The Guardian: No overlap with me

So The Guardian’s end-of-year album list has zero overlap with mine. I recognise that despite their positive reviews of both the album and the Albert Hall gig, Steve Wilson’s “The Raven That Refused To Sing” was never going to be Guardian enough to feature, but I did wonder if Goldfrapp’s “Tales of Us” or perhaps even Black Sabbath’s “13″ would make the cut. But they didn’t. For those who might be interested, their album of the year was Kayne West’s “Yeezus”. I don’t know enough about hip-hop to be able to say whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, but they closed the comments after about 12 hours in which 700-odd people were decidedly unimpressed with their choice.

Sadly The Guardian’s list is yet again a rock-free zone. The top end of the list seems to be made up almost entirely of hip-hop and mumbling indie, as if they were the only genres that exist. Those records might well be the best hip-hop and mumbling indie records released this year, but anything properly resembling rock is conspicuous by its absence. As is anything strongly based around melody; where, for example was Goldfrapp’s beautiful “Tales of Us”

No, I’m not expecting the whole list to be filled with rock and metal releases, but there’s not even a token presence there. It comes over as so NME it’s quite embarassing; Paramore are the closest to “rock” that it comes, and they come over to me as rock music watered-down for people who don’t really like rock music, mainly marketed to children.

I’ve listed to a few of the YouTube videos or sound clips attached to their features whenever the description made it sound as if it might be worth a listen. But I haven’t heard anything at all that makes me want to listen further to any of them. A lot of it comes over to me as far too scratchy and tuneless to hold my attention. It may well be deeply symbolic of man’s struggle against his social-political environment, but lacks any compositional depth or instrumental flair.

Indeed, Kitty Empire writing about White Denin gave the game away with the line “Bands this proficient can easily end up making pointlessly masturbatory virtuoso-rock“. I found White Denin boring, a band playing well below their abilities is if they were trying too hard to appeal to people like Kitty Empire.

Yes, there are plenty of people out there who like that sort of thing; but it leaves me feeling that a publication that’s not supposed to be a narrow genre-specific one like Kerrang it ought to be covering a far broader spectrum of music that it does, and cover the sorts of music that appeals to a broader range of age groups that just spotty yoof alone.

One wag made a comment suggesting that the list was by thirtysomethings writing about music made for twentysomethings then being sneered at by fortysomethings in the comment threads. But it does make the point that there isn’t nearly enough music in there for grown-ups. And there isn’t nearly enough rock.

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4 Responses to The Guardian: No overlap with me

  1. Serdar says:

    You make a great point about “playing below one’s ability” — I strongly suspect a lot of artists in today’s market are doomed to do things like this. They can do something that’s very much “them”, but the market won’t pay them to do something unique and interesting. But it will pay them to follow a trend, and so they often end up producing something that’s either an uneasy compromise between what they want to do and what they know they can sell — or they produce total trend-seeking sellout.

    This is not to say that everyone who follows their heart will automatically produce something of value. It does say that paying people to be mediocre is a terrible cultural blight.

  2. PaulE says:

    Some people seem quite determined to enforce a kind of Logan’s Run rule in music. The industry allows a few acts for older people that seem to perform in a style popular before rock’n'roll. Not sure what they expect people between 30 and 70 to listen to.

  3. Ian Almond says:

    What the supine media and the cynical music companies want to create is the view that the only good valid music that exists is that music that is supplied and controlled by the big companies.
    In recent weeks we have seen lists of new acts for 2014 in the guardian and other media outlets of course these are mainly non rock. These lists are simply the new acts that the big companies are going to promote this year and the lazy journalist scan these lists and simply play the game and repeat them pretending they are in tune with modern music.
    Result the general public buys what they are told to and the journalist stand back feeling proud that there ability to spot talent is as good as ever.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    “Logan’s Run in music” – I’m stealing that!

    I think the obsession with the new is part of the problem; there are very few long- establised acts in their their top 40 unless they’re so huge they can’t be ignored (for example, Bowie). Probably a connection with the way they favour the sorts of things that tend to peak early, so that they’ll fade away to make room for the next new thing.

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