"Ten years ago, Kurt Cobain saved us from the horrific pap that was popular music. We sure could use another Kurt Cobain today."
January 11, 2001 8:47 AM   Subscribe

"Ten years ago, Kurt Cobain saved us from the horrific pap that was popular music. We sure could use another Kurt Cobain today." Are we really being duped these days? There's still good music in my opinion - maybe it's hard to find, but it's there.
posted by pnevares (87 comments total)
Every area of pop culture could use an enema.

Most movies are nothing but redone plots, remakes of old TV shows, CGI 'blockbusters' featuring the latest Hollywood hunk, some female cleavage, and some cool camera angles.

TV shows have sunk to a new low with "reality" (yeah, if your reality is MTV The Real World) shows.

Music these days is 99% manufactured formula pop. From the teeny-bopper pleasers like Britney to the rebellious "scare your parents music" of Marilyn Manson, to the "40s and 9mm, we rhyme better than you do" crap/rap, it's all cookie cutter.

It's probably going to get worse before it gets better, unfortunately. Americans are pretty dim but I can't imagine they'll take much more of it. Hopefully there will be some sort of renaissance one of these days.

posted by bondcliff at 9:03 AM on January 11, 2001

Yeah, it does drag on a bit because he repeats things over at times, but it has truth in it. I'm not really sure who our new saviour will be, or if we will indeed even have one.

I should probably step back a bit, I'm not much into music, I know how these people are, but, I don't recall actually buying a cd or anything. I think the wildest I get is listening to Richard James. heh.
posted by tiaka at 9:05 AM on January 11, 2001

it goes in cycles. good gets old so bad gets hip... bad gets old so good gets hip. look at history. beatles (good), beatles clones (bad), hippie movement (good), commercialization of hippie movement (bad), punk (good), disco (bad), [here's a digression of in the series.. the 80s sucked entirely except for prince, talking heads, and elvis costello], then on to grunge (good), then on to grunge clones (bad), pop stars (bad), & boy bands (bad). you'll notice a pattern.. good, bad, good, bad. very soon pop's flavor will wear off, and a new saviour will rise, and good will reign again...

richard james was once the next potential savior.. then he realized it's all rubish and wisely decided to make a mockery of pop music (read: come to daddy == fuck you prodigy, you and your "guitar techno" ain't shit).

leftfield is the new saviour. check out the warp, planet-mu, and imputor? labels. fear not pop, because pop must die.
posted by afx114 at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2001

the 80s sucked entirely except for prince, talking heads, and elvis costello

R.E.M., the Replacements, Husker Du, The Pixies, Janes Addiction, Sonic Youth, Public Enemy ... and more. They saved rock and roll.

And, just as 15 and 20 year old Stones, Zepplin, and Who records fueled the fire that was 80's rock, I suspect that right now there are a hundred 16-year old kids in garages around the country who just love to plug their guitars into their fuzz boxes, and somehow know that there must be something better than Limp Bizkit out there ... and "Northing's Shocking," "Tim," "Lifes Rich Pageant," "Daydream Nation," and "It Takes a Nation of Millions..." are waiting for them on Napster...

posted by MattD at 9:29 AM on January 11, 2001

oh my, i don't want to get started on music. there's so much amazing music out there now that i can't even believe the artists who sell 1 million copies. with internet radio going buckwild, it isn't nearly as hard to do a bit of research and find artists doing great things away from the limelight of mtv and major radio.

if you like electronic music, check out the old stalwarts of warp records or ninja tune or other up-and-comers like the above mentioned planet mu and even rephlex (for real wackiness). in other areas, labels like kranky, constellation, thrill jockey, and alien8 are doing some really cool stuff as well.

and that's just a small sampling. dig a bit and there is absolutely no reason to complain about a lack of interesting music out there.
posted by almostcool at 9:34 AM on January 11, 2001

to clarify my "everything in the 80's sucked," what i should have said is "everything mainstream in the 80's sucked." of course bands like sonic youth and husker were kicking out the jams, but they were "underground." i was refering strictly to "mainstream" stuff, since that's what the article was about. there's always going to be underground/indie bands putting out good music, that's a given.

i did, however, forget to list public enemy along with costello, talking heads, and prince, so i am guilty of blasphemy. please forgive me.
posted by afx114 at 9:45 AM on January 11, 2001

I don't know, I don't like prince at all. Talking Heads ruled though.
posted by tiaka at 9:47 AM on January 11, 2001

I'm not worried. All the boy bands, all the idiot rap/metal/dumbfucks, all the plasticine girlies, they will all receive their proper fate: oblivion. Doubters should just sample their music history--The 1910 Fruitgum Co., Disco Texx and the Sex-O-Lettes, New Kids on the Block, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, 2LiveCrew, Boyz II Men, etc, etc . . . they're all either jokes or anonymous whozits, depending on age and perspective. Yet they all sold millions.

