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The day the music died
Member Name: wicked_witch
Date: 10/09/03, updated on 10/09/03 (602 review reads)
Advantages: The occasional good band making it in there
Disadvantages: Its mostly full of complete twaddle
My apologies on this, this is really more about current chart music than the charts themselves. It might well be the wrong place to put it but I didn’t want to put it in the music in general bit (as I'm working on another op on that) and Dooyoo wouldn’t add a pop category.
I watched CD:UK last week, because my favourite band, the Cooper Temple Clause, played their new single “Promises, Promises” on it. Straight after Gareth Gates, who has started growing his hair so it looks ‘indie’, and according to his music company, is going for a new ‘edgier’ sound (of course, this is to fit with the wave of faked guitar rock outfits like Avril, he cant be left behind can he?). They cut the ‘Clause new single short, because, OF COURSE, it couldn’t be longer than the ultimately ‘more important’ Gareth Gates.
Although I do love being one of about three people I know who really love the ‘Clause, it sickens me that the flaccid and vacuous chart music of a pretty-boy who looks like a chipmunk on coke should take precedence over something as important as the ‘Clause. Sure, the ‘Clause might be ‘sharing’ a scene full of bands who are trying to emulate either old blues or seventies garage and punk, but they are something different. Something new, something fresh, fusing guitar rock with techno, art-punk with indie, electronica with hard rock. They might not be an easy listen but they are ultimately more satisfying and soul-enriching that that vapid shit (excuse my language) that that stupid little media puppet Gareth could EVER come out with.
Its nice to be part of a movement that is a little different, a movement that at least acknowledges the past even if it relies too heavily upon it. Listening to an argument between two musical snob indie boys about which is the best Dylan album can get irritating, but it is ultimately better than listening to insip
id rubbish, the singers of which probably couldn’t even name five Dylan songs.
I hate to be all ‘indie’ about it, but the chart music and mainstream pop scene really infuriates me. In the past music was about being YOUNG. It was about the Beatles taking acid and insulting the queen much to the annoyance of their fans parents, and coming out with better albums because of it. It was about Jim Morrison doing what they all knew would happen and dying young. It was about punk, kids who hated the government and hated their school and thought their parents misguided, and about Morrissey singing beautiful, articulate songs about his views on paedophilia, whether hitting your child was ok and meat being murder. It was Kurt Cobain throwing himself and his instruments around the stage in anger, and the insubordination of the acid house generation defying the police and having a get-together in a field to dance, take drugs and have sex.
To be fair a lot of that music wasn't too charty at all, the most explicit punk got banned from the charts, and many of the Beatles fans turned on them during the later albums, but the charts still reflected the mood of the times...The Beatles were among the first to create a wave of LSD-soaked music, and the slightly more 'acceptable' punk bands did wriggle into the charts, and of course a whole load of acid house and britpop stormed the charts in the nineties...this was a good thing in some ways, although it did give rise to Menswear!
Today’s chart music is not young; it has become like everything else in mainstream society…a means for the old, boring, pseudo-democratic government to control us. Young wannabe’s are chosen by industry moguls, who then order the wannabe to diet and bleach their head, say all the right things and steer clear of drugs and alcohol and set a ‘good’ example. They are then given a bunch of characterless and bland songs, which did
n’t come from their heart (because they probably don’t have one) to market on unsuspecting youth in order to keep them in control. And because the increasingly brainless youth are so well-trained, said bland rubbish rockets right up the charts. Britney releases one catchy song that makes it to the top, probably more because of the school uniform than anything else, and spends the next few years riding a wave of fame she neither needs nor deserves...until she starts crashing and burning and people start saying they always preferred Christina anyway. Remember the outcry when Britney was caught smoking, because she was ‘setting a bad example’? I’m surprised Marlboro didn’t give her a contract for that one, to market it on unsuspecting youth, along with the Skechers and McDonalds (right, because I’m sure that semi-anorexic bint eats burgers) she tried to entrance her zombified fans into buying.
So there you have it, the charts, the mainstream pop culture. It sickens me to the core. Boring bands (if you can call them that) make boring kids, kids who all want to wear DKNY and bleach their hair to look like Britney or Westlife, instead of learn or say or do something interesting. Old men making music that they think youngsters want…and interestingly a lot of these ‘musicians’ are barely eighteen years old, in the S Club Juniors case, some of them barely fourteen. I read a book called “Branded” recently and one of the S club junior’s girls was quoted as describing herself “girly and flirty, a bit of a shopaholic”. When I was her age I was having play fights with the boys and listening to my dads David Bowie records. Why don’t we blame the media for the increasing cases of child pornography and paedophilia? Clearly some of these industry blokes are obsessed with young girls and barely pubescent boys given the amount of them inflicted upon us. The media is obsessed with
youth and then they blame people who are undoubtedly very wrong, but take it the wrong way.
