Archive for September, 2010

Now they got me talking…

September 29, 2010

Someone on the RYM message boards asked a pointed question: what is your least favorite type of music fan? That one got me waxing so philosophical that I figured my input would be too heated for that forum, so I’m putting it here instead.

The Worst Types of Music ‘Fans’

1) Misintegrationists – people whose interests fall into one end of the musical spectrum (Christgauian generalism, The Petty Principle) yet spend the majority of their time attempting to coerce people who inhabit other ends of the spectrum (the Gitlin school, the Maximal Trilustrum) with evasive, loaded canards about how the contrasting values are ‘factually’ inferior, typically by means of moral relativism and post-structuralist disingenuity.

2) The “Five’s The Limit” Crowd – people who arbitrarily dismiss a group/performer after their third, fourth, or fifth album, deeming everything subsequent to be somehow tainted, or a product of “selling out”: a neo-Marxist anti-concept which betrays another line of incoherency. Such arguments do nothing to address the quality of the music itself on those later releases – like whether or not the songwriting well had run dry. What these ‘fans’ are really saying is that the newer material can’t compete with the historical baggage of those earlier releases; baggage which has since become subconsciously ingrained.

3) The Musical Politics of Identity crowd – people who need to label themselves through allegiance to some regimented musical identity in order to feel secure (Metalheads, PowDer PLopsters, Shoegum Br[sh]it PLopsters). Such people are typically disinterested in music for music’s sake, for they’re primarily obsessed with idiomatic citations – a reductionist process which swiftly eroded the artistry of rock following the close of the Maximal Trilustrum.

4) The “Anti-Hegemony” crowd – another post-structuralist conceit: allege the suffering of some supposedly ‘oppressed’ group of people, and adopt that ‘suffering’ as an ideology of principle; the victimology complex which perpetuates the neo-Marxist paradigm itself, of which anti-maximal Christgauians are but one bastard byproduct. Jazz rock/fusion has been a target of misplaced zeal from this indoctrinated crowd, because its idiomatic breadth and cross-cultural resonance supersedes the anti-maximalist wish to pin jazz down to a subterranean, martyrized existence; as if stalwarts from the jazz age never sought to harness their broadest potential appeal in the first place.

Some things won’t be coming back

September 25, 2010

Faint cries for a relapse into The Worst Deca[y]de In Human History in a “recreations” thread elsewhere* prompted the following commentary from yours truly:

Methinks that any ’90s revival will come and go with all the retrogressive hoopla that’s likely to swarm the 20th anniversary of Nerdvana’s relic Nevermind frisbee next year. Most people who avoided it all the first time around won’t want to relive it, and the generation for whom that hollowed era serves as wee romanticism – those alive yet too young to have participated at the time – will comprise a small flame due to the low birthrates of the 1987-1992 era. The whole ’90s aesthetic quagmire really overstayed itself into the noughties anyway, and the public has quite obviously had enough. Just look at the recent mass turn towards wedge silhouetted fashions, all in spite of the hack Yahoo punditry’s cries to keep flogging the grunge-addled boho afflictions of yore.

As to the above comment* about the ’80s being the ‘in’ decade of late, it should be noted that this new-found reverence for The Style Decade has finally arisen nearly a decade after the cultural punditry had anticipated so. I remember thinking back in 2003 that 1980s sensibilities wouldn’t be renewed until people stopped labeling them with the revisionary brushstroke of “the 80s”. Considering how few people have noticed the debt that Rihanna’s influential strides of late owe to the New Romantic era, my predictions were on the money.

Furthermore, given how aesthetic cycles have slowed since rock music reached its evolutionary impasse following Live Aid, the old adage that “fashion moves in twenty year cycles” has become antiquated. These days, fashion moves in thirty to thirty-five year cycles. Not every period becomes classic, however. For all the reasons outlined above and many, many more, the ’90s/early noughties are most likely to go down the same way as the early 1950s: that uneventful pre-rock crooner era which, for decades since, has been but a blank spot on the cultural time-line.