When was the last time you saw or heard something truly, defintively original in the music media recently?
So, I've put myself out on a limb there, but think about it: What is truly new and original?
Maybe I'm showing my cynicism here, but things don't seem quite as fresh to me as they used to be. When I heard Andrew W.K. last year it sounded like an over- commercialised piece of 80s hair metal a la Bon Jovi thrown through a sampler. (well, actually, it had much much more in common with bands like Tigertailz and Pretty Boy Floyd, and if you’ve never heard of them, then you're lucky). Despite sounding so dated, somehow, it was all over the media like a rash. How come? Was it new? was it original? Or was it just a case of the emperor's new clothes?
It amazing how much a little bit of hype in the right ears can do. When I hear a new band, well - maybe it's because I’ve got thousands of CDs - but I can tell exactly whose ideas they're recycling, reheating and repackaging for a new generation - a target market, who find it all fresh 'n' exciting and novel. Look at Marilyn Manson– Take the image and stageprops of Alice Cooper, the Sound of Skinny Puppy and the songs of Nine Inch Nails and voila! A winning formula. What’s the deal with Rancid? It’s The Clash for people who don’t remember them , or were too young, for the first time around. Or The Offspring (aka Bad Religion-lite)? In all fairness, I’ve got to admit: when I was 15, the bands I loved sounded new and fresh to me. I didn’t know that Iron Maiden were just an amalgamation of Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin and Golden Earring did I? Nope. It was fresh, novel and exciting for me. And that’s good for profits. That’s the bottom line.
I spot a pattern forming. The recycling of music being presented to us as something new, innovative and groundbreaking; like the way Oasis copy every Beatles record, yet get lauded genius rather than merely charlatan copyists. But coming on a wave of hype will come the next big thing; every six months, like clockwork. What's that about? Listening to and supporting the latest bands, or bands that labels backed by majors have spent enough on on promo and nicely targeted demographic analysis ?
Or is it about music? Listening to music that moves us? Music that inspires us? Music, old and new, that makes us feel that way? Or chasing our own tail in an attempt to fit in? What we’re told we should listen to? Or what we are led to believe is good for us?
That’s classic media manipulation: the same trick propagandists and dictators have been pulling whenever they needed to mould public opinion. In this case, it's about exploiting a target market (the 14-25 age bracket) - It’s a well recognised fact by marketing specialists in the music industry that this is the prime age for an audience, with disposable income, without kids or commitments, who don’t have to resort to ‘pester power’(unlike the 4-12 market). After all, I’m sure that Ticketmaster / EMI / name yer own multinational organisation would love to help you spend all that dosh. After all - you are free, to do as we tell you. Conform. Obey. Die. But please, please buy our records first.
And no, it's not the same old ‘real music for real people’ argument over and over again – all too long used to promote safe, boring inoffensive Middle of the Road shit with guitars, and sweet lyrics that get played on Radio 2. Real music is about music, no matter what it is made with, - guitar, samplers, whatever - as long as it's made with a heartfelt desire to say something rather than to be a mere product to be sold like McBurgers. Following trends, no matter what trend it is - be it Steps or the Stereophonics , be it the NME or Smash hits magazine, – isn’t about music. Its about herd mentality. Following like blind little sheep.
It shouldn’t have to be about conformity, about peer pressure. It shouldn’t have to be about ‘fashion’, even though the majority of us would never even think of it that way – the way we’re cynically exploited by demographics and marketing. It's easy to turn the blinkers on and fool ourselves we’re not as cynically targeted by marketing campaigns, not being a targeted market demographic. Not about some bigwigs at a multinational trying to sell copies of their latest single ; to whom it makes no difference if it's Hundred Reasons or H from Steps. Not about how we’re cynically told to feel, to think, to conform and to fit in. I mean, if you're concerned about people laughing at you for not fitting in ... why? Do you really need the approval of others? To conform? How sheep-like is that? And what do you mean, you don’t have a pair of Vans ?
I love music. I don't care who knows it. It's not about marketing budgets, but music that moves you. If music doesn’t move your soul, then it's not music. It's noise pollution, like a vacuum cleaner. There are bands out there that were far more innovative than the even the so-called ‘alternative’ media are willing to admit, but they’ll never get recognition, simply because they won’t shift units.
It's the MUSIC that matters. Not the trends. Not chasing your own tail. Because if conformity to a herd, matters, you’re not into music – that's trend following. And that’s not music. That’s conformity. That’s capitalism. That’s the biggest sell out of all.