If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
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Raising the Mood, Smoothing the Edges and Building Scenes
THIS sort of treads on the feet of other features…
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I have done regarding Pop and music losing a lot of its spark. It is worth repeating because, no matter how one looks at the state of affairs in 2019, there is a definite need for uplift and togetherness. I do think, as I keep saying, there is a lot of terrific music around. In fact, I think 2019 is one of the most varied and strong years we have ever seen. So many fresh and unique sounds are emerging. Against the tide of political incompetency and national division, artists are addressing the problems, calling for action and trying to make sense of everything. I can appreciate that urge and need for something important and political. Look back at time, from the Second World War, through to Vietnam and the threat of nuclear annihilation during The Cold War. During these times, there was a lot of uncertainty and fear but, rather than focus musical attention on that dread, there was a huge amount of fun and festivity. Artists were not ignoring the issues and problems around them; they were offering something spirited and optimistic. I know decades like the 1990s were prosperous and, before social media arrived, we were all more relaxed and less stressed – there was no Brexit and the threat of climate change was not so evident. I grant they were better times, but one cannot say there was nothing to worry about and everything was peachy. Perhaps we have got to a point where music has lost a lot of its fun and optimism.
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I grant that, in unsure and strained times, we cannot all return to the past and expect the sort of celebratory and rousing tunes we heard back in the 1960s or 1980s. Rather than get lost in a nostalgic trap, I do wonder whether music has lost its identity and edges. There is some terrific music and, right now, we are seeing more new music than in any point in history. It is a great time and it would be terrible if the scene was pretty limited and we did not have the raft of great sounds we do now. I am all for progress and innovation, yet a lot has been lost through the years. We do not have scenes and movements like we used to. From Punk and Britpop, these waves and motions made artists compete and there was a unity; a spirit that needed to exist at the time. We can say we have Grime and Hip-Hop filling that role, but I find a lot of the music is geared towards negativity and it has too much edge. Sure, artists need to get fired and say something important, but where do we find balance? The world is not as grim as people say and there is positivity and light in every corner. I find the modern mainstream so flat and uninspiring. Once was the day when Rock and Pop provided huge hooks, something inspiring and timeless. Maybe there is oversaturation that means it is harder to stand out. Rather than moan and complain that the music today is rubbish – which it isn’t -, it does seem like we could do with a revolution.
Many say Rock is dead or dying and has not really got the same spark that it used to. We do have some great Rock and Alternative, but nothing like we used to. There are so many sullen and downbeat songs; so many Pop artists are indistinguishable, personality-free and instantly forgettable. I all for pushing music forward and moving with the times. I do worry that so much of today’s music will be forgotten in years to come, or a lot of it is not lifting our moods. I know music is not designed to make us happy; one struggles to find too many tracks today that give that boost and smile. It is okay for people like me who have lived through several decades and can easily access songs that fill that gap. What about the young generation coming through?! They are lucky to live in a time when so much great music is appearing, yet there is very little that gets the soul cheering, the blood racing and the mind exploding. Each generation can point to various years and moments when music was simply captivating and unifying. My parents’ generation has The Beatles, the Summer of Love and the brilliant sounds of the 1960s. I am old enough to recall the Hip-Hop golden age and Britpop. Even at the turn of the century, there was some great Dance music and Pop that could still Pop.
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More and more artists are moving away from genre and embracing a more fluid sound. Chart music no longer relevant, so there is not that focus. I do not think we are beyond the point of no return regarding betterment and making a mark on history. 2020 is going to be an important year, and one where I think we will see a lot of change when it comes to gender rights and equality. I do not want to be one of those people who says music was better in my day – that would be a subjective measure -, but there has been undeniable change that has affected the overall sound of music. I think the new generation can offer so much to the world and can make the world so much better. They are coming into the world at a very strained time and are having to grow up surrounded by endlessly negative news. That is a lot to take in and, when they want to find energy and something to smile about, where do they go? There is a lot of great T.V. around, but I think there is less fine drama and comedy than there used to be. Radio is a source of choice and uplift, but I do think modern music needs to find some focus and togetherness. I know artists are trying to bring us together with music but, in such a vast plain and busy sea, we are all floating alone and there is very little binding us. I have written about Pop losing its fun, there being no scenes in modern music and whether modern music will last the test of time. I will not go over that again and repeat myself too much.
I think, with so much great talent out there, 2020 could be a year when music turns and there is a new revolt. Maybe it would not have the brightness of Britpop or be like any scene we have witnessed before, but I do think it is the time to join people together. Some might say, by producing scenes and movements then we are isolating those who do not fit in – whereas modern music is broader and there is something for everyone. I respect that, but it is possible to create a scene that is for everyone. Modern music is in a fine state and there is something for every taste. So much pure fun and colour has escaped, and I wonder what affect this is having. Whilst young listeners are finding interesting music, are they necessarily happy or inspired? Are they looking back in time when it comes to getting that needed sonic hit? I grant the fact there is so much music out there that it is not only hard to narrow it down, but there are genuinely exciting and optimistic artists that are being overlooked. One cannot deny the quality and sheer variety of music out in the world right now; the fact artists around the world can get their voices heard and reach anyone. That is all brilliant. So many people look back and reminisce because they can get something from music then that they cannot now. Maybe it is unbridled fun or something that speaks to them. The past few years have been pretty rough, and I do think we are all owed a break, some relief and hope of a brighter future – which I believe is possible. Music needs to reflect this, and I think changes do need to happen. We could all do with more optimism, something more inspired and, as I say, a scene or two that can define a generation. If this was a possibility next year, then it would be…
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SOMETHING to look forward to.