Saturday, March 19, 2016

a genre-less generation

"Last summer, a survey by “millennial insight agency” Ypulse surveyed 1,000 young adults. When asked about their favourite artists, many respondents couldn’t answer, not through ambivalence but because, it was concluded, “this generation is interested in so many music genres and artists”.

It found that while millennials are passionate about music (76% within the 13- to 17-year-old bracket said they wouldn’t be able to last a week without it), 79% of 13- to 32-year-olds said their tastes didn’t fall into one specific music genre. Just 11% said that they only listened to one genre of music. “It seems,” Ypulse noted when it published its findings, “that millennials are a genre-less generation”

--- from Guardian article by Peter Robinson, "Pop, rock, rap, whatever: who killed the music genre?", March 17 2016

(via Rubberdingyrapids at Dissensus thread on what the generation after millenials are into and whether music matters to them)

Robinson also writes:

"The 1975 have just scored a transatlantic No 1 with an album whose influences range from Yazoo to David Bowie. If you look at and key in, say, Lana Del Rey, you’ll find her listed under “pop, indie R&B, indietronica, chamber pop, synthpop”; she’s all of those, a bit, but at the same time not completely any of those. All are representative of a strain of artists who are post-genre. They now straddle, or exist beyond, genres that seemed set in concrete as little as 10 years ago. They represent a cross-pollination that makes it harder than ever to definitively state that you like or dislike one genre or another."

The founder of the pro-pop blog Popjustice, Robinson concedes:

"Clearly, different styles of music continue to exist. Fleur East’s blood-curdlingly bombastic Sax is clearly not the same thing as Slaves. You cannot argue that grime isn’t a scene, or that Little Mix aren’t a pop band. But the days of pitting one against the other, or dismissing one because it’s not the other, are coming to an end. Different styles of music still exist but, increasingly, nobody cares."

But argues that music, no longer to subject to the costs of financial investment or psychological investment, has become unshackled from identity-formation:

"It’s obvious, but still curious, how much more likely one is to try out a new album if the cost of doing so is zero pence.... in 2016, there is no financial imperative to stick to what you know you like. Perhaps, in the age of endless ways to express yourself, it’s also less necessary to define your identity in your teenage years by clinging to genres."
Missing from the piece is costs-benefits/ costs-downsides analysis of the death of genre and identity-formation through music. 
"What we’ve seen in the past 15 years is that consumption methods have broadened attitudes, music has changed to reflect that, and attitudes have then changed even further."
When you "broaden attitudes" that much, though, what disappears is attitude - the idea of taste-as-stance, choice-as-statement. 
"Music scenes may historically have appeared, disappeared and reappeared in a regular cycle, but it’s hard to imagine music fans moving on from this new sense of freedom."
Poptimism's victory = the End of History.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Come On Baby Light My Pyre, or, "this person's had enough / of useless memorabilia", or, Fire It Up and Start Again

Via Pitchfork  (and just about everywhere) comes news of McLaren & Westwood's son Joe Corré's
vow to  burn  his 5 million quid personal collection of punk memorabilia in protest at the Punk 
London events celebrating 1976's very own Jubilee (four decades of ye olde punke rocke)  

"He's also asking other dissatisfied punk fans to join him in burning their own punk stuff. The ceremonial burning will take place  in London's Camden district on November 26, which will mark the 40th anniversary of the Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." ...  Punk London, a series of events celebrating the 40th anniversary of punk  [is] sponsored by British institutions such as the BFI, the British Library, and the Museum of London. "The Queen giving 2016, the Year of Punk, her official blessing is the most frightening thing I’ve ever heard," he said in a press release. "Talk about alternative and punk culture being appropriated by the mainstream. Rather than a movement for change, punk has become like a fucking museum piece or a tribute act." ... Corré added, "A general malaise has now set in amongst the British public. People are feeling numb."
I wonder whether he will go through with it? 
As a gesture, there's a weirdly impressive honor to it, I suppose.  But it also does seems like shutting the stable door long, long, LONG after the horse has bolted.
For even in 1986 - the 10th Anniversary -  when Jamie Reid's punk-era artwork for punk (+ work before + work after it) had a retrospective exhibition in London (the Monitor crew attended and Hilary Bichovsky wrote  up a great piece critiquing punk from a feminist / non-combatant angle) - even then it didn't feel the least bit surprising or even really especially lamentable that punk should be "institutionalised" in that fashion. That didn't stop a clutch of Situationists from half-heartedly protesting about punk's "recuperation" outside the art gallery, of course! 
Corré s proposed immolation - which is destroying his parents's inheritance in literal financial terms as well as in terms of the artifacts they created - also reminded me of the KLF setting fire to the million pounds.... 
Also it did made me think of the first chapter in Retromania which is about museums and the heritage-isation of rock. It starts with me going to the British Music Experience and their reification of punk relics and me walking past a giant cut-out of Johnny Rotten... and then a day or two later visiting  Mick Jones's Rock 'n' Roll Public Library, and then  moves to discussthe Sex Pistols's non-induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame c.f. Jones & the Clash's meek acceptance of the award..... with some references along the way to Julie Burchill's Rock's Rich Tapestry. Much of  the chapter turns around Punk (or similiar cultural irruptions/insurrections) and whether it / they should be or can be assimilated into the museum space.  
But even as I wrote it I was quite consciously suspending for the time being the thought - the understanding - that of course it was always going to be recuperated/assimilated/institutionalised/cooopted/monetized...   Just like Dada, like Futurism, like whatever outrage or seemingly un-assimilate-able anti-movement you could mention....  Every irreverence inevitably becomes reverenced....  every act of cultural patricide is destined to be respected and accepted .... every corrosion, cordoned off safely...   every participatory situation turned into a nostalgic spectacle....  every delinquency turned to edification..

And finally - putting aside for the moment, the evident sincerity of  Corré's intent, the honor to it, etc - putting that aside, it's perfectly obvious that behind his promise is a deeply nostalgic impulse, a hankering for the lost purity of non-compromise. 

Those images literally are BritRockPop's Rich Tapestry.... or rather BritRockPop's Rank ScreenSaver