May they ALL be remembered

So, this post is going to be pretty deep. More discussion, emotions and unfortunately not a funny one. However, it’s an important one. I’ve given it some time to write this, due to recent events within the music industry.

A week ago, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington took his own life following a long battle with depression. Two months earlier, Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden, also took his own life.

These deaths shook the music industry and fans of the bands to the core. They are both highly influential people and have given fans of their music so much hope and strength. They have made incredible albums, songs and have been loved by so many people. They left an impact on people’s lives.

So, why does the media forget about them within a few months?

*Disclaimer- I am not talking about all media, as music journalists will not forget about these, ever. I am talking about main media, major news programmes etc.*

I find it very frustrating when channels or news outlets such as the BBC, Channel 4 etc, give certain artists more recognition and remembrance when the pass away, and give other artists barely any airtime at all. Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead, Hawkwind) passed away on the 28th December 2015. David Bowie passed away on the 10th January 2016. Both incredible, influential musicians- the difference between them though? Lemmy received a 30-second segment announcing his death for a couple of days, yet David Bowie received tribute upon tribute, programme after programme, for months.

Don’t read this as though I dislike David Bowie. I was just as upset when he died as I was with Lemmy. My anger is at the media.

The same happened with Prince, Pete Burns and George Michael. All passing away in 2016, all receiving different amounts of remembrance from the main media. For example, there are still news stories from papers being written about George Michael and his death. However, with Pete Burns, the articles stopped within a few days.

Is this because artists such as Pete Burns and Lemmy were *shock, horror* a little controversial? Not particularly media/radio friendly?

To lay it out:
– Lemmy was notorious for drinking, swearing, saying controversial things, and making heavy metal music, the least played genre of music on mainstream radio.
– David Bowie constantly changed his image along with how the music industry changed, put out radio-friendly music and did charity work. The most controversial thing Bowie said was that he was bi/gay in an interview with Melody Maker back in the 70’s.

The music Lemmy and Pete Burns put out was not of a genre that would frequently get airtime on mainstream radio stations, because it didn’t appeal to as many people as the music of George Michael and David Bowie did. Michael and Bowie’s music appeals to all ages, reaching a wider demographic than heavy metal or new-wave. Which is why, news programmes focused on, put out tribute shows on and kept news stories going for months on David Bowie and George Michael, because they would bring in the ratings. Which is so disappointing.

Every musician that dies should be remembered equally.

Every musician that dies rips a hole in the music industry and affects so many people’s lives, that the media should not pick and choose who to give more airtime to.

Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Lemmy Kilmister, David Bowie, George Michael, Prince and Pete Burns are all equal in the eyes of the music industry and their fans.
The music industry will not be the same as it was without these musicians putting out their incredible music. Their songs had so much meaning and meant so much to a hell of a lot of people. So much that fans say, ‘Chester/Lemmy/David etc saved my life’. Surely that statement alone warrants endless recognition.

I could go on a rant for ages about this subject, going on different tangents, but those are for other blog posts. I am going to leave it here for now.

I will always remember musicians such as Chester, Lemmy and Chris, as equally as Bowie, George and Prince, and you should to. They all saved lives.

Manchester Music vs Norwich Music

Coming to the end of my first year at music uni has made me look back over the year and think about all the differences between my home city of Norwich and now my second home of Manchester. Of course there are cultural, historical and dialect differences but seeing as this is a music blog, I am going to focus and compare the Manchester music scene to the Norwich music scene.

As I said previously in my blog ‘Music in Manchester’, there are very obvious differences you notice when coming to Manchester, such as the whole cities obsession with Oasis, The Smiths and The Stone Roses. Nearly everyone here loves either one or all of these bands and honestly it’s pretty weird to experience!
Norwich doesn’t have a defining band like Oasis, it’s mainly filled with people who like all different kinds of music. That’s one thing I love about music in Norwich; you don’t feel pressured to like one particular genre/artist/band. All different kinds of bands come to Norwich, but the city isn’t really defined by one particular band or genre.

