Columnist calls on fans to revive sagging indie music
November 18, 2010
I might as well be signing my own death certificate by writing this: modern indie music is boring.
Okay, I know that there are a lot of independent bands and plenty of variety within independent music that makes for some pretty enjoyable music; I’m not ruling every single band or artist out, as there are plenty of indie bands that I’ve seen or listened to that I enjoy.
There are several things that are bringing down indie music-the first is its repetition.
This summer, I tuned into the Current, the Twin Cities local Indie station. The Current has a wide selection of alternative and classic music. Depending on the DJ, the day or even the hour, its style can change dramatically.
Anything you can think of from the Flaming Lips to Biz Markie is on the Current.
But when the DJ decides to play a long set of new Indie tunes, that’s when things start taking a one way trip to Snoresville: population, Jon Lyksett.
I get so bored and so tired of new indie music because new indie groups love repetition.
If you know anything about music, or if you can remember back to your elementary music classes, you might remember talking about the ABC system.
The ABC system is how a song is laid out: the verse is A, the chorus is B and the bridge is C. A good song has all three components and can be laid out in any number of ways, but on average, it looks something like this: A-B-A-B-C-A-B.
Bridges are good for breaking up the flow of the song and adding some interest. Often times, bridges contain a solo by one of the artists. Sometimes, songs add a key change.
Both tools can make a song that much more enjoyable to the listener. There doesn’t have to be just one bridge in a song. If you ever listen to a jazz album, you will hear many bridges, many of which involve a solo from each one of the band members.
Indie musicians format their songs in very different ways, and it usually looks like this: A-B-A-B-A-B-A-B. This goes on — over and over and over and over — usually for four to five minutes or until the producer of the album dies of boredom, in which case it continues for at least 10 more minutes.
Indie music lacks proper structure, and without it, audiences lose interest.
The second thing that modern indie lacks is creativity. In the good old days, indie bands got together and said, “Hey, let’s do something different, something original.”
Because of these indie groups, music evolved and changed dramatically. If you think about it, both punk music, and hip-hop, for example, were formed by independent groups. They took old styles of music and molded them into something new and different. Punk took rock ‘n’ roll, sped it up and added screaming singers and guitars to become something totally different.
Hip-hop took cues from R ‘n’ B rock and blues to become one of the freshest and most original styles of music of the 20th century.
So what does modern indie do? Modern indie groups have decided — maybe not consciously — that they are going to fall back on old styles of music.
Last time I listened the Current, I heard to eight bands playing similar music; guitars strumming a steady, monotonous beat, which was accompanied by a steady, trembling bass-line; and primitive cave-like drum beats. Each band had a singer with an airy, lifeless voic. Each track made me feel like the band didn’t really think I was cool enough to be listening to them. This is what indie music has become: emotionless, hopeless and lifeless.
These qualities are the very opposite of what music should be!
These factors are not the only things that are killing indie music; the fans are also responsible for them.
You’ve seen them before, those hipster kids that are so mad because their favorite band is now huge, and their music is getting play on the local pop or rock station.
To those people, I have this to say: get over yourself.
All of the bands that have made music what it is today started out as an indie band.
Before The Beatles had herds of screaming fans that awaited their arrival in the United States, they played in strip clubs; before Bob Dylan had an entire movie made about his career, he was thrown out of clubs in Minneapolis and forced to play at smaller venues.
Music that changes the world never stays indie; it evolves and shapes the way we look at music.
Indie music is not meant to stay indie, yet all of these artists seem to believe that if they become famous, they are selling out. The reason they think this is because of the fans.
Music is about change and evolution, and change happens.
Deal with it.
Modern indie music is dead, and it’s killing me.
Repetitive, lifeless, poorly structured songs are getting ridiculous amounts of airplay, and they are putting listeners to sleep.
Indie music needs something, and it needs it fast, or else things are going to keep getting worse and worse.
Jon Lyksett is a student at UW-River Falls.