For more than a decade now, Hollywood has shown us the music we’ll be listening to in the future. We’ll all be sweating to some heart-pounding Electronica in a dark club, wearing flashy and uncomfortable clothing. Sound familiar? A strange thing happened in these last few years of music. The “future” arrived. We are living it. Neo and Blade definitely have ticket stubs from Daft Punk’s Alive 2007 tour in their trench coat pockets. So what does this mean? Is this it? Is this what music will sound like forever? What happens when (or if) the party ends? I think we’ve been given a few clues recently:
- Clue #1: Radiohead -Radiohead is practically a musical crystal ball. A large portion of the sounds that dominated the 2000’s can be found on Kid A or OK Computer. Ten years after OK Computer, Radiohead returned from their longest hiatus with In Rainbows . The sound was intimate, tame and stripped down. Not exactly music for a party. If 2007 manages to be just as prophetic as 1997 for Radiohead, I think we can expect a “back to basics” wave to dominate popular music. Perhaps In Rainbows was one of the first of many albums designed for the mellow, reflective detox of the drive home. Bands like Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear seem to have similar intentions. Sounds pretty good to me.
- Clue #2: Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavillion made the Internet lose it’s collective marbles unlike anything in recent history (ok, since In Rainbows). Merriweather was the crowning achievement of a band evolving in slow motion towards a completely unique take on pop music. Every album since Sun Tongs has been more accessible than it’s predecessor. Merriweather is the perfect marriage of a unique sound with pop sensibilities. It has the power to create a major wave in popular music. Some bands have already taken notice (Yeasayer, Dodos, High Places) and there will certainly be more to come. The only question is: will it be big enough to bring the dance party to an end? It’s hard to say. One could also argue Animal Collective is slowly being assimilated into the party rather than killing it . My Girls, arguably the best song on the album, is also the easiest to dance to (unless you’re into waltzing, then it’s Summertime Clothes), though maybe it’s just a necessary compromise to attract and convert the heathens that worship at “The Pyramid.” I think Animal Collective’s tribal, organic sound could eventually lead to something of a “musical renaissance;” somehow bringing everything full circle and “back to the beginning of time.” Kind of like the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Allow me to illustrate:
Hope that helped.
- Clue #3: every electronic dance act still thriving – Maybe Hollywood is right. Electronic dance will forever be our future. I still can’t imagine the cast of the Matrix going to see Fleet Foxes. Just seems silly. Electronic acts have come and gone in the last few years, and different sub-genres have their moment in the sun, but the party hasn’t really skipped a beat. The rave continues whether Electro, House or Dubstep are on top this week. They’re all at each other’s throats but technically they’re all on the same team. Maybe this “future” music is now a permanent force in popular music. I think this could be the “golden age” of Electronica, in the same way the 60’s were the “golden age” for Rock n’ Roll. After a genre has a “golden age” it seems like it can’t die. It may have it’s ups and downs, but eventually it becomes one of those bubbles you fill in when asked “what type of music do you like?” Once you become a bubble, you’re invincible. If Electronica doesn’t have a bubble yet, it will soon.
It’s pretty hard to predict future trends in music now that the whole world is basically a musical democracy. Getting a clear consensus on any genre is harder than fixing American healthcare. Not sure what this means for genres that are already popular. Seems like it would take quite a bit of hostility to bring them down. I can’t imagine what it would take to make people sick of dancing. Maybe when we see people with assault rifles and handguns outside MSTRKRFT shows we’ll know something’s about to change.