LOS ANGELES - American Idol loser Kellie Pickler is providing just what higher ups in the music industry and academia have been waiting for: vindication.
Pickler, whose new album, Small Town Girl debuted at Number One on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart and at Number 9 on the all-genre Billboard 200, proves what music industry executives and academic experts have contended all along: the general population is not qualified to select their own culture.
After finishing sixth place in last year's American Idol competition, Pickler's current success reiterates emphatically, say the experts, what previous loveable loser Clay Aiken had already suggested with his commercial success: a popularity contest is no way to select the music we listen to.
"People don't know what they like," said Rolf Schmidt-Holtz Chief Executive Officer of Sony BMG Music Entertainment. "Of course they think they do, but they are just as wrong about that as they are with the choices they make when they are left on their own," said Schmidt-Holtz.
"The ordinary, everyday person is wholly unqualified to decide what music they like much less what music they should hear," said Jack Isquith, Executive Director of Music Industry Relations at AOL Music. "We are highly paid professionals; they are rank amateurs. The arrogance of the everyday person who thinks that he can just walk into a CD shop or hop on Amazon, listen to few snippets of music and tell from that what he likes is appalling."
"That's our job," said Isquith, "and the last seventy-five years of music sales and record industry profits have proven we knew what we are doing."
Academics who study musical theory and music appreciation are equally adamant about the statement made by Pickler's commercial success despite her decisive rejection by American Idol voters.
Pickler is a musical "Grandma Moses," says Albin Q. Zak IV, a musicologist at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. "She is a true primitive whose superficial simplicity belies an inner sophistication that only the trained eye or ear can fully appreciate. There is no way an musically uneducated American Idol viewer could hear that."
Without the critical acclaim that Pickler received from musicologists Pickler would have slipped into musical oblivion, said Dr. Zak.
But more than just proving a few executives and experts correct, Pickler may have helped salvage this generation's musical civilization, says an expert who studies musical culture's shifts over time.
"Popular music fads, like rock music or hip hop, are cultural natural disasters, and we were in the middle of several," said music historian Philip Dossett, Robert W. Tineker Professor at the University of Chicago.
"Once these music fads get out of our control, they must be allowed to run their course, regardless of the cultural havoc they wreak along the way," said Dossett. "It's akin to a forest fire that jumps the firebreaks; we just have to watch while it consumes the forest and it burns itself out. Fortunately, natural mechanisms, for rock it's fatal drug overdoses and for rap it's hand-gun deaths, will do their work given time."
"But from the ashes a new forest springs, and Kellie Pickler is seeding the vibrant growth that will regenerate a new living and more fulfilling musical culture in America," said Dr. Dossett.
Copyright 2006 Douglas Salguod