I was pleasantly surprised to read Paul Morley’s feature in the Guardian recently basically about how pop/rock music has effectively nothing more to say and that classical music is the only way forward. Readers of this blog (and I know you are many) will have learned that this has been my sentiment exactly since round about the beginning of this year when i started getting ‘back into’ classical music and finding ‘new’ pop and even re-cycled rock music toatlly boring and pointless.
As Morley says, listening to classical music may “seem like a classic, cliched, late-life move into a conservative, grown-up and increasingly remote world” but i really don’t see it like that at all. Ok, there is a cliché in there somewhere..my parents couldn’t understand what kind of music I was listening to in, say, 1980 although my Dad might have appreciated something ‘with a beat to it’ (no Jean Michel Jarre, eh then Dad?). Likewise I can listen to stuff my own children listen to, only if there’s a decent lyric and a tune. But having said that there’s hardly anything new or interesting around and even “old” rock/pop artists such as Bowie, Depeche Mode and others are just re-hashing old ideas, often with sub-standard results, not to mention U2’s rather pathetic attempt to ram their new album down your throats, or rather literally into your ears, with the free i-tunes issue that came with your latest update. As with theirs, and most new pop music, it is merely what Morley calls “skilfully engineered product design” (never been a U2 fan anyway). I saw that BBC documentary recently about music and fashion, where a famous ‘label’ is also launching a new musician as part of the package. Pathetic.
Sadly the days of Buzzcocks, Joy Divison, Tubeway Army or even Duran Duran are no more (although the latter do have quite a lot to answer for), so let’s find a real alternative and discover some music from 100 or more years ago which can actually tell us something new. I’m not going to make any suggestions or create a playlist like Morley did, you can discover it all for yourselves, just like we used to with pop music back then.
STOP PRESS! (and edit) Clemency Burton-Hill gets the balance right (somewhat) in this piece just up on BBC Culture.