The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Friday, April 30, 2004

More on the Shiny Shoe Music Kerfuffle

In deference to Cookie, yesterday I agreed to henceforth refer to 'Boro Park Rock' as Shiny Shoe music (coined by a Yerushalmi musician in honor of the shiny black shoes that are de rigor for the performers of this genre). Although I agree with Blog in Dm, and Velvel, that Cookie should worry about more important things and that it's really no big deal, I think the coinage of the term 'shiny shoe music' was inspired so I'm happy to use it.

Dm, who knows a lot more about the JM music industry than I, is right that Boro Park is indeed the capital of shiny shoe music (and his analogy to Nashville and Motown is exactly right) and Velvel's description of the music itself as "slick, over-produced pop music that is engineered to sell to the masses" is spot on. He adds that:

"One could argue about the kedusha (holiness) that goes into making of this music. Arguing intentions is very difficult. Only G-d can know the inspirations of a person's soul. The one thing we know for sure is that the words are holy. Aside from the words, the only difference between that and secular pop is the demographic of the consumer."

I have argued before that it is possible to take holy words that come from Tehillim and pasukim and debase them with tunes that come straight from the secular pop music world (but sometimes not in a straight way; hamayvin yavin), are not holy and are designed only to mimic popular music and sell records. When you add to that the over the top and weird digital production techniques and the increasingly ridiculous, unrefined (as my parents would say, 'prust') stage productions that require little boys to wear goofy costumes and chubby 20-something-Yeshiva-Bochrim to wear Armani suits, wrap-around sun glasses and head mics and perform Madonna-like dance steps, it doesn't matter what the words are supposed to mean; their real meaning and holiness is lost.