Yep, Cobain ushered in a new age, and it was a helluva lot of fun, but it's also useful to remember that it was co-opted pretty much instantaneously: such crap-weasels as Bush and Stone Temple Pilots come to mind, and their legacy continues to limp along in the form of even worse smudged mimeographs like horrendous Vertical Horizon or the desperately terrible, po-faced Creed.

Stick around; "popular" music has never wanted for revolutions. It's the waiting, as Mr. Petty would have it, that's the hardest part.
posted by Skot at 9:48 AM on January 11, 2001

Kurt Cobain - annoying, whiny GenX crap. Nobody would give a crap if he hadn't taken a powder.
posted by owillis at 9:54 AM on January 11, 2001

Owillis: wrong on both counts.
posted by solistrato at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2001

I've really been digging the local music coming out of Seattle recently. DeathCab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Graig Markel.

Here's a good place to check out some new music: KCMU, Seattle local college radio station streaming right to you. kcmu.org.
posted by daver at 9:58 AM on January 11, 2001

I'm with tiaka, Prince sucks hardcore, but I am a fan of Bush, STP, and Creed so maybe my opinion doesn't count.

Nobody will every touch Nirvana or Soundgarden though.
posted by howa2396 at 9:58 AM on January 11, 2001

Oops, clearly solistrato's got the judgement seat all to himself there...perhaps you meant "disagree on both counts"? Cuz he's certainly not wrong :)
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 9:58 AM on January 11, 2001

Sorry. Don't know why it didn't take my first link.
posted by daver at 9:58 AM on January 11, 2001

Also, I don't know, left field to me sounds pretty much like everything else.
posted by tiaka at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2001

KCMU.ORG. Duh. Got it.
posted by daver at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2001

Soundgarden? Am I thinking of the same band - '~ I don't know if I need you, but I want you ~' and they have that boy-band look now? Or? I don't know, are they in the same genre as Nirvana?
posted by tiaka at 10:00 AM on January 11, 2001

Ah, a good excuse to slip into another one of cC's Wildy Inaccurate Predictions of the Future.

The next saviour isn't coming for 5 years, minum. What's going to happen? Well, right now media == money. I mean, sure a whole lot of it's entertaining and stuff, but as has often been said, it's essentially meaningless. Movies, music, TV and soon video games (it's arguably already happening, with 101 Quake Clones released every month, but it's not quite as big of a problem as other forms of media).

Napster taught people that they can get media for free, and people like that idea. Even now people are trading ripped DVDs, just wait until bandwidth is big enough to allow you to download a DVD in the time it currently takes you to download a MP3.

Don't think that'll happen? in 1995, I was still using a 14.4k modem, and it wasn't uncommon. Big bandwidth is coming.

When people and companies realize that media != money, because people are absorbing media for free, the shit is going to hit the fan. To use an easily defineable term, Atlas will Shrug. Someone, a big-name artist (I'm guessing Lenny Kravitz, but that's completely unfounded, pure gut instinct) is going to stand up and say "Fuck this shit. If you don't want to pay me, I'm not making any more music." and is going to walk away.

Others will follow, until media (especially music, just because it's the smallest form of electronically-encoded music right now) collapses. With no one willing to work for free, and no one willing to pay for it, kaBoom.

But then, then the road will be clear.

For the past, oh, 70 years or so, almost all popular music has become popular by being assisted by a company who's primary goal is to make money. People enter the music industry because they want to make money.

Yes, there are countless artists who do it for the music. Even a group like 'N Sync is talented - those boys can harmonize, and to say otherwise is to decieve yourself.Do you think 'N Sync would be a band, let alone a popular one, if there wasn't a team of people writing their music, choreographing their dances, dying their hair and plastering their faces on everything?

After the Shrug, there won't be anyone left to do that, leaving only the artists who are making music because it's what they need to do.

One of these artists, in the Post Media Conglomerate Age, who's released their music via the Internet will make money. I sure as fuck don't know how, but they'll explode in popularity, make money, become famous and actually still have credibility, and then - like with Kurt and grunge - there'll be a flood of people that are able to make music, make money, and make everyone happy.

