Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Death of the Band

There was a time when a few good kinsmen, would gather around a drumset and a few guitars, maybe even a keyboard, and jam the hell out of their garage. These same people would then go on and form iconic bands, creating a trademark musical identity for themselves for years to come. Of course, there were those who tried on solo careers and even succeeded but I'm talking about general trends here. Be it ABBA or Metallica or The Beatles, most of them have grown from similar patterns. That is how they rolled. That was how they rocked.

There were those who stood on their own on merit of voice and charisma like Eric Clapton or George Micheals or Tori Amos and they stayed that way. Solo Artists as The Grammys would call them.

But now, as I have begun tracking more contemporary music that comes on MTV (I haven't doing so since quite a few years until recently), I see a new trend. There aren't any new bands among the chart toppers. There are only single artists featuring single artists. In fact, 8 out of the top 10 were all 'ABC feat. XYZ' format songs. Various combinations of recipies from among a fixed standard set of spices. And I say standard because each song seemed to be from two or three of the same set of 10 odd artists. This is currently a phenomenon pertaining to the pop rock and club genre but I see it expanding.

I see a couple of key reasons for the same:
The voice still matters, but the instrumentalists have become redundant. There are no more 'only a handful of amazing guitarists or drummers'. Slash and Keith Moon have no place in modern day bands. Pure market dynamics. Blame Guitar Hero or youtube drumming lessons for their abundance, but none are those special few anymore. Videos drive music more than ever and videos seek out the lead singer predominantly.

Musical trends now vary at a much faster pace than in the 80's or 90's. While a band might find it difficult to keep pace and switch genres, an individual finds it much easier to find another kindred soul who can give his/her own touch to the piece. Besides, as there is no need for commitment of any sorts, each song can be a with a 'new band' so to speak. 'And if I don't like you today, I can always find Timbalind to rap with me tomorrow and rehash my song from ten years ago into a new age offering.'

Is this something good? I think it's too soon to say. We'll probably know in a few years. I only wish, for now, that at least the pool of the 'standard set of artists' expands bringing in much more variety from all the possible combinations.

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