14 Dec 2016, 14:08

Commence Rake-Shaking at Children

One thing that bugs me about children’s programming, especially girl-oriented programming, is the idea of a “rock star.” On the surface level it’s intended to be an empowerment archetype, where a female lead displays her independence and talent to adoring fans, but it’s almost always portrayed such that the fans are applauding the glamour and star-ness of the performer rather than the performance itself. I know this is basically pop music at-a-glance in many ways, but it is really an unfortunate picture to paint. Most of the time these sorts of things are cutaway dream sequences or at least just little snippet vignettes, and you only hear the last line or two of the song. This typically goes something like “Yeah, we know the music, yeah, and we’re rockin’ it like superstars,” or something to that effect. Then the crowd goes nuts.

With guitar sales falling due to lack of interest in singer/songwriter-type music, or really any type of music that can be created and performed without electronic production, I suppose this is just an affirmation of the larger trend we’re seeing outside of the toddler entertainment industry. There is always a lot of unavoidable survivor bias in music: everyone remembers the Beatles and Led Zep, but all the terrible acts were interleaved among them on the radio fade out of memory. But even with that effect always at work, I think it’s clear that we’re in a phase right now that lacks a sense of artistry around pop music itself.

I occasionally listen to a light dose of dubstep when I work from home, and I definitely feel a sense of care and creativity to the best examples of that electronic work. And the indie scene will always be doing something, but we’re basically in a phase where reasonably large swathes of the population don’t have much regular exposure to more traditional aesthetics of music through the pop channels. We are losing something when that happens, at the least because it’s very difficult to imagine capturing a lot of the art and fun of this music in your bedroom with a guitar or piano.

Much like the Turkish military (when competent) has rushed in to press the reset button on the government when things get out of hand, I imagine there will be some kind of punk/hipster/grunge implosion to bring this back, just like what happened during the Hair Era in the 80s. Not in a conservative sense of standing athwart history yelling “stop,” but more in a sense of pruning back the cruft and ensuring music comes through.

I feel like I’ve captured a Rush song in a blog post. You can fill in the drum solo.