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Has Aerosmith Sold Out?

Growing up listening to Aerosmith at my father’s knee, I always thought that the band was something special—something in your face and hard, something to tell the establishment to go f*** itself. And maybe it was, way back then. It was all anti-consumer, anti-status quo, and when you heard “Dream On,” you thought of something primal and real, not a freaking car for sale or, gasp, Gap jeans.

Today it’s quite different, isn’t it? From Aerosmith to U2, every pop star to even oldies songs we never thought we’d hear mutilated to sell or endorse or promote stupidity (my husband’s and my own song has been twisted and tortured into dozens of shadows of its original self), it seems as if music has lost its integrity. Perhaps it began when video killed the radio star. Maybe it was the gluttonous 80s, during which money really started to rule the Western world more than peace or free thought.

All I know is that right now, as “Walk This Way” plays on the little radio in my office, I’m not transported to something funky and rebellious; I’m thinking of American Idol, which I honestly don’t watch and don’t plan on watching since I saw it during the first season. I have no idea which season it’s in right now; all I do know is that Steven Tyler is judging now, something I never thought I’d hear. Didn’t he spend his life being a real rocker, not a tryout on some TV show?

To be real rock, it should have to have suffering and road trips and arrests and plenty of foul-mouthed phrases flung at authority figures—and if it becomes a commercial or a popular television show (or even worse, a reality show), it should be instantly demoted from its rock status to something sufficiently inferior, like Blue Light Special Tunes or Commercialist Crap.