Tokyo Damage Report

GENRE LIFE-CYCLES

You can apply this to rock-n-roll, hippy music, punks, rave music, metal, rap. . . not so much country, for some reason.

 
1) someone has a new idea. (oh, that’s why it doesn’t work for country)
 
2) a community of rivals develops around the first bands. The bands are competing to out-do each other but the competition is productive and not destructive – they’re not doing it in a mean way, but just trying to push the new idea to its limits. This turns the genre from ‘a new idea’ to ‘something really fuckin’ far-out’. The idea is to destroy anything old. The establishment hasn’t noticed it yet.
 
3) community spreads nation-wide, as angry teens find a new way to express themselves. But the only way to facilitate a fast, nationwide spread is to have a very simplified and standardized template, which means that the movement gets full of rules, and usually the best parts of the original music aren’t turned into rules at all, they fall by the wayside. At any rate, the establishment is duly outraged and scandalized.
 
4) as fans get older and conformity causes them to get bored of it, the genre hooks up with a newer or more established genre, becoming a subsidiary in order to survive.
 
5) a new generation of kids discovers the genre and copies it without any understanding, context, or politics. The idea of “destroy the old” has turned into “become the old.” The establishment is like, “Wha? Are you kids still doing that! Adorable!”
 
6) thousands of tiny micro-sub-genres, each a dead end. Fans point to the sheer number of these as evidence that the music is still growing and changing. Yeah right.
 

 

 

9 comments

9 Comments so far

  1. megane-kun December 22nd, 2009 8:35 pm

    you managed to express what i thought in a very simple way and i’m grateful for it. I tried to explain this MANY times to various people but ended up sounding like a know-it-all smart-ass… which i may be in fact… mmm i don’t know, i’m confused now…

  2. Keith McX December 22nd, 2009 8:58 pm

    I agree, but I don’t give a rats ass about what other people are doing.

  3. Hugh Codding December 23rd, 2009 9:49 am

    WOW! Now I see the similarities of a crusty punk kid wearing an ripped “Exploited” t-shirt safety pinned to a dirty denim or leather jacket and a kid wearing a hannah montana t-shirt.

    Thank you Mr. TDR.

  4. sephim December 23rd, 2009 5:47 pm

    Hugh, you forgot one thing – Hannah Montana is AWESOME.

    One question though, what’s an “establishment”?

  5. admin December 23rd, 2009 7:29 pm

    @sephim: establishment is an old ’60s word for mainstream, power elites. Not like the Illuminati or the Secret Government, more like the or mainstream media – the people who define what is trendy and what is trash. In the case of music, establishment is like mtv and rolling stone and pitchfork.

  6. sephim December 24th, 2009 5:43 am
  7. fzgig December 24th, 2009 9:09 am

    didn’t you just say “there are no good genres, only good bands” or something to that effect?

  8. admin December 24th, 2009 5:34 pm

    @fzgig: rad! thanks for paying attention! Yeah, I did! But my “genre life-cycle” applies to all genres (except country), it doesn’t claim one genre is better. Also, although good bands are the bottom line, i think history shows that genres in “stage 2″ (with the fierce but healthy competition to take ideas further) produce more good bands – unique bands – than later stages.

  9. fzgig December 25th, 2009 11:54 am

    sorry, it didn’t quite register properly
    sleep deprivation and everything,

    In any case, it seems like we’re stuck in #5 now, no matter what genre… It’s like the establishment won.

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