19.3.10

kill yr. idols

I have a personal bias against rock, classic rock, that is borne of the Boomer generation, and the continued reverence of it by my generation. It is regressive to constantly re-hash and pay tribute to our parent's (and grandparent's) tastes. The cult of Springsteen is the prime example here. Rock ideology is one of success and fame, white male charisma, counterculture as money spinner, etc. etc. But mostly, it's just sad because it means we basically confirm that old "back in my day" bullshit ourselves, by being like, "yeah - the past is where it was at musically, let's just play blank homage to it".

As such, my bias is not just a typical 'indie kid' stance, and this article by Zach Baron at Slate drives that home - in many ways, the indie and rock ideals have crossed - a certain version of indie is now the cultural mainstream, and it's bands and style are taking on the same bullshit myths and cultural centrality as the Stones, Beatles, etc. Reading this article kind of depressed me then - should I be holding up indie as the alternative when now it clearly isn't?

Nevertheless, two issues present itself here.

First, is Baron's claim that
There are very few successful young bands today that don't play some variant or descendent of indie rock. And the alternative musical culture that spent most of the '80s and '90s as the exclusive property of college students, critics, and independent labels is now a fairly uncontroversial, major component of pop music in general.
really that accurate? Is pop not still defined by, on the one hand, (electro) pop in the vein of Britney, Kesha, Gaga, etc. and hip hop and R&B on the other hand? Indie might be encroaching, but I think it's a slight delusion to argue that very few bands are successful without an incorporation of indie rock. As such, even if indie is dead (as an ideal - definitly not as a commercial genre, in fact that stage of its life is moving into full swing), then I still hold out genuine hope for more general pop as a potential site of generational difference and definition.

Second point, and further to the first, is that the success of indie is, as I said, a certain version of indie - namely 90's indie-rock. That's why Baron focuses on the Pavement reunion, and not say the success of Animal Collective (which is an entirely different story). And really, what we're seeing then is just the latest in the canonisation of a generation's music - no longer Boomer rock but now Xer indie. The trouble is for Gen Y basically to reject both.