Monday, June 27, 2005

OXFORD CONFIDENTIAL:

Depressed Kids Listening to Whiny Music

Okay, when did rock and roll become about whining about stupid stuff? Am I just getting old, or are record execs in league with the pharamceutical companies to produce a generation of depressed children?

I talked with a rather mopey looking kid this afternoon who noticed I was playing the Descendents' Cool To Be You (2004 Fat Wreck Records) as I pulled into the gas station. Moptop, jet-black hair. The look of having not seen the sun much this summer. Designer "vintage" tees, Ray-Bans designed to look like drug store grandma sunglasses.

Yup. An emo kid. Right down to the Puma hooded sweatshirt (it was 92 degrees this afternoon in Oxford.)

"Hey, who are you listening to?" Emo Boy asked when I got started pumping my gas. "It sounds like the Jimmy Eat World."

I cringed.

No, I explained, its an old-school SoCal punk band. The kid went back to pumping gas into his SUV.

I won't go on a rant about this current cannon-fodder marketing blitz currently called "Emo." The whole phenomena of this so-called culture bugs the living shit out of me. Emo, the music and clothing marketing trend, supposedly has roots in the DC Hardcore scene of the 1980s, with punk bands like Fugazi, Black Flag, Bad Brains, and Minor Threat cranking out emotionally charged tunes.

Sure, there are a lot of emo kids who dress the part nowadays, but its clear that the touchy-feeliness of growing up suburban in a Post-Columbine, post-911 world has turned a generation of kids into, well, wimps.

Gone are the days when music was about music. Music as a form of energetic relief has given way to crying over lost loves and shallow misery into a microphone - and its all being bought and sold by the masses raised to be self-absorbed and self-important.

Sure, I like sad, slow melancholy music. I even like some artists often labeled as Emo (though Weezer predates the whole current trend, as does Modest Mouse). But I also appreciate the value of pumping my fist in the air to a song with a righteous "Hell Yeah!" And I love the painful grind of early grunge, circa 1994.

When I want to get over the blues, Ithrow on some Hank Williams or Lightning Hopkins, maybe some Miles Davis. When I feeling politically charged, I throw on Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet.

As this Emo kid drove off in the big hunking SUV, I saw that he had tucked his mopish hair up under a trucker cap - clearly one of those bought from a mall, not from a truck stop. I wondered how many Prozac, Zanex, and other anti-depressants he was on. He had that "Love Life through Overmedication" look to him.

Maybe he'll go home a search for some Descendents to download. Or google "So-Cal Punk" and find a plethera of other good music.

JWJ

14 comments:

KFigment said...

Gone are the days true punk existed and individuality had a meaning. Now to be an individual you dress just like your best friend and listen to music that has been remixed or remade from the best of our generation. Pink is the new it color. It looked bad in the eighties and is still sucks.

The time before Metallica sold out, grunge truly was a culture, punk was a lifestyle and the kids that were goth truly could tear your heart out that is where you come from. It will never be like that again and you will be the old man on the porch talking about the good old days when music had meaning just like the old men now who talk about the days when dancing was an event and the music had soul.

The ZenFo Pro said...

I think its part of the Pop Culture Cycle.

People will, eventually, get tired of art without purpose when they look back on their lives and see the monuments of their lives have no purpose.

As for the 80s, hey, at least there were John Hughes films (Breakfeast Club, etc.), and the 90s was about figuring out the world's a complex place.

The Millineum Babies will come around, or end up like a lot of folks who grew up in the 1950s - remembered for trinkets like hula hoops and poodle skirts and television (the original X-Box). The good music, the Sam Cookes and Chuck Berrys, were buried in a mass of PErry Cuomos and bad lounge music.

G said...

New Music We See In The Charts

The new Weezer, I must say, is disappointing at best. Sold out to the Emo movement I think. Knew it would come eventually.

The Killers aren't bad. The 80s-based sound is a nice touch. Lyrically much less whiny than most of today's popular sellers.

Coldplay's X&Y I found hard to get into as musically it is by far much more creative and exploratory than the previous albums. They're heading into Radiohead territory more with each album (actually, Fix You is borderline Emo and Twisted Logic is a ripoff of Subterranean Homesick Alien, but the rest of the album is decent so I'll let it slide).

