“Explication of a Funny but Troubling Phenomenon Surrounding Genre”

Out of respect for the artists, I’m going to withhold their names from this post. I did, though, hope to shine some light on a sort of amusing, yet obviously problematic, situation I encountered in my survey of the music on Bandcamp today.

Basically, it’s divided up into the genre, for the most part, with some rare exceptions being those “Essential Releases” posts they do once a week. Every month, as it were, they document the optimum cluster of tunes from metal, electronic, hip-hop, jazz and soul, as well as other categories which I typically gloss over, for time constraints. 

And, usually, I find a pretty decent corps of rewarding stuff, today for some reason being somewhat of an exception. Also, and more along my point, I noticed that, more than ever, it seems, the artists actually tote certain stereotypical components of the genre, as well as maneuvering the style-specific requirements of it in the music itself. 

What I’m talking about is things like jazz musicians doing inherently “jazzy” stuff, like writing cheesy songs about objects that are lying around the house, and having overly erudite, dorky song titles making reference to literary motifs or techniques, or something thereabouts. 

This was pandemic, for some reason, in an overwhelming amount of the jazz I listened today. To further illuminate my point, then, I’ll now switch to metal, the first band in which was garbed in uncompromisingly black cottons, covered and tattoos and redolent of a glaring, apparently (probably falsely) irate singer, making harsh eye contact with the camera. 

Now, you might ask, what’s the problem? This is how metal bands are supposed to look. Well, actually, that very tenet is the exact problem. It’s a phenomenon that amounts to a sort of self-pigeonholing — laying groundwork for your band that courts convention to the point where it’s the convention itself that matters, that manifests as the operation’s formative trait, the music itself, then (and this was indeed the case in thist instance and presumably always), a sort of uninspired “stab” at antiquity.

I mean, think about it. You get a group of people together and you saying you’re going to start a “metal band.” Well, then, ask yourself, what is the purpose of music, in the first place? The purpose of music is to entertain and inspire. So then ask yourself this — what’s more inspiring: a band doing conventional stuff, or a band taking two purportedly incompatible elements, like Beatles pop and Melvins metal, for instance, and fusing them into one bastardly, unforgettable whole? Why, the second option is preferrable by far, since in its fusion of two unlikely forces it manifests as rarer, like a precious metal juxtaposed with iron, or zinc, in value. Remember Soren Kierkegaard’s message from Either/Or: “But what, then, do I choose? This or that? No, I choose absolutely, and I choose precisely through having chosen not to choose this thing or that. I choose the absolute, and what is the absolute? It is myself in my eternal validity.” I don’t know what it is but it seems these days a lot of musicians are “choosing either/or,” or whatever, perhaps at an expletive administered back at the world which has deprived them of their economic potential for record sales, but, nonetheless, fallacious, if you’re into watchdogging such things, as I am intrinsically within ye olde blogosphere. 


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