Is anyone else perturbed by the harmless, cutesy and guaranteed-to-offend-nobody tone of the current pop charts? We’ve got a band called Fun. Oh, pardon me, no capital letters. Because that might frighten somebody. We’ve got bands called the Mowgli’s, the Neighbourhood… Very soothing, reassuring. Don’t ask me why I remember this, but the lead singer of a very forgettable band called SafetySuit once said in an interview that the goal of their music was to “make people feel safe.” And there’s actually a hit song (and not a bad one) called “Safe and Sound,” by Capital Cities.
I get it, I get it – life today is much more chaotic and dangerous than at any point in my memory. We send our kids to school, unsure if we’ll ever see them again. We send them to college, and there are precious few jobs waiting for them that don’t involve dark green apron strings. We go to work in the morning, uncertain if we’ll be able to make it out of the tower next time.
And God bless the Lumineers for bringing back rustic simplicity – along with storytelling, and vocals that don’t sound like a man fixing to hork up one of his own testicles. Ditto Mumford and Sons. Loved the American Gothic moralizing, no shit (“come out of your cave walking on your hands…”).
But whether they know it or not, such groups sit at the crest of a marketing wave that has convinced our faux Salvation Army vest-wearing offspring that the Dust Bowl was one big hootenanny – hobos making s’mores by a campfire, singing Woody Guthrie, and texting their hobo pals. When really, people were dying from lungs full of the barren earth that could no longer feed them.
Where’s the music about taking risks, transcending your humble origins? And not by busting a cap, otherwise fucking somebody over, or getting fleetingly shit-faced?
I’m talking “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run.”
“Even the losers get lucky sometime.”
“If the boys wanna fight, you better let ’em.”
Hell, I’d even settle for “two tickets to paradise.”
If you recognize all these references, you’re probably ready for your boner pill, followed by an afternoon of antiquing on your Rascal scooter. That’s kind of the point. We’ve given our kids plenty to rebel against, but not the stones to do it.