“‘If Clive’s selling, you don’t want to be buying,’ said longtime music mogul David Geffen. “I can’t think of a more opportune moment for him to do it. His big acts are all in decline.”
“‘It’s a great time to get out,” said music veteran Irving Azoff, who co-manages the Backstreet Boys.”
That’s from an above-the-fold, front-page story in the June 12, 2002, The Wall Street Journal, a story about how Clive Calder, “the reclusive majority of Zomba Music Group,” is planning to have Bertelsmann AG buy Zomba, a company that has on its roster the aforementioned Backstreet Boys, as well as the troubled R. Kelly, the fortunately absent Michael Bolton, the band now known more for a member wanting to go in space than its music, ‘N Sync, and the woman who is photographed tugging down the top of her trou, Britney Spears. The Journal has only been running photos for a number of weeks now; ol’ Brit looks positively Tiger Beat in the shot.
Back in the ’60s there was a category of music that was known as “Bubble Gum.” Part of it was associated with asinine lyrics like “Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy,” which not even a fast-food franchise has deigned to pull out of the stacks. The other part was that it was well known that like a piece of chewing gum, the flavor doesn’t last. To borrow a notion from James Gleick’s Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, the pop chews of today are firmly affixed to the bottoms of seats not long after their wrappers have been removed. A bottle of screw-top merlot has better legs than some of these performers.
As we consider the list of the acts that Bertelsmann is going to be, apparently, forced to pick up (there is some sort of contractual deal that exists between Zomba and Bertelsmann), all we can say is, “Güten nacht.”