5 years at the earliest, though I'm guessing it'll actually take 10 for the hollow companies to implode.
posted by cCranium at 10:01 AM on January 11, 2001

no, scott's right -- owillis is empirically wrong on his second 'argument,' and aesthetically incorrect on the first.
posted by maura at 10:01 AM on January 11, 2001

True, it is more fashionable to be a "Indie Rock Pete"
posted by owillis at 10:06 AM on January 11, 2001

No, let's face it guys, Cobain only got famous after he died. He never sold any records or got any attention while he was alive.
posted by beefula at 10:12 AM on January 11, 2001

FWIW, isn't the mighty Built to Spill from Portland? I know Doug used to live in Boise.

Me, I'm wondering if the radio play At the Drive-In has been getting on the alternarock station is a promising sign. But I'm not an indie-rock Pete. I'm more like this guy.
posted by snarkout at 10:15 AM on January 11, 2001

(i can't tell if you're kidding or not, beefula. i really can't. curse this medium. but really, uh, if you're *not* kidding, hello nevermind and its opening of the alternative gates? kurt died in 1994 and even the release of 'plush' -- the first in the imitators' line, so much so that i thought STP was an eddie vedder joke side project -- predates that ...)

and tiaka -- soundgarden was another band from seattle, started in the mid-'80s, put out a bunch of great records and broke up in the late '90s. their biggest 'hits' were 'black hole sun,' 'blow up the outside world,' and 'outshined.'
posted by maura at 10:18 AM on January 11, 2001

Ohh wait, right. Now I remember them, yeah, they used to rock! Right.. I'm thinking of someone australian. Btw, shame Smashing Pumpkins broke recently too.
posted by tiaka at 10:20 AM on January 11, 2001

Owillis is a musical moron. I know him personally. He has no taste. His winamp playlist consists of Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boizzzz (not to be confused with David Boies), and similar pap. Its fine for him to enjoy these things, but for him to turn to the dark side and start slamming that which he does not understand (such as us Indie Rock Pete's).

Right now, he's behind me moaning about what I'm writing. I'm sure he'll have a witty retort soon.
posted by thebigpoop at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2001

What did Nirvana do that hadn't been done by The Ramones or any other three chord bands before them.

Saying Nirvana was revolutionary is like saying Green Day is revolutionary.

Sure, they made catchy punk/pop (an oxymoron if there ever was one) songs. Big deal. They had as much image as anyone else. Their "image" though, was that they dressed like homeless people.

Don't diss the 80's. The 1980's were when U2 was a rock and roll band. Maybe it's because I'm "old" but I have yet to find a decent popular band in the 1990's.

The Smashing Pumpkins pretty much sum up what's wrong with the 1990s. Chew on some more fiberglass, Billy.

posted by bondcliff at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2001

I really hate how it's considered "conventional wisdom" that Britney, N'Sync, et. al are bad. Now, I know, and respect, plenty of mainstream, marginal, and underground groups, but I don't think that precludes me from liking and appreciating teen pop acts.

I mean, good production, very entertaining stage presence, well-crafted (if not well-written) songs? That's most of what the Beatles had during the BeatleMania phase, and it wasn't until they started experimenting in the studio that they became more than that.

I don't personally like her music that much, but look at Alanis Morisette. Her background was no less vapid and disposable than any other dance-pop act, and she still managed to turn out two pretty good albums. Yes, they were still manufactured and commercial, but they were good. Who's to say Britney doesn't do that too someday?

And, on a side note, Prince is still great. His descent into an almost parody-like level of self-absorption hasn't done much for his music, but he still had a more important role than probably will be realized for a while. Everyone who objects to Eminem today would do well to remember that the Prince of today, who refuses to swear and preaches incessantly about Jesus and love, was still singing about screwing his sister on his third album. He didn't hit huge until his fifth, and didn't peak until (arguably) his eighth.

And Eminem's on what, his second? Seems like music's doing just fine. Besides, having a Bush in the White House always seemed to make for some really good hip hop records... I think that was the last time rap was still able to get my attention and move me....

posted by anildash at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2001

beefula...you were alive during the early 90's right? Nirvana was world-wide famous and sold millions of records long before Cobain ever blew his head off. And to owillis: He was anything but whiny, at least when compared to the stuff that's being churned out today.
posted by crushed at 10:26 AM on January 11, 2001

Cobain only got famous after he died. He never sold any records or got any attention while he was alive.
What?? You're kidding, right? "Smells Like Teen Spirit" came out 3-4 years before he died, for starters.

everything mainstream in the 80's sucked
I think the same is pretty much true, but it's a lot easier to get access to non-mainstream, non-sucky music today. And I've never used Napster. But there are heaps of alt-music themed magazines available, in paper and online.

