Dan Hill’s byline in Maclean’s usually rests like a rotten cherry atop 5000 words about his problems being the whitest black guy in Canada, or how he got sick then got better, or how his bratty kid is a brat.
He must have embarrassing photos of someone on the masthead over there.
He’s back, and no, the article isn’t online yet, so you’re just going to have to trust me on this one:
Dan Hill, multi-million selling songwriter, must at least possess some original, bracing insights into what’s right and wrong with pop music today, right?
Hill’s thesis this week is: “Pop music has never been better.”
First, we get that familiar verbal montage that, if we were watching a corny TV doc, would begin, or end, with that clip of the poor fellow from KWK (name, anyone?) smashing a record:
“Since the dawn of recorded music, every generation has felt shocked by the musical tastes of the next. Sinatra hated Elvis. Elvis hated the Beatles.”
But — just off the top of my 6:30 am, only-one-coffee head:
- Elvis worshiped Dean Martin.
- Paul Simonon and Joe Strummer used to binge-listen to Anthony Newley.
- John Lydon’s favorite songs include Noel Coward’s “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs Worthington.”
Let’s move along…
Calling it a “high quality” song that is “superior to those of any other generation,” Hill praises…
Beyonce and Jay Z’s “Drunk in Love.”
It’s “messy, raw and real,” you see, and furthermore, it “beats the hell out of America’s, and later, the Captain and Tennille’s ’70s hit ‘Muskrat Love’…”
Because that’s THE representative “raw, messy and real” love-or-something-like-it song of the 1970s.
Dan Hill then calls Kanye West “the new Bob Dylan.”
THEN he compares Taylor Swift’s compositions to “some of Joni Mitchell’s best writing in the 70s.”
I’ll let that sink in, and I don’t even like her.
Most grievously, Hill calls Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” “deeply moving.”
Hill does this in a way that suggests she wrote that song: it’s part of a paragraph about singer/songwriters like West and Eminem.
As a Canadian songwriter and life-time industry insider, Dan Hill surely knows that.
Now, if that wasn’t the impression he meant to convey, he should have taken better care with that paragraph and avoided the faulty parallelism. Ideally, an editor at Maclean’s should have suggested breaking up the graph, and/or adding a line like, “As for pure performers who interpret other’s songs, there’s Miley Cyrus…”
But maybe that editor is the one in those incriminating photos.