Even ‘alternative’ culture has been controlled. In the early nineties, very cool bands like Nirvana or Pixies escaped the net and made cool, loud and subversive music, but the industry has clicked on to that and has a series of bands for ‘arty’ or ‘alternative’ kids. These bands, which started out with the unmanufactured (but still pretty rubbish), likes of Greenday and Blink182, have morphed into increasingly manufactured forms, from Sum41 through Good Charlotte until we have bands like Busted and so-called sk8er rawk chick riot grrls such as Avril Lavigne who cannot skate, cannot rock and don’t even know what a riot is. The media has cleverly made it acceptable to like these bands too, thus creating animosity between ‘townies’ and ‘moshers’ or as we call them in Edinburgh, ‘schemies’ and ‘sweaties’, and keeping these young, intelligent but ultimately under control minds off what is important…being an individual. And of course, now these 'sk8er punk' bands are riding high in the charts too.
Even more popularised forms of the ‘alternative’ chick are the likes of P!nk. Although I must say the most laughable one is the recent incarnation of Christina Aguilera. She has all of a sudden gone all pro-feminism stuff, what with her last song denouncing the fact that if a guy sleeps with a girl ‘he da man’ (so eloquently put Christina) and if a girl does it she’s a whore. Stating this fact does not make Christina pro-feminism, she’s simply pissed off that the media are trashing her for being too racy. That girl does nothing for feminism. Using your body to sell records IS being a whore, she’s simply pandering to a new FHM generation who don’t give a damn what she has to say so long as her ass is nice. I do believe w
omen have the right to do what they want but I think showing off your (totally perfect) body in the likes of Maxim is the least feminist thing you can do in today’s society. If someone with a ‘normal’ body such as Kelly Osbourne did it, that might be a different matter, of course FHM wouldn’t be interested. But the bottom line remains that Christina has to keep up with the new generation of fake riot grrls in order to sell her records.
So I like my bands a little different. I went through a passing flirtation with nu-punk myself, in the form of Greenday (I’m proud to say they were the only one I liked), then one with the Strokes, now I’ve moved on to something I can get my teeth into. My fave ‘old’ bands and artists are the Rolling Stones (when they were important, not now), the Doors, Dylan, The Clash, the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, Black Flag, Sonic Youth and Pixies. My fave ‘new’ bands are Idlewild, the Cooper Temple Clause, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Super Furry Animals, and McLusky (a fantastic new band who sound like Pixies) among others.
The bands I like all have important things to say, unfortunately they will never be able to say it to a large amount of people, these are not; with the possible exception of the odd Idlewild and Super Furry Animals song, bands that are going to storm the charts. Part of me would be jealous that so many people were getting in on the act, but if I heard one 12 year old say how much s/he loved the new Super Furry album I would be in raptures.
The Cooper Temple Clause has wonderful lyrics and a schizophrenic love of music that results in them being, like my favourite movie “Donnie Darko”, completely uncategorisable…at best its space-prog-techno-indie-art-punk. Idlewild on the other hand are taking a new gentle approach, but it is still beautiful and fantastic, and I’m delighted to see them broaching the ma
instream a little. Perhaps when a pop fan bought the single “American English” s/he didn’t think to hard about that beautiful and true line which damns the mainstream pop industry- “Sing a song about myself, keep singing a song about myself, not some invisible world. Sing a song about myself, keep singing a song about myself, not some invisible woman”, but maybe for every fifty pop buyers of that single, one pop buyer did think about it and that’s enough for me. Its just sad that Idlewild are one of the few good bands in the charts, and also sad that fans of their new toned down sound will never love to learn about the anarchic noise machine that Idlewild used to be.
Equally, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have a new political air about them, their new album is called “Take them on, on your own” and includes some great tracks. As for the Super Furry Animals, forever on the fringes of the pop world, “Phantom Power” is for sure one of their greatest releases, a pop (if slightly alterna-pop) album that deserves to be number one a million times more than Christina Aguilera’s album.
It’s the sad truth that all of these wonderful bands, while they may score the odd top twenty single, will probably never reach a place of high enough power where they can use that power to influence young people. This is what makes today’s music scene different, its not that the wonderful music isn’t there, it’s just that it isn’t getting heard loud enough, often enough or by enough people. The charts is being controlled by a bunch of stodgy boring people.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a bunch of stodgy anti-drugs, anti-booze, anti-youthful sex, and anti-fun gits dictating what I listen to. I don’t want to listen to what Bill Hicks once delightfully dubbed “ball-less, soul-less, spiritless suckers of Satan’s cock”. Like him,
I want some passion. I want my bands dirty and hungover reading poetry, listening to old punk music and fusing it with new ideas, coming up with something new and interesting and throwing themselves around the stage with the kind of passion George Bush couldn’t muster if the UK asked him to blow up the entire world. I want dirt, sweat, blood and tears, not some dull pretty boy crooning at me from a stage and swinging his barely pubescent crotch in my direction. Regardless of your thoughts on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, premarital sex, surely you have to admit that music was better when it was wild young things making it, not pretty, vapid, stupid things.
Its time for a shake-up of the music industry and the way the charts are operated, but unfortunately until the music climate changes it will never happened and bands like the beautiful Cooper Temple Clause won't be heard as clearly as they should.
Back then there was soul, r’n’b, rock ‘n’ roll, punk, new wave, blues, metal, Britpop and acid house, a good deal of is diffusing into the charts. The charts were once at least half-full of good, quality music. Now we’ve got Gareth Gates (no wait, his RECORD COMPANY), telling us he’s got a new, ‘edgier’ sound. Someone pass the rotten tomatoes.