Perhaps the FCC rules changes allowing for radio station congomerates and the proliferation of MTV has something to do with the sameness of everything on the radio. Unless you live near a good college radio station, you're probably going to have to look elsewhere to get your kicks.

I'm a bit of a music freak, and I'm trying really hard to fight an overwhelming urge to spew a long list of great music I've heard over the last 2 years. But if anybody wants a list, email me. I'd be happy to hear your list of favorite tunes too.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:27 AM on January 11, 2001

I was gonna say something witty, but anildash and bondcliff have made pretty good retorts. Music is music. And to not listen to certain performers just because of who backs them is suspect im(less than)ho.

BTW, That playlist also includes Moby, Beck, Smashing Pumpkins, and Primitive Radio Gods - so I think I'm a little outside your prefab "music box"...
posted by owillis at 10:28 AM on January 11, 2001

Hmm... question, where do you think Philip Glass fits into the picture? I personally love the music, can listen on and on for days.
posted by tiaka at 10:30 AM on January 11, 2001

Curt Cobain was the first "fully realized" example of the now everpresent underground --> POP ----> death lifecycle. I'm 24 so I felt the generational vibe and inspiration behind his music and like many my age fully enjoyed riding the wave of "teenage angst" onto the shore of Pop culture. But it was pop culture that , perhaps killed him, but killed the meme that Nirvana thrived upon. After that, right, the clones roll in and, while good music, obviously gleaning form the oniginal band in some way.

Now we see an great accelleration of the process. MTV, although warped, will pick up the next supposed hit and Birth/Kill it in the same day. The mass populous, with tools such as the internet can easily keep a finger on the pulse in sway of musical trends, increasing the Birth/Death life cycle even more. I think there is plenty of good music out there today. But, if some of the music I listen to were to be popularized, I would be horrified- certain death to the original inspiration. So the key is, information privacy. Praise the hot band you dig all you want, but roll up the windows, crank it up and keep your mouth shut.
empTV but be destroyed - do something, say nothing.
posted by metasak at 10:38 AM on January 11, 2001

Anildash: I went a bit far in calling Britney et al pap. I can respect their output--behind them they have very talented songwriters, producers, and choreographers.

Music, though, can aspire to be more. More intelligent, complex, thought out, perhaps even adult. I want to hear musicians who can tell me great stories and introduce me to new sounds. And I want to connect with the songs. To hear something genuine and not processed. And I don't need everything spelled out for me.

Forgive me for not identifying with a busty, rich 18-year old girl like Britney. I have Fiona for that.
posted by thebigpoop at 10:38 AM on January 11, 2001

You guys sound like a bunch of old fuddy-duddies!

There is -- and always will be-- worthwhile music being made daily. With so much free music ready for the taking, there is no excuse to not just take it all and at least listen to it once.

All of MetaFilter should open up there little napster thingymabobs and take each others tunes. In fact, I'm going to turn mine on right now in hopes that you take anything I got that looks interesting.

My napster username is: suggasoapbox

Whats yours?

posted by schlomo at 10:39 AM on January 11, 2001

P.S. Owillis is still dumb.
posted by thebigpoop at 10:39 AM on January 11, 2001

P.P.S. Schlomo...I swear I've downloaded songs from you before...
posted by thebigpoop at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2001

Phillip Glass is a genius.. "new music" is another possability for a saviour... stuff like John Zorn, and even dead people (is Cage dead?). I think eventually the masses will come around to stuff like that.. through channels which are more "neutral" such as the aforementioned left-field artists (aphex, squarepunter, vibert, u-ziq, etc) ... it's like a domino effect.. some kid hears moby on the radio/in a movie, digs it, then moves on to stuff like aphex, then moves on to stuff like glass, then on to stuff like mike patton, etc... i have faith that eventually people will come around .. but i guess people like me have been saying that for 300 years.
posted by afx114 at 10:40 AM on January 11, 2001

