Episode 69 of my podcast is now posted here (with copious links) and on YouTube. Anyone who has observed men at work (construction, home renovation, plumbing, etc.) will have noticed that the music they listen to is old. Decades old, usually. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, und so weiter. Now why might that be? I have considered this phenomenon for quite some time and concluded that the music industry decided to shut out straight, white males circa 2000, which is about the time that pop music stopped being any good.
Popular music today is created for women, particularly teenage and preteen girls, blacks and gays, as they are easier to manipulate. Men, being harder to please, have been deemed surplus to requirements. Before 2000, much of what is deemed the best of popular music came about as the result of accidents unforeseen by the industry: rock and roll, the British Invasion and the garage bands, punk and new wave and, finally, grunge. The record industry doesn’t like accidents, as they make planning difficult.
Today’s pop music is planned to an obsessive degree. Go to Wikipedia and peruse the credits for any best-selling records. You might ask yourself why Keith Urban needs seven writers (Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Benjamin Levine, Ammar Malik, Dan Omelio, Ross Golan, Justin Parker) and three producers (Keith Urban, Stargate and Benny Blanco) for a 183-second opus called “Shame.” The reason is that ever since Carlos Santana’s 1999 smash-hit-by-committee Supernatural, the industry has concluded that hit-making is now SCIENCE! Draft a bunch of Swedes and others thought to be in tune with the zeitgeist, lay on the hooks with a trowel, and success is guaranteed.
In the event, pop music has become meta. There is little interest in anymore music qua music. Instead, recordings have become mere tokens of one’s devotion to stars such as Katy Perry, who hardly needs music to be famous, given her cosmetics ads and the ubiquity on the Internet of her handsome body and pretty face.
The bourgeois audience that once supported the artistic pretensions of everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Rolling Stones to Nirvana has disappeared. We live in an age that is resolutely anti-art, an age when cultural arbiters have been replaced by snarky, post-modern hipsters. Some argue that the Age of Trump will result in a return of protest music. It seems more likely to me that the return of masculinity signalled by Trump’s triumph will result in a return of heterosexuality to popular music. But that might be wishful thinking on my part.
This is the first Grace & Steel update for some time. My apologies. Here are links to other recent podcasts:
Episode 68, It’s Always Dumbest Before The Dawn, examines the childish response to Trump’s inauguration from men (La Resistance) and women (the March on Washington). YouTube version here & version with links here.
Episode 67, AltFight, examines one nasty aftermath of The Donald’s victory: the childish squabbling among those Internet worthies who claim credit for it. YouTube version here & version with links here.
Episode 66, Moby Dick or Beached Whale?, considers Lena Dunham as a metaphor for the Never Trump diehards and concludes that the SJWs (as currently constituted) are not a serious threat to the reign of the God-Emperor. YouTube version here & version with links here.
Episode 65, Russians Hacked Our Christmas Show, has some fun with notion that Putin and his Troll Army have seized control of everything, even our modest podcast. YouTube version here & version with links here.