The Decline of the Band?

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27 Oct 2011, 3:30

(As much as I need to be writing an essay, I've had this on my chest for some time now. So...)

Glance at my Top 50 for a sec. At the time I'm writing this, there's only four individuals on the list - Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Brian Eno, and Joe Jackson. The other 46 artists are bands.

Now, I'm not saying I deliberately avoid singer/songwriters, solo artists, or what-have-you. But there IS some aspect about a band - a unit of musicians, each individual with (ideally) equal status in the whole - that's always intrigued me. Little Steven said it best on his radio show on the British Invasion - that the band represented a spirit of unity, brotherhood (or sisterhood!), and equality. It was a fresh concept for the early 60s, when the American pop charts were mostly held by solitary pop stars and divas. Hence, we became enthralled.

Fast forward 50 years - has the thrall of the band diminished in pop culture?

Funny thing is, even as a college student, I don't hear much talk among my peers about music at all. (Could be a Georgia thing.) But when I DO hear anything, the conversation ventures more towards single stars - or simply a discussion of what a particular song's about, which focuses on only one aspect of the song.

Furthermore, we have now all these blasted music talent shows on TV - to catapult the career of one particular singer. Fox DID try to launch an "American Band" talent show - but it folded after a single season. (I confess, though, I didn't watch it myself - but then, I can rarely commit to any TV show.) Methinks the popularity of stuff like this - HOW many seasons has American Idol been on again? - speaks volumes towards my generation's values.

Of course, I'm hardly an authority of what's "in" these days. And MGMT have certainly won a place in popular memory. But it seems lately that "popular" bands are being pushed into the indie periphery. Maybe my scope's limited, but that's what I've seen around these parts. And I'm fairly tired now, so...peace, folks.

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