Ingrid Michaelson has had several of her songs chosen to be played on the wildly popular Grey’s Anatomy TV show and, subsequently, her MySpace page is a huge hit. She has a spirited voice, writes all her own songs, and no one would begrudge her success. Now I don’t watch that particular show, but if it matches Girls and Boys, it’s clear I’ve had a lucky escape. God knows, sitting through The Young Doctors all those years ago was bad enough. Regardless, TV soundtrack supervisors liked the sound of Michaelson’s music, and it’s easy to see why: the quasi-breathless little-girl cute voice, safe airy arrangements, crisp state-of-the-art-of-being-inoffensive production, and of course the lyrics to suit the efficiently delivered “emotions” of the show.
Marshall McLuhan remarked, “As the unity of the modern world becomes increasingly a technological rather than a social affair, the techniques of the arts provide the most valuable means of insight into the real direction of our own collective purposes”. So much of prime-time TV seems designed to be escapist fluff—slickly packaged with antiseptic sex appeal. Too many shows are accompanied by an appropriately skilled but innocuous soundtrack that are arguably one part dramatic integrity and one part ensuring the viewer/consumer receives the other creative work: that of the advertiser. Ingrid Michaelson is a young person trying to write some songs, dreaming of (and tasting) success. While Girls and Boys is way too polished for my tastes, it has some slight traces of the kind of grit required to create a real pearl, and who’s to say she won’t do just that? Millions of people might feel she already has. I’m just not one of them. At one point she sings: “You’ve had your fill of me”. Yes, Ingrid, I have.