There has always been an element of escapism in popular music, that desire to lose oneself in a nice melody, a groove or a vocal hook with no real purpose in the words other than to carry the tune. But at the same time popular music has inspired revolution in society time and time again throughout the years by being critical of the status quo, agitating against the powers that be and inspiring change for the better. I prefer the latter, because I think this will always be needed, and I do not buy the argument that music has lost this power.
However I look upon the the hipster 20-something set with a curious eye these days. Bands like the enlightened ones from Denver via Brooklyn or that new band from Iceland or the band who’s name rhymes with Bob Ward and Sons. You know these bands, there is typically some acoustic instruments, a bit of electronica mixed in perhaps. There is usually a lady in the band, nothing gets you more hipster cred than that other than someone in the band wearing suspenders or some hip facial hair. The music is “old timey” and the songs are about sweethearts, flowers and whiskey. Every song is in a major key of course because, you would not want to make anyone sad. Critical thinking is highly discouraged here, because what is the point, irony rules right?
These bands are talented musicians and people come to see them in droves at all the major festivals, they sell a lot of albums. The question is why? For a generation of kids who are largely unemployed, drowning in student loan debt with not so great future prospects, you would think they would be a little more pissed off, and looking for a spark. But instead the kids just want to dance, smart phones held high capturing all those good vibes to share on social media.
I have noted with disdain, again and again, “music critics” for the Times and the weeklies writing quips aimed at musicians that are in their eyes “negative” espousing that the time of anger and criticism in popular music is over, a relic of the n.w.a. / “grunge” times. Well you know what kiddies, not everyone is so content, complacent and enjoying corporate made pharmaceutical happy pills.
My trusted comrade Ben believes that one day the kids will once again rise up seize the initiative and fight for a more equitable future for themselves. Maybe he is right, I am not so sure. I don’t think they are going to do it watching renaissance minstrels through a 5 inch screen high on ritalin and adderall. Paying a corporation $375 dollars a ticket for a 3-4 day festival, does not set you free nor does it a better future for yourself make.
Now get off my lawn you hipster snappers.
Old Man Stetson
p.s. Remember everyone in the Band has to yell “Hey!” at the same time.