EW.com offers six ways to fix music. David Browne gives his half-dozen suggestions for what record labels can do to improve quality -- and only one involves Jennifer Lopez
Jennifer Lopez
Credit: Jennifer Lopez: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

EW.com offers six ways to fix music

Sometimes the music business can be most amusing in its unpredictability. Last week, for instance, an album by the most disreputable band on the planet (Insane Clown Posse) sold double the amount of a disc by the supposedly classiest (the Wallflowers).

Sometimes the biz can be baffling: Just when you thought teen pop was dying, along comes Justin Timberlake, whose solo debut sold in one week what the White Stripes and the Strokes have taken a YEAR to do.

Most times, though, the biz can be just plain infuriating. In that spirit, I dare the collective labels and conglomerates to do any of the following:

Stop with the ”Now” and ”Totally Hits” albums. Let’s face it — these compilations are played out. Even the public seems to know it, since sales are sagging. And no wonder: Just look at the top 10 right now. With few exceptions, would YOU want to buy a collection of those songs in a few months’ time?

Release ”Avril Lavigne — The Early Years.” She wants to prove she’s always been a faux-rocker and not someone who is arguably MORE contrived than Britney? Let’s hear those Canadian recordings. Now.

Speaking of Avril… hire a spell-checker. ”Sk8er Boi”? ”Luv U Better”? ”Dirrty”? ”Hot in Herre”? What’s going onn?

Let the American public hear Elvis unplugged. You’d think by now that every Presley album would have been reissued — and reissued, and reissued. You would be wrong. A couple of years before his death, RCA unleashed ”Having Fun With Elvis Onstage,” an LP of stage patter and nothing else. No, I’m not joking: thirty-something minutes of Elvis talking to the audience and joking with his band, all strung together from different concerts. It’s a masterpiece of marketing depravity, and it genuinely adds to our understanding of El. And guess what — you can only get it as a Dutch import. The American industry should be ashamed.

Put out a single by an R&B or rap act that DOESN’T ”feature” another artist. Currently 13 of the top 40 hits pair up two acts — and only ONE of them is by Santana. In all other cases, it’s usually a rapper and an R&B singer, joined together for no other reason than to reach two different demographics and several different radio formats at once. Like the ”Now” albums, what was once a vaguely refreshing novelty is now a cliché, and it’s time to put it to rest.

Not release ”Jenny From the Block” by J. Lo featuring Styles and Jadakiss. Oops, too late.