Here I Show My Age

 "Rock is dead! Long live rock!"
"This is the dawning of the age of electro!"
So was proclaimed - I say proclaimed, but, in actuality, I'm paraphrasing - it was the 9th September, 2009, and I was up early, so I watched GMTV. On that day the entire Beatles back catalogue was re-released with super-definitive-ultra-plus-fidelity and Sound (TM) technology for the first time ever, at 9.09AM, on 09/09/09 - nines to the left, nines to the right, number nine, number nine, number nine - you can sort of see what they were trying to do.

Anyhow, they got a man on - on GMTV - to talk about The Beatles. I don't know who he is. But he looked wizened and sagacious, Important, like he Knew What He Was Talking About. The first thing he did was to proclaim that The Age Of Rock is Over. For evidence, he looked to the charts, said there's a lot of stuff like Dizzee Rascal, Calvin Harris, Dizzee Rascal feat. Calvin Harris etc. The popularity of this stuff is evidence enough to suggest that we're living in The Age of Electro.

So I listened to the Top 40, twice! And you know, that man, that WIZARD, he's absolutely right - there is finally a sound - in future years I get the impression that people will be able to date music - early noughties! - by its sound alone.You can do the same with 60s music (it sounds, variously, like syrup, like dust, like acid, like wood), with 70s music (it tastes like tea, sherbert or apples), with the music of the 80s (people go mad for synths and drum machines, forget about the importance of basslines and, thanks to Peter Gabriel's gated reverb [citation needed], all drums sounded as if they'd been recorded in a soulless cathedral) and, finally, with 90s music (pro-tools et al entailed that the possibilities were endless, but everything sounded quite muted, tinny and identical).

ASIDE - is there such a thing as blogging awards? If there is, I think that the above should win the award for most convoluted and labyrinthine sentence. At the very least, it should be nominated.

So, what does the music of the noughties sound like? The charts for some time have been simmering in ultra-crisp r'n'b - the clipped, syncopated production techniques of the likes of Dr. Dre and Timbaland - and such exotic influences as Jamaican Dancehall, Reggaeton and, to a lesser extent, Afro-Beat. This fascinating stew has been allowed to brew for years and now - well, it's not so much exploded, so to speak, but I've not been listening for a while. I've just dipped back in, for the first time in years, and now it's everywhere - the sound of NOW - which, over the past year or so, seems to have looked back to the 80s, though I really don't think that the dominance of synths makes for a particularly "80s" sound. They've always been used, before and since - they just seem to be closer to the front these days.

It's highly rhythmic, the bass is massive - verily, one can "shake ones booty" (I think that's what they say). And, best of all, it doesn't sound particularly processed or contrived. Of course, so crisp and PERFECT are some of those rhythms that a lot of it doesn't sound particularly soulful, either. Guess you can't have everything. Yep, I do think that future generations will hear these complex rhythms, deep low-end sounds, immense synth-chords and dehumanised vocals and they'll say, they'll say - "ROBOT SEX, I do declare that this piece was most certainly released sometime between 2004 and 2014" (for it will hang around for a while, of course it will, to be replaced by I cannot wait to hear).

One thing, though, never has changed and never will change. It is no gross generalisation to say that, for as long as there's been a chart, there have been empty, vaccuous, meaningless lyrics. It's either an agreement or an understanding or whatever -and, somewhere, it most probably is WRITTEN - that so long as people can dance to it, so long as it sticks in their heads, so long as people can sing along - then it doesn't matter IN THE SLIGHTEST as to what exactly is sung.

And that's fine. Not everything needs to speak to me about my life. It's not even the case that everything should at least say something about a life to which I could never hope to relate. Not everything needs to comment on society, and not everything needs to suggest that there's perhaps more to life than this. We have our realism, we have our escapism - our poetry and our rhetoric, our jingoism and whatever - and then, left over, on the side - is everything else - just words, with no meaning or a vague meaning, and that's fine! It is! Honestly! It's always been the case, and, yeah, it always will be, so there's no point at all in complaining.

It's just that, in my skimming of the charts, the sheer inanity of some of the twitterings that dared to identify themselves as "lyrics" - well, they really did irritate. Some examples:

1. Lily Allen - 22
This one's a particular cause for irritation because it seems to be pretending that it's "about" something:

When she was 22 the future looked bright
But she's nearly 30 now and she's out every night
I see that look in her face she's got that look in her eye
She's thinking how did I get here and wondering why

Aha, see, it's about a Bridget Jones sort of figure, right? A young woman who's getting a bit older and isn't quite sure as to where her life's going. Ok. That's - that's been said before, but ok. The thing is, Lily's message - does she have a message? It's a bit confused.

It's sad but it's true how society says
Her life is already over
There's nothing to do and there's nothing to say
Til the man of her dreams comes along picks her up and puts her over his shoulder
It seems so unlikely in this day and age

See, Helen Fielding Ms. Allen ain't. No, this isn't a wry (or scathing) comment upon the pressures that society puts upon women to get careers and boyfriends. Nothing like that, Lily's saying that, yeah, it might be "sad", but it's "true"! This woman's life IS over! She's nearly 30 and she's feeling vaguely lost and...well, her life's over, basically. Does Lily offer any hope for redemption? Any sort of comment upon this plight which must be prevalent in women of a certain age? Does she offer any words of consolation, any alternative, or anything? No. Nothing. She really does have "nothing to say". Bad lyrics are especially bad when they THINK that they have meaning. But this - this is empty. It's of no consequence at all, completely meaningless and, apart from anything else, it's remarkably boring. That chorus sounds more like a bridge. I was expecting for something amazing to happen, but nothing - it just went back into the verse again, saying nothing again - a nothing song that does nothing about a depressing subject - a terrible song, then.

2. Lady GaGa - Love Game
Unlike Lily Allen, this one certainly SOUNDS alright, but that opening gambit:

I wanna kiss you
But if I do I might miss you, babe

What in god's name does that even mean? The chorus I can forgive - all those references to "sick" beats and "disco sticks" on which she wants to take a ride - it's about listening to music and wanting to have sex, right? But that opening line - that has nothing to do with anything. A desperate rhyming scheme which sounds vaguely - romantic? Well, it certainly threw me. I just couldn't enjoy it from that point.

3. Pitbull - I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)
These're the absolute pits of meaningless contemporary lyrics. I'm not even going to bother attempting to decipher what the hell they were trying to say in such blurtings as:

Mami got an ass like a donkey, with a monkey,
look like King Kong, welcome to the crib,
real fast what it is,
with a woman down ya shit
dont play games,
they up the chain, and they let her do
everythang and anythang hit tha thang
I think, like Richard Pryor, he must have grown up in a brothel with his mother. In the 80s. Or something.
Oh my god I'm getting old.

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