Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Stuck in The Middle with Poo
Chances are, that if you are one of the 3567 (and rising) people who have ever logged into this page to look and wonder at the delightful prose and disorientating flashing pictures, you probably have at least some grasp of musical universe outside of local radio or The Daily Stars revered Playlist Column.
Chances are you may even be one of the enlightened few who are happy to admit you are hip to new or even experimental sounds, maybe a bit of Brazilian dubstep or African electronica and the associated sounds they may have introduced you to? I’m guessing (and ultimately hoping) however that you don’t fit into the depressingly narrow and restrictive group of people who term themselves ‘rock’ fans, looking for ‘authenticity’ and a love of ‘real people, singing real songs’
This outlook has been prevalent from the birth of pop music, essentially as a method of favouring the mediocre over the dangerous. A brilliant whitewashing of the sex, violence and fun prevalent in funk, soul and dance music in favour of its easily accessible and successfully marketable drive time hell.
And this is how we come to the impasse that fails to bring the music industry to its knees today. Forget pirate bay or YouTube, the reason the big four companies are in dire straits is they are in contempt of their target market, namely the ‘kids’. The music business as we know it was born of the back of the birth of a young subculture in the sixties, artist albums dominated, and the template was set in stone from there on. Whilst marginal labels like Motown were allowed to exist simultaneously whilst they churned out the hits, they were never considered as serious, and therefore not assimilated until the numbers proved it was embarrassing not to.
The eighties saw the rise of the dull adult rock peddled by like likes of Dire Straits and U2, and anything of a vaguely ‘coloured’ nature was only allowed if it fitted into these parameters, (see Michael Jackson etc.) Acid house may have shaken youth culture but the record companies soon and very cleverly marketed the bedroom labels with endless cash in comps or just bought them out wholesale. This is where we end up, with the cultural black hole of the kooks, Kaiser Chiefs and Shouting for Fucking Girls. A world where Duffy is embraced because “her music could have been made any time in the last twenty years”, and that is seen as a good thing….
So why care? Because rockism is pervasive and everything culturally is viewed through this monocle of mediocrity and half-cut power ballad. Rockist journalists peddle the “no personalities or opinions” of dance music or the gaudy materialism of black music or flippancy of pop as a catch all rejection,. It’s got to be U2 or Led Zep, everything else is contemptible.
This rockist attitude shows a lack of passion and no real enthusiasm for anything other than a dirge. Some lacklustre criticism from rockist journalists has landed on “landfill indie” as the cancer eating our souls, but that lets too many off the hook. We all know that every time Duffy appears on a magazine cover a small child dies.