A few days ago Rawkblog, in anticipation of the deluge of end of year lists that will start late November and continue all through December (and yes, it will include our now customary annual Ones To Watch 2011 and Albums of 2010) published a somewhat controversial list of bands that it suggested were 2010 Bands You Can Ignore. The list included some that we have loved this year (Active Child, Zola Jesus, Glasser) and some that we’re so-so with (Yeasayer, Broken Bells) as well as a some that do nothing for us yet (Free Energy, Dom)
David Greenwald the author then produced a follow up post to explain that “These are bands I don’t like. I’m not going to write about them,” and continued “you don’t need to listen to everything. Most of these bands don’t have much to offer. Even the best of them….sound like pale imitations of better bands.”
The reaction to his post was considerable, with comments ranging between variants of ‘you’re right,’ to angrier ‘you’re wrongs.’ The internet is a place of free expression and everybody, both author and respondents were engaging in that right of dialogue. This was good stuff – debate is essential to help move things along and shape the future.
The paragraph that interested us most in David’s post was his final one. “I think this points to a larger cultural issue in 2010, which is: bloggers are always looking for content. If you post a song every day, or five songs every day, some of those are going to be better than others and inevitably, some of them are just not going to be very good. There is almost no negative writing on blogs, because it’s generally not very productive — I’d rather spend my time writing about why I think a band is great and worthy of your time than doing the opposite, which seems pointless, and why I chose to do a list like this rather than write something on every single one of these bands — so its very existence, almost regardless of what bands I chose, inspires backlash. Why? I guess it’s seen as a threat — to taste, to other blogs, to something.”
Here David seems to be suggesting that every band posted on his blog is great, (they’re not - but some are, but hey that’s just opinion for you and at least he is being true to himself and his tastes) and that there is no room for something that he considers is just average. Yet if this is the case, and every blog follows this model, it also creates a possible long term issue – that of digital media constructing an unsustainable culture of over expectation, part of which is being fuelled by bloggers, with their constant over-excited turnover of fabulous new artists.
Some of the greatest and largest bands in the world didn’t start out being brilliant. Radiohead’s first album, with a couple of songs excepted, was in most people’s opinion merely average. REM was pretty piss poor for a number of records. Although U2’s early records Boy and October had their moments of charm, The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby were far superior and touched the masses. These bands gradually grew and evolved before becoming brilliant. Early support from the likes of fanzines (the pre-internet version of blogs) and the non-mainstream press helped give developing bands the chance of an initial audience.
Whilst Rawkblog’s list is just one persons opinion and has, as the author suggests, partly been concocted to “piss people off and get mad hits,” it does concern us that if music blogs are only looking for bands that are absolutely brilliant already, that the Radiohead’s and REM’s of this world may never exist again. Great blogs have a vital role in not only posting about acts who are already incredible, but ones that they consider to have the potential to flower. It helps the band gather support and build a base to grow from.
If you’re a regular reader you will know that this is partly our philosophy – sure, we post artists and songs that we instantly fall in love with, artists that are or become buzz bands - but we won’t necessarily pass something over if it’s not fully there yet but we can sniff potential. Recent examples of artists we have featured that display that potential include Sophie Rose, Kyla La Grange, Dems and Alpines all of whom you won’t find cluttering up Hype Machine with huge numbers of posts yet. Maybe some of these artists we will never post on again – lost to the ether of the internet – that’s sometimes how life works. However, maybe one or more of them will develop into something brilliant.
Here’s another new act – we’ve posted about them before, but they’re not a buzz band as such, although a remix they did for The Naked and Famous went a bit supernova on Hype Machine. Irrespective of if you think they sound brilliantly amazing, average or useless we can hear some potential – fans of The Killers and catchy synth pop hooks (which we are) will possibly enjoy this – this is Remember Me by DEKADE. Maybe one day they’ll fly high.Remember Me - Dekade by litendark