The below is a rant that has been niggling the back of my mind these past few weeks. It is difficult for me to hold back any longer, therefore I give you the following. I’m aiming to get this published in either Frankie (top issue this bi-month. Now for another excruciating two month wait for the new one) or the UTS student magazine Vertigo.. *fingers crossed*
Commercial Whore vs. Indie Kid:
Why I Should Be Allowed To Channel Both
These past few weeks have been rather traumatic for me. I’ve been verbally abused on my beliefs, told multiple times that I cannot be one thing as well as the other, as well as financially molested by someone who seems to make love to his own dance routines. It is not quite the experience I’d recommend to anyone suffering a potential existential crisis. And by that I mean the musical kind (because we all know that Foucault is so post-pomo).
I am a passionate supporter of independent and ‘alternative’ music. I have been on a 3-month binge of The Cure (Bloodflowers is splendid and Fascination Street live is like the Karma Sutra in aural form), whilst my current listening buffet consists of Gotye, The Frames, Marianne Faithfull, Brendan Benson, The Basics, Explosions In The Sky, and George Harrison. I am on my way to quoting exactly which Beatles song appeared on which Beatles album (Strawberry Fields Forever appeared on, umm… Magical Mystery Tour?), and I got so excited when I heard The Cure were touring that I called my friend who was on exchange in Sweden to tell her I got us GA tickets (GA stands for ‘general admission’ for you unversed music punters). The amount of money I spend on CDs every month is enough to feed a colony of emaciated children. I believe that iPods and their artsy fartsy coloured dancing silhouettes should consider self-imploding into a much more marketable display of ‘we fucked you over hard!’ (see what you did to those Swedish Caesars Palace!). That means I have never owned an MP3 player, which possibly relegates me to a social standing similar to turd-dom. I get excited every time I hear a new band on Fbi and 2SER, meaning I gleefully implode whenever my mate’s songs get played.
But here is the crux: I watch Idol religiously. And I’m paying to see Justin Timberlake on the first day of November this year. Insert Hitchcockian Psycho shower scene music score here. By admitting these fatal aspects of my personal inclinations, my friends and colleagues run screaming, flinging EP remnants and the Spice Girls on vinyl in their wake, thereby effectively forfeiting any musical respect they ever garnered for me in the first place. The question is, WHY?
One thing I’d like to ask: what is wrong with Idol? And by that I do not mean to open the floodgates of an inexorable damning (I’m so witty) to a hell where Avril Lavigne attempts to skateboard in circular motions whilst chanting “Hey hey, you you” to the tune of Hanson’s ‘Mmmbop’. You cannot deny the indescribable appeal of the Idol concept – unlike Big Wanking Brother, this is actually entertaining. Is it so wrong to look forward to it every year, to guffaw at my race’s inability to breed Idol-esque musicians (Asian Pride represent!), and become enamoured at the very rare though utterly satisfying moments of radness, like last year when the oddly intriguing yet ever so talented Bobby Flynn took the stage?
Being martyred as a result of my ‘Faustian’ ways has afforded me some interesting observations. How much more anal can we get when it comes to differentiating ourselves from ‘the mainstream’? Are we so fearful of becoming tinged in any shape or form by this Machiavellian monster that we call ‘commercialisation’ that it’s made us think in two-tonal dimensions? Does that not defeat the purpose of music? Does music not question our social ideologies and perceptions, whilst simultaneously allowing a certain openness to interpretation?
As much as we proclaim our allegiance to ‘independent’ artists and freely slap on the criticisms regarding the ‘lack of musicianship’ vested in Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi (for no one can deny the aural pull of Livin’ on A Prayer), the fact of the matter is that the nuances between the mainstream and independent-slash-alternative is blurring. Festivals are popping up left, right, and centre thereby rendering the average punter both confused and broke at time of printing, and they’re all promote one thing – music. Why are we quick to annihilate the promotion of music with our nostril-flaring elitism? Is there something wrong with signing up to both ticketing lists for the Spice Girls and the Falls Festival? And how long can your new favourite band stay truly yours? Sharing is caring – have all those hours of illegal downloading taught you nothing! Music spreads the love, therefore appreciate said love!
My point is – music needs balance. If all you have to listen to is perpetually good and damn near orgiastic music, then what have you got to define it with? This is what we call definition through opposition – there is no north without south, there is no good without bad, and there is no splendid ear candy without the mainstream shit that is polluting the Kyle and Jackie O show (I liken the listening experience to that of O-zone’s ‘Dragostea-di-dei’ – resistance is futile). With the exception of Rihanna-fucking-ella-ella-ella-eh (she had better get out of my aural range before I attempt her surgical removal from the music scene), why should I be crucified for opening my ears to such readily proclaimed examples of banality? If you don’t like it, then don’t listen to it.
Meanwhile, I’m going back to my weekly Sundays and Mondays ‘Idoling’. And I reserve the right to listen to Britney Spears in between my nightly dosage of Mogwai and Lo-tel – everyone else can stay grumpy and discombobulated.