Friday, 2 September 2011

Am I betraying myself?

If you are a personal friend of mine, you will know that I am very passionate, and openly picky about my music.

Any of the music that my lady friends listen to I absolutely despise. Stuff like Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and Ke$ha, or any of the other manufactured crap the pop music industry is churning out to please the masses – though thankfully, bless their dear hearts, they don't listen to Justin Bieber. Other stuff that a few of my mates listen to, like hardcore techno, screamo and metal, I can tolerate (To this I will add as a side that Symphonic Metal is something that I actually quite enjoy), but you wouldn't be able to get me listening to it regularly.

The music I have on my iPod is a little more... classic. Stuff like Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Dire Straits, ELO, Tears for Fears, Van Halen, Queen, AC/DC, even the Bee Gees. Anything before 1995, I'm okay with, because back then, not all songs on commercial stations were about partying and gettin' down on da floor. They didn't have highly annoying, sickly sweet electro-pop soundtracks. After about 1996, pop music started going down the drain.

Oh, don't get me wrong, there's still good stuff out there coming out today. José Gonzalez, The Living End, Arcade Fire, Forever Never, deadmau5 and others are all quite good. It's just quite a shame that they often aren't as popular as they should be, despite a high critical opinion.

So you can see that I am pretty much dead set in musical taste. However, something has happened that has knocked me a-kilter and made me question myself and whether I am really that sane in my own right.

That thing is Dubstep.

I fully expect internetty rotten tomatoes to be thrown at me for this. Yes, I have made fun of Dubstep in the past, as have many people. Initially, it appears to be nothing more than a mishmash of weird sounds and minimalist vocals laid over an over-produced stomping beat. It also seems at first that the “artist” had nothing better to do than mess around with the bass and make it sound like a robot a few times, releasing it as is for giggles.

But that, for me at least, is beginning to change.

It began with me browsing Minecraft videos on YouTube. (Fantastic game, by the way.) I don't know if anyone else has noticed, but most of the Minecraft videos I've seen, more showcasing creations than Machinimas, have dubstep music as a backing soundtrack. Either loads of Minecraft players like Dubstep, or loads of people who listen to Dubstep play Minecraft. Either way, most of the time it was the normal, crappy stuff which I had come to expect from music of this genre: no tune or melody in sight, and vocals manipulated so extensively they no longer sounded like anything at all. Then I hit upon a video using the track “Blue” by Dubba Jonny. Something in that song sparked my curiosity; What follows is what I went through after searching out the song so that I'd be able to listen to it by itself.

It could be compared to watching a nuclear explosion devastate some old, beautiful countryside – the explosion being the fury which I had just unleashed in “Blue”, and the countryside being my familiar pop-rock landscape. This song, this... thing, was destroying everything I thought I knew and loved, in a blaze of energy and delirious destruction. And yet, I could not help but be in awe at its magificence, the power it carried with its bass and fat drums. The bass and the way it is manipulated could be likened to Tsar Bomba, the biggest Nuclear bomb ever detonated, or a KFC Double Down. One part of you recoils in shock and thinks “How COULD you?!”, while the other part sits there, wide-eyed, like a small child, thinking “Holy crap, that's awesome”.

So, what does this mean for me? I guess it means that, after years of hardline stance on music, I am finally beginning to broaden my horizons. Either that, or I'm going crazy.

I honestly don't know.