Brief Outlook: Coyle talks about the idea of covering hits and how hijacking hits didn’t meant anything illegal was being done in the music industry.

Chapter 11 was about Rock and roll and how it impacted the music industry.  Chapter 12 was about the record and how people utilized it and spread throughout the world including Europe.


Coyle Article

Hijacking hits was the term used to describe what we call artists who made a cover song.  Today cover songs is the popular term that is preferred.  It’s when an artist makes their version of a popular hit that released before the newer one.  To me, I feel that hijacking hits is a misleading term to use.  Back in the early 20th century this was the term most often used to describe the practice of ‘producing new versions of money-making songs’ as Coyle tells us.

I wonder why no one wanted to use the word ‘cover song’, it would cause less controversy as ‘hijacked hits’ had.

Hijacking hits affected race relations after WWII where white capital exploited black talent.  I feel bad to those artists who were affected by this like LaVern Baker.  Her label marketed her as a novelty pop singer in order for her to become a target for hijacking.  I find it unfair because she didn’t experience enough success as one of her songs, “Tweedle Dee” was ‘hijacked’ by a white artist, Georgia Gibbs who had more success and she wasn’t the original artist.  Though I don’t have a problem with either version in terms of vocals, I just feel that the concept of hijacking hits isn’t the same as the concept of covers today.  On a side note, I prefer the original version because it had originality, it was longer than the hijacked one, and it had more soul in the original.  That’s just my opinion, what do you think?  Do you think hijacking hits is a good thing back then or a bad thing?  Which version would you listen to?

Click to listen to their respective version:

“Tweedle Dee” (LaVern Baker version)

“Tweedle Dee” (Georgia Gibbs version)

But in today’s society, ‘covering hits’ in my opinion is a bit more fair because when an artist releases their original, it matures and has its share of success before an upcoming or current artist covers it and gives it a twist to make their version have a slice of success.  I feel that covers today are meant to be shared as long as they aren’t released in a short period of time between each other.


Chapter 11

Many people think rock and roll is a category of it’s own.  But from reading the Millard chapter, I was amazed to see that rock and roll isn’t just having cool guitars, drums, and lead vocals.  It can include blues as well.  Rock and roll started in the 1950s with artists like Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran emerging.  Rock and roll started during the tape recorder and microgroove disc era.  They were on 7″ 45 rpm discs which has a large center hole in the middle, and was lighter than the 78 rpm.  Many artists signed on to the independent labels, for example, Elvis went on to Sun Records, and Chuck Berry on Chess Records.  Independent record companies helped shaped rock and roll to what its legendary status is today.  Seeing that fact alone made me think that independents (given the chance to sign on to the right artist) can achieve success just as much as a major label can.  Do you think independents can generate success like they did in the 1950s?

After the Depression is when independent companies thrived.  They recorded with artists that weren’t signed onto major labels.  They picked up the markets where they did not.  They utilized this opportunity to branch out into different genres such as western music and R&B music.  The independents did well as they took advantage over the public’s evolving and changing tastes for music.  I was thoroughly supportive when I read that they scored many hits on the Billboard pop music charts.  It’s encouraging to hear such news because its a tough business to be in if you are with an independent company versus a major label company.

By 1960, each week came a slew of new music in the form of new singles, and albums.  It was very competitive to get your record or single noticed in those days.  I commend those who actually got noticed and achieve success because that’s a feat to be proud of.  Many artists will go unnoticed, or won’t achieve enough sales as predicted, or worse, won’t do both.  This is happening today with many artists in my opinion.  It’s hard to stay on top of the charts, nevertheless the top 10 for a long time anymore.  Usually when a new album or single is released, it peaks to a certain point then slowly settle or drop as new singles and albums top them the following week.  This is evident with Billboard’s charts today and iTunes charts as well.  It’s even harder for lesser known artists to do well on these charts without the help of radio exposure, touring, PR, and just general word of mouth unless you’re signed to a major label.

To get more exposure back then, independents had to do the illegal practice of payola or the bribing of local DJ’s to get their songs to play on air.  So when payola scandals were exposed, they had to find other ways to be successful.  That solution was radio stations, and later with television. Television would become the ideal choice for people’s entertainment needs.  The only way radio survived those years was to adapt to new markets which was ethnic audiences as well as youth audiences.

Rock and roll eventually made its way to the film industry in the 50s and many movie companies formed their own recording company such as 20th Century FOX, and Paramount Pictures.  Elvis would sign with RCA Records to record songs such as “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957 for the film of the same name.  When I read the wiki article on “Jailhouse Rock” I was amazed to see its influences in pop culture today.  I didn’t knew that many people covered that song.

The target market in the 60s would be the youth generation.  They would contribute to many artists’ success such as The Beatles and would be involved with rock and roll for many years to come.  Though today’s rock and roll artists aren’t like the legendary ones of the past few decades they still are influenced by them.  Whether its in their songwriting process, or their image and tastes, the greats will always be in their careers.  I don’t see the original greats in rock and roll going anytime soon.  They will be influential for future generations to study and I hope they will appreciate them just as much as I do.


Chapter 12:

The record was used to sell songs and the first was made by J.W. Fewkes of Harvard University.  Companies like Berliner and Victor formed to gather songs from all sorts of locales.  From hotel rooms to various types of Indians to the most northern area to the most southern area, music was to be found and recorded.  Music enthusiasts such as the Lomaxes help archive over 10,000 songs for the Archive of American Folk Song.  OKeh records focused on race records which were black artists, no minstrel artists were included.  This was interesting because finally the African Americans, and urban ghetto inhabitants get their chance to record their songs with a major record company.  I wonder if they still impact or influence any African American artists today?

Other cool bits of info that I found interesting were:
Hillbilly music was popular and was recorded among working class men and women.  Jimmie Rodgers became the first artist with a country song that was a best-selling record.  I didn’t think hillbilly music was a type of music, nevertheless was popular.  Now I feel there could be many other kinds of lesser known types of music out there that I never heard of.  You just have to find it and once you do, you can learn to appreciate those types as well.

During the middle of the 20th century, the British Invasion became successful all around the world.  It was their turn to export music to the US and was very popular amongst artists like The Beatles.  The Beatles were the iconic group who shaped many people’s lives both in and out of the music industry and their fans both young and old, still now into today.

Some more questions to think about:

Will rock and roll evolve into a different sound?

Do you think the Beatles will remain legendary forever?

Can independents find a successful artist who can stay and compete among today’s pop artists? or even top a major label’s artist?

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