Classical music has seen its fortunes dwindle over the years, with Slate declaring a total flat line a couple of months ago. Changing tastes, shifting demographics, budget cuts to arts programs, and myriad other issues have led to the art form’s seeming demise. FYI:
In 2013, total classical album sales actually rose by 5 percent, according to Nielsen. But that’s hardly a robust recovery from the 21 percent decline the previous year. And consider the relative standing of classical music. Just 2.8 percent of albums sold in 2013 were categorized as classical. By comparison, rock took 35 percent; R&B 18 percent; soundtracks 4 percent. Only jazz, at 2.3 percent, is more incidental to the business of American music.
GroupMuse is trying to generate some excitement around classical music with house parties. But as everyone knows, these days, if you want to get some pop culture attention and maybe stir up a bit of controversy to take something viral, there’s one fail-safe move. A dance move actually: twerking.
A group called Classical Comeback created the video above, which features old-fashioned booty shaking, some synchronized cheerleading routine moves and some hair flipping. But there’s also a lot of twerking.
Notice at the end, the video reminds you that you’ve been listening to three minutes of classical music. But yeah, kind of no. You’ve been watching the women dancing for three minutes and the music has kind become white noise in the back. Does this really do much to raise the profile of classical music? If you turned the screen away and then asked the average listener the name of the composer they were just listening to, would they know? Probably not.
The opera has also been in a crisis for fans in recent times. Their solution is to make it more accessible with live casts and opportunities to watch performances at movie theaters, hitting a price point that’s probably more in line with the target audience. Danielle De Niese was on CBS promoting her upcoming star turn in the Metropolitan Opera’s performance of “Cosi Fan Tutte,” which opens April 26 and will also be released in 2,000 movie theaters. No twerking in that show.
“The reach of the Metropolitan Opera is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger,” said De Niese. And it’s the opera that people are paying attention to.