I’ve been having a think about music and where its headed. Most of us have heard the idea that every possible chord sequence has been written, the only creative thing left to play with is the way these sequences are blended with different instruments and digital tech.
So apparently we’re heading towards a time where there’ll be nothing new to write. Everything will be written in one form or another. Theoretically this might be the case but I’m not convinced, I’m certain the human mind will find some way of expressing itself uniquely.
But what if we do get to a place where there are no new styles of music left to invent? Well, does it matter? New does not necessarily equate to good. Since the birth of the youth culture in the 50s and 60s, record labels have cashed in on the trend of each generation developing their own musical style to define themselves. Whereas in the early days the development of a ‘sound’ was largely down to a reaction of the political, cultural and social situations happening at that time, this process has been hijacked by the record labels.
Maybe this is why styles so quickly rise and fall these days. They’re not relevant like rock, punk, early dance, blues and soul music were. Most of what’s presented to us now isn’t written by someone putting their passion and emotion into music but by someone contracted to produce a song that will quickly sell. You simply cannot substitute a bunch of artists thrashing away and developing their songs with the dross that is currently filling the sound-waves. I don’t care how many key changes, layered vocals, atmospheric effects and perfectly pitched voices you throw at me, its never going to compare with a musician singing with heart, spilling themselves bare to whomever will listen.
Take Jake Bugg for example. Here’s a guy who you could argue isn’t particularly original, there’s no denying he sounds like a young Bob Dylan. He’s not redefining the concept of a genre either. But what he is doing is writing honestly and with a knowledge of music history. The result? A phenomenal musician with lyrics that hit home – hard.
Music might not need to define a generation anymore. There are plenty of ways to do that. Maybe things have changed. I’d argue that we will define the latest generation with its obsession and dependence on the Internet rather than a musical style.
Rock music has been with us for a while now, and yet its still fresh. Dave Grohl is proving this time and time again. ‘Wasting Light’ and more recently ‘Sound City’ are fantastic examples of Rock music not loosing its edge. People like Grohl aren’t the pioneers, they’re the vanguard of great music. Kvelertak are one of the most exciting bands I’ve heard in years, they’ve only just released their second album. They’re style isn’t new but get this – its doesn’t need to be!
The point I’m making is this – Rather than chasing this obsession that there has to be another style out there, that each new genre must be more exciting that the last, we should be focused on what’s actually good! Who cares if it sounds kinda similar so something else, each song should be given merit in its own right, not according someone else’s definition of a genre.
If you are looking for some actual good music, head to your local independent record store. Their knowledge far surpasses your iTunes ‘Genius’ suggestions.