Talk to your children about their shitty taste in music.

The whiny emo brat subculture seems to have gotten into Nirvana big time. I cured the older teen of playing In Utero all day every day at a zillion decibels by complimenting her taste and mentioning how I got it when it came out and played it lots. Never heard it again. Job done.

But that’s good music listened to badly. (I did this with Joy Division in my youth.) What about the terrible, terrible shit? Lauren Modery at Hipstercrite addresses this increasingly pressing issue.

If my kids ask me why I’m so sensitive about this issue, I will tell them it’s because shitty music comes from people who have money and who constantly stroke each other’s big fat egos. I will tell them that, sadly, the art industries are run by people with neither style nor class, who care more for shock value that ultimately makes them more money.

The trouble is that when I examine my own taste as a teenage record nerd of discernment and consideration, way too much of that was actually inept bullshit too. Early ’80s second- and third-string Rough Trade indie, what the fuck.

6 thoughts on “Talk to your children about their shitty taste in music.

  1. Check out some folks named Beethoven, Bruckner, Mahler, Bach, Stravinsky, Debussy, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, Sibelius, Haydn, Mozart, Schubert and Schumann. I mean really check them out. You’ll be glad you did.

  2. But, since culture is not about aesthetics, those guys say nothing to me about my life. Jez and the Jizzmoppers really understand me and what I feel. And Jez is sooooo cute.

  3. Ha ha, only serious.

    It appears that what John is saying is “Try esthetics instead of culture.” OTOH, not everyone can do that, and that’s OK to an extent (I guess). We certainly can’t expect people to prefer music that’s not of their own culture, so we need to make esthetically “sound” (heh!) music that people of today’s culture can relate to. Fortunately, we’re part of the same culture, so given some thought and effort we should be able to do this. In fact, some of us were going in that direction in the early ’70s before it was cut off by a two-pronged attack of MegaMusiCorp and the press embrace of Punk.

  4. Why can’t it continue?? After all, punk looks fairly immortal from here.

    As for why punk arose: Well, a whole bunch of reasons, I guess. A dictionary I consulted early on referenced an article mentioning “largely a reaction against ‘progressive’ fussiness”. I know something of the economic situation, too. But in going back to the beginning to discuss motivations, I guess you’d have to discuss each individual figure. The reason the Ramones did what they did isn’t necessarily why the Sex Pistols or Malcolm McLaren or Vivienne Westwood or (for that matter) Jonathan Richman or Television or Elvis Costello did what they did. But here’s a list of potential reasons that sound like things I’ve heard:
    1. To subvert the business, which had lost the plot and made rock into SHOW BIZ.
    2. To recover the energy of the original rock’n’roll (see #1).
    3. To conduct an experiment to see whether the past could be successfully updated (which I guess might be #2b, but I’d have to change my numbering).
    4. Relatively sucky economy (especially in the U.K.) made people angry.
    5. Prog not only sux, but actively betrays the spirit of what rock’n’roll is about. (Prog fans might tell you this is #1; some won’t, though.)
    6. Satin-clad Rawk Stars sux. (Not enough Spandex back then, y’know.)
    7. Arena-rock in the Boston/Journey mode sux (see also #6; this is essentially a corollary of #s 1 and 2).
    8. Some people never really got on board with 1967, but still want a future.
    9. Covert Establishment plot to make hippie-bashing cool.
    10. Covert Establishment plot to get people to accept their long-term reduced circumstances as something subversive and hip.

    OK, now I’m getting ridiculous here. But funny how it’s worked out, eh?f

    My impression has largely been that there was a problem with the business that was expressing itself in the music, and that therefore (per London and CBGB) what was needed was a different kind of music, because there was no way the business could be fixed, though you could instead put together a small-label industry. The idea also seems to have been that the ’60s trajectory had been co-opted (as if you could avoid something like that), and therefore there needed to be a new style of rock that couldn’t be co-opted (though why the people who put punk together thought a music of radical simplicity and immediacy couldn’t be co-opted I don’t know). They said they were destroying rock, but they were trying to save rock’n’roll. Well, they saved it for themselves, I guess.

    So let me try to put it in one sentence: *Big business has given the ’60s trajectory COOTIES, so we must start over with a new version of the old rock’n’roll that, among other things, speaks to people’s anger and disappointment and tries to provide some sort of space to manoeuver in this new, shittier world.”

    Now, IF I’M WRONG, feel free to correct me. But I’ve been hearing too much of the above for too long to question it very much.

  5. I think the basic problem is it just went out of fashion. (Culture is not aesthetics.) Note that punk rock didn’t start, ring a bell in 1976 and prog suddenly stopped.

    (In fact, the same with disco. It went right out of fashion in the suburbs but kept right on going. It soon came back and took over the world. With the aid of easier technology.)

    But musicians have done long noodly works as long as there have been noodly musicians. And what do we see a decade later? New Wave band Talk Talk ends up doing “post-rock” and Radiohead take that and hit really big with it. IT’S BLOODY PROG. It’s different prog, but punk changed pretty bloody quickly too.

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