August 01, 2012

Why I Despise Boy-Bands and Girl-Bands, and ‘Teen-Pop’ in General

What’s wrong with ‘teen pop’? I could say that they don’t write their own songs. But hey, some do, don’t they? Most of them don’t though, so there’s that to begin with. Most don’t even choose their songs, they are decided by record executives. And on what basis are songs selected? Positive message? Rebellious spirit? Something to say? A message? Nope. Sales. And the market for this type of music is? Impressionable youngsters. I see boy- and girl-bands as factory produced shit designed to fleece money from school children. To me, it’s as bad as putting junk food machines in schools. It is cultural and financial robbery. 

It could be argued that they don’t play their own instruments, beyond that, I doubt whether these singers and terrible (I’ll come to this shortly) dancers have any input into either song selection, or musical arrangement. Puppets on a corporate string. 

There aren’t any ugly ones either. Appearance has always played a part in pop music. I doubt Elvis Presley or the Beatles would have been as successful if they looked like me. Today though, looks are a prerequisite for any budding pop star. You may get a token ugly one in a ‘band’ like the ginger one in Girls Aloud, but that’s beside the point. Knowing a female who’s a mechanic doesn’t alter that statistic that most mechanics are males. Having a male friend who’s kindergarten teacher doesn’t….you get the picture. We used to get ugly pop stars purely because they were talented. Not now. Now you look at the ‘music’, not listen to it. 

Dancing. What is good dancing? Now I like dancing, I am hugely impressed by amazing dancing. I want to see dancing that makes me go “Wow! I couldn’t learn that dance if I practiced for a decade.” Anyone who knows me well knows that I have spent some considerable time on dance floors. I like dancing, I’m not great at it, but I’m not one of those stiffs who looks totally out of place on a dancefloor either. Dancing has been a big part of my life for a long time. I’ve been a big Northern Soul fan for longer than I care to remember, I wore out my bedroom carpet as a teenager practicing moves, I’ve DJ’d various genres of dance music, in short, I know a bit about it. I’m quite old now, and times and styles have changed since my heyday, but I still think I know good dancing when I see it. And I DO NOT see it in these boy- and girl-bands. What they are doing is synchronised, and I stress the word ‘synchronised’, rubbish. The next time you see one of these ‘bands’ perform their dance routine, look at just ONE of them and imagine them doing it alone, and compare it to a break dancer from the 80s, or a lindy Hopper from the 40s. They look pathetic. Also, I firmly believe that any semi-competent dancer could learn any of those faux-dance moves in a day. IN A DAY! There has been fantastic dancing in and around pop music since the 40s. Now we are spoon fed crap and told it’s steak by suits in factory-offices. Better not make it too complicated, they say. If the kids can’t do it, they won’t buy it. If we took this attitude to sport, we’d lose. 

Music, or at least youth culture oriented music has always been about change. A voice, an ethic, a stance, something to say. Hippies wanted peace and sang about it, punks wanted change and screamed about it. Now we have this abomination. It actually doesn’t matter if the songs are any good – no doubt a few of them are – that’s not the point. We have been silenced by corporations. Punk happened because they were sick of shitty disco (not all disco is shitty) and shitty prog rock noodling. But punk also only happened because they captured an underlying spirit – the people themselves were pissed off with the same things. Who are those people today? The life has been sucked clean out of the popular music industry, and we’ve just stood by and let it happen. Granted not everyone – I know several musicians from back home who have spent years honing their crafts, they have certainly not stood idly by, but where is that underlying zeitgeist of rebellion? Of change? Of creative expression? Not all music has to be furiously rebellious like punk, look at the hippies, they did it with flowers. Music and cultural movements like hippy and punk felt like they were government toppling behemoths, changing the world. These boy and girl bands, teen pop in general do nothing, and say nothing. They are, nothing. Shitty dancers with auto-tuned voices and pretty faces, sucking the culture out of the world. 

You may think I’m taking this too seriously, that I should lighten up. It’s only pop music right? And everyone has different tastes. That’s true, and despite my stance laid out above, I have certainly, over the years, succumbed to a cheesy pop song. Many times in fact.  But there is no rebellion. The teenagers seem to have given up.

Maybe I’m just old and don’t get it any more. But this is how it seems to me. Teenagers today seem like a homogenous culture vacuum. When I was young, ‘cool’ mattered. I wasn’t that cool, but I admired and looked up to those I thought were cooler than me. 

It’s about time suits in offices stopped deciding what young people listened to. It’s about time something changed.


  1. Never mind! The Strypes are about to save the world!