With a long drawn out breath and a subtle twitch that took nearly fifteen years to occur, I sit here, after a moment of silence, and reflect on the social, emotional and chaotic monster that was the state of mainstream music.
For the better half of a century it handed us life-defining quality through more avenues than could possibly be imagined in one sitting. The list of possibilities is virtually endless. Yet to begin a list, or merely to add to one already in progress, we could simply flip on a radio. Regardless the station you select you are bound to find a plethora of songs and artists that meant something to you at one point or that crafted a sound of such quality that today you find yourself singing along or even turning up the volume.
Yet in the last fourteen years, how many songs could you identify as “classic”? How many of these songs evoke the same emotion as the riff from “Interstate Love Song,” the passion of “Jolene,” the grand scale of “Hey Jude” or the grit of “Sympathy For The Devil?” How many of the songs in the last decade convey the angst of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or how many female vocalists on the radio today could move your soul like “I Will Always Love You?”
Since the turn of the century the world has shamefully exchanged their demand for quality with an insatiable hunger for immediate satisfaction. This could come in the form of a tight groove or a flashy personality, it wouldn’t matter. The resulting payout, or obsessive download, of just any song continues the inevitable cycle of superficial music lacking all nutritional value. It does not and cannot feed your soul. Because of this submissive quality in the mainstream music fan it will indefinitely continue. Yet years from now we will get in our car, turn on our radio or go to a sporting event and still hear the songs that were produced decades ago; the songs that today did nothing to contribute toward.
The charred remains of the musical landscape are, however, being repopulated. Not by a large obelisk protruding from the Earth in some in-your-face eyesore, but in the seedlings planted by the vast number of hungry artists, diehard record labels and limited number of music festivals that feed the new growth. The complete lack of respect major music has for the mindless populace that eats up their every word like the soulless Cybermen, feeds on the majority’s failure to see that there is entirely no longevity to what they are being given. It is precisely this reason that makes independent music more significant and necessary than ever before. We will not hear it on our radio, but it out there and it has something for you.
The ability to download, stream and share was foretold to destroy music when in fact it opened a gaping hole in the fabric of the art. It allowed us to see that if you compare major music festival lineups side-by-side you’ll find the same thing on repeat. If you are tired of being told who the best new artist is on a music award show when they have released four albums over five years, you can find truly new artists just at the click of a mouse that will put a genuine smile on your face. The expansive, nearly endless, realm of independent music has virtually something for everyone without the annoying “Aw, that’s my jam yo” moments and without the $300 ticket price.
There is no better time than now to reclaim the ability to establish “classics”; without being fed musical GMOs. Say no to Genetically Modified Music, stand up for music you like, not what you’re told to like. Say no to GMMs. Go to the Record Store Days, hit up a local music venue, or by an album off Bandcamp, but support independent music.
Greg is a regular contributor and co-founder at Nanobot. He doesn’t let his friends consume GMM.