Monday, 19 November 2012

Happy music - absent presumed missing

Altered Images said "I could be happy", and it did seem that they were. Captain Sensible provided us with 'happy talk' whether we liked it or not, and wherever you looked in the popular music scene at that time you were never very far from something happy and uplifting.
Once pop music put away its cardigan and slippers with the advent of rock & roll, we began a journey of wildly varying trends. Some stayed put, some came and went in a flash, but good humoured entertainment was always a common factor. Music-wise the 60's must have been a terrific era to be around in. It's hard to imagine any of today's pop still being listened to in over 50 years time.
The 70's gave us disco and glam rock which were about having a good time.
The 80's brought with it some of my favourite music, which is probably because that's what I was listening to in my teenage years. From the insanity of Madness, the uproar caused by 'Relax', and the 'is it a man or a woman?' questions surrounding Culture Club, to the frenzy of The Beastie Boys and the inane bounciness of countless artists from the Stock Aitken & Waterman stable. Whenever you turned the radio on in the 80's there was something that made the world seem a better place to be.
At the start of the 90's we were caught in a flood of euro-style techno and dance tunes that got lodged in your brain for better or worse. And of course there was the rave scene with its bizarre noises that you had to be tripping to understand, but people on E generally just want to be your friend, which is just another example of music bringing people together.
So at what point did it all go wrong?
There's debate over whether the charts are relevant any more, and if what I'm hearing these days on the radio is any indication of current tastes and trends then I really hope not.
It seems that to feature on a 'Now that's what I call music' album now, the first consideration needs to be "Has anyone over 18 actually heard of the artist?" If the answer is "no" then it can go on the album.
The second qualification is that the band's name should not conform to any known language. Just empty a bag of Scrabble letters on the floor and use what comes out while making sure that a random pattern of upper and lower case characters is observed.
I therefore predict that the first track on the next 'Now' album will be something like 'Meth Fuelled Gangbang' by 'G6rw7qa9 (ft. Smallnob)'.
Which brings us to the content of current pop music. If it's not about shagging, it's some angry ho-pimpin' gangsta trying to fit more expletives within his allotted 3 and a half minutes than in an entire Quentin Tarantino movie.
Where's the fun? Where has happy gone?
I know I'm not alone in feeling this way, and I also know that it's why I so rarely find anything new worth listening to.
It's why all my favourite music can usually be found in the special offer bins in the record shops.