Ian Samson reviews the history of ‘Music’
We’ve all heard of ‘music’. We all bop our heads expressively when the hip bands of the day like ‘Katy Perry’ come on the ‘Music Television’. We find our gaze momentarily diverted from the perspiring redhead on the treadmill when the latest ‘Smiths’ hit pumps through the gymnasium speaker system. We forgive Mitt Romney’s obscene social agenda when he confesses to liking Mormon-rock troupe ‘the Killers’. For most of us, however, music is just something we are obliged to pretend to care about. Something that only concerns chumps and suckers with too much time on their hairy, chimp-like hands. Like Palestine, or the recent passing of a cousin.
But is music actually any good? To save you trawling through the annals of popular song, I have read all the relevant sources on Wikipedia (simple English version), and listened to all the ‘Now! That’s What I Call Music’ volumes that are a multiple of seven. The conclusions that you are about to read are profound, startling, and wildly deficient.
Music was essentially invented in 1986 with Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’. Various primitive forms of music preceded this, notably including Beethoven and ‘Now!!! That’s What I Call Music!!’ volumes 1-6. These earlier attempts are perhaps best compared chronologically and sequentially to the Neanderthals that preceded humans; indeed, several of these acts – chiefly Bonnie Tyler – were themselves Neanderthals.
The following year saw the acrimonious break-up of the Smiths, demarcating the end of the ‘Music Era’ (1986-1987). The subsequent years mainly comprised the pathetic shadow of music’s ‘Glory Days’ (1986-1987), punctuated only by Jason Donovan’s 1991 rendition of ‘Any Dream Will Do’. This hit single was variously lauded by critics as “(a) nice try”, “it’s not exactly Peter (Gabriel), but I suppose we have to make do with what we have”, and “why do more bands not have lead singers that double as a flautist, such as Genesis’s Peter Gabriel? Jason Donovan is a talentless, fluteless nobody”. Such overwhelmingly large questions will have to be addressed another day.
When a combination of the Ecstasy-fuelled clubbing scene and Thatcherite policies killed off the majority of Britain’s population by the mid-Nineties, the nation’s collective memory was wiped and music was given a clean slate. At first, this resulted in no-one really remembering how to write music, [see George Michael – ‘Jesus to a Child’ (1996) or Billie Piper – ‘Honey to the Bee’ (1999)], but before long a juicy musical revolution rose out of the ashes, one that continues to shape music to this day (Monday 10th September 2012). In 2001, the ‘Indie Rock’ (short for Independent Rockabilly) landslide was catalysed by the most important album of the decade; Nickelback’s ‘Silver Side Up’ represented arguably the best non-Peter Gabriel release to date. Troubled child actor Macaulay Culkin said of lead single ‘How You Remind Me’, “music has found its saviour. Chad Kroeger’s husky ‘I’m-a-prick’ voice and his rough, untamed ‘I’m-a-prick’ beard make me feel positively gooey inside. A thoroughly well-deserved 2 million-plus copies sold and upcoming marriage to Avril Lavigne. Bring on the sleepovers.”
Music’s newfound goodness spawned innumerable acts shamelessly hopping on the ‘good music’ bandwagon. Eventually, circa 2008, a counter-culture formed, rebelling against this sickeningly persistent ‘goodness’ in music; a refreshing epoch of bland-rock, established bands stoïcally refusing to release good albums, and kids uncovering the concept of ironic trousers flip-turned music upside-down once again. Thanks to everyone realising that lithe, underdressed females are utterly wonderful, popular music became ever more sexualised: Rihanna’s every erotic encounter and urge is now immortalised as a catchy single; “Tulisa” Contostavlos released her single ‘Young’ in promotion of her sex tape. And the rest, as they say, is omitted due to my strict word limit.
So there you have it. The rollercoaster ride that constitutes the never-ending saga of music, is as bumpy and confusing as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s face. Yet all this all leaves countless questions unanswered; and mainly the ones this article was specifically meant to answer. Is music even relevant to an apathetic, unemployed generation of overweight technology addicts? Can music ever rediscover the giddy heights of 1986-7? Will I ever write for the Tribe again? We all have our own ideas, and private investigations are ongoing. But one thing is undebatable: music is good value for a solid three stars out of five.