Thursday, January 03, 2013

I cannot exactly remember which one of us first articulated it, but there's this theory in my house that a decade only truly develops its identity 4 years in. We discovered this after living on a childhood diet of Video Smash Hits in the years spanning 1990 to 1992. It was inevitable, after such a consistent intake of Technotronic, C & C Music Factory and Snap! that we would eventually develop the ability to not only accurately characterise that musical aesthetic but to see its strong links with the late 1980s.

I can't help but be convinced that something changed in 1993, as it did in 1983 and in 1973. With specific reference to 1993, there was an obvious and growing emergence of Eurodance, Grunge and Britpop. Consequently, the 1990s managed to sever those strong stylistic links with the 1980s and somehow consolidated its own taste, style and identity. I mention all this now, because we're only days into 2013 and I'm not entirely sure how to view this decade. I'm not entirely sure how it's ever going to define itself, as other decades have managed to do.

Perhaps it is a preposterous suggestion. Surely, we will soon get a taste of what this decade is and how we will characterise it, stylistically. There are methods of measuring taste, there are charts and dancefloors, YouTube hits and Spotify. There are writers who go on about what is trendy, spouting words like "sludgecore" and "beardwave". Yet, I can't help but feel like we treat the endorsements of the established musical press with a high degree of suspicion. We download from independently run blogs to find one-off songs that are truly aligned to our taste.

I may just be looking for another Beatles, another Strokes, another Oasis, another group that manages to coincide with that dramatic re-invention of a new decade. The cynic in me is uncertain whether it's even really possible to garner up that extreme degree of popularity in a time when genres are so heavily fragmented and obscurity is king. In the case of Psy's Gangnam Style, a video receives in excess of a billion hits does not necessarily equate to a popular song, in the sense that everyone likes it. It simply means that a lot of people have seen it.

Weeks ago, I was at the Face the Music conference when I heard a woman shout out: "But no one is going to remember Gangnam Style!" It was an interesting moment, because in spite of all my reservations about this decade's identity, I knew she was wrong. It is indisputable that people will remember that song, in the very same way that we can vividly recall the irksome refrain of Eiffel 65's Blue. I have to remind myself that it is simply not possible that an era can exist without its own sense of definition.

Japanese Youth in Revolt

Even if our listening practices are totally disparate, even if nothing is as massive as it once was, I know that we will remember those songs which are truly important. I know that it will all begin to make sense with the passing of time.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Indiepop Podcast #51
Health - In Heat (Javelin Remix)
Joe Goddard - Gabriel (feat. Valentina)
Chairlift - Ghost Tonight
Yeasayer - Henrietta
Foster the People - Helena Beat
daXX - RSI Megademo
Washed Out - Belong
Major Lazer - Get Free (feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors)

Download (51.2 MB)

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