Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The Curious Case of Sting

Sting has to be advanced, but somehow I just can't embrace him as an advanced artist. He's done it all: played the Super Bowl halftime show, gone solo, taken all the credit for his former band's music, explored world music, starred in movies, let his music be used in commercials, infuriated Police fans, and don't forget that remake of "Don't Stand So Close to Me." But I just can't bring myself to call him advanced. I have a theory that maybe Sting was always terrible, but Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland somehow got him to write good songs. I cannot recognize what Sting does today as in any way related to what he did with the Police. Ordinarily I would say that's a nice advanced move, but his music is incredibly lifeless.

When I was in Berlin a few years ago, I signed up for what I thought would be a modern-dance class. Turns out what's known as "modern" in New York is known as "New Dance" in Berlin, and what's known as "modern" in Berlin is known as "jazz" in New York. Anyway, I realized during the warm-up that the class was going to be jazz, not modern. But I didn't want to be rude, so I stayed until the end. Adding to my misery, the music we were dancing to was really generic, like a step below smooth jazz. After about 20 minutes of torture, I realized that the awful music we had been listening to was Sting. I was astonished.

So what happened? Was he terrible and saved by his bandmates? Is he so advanced that I can't see it? If you believe in the advanced theory as I do, Sting should be advanced. Now I know how Stephen Hawking must have felt trying to figure out what happens to information in black holes. If you can prove to me that Sting is advanced, I'll give you a rock'n'roll encyclopedia.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

could it be that Sting never embraced the Blues, and tried to advance straight to Jazz, thus skipping an all-important step in the process?

Anonymous said...

...and that he did so with the utmost confidence in his own genius, indeed feeling completely justified in doing so...thus making him extremely advanced...

Jason Hartley said...

It's true that he has never truly embraced blues/rock'n'roll, which is probably why I don't see him as advanced. But I'm not ready to concede that his was the order of genius where he could skip rock'n'roll and still be advanced.

Anonymous said...

So, can Sting ever be advanced? What if he were to team up with, say, BB King, and do a blues album? I'd say no. But if he teamed up with Peter Gabriel and did a Blues album, that might work. What do you think?

Jason Hartley said...

Yes, a duet with B.B. King would not be advanced, but the Peter Gabriel idea intrigues me. My gut feeling is that Sting is advanced because the Police were so good. If a regular advanced artist did a duet with P. Diddly, I'd love it. Yet I found it repulsive when Sting did it. I think it would be best if he covered "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger, with an appearance by Bob Seger. Something like that would convince me.