Let me begin by apologizing…to everyone. Especially anyone who reads past this word.
Not long ago, I was walking around the racks at my favorite record store in Nashville, just perusing the aisles looking for a few of the albums on the seemingly never-ending list I keep on my phone, when I overheard some other patrons of the store talking. They too were in search of some music, but their presence in the store alone was intriguing.
Here’s the part where you think I’m a judgmental ass, but they are not the point…typically I wouldn’t peg an early/mid twenties woman who wears fur boots with a mini skirt and is a tiny-dog-in-her-purse away from being the next celebrity look-alike we ALL care so much about ( just watch any/all new channels) to be the kind of person that you’d find looking for music in an actual record store (iTunes maybe)…let alone a trio of these women…let alone an independend record store…let alone in the vinyl section (more on that below).
So this gaggle of Gucci is walking around the store and gets to the aisle beside the one I’m in, when they’re approached by a most Indie Hipster looking dude (once again, he’s not the point). Maybe they know this guy, maybe they don’t, but the first words out of his mouth to them are ” Hey, do you guys like Mumford and Sons?”. OK. To which their leader’s response was (and I’m eggagerating) “ccchyeah, do you have it on vinyl?”. That was the 234th time I’d heard the words “Mumford and Sons” that day and a little piece of me died that very moment….(again I don’t know any of these people and may be generalizing, but that’s not the point)
Not because I’m a defender of the notions of independent record stores or a huge fan (or hater) of Mumford and Sons (in fact, I’ve not heard more than two songs of theirs), but because it reminded me why I have an inherent habit of not liking things that are popular, initially at least, for the simple fact that they are popular. This seems to happen to me a lot, especially with music. After much thought on the topic, here is what I’ve come up with: there’s a group of pop artists/musicians in EVERY genre.
All of them. I don’t think there is a separate genre of music called pop, it just exists as a sub-sect within the other styles of music. Every genre has a spectrum that runs from pop to independent to underground. And that’s fine (not that it needs MY approval), that’s what makes the world go around…woohoo and la di da! But these groups, to me and I assume many, represents the watered down portions of these styles. This would, and does, piss me off were I a fan of a particular style of music or band. To think that other music listeners/passers by think THIS is what ____ (americana, grindcore, dubstep, whatever the hell you listen to) is…yeah right!!
The argument to that is ” Well who cares what people think or how they dissect the music you listen to?” Good point. Of course I’d hate to think that people whose lives are deeply interwoven with the music they love are drawn to it because of popular opinion or fashion. But to say ” Oh, I don’t care if people fully understand what makes true ____” is kind of a lie. Inherent to any opinion is a certain degree, however small, of pride and identity.
Not that everything has to have crisp and distinct lines…”this is where one style ends and the other begins, right here, this spot”. Not at all; blending genres and incorporating new ideas into different artforms is absolutely necessary to keeping music growing and listeners engaged. Some of my favorite bands are groups that took multiple influences and turned them into something greater. But most of the time, a merge of styles results in a product that is inferior to any of the original ‘ingredients’. And, of course, this somehow ends up being insanely popular…oh well.
Keeping this in mind and surveying the new boom of indie bands making it big in music (to get an idea, take your brain out, smoke crack and watch the Grammys; they consistently prove that they have their fingers miles away from the pulse of music), it occurs to me that what we’re seeing is a recycling of failed/dated musical trends being infused into the current ones. People from other genres are changing their look and sneaking in to these new-fangled music booms. “Let’s keep the frail, wounded musician thing going, but roll it into garage rock and neo-folk music” “let’s hand out Ray Bans and womens’ jeans to kind of punk bands”. That’s the ticket!
Perhaps what I’m saying is that I want people to proudly and firmly stand up for things they’re passionate about. If nothing else, conversation with someone with some musical conviction is more fun, if only for the challenge they present in trying to convince them that you’re right and that death metal is way more brutal than black metal (or some equally cerebral argument).
Also (and I’m writing this while watching the news) people need to stop painting on the eyebrows they don’t naturally have. Just stop.