Monday, September 3, 2012

I Can Has New Music?

Just a few short years ago, MTV's Jersey Shore premiered and instantly became a worldwide phenomenon, and like all worldwide phenomena, aspects of it began to bleed into the rest of American culture.  For today's history lesson, we will focus on the music industry, particularly with the virtual tidal wave of techno/electro-pop recordings that have flooded the airwaves just barely after Sitch mustered the energy for his first fist-pump, and immediately, as a Long Island native, I knew where I was headed.

A similar trend happened a decade prior, where hip-hop became the genre of choice from the east-coast west-coast brawl to about 2005.  See, the thing about American pop-culture that bothers me, is that our minds are as obsessive as they are one-tracked.  You can't just like a lot of things, you have to LOVE just one, beat it to smithereens, and erect a new trend amongst the rubble, whereupon hearts must shift accordingly.  If I played Nirvana for an 15 year old I'd be looked at as squarer than a rubix cube.

My point is that I like each of the aforementioned genres in their own ways, yet they've all at one point driven me fucking insane.  I remember five years ago I just couldn't escape the cavalcade of sub-par, homogenized wack-hop just jumping on the bandwagon, figuring that rap was the American flavor du jour, and we wouldn't be money grubbing hacks devoid of artistic integrity if we weren't taking full advantage of that while squeezing out an extra groupie or two out of the deal.  After all, thats why art!!

My problem with the things that tend to get culturally mega-popular aren't necessarily the things themselves, its the avalanche of pretenders that immediately follow - pathetic half-wits trying to grind some extra drops out of your well of inspiration and innovation, which only serves to devalue and overexpose the art to the point where you almost feel like a video game character in Silent Hill as the town constantly tries to remind you that you killed a radio star.

For evidence of this fact, just look at the career of Usher, or really any mainstream artist whatsoever.  "U Make Me Wanna", "Yeah", and "Scream" are basically a musical cliff notes of the last 15 years.  The inescapability of a trend at its apex is always the source of its own downfall, yet the cycle keeps going, eating our own young, one song at a time.  Gotta love consumerism.

The latest victim of this trend has been the techno genre, which officially went mainstream as soon as the words "Come at me, bro" officially became commonplace.  Originally, I liked the idea. Trends like these are always popular at inception due to its novel qualities and the fact that it was finally allowing me to hear something else but a Lil Jon beat on the radio.  My ears enjoyed that, for a bit.

See, while I've always enjoyed it, techno has always really been a pet genre for me.  Not something I listen to on the regular, because I believe the musical elements that classify a techno song are too inherently limiting for extended periods of listening.  It was always something hiding in its own separate cupboard, that I'd bust out on a rainy day, or when I was feeling frisky, or when I wanted to chug jager and rave.  I liked it like that.  It had its place.

I often refer to techno as the french fries of music.  Perfectly tasty in its own right, and works perfectly as a side dish, but if you feed it to me as the main course of every meal every day, you'll just get sick and miserable:

I give you, my loyal readers, the last five years of my life.

And from then on, I''ve waited for the day that we would finally be finished beating this particular brand of horse.

With the cancellation of Jersey Shore, I believe we may have reached that precipice.

Sure, it'll take about a year for the transition to take hold, give or take when the next American musical/pop cultural obsession rears its head, but it's coming soon.  The writing's on the wall, and it says it's time we got out of our trance.

So, during this rare but necessary interim, might I take this time to paint a picture for you.

Imagine a world where the music you listened to rested on its merits instead of a marketing executive's bottom line.  Imagine a world where, regardless of where you lived, you could turn on the radio, and a veritable potpourri of genres were at your fingertips.  Imagine a world where the consumer dictated to the industry what they wanted to hear, instead of a spreadsheet.  Imagine a world where bands like fun. were the rule, not the exception.  Imagine a world where innovation and experimentation took precedent over marketability, and we freed ourselves of the rigidity and judgmental tendencies that bind us, allowing us to break the disengendering walls of genre and classification, for a mutual respect for art and for the importance of expressionism, ushering in a new cultural renaissance.  A new Enlightenment.

No?  Fine.  Then the next genre to pop will be ROCK.  I will personally see to that.


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