Keane is somewhat decent also ... a bit Emo lyrically in a couple tracks but I have to say, any band that can hit the top ten with only piano, bass and drums these days deserves much attention. Think Travis without guitar (great Brit band without whom Keane would not exist).

Nothing great out there now, but at least a few that are passable can still be found. Will be awhile before we find the next Buzzcocks or Jam, though. Those bands only come along once in a blue moon, after all. Until then, we suffer through emo and manage with the few bands who escape its wrath.

Mexicana 1 said...

OMG! I love Keane!

The one emo act that annoys me more than anything is Bright Eyes. Christ, Conor Oberst looks like an anorexic version of the kid from E.T.!

All these freshman and sophomore emo girls are in love with him here in Nevada. Don't have a clue why. They keep saying the lyrics are deep and shit. I've heard deeper lyrics in a Beegees song. I tried to like Bright Eyes. Really did. Tried to give them a chance, but its too lame.

Give me music with meaning, please. I'm tired of these mallrat emo bands. They bore me.

Okay...tangent. Sorry.

Lupe, UNLV

mexicana 1 said...

Megan says to tell you she's scored some tix to the LE Tigre show at House of Blues. next month.

We'll be plotting our subversive attack on the Moral Majority until then. Hehehehe...

Time to go beat the Man down!

Vaya con diablos!

Lupe

Ms. Monkeythong said...

Don't know nuthin' 'bout no Emo music. I'm an old fart. But no whining in grunge? Pleeeese. Wasn't Mr. Kurt Cobain King Whiner #1? The boy could have used a bag o' anti-depressants! That's why I liked the Foo Fighters better than Nirvana. Songs about cows. Yeah.

The ZenFo Pro said...

Oh, no. There's plenty of whining in grunge. Eddie Vedder was a close second for King Whiner #2. But Kurt Cobain and Co. knew the value of a good, driving riff, too.

Whereas Cobain's lyrics were more about a sincere expression of thought and emotion (in truth, the lyrics now tend to come across as a long, continuous suicide note), the emo fad is more about emulating those expressions without the context.

And you're not an old fart! Just because mainstream pop culture wants to stamp anyone over 25 with an expiration date doesn't mean we have to accept it. I refuse to live in MTV's version of Logan's Run.

The Foo Fighters are pretty amazing, and Dave Grohl is such a talented guy. He reflects more of that DIY that made alot of the underground bands of the 1980s and 1990s such a good thing. I can listen to a Foo Fighters album and hear the Minor Threat influence, the Pixies influence, Husker Du and MC5, and even the Slayer influence.

The thing I appreciate about those early Seattle bands is the willingness to make something unique. Take the simplicity of punk, the aggression of metal, and the loneliness of the Smiths and Cure, and you get the Seattle Scene.

Beth said...

There has to be a mixture with music. Its ALL so conformist and self-serving now! I hate listening to the radio anymore. Its all unoriginal! I don't care if its good or bad, just quit stealing riffs.

Didn't know anything about emo til I googled it this morning and asked my 20-year-old intern about it.

I guess I listen to some bands considered Emo - I like Alkaline Trio and Pedro the Lion. But then I saw there were a lot of bands I just can't stand listed. Then there are bands called emo that were around before emo became the it thing.

Its not music, you're right. Its a pop eye candy.

I think it really is a marketing ploy to feed of these kids need to conform to something. What better way than to package nonconformity into a nice, marketable fashion trend?

They did it to Latin Music...everybody knows Ricky Martin and J-Lo. Tito and Tarrantula and Selena and Los Lobos? No, they sound too CHICANO - the American Public won't buy the music migranteros listen to.

Okay, see my sis left a tangent...I agree with Monkeythong (Love the Name!), Kurt Cobain was a whiner.

Adios, Papi!

Betta

Anonymous said...

Emo sounds pretty stupid. And overrated. From what I've now observed, it sounds like bored white middle-class kids in expensive clothing.

Its funny. We get requests from patrons for rap music, country music, punk music, even random New Age CDs. But I've not gotten a single request to add any emo to our CD collection.

I showed one of our high school volunteers your blog this afternoon. I asked her what an "Emo Kid" looked like; she then pointed to this group of teenagers that hang out in our library's parking lot.

They never come in. Emily (the volunteer) laughed and said they're afraid of anything not depressing, like children's collections.

I miss the Goth kids :( And the Gamers that used to come in to play games in our community rooms.