What if music as-we-know-it is on it's way out? What if we're heading towards music-as-an-experience? Look at the rise in popularity of House/Techno music? The popularity of raves. This is music-as-an-experience. And it's one that anyone can take part in at any level - there are no stars - cheap computers can put high-quality sound synthesizers and mixing consoles into the hands of anyone with an interest. The music crosses all borders - it contains samples of music and sounds from around the world. Ask anyone who listens to the music and goes to the parties - it's more than the music or the drugs - it's a communal experience.
posted by Haveed at 10:41 AM on January 11, 2001

I feel like I'm repeating myself. Everything I have to say on this topic I've already said elsewhere. Feels like every other week I mention my favorite bands in here. I'm sure y'all are sick of hearing me talk about noname bands. The best music of today doesn't have a bigname label per se. But y'all go right on praising the names of artists who sold out to the RIAA. Bondcliff made the best point in here. "It's all cookiecutter." The big names don't have the balls to try something unique, new and refreshing. They just want to take your money. So go right on ahead and keep buying their crap. So long as you do, that's all they'll shovel at ya.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:43 AM on January 11, 2001

"raves" have suffered the same fate as grunge... they died 5 years before becoming "popular." they've been raped to the point of becoming a self-mockery. snotty little rave kids are no different than snotty little n'sync fans.
posted by afx114 at 10:44 AM on January 11, 2001

Same with snotty little Phish fans.

Way to ruin a great band, dirtbags.
posted by bondcliff at 10:46 AM on January 11, 2001

Heh. I suspect afx's winamp playlist looks pretty much like mine. heh.

I think I really understood who Phillip Glass was when I saw Konyquantsi. And then Richard through pi was it? Often times I see a film and like the music and such. As weird as that is, it works for me. Anyway, Aphex is somewhat similar to Glass in different, more obscure songs, that you can often only find on napster for unknown reasons.
posted by tiaka at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2001

the connection between glass & richard d james is deeper than them sounding similar... check out their collaboration on the track Icct Hedral.

also, if you dig glass, run a search for "plastiq phantom" on napster... very glassy, in that left-field type of way.
posted by afx114 at 10:51 AM on January 11, 2001

There's a lot of crap music in the so-called mainstream right now. A lot. It's difficult to get away from because it's everywhere: t.v.; movies; radio, etcetcetc. But, in fact, there's a lot of good music that peeks in and out of the mainstream crap. Sure, you have to look for it, but if you're not willing to look for it, quit complaining that there's nothing out there! (:

I'd like to think cC's closer to the truth than he realizes.. mainly because the Internet is how I tend to find the music I listen to.. As much as it's being used (exploited?) for artist marketing, it's an untapped resource for "new" bands. (I would say "undiscovered", but that only means they're not mainstream.. which apparently is a Bad Evil Thing...)
posted by sarajflemming at 10:52 AM on January 11, 2001

Look at the rise in popularity of House/Techno music?

Disco was once popular too.
posted by bondcliff at 10:56 AM on January 11, 2001

Right, didn't know they collaborated on that. I heard the song, it's very nice. Also, didn't he 'remix is it?' some of Phillip's other, earlier work?
posted by tiaka at 10:57 AM on January 11, 2001

The world of Folk is alive and well. Just read the latest Dirty Linen or check out the artists at Rounder Records.
posted by bkdelong at 11:03 AM on January 11, 2001

The state of music has never been better. Lightning Bolt's new cd comes out next month.
posted by epi at 11:06 AM on January 11, 2001

Disco never really went away... raves have not died - on the contrary, the scene and the popularity of the music continues to grow and evolve. "The near infinite possiblities of sound evolution and cross-pollination in Electronica/Dance keep the genre in a state of constant innovation."
posted by Haveed at 11:09 AM on January 11, 2001

Not all 80's pop sucked! What about th' Cars?! (But I'll admit the Pixies are/were my alltime favorite.)
Music is not music. Yes, I'm an elitist guitar-plunkin' bigot, but, surely, it's not that hard to learn to play an instrument and sing at the same time? Or to write a *couple* of your own songs? Or something? Britney, I'm sorry, is a prop for other's talent.
A wonderful band is Man Or Astro-Man? whom I'm missing tonite coz of the stupid 21-and-over thing, grrrrr.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2001

afx - What about Wendy Carlos, though, I haven't really dug into much of her, timesteps was really nice, and the ACO soundtrack.
posted by tiaka at 11:29 AM on January 11, 2001

this kind of piece gives me a rash. don't get me wrong here - Nirvana blew my mind, and i'm still pissed off at Kurt Cobain for taking himself away from us, but a savior? He couldn't even save himself from the relentlessly fickle, market-driven cauldron of mediocrity that he hated so much. and he left behind a soulless army of recording industry weasels all on a wild-eyed hunt for the next 'savior,' which led to a legacy of bands like Creed and Stone Temple Pilots - bands that may not completely suck, but are hardly preferable to [insert boy band name here]. this idea that popular music needs a savior, aside from just being silly, just seems to increase its disposability. it's like trying to talk to someone at one of those parties where everyone is looking over everyone else's shoulder, waiting for someone hipper to come into the room.

