Music is dead; may it rest in peace.
Temporarily, of course – in time, someone will find something new with which to resurrect it. Today, though, we turn on the radio to an endless succession of formulaic little numbers about love, sex or self-loathing, or sometimes all of the above.
Even MTV has realized this; that’s why they hardly ever actually play music any more.
Perhaps, at the age of twenty-eight, I have reached the point where I’m too old to define the zeitgeist. Not that we have much to call a zeitgeist of our own – we seem to have constructed some form of FrankenZeitgeist out of whatever pieces of dying zeitgeist were still twitching from decades past. In a few cases, they weren’t even twitching, but had only barely begun to smell. Musically, we have done much the same thing. Small pockets of ‘the masses’ are having ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s and even ’90s revivals, sometimes more than one of these at once.
The musical aspect of the zeitgeist is, of course, defined by the droves of indoctrinated slaves who are mercilessly ClearChanneled into record stores to buy the latest overpriced CD by the latest Britney or Nickelback soundalike. And what has it produced to actually call its own? What is the shining example of music in the decade that we are halfway through?
Not punk. That was the ’70s. Not rap or dance – that was the 80s. Not indie rock – that would be punk that accidentally ordered ‘Fun Size’ cojones.
It’s probably ‘emo’.
“My world sucks and I hate myself and I hate you too and it’s been this way my whole life and you can’t possibly know the pain I feel inside because I accidentally swallowed an acid-crazed ferret that is now eating my pancreas.”
OK, perhaps I exaggerated a tad. The ferret thing would be way more entertaining than most emo.
There was, once upon a time, a world-changing force out there, in the hearts and minds of millions. It was a force that drove people to rebel against their parents, to strike down outmoded laws, to rise up against oppressive governments. It was a force to make the world take notice of us. Music grabbed society by the short and curlies and yelled in its face, “Listen up! It’s time to change, to move forward, to make this a better world!”
This is not going to be accomplished by whining with guitar feedback.
It’s not going to be accomplished by any sentence ending in “bee-yotch”.
What exactly is bee yotch supposed to be, anyway? It sounds like the unfortunate effects of one too many of whatever it is that bees have on a night out. But I digress.
It’s not going to be accomplished by “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, the six words that made Britney famous. (Actually, the six words that made Britney famous were probably directed at her producer and sounded suspiciously like “You can come in my mouth”. Maybe. Allegedly.) I still don’t know what it is about “Hit Me Baby One More Time” that feels so disappointing. I’m sure it’s not just my residual disillusionment from when I found out that it wasn’t about blackjack.
So where is today’s “Power To The People”? Where is the musical rallying cry that will truly become the spirit of this decade? Music isn’t a machine-driven formula. It’s art. It’s standing up and making oneself heard above the din of mundane life. It’s hitting society in the face until it wakes up.
So hit me, baby. One more time.
With bee yotch.