Monday, August 22, 2011

Trends and the Future Face of Music and Everything (My Spin on Things) Part Two: The Ascent to the Modern Era

This is where things start to get kind of tricky.  A lot of the following will be conjecture and inference since all of this is kind of recent-ish and stories still aren't quite straight.  
The tail-end of the Eighties showed this sort of transitional period in which the face of music changed drastically, more similar to what we have today.  Glam rock really began to decline and it seems that it pretty much died, giving the stage to the rest of arena rock.  Punk began to decline as well, but it was able to survive as it took on elements of hard rock and spawned thrash-metal and death-metal.  Punk also merged a bit with Alternative and this is basically the origin of the Seattle grunge scene.  Punk also showed inklings in emo, which would of course transform later into the new form of emo.  Glam rock's looks took some aspects of new-wave and formed the kind of pop-music we have today.  New Wave itself persisted throughout though, and never really gained more success or declined all that much.  Arena Rock got really big, and took on some more of the excessive traits of glam rock, without as much makeup. To gain popularity, Hip hop incorporated some elements of pop, and actually made some good music with the extra level of production that added.

In the early Nineties, Arena Rock received a nearly deadly blow from Grunge, which became super popular when the Sub-Pop label began to gain press coverage.  There was a HUGE explosion of popularity in the Seattle-Scene, which incorporated the anti-establishment attitude of Punk with the indie style of Alternative and actually some riffs from Arena Rock.  The big blow was dealt when Kurt Cobain publicly declined an offer to play with Guns N' Roses, whose front-man Axl Rose wore Nirvana shirts and was apparently a fan, and stated that he didn't like the excess that they endorsed, similar to the rejection of disco in the Seventies.  Grunge and Alternative took the throne by force it seems and Arena Rock took second-stage.  Pop Punk began to gain popularity as well, with bands like Green Day and Blink-182.  The Arena Rock fans began to shift to either Alternative or the mainstream or more underground metal acts.  Alternative started getting a bit heavier, but Grunge all but died with the death of Kurt Cobain and Alternative started going into a post-grunge phase, that was not as popular as Grunge was before, yet still a bit popular.  Bands like the Foo Fighters, Matchbox Twenty, and Nickelback gained popularity and carried the torch into the early 2000s, and some of the bands survive to this day.

Now we get to the 2000s, the era of Napster.  The Internet had, at this point, a very popular center for music downloads.  In 1999, Napster was launched as a place where people could search for an artist, or song, or album, and download it immediately.  The best part, it was 100% free.  Soon, millions of people had begun downloading music from artists they'd never even heard of, just because they could listen without having to worry about wasting money if they didn't like the music.  Even already popular bands used and supported Napster, often putting their own albums up for free.  The Offspring released Conspiracy of One this way, and tried putting it up on their own website, but their own record label threatened to sue.  Other artists, such as Metallica, Madonna, and Dr. Dre, opposed Napster and the company was sued in 2000.  It is important to note that it was the performers making the most money that whined the most about Napster.  In fact, largely unknown artists, as well as some just beginning to get attention, actually benefited from Napster.  Why?  Just because people download a song, doesn't mean they don't want to support an artist.  Napster actually improved the sales of many artists, purely out of support of fans.  One could easily make a compelling argument that the groups that opposed Napster didn't care about or trust their fans.  Record labels also despised Napster because it was making them obsolete, so they struck back with their already overloaded wallets.  This is true even today, free music only supports the artist further.  I was once told that "pirating" hurts working class laborers who make CDs in a factory, but those CDs are sold everywhere, not just record labels.  People buy blank CDs at stores like Wal-Mart, for instance.  And even if they didn't, the CD will likely go "extinct" the way other forms of music have, such as vinyl or cassette, and to prevent that change would be halting progress for no reason.  Anyway, Napster eventually fell, but people had tasted freedom and other forms popped up left and right in it's place, much like a hydra's head (these days, labels realize that their best bet is preying on actual users).  Now what does this have to do with music trends?  EVERYTHING.  Because anyone could hear anything, influences were spreading like wildfires, and genres were being born (or at least recognized) like rabbits.

That is the world in which we live today.  The Internet has spawned so many genres that when people ask what you listen to, the response is often a list of genres, rather than a list of artists.  And we keep getting more of them.  Genre-overload is kind of the state of things, but perhaps it is something we just have to get used to.  So without further ado, I present the 00s.

The Early 2000s: In the early 2000s, we have some garage rock showing up like The White Stripes and The Strokes, as well as a large influx of metal in a new form, nu-metal.  Nu-metal began later in the 90s, but reached its peak earlier in the next decade.  Nu-metal was really a child of the Internet, because it combined elements of so many genres, such as grunge, hip hop, industrial, and funk.  Some nu-metal artists of note were System of a Down, Slipknot, and Korn.  The brother genre of nu-metal was rap rock, which gained only slightly more publicity, due to the popularity of hip hop, and the focus on rapped lyrics.  Rap rock bands of the early 2000s were Staind, Papa Roach, and Linkin Park (a band which also incorporated elements of electronic music).

The Mid 2000s: The second wave of emo began in the 90s and broke from the underground in the early 2000s.  By the middle of the decade, emo had taken hold of the mainstream rock sound with bands like Fall Out Boy (whose label, Fueled By Ramen, had become the Sub-Pop of emo), 30 Seconds to Mars, and My Chemical Romance.  Though many artists claimed they weren't emo, their fan-base most definitely was.  Emo gained a very special form of popularity.  It's sub-culture fan-base incorporated elements of punk and gothic fashion, and the obsessive "non-conformism" of both.  Ironically, it was cool for emos to reject the emo label, and often reject any label whatsoever.  A common belief was that emos mostly practiced self-mutilation; though there's no real way to prove it, the imagery was most definitely present, and depression was least of all rejected.  A sub-genre of emo, dubbed screamo, never really gained much popularity but lent much influence to other acts.  Screamed vocals were gaining popularity in the mainstream, often at the peak of an "intense" moment.

The Late 2000s:  Emo fans split off two ways when emo began to lose popularity.  Many emo fans were drawn to screamo's, raw emotional sound, and began to listen to inspired bands like Alexisonfire, and The Used. Many of these fans moved on to Metalcore, which had been growing in popularity.  Metalcore mixed metal and punk in a fast and loud sound that attracted many youths.  Metalcore bands of notability were As I Lay Dying, The Devil Wears Prada, and Bullet For My Valentine.  While originally metalcore wasn't derived from screamo, it was later influenced when the fans of that genre began to merge.  This genre is seen as the origin of many genres today, which have affixed *-core to the end of a word, sometimes in a humorous fashion, designating a "hardcore sound".  This is probably the birthplace of the "scene" scene, which borrowed much from emo in terms of fashion, and was aggressively opposed by metal "purists" who often claimed scene was ruining the genre of metal.  The other fans of the "dead" emo scene began to sort of reject the dark imagery and keep the non-conformist/anti-establishment mentality as they moved on to listening to indie rock. These fans eventually grew into scenesters, now more commonly known as hipsters.  For the sake of consistency, I'll briefly explain hipsters.  Hipsters obsess over the obscure and unique, often searching the underground for music they think is either a) completely unheard of or b) too unique for the mainstream to appreciate.  If a "hipster" band goes mainstream, it is completely rejected by hipsters.  Anyway, this sort of leads us to the modern day...


  1. Had to go back and read the first part, very well written and interesting.

  2. So, your summing up the late history of music, that's pretty awesome. I still prefer the first post where you talk about 80's those were good-ey times