Stuff I don’t mind no. 16: Thriftshop and the state of modern music.

I’ll start by apologising for being a little behind the times. I sometimes have opinions about stuff and then forget to write about them for months at a stretch on account of being busy with my growing Benedict Cumberbatch obsession amongst other things. Anyway.

My penchant for a bit of pop music here and there is not news. Actually, nothing I have to say here is actually news, except perhaps if I self published a newspaper titled Stuff That Has Happened or Perhaps Been Thought About By and To Carlynne in which case my listening to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem on the way to work would be stopping the presses.

I do love a hit here and there. The masses make songs popular because they are fun or catchy or enjoyable in some way (and also obviously because they celebrate grinding against some bird on the d-floor and make us all feel a little bit more dirty). Every now and then, we all need a dance, and a tune to dance to. It’s helpful if the song we dance to doesn’t make its living off kicking women in the face, or rely too heavily on the repetition of key phrases such as “life, oh life, oh life-doo doo doo doo doo”, but mainly we just want a beat that keeps us moving and a fun chorus to wail while doing the dishes.

Thriftshop by Macklemore was first introduced to me by a friend at work. I dug the shit out of it immediately on account of it being just problematic amounts of fun and, delightfully, a hip hop song that scorned the usual brand and status whoring that the genre is known for and openly praised op-shopping. I then proceeded to ‘introduce’ it to all of my friends, completely unaware that everyone already knew this song as it had been thrashed by all stations for months.

I kept enjoying it right up until voting time came for JJJ’s Hottest 100, the yearly countdown of Australia’s (and by Australia’s, I mean Triple J listeners who can be bothered to vote and the few of us who continue to vote despite being hopelessly outmanned in a sea of music we have never heard) favourite songs.

Thriftshop came in at number 1, as voted by… those that voted (including me! Come at me bro). This, though, was apparently NOT OK according to lots of people who thought that this spelt various disastrous things like:

People enjoying songs that they themselves don’t enjoy

Music these days being nothing but awful dub-step and awful hip hop

Folks not knowing that they should only enjoy the lyric heavy, heady-theme laiden alt music and not the poppy fun stuff involving hooks and swears

Presumably folks relishing the idea of op-shopping, which is a gateway shopping and will lead to the purchase of both infants and ivory on the black market

There was such aversion to this song arriving at number 1, despite the fact that it getting there meant that a lot of people must actually have dug it. It seemed a portent of an apocalypse of Bad Music, that would sneak into our homes and give our children terrible haircuts and lower our IQs by repeating lines like “This is fucking awesome” in our ears as we sleep. Heaven knows most things I utter on a daily basis are Shakespearian as compared to that gutter-esque filth. I will not be debased, Macklemore! Take your gleeful and entirely dance-able espousing of the benefits of thrift elsewhere!!

I think perhaps that what Thriftshop’s success actually spells is that a lot of people liked the song, for the very plausible reason that they liked it. I think perhaps also a lot of these people could have been people like me who enjoy a variety of different musics, some of it theme laiden alt business with the dramatic synths or the seventeen part harmonies and some of it the fun stuff with the catchy hooks that make us want to flap and twirl by the sink.

I feel OK about the state of modern music because I know (just like most other people do) that when I want to find new and exciting artists I need only ask my friends and there they will be, waiting to be laid bare inside my ears. There is a crap-tonne of wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking and ear blistering music floating around, and if some of it is dub-steppy or hip-hoppy or not your bag in other ways, common sense would suggest you steer clear of that stuff and look for what makes you sing.

And furthermore if as many people are dissatisfied with the state of modern music around the globe as claimed to be on Facebook post Hottest 100, then odds are some of them are musicians who can put their accordions where their mouths are and make some music that they, and maybe even the masses, will like.

In the mean time, I’ma keep dancing in my kitchen, because music is fun and I feel like that’s sort of the point.

1 thought on “Stuff I don’t mind no. 16: Thriftshop and the state of modern music.

  1. Its funny isn’t it. I thought the JJJ uproar over thrift shop was hilarious.
    The thing about JJJ is that no matter what your musical taste are, we are cultural trained to know that JJJ …is cool. Which is why, once a year, their brand is able to take over the hearts and minds of consumers that dont “buy” what they are selling usually. But once a year…everyone is on the boat. Now…because of this what you get, is a whole heap of non traditional JJJ listeners voting on the hottest 100…and almost EVERY single year, the winning song is a song that has managed to somehow work across all genres and tastes and has usually been played on ALL stations. Last year is was Goyte, the year before, Angus & Julia Stone, and before that Mumford and Sons, and before that Kings of Leon,…. always seems to be music that ‘crosses the ‘cool divide’. Now this, to me, is downright talented music.
    Any song (or band) that manages to bridge ALL the gaps, is the perfectly iconic Australia day song in my mind. And this self righteous dogmatic purity of what should be allowed to ‘win’ on Australia day is a slightly symbolic representation of the issues around unity and connectedness that runs through the veins of Australia in general (most highlighted every year by this particular day). I personally LOVE the way music has the ability to do this. I love the fact that the artist who often win every year, have something pretty interesting to SAY, not JUST stuff that makes you tap and feel good, but it makes you feel good from every angle that it hits you with, and that every year people are united in DIGGING it. Macklemore et al. has done some pretty powerful stuff ( check out SAME LOVE if you haven’t already) not to mention the story behind the guys.

    I also think its hilarious that any JJJ listen gets uppity over the genre that won when this year most of the music on on the station has been not what I would call ‘typically jjj’. I think its become a conversation about the age of the ‘brand’ JJJ, and those that helped elevate it to the dizzying heights of cool society it now is, but that this cool society is now becoming a different age, a different generation, a different culture altogether. And that this year marked a pretty outward representation of ‘the times, they are a changin’ for the alternative rock lovin, depressive life-is-hard music genre that dominated the birth of JJJ listeners back in the 90s.
    Personally I love that the next generation of JJJ listeners are not so separated in culture from the ‘main stream’ world, that there is less separation between what is ‘cool’ and what is not, to create a more unified foot tapping Australia… frankly it gives me hope in the future of Australia on the backs of a generation that says, even just about something as simple as their music, “You know what, I just LIKE IT, I dont care if its ‘cool’ or not” (*insert finger giving here*). Sounds like a generation I want to get to know 🙂

    Sorry for the rant, been on my chest for a while and I do have been behind the 8 ball on the conversation 😀

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