Listening Room contributor Jared Zeide offers his thoughts about the music of the past decade.
Every decade brings us wonderful new music and new artists. However, not every decade lends itself to a potent mix of creativity (i.e. 60/70’s vs. 80’s). As we begin this nameless decade, I’m left wondering “what the hell was that?” What I mean is, it doesn’t appear to me that the last ten years of music had much of an identity like the ones before it.
The 50’s saw the genesis of modern rock and roll, which was continued into the 60’s by the two greatest forces music has ever seen in the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. The 70’s was perhaps the most potent decade in all of rock history as many 60’s bands matured and lead the way for heavy metal, punk and arena rock. The 80’s cheesed out a little with some one-hit wonders but there was still a lot of great stuff to be heard as heavy metal came into its own and alternative music planted its roots. Then the 90’s saw yet another revolution where a resurgence of the 70’s styles of metal and punk emerged in the form of grunge, and the proliferation of new forms of media changed the way we listen, view, and think about music.
The resurgence of raw rock allowed for the return of many legendary bands including Pink Floyd, the Eagles, the Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Kiss, Black Sabbath, and even the Beatles via digital mixing.
Then came the 2000’s (or whatever they’re called). No longer could you watch Alternative Nation on MTV or listen to local radio to find the newest bands. Bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were not jumping into your lap to change your life. Instead of spending countless hours making mix tapes off of CDs, you pressed a few buttons on your iPod to put together a playlist; rather than flipping through radio stations during commercials to find a song you haven’t heard three times that day, you listened to satellite or Internet radio with dozens of music channels that don’t have any commercials; and your mountain of CDs fit into your six pound laptop computer. Many used Napster and Limewire among other sites to simply take whatever music they wanted for free. The Smashing Pumpkins and Radiohead even gave an album away for free. Record companies saw their sales dip continuously.
The music itself (at least to me at this time), doesn’t have any particular “sound” to distinguish it from other decades. Perhaps the mainstream popularity of “emo” and shying away from the ballsy power chords of the 90’s will make it recognizable? Or maybe the reinfusion of a “poppier” sound? Time will tell.
So what will this new decade bring? Accessing your computer’s MP3 files through your phone? The return of disco music in a new form? Real music made by Guitar Hero instruments? As I said before, every decade brings forth some musical magic, so I do not worry too much. And as Tom Petty has said “Rock and roll will never die – its formula is flawless.” Music lovers will be safe for a long time…wherever the trends take us.