LOL! Party on, Zenfo Pro Dude!

A.B. ( A fellow Librarian)

Dark Mistress said...

your all just jealous that true artistry invovles pain and suffering. emo isn't a lifestyle or marketing ploy its a way of life. you're just bitter because your all old and haven't accepted that your part of the culture that cause suffering. None of you know my pain. i listen to alot of emo bands because they make me feel like i'm real inside...they understand where i'm coming from as a person. i want to love life i want to feel beautiful i want to not have people look at me. that's my life.

Megan said...

Dark Mistress:

Hmm...jealous? Honey, age has nothing to do with it. I'm 19, turning 20 in a few months. J-Dogg here is 27, my girl Lupe is 22, etc. I'm sure most people posting here are in their 20s or 30s. Ummm...how can you want to feel beautiful and NOT want people to look at you? I'm confused. Seek out a good therapist. It'll help.


XOXOXOXO
Megan

PS - True artistry? I'm a fucking artist! I have my insecurities, but, Jeeezus! I don't want pain and suffering. I've experienced it, but I don't want to experience it anymore!

Therapy. Its a good thing :-)

Dark Mistress said...

you don't know what fucking shit my life is! my bf cheated on me i hate miami and my parents control everything ido - they wouldn't even let me to go to NY this summer with my friends. the world is fake ful of fake people, especially here at miami. this blog pisses me off. fuck you "Jasobo Fett!" i read your review of star wars and you got it all wrong. and fuck you megan whatever youre problably some miss trendy bitch sorority girl with no self esteem.

love life!

KFigment said...

Dark Mistress:

You post a comment expect to have it torn apart.

You state that "we are jealous that true artistry involves pain and suffering" No shit honey but pain and suffering is not some group of overmedicated whiny rich bitch brats complaining about how awful it is to be on mommy and daddys tab and boo hoo I didn't get what I wanted. True art is the blisters on a dancers feet from toe shoes or an artists hands from molding clay. The ache in your back from laying there painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with such detail that it is still admired.

Then you go on to say that emo isn't a lifestyle or a marketing ploy. I say bullshit. Everything single thing that you buy in a store is a marketing ploy. Unless you make it someone else always has creative control. You can dress it up however you want to but look back. The eighties. YOu think all the girls had big hair and wore jean skirts because they were comfortable or easy no it was because they were trying to be madonna. Or bellbottoms you really think that people wanted to wear pants you needed to zip with a pair of pliers. Look at grunge, punk, hard core rock there was always someone in a little room trying to figure out how to sell it to people just like you.

You say that we are bitter and old because we haven't accepted that part of our culture that causes suffering. What do you know about suffering. Talk to your grandparents about what it was like to have someone that they loved killed thousands of miles away. Or ask your parents about vietnam. Talk to someone who has been beaten all their life or raped or molested then talk about suffering.

Then you go on to say that none of us know your pain and they make you feel real. Honey look in a mirror. You are real. You are just a spoiled little rich girl who doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up and you are scared.

Never fuck with people smarter than you honey you will always come up short. And from the sound of it there isn't a pair of heels high enough!

Figment

Miss Trendy Bitch Sorority Girl said...

Thank you, KFigment, for setting this chump striaght...save me the trouble of having to open a can of cyber-whoop-ass :)

Dark Mistress, yes, I was in a sorority at one time, and then I left. My best friend is a sorority girl.

I'm sorry you hate miami; you could always transfer to a better school. But you probably don't have the guts. My ex-bf was one of Miami's finest - sheltered, dumb as a doornail in terms of street knowledge, and a player to the bone. While you're sitting on your sorry ass out in oxford, probably wearing some trendy looking black glasses with greasy-ass dye-black hair, the world is passing you by.

Mommie and Daddie won't let you go to NYC? Awww...cry me a fucking river. You're an adult. Grow the fuck up and behave like one. Wanna go to the City? Hop a fucking bus and do it! Or are you chicken-shit, like every other emo kid? Scared you might have to -Oh No! - sit on a bus next to dirty poor people?

This emo shit is pretty fucking lame. It is a marketing scam to hook little kids into codependecy and self-loathing. Seriously,if your life is that bad, get some therapy. Or kill yourself. Just quit wasting valuable bandwidth with your shit.

You don't know me or my life, either girl.

Megan, Vegas