I’m always hesitant to say broad things like, “the way we listen to music now means we get it like this and we like it like that,” and so on and so forth. Hard to prove. Tris took at stab in his critics poll’s final update, writing about how folks this year seemed to prefer filling out the poll questions pertaining the things they liked, rather than the opposite in years past:
The popularity of the categories has shifted over time, and it’s gravitated away from the nasty stuff. For instance, Worst Song of the Year used to be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, but this year, only about 15% of voters bothered to list one. Even Young Upstart and Hoary Old Bastard — two-decade cornerstones of this Poll — drew tepid responses. Either you are all Mormons now or the Spotify revolution has kept displeasing stuff out of your ears. Or maybe you’re all just swell individuals. That’s probably it.
I certainly hear far less shit that I hate than I used to. In fact, I go out of my way to scan the radio for what’s new and horrible in top 40 popular music whenever I’m driving. It gets the blood boiling on your way to rehearsal, it’s healthy. Also, my God has hip-hop gone through some amazing metamorphoses while rock seems to have gone nowhere, other than further into hip-hop and electronica, following envelopes pushed and doors opened by the top-charters on HOT97.
But something else I notice anecdotally and from time-to-time, is that some Big Thing will come to town that lots and lots of people care dearly for, from a collective past they share as fans that I just wasn’t apart of—I think social networking and a diaspora of media may contribute to this. Or I’m just fuddy-duddy. Get off my lawn.
Seriously, remember when Pulp came to New York last year, and everyone went ape shit? All the pictures from the live show on the various networks, people gabbing on and on about it. There I am… “who is Pulp?” just in utter disbelief at the attention surrounding something I’d never heard of. “You know, that ‘Common People’ song? Dude, you never heard that?” Of course I’ve heard their one-hit wonder, you prat, how was I supposed to know their name?
Since then I picked up This Is Hardcore, and I rather like it. I can enjoy Jarvis for about 30 minutes, and then for the next 15 I want to punch the thing that is playing his music until it stops. I can only take so much. You can see a big influence for David Albarne’s singing on a tune like “Dishes.” And in a lot of this music. “Party Hard,” tell me that doesn’t sound like a Blur song. Yes I know Blur came later, relax. That’s my point.
The new big thing like this that I’ve never heard of but a whole lot of people have is Swans. Seems like I just missed this one. Should I check out swans?