October 1, 2019


By crikey, conservatives give me the pip, if they are not bullshitting about climate change or organised sport, they’re conjuring conspiracy theories about pop music.

No doubt, a lot of what is making it into the top ten is commercial pap but it has been that way since sheet-music became widely available in the 19th century. Back then there were bores and killjoys too, probably going on about the depravities of the music hall, or bleating over the masonic connections of John Phillip Sousa.

Pop music has never been high art, but making songs which sell millions requires dead-set musical and marketing genius; every generation has its song-writing powerhouses. In the 1990s and 2000s, we had Max Martin and Rami Yacoub, the 80’s boasted Stock, Aitken and Waterman, while the ’60s and 70’s had Jimmy Webb, Goffin and King, and Burt Bacharach.

The point of pop music is to make money, the “artists” are usually anything but and all the craftsmanship is embodied in the songwriters, producers and promoters and success is down to a formula.

Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson of ABBA fame wrote pretty much perfect pop songs for the 1970’s just as fellow Swede Max Martin came up with mega-hits for Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus some 40 years later; you can call it boring or corny but the music they create is brilliant from the point of view of a businessman, which is all that matters.

There is a trajectory in musical appreciation among young people which begins at about 12 years old when they start enjoying the cheesy pop music on offer. This might continue until about age 16, but then a little lightbulb goes off in the heads of some kids and they start exploring different, to the more obscure, forms of music. The other kids mainly forget about music for the most part and concentrate on other things.

The kids who are really into music generally look down on the kids who like pop or are not up on the alternative, indie sounds, so this idea that commercial pop is rotting the brains of the youth is a load of bollocks, they are either too cool to listen to it or oblivious.

Very few people try to imitate the stars, as we all know any young person who tries to directly imitate a celebrity would be roundly mocked; to be sure distinctive fashions and subcultures grow up around the different genres of music but this is usually organic and fan-driven rather than some top-down imposition of style by artists or marketing bosses.

Add to that the fact that there is an ever-diminishing return on music these days, most of it is listened to for free or through subscription services, there is really no room for any brain-rotting, black-ops type malarkey in the modern music business plan.

Conservatives buzz kill anything cool, or fun, or different — it is in their nature. Nationalists, on the other hand, seek to foster the development of an organic Australian high-culture; this necessarily includes the crass, the commercial and the novel acts. Christ, we remember the “good old days” when a pair of boofheads like Ernie Sigley and Denise Drysdale could put out a single and the genuinely brain rotting spectacle of Young Talent Time on our screens of a Sunday afternoon.

Yes, the Californication of the music business is hideous, but before that, it was New York and London pumping out the dross and taking airplay away from good Aussie bands. Nevertheless, talent finds always a way to thrive and decent bands will always find their niche.

So, it’s a big up-yours to the conservatives and wowsers, leave them to their teeth-grinding and finger-wagging, the rest of us are loving life and live in constant amazement at the creativity and passion of modern musicians.

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