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The Lefsetz Letter: This Girl



How did I miss this?

Sometimes I feel like I've been dropped on this planet without a map. Oh, prior to electronics, the internet, I knew exactly where I was, what path I was on, growing up in the suburbs to go to a good college to get a professional job, before the aforementioned internet blew a hole so wide in the universe that I no longer have any idea where I am anymore.

I used to be one of those people in the know.

Now I'm one of the billions of clueless.

Oh, there are people who tell us they know what's going on, even though they usually do not, but even if they do, their vertical is very narrow, I could stump them with questions I've got the answer to all day long. And the point is it's not a competition, but there's no coherence.

Bob Lefsetz, Santa Monica-based industry legend, is the author of the e-mail newsletter, "The Lefsetz Letter". Famous for being beholden to no one, and speaking the truth, Lefsetz addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.

His intense brilliance captivates readers from Steven Tyler to Rick Nielsen to Bryan Adams to Quincy Jones to music business honchos like Michael Rapino, Randy Phillips, Don Ienner, Cliff Burnstein, Irving Azoff and Tom Freston.

Never boring, always entertaining, Mr. Lefsetz's insights are fueled by his stint as an entertainment business attorney, majordomo of Sanctuary Music's American division and consultancies to major labels.

Bob has been a weekly contributor to CelebrityAccess and Encore since 2001, and we plan many more years of partnership with him. While we here at CelebrityAccess and Encore do not necessarily agree with all of Bob's opinions, we are proud to help share them with you.

The baby boomers hate it. They're either overwhelmed or removed. They think the youngsters have it figured out, but the kids don't either. Kind of like that canard that women can multitask and men cannot. The truth is NO ONE can multitask, not effectively.

But we want to get so much done.

I'm sitting there listening to Bruce Hornsby's latest album last night and trying to read the newspaper, doing both ineffectively. And who knew Hornsby put out an LP where he plays dulcimer instead of piano last year, actually, I did, but after the advance single I lost the plot, I never listened, although last night I realized "Rehab Reunion" was good. But it's like it almost doesn't exist, there's no chart action, unlike "The Way It Is," which inspired me to search, but that initial hit was back in '86, does he still have to play it in concert and does he squeeze the new stuff in? The dirty little secret is tickets are so expensive the audience feels entitled to hear the hits, and it's hard to blame them.

So yesterday I spent time away from Howard cruising the Sirius XM dial. And on the Loft I heard some great new stuff, it's just that it didn't sound radically different from the old stuff, just variations on a theme. And that had me wondering, are we all just waiting for a new sound? I think so. The way the Beatles wiped everything that came before off the map. We're waiting for music to be exciting like tech was the past twenty years, to all listen and discuss and buy instruments and…

That's not what's happening now.

So I'm pushing the buttons down to Octane, and I get hooked on this song "Lifeline" by Thousand Foot Krutch. Its energy and forcefulness tapped into my anger. Maybe that's what it's all about, I'm trying to fit in too much, I've got to let my freak flag fly. And then a Linkin Park song came on next and I liked it and I felt once again I was out of the loop, doesn't everybody know Linkin Park?

I forget the name of that tune, but I can see on Spotify that "Lifeline" has 671,268 spins, so it's just me and… Maybe they'll come through town and I can listen to the album ad infinitum to go thrust my arm in the air…

Or maybe not.

I want to belong. I want to be part of the discussion. But where is the group, what are they talking about?

So, overwhelmed and obliterated, my normal state these days, I decided to sit and have lunch with the music off, catch up on the news, that's something we can all understand and relate to.

And then I saw that "New York Times Magazine" article entitled "25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going" and I decide to play them, one by one, on my Sonos system, to prove my superiority and smugness. Yes, they'll all be rotten and that will cement my position.

Although they all were not.

Most were. If you grew up in an era of melody and acoustic instrumentation, of songs you can sing along with, you'll be horrified.

But number 9, "This Girl," by Kungs vs. Cookin' On 3 Burners intrigued me, I got it immediately, I was wowed, it was exactly what I was looking for, something ear-pleasing yet different.

But then I made a mistake, I completed the list, played nearly twenty more tracks, and then they all ran together, kind of like listening to a Spotify playlist, not as background, but foreground, Pandora's background, like in a retail store, I don't want that, music means too much to me, and all this hunting for needles in haystacks is driving me crazy, and I'm sick of wasting so much time.

Point being when I finally got back to "This Girl" I didn't find it quite as special, but it still resonated.

So, it's a remix by a French guy you've never heard of of a 2009 track by an Aussie act with no traction in the U.S. Interested? Not on paper certainly. Turns out Kungs was surfing YouTube and discovered it, do people really do this, waste so much time, this is what we did in the sixties when input was scarce, now we're constantly looking for filters, to tell us what to do and where to go.

And he remixed it on a lark and it became a big hit, confounding everybody involved. But that's the nature of music, when you get it right people cannot get enough of it.

Assuming they hear it to begin with. As of this writing "This Girl" has got 369,741,877 streams on Spotify, another 214,305,916 views on YouTube, but until this afternoon I was clueless. Then again, it got little traction on the U.S. filters, it made it to #26 on the "Billboard" Hot 100, and only the top ten or fifteen tracks count. And who is listening to terrestrial radio anyway?

I'm not saying you haven't heard "This Girl," just that I haven't, and most people have not either. To give you a point of reference, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever (Fifty Shades Darker)," by Taylor Swift and Zayn only has 308,433,148 streams on Spotify, and she's the biggest act in the American business and this remix of an old song exceeds her?

Proving you too can make it to the top. Just that it'll probably take longer than you think. And what is the top anyway.

And speaking of that video… It's infectious, sans the trappings of late period MTV it's just the music and the scenery and a young love scene sans the physicality and the nudity that's de rigueur online these days. You remember the days of yore, or yearn for them in your loins.

So we don't read the same news, can't agree on the same facts, all listen to different music, yet the barons of yore tell us there's a definitive path. Huh? As for the kids, are they just surfing the zeitgeist or are they as overwhelmed and flummoxed as you and me?

Bottom line, "This Girl" genre hops. Kungs takes a slow funk song and speeds it up. Turns it into something we wouldn't like on paper but can't get enough of in real life. Because while they keep feeding us the same old stuff, the truth is we want something different.

We're looking for leaders who do not play it safe, then again that's artistry.

And right now we've got a lot of commerciality, just listen to the rest of the "Times" 25, much of it execrable, the emperor's new clothes.

Then again, wasn't that a great Sinead O'Connor song? From back when we knew who the artists worth paying attention to were, before names were tossed up and made famous and we checked out their stuff and winced.

Welcome to the new world.

Completely different from the old world.

Original Cookin' On 3 Burners version of "This Girl":



"Lifeline" by Thousand Foot Krutch, which turns out to be a Canadian Christian band in the marketplace for twenty-odd years: