The Sellout Conundrum


Ingrid Michaelson, currently one of the most popular targets for venemous “sellout” accusations.

Sellout. The very mention of the term curdles the blood of music fans and bloggers. It symbolizes the death of original music and avant garde creativity. It is the harbinger of massive success and profits, high profile media tours, and sold out big venue concerts. A sellout is a very bad thing.

Suddenly the casual music consumer has the audacity to enjoy a band and not even consider the fans who listened to them “before they were cool.”

Ingrid Michaelson, formerly an artist struggling to get her music heard, propelled her single “The Way I Am” from backpage release to breakout hit by drafting the track into an advertisement for Old Navy and a showcase spot on hit program Grey’s Anatomy.

These savvy business moves gained her national exposure and are directly responsible for the success of her debut Girls and Boys.

So why has Miss Michaelson become anathema in the eyes of many fans and bloggers? It’s quite simple, really.

Human nature. The fabled scorpion and frog deal.

We revile an artist if he or she becomes successful, though we constantly extoll his or her virtues to the masses when they’re languishing in obscurity.

We rack our minds pondering why people will not stand up and recognize what is clearly amazing work, but we are disgusted by fans who only first discovered the band because of their breakout, major label record.

We’re tired of listening to classic rock and pop staples on television, yet we are disappointed when an artist accepts money and widespread publicity by having a song featured on mainstream, nationally syndicated programs.

We eagerly accept an office promotion or pay raise, yet we spurn an artist who seeks to market their music commercially.

Here at Hurry Home Dark Cloud, we applaud the accomplishments of indie artists who have broken into the mainstream.

So here’s to you sellouts, rogues, charlatans, scalawags, reprobates, ye swindlers of indie cool!

Here’s to you!


Ingrid Michaelson “The Way I Am” from Girls and Boys (2007)

Published in: on March 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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