What we sometimes miss amongst this clash of mind and manner, is the evolution of the art that is music. We are actually listening to art, not a direct slice of popular culture ("but aren't they the same thing" I hear you cry!! Read on…) And people miss out on a lot by not opening their mind occasionally. Apart from New Order's new single and the Knives Out video, the only song/video that really is turning my head is N'Sync's Pop. Now, None of you will like them, that is for sure. They are manufactured pretty boys aren't they? I wouldn't disagree heartily, but when I was watching this video my mother came in and watched with me and then said: "These are good aren't they…" I didn't disagree.
Shall I tell you what was so good? That song is packed with more originality than you'll find in REM's, Elbow's and The Strokes' albums put together. Oh yes, it’s a bitter pill to swallow. Pop is a great evolution in manufactured music. It is wildly different to any formula that most of these bands follow, it is very catchy and it is performed by talented and beautiful people… I'll backtrack slightly as I can hear you crying/laughing from here. Let's take this slowly…
Madonna is an institution. She has done feisty-sex-filled pop anthems, Spanish tinged ballads, show tunes, explicit tracks and performed with Ali G. Suddenly The Beta Band doesn't occur to be so multi-dimensional (They still piss over most for originality though I grant you). Then, she did all this while changing her image for every track and keeping all tracks listenable and attractive to so many. She pushed more boundaries than many of the bands so often quoted. I mean, The Doors were amazing, but what did they do other than produce a few good songs, put poetry to music and have Jim Morrison wearing leather pants? Pop marks a new age. The production is much like what Aphex Twin might do if he was writing tunes for his 7-year-old niece (Especially the "scat" outro), all cut and paste melody and flowing rhythm. The song is just as fresh as Backstreet's Back, a record that can't be denied of its brilliance. But this is just a part of the mastery of this record and its publicity. The delivery is so exuberant, performed by models from acting schools…. and why fucking not? They do it so much better than most people do. We all know The Monkee's don't we? Superb songs, written by people who don't perform, played by those that were chosen for their looks and humour. Lets get a few home truths down here. Shit grunge act Bush… where would they be without Gavin and his Prada-lite features? Where would Muse be if they didn't jump around and break stuff or at the very least look incensed and angry? What would My Bloody Valentine have been if they had an interlude mid-gig with clowns and witty repertoire from Kevin?!
No one - I repeat - no one is buying music as a pure piece of art. It's subjective and depends on your upbringing, your peers, your ideals and your more hidden secrets. So…why can't we all occasionally recognise this and actually realise how applicable any music can be in the same way Realist's had to accept Impressionism? Also, people must realise how the promotion of music and its delivery on stage and in videos goes hand-in-hand with it. These things are an extension of the art. Some are reactionary and minimal (Godspeed…) and others are very kitsch (The Strokes) and there are many more forms. At the end of the day, it's the music you listen to… but just how much is it possible to detach yourself from all the things that surround it?
I won't be buying Pop, it's not my music of choice. I will be getting The Strokes, maybe REM and I have respect for Elbow. But even if you can't like everything, its nice to be able to respect other things and realise why they are there… and how, sometimes, "I might be wrong". Glad to see some else agrees with me!