Identity Crisis

Have you noticed that ever since the birth of rock every decade has some sort of “identity”?

Something that automatically pops into your mind when you think of that certain 10 year span.

Now, I know I’m talking in generalities, but think about it….

If you hear “the 50’s”, you think of the beginnings.   Slicked back greasy hair, a very “wholesome time” (although at the time rock and roll was considered “dangerous”).

You immediately think of the king of rock and roll, Elvis and his gyrating hips.  You think of Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry…  It was a revolution.

But not NEARLY the revolution as the 60’s brought.

 The 60’s was a time of huge cultural change.  It started with the british invasion, moved to psychedelia, and back into roots rock.  But it was an amazing time of experimentation musically and other wise.  You immediately think of the ever-changing Beatles, the bad boy Stones, The progressive Who, the san Francisco scene with The Dead, and Jefferson Airplane.  The “60’s”.  Peace.  Love.  Hippies.

 

The 70’s come along and it’s unfortunate that it has the “disco” tag on it.  Yes disco was HUGE, but great rock records were made by the likes of Zeppelin, great pop by Elton John, and….well, there was a lot of disco.  So the ‘70’s” is unfortunately remembered with a smiley face and a disco ball.  Stayin’ alive, baby.

 

The 80’s was a kidney stone of a decade.  It’s identity has to be that of new wave and punk.  For some reason when somebody mentions the eighties, I just can’t get that silly keyboard player from Flock of Seagulls out of my head.   Technology made a leap, and too many people jumped on the bandwagon.  Synthesizers, DX-7’s, drum machines, electronic drums…now SO many songs of the decade sound dated.

Again, it’s a bit unfair.  There were people fighting the trend and making real rock records.  Tom Petty, The Pretenders, The Police….but I believe it’s identity will stick with the Human League.  Oh and don’t forget the rise and fall of the super slick hair bands.

 

Okay the 90’s come along and as a direct left turn from hair bands and “romantic” bands like ABC comes music out of Seattle.  Grunge.   Back to rock and roll with a vengeance.  And all of a sudden, everybody was going through their dad’s old clothes to find his ripped up flannel.  Or paying  $125  for a shirt that cost your dad 10 bucks.

It was also the decade that rap became mainstream. 

In 1990, Public Enemy’s ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ was a significant success with music critics and consumers.  It was highly contributory to hip hop’s mainstream emergence in the 90’s, dubbed by Billboard“the year that rap exploded”.  It was around in the eighties, but I think most people thought it would fall the way of disco, just a blip on the cultural scene.  Nope.  But that’s another blog….So the “90’s”?  Grunge and rap.

 

Okay onward to the new millenium.  The 2000’s.

And of course it’s identity is…..

What?

Does it have one?

 I can’t think of anything… not musically anyway.   Can you?

Sure Hip hop was still around, but it had it’s day.  Sales were way down.  And why’s that?

It was the decade of downloading.

That’s the only real identity I can give it.  And there is no real music genre to hang your hat on.

As I have said before, it is what it is, but somehow downloading cheapened the cultural influence of the music industry. 

When you can download a song by the Foo Fighters for the same price as a fart noise app for your iPhone….well you can see why. 

And it was the decade of getting pop stars from reality shows.  All of a sudden every karaoke singer thought they were as talented as Jack White.  Who needs to bother with learning an instrument and paying some dues when you can go be on ‘American idol’, ‘The Voice’, or ‘Let’s hit him on the head with a hammer if he can’t sing’  or whatever is out there.

To me it cheapened it again.

Good…no, great music is out there.  It’s just harder to find and you are not being served like you used to be.

 

Will the 10’s have an identity?  We will just have to wait and see….

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