Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Destroying Pop Culture

Salon recently ran a stupid-ass interview with this guy Simon Reynolds who is complaining about bands focusing too much on the past and why can't there be more things like "rave music". It's actually not that stupid, but I disagree with him on most everything, especially shit like this -

If you're just reaping from the past, you're not really giving anything back...I think it's important for the ongoing project of music to at least try to come up with things that have never been done before. Young musicians, in particular, seem to be way more fascinated by the past than the future...What disorients me is the lack of surprise. I find the existence of Mumford & Sons in 2011 to be mind-blowing, and not in a good way. When I first heard a lot of rave music, for example, it seemed really foreign and hard to get your head around. There's nothing to get your head around with Mumford & Sons or Adele or people like Fleet Foxes. The past has taken the place of the future in people's imagination...the '60s was just a long period where there was a sense of hurtling forward. It was happening on multiple fronts simultaneously -- the beginning of feminism, civil rights, the space race, the Beatles and all that. In the early-to-mid-'60s, there was a lot of very modernistic space age-looking fashion. On every cultural front, people were breaking down barriers. In pop music, it's the decade the other decades have all defined themselves against. Punk was the inversion of the '60s in a lot of ways, but it still kept a little of that idealism and the belief in change. The '80s were defined in a lot of ways as a repudiation of '60s ideas, and '90s rave culture was a return to drugginess and all that.

First off, I can't stand this baby boomer-ication of history. Things may have been hurtling forward in the 60s, but fuck this guy if he doesn't think that the bands that define the decade for most people weren't just reaping from the past. Dylan just wanted to be Woody Guthrie, Clapton just wanted to be Robert Johnson, and the Stones wanted to be any number of black American musicians.

Second of all, that's such a cherry-picking list of bands to judge an entire culture on. How do you define the 60s as everything from feminism, fashion, space race, civil rights, and music and then declare the '90s as "rave culture" and "drugginess"? Was I just in a happy little cocoon up in Wisconsin to not realize the impact house and jungle music had on the culture at large? And now he just names off three bands and declares that this generation is too occupied with the past? Someone could just as easily select three other groups like Animal Collective or Kanye or James Blake or LCD Soundsystem or Beach House and, regardless of whether you like them or not, make a case for how forward-thinking this generation of musicians are.

And thirdly, I always list three things.

Whatever, I had nothing to do today except count down the hours until I donate my plasma.

1 comment:

  1. First of all, yes, thank you (

    Second of all, this reminds me of an article I read several weeks ago concerning the release of the new Fleet Foxes album. I think I'll post on it.