Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Manufactured Pop Crap

After a long interlude during which I'd felt no real urge to listen to any sort of music, I found myself listening this afternoon to albums from two very different groups, Cream (the supergroup of which Eric Clapton was once a part) and Nirvana (I hope they need no introduction). Despite the length of time that has passed since both of these two groups were in their heyday, what I found remarkable is just how fresh, moving and just plain listenable their work still remains, and how unkindly the output of Britney, Christina, Mandy and all the other assembly-line clones that seem to dominate the charts today compares with groups that came and went so long ago. What is happening to the music industry that it should be so thoroughly dominated today by such rubbish? I don't think I'm just showing signs of advancing old age in posing this question, as I'm still more than able to appreciate music from well before my time or a culture not my own on first encounter.

With the sort of mediocre pabulum that dominates the charts and the airwaves these days, it's no wonder people aren't buying albums in quite the numbers they used to. What the recording industry needs isn't new legislation, but an injection of new blood in the form of bands that were formed in someone's basement rather than in a corporate drawing room, and musicians who actually write all their own music (as opposed to making dubious "co-credit" claims in order to bolster their marketability). It seems that as with managers in most other fields, record studio bosses find it easier to lobby Congress for special favors than they do contemplating the prospect of actually building a better product.