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Thursday, April 22, 2004

Where are the rock gods? 

Good article in today's Age, reprinted from somewhere else, natch (in this case the Guardian; by Alexis Petridis, but I've been meaning to write a letter to the Age for some time asking why so much of their content isn't written locally) on the homogenisation of rock, among other things.

"The Sex Pistols and Throbbing Gristle appeared to indicate that the age of the self-mythologising rock artist was coming to an end: in future, mythic status would be something bands had conferred on them by others at a later date. The arrival of the video, however, gave pop artists a new medium in which to construct their own mythology ... But it soon became apparent that anyone, even Dire Straits, could make a visually appealing short film. Since then, pop has become increasingly prosaic. The discovery of dance music in Ibiza and the second "summer of love" produced no mythic stars, just ordinary blokes: the audience were taking the same drugs and, what's more, usually looked more glamorous than the DJs and performers on stage.

Likewise, Britpop was presented as a democratisation of rock: everyday, decent lads who wore the same clothes as you, who could have been you were it not for their way with a melody.

Yet audiences still want their rock stars to be touched with novelty and exoticism. That is one of the reasons dance music withered. It is why Robbie Williams, with his lurid tales of drug addiction, bed-hopping and mental anguish, became a star and Gary Barlow didn't. It is why the everyday lads of Britpop - Echobelly, Ocean Colour Scene, Space, Sleeper - were quickly forgotten and everybody remembers Jarvis Cocker. And it's why the White Stripes' Jack White keeps up the ludicrous pretence on stage that he is an aw-shucks backwoodsman having some kind of incestuous relationship with his sister, when everyone knows that he's a former upholsterer from Detroit and that's his ex-wife on drums."

Nice one.
Why don't more mainstream, widely read music writers aim this high?

*end of workaday postscript, re. comments from D&R
Dewi - word. But that doesn't mean it should go uncommented on. The fact almost every article in the Saturday Age is taken off the wires or reprinted from the Boston Globe, The LA Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Times etc etc etc, should not go un-remarked. It goes without say we have writers who are capable of pieces like these, and kicking them in the teeth because you don't have a budget might be how it is, but it's just not right, dammit.
Interesting point about AFX, Rolly - I don't agree with everything Alexis says, but wanted to highlight her piece (and not just because she got Throbbing Gristle a mention in a daily broadsheet) as it seems as good a recent effort as any to explain people's ... i'm thinking about the word disillusionment but it's not really what i'm after, and neither is cynicism ... dispassionate (?) approach towards the music business, and said business' abject and continuing panic as their business-model fails to continue to provide them with the profit to which they're accustomed. Something i'm slowly getting around to writing is a piece on the hoodwinking we've recieved over the reasons for this panic. Music sales haven't tailed off in anything like the dramatic fashion major labels would have us believe, and whether it's got anything to do with file sharing or not ... is something on which everyone has an opinion, i guess.
Interesting to see that online music stores like Apple's itunes are actually doing quite okay, tho'.
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