“Also, I can’t help feeling that I prefer the music of the Pet Shop Boys to the music of, say, Erasure partly because it is more authentic, more sincerely meant and much more, well soulfully, delivered, even (especially) in its flatness. I feel the same way about comparing the music of Joni Mitchell to – I’ll say it – the music of Britney Spears. Jimi Hendrix or Trevor Rabin? I mean to say! It surely is clear that Hendrix has something to say, Rabin does not. Led Zeppelin compared to Aerosmith, likewise. The Pets, Joni, Jimi, and Zep really meant what they were saying, and it shows in the music, especially at the point of composition. That’s what I hear, anyway. The mistake is of course to conflate authenticity with aesthetic value: clearly, Phil Collins means it, and that is the problem. Surely David Bowie’s use of artifice speaks to ironic distance, but then the project as a whole (pop art) feels meant, intended, done for a good reason. One feels that he had something to say. I can’t feel that about, say, Duran Duran, even though I like some of their songs. I suppose I mean that Run DMC are more authentic than Michael Jackson, in the end, and while that is not necessarily a good arbiter for taste or judgment, denying the truth of these perceptions seems like an odd thing to do.”
– Andrew Goodwin (interviewing Simon Frith) on authenticity and popular music
I feel I could go a 750 word tangent about this, but I’ll let it stew for a bit. Agree or disagree with Goodwin? Any other wild or sexy thoughts come to mind here?