Music built to last

I was thinking the other day – an occupation I seldom get involved with, I hasten to add – and I was wondering what music now will be around in years to come.

We’re living in an age of pop music – there is probably more music produced now, per year, than there has ever been. OK, that’s probably an exaggeration, but – there is a lot of it around! So, how much of it will still be around in the future? Who are the modern day Queen, Beatles, and Rolling Stones? (I still listen to these bands – particularly the first two – frequently).

I would like to humble offer up a few suggestions of what will still be around in (say) twenty years time.

  • Muse. What a band. These guys are amazing – despite being only three men strong, they produce a huge sound. Not just that, but Matt Bellamy is a great songwriter as well as a virtuoso guitarist and pianist. What I like about Muse is that they combine excellent songs with unusual ideas and great musicianship. My favourite example of this is probably ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’. If people have forgotten about Muse in twenty years, it’s a travesty!
  • Coldplay. A lot of people I know don’t like Coldplay – I can’t understand it. They write great tunes, and arrange and perform them well. Their last album (Viva la Vida) was probably their best yet, certainly in terms of experimenting with the music. However their previous albums all were very strong melodically, even if the earlier albums were more simple in terms of arrangement.
  • Keane. Similar to Coldplay really – these guys write really solid tunes, and are very strong melodically. “Under the Iron Sea” is one of my favourite albums ever, every single song on it is a cracker.

There are a few other bands I like, but I’ll leave it there for now! So… what distinguishes a band like the ones I mentioned above? I think it’s two things: 1. They all have something to say; 2. They say it well! Their songs are usually well crafted and arranged – it’s obvious that plenty of time and thought has been put into the words and music. Proper music should resonate with you, should have something to say, or somewhere to take you emotionally.

Some of the bands I’m going to mention in a moment seem to think music is all about writing a catchy tune which you can whistle on your way to work – real craftsmanship doesn’t come into it! It’s all superficial – but I’ll come onto that in a moment.

Let’s talk about the bands I don’t think will be around in a few years.

  • The Kaiser Chiefs, The Arctic Monkeys, The Fratellis, Scouting for Girls (and other similar bands). Phil and I listen to Virgin Absolute Radio most evenings when making dinner. A while back, they went through a phase of playing a lot of music by those bands – and we just couldn’t tell one from another! They all sounded exactly the same. Same arrangement, same guitar sounds, same ‘mockney’-style singer, same subject matter. In other words, I think the record companies had found a formula which worked, and decided to seek out more bands which sounded exactly the same in order to sell a few more CDs. (Note: the only exception is Scouting for Girls – although they do have a Mockney singer. I’ve included them because all their songs sound the same, and they’re all incredibly repetitive. And they also ripped off ‘God Only Knows’ by the Beach Boys in one of their songs).

I realise that if I start to go on about these bands I will sound like a grumpy old man, so I’d probably better stop there. Suffice it to say that I think these bands don’t write songs which go much beyond the superficial (as Bill Bailey would say, they’re not exactly plumbing the depths of human experience). They also seem to be incredibly cynical, which doesn’t sit well with me.

I don’t quite know how “She Loves You” by the Beatles is any less superficial than “Flourescent Adolscent” by the Arctic Monkeys, but somehow it is. It just feels like with some of these bands that they don’t really give a toss about what they’re singing (i.e. a cynical attitude) and, to me, that does not make a great song.

Right, I definitely will stop there! Let’s see if anyone has any other suggestions as to what bands we’ll be listening to in years to come, or other thoughts on the matter 🙂

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