Monday, 28 October 2013

I hated the alternative before it was cool.

Bastille are a true thorn in my side. After the scrutiny I received for writing what apparently was a ‘scathing’ review of their disappointing debut they have cropped up once again to spite me. At a scheduled playlist meeting for the radio station to which I contribute (CSRfm 97.4, tune in!) Bastille’s cover Of the Night was a topic of fierce debate. CSR is a strictly alternative station if they are to adhere to the OFCOM regulation. One head of this dialoging hydra held the sentiment that just because they have gained popularity they still constitute as that of an ‘alternative band’ whereas the other side would say that they’ve veered into the realm of pop. I would take the stance that they have been circling within the parameters of commercialism since day one as is the case with countless other bands breaching the scene. But this isn't a small-scale band issue, this is cultural progression.

The matter expands though. In recent years there has been somewhat of a melding of spheres between what we consider ‘indie’ and what we accept as ‘pop’ much to the distress of Shoreditch locals. A short-sighted but interesting take on this was cited by Noisey (link below) as a part of their Big Night Out series. They state that Indie is a deceased entity, a transient being laid to rest at the hands of global media, irony and a more realized youth. I care to disagree but it must be considered that the population of males and females distinguished by their drainpipes and piercings has plummeted since 2009.

In the early noughties among the landslides of faceless pop sensations the rock’n’rollers clambered out of a quarry cemented by curtains and Umbro sport jackets. The average Strokes or White Stripes fans could be plucked out of the crowd for their esteemed appearances and attitudes. Now, In 2013, where JT and Kanye are the kings of culture the lineal divide between dress senses and musical tastes have welded into one.
But is this such a terrible thing? Sharing common musical tastes with all? A united front of what used to be eclectic but is now accepted?. For many, musical taste is an identity, it’s what makes some more cultured and insightful people rather than a XFactor-endorsing troglodyte (so they say).

This leads to decipher whether there even is an underground reality anymore. In an epoch of digitized media it is effortlessly easy to get hold of and listen to music. In a purely hypothetical situation I can record a song on my laptop, upload it to the interwebs and have potentially millions of views on my track within the week, there is no hiding or enigmatic system of discovery. Long gone are the days where one can scour Rough Trade for hours and stumble upon a rare Hot Nasties EP heard by no-one but the band. In 2013 I can download their entire discography and family portraits while sitting on the toilet. What’s that at the door? Oh, it’s the future.


Let’s circle back shall we. The word alternative suggests that it is the other side of the coin, the road less travelled and the LP undiscovered. This is not the case anymore. Our concept of the popular is far broader which subsequently makes our alternative a far narrower abstraction. The Alternative hasn’t faded, just shifted to a smaller space; A game of hide and seek impossible to play by those among you that own shutter shades.


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