Are we in a musical slump worldwide? We can look back in history and we can see these periods of time where the music that defined a decade hit a similar messy period. In the 60s, it was somewhere between the clean bands like The Shadows and Chuck Berry and the raw new sound of rock that The Beatles brought. In the 80s, it was where the new electronic beats resounded with the latest hair metal. Each decade has had its own sorting period and when you look back now, twenty or thirty years later, you can easily denote the popular music style of the era.
So what defines 2010-2020? We are in a flux in 2014. We can’t seem to decide what we want. We want to dance and we want to rock, but we want it all to mean something. We want it to be organic and we want it to be real, but we want a hit. We want to know that these songs were written for ‘us’, but we are aware that music is largely marketed by monster-sized companies that are dictating how artists and bands write their music right down to the detail of what key is played in. We have become musical nomads.
Think back this year alone. We have gone back to folk music, progressed to ballads, and leapt at songs that made us “Happy” as we danced round our office spaces. We’ve been given electronic music from the likes of Lorde that have a gothic touch. Where are we?
Some could say that all this musical variety is great for us. It’s great that we have this huge melting pot of music that flavours our summers and keeps out winters contemplative.
Is this maybe the defining factor this decade? Are we becoming more seasonal in what we listen to?
Veteran rocker Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters laments that the music that we are listening to now has no substance. Bono from U2 after releasing Songs of Innocence admits that the band is searching for the excitement about the music scene that started them on their road to stardom.
For both of these it wasn’t about game shows or the need to be famous. It was (and maybe still is) about getting their songs heard. It was about producing quality songs that actually mean something.
We find ourselves being spoon-fed sugar filled pop tunes for the masses, much like the surviving few of some weird cultural zombie apocalypse. Everyone is looking for a beat but not at the expense of a meaning. There is a monotony of the same sampled sounds with similar tones and preschool rap over the top to give it street cred. This is not the musical revolution we were promised.
It’s almost like we are given one or two songs on the radio that give us hope for the future of music as we know it… before being comfortably numbed by the rest of the sweetened condensed pop tunes that please the masses. Pop, Rock and R&B have been replaced by hollow substitutes with all the soul of a cardboard cut-out. Boobs, Babes, booze and bling have taken over the airwaves.
The good news is that there is a ground swell; a rebel alliance of sorts… the internet is becoming the freedom maker of bands that need a voice. Artists are moving away from the massive record labels that once dictated the airwaves and removing the restrictive chains that have keep them compliant. There is a future and it’s looking very independent!