Hello, I'm Ryan. I work a shitty day job and in between serving yuppies caramel macchiatos and wiping smeared ketchup off plates, I daydream and fanboy over today's musicians. I'll probably never get to share a milkshake with Kanye West or play dress up with Lady Gaga, but I would like to be able to ask Justin Timberlake to start "bringing sexy back"
CIRCA MYSPACE ERA…don't judge me
Teenage Fanclubbing #5 - Did The Internet Kill Musical Stereotypes?
Since the advent of composition, music has been plagued by stereotypes. For good or for bad, some were influenced by fashion. A few influenced by the lifestyle of people they’d never met. Others had a penchant for triangulated hair styles. Yet, for all, the venn diagram centered around the consumption of music as if it were a digestive necessity. A life prerequisite of which people were prepared to fight for in true stratonic Montague V Capulet fashion.
And fight, they did. I’m only young. But, I’ve borrowed my Dad’s copy of Quadrophenia (Sting, you're beautiful!). I’ve read about Oasis & Blur in the NME so many times that I need never buy it again. For the modern day school kid, lunchtimes were spent surrounded by Nokia 3410 touting badmen who uploaded their grime clashes to YouTube. In the evening, they’d fight, rallying against The Black Parade, a movement so huge that The Daily Mail forgot about foreigners and took note.
Let’s all pause for a minute to remember their unfortunate tirades. A legion of misunderstood teens connected via hair spray, a monochromatic colour and Gerrard Way. A few lone soldiers remain. The rest use Tumblr.
Stereotypes not only made it easier for awful people like myself to pre-judge others based on an awful haircut, they helped push pop culture in polarising directions.
Now, connected up by a wi-fi connection and a social persona, the caps of culture have come full circle. In the past year alone, we’ve had Wavves collaborate with Big Boi. Azealia spit over the The Strokes. Mumford & Sons have been writing with Justin Timberlake and Tyler, The Creator has recorded a track with female pop caryatid Miley Cyrus.
The contents of the genre mix bowl get recycled through near every blog, all claiming to be the bibliopolist of new music, yet failing to get in any sort of stance. These skeletal omnipresent figures skirt the cathedral of the internet, inputting data while keeping an RSS feed open incase a new spew of minced cow comes from Azealia’s Twitter account.
Why have opinion sections disappeared from most music sites?
They’ve disappeared because writers have been trying to cater to a smorgasbord of people. The over saturation of differing content has left
journaliststoo scared to provide any sort of opinionated concrete foundation.
writers will soon die. But, unlike Elvis, who died majestically while having a shit, these guys will die without dignity. They’ll choke, having lost the ability to breathe after failing to repost the new A$AP track before The Line Of Best Fit.
When they pass, I’ll wrap them up in a sheet of HTML. Then, I’ll move on.
See, the internet didn’t kill music journalism. If you have even an ounce of opinion, then it’s very much alive. If you don’t, please fuck off and die. However, it can be said that the internet killed the culture of real life stereotypes. Because, really, who gives a fuck outside of the world wide web? In 2013, we’re left with the creative abstinence of the few who don’t (Holla Jai Paul!) and the people who have daily updated Instagram accounts.
Let’s go back to 2006.
The last of the true stereotypes were preparing to keel over alongside the death of MySpace and the arrival of a bland, atypical Facebook profile. At the time, if you lit a match in a shopping mall, the majority of teenagers haircuts would set alight. It was impossible to walk past a town centre fountain without seeing a scene queen (PC4PC?). At night, drainpiped Doherty-esque pied pipers pitt pattered their pointed shoes (try saying that one really fast!) through crowds of glo-stick bedecked, ‘LDN Is A Victim’ teens.
Without any kind of online representation, people used their own IRL image to define themselves. Now, we’ve got Twitter and Facebook. Because, why care about anything in real life when you can pretend to care about it on the internet instead?
However, the internet didn’t only allow us to propel an opinion without having to leave the house. It taught us that deep down we were all the same. If you were white and you wanted to rap, why not? Suddenly, you weren’t a minority but a minnow in a sea of YouTube fishes.
When no longer bound by the constraints of a real life entity, we found that it was okay to like things that our gang of friends didn’t. At school, I’d probably be given a swirly for mentioning Fall Out Boy and Dizzee Rascal in the same sentence. But, on the internet, I found others who liked the same.
While rappers hopscotched through genres (Look at any mixtape from the past couple of years and you’ll find samples of everyone from MGMT to The Eagles) Buzzfeed taught us that even if you’re a biker from Nevada or a 24 year old pocket money girl from Richmond, everyone loves the 90s.
Eventually, we cast off the shackles of any kind of stereotype and succumbed to a full immersion of everything and anything.
One and the same.
Within the realm of browsers lives the last true stereotypes. The hypebeasts, keen to jump on whatever artist is trending. They replicate their fashion and share their pictures with the world, tagging them #instamood #instagood + other hashtags that I can’t be bothered to write, in an attempt to garner more attention.
The others, are the few who don’t give a shit. Magpies, who listen to the artists they want and assimilate them into their fashion and life choices, regardless of genre.
The internet may have killed traditional stereotypes, but we’re in a good place. Let the old fade. Pop culture has reached a point where artists can do what they want without fear of tearing down archetypal walls. Musicians can piece together the puzzles of other genres and create masterpieces. People are free to like all types of music without any kind of social judgement.
But, in this immersive world, the music itself needs to be scrutinised. Right now, there are enough fact-based reportage blogs out there that I'd feel confident in pitching a list of them to Complex. I can count on one hand the amount of sites that offer anything different.
So, please. Can we start bringing the judgement back to writing?
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanBassil
Previously: We Need To Talk About Morrissey