I rarely watch live TV. Yes, I’ll turn on the news in the morning while I’m getting ready for work. But for the most part, it is watching via DVR. Which means that I can view what I want when it is convenient (generally in the evening, when, I suppose, most people watch TV) and get through it a bit more expeditiously than might otherwise be the case (yes, as in fast-forwarding through the. . . ).
It has recently occurred to me that when I’m done watching the DVR and select the “View television” option on the screen, almost invariably there is some sort of live entertainment contest on. “The Voice.” “The X Factor.” “American Idol.”
A seemingly endless number of people singing covers who wouldn’t cut it in a dive bar. Cee Lo with some sort of bird. Britney Spears earning some sort of living. A few people who have better pipes than the people judging them. And on it goes.
Apparently, America’s Got a Huge Appetite for This Stuff.
But what has become of the performance, in prime time, of musicians who aren’t in a talent contest? Where are the prime-time shows that bring out bands?
You can catch musicians performing earlier in the day, be it on the “Today Show” or “Ellen.” You can catch musicians on both of the Jimmys at night, as well as with Jay, Dave and Conan.
But from 8 pm to 11 pm?
While one might argue that “variety” shows no longer cut it, how to explain “Dancing with the Stars,” which is less about the dancing per se than it is the performers who are associated with doing things that aren’t dancing (to say nothing of the professional dancers—female and male alike—who are more provocative than you are likely to find cutting the rug at any dress ball)?
Prime time music is background music only, unless it is “Glee,” which is, again, about covers. Get your song on “New Girl,” “Gossip Girl,” or some other girl, and you’re going to get some traction.
Otherwise, what can a singer or a band do in order to gain some visibility on television? It seems that the only possible route is to become a vocal/musical imitator extraordinaire, because when it comes to TV, familiarity breeds comfort, and there’s nothing better than an audience that’s comfortably numb.