So another decade of music has now passed.
Since the end of World War II, if not earlier, every decade brought one if not two large-scale movements in the evolution of popular music, but surely the 2000s was the least inspired and most insipid of the bunch. And the scary thing is, it’s not because I’m not getting any younger, it’s because the music isn’t getting any fresher.
I think the predominant themes of the last 10 years in popular music were “artists” who consider screaming a valid alternative to singing and the “artists” whose idea of music has more to do with what they look like than how they sound.
These trends were to be expected, of course; the over-hyped pretty-but-talentless thing certainly had its share of precursors in the 80s and 90s, and the screaming “singers” were doubtless born of the roaring vocals of Sepultura and Pantera as well as the “Territorial Pissings” end of Nirvana’s oeuvre. Nevertheless, they appear to have assumed a place of prominence within the last ten years, a place which I look forward to seeing them lose.
This is not to say by any means that all the music of the last ten years has been bad – it is still possible to create excellent new music even if one is not truly innovating. A quick listen to such acts as Jealousy Curve, Cherry Suede or Kick Up The Fire is certainly proof of that.
There has also been a small degree of continued innovation; Radiohead, for example, have continued to push the envelope, delivering album after album of fresh-sounding material.
By and large, though, the 2000s certainly didn’t produce a musical shift on the order of rock and roll, punk or even disco. The electronica end didn’t evolve much. Rap hasn’t particularly grown beyond where it was in 1999.
I believe that part of this is due to the continued dominance of the RIAA (and its parent, the IIPA) over the majority of what gets out there. The record labels want a sound which has been focus-grouped and market-tested to death before they spend a nickel, hardly an ethos to foster revolutionary content.
I also believe, however, that this is beginning to change for the better; as recording technology becomes ever cheaper and the means to distribute and disseminate music over the Web becomes ever easier, we approach a scenario wherein a band still rehearsing in a basement or garage out in Wheretheheckisthat, Iowa can change the face of the world. The number of views to their MySpace or PureVolume pages, the number of plays on Last.fm or YouTube can skyrocket without the need for expensive label promotion or indeed any backing beyond the skilled leveraging of social media.
Unsurprisingly, the cries of the RIAA against music piracy have grown ever more strident as time has passed; many months ago I wrote an ‘open letter’ to them on this blog, and little has changed. Their product, for the most part, continues to be anemic tripe. Especially in a recession, it is hardly worth the gas money to drive to the record store for this stuff, never mind drop fifteen or twenty bucks for an album which is three-fourths filler.
Here, then, are the seeds for the next big music revolution. Not looking like Lady Gaga, not screaming like Avenged Sevenfold, not delivering balls-less impressions of punk rock like Fall Out Boy. Coming up with your own ideas and getting them out there without worrying about the market will prove to be a true test of where the world really is.
Independent radio stations get this. Some Internet radio providers get this. The RIAA will never get this.
Roll on the 2010s, let’s hear what you have in store.