Saturday, March 14, 2009

Barry Manilow as weapon of mass destruction?

As the old cliché goes, desperate times call for desperate measures.

This cliché usually comes into play when people are attempting to solve a problem, and the conventional ways of handling it do not work.

An unusual example of this happened recently in New Zealand. City officials in Christchurch were confronted with solving the problem of unruly teens that were hanging out in its central mall district, according to the Associated Press.

Their solution? The Central City Business Association decided to pipe in music by American pop singer Barry Manilow in an attempt to calm the teens down, according to the AP.

The merchants face legitimate problems because of this situation. The group that hangs out at the mall often get drunk, use drugs, and leave behind garbage. I think merchants in any country would be frustrated by this.

Nothing else has worked, so now they place their hope in the mellow stylings of Manilow. For those not familiar with Manilow, he has sold millions of records with easy listening songs like 'Mandy,' 'Copacabana,' and 'I Write the Songs.'

For a person that has my musical tastes, his music is easy to ridicule. I consider his songs to be one step above elevator music. But, then again, I am sure there are a lot of people who do not like the music I do.

Like most things, the court of public opinion is where the quality of Manilow's music can be judged. If that is the case, then he is a talented performer. Like I wrote earlier, he has sold millions of records. His level of success is not something that can be ignored.

I guess that is why people in a small country on the other side of the world can view him as a resource to use when dealing with their problem.

When discussing this issue, Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale said, "The intention is to change the environment in a positive way...I did not say Barry Manilow is a weapon of mass destruction."

That is funny because I have considered his music to be a weapon of mass destruction for years. I felt that way before the term 'weapon of mass destruction' was even invented.

I have always thought that his music is where brain cells go to die. If I had to choose between listening to his music and watching paint dry the choice would be easy: I would be watching the paint.

I know I am being harsh, but we all have things that we do not like. Musical tastes (like many things) are quite subjective. Still, I would like to be a fly on the wall there in New Zealand as this solution is being applied.

True, it may drive away teenagers, but I wonder how this will impact adults. We all mellow somewhat as we grow older, so maybe the adults will embrace this solution.

As for the teenagers, I expect some backlash. It has been a long time since I was a teenager. I know I was rebellious during my teen years, and I do not believe kids have changed that much over the years.

If that is the case, I can see a scenario in which more and more teens will go to the mall just to make the point that they cannot be driven away.

After they have made their point, they will likely go away and search for a new place to hang out.

If that happens, chalk up a big win for Barry Manilow.

Results do not lie.

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