here we are now, entertain us.

posted by varmint at 11:36 AM on January 11, 2001

You've all bought into the culture of victimhood..
Pop music isn't bad, Kurt Cobain was just an image.. Grow up..

posted by Leonard at 11:46 AM on January 11, 2001

Elephant Six Collective. That is all. I will be quiet now.
posted by TractorInc at 12:03 PM on January 11, 2001

Albums that you may want to check out if you're in search of something that doesn't toe the corporate line:

Neutral Milk Hotel "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea"
Flaming Lips "The Soft Bulletin"
Concrete Blonde "Still in Hollywood"

Hours of fun.
posted by Optamystic at 12:13 PM on January 11, 2001

Off the top of my head, Concrete Blonde's "Still in Hollywood" was released on IRS, which is now, I believe, owned by Warner. And aren't the Lips on a major label?

More non-corporate-line-toeing suggestions: Low, Smog, Cat Power, and the post-iest of post-rock, Godspeed! You Black Emperor.
posted by snarkout at 12:22 PM on January 11, 2001


Whether they were released on a major label or not is irrelevant. My point is that they don't SOUND like they were.
posted by Optamystic at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2001

Nothing wrong with commercial music. In fact, I find that the music on TV commercials is much better than the music on commercial radio.
posted by Trampas at 12:40 PM on January 11, 2001

yeah, right, i've found that on major label releases, if you listen really really closely, maybe even pressing your head into the subwoofer, you can almost always hear people doing demographic research and tallying sales in the background.
posted by varmint at 12:46 PM on January 11, 2001

TractorInc: Elephant 6, huh? Japancakes is the best stuff coming out of Athens now. The other bands (Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel) can't seem to get out of their their Beach Boys' Pet Sounds/ Beatles' Rubber Soul rut (not that it's necessarily a bad rut, but after 8 years, you'd think they'd do something different).
posted by Wizzle at 12:55 PM on January 11, 2001

Tractorinc and Wizzle:

Good Jeff Mangum (of Neutral Milk Hotel) interview, in which he gives some background on the Elephant 6 collective.

posted by Optamystic at 1:04 PM on January 11, 2001

the 80s sucked entirely except for prince, talking heads, and elvis costello

"In the beginning, there was Jack, and Jack had a groove, and from this groove came the groove of all grooves." Hear it now (realaudio courtesy of undergroundhouse.com).
posted by leo at 1:05 PM on January 11, 2001

Optamystic: I lived in Athens from '90-'99. I was there when the Elephant 6 collective was a mere figment of OTC Bill and Will's imagination (back when they were still Synthetic Flying Machine, which had Jeff on drums). E6 is now a kind of high-school-like "clique" there.
posted by Wizzle at 1:49 PM on January 11, 2001

I think this articleby Jesus really puts Cobain in the right light. Check it out if you can handle it.
posted by cell divide at 1:56 PM on January 11, 2001

I really hate how it's considered "conventional wisdom" that Britney, N'Sync, et. al are bad. Now, I know, and respect, plenty of mainstream, marginal, and underground groups, but I don't think that precludes me from liking and appreciating teen pop acts.

I mean, good production, very entertaining stage presence, well-crafted (if not well-written) songs? That's most of what the Beatles had during the BeatleMania phase, and it wasn't until they started experimenting in the studio that they became more than that.

The reason I cannot respect the choreographed girl and boy bands is simply that they do not make the 'music' that they're drooled over for. Say all you want about the 'talent' that goes into these ridiculous productions, but the state of the music industry has pretty much shown that these acts are a dime a dozen.