For example, from going to a music college and being friends with mainly metal-heads, I experienced that Norwich had a thriving underground heavy metal scene. Pubs like the B2 and Brickmakers and the Owl Sanctuary regularly put on gigs for local metal bands, in order to give aspiring musicians of metal- a genre which has lost some of its’ popularity in recent years- the promotion and foot on the ladder that they need.
Of course, Norwich doesn’t have nearly as many venues as Manchester and lacks a big venue like MEN Arena, the Etihad Stadium or Victoria Warehouse. The biggest venue Norwich has is the UEA, with a capacity of only 1500. So, this means that more well known bands and artists are less likely to tour to little ol’ Naar’ich. When I was younger I had to travel to Nottingham to see bands, such as My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Blink 182. Now, living in Manchester, I only need to walk to the other side of the city or down the road to see bands like these. In December, I’m lucky enough to be seeing Marilyn Manson. An artist whose music I don’t primarily listen to as much as I used to, but one who I would never pass up the opportunity to see.

Norwich also has other genres intertwined within it, such as drum and bass, folk/acoustic acts and mainstream rock. The UEA and Waterfront are venues which both regularly hold club nights that play everything from R ‘n’ B to pop punk, from underground dance to nostalgic ’emo’. However, whilst Norwich has all this going on, it unfortunately fails to stand out as a musical city. The UEA doesn’t even run a music degree.

Now, compare this to Manchester, and whilst it has the huge stereotype of being an indie music central, it is looked upon as a musically rich city. Bands actually come here, their tour manager is able to look at the city and conclude that people will attend the concert, and ALL KINDS of musicians come here because of the range of venues. Manchester Academy- just down Oxford Road- has 3 venues within it. There are 2 O2 sites (Apollo and Ritz), smaller venues for lesser known artists or uni bands such as Gorilla, Band On The Wall and Sound Control as well as the larger venues I mentioned earlier. Musicians from all over the world come and play in Manchester.

However, I do feel that some aspiring musicians/bands who come out of the uni’s and colleges here, do fall into the stereotypical indie-wannabe Arctic Monkey’s/Oasis/The Smiths, which isn’t a good sign for the cities new music scene. Manchester is a vibrant, varied city and shouldn’t be stuck on repeat, churning out indie band after indie band. What I’ve noticed whilst living here, and of course experiencing Manchester’s music scene, is that there needs to be different genres that are prevalent in Manchester. I feel that the city could really experience its dance/EDM scene more, rather than just confining it to Victoria Warehouse. It would be nice to regularly attend raves that you don’t have to fork out £40/£50 for!
Event organisers would be surprised by how many people would attend dance nights, and how many DJ’s and Producers they would be able to hire. The uni I attend has a Music Production course but currently, it’s difficult for them to spread their name further than Soundcloud, due to the lack of dance venues Manchester has. I can say definitely that having EDM venues would make this city even more attractive than it already is and would help shift the indie stereotype it’s becoming stuck with.

So that’s my comparison between Norwich and Manchester’s music scenes. Both have their faults, but I love them equally. I think if they merged together though then they would have the right balance. It’s strange to experience a city which has a strong music scene, it’s just getting used to a genre which I don’t listen to, but coming to Manchester meant I met my boyfriend, who introduced me to the amazing world of dance music and expanded my music tastes even further, which I am very grateful for.

The legacy and change in rap music

Coming from a punk-rock background the last genre of music I would expect to get into is rap. If you had told me when I was 13- rocking a mess of black hair, sloppily put on eyeliner and an MCR t-shirt- that I would, in 6 years time, have a Kanye playlist on Spotify and know who Ice-Cube, Dr-Dre and Eazy-E are…I would have probably said ‘No way I’m always going to listen to MCR and Fall Out Boy, nothing else!’

However, here I am indeed, 6 years later with not just a Kanye playlist, but two ‘I Feel Like Pablo’ t-shirts as well. Oh how times have changed.

I’ve gotten into rap music within the last year and a half, but I’m not gonna lie, I prefer the older style of rap rather than the newer style. By that I mean, not when ALL the rapper has to say is how many girls he’s screwed or the things he’d like to do to them (sometimes wayyy too much information is shared). I watched the film Straight Outta Compton recently and loved it. It was so cool seeing how the group formed, what inspired the lyrics Ice-Cube wrote, how they rose to fame so quickly and of course, the death of Eazy-E.

The lyrics that Ice-Cube wrote were so raw and so personal. The extreme police brutality that was happening against black people in the late 80/90’s in America was genuinely shocking and I feel that N.W.A had every right to make the song, ‘Fuck The Police’. Of course now it has improved somewhat, but this is my point: the origins of rap came from those who had dealt with and seen some tough shit. They used their voices and words to connect with others who could empathise, and to ultimately spread messages in hope that they will create change. Rap was a release. It released their anger and disgust through them telling stories, recalling events, and was non-violent. The rap that N.W.A produced, and that Eminem sometimes wrote- mainly with Dr Dre- was powerful and caught peoples attention.

