  And people love it.

But why??  Intrigued, I went on the Spotify US Top 50 playlist today and listened to all 50 songs — of which Drake has 17 — and was blown away.

Not necessarily by the quality of the music, but just how all incredibly similar it sounds.

A lot of people complain “the stuff on the radio all sounds the same,” or “they always play the same songs,” or whatever.

But this isn’t the radio, it’s Spotify.  It’s also how the majority of people I ask prefer to listen to music.

Drake is dominating one third of Spotify’s US Top 50 songs.  One person, and his people, creating their sound, their songs, their way, and it’s resonating with the majority of the country.  The number one song in the country — Drake’s “One Dance” — gets over 2 million plays a day in the United States.

2 million plays a day.  That’s insane.  Is that not impressive?

Some may be defiant, claiming that the majority of music listeners are ignorant.  But are the listeners, in fact, stupid?  Or is this just what the majority actually prefers to listen to now?

Have YOU listened to “One Dance”?  https://open.spotify.com/album/42uGLrLCAaQC4Mw7d33WeX

I’ve been mostly tuned out on what’s going on in the current musical culture, and what drives it, for so long.

It seems the path to success in today’s musical culture is to just continually create and create until something breaks through into one of these “discovery” playlists on Spotify.  Then, take that viral attention, partner up with another artist of some repute, collaborate on a song in order to cross-promote, and continue creating songs, ultimately routing a tour around where the fans are.

Because on Spotify, you can see exactly where people are playing your music.  It shows you in the artist’s “About” section.

This is a completely new world for me.  I’ve avoided Spotify for too long, and I’ve closed myself off to new music which doesn’t involve having a band.

Great artists, many of whom have left us in just this short year, listen to everything for inspiration.  And the best artists stay current.

“The old musicians stay where they are and become like museum pieces under glass, safe, easy to understand, still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.” – Miles Davis

Am I going to change who I am because this is what people are listening to?  Hell no.  But I’m not going to remain ignorant of it.  I’m going to dive in and see what it’s about.  Like a trip to a modern art museum.

And I’m not saying I like this US Top 50 stuff more, I’m not even saying I like it at all.

I’m simply drifting outside of my comfort zone, and it intrigues me.

I like a lot of different things.  Doesn’t everyone??

John Kay
blog@therealjohnkay.com
TheRealJohnKay.com

Music: http://johnkay.bandcamp.com
Twitter: @therealjohnkay
InstaGram: @therealjohnkay

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