>> Sunday, February 14, 2010
I think it's pretty well-known that nothing can turn a music critic's mind to mush faster than considering whether someone has "sold out," but David Hajdu's entry in the field is impressively vacant. To an even greater extent than the typical faux-hippie rant, I have no idea what "selling out" even means here. What is it about the funny Smothers Brothers appearance that opened The Kids Are Alright that constituted "selling out," exactly? Being self-conscious and ironic? Promoting your music on television? What popular musician hasn't "sold out" under these definitions, and why would we care? Is it any more "selling out" than taking money to write as a music critic and then writing witless Abraham Simpson screeds about video games and bands whose lead singer's and best 60s album's names you can't even be bothered to look up? (I guess the line between "selling out" and "phoning it in" is a thin one, but Hajdu strikes me as further over the line on both counts than even the tiredest zombie classic rock act coming to your local county fair.)
Anyway, if your definition of "selling out" leads you to the conclusion that the Townshend-Daltrey band that played the Super Bowl is "essentially the same" as the Who circa 1967, you really need to consider abandoning the concept altogether.