I was looking at this this list (I didn’t read the articles because I don’t really care about any of these bands) and I realized, I am so out of touch with mainstream music that I couldn’t really say who the most important, vital and necessary bands of the last decade.
Part of this is because I’ve never found pop music all that sustainable. I look at that list and I don’t know that any of those artists, aside from Danger Mouse, made any music that is particularly memorable outside of the short time period it was made. Some of it is just down right offensive (both in content and bland music; see Lil Wayne and Kanye West) or just boring. Sure, Jay-Z writes some okay songs from time to time and can write some sick hooks.And yes, Green Day is arguably the last, stadium rock band left in the world. But the lyrics are more pedestrian than insightful and the music is a lite version of the Who, without a drummer who gets so fucked up every night he has to be resurrected and still kills the shit.
Even Danger Mouse, whose work I enjoy is mostly fragmented over all the different projects he works on. Is he a producer, musician? What is his cannon? It’s hard to fit it all together in any context. It makes him an interesting artists, but it also feels like everything he works on he just applies his own style to the style of the artists he’s working on.
Further, how are these artists important? I certainly don’t hear bands influenced by these groups that are making music that is worth a damn. That to me is important, how music and art lends itself to new creativity. Sure, there are a million wanna be Jay-Z clones out there, but none of it’s worth a damn. Death Cab For Cutie has inspired plenty of bands that are more low-key and amazingly less interesting than they are. Green Day, what the hell have they done in the last decade that has made anyone want to pick up a band. Fall Out Boy was an equivalent to Green Day as far as I am concerned.
Further, there isn’t any band on this list that pushed forward, supported with any relevance or started anything in culture that was worth a damn. Kanye, Lil Wayne and Jay Z gave us more of the same of misogynistic, vacant consumer consumption celebration. Hip-Hops been doing that for three decades. Britney gave us a mirror to see how we tear women down and music that gets worse and worse over time. I don’t even know that The Strokes or Death Cab or even Radiohead had a large enough audience to be even relevant outside of the circle in which college kids spend a twenty to go see them. Green Day gave us eyeliner on boys, a cultural revolution started by Bowie and perpetuated ad nauseam by hair metal. No one cares. The White Stripes, mediocre, truly. I mean, Jack White is kinda a mad scientist, but musically The White Stripes were a backdrop to what he would create outside of music making.
These are also all just the opinions of a guy that listens to music that is full of the repetitive use of feedback to hide the simplicity of the music. I get it, people who buy this stuff aren’t totally invested in the challenging sounds that are so easy to find. But I just don’t think that music was impacting the culture and making important inroads into society like it once did. Further, nothing in the mainstream is really pushing the technology of music making forward, not for good anyway. We did get the auto-tune thanks to Brit and Kanye. But that was an embarrassing hiccup for both of those artists.
I know, this is me hating on shit most people like. Whatever, I just want to know why the integrity of popular music has sunk so low. Madonna said some shit about gender, sexuality and the role of women in society while making great music. Hendrix was the best guitar player of his time AND wrote great songs. Even Bob Dylan, whose voice I can’t stand, was a poet and wrote songs that are timeless, not only in their message but in their ability to constantly be reinterpreted. These things make artists important.