Thursday, December 20, 2018

the Ice age

“I call it the lost generation, because from 2000 to 2017, nothing really defines that whole generation in pop culture. Like, how would you look back at 2000 to 2017 and remember anything? How would you see somebody wearing some gear and say, ‘Hey, that’s gotta be from 2014?’ There’s no music there, there’s no pop culture, there’s no fashion that defines the generation. I look at the Nineties like it’s the last truly great decade." -  Vanilla Ice

That's like a vernacular version of the Gospel according to K-Punk and Simonretromania being ventriloquized through Vanilla Ice's mouth there!

Ice is quoted in this piece by Rob Sheffield for Rolling Stone about Nineties revivalism, the Nineties nostalgia circuit that Ice and others are doing very nice business on, and decade-consciousness.

Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray also quoted on the Nineties:

“It was the last heyday of the music business. When you were a kid in your garage, you could pick up a guitar and dream of being part of that. I compare it to these young kids playing basketball, wanting to be in the NBA – then all of a sudden the NBA disappears, and the NFL disappears. Now people are still playing basketball, but it’s the local rec league; people are still playing football, but you gotta go find some guys and get some games together. The infrastructure of stardom is gone. So you look back on that – not just as a business, but romantically. ‘Boy, that was fun, going to Tower Records to see what’s new, watching MTV for a world premiere.'”

Sheffield lays on McGrath this idea of Nineties as the last proper Decade with a sense of itself c.f. first two decades of the 21st Century being Zeigeist-ly amorphous:
 “Right – what would you call it, the Noughties? The 2000s? No one knows what to call it. No one knows when it started or ended. It took a while for the stink of the Nineties to go away, because nothing replaced it. The industry imploded, so there weren’t new bands coming up. Name the last rock star. The top ten touring bands in Pollstar – it was still the Chili Peppers, it was still Soundgarden – God rest his soul, Chris Cornell – it was still the Dave Matthews Band. Nothing replaced the Nineties, even though the decade was over.”
This doesn't seem true to me, seems a bit of a self-serving fiction - there are plenty of definitively 21st Century pop stars, some of whom have taken on and taken over the old functions of rockstardom (excess, outrage, political statements, being taken seriously / taking themselves very seriously) ....  indeed Rockism is alive and well in pop itself, ironically (and boringly)... rock anthems of the 21st Century is a shrinking category, true... guitars are rarely heard in the Top 40, for sure....

As for the no-feel-to-2000s/2010s ... I guess we'll have to wait a bit longer to see if early-Noughties nostalgia kicks in. Won't be long now, if the 'stalgia is already settling in on the late Nineties, eve of Y2K moment.

YeahI wouldn't be surprised if a certain look (to clothes, hair) and feel 'n' finish to entertainment products will start to become apparent as we move into the future - something we couldn't put our finger on at the time, what with the welter of revivalism and pastiche

the clunkiness of an era becomes its charm

(although films and TV of the late Eighties and early Nineties often look really shit)


  1. I`ve just gone through this (a BBC playlist of music of 2018)

    and if it really has any value as guide for pop in 2018 the situation seems dire, getting worst, you can actually hear and see the desperation of artists trying to get any individuality at all with tricks like.... odd accents. (yup, saw your post bout that) If rocks dead then pop is actually already in a coma. At least according to this.

    The playlist comes from this page "The Sound of 2018", including the long list of pundits who selected the artists

    Oh, I needed to vent.

    Anyways, happy new year Simon!

  2. to me, the 2000s lasted somewhat bewteen 2001 and late 2008 - coincidential with the GW Bush presidency. A few other significant things which are typical for this "8" year decade: it was the decade of the mp3 player - the iconic I-Pod (today almost forgotten!), the decade of the mobile phone (not the smart phone yet!)and broadband internet on a mass basis (alongside forums and blogs - later unfortunately getting replaced by social media) - the decade of dubstep, grime and breakcore. The decade of actually resurrected guitar bands (all the "the" bands). The pop/rockstars of the 2000s were Eminem, Britney, keane west. That 8-year-decade came to an end in (late) 2008, with Obama winning the presidency, the i-phone replacing the I-pod as the cult-object number one, streaming getting popular, dubstep getting bizarrely mainstream. To me, the 2010s finally are the decade of cultural wasteland. what was there? Juke? Footwork? the pinnacle of awfulness "EDM"?

    1. yes stefan that definition of Noughties makes senses

      i would say that the 2010s = significantly better than 2000s - less retro, more 'nowtro' - digital maximalism, texturally overloaded queertronica and transtronica (and conceptronica - these three 'zones' all overlap), top 40 pop was exciting with incorporation of dance music ideas into R&B and rap especially in that 2010-2011-2012 era with kesha, dev, etc... since then there's been trap, trap'n'B, trapedelia and ratchet (all that DJ Mustard stuff), the sound of Atlanta: Future, Migos, Young Thug... and yeah footwork.... various other odd directions and interesting careers, w/ figures like Mica Levi.... overall the vocal weirdification thing is a cross-genre plane of appealing yet subtly avant processing

  3. but yeah Fernando (and Stefan) 2018 has been a particularly dull year, with even the trap thing starting to stall.... the Critics Faves are all very worthy, fundamentally juice-less (and jouissance-less) stuff... in the grand tradition of crits voting for Arrested Development or Springsteen... the radio, even on its frothy, shallow terms, has been lacking fizz and distinctiveness

  4. "Yeah I wouldn't be surprised if a certain look (to clothes, hair) and feel 'n' finish to entertainment products will start to become apparent as we move into the future - something we couldn't put our finger on at the time, what with the welter of revivalism and pastiche"

    This is already happening. The latest batch of alternative/hip young art school types have pushed past the still thriving 90's fashion revival and are ironically dressing like Paris Hilton circa 2001. Super lowrise, bootcut jeans with thongs sticking out, bleached out hair full of hairspray, tacky sunglasses and girly accessories etc