Before reading “Part 2” I strongly suggest reading Part 1 and all of the comments. Thanks to all the people who commented, it’s a really fun discussion and I wasn’t expecting that post to come about when I set out to write it. Sometimes once you sit down and start typing, something different than what you plan ends up being written. My mind has a mind of its own.
Lipa Schmeltzer had become well known inside the Chassidishe world. He composed and wrote lyrics for some very famous songs, including some from MBD’s early 90’s albums. His own first few CD’s did fairly well and he started putting out some great material. Lipa’s CD titled Letova was probably his first CD to break into the mainstream. He was becoming more popular in places that not many “Chassidishe” singers were popular. On his next CD titled “Lipa Bederech” he had a song on there called “Gelt”, and it was considered a massive hit.
At the 17th Annual HASC concert Sheya Mendlowitz, who produced the show, wanted Lipa to be there. Lipa’s Rebbe strongly advised against performing in front of mixed seating crowds. HASC wasn’t going to become a separate seating affair so Lipa appearing there would have not been possible. Thats when it happened. IN my opion the birthing of a new concept and generation of Jewish music occurred. Lipa and Sheya came up with the idea of filming a music video, and presenting it at that show. They used his most famous song mainstream song up to that date, Gelt.
The video was huge, and through that video Lipa became a house hold name from Lakewood to Teaneck to Boro Park to Crown Heights. What really drew people in was that only a select handful of people actually SAW the video. If you weren’t at the concert you didn’t see it. Word got out, and people were talking about it non stop. Eventually it was leaked onto the Internet. That’s where it took off. The Lipa Gelt video was the precursor for the current plethora of Jewish music and video clips on the Internet today.
Since then Lia made at least 3 more videos, all have seen tremendous success on the Internet. I know there is debate about the quality of those videos. The Diet video does not compare to Gelt, and yes Abi Melebt has its own controversy regarding the music used. There is even debate about how making a video and it being shown at a mixed seating venue is really any different from being there live. Either way you are entertaining a mixed crowd.
Once again I’m running long, just to make a seemingly basic point. Let me march ahead to Shloime Gertner.
I already established that Lipa’s Gelt video was the foundation for the barrage of videos clips found today on YouTube. Once the stigma of frum Jews going onto YouTube fell off, people started using YouTube a lot. I think the first newcomer to really benefit from the youTube craze is Shloime Gertner. A relative unknown. Another Chassidishe man, this time from England. Us bloggers first started writing about Shloime Gertner from clips of him doing local England shows started popping up on YouTube.
Since the masses were starved for frum content on YouTube Gertner’s clips made it everywhere. With the now already established Jewish Blogosphere, blogs like Chaptzem and Vos Is Nais with thier huge numbers, linked to these videos. Gertner was quickly becoming a household name, and he had no yichus, no connection to anyone else. All we knew was the small details being provided by the producers of his CD.
Jewish online magazine sites like Shlager and ShiruLo would talk about this new Gertner singer non stop. Audio clips of him singing were being emailed around. He was such a well known name, people were waiting, standing arms open, expecting this new singers debut release. When his CD eventually came out it was well worth the wait and the hype. Shloime’s voice may not be on the level of MBD or Fried’s, or even Shwkey’s, but the CD was excellent. I reviewed it myself, I fell under the spell and I am almost certainly going to go to that Lipa/Gertner show.
In the time that all that has happened YouTube and the Internet have now established themselves as huge parts in the mix. Type any name into YouTube, any Jewish singer and you can find a clip of them performing at a concert. You can find clips of fans singing their songs. Parody videos of fans favorite groups and even home movies of little kids singing along to their favorite Fried or Shwekey hora.
The Internet and YouTube is here to stay, it’s had a strong effect on the secular world, but in the Jewish Music world it’s effect has been evolutionary. Lipa’s mainstream success has to be at least in part credited to those videos breaking out on the Internet. Now everyone is online. Hours after every concert we can watch home video clips. People review the shows on multiple websites, people post their pictures. The Jewish Music community has gone global, and now if you have the right stuff, you can use that to promote what you have to sell.
This all leads us back once again to Benny Friedman. Benny is the son of Rabbi Manis Friedman. A very well known speaker and inspirational writer in the Chabad world. His other claim to fame is that Rabbi Manis Friedman is Avrham Fried’s brother. That makes Benny Friedman Avraham Fried’s nephew. Benny’s vocals undeniably sound similar to his Uncles. That may bring cause for debate down the road, but I’d rather a Fried vocal clone to almost anything else. I hope when the finished product is presented to us Benny won’t sound too identical to Fried, but based on what we’ve heard so far on the Internet, it will be amazing. He’s got the tools, and the years of experience growing up as a nephew to one of the most successful frum singers of all time.
What in my opinion makes Benny even more a part of the next generation is his use of the Internet to make a presence for himself. Not only are there dozens of excellent clips of Benny online, but he has used MySpace and his own website and blogs to add a voice and personality to what we can expect from him. Benny has embraced what those previous to him might have rejected. It has paid off for him so far because people are talking. They are talking about him, like they talked about Gertner. They are passing around those video clips and links, like they passed around those Lipa videos.
These singers have made the Internet not only relevant, but a must to become well know before they have an album of their own. I can’t predict what will happen from now, but I think the pressure is huge. The future of this brave new world lays on the shoulders of these new singers. Will Gertner’s second CD be as huge as his first? Will Benny Friedman deliver on this hype and pre-buzz.
We don’t know for sure, I don’t think anyone does. But I think if the short history of YouTube and the Internet and blogs are any hint at whats to come, we can expect something amazing. I hope more singers embrace YouTube and the Internet. I look forward to what new concepts come about, and what new ideas singers and producers implement via these new tools. Either way I think all this brings us into the new generation. The next generation of Jewish Music stars will be built upon this new global community.