What ever happened to the honest to god rock star? You know the ones I mean; the artists and bands willing to take a stand politically, socioeconomically, and musically for what they believe in? Willing to wave the flag and say come follow me and let’s fix this!
Why are all radio stations playing the same shit? Why do they ignore the listeners who post daily on the station’s Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and call in to complain about how ‘crappy that last song is and why the hell do you play it 6 times a day?’, and yet the stations continue to spin the crap?
Why are all recent country songs clones of each other? Bro-Country where it’s mandatory to mention pick up trucks, little red cups, Fourth of July, tailgates, radio and oh yeah, the ‘hey girl’ in endless loops of songs just to get it on the radio – same song different singer, same bull shit different bull.
And why, oh why do artists at Awards ceremonies thank (in this order) Record Label, Mgmt, Publicist, Radio Stations, writer of their song, Venues, and then… “oh yeah the fans that actually bought our tune. “
For the same reason that sparked this article as I watched a beer commercial. You know the one.. live music, crowd of people, everyone jumping around with raised bottles and raised hands as a well known (or implied well known) DJ spins tunes on a stage flooded in blue and white light while his ‘song’ is shown in the bottom left corner of the ad.
Commercialism. Corporate handshakes. In an age where its harder for indie bands to get exposure, where its harder for established bands to continue to make a living, where it’s play by the rules or lose out on shows or radio air time, artists bemoan the state of the industry in private, but nobody wants to rock the boat. With good reason, nobody wants to ‘bite the hand that feeds’.
In a time when only popular music is being played on air – who defines ‘popular’? Whatever ‘popular’ has become, if an artist or band wants to make a living, they have no choice but to fit into that mould. Gone is the ability for artists to be experimental, to be creative, to push the boundaries of content, length, or sound with their music IF they want it on the airwaves. IF they want to be ‘popular’, they must be chart friendly. They must appeal to the widest demographic. And who helps set the charts? Radio. And who tells radio what to play? Program directors who take their lead from Industry. It’s all just a big endless circle, with the artists AND the listeners losing out.
Some of the greatest rock music in our modern age would now not be played on radio due to length of song, political attitude, or the inability of the stations to fit it into their ‘format’. Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, The Who, Metallica etc, all have epic historic songs that are now too long for the current radio format. Protest songs are now so snap happy that listeners don’t even realize it’s a protest song. And radio stations (90.3 AMP in Calgary) are trying to figure out how to cut songs down to less than 2 minutes to ‘fit more in’.
What we need is No Pop. A term coined last year by music writer/reviewer Lonely Vagabond, and carried by Music Think Tank and a plethora of other publications. No Pop – short for Not Popular. Meaning anti-commercial, non-chart friendly. Rooted in the attitude that people should search for the music that moves them, away from the corporate machine and away from box-creating specific genres.
What if No Pop became it’s own genre? What if Radio started playing No Pop? What if No Pop became the new rally songs of the 60’s, the new Punk invasion of the late 70’s? We are due (overdue!) for a shake-up in the music world. A shakeup to get past the cookie cutter, same sameness of every song on the airwaves. Maybe what we need isn’t a new Ramones, or a new Dylan or a new RadioHead.. maybe what we need is a new music classification that will ALLOW artists to maintain their creative integrity AND be heard by more of us. The only artists big enough to jump genres and defy the rules these days are the likes of Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder, Taylor Swift. Maybe WE need to take a leap of faith and demand what WE want rather than be spoon fed the vanilla that is the current music. Maybe WE need to be the child that points and says “but the Emperor has no clothes” when confronted with bad music and told it’s really good. Maybe WE need to be the ones that say, “can we please stop pretending this idiot has any talent.”
It’s time for a radical re-think. To win the war against bad music, you have to start one. .
#NoPop — THIS is why we need it.
Kanye West ‘sings’ Bohemian Rhapsody
written by Aron Madin