Starting yesterday and running throughout the weekend is the EMP Pop Con 2009, the EMP's annual symposium of pointy-headed music theorizing. For the record, I love this shit, and this year's conference—entitled Dance Music Sex Romance: Pop and the Body Politic—has plenty to recommend it. Among the titles that caught my eye on my initial spin through the schedule: David Cantwell's "My Mother Wants a Man with a Slow Hand, or I Think Conway Twitty Might Be My Dad: A Not Entirely Disinterested History of Sweet, Sweet Country Lovin’"; Robert Fink's "Ain’t That…Peculiar? Selling Masochism at Motown, 1962-1969"; and Mike McGonigal's "Stained Panties & Hoarse Metaphors: Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers' Performance of "Nearer My God to Thee" at the Great Shrine Auditorium Concert in Los Angeles, CA in 1955."
However, nothing can hold a candle to tonight's Keynote: A Conversation with Diane Warren. For those who don't know, Diane Warren is the songwriter behind a freakish number of humongous hits, almost all of them love songs, many of them power ballads and/or blockbuster-movie love themes, all of them lit up with Warren's patented pop schmaltz.
What's more, Warren's a notorious oddball. In this Diane Warren profile in the UK's Independent, Warren's good friend Simon Cowell holds forth on her "weird combination of arrogance and crippling insecurity." And then there's this:
For all her business skills and ability at hitmaking from heartbreak, Warren is famously single; she calls herself a "100 per cent loner". She says she's never been in love, and that the deep emotions tapped for her tunes come from other places. "I've had my heart broken a lot - you can have your heart broken if a song isn't a hit. I know about heartbreak," she explains...One of Warren's most personal songs, "Because You Loved Me", wasn't a romantic song, but rather a tribute to her late father; while the longing of "How Do I Live" came from imagining what it would feel like to never be able to write music again.
In short, Diane Warren is a superhuman hit-making robot who knows a ton about selling music/sex/romance to the masses, and tonight the venerable Ann Powers will be interviewing her onstage at the Sky Church. The event runs from 6:00-7:30 pm, is free, and will be much more substantial/less gawky than this blog post. Full PopCon info here.