Time to move past past's music

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Past music group

"WE MAKE A GOOD TEAM MY ADIDAS AND ME/ WE GET AROUND TOGETHER AND RHYME FOREVER/ AND WE WON’T BE MAD WHEN WORN IN BAD WEATHER." Music fans need to wake up and realize that past artists weren’t always idealistic.

“Punk is dead.”

“Hip-hop is dead.”

“The only good music was made during the ’70s.”

You’ve undoubtedly heard one of these statements before. Maybe you even believe them.

Punk has changed. You might have noticed about 10 years ago when pop-punk acts started monopolizing the mainstream media. Who doesn’t love a band pronouncing “I” as “oiyeeeee”? And don’t spiked armbands make a great accessory?

The same goes for hip-hop. People longing for the “good old days” pray to sacred names like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. They lament the demise of their favourite genre as 50 Cent blares from the speakers of a passing Honda packed with skinny white suburbanites.

Your favourite classic rock fans aren’t much better; they’re convinced the only good music was crafted by the musical gods of the 1970s. Try telling them Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti is subpar. Don’t be surprised if an “inferior” CD is tossed at your skull, since you can be sure they wouldn’t throw one of their precious LPs " especially not an original pressing.

Is it true? Have these rebellious, groundbreaking and life-changing genres been reduced to nothing more than marketing campaigns?

No. It’s nostalgic bullshit.

Most people singing the praises of these genres weren’t even alive during their high points. They idealize these formative years and ignore their less savoury aspects because they can view it through hand-crafted, rose-coloured glasses.

Think of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s idolizing the 1950s’ peace and conformist tranquillity. Happy Days and Leave it to Beaver, mom and dad sleeping in separate beds while Junior goes to a peacefully all-white school. This wasn’t reality. This is a squeaky-clean image of a dark time, cleansed of Cold War and racial tension.

Music fans aren’t any better. Instead of mom and dad sleeping in separate beds, it’s punk and capitalism sleeping on opposite sides of the room. The fact The Sex Pistols might have just been in it for the money and were supported by SEX, a clothing and “toy” shop, is ignored. Let’s forget the fact The Clash toured with The Who and Run-DMC sang about “my Adidas.”

Instead of realizing many ’70s bands might have been pompous, time-wasting perfectionists who spent years in the studio creating bloated, excessive double albums, devoted fans never stop discussing The Wall’s lyrical content or Yes albums’ intricacies.

People are even beginning to idealize the pillars of the early ’90s grunge movement, conveniently forgetting New Kids On The Block were probably more popular at the time.

No genre is dead. It’s a cycle, an evolution, an ever-changing musical landscape that is continually broadening. As soon as pop culture shatters a genre, it’s resurrected by a new generation hoping to return it to its roots.

Fans try suffocating these cycles by creating overly specific genre titles or with declarations of genre “purity” and comparisons to the “good old days.” They try breaking the spirit of new bands who might actually be stronger or more talented than the ancient heroes people adore.

It’s not wrong to love the music of the past, but it’s important to realize what it is. It’s music. It’s time to stop attaching false declarations of purity and soul to genres that weren’t very pure to begin with.

Music isn’t sitting in some untouchable paradise with Bob Dylan, the Ramones or N.W.A. It’s barreling into new and exciting places while you stumble behind, blindly clutching your favourite little pieces and repeatedly listening to “Blowin’ in the Wind.” It’s time to open your ears.

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