“Man, I wish I was born in the 60s. Music was real back then, you know? It had feeling and depth, and actual instruments. Music today is trash, no two ways about it.”
Nah man, you’re just lazy. It’s easy to say you were born in the wrong generation, and that the scene today is a shadow of what it used to be in the swinging 60s, or the funky 70s, or even the grungy 90s. The fact is though, there’s still musicians churning out every kind of music imaginable, and then some. Most people just don’t make the effort to look for it.
There’s always been good and bad music around, it just depends on how hard you search.
Think about it, do you realise just how hard it was to source music beyond the local flavour back in the ‘golden days’? Especially in India, the only records doing the rounds were mostly Bollywood tracks, and that’s all well and good, but what if you wanted to listen to something different? Unless you had cool relatives abroad with a good taste in music, it was nigh impossible. It was also pretty much the same sad situation when cassettes came around. Just ask your parents, if they’re into rock n’ roll that is. The only way they could get their hands on recordings of The Who or Hendrix was by ripping a tape that some kind soul flew down from the States. Popular music sucked then too, but if you really loved music, and you knew what you liked – you made sure you got what you wanted to listen to, no matter how long the wait. I mean I get it, Woodstock was paradise and the Talking Heads live were unreal, but even today, there’s lesser known bands recreating the fuzzy magic of all of this and more.
Something that’s really ignored is the indie scene in India itself. We’ve got a wealth of talent that’s tragically under-represented and under-heard.
You can’t really bemoan the shit on the Indian radio when even they sometimes tend to play music by some of our own homegrown strummers and crooners. I’m not talking about the likes of Arijit Singh (who’s on every single goddamn song these days), I’m talking about the likes of Madboy/Mink, or The F16s, or Ankur and the Ghalat Family. Or pretty much every person from this article. And let’s not even start with the North-East of India, that oft ignored kingdom of music that’s churned out virtuosos like Takar Nabam and pop punks like Yesterdrive with ease. If you’re still a little unsure, even India’s rap game is getting on level. Naezy and Divine might be ballistic, but there’s a bunch of others killing it too. Check ’em out here. Honestly, it’s a little mystifying how we still complain about not having enough music to listen to.
It was way harder to source good music earlier than it is today.
Up until listening to music on the internet became what it is today, shit was hard, man. In the 90s and early 2000s, you had to go to the local cassette guy and pick up a tape or CD of a crappy boy band, and if you wanted something special, you went to The Music Shop in Khan Market (shout out to the dude that ran that place, what a boss guy). You hoped and prayed and once in a while found the tune that scratched your itch.
Now there’s freakin’ YouTube and Soundcloud, man, and you can type in literally any genre of music and you’ll have an endless list of bands from around the world to choose from. There’s bands making music of every kind, for all varieties and tastes and ears. Whereswilder sounds like the 70s with better production, Caravan Palace sounds like the 20s on ecstasy, The Pimps of Joytime sound like the 60s never left. Have you ever heard of these bands? I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no. That’s not a condescending no either, because there’s just so much music around that it’s easy to get lost in the frequencies and bitch about the familiarly reprehensible Akons and Pitbulls and Biebers of the world.
Popular music has almost always been considered mediocre at the time, which is why the internet is your friend, your lover, your twilight saviour.
They’re stuffed down our throats, sure, but that doesn’t mean you have to actively participate in it. Popular music has almost always been vague and uninteresting, that’s just what happens when you club together the collective music choices of billions of people, you get porridge – bland, tasteless and impossibly unexciting. A 5 minute search on YouTube, or 8Tracks, or Soundcloud however, will find you more great music than a month on VH1. And slowly, you’ll see that recommendation bar on the side change and magically start suggesting something new and exciting every time you open it. Now that I think about it, we really don’t appreciate how good we have it. We’ve got tunes for days, nay, decades. So the next time someone starts bitchin’ out about music today, throw their iPad at their faces and drive away into the sunset spinning this track while flippin’ them the bird.