I recently asked a group of people who I knew to be true music fans what they thought the next wave of music will be. In other words, what style of music will unseat the current crop of pop music that is selling like gangbusters? Everyone answered exactly the same; they said it’s the one or two-man electronic artists that will continue to break through and catch on in the mainstream ala Owl City
and others like them. While that may be true (and wow I hope it isn’t), I couldn’t help but think that that style is what’s partially current right now, but it was The Postal Service
who started this sound back in 2003 when they released their groundbreaking record “Give Up," hence spawning many imitators, with only one or two really breaking out. Obviously, that sound isn’t all that’s popular now, but the point is that one band laid the groundwork for others to come and capitalize on, and I’m curious to know who the ground-laying band is right now that is going to pave the way for the next big sound, or maybe be the next big sound themselves.
What I had in mind when I asked the question was of course the earth-shaking time that Nirvana replaced Michael Jackson’s spot at number one on the Billboard top 100 with Nevermind back in 1991. That, as everyone knows, changed the course of music at the time, and not just music, but fashion and really pop culture in general. The market was so saturated with pop and hair metal that it couldn’t take it anymore and Nirvana along with a handful of their Pacific Northwest cohorts offered the refreshing change that everyone was longing for, and that everyone could identify with. But it’s not like that happened overnight. Those Seattle bands had been together in one form or another for a few years before one or two broke out, and most of them were relying on the groundwork of less successful bands (in Nirvana’s case The Melvins and The Pixies) to help them break into the mainstream. And let’s not forget the power of a great song, without the incredible songs it never would have happened, but I digress.
I spend my days trying to figure out what’s coming next. Whatever it is, it’s in development now and I’m determined to find it. Maybe it’s a resurgence of the Seattle sound. It has after all, been twenty years since those bands started releasing records, and many people (myself included) believe that most elements in pop culture come back around in one form or another every twenty years. Your guess is as good as mine.
I’m not expecting the sea change of 1991 to happen any time soon- those days are over- and I’m not saying there aren’t a plethora of successful bands who have broken the mold in terms of creativity and style, it’s just that right now the predominant mainstream (commercial) sound has been here for a little too long, and I have to think and hope that something is on the verge of breaking out musically that is going to refresh us the way Seattle did back then, or the New York bands like The Strokes and Interpol
did to a lesser degree ten years later. Right now some group of kids are huddled in their basement or garage banging out tunes that will one day permeate the air around us and my job is to find them. I’ll let you know how it goes.