Whether or not Nirvana was also an act is besides the point. The point is that Nirvana was a distinct musical experience. You couldn't rightfully copy Nirvana's music or sound or tone, and that's what made Cobain a genius. Because no matter how hard they try, the garage bands of today simply can't emulate or imitate the band's presence. And that is why Cobain was a genius.
posted by rklawler at 2:04 PM on January 11, 2001

Oops, i was joking, making fun of the person who said noone cared about cobain until he died. Guess I was a bit dry.
posted by beefula at 2:07 PM on January 11, 2001

cell divide, thank you for that link. It poses some interesting thoughts.
posted by cCranium at 2:25 PM on January 11, 2001

Something for you all to realize:


You can stop whining about how "nothing mainstream is any good" because it's not MEANT for you. You might as well be complaining that "everything on YTV is a bit immature" or "that latest Tim Allen movie lacked substance". The real money in the music industry is in selling albums (and merchandise) to kids. All of the stuff you hear on popular radio: advertising meant for kids.

You, as adults, are almost (but not yet entirely) commercially irrelevant. You don't buy albums at anywhere NEAR the frequency teenagers do and as you age, you become worse and worse music consumers. Your parents, for instance, are probably 100% commercially irrelevant to the music industry. Most of you will be like that soon.

To say that we're any worse off than we were ten or twenty or thirty years ago is just curmudgeony stupidity. When you were twelve you were eating up stuff just like what you call "garbage" today, but you expect more from today's twelve year olds?

Think about it: fifteen years ago when you switched demographics, you were just screwed. "Don't like what's being played on the radio and readily available in stores? Go to hell, grandpa." Now you can order anything you want from an online retailer or get it off Napster or find one person on the Internet who has it and swap copies as easy as that. Anyone who thinks this is a dark age is totally, utterly and completely without any sense.

I thank you for your attention.
posted by frenetic at 2:35 PM on January 11, 2001

People: listen to John Peel's show. Or Radio 3's "Mixing It". They're even streamed for the benefit of foreign types.

If you're bored with culture, you've stopped looking for it, you lazy sods.
posted by holgate at 2:55 PM on January 11, 2001

leo-I thank Todd Terry every damn day!

posted by black8 at 3:03 PM on January 11, 2001

Reading this thread while drunk and listening to Minor Threat is both ironic and to be recommended.

And also, what holgate just said. Sods. Lazy. You.
posted by ceiriog at 3:04 PM on January 11, 2001

Re: Cobain being a Saviour:

Kurt Cobain's success contributed to the death of Bobby Brown's career. That's at least as good as turning water into wine.
posted by Optamystic at 3:13 PM on January 11, 2001

it wasn't just Bobby Brown - the rise of Nirvana put 10 or 20 glam-metal hair bands to death. Which should qualify Kurt for sainthood.
posted by varmint at 3:28 PM on January 11, 2001

Anybody remember when it was a rare thing for a thread to go past 100 posts?

There has always been good music, there always will be. If someone were to pick you up and place you 100 years in the future, or the past, you would find stuff you would enjoy listening to.

The exception to this is prehistoric Italy, the proof can be heard at any Italian wedding.
(No offence to Sicily's Uzeda, they ROCK!)
posted by thirteen at 4:00 PM on January 11, 2001

I've really been digging the local music coming out of Seattle recently. DeathCab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Graig Markel.

I love the name Death Cab for Cutie, because that's a Bonzo Dog Band song. heheh. If they're as cool as the Bonzo Dog Band, then they rule. Personally, I don't care that much if nothing interesting new is coming out, I don't have to listen to new music. Tonight I'm listening to MC5. Damn, I wish I had this CD when pink sparkly girl lived here. just to freak her out.
posted by dagnyscott at 4:07 PM on January 11, 2001

I have just read the words Husker Du and so I quickly scrolled down to this little box to say "thanks for everything metafilter" but I am going now and never coming back.
posted by fullerine at 5:30 PM on January 11, 2001

Silly kids, haven't you all heard of the Hellcopters? The new saviors of Rock and Roll?!?
posted by punkrockrat at 6:17 PM on January 11, 2001

black8-what are we doing hanging around here when we could be outside listening to shit like this? It's a spiritual thing, a body thing, a soul thing...
posted by leo at 6:51 PM on January 11, 2001

I think if you guys stopped considering everything that i mainstream and on the radio to be "what music is currently" and "what music was at that time" you wouldnt be stuck with so much shit. There's tons of good music out there, just turn off your fucking radios and trade in your tv for something that matters. Its a lot easier to find a diamond in a pile of diamonds than in a pile of feces.
posted by Satapher at 7:11 PM on January 11, 2001

Oh, yes, right, how could I forget? TV sucks (tm), Radio sucks (tm), and by the way, everything about Popular Culture sucks (tm)!

