In Memory Of Music
Rock and roll has been declared dead and eulogized for decades—almost as long as the genre has existed. Such obituaries are not premature—in my humble opinion, ALL music is dead.
The death of music is a subjective notion that I’ve long contemplated. And while scholars and laymen continue to debate the date of rock’s passing, I recently determined when music’s soul was forever forsaken: 23 October 1998. By my reckoning, there has been no original nor innovative new music produced in the past 17 years.
Why 23 October 1998? That is the date on which Britney Spears’ debut single, “…Baby One More Time”, was released.
Earlier in the decade, Kurt Cobain’s suicide triggered a massive stroke from which music never recovered; “…Baby One More Time” was the heart attack that finished the job.
For the record, I am not suggesting that Britney Jean Spears is solely responsible for the death of music as an art form. Britney Spears is a monster manufactured by carefully orchestrated marketing campaigns and a relentless public relations machine. However, a collective of conspirators is culpable for this crime: Britney’s family, her manager, her label, producers, promoters, radio stations, MTV, media outlets, and millions of fans worldwide.
Britney’s immediate and massive success helped to precipitate the music industry’s total abandonment of artist development, replaced instead by conveyor belts of manipulable and disposable talent, in search of the next Britney. Labels are solely obsessed with profits, and churn out product calculated to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Genres have become homogeneous and boring. Contemporary performers lack integrity, credibility, and competence, and attempt to compensate for their shortcomings with image, spectacle, and controversy. Albums are antiquated, and digital downloads and streaming satisfy audiences with short attention spans.
This is not to say that there has been no decent listening material released for nearly two decades. However, it’s all derivative—spawned from imitation, not imagination. I feel sorry for today’s youth, being methodically force fed detestable noise and conditioned to accept mediocrity. And frankly, this systemic malaise permeates all forms of entertainment: music, film, television, theater, and publishing. The bottom line is the bottom line, and corporate greed always wins.
Here endeth the rant. Rest in peace, music.
Oh, and anyone that (unironically) comments “Leave Britney Alone!” is missing the point.