“…We fought the punk wars for this?…”

by melynwy

Following Rhys Mwyn’s blog (http://rhysmwyn.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/why-its-unlikely-ill-discuss-welsh.html), I decided to post a few things I’ve been meaning to for a while.

Starting with the sentence that prompted me to log in to WordPress for the first time in over a year, I can’t help but feel that

“Geraint is kind of OK but his closing shot of “Hey it’s only Pop Music” summed the whole thing up – it’s not that important…….”

is up there with the title of this post as an allusion to a bygone era, where punk rock, for a brief moment may have been important to those involved.

If Geraint had indeed said “Hey, it’s only Pop Music”, then I agree with him. Sure, pop music has an ability to change lives to a certain extent, but so does god and football.

Pop music is strange in that many people define themselves almost solely by it. It ceases to be a matter of taste, but rather becomes pure oneupmanship and fashion statements. People want everyone to know that they have a broad/eclectic/leftfield taste in music. It’s not enough to quietly enjoy music, everyone else must know what you’ve enjoyed; this in itself isn’t much of a problem – I own a few band t-shirts myself – but the very notion of ‘guilty pleasures’ brings forth the idea that taste in music is more than merely what music you enjoy.

It is not enough to enjoy one band – you must also hate another. This baffled me at the end of last year in a review of Radio Rhydd on Link2Wales (http://link2wales.co.uk/2013/crudblog/album-review-radio-rhydd-trapped-in-the-game/) in what truly was one of the strangest album reviews I’ve ever read.The review managed, quite impressively, to make no reference at all to the content of Radio Rhydd’s album, other than it contains “12 statements of punk / hip-hop in Welsh” and that they are angry. The review merely states that some other bands are not the same as Radio Rhydd. You get the feeling that should you prefer The Script to Radio Rhydd, you somehow don’t “get” something, and are liable to be laughed at by the people who do understand. Perhaps it even devalues everything else you enjoy.

It might grate some people, but pop music can just be music There isn’t always a need for a manifesto. It’s a strange situation indeed when a band or a musician can be criticized for being too musical. The term ‘muso’ as a derogatory one is utterly bizarre, almost suggesting that there is no place for musicianship in music…

Which brings us to the title of this post… I couldn’t give a fuck what happened in the late 70s. I don’t remember Thatcher. Punk may have seemed important at the time, but I wasn’t alive, and all it is to me is another genre and a few more albums to own. A few middle aged people may bemoan the fact that music prior to 1976 still remains popular. Others are disgusted that there are current forms of music that show something other than punk influences. I love many of the punk bands and own plenty of albums from that period, but that’s all they are- albums. The context doesn’t exist any more, so all that remains is the music. Laugh at me all you want – claim it impossible if you so wish – but I listen to and enjoy prog and punk.

I have never in my life listened to an album and have it remind me of why I don’t like something else. It’s an all too easy sweeping statement to make…

“Listening to Motorhead made me bemoan the lack of energy in manufactured pop bands…”

If you’re making those sort of connections while listening to music, you’re trying too hard and it ceases to be about music.

Dyl Mei raised a good point in the Eisteddfod discussion after Gareth Potter and Rhys Mwyn had finished educating the young crowd that what happened during their eras was somehow important and that all the politics were somehow inherently a good thing. Dyl Mei simply raised the point that bands in 2000s were free from all that. They were able to do what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted. Wanting to learn/be involved didn’t come with a duty and responsibilty. In a sense that’s part of the punk argument – “anyone could do it”… yes,but only if you had something to say. What I can’t understand is why “having something to say” is so important. Why not let pop music and all other kinds of music exist for music’s sake? Why can’t something just be good – who cares about ‘important’?

An all too easy target is the audience. TV shows such as X-Factor are often sneered at, and people derided for staying in on a saturday night instead of going to live gigs. What’s the problem? Things have changed. To come back to god and football as I mentioned earlier, fewer people are in the chapels and in the football grounds as well. The man ranting about empty live gigs is about as relevant to the X-Factor watcher as the man ranting about the empty chapel is to myself. It’s stupid to think of live music as somehow being more important. Let people do what they want.

It’s not really important that pop music progresses, it’s just fascinating an entertaining. Much in the same way as it wouldn’t really matter if football hadn’t progressed beyond kick and chase and 2-3-5. Yes, we wouldn’t have had Kraftwerk and we wouldn’t have had Cruyff, but we’d be none the wiser, and we’d have had something else. I’m all for discussions on pop music, and the socio-political aspect can often be a fascinating one, but all too often it’s just a veil from under which to attack styles/bands/views which doesn’t fit. More often than not in my experience, “fitting” is defined by old punk rockers, and doesn’t bear much relevance to today’s musicians.

Punk, by 2014, is absolutely nothing but a loosely defined musical style. There is room for everything else, and that is a very good thing – it really is just music.

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