Fast forward to rap in todays music industry aaaand…things are a little different.

Rap music is just 90% about sex and excess and it’s very rare you’ll come across an artist whose lyrics are about topics that matter or are raw and from the heart. That now kind of comes from the genre grime.

Let me give you a few examples. Take the song ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ by Jason Derulo: when 2Chainz has his little rap solo, his powerful message is ‘Sold out arena’s, you can suck my penis’. I’m not gonna lie mate, I’d rather not. Also in Pitbull’s song ‘Hotel Room Service’, the entire song is a very detailed description of things he wants to do to this girl- ‘She like that freaky stuff, 2 in the O, 1 in the eye, that kinky stuff, you nasty’.
Even Kanye has some questionable lyrics, especially in his new stuff like ‘Highlights’ where he shades his wife Kim Kardashians infamous past boyfriend, Ray J.

It’s gotten to the point where rappers such as Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent are actually taking the piss out of new rappers, saying how it just sounds like they are making noises in the same tones and pitch- like a constant drone, with nothing real to actually say, and it is so true! Take a look at this video and you’ll know what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMRkxidQO-M 

I just think its a shame that groups like N.W.A had to fight so much for their music to be heard as it was so controversial at the time, yet a rapper today can come out and say how he wants to fuck every girl on the planet and people will shower them with money and turn a blind-eye to the lyrics.
Rap, just like pop music, has become too commercialised and is being controlled too much by the ‘sex sells’ policy that managers force onto their musicians.

Will there ever be another huge music movement?

The 50’s was Rock N Roll. The 60’s was Psychedelia. The 70’s was Punk and the 80’s was Glam Metal and New Romanticism.

All those decades are known for certain movements in music. Memorable genre’s which had their own culture, lifestyle and fashion, ones you had to commit to and which encompassed periods of your life. They spawned huge bands; with Rock N Roll you had Elvis and Buddy Holly, with Psychedelia you had Jimi Hendrix, with Punk you had the Ramones and Sex Pistols, and Glam Metal saw Bon Jovi whilst New Romanticism produced Duran Duran. History documentaries are made about these decades and these bands and their careers are immortalised in books.

However, when you get to the 90’s and to the present day…no band really sticks out. No genre was prominent and there was certainly no movement like Punk. I guess you could say the genre of the 90’s was cheese pop, the kind of genre you only ‘like’ when you’re about 5 pints and 3 tequila shots down in the club. The 90’s was the decade in which music got ‘samey’, and this funk has seemed to carry on throughout the 00’s. Pop started to be manufactured, mass produced and had to follow exact guidelines in order for people to buy the records.

Music has gotten safe, even rock bands that are emerging from underground claiming to be ‘punk’ or ‘hardcore’ etc just sound like watered-down re-hashes of their idols. Pop music and rap music is sounding too ‘sugary’, following the same patterns and all using the same tactics to draw people in- a female vocalist in their late teens or early 20’s, normally collaborating with a half well-known rapper, and dressed in revealing, tight high-on-trend clothes that, lets be honest, you would only really see the Kardashians actually wearing out.

All of this begs the question: is there ever going to be another movement in music, or is this how it will be from now on? Stale and samey?

Radio and TV stations like Kiss and 4music only play the same ‘trending’ songs on loop, day after day and now focus on what is being streamed instead of physically bought. So, this doesn’t help new bands who are potentially bringing something fresh and interesting to break out into the spotlight and get the media attention they need. Grime was a genre that reared its’ head a couple of years ago, but that was forgotten about, with only Stormzy still carrying the torch. Outside of the mainstream, there is a vast dance music scene, which has a huge following, it’s own festivals and accomplished DJ’s/Producers- this has the potential to be a movement, so what’s stopping it? Answer: the media.

There could be a new movement in music again, if the media would break out of the cycle of only playing the same artists, the same songs of the same genre. The media needs to recognise that if this is how it carries on, music will have no life. It will just sound too manufactured. There will be no passion, no real message or drive for the artist to make the music, other than expensive clothes and lots of money. However, this might just be how the industry is going to go for the foreseeable future, because record labels, managers, media outlets etc, have gotten too focused on just producing what will sell and what will make them the most money. Their heads are way too high up in the clouds for them to see that their method of doing things is what is slowly causing the music industry to flat-line.

A new band needs to come forward and be that revelation that the music industry needs.