This attitude is certainly easier than, say, thinking.
posted by Skot at 8:20 AM on January 12, 2001

I think I really understood who Phillip Glass was when I saw Konyquantsi

Besides the phenomenal score, I'm not sure what about Koyaanisqatsi had anything to do with Philip Glass. Maybe I misunderstood your statement.

Potential Glass fans, IMO the best Glass stuff is Kronos Quartet's take on his string quartets, but the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack is a close second. (I can't find the original soundtrack CD, but the 1998 re-recording is quite good and it's actually got more material).

But of course, Glass is too popular to be a serious composer of art music, right?
posted by daveadams at 9:05 AM on January 12, 2001

To say that we're any worse off than we were ten or twenty or thirty years ago is just curmudgeony stupidity. - frenetic

That's silly and wrong. Just check out the Beatles "1" record -- currently topping the charts -- for a slew of examples of great, meaningful songs that were able to top the charts 20 years ago. Led Zeppelin throughout much of the 70s provides another great example, and it seems to me that the author was trying to say that Cobain represented the latest installment of quality, meaningful music selling and changing the landscape. I refuse to be so cynical as to say it will never happen and continue to hold out hope that something else will come along. It's about time.
posted by Mugwump at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2001

N'Sync doesn't harmonize. They do bastardized harmonization that sounds good to teen girls.

I could name a group from days passed that could REALLY harmonize, but I won't, because they're not punk or alternative or whatever other music you Meta Filter regulars consider "cool."
posted by Spirit_VW at 4:45 PM on January 12, 2001

N'Sync doesn't harmonize.

Well, yeah, they do. I mean, there's at least one baritone and at least one tenor, and probably someone who can cover bass and someone who can cover soprano.

I'll accept the argument that it's not great harmonization, but they do do it. :-)

I'd be interested in hearing which group you're referring to, and I think most of us would. If nothing else, I may look at something I may have written off as "uncool" in a new light, and that's always good.

(also note, that I don't think it's fair to classify all of us as punk or alternative fans, most of the people here that I've seen discuss their musical preferences have proven to have a reasonably wide musical tastes. We may just suprise you. :-)
posted by cCranium at 5:07 PM on January 12, 2001

wow. I must admit all of this was overwhelming. I listen to what I like. some of it is considered "crap" and some of it is appreciated as alot of people have told me. I just don't get why we all have to talk like these are facts. these are our opinions really. some would probably consider *NSYNC [yes, they spell it like that; yes, it's scary for me to type that..haha] the best group to ever come out; that they are the greatest to come out of pop music. some would consider it processed crap just like all the other crap that fills the airwaves.

I have no opinion on mainstream pop. I can get down to Destiny's Child and *NSYNC when I'm in the mood and sometimes I'll want to listen to a great classical production, or maybe I'll want to listen to jpop [I suggest Faye Wong and any anime music if you're into other language music] or just maybe I'll listen to my indie bootlegs.

I consider it all to be debatable depending on the mood you're in. end of rant.
posted by aekastar at 5:54 PM on January 12, 2001

Sure it's opinion. Other people's opinions are interesting though, and stating your own is kind of fun. It passes the time.

Yeah, I find today's top 40 to be mind-numbing stuff. I know that's populist stuff, and I shouldn't be expecting any more or any less...........I'm watching an Aussie TV show called "Rage" at four in the morning and being amazed at the lack of substance (and "Rage" has a reputation for being a little more highbrow and experimental than your average MTV fare I would say) Seems like one interminably vacuous "Oops…again" vid after another.

When I was very young I always anticipated as much though. Looking at the behaviors, attitudes, and stratified convictions of adults I noted their biases and expected to fall prey to them myself one day.

Now I can't tell if things really have gone to hell, or if I have. The thought doesn’t bear too much analysis.

posted by lucien at 7:19 PM on January 12, 2001

This is probably not gonna be roundly appreciated by others here, judging by the musical tastes on display in this thread, but there's a lot of good (for lack of a better term) "progressive" music being made these days too. Spock's Beard, Under the Sun, and Magellan are three of my faves in that genre. There's a whole subculture of bands (centering around the Magna Carta label) who picked up where Dream Theater left off and have been experimenting with the form for the last decade or so.

On another front, I'm a little disappointed that Ben Folds Five broke up. Their three studio albums were definitely the musical highlight of the '90s for me. Of course, Folds has a second solo album coming out shortly, I think... his first one was astonishing.
posted by kindall at 8:08 PM on January 12, 2001

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