Last night, at a new years party, I played drums with one of my oldest childhood friends, Dillon (Bass) and one of his best friends from college Matt (Piano). We all work in different areas of music. Dillon plays lead guitar in Spiderman on Broadway, Matt works in music education and arranges big band jazz, and I play indie rock and produce hip-hop. We jammed, played basic covers, nothing fancy, but to me it was beautiful and explained the true value of having mainstream musical forms.
Not everyone likes pop music, music that would undoubtedly be considered mainstream, but pop music is about the lowest common denominator. You may not love it, but you probably like it more than the bottom of the barrel in any other genre. Death Metal anyone? New Music? Nothing’s worse then bad Dub Step. But bad pop music is somehow tolerable, sometimes even fantastic. Kesha.
See, us three musicians at an informal jam would rather play Michael Jackson or Stevie Wonder tunes than anything else. Their sensibilities are right down the middle, universal messages. Will.I.Am. and other urban euro dance pop impersonators be damned, universal music can be good and perhaps the best and most genius. However, in the current industry climate, its becoming harder and harder to be universal.
In my musical sphere, bands like MGMT, Passion Pit, and Grizzly Bear are considered the cream of the crop. Groups we could only hope to be as fortunate, talented and famous as. However I go to a family gathering and reference these groups to my Long Island Jewish relatives, and their eyes glaze over. They have no idea who I’m talking about. To me these bands are huge and 10 years ago they would’ve been Nirvana or Pearl Jam, but today they are segmented, cordoned off, relegated to a sizeable corner of the Internet, but a corner nonetheless. Such is the case of all genres and all quality music.
Some might ask: If a certain band can have their niche, maintain a corner of the Internet, have fans, make a lot of money, who really cares if anyone else has heard of them? Valid, but this prevailing opinion in marketing and among bands ignores the potential of universal music. Popular forms have always been the amalgam, the filter through which all forms are incorporated. But if other forms don’t receive general attention there’s nothing to incorporate. Universal music today is Lady Gaga or Tao Cruz. Dancehall bellowers. All individuality stripped from the content, and all of it devoted to the freak show surrounding it. In the end all that remains is an impossibly loud metallic kick drum and Benny Blanco being hailed as a genius. Stagnation.
Art reflects society and this idea is not exclusive to music, this is a current American problem, losing faith in the very parts of society that hold the greatest potential. So, in 2012 I propose we not shy away from the challenge of being mainstream with integrity.
- alexrussek posted this