Be warned: here follows a ramble. Listen to this, it'll soothe you.
So this is the world we built for ourselves; no flying cars, no proper hover-boards, no self-drying clothes. We make do with our finger-print scanners and wireless payment systems and are satisfied that we can, at least in part, predict the future. But of all the things hinted at in Back to the Future, what would have become of Music was conspicuously absent. Flea becoming a businessman notwithstanding, all we really get is an encapsulation of all things 80’s crammed into a nostalgic bar. Rather prescient don’t you think? We live in the golden age of the guilty pleasure, a bizarre fallacy populated by ‘cheesy’ 80s music and clothing. Nostalgia is in vogue as we collectively look back at our past and scoff at how primitive we all were. Personally, the whole concept of ‘guilty pleasures’ is dumb. If you like something, you like something – don’t pretend otherwise. But the fact remains that the 80s are cool and hip and 30 years later still hold power and influence over the current generation in ways that the 2010s simply won’t.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to complain. Taking the opposing view creates a freedom in your argument as you can attack with the negative, stripping away the minor faults until all that is left lies bloody and insignificant. If you are defending belief you have to be certain that your it is solid and immovable to brave such an onslaught. If you are both in a position of equally flimsy argument then the negative will triumph. Just look at all those incredibly sweary internet commentators ripping apart anything mildly flawed. Compare it with those who can devastatingly articulate what it means to genuinely feel something; they are heavily outnumbered. I have to stress that I try my hardest to run with the latter. The passion and joy I receive from music should only be shown in a positive light so I don’t want this to be seen as another moan about forces beyond control. But I have to ask, where did it go wrong? Can something go wrong if you had no knowledge of an alternative? I just think that fitting neatly inside the vision presented by Back to the Future should be some turbo-charged musical positivity built on the mad exuberance found in the 80s.
I’m probably just in a bit of a mood today; career ambitions being tested once again. Yet listening to an 80s Spotify playlist; the music that Marty McFly took with him to 2015, I’m struck dumb by the creativity and joy and futurism inherent in it. Yes, yes, the playlist is obviously the cream of the crop so is pretty biased in favour of awesome tunes; I know this well. Still, the decade could have been the start point of something beautiful before grunge killed it dead. All we have left are pastiche artists treading well worn, if slightly overgrown, paths.
What a week for generalisation, because none of this is true. What I feel really happened was the industry lost control and fragmented, creating immense pockets of joy for the future. We just can’t see them because our view is saturated by unit shifters and tamed artists. It’s the world we made together and, frankly, one that’s pretty cool. Complain about the industry, sure. It’s always worth questioning those who benefit greatly from the people beneath them; but never complain about the art form. Music’s fine, bro. It’s good. Just do a bit of digging and enfranchise those struggling few who deserve it. Back to the Future may have missed it, but the current state it’s something we’re lucky to have. The stage set for looking forward again, if only we’d let ourselves believe it.
Click here for my review of lost 80s gem 'Holy Cow' by Martini Ranch Like to keep things current? Click here for a review of 80s inflected pop from Norway's own, Pow Pow. Prefer Finland? Click here for a PMMP review resplendent in 80s clothing.