Pop is Dead

Who knows exactly at what point Ricky Martin and the Backstreet Boys began to descend, but what everyone knows is that mainstream culture is undergoing a slow, yet steady transformation. Perhaps the Sept. 11 attacks were the last drop that overflowed the cup; maybe it was the awakening of a new rock and roll generation, or youth possibly got tired of the same mindless, meaningless debacle that had become pop music over the past couple of years.
For now, this cohort can console itself with the notion that finally it is experiencing a fresh awakening, just like in the 1970s disco crumbled and punk roused, and in the early 1990s, hair metal faded and grunge appeared.
In 2000, NSYNC broke the record for most album copies sold in the first week of release when their sophomore CD No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million copies. Almost a year and a half later, they released Celebrity and it only garnered less than half the success of their previous album. The Backstreet Boys were not able to sell out most of their “Black and Blue” tour dates, unlike their previous triumphant tours.
A.J. McLean checks himself into a clinic for alcohol abuse and Nick Carter is arrested in Florida, while Mariah Carey admits herself in a mental hospital. Could they be pulling publicity stunts to call attention to themselves, since their music careers haven’t been able to do so in the past months? Very possibly. Or are they feeling the anxiety of failure get closer and closer to them? Even likelier.
It is uncertain if indie rock bands will actually push they boy bands and voiceless dancers out of the way and let themselves in. It seems as though the public is choosing to stop listening to simplistic, cliched lyrics backed by previously used beats, and is opting for the emotional baggage and creativity of young musicians who play their own instruments, write their own music and think before they record and perform.
Vagrant records (Saves the Day, Dashboard Confessional, The Anniversary, etc.) has taken charge, the same way SubPop did in the 1990s, making good music accessible, without actually putting videos on MTV, and needing the mainstream media for success. The future is yet to determine how victorious they will be.

February 1, 2002


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