Soul Sisters and Blood Brothers: Bands With Siblings

Jesus and Mary Chain

Most of us aren’t properly wired to embark on the exact same career path as our siblings, but when you stop to think about it, the number of brothers and sisters who have shared a tour bus, songwriting credits or a stage over the years is truly overwhelming.   These pairings haven’t always been perfectly harmonious affairs (see: The Kinks, Oasis, Jesus and Mary Chain), though, against all odds, they have created some of the most appreciated music of the modern era.  Check out our list of some of the most memorable bands who made their passion for music a family affair.  What other artists can you think of?

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Confessions of a music snob

Living within the Madison music fan bubble as a car-less UW student for the past four years, my experiences with Top 40 tunes were limited at best. However, upon graduating and taking a day job working near a kitchen filled with devoted listeners of a certain Clear Channel station not particularly known for an exhaustive playlist, all that has changed. This change originally sent the music snob within me into a constant state of cringe — almost to the point of teeth-grating and thoughts of further self-injury.

After much soul-searching, however, I let down my guard and began to listen to the lyrics and music of today’s top tunes. Perhaps if I gave it a chance, I hypothesized, I’d realize that the indie snobbery needed to come to an end, and I’d begin to embrace mainstream pop music for what it is: Light, airy, low on substance and not horribly offensive, if not mostly enjoyable — sort of like cotton candy. Below are the findings from my so-called social experiment.

As it turns out, in my humble opinion, most of what is being played on this particular station continues to be crap, disproving my naively hopeful hypothesis. There are exceptions to every rule: Ne-Yo, a producer and performer who has worked closely penning hits for names like Beyonce and Rihanna, has a fantastically danceable song out right now [“Closer”], though it is on the verge of relentless overplay. This particular station has also caught wind of overseas talent providing a breath of fresh air to the status quo — both Duffy and Estelle are gaining airplay for their singles “Mercy” and “American Boy.” I also, as much as this pains me to admit it, don’t entirely mind the latest John Mayer single, “Say.”

Beyond these few gems, however, pickings are slim. It’s not even that much of the music is lacking in quality and originality, a legitimate organic energy that does not feel overproduced [though all of these things are true]. Music, as I’ve said before, can and does carry a lot of power, particularly when placed in a mass medium. Much of today’s popular music simply does not advance public discourse — in fact, in some cases, lyrical content may be doing much more harm than we know.

Take, for example, the surprise current #1 song, “I Kissed a Girl” by up-and-coming performer (and former gospel singer) Katy Perry. Perry has been lauded by many for her candid openness about kissing another woman, and this is perceived as promoting and supporting diversity and tolerance.

“No, I don’t even know your name
It doesn’t matter
You’re my experimental game
Just human nature
It’s not what, good girls do
Not how they should behave”

Instead of providing a positive media portrayal of a lesbian relationship, Perry chose to speak of kissing a woman in a way that was dehumanizing and states that the action is not what girls “should” do. This song’s portrayal of the LGBT community, in effect, perpetuates the Tila Tequila fallacy of what it means to be queer, which produces many harmful side effects, whether or not they were intended by Perry.

Perry’s song is just one of many radio songs that perpetuate far-than-ideal stereotypes and assumptions, as far as social justice is concerned. “When I Grow Up” by the Pussycat Dolls feeds the notion that many of today’s social networking-obsessed youth also have unreasonable expectations of becoming famous one day. Other songs continue to utilize terminology that is degrading to women and perpetuate sexist ideology.

All of that said, perhaps I’m taking this all a bit too seriously. The sixties — the days of the Beatles, Beach Boys and “good vibrations” — are long over and today’s market is completely different, catering to youth that have grown up surrounded by technology in a media environment that is constantly changing, so maybe I should cut the already-suffering industry a little slack. But then again, that wouldn’t be very snobby of me to do, now would it?

– Joe Erbentraut, True Endeavors Communications and Public Relations Intern

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