“It’s not the first time/ And you know it/ Don't you now?”
So, paradigm shifts. A generation whose formative experiences are so different in context and content that their basically held beliefs depart from the preceding generation’s in a crucial (and often unexpected) way, directly altering the norms of the system they inherit.
Or, why kids who bopped to Britney are now teens ‘n’ twentysomethings devouring the Kelly, long after their ‘legitimate’ pop consumption and natural fallout-emo-indie identity shift would predict.
A: Max Martin.
Because occasionally we get a Pied Piper, weaving production and writing skills in such a way as to heave the boundaries of the pop sound back another frontier. And then come the shockwaves, not so much a copy-paste bandwagon as a personal quest to brand the aural landscape; to dig that flag into the dusty ground and proclaim ownership of something we’re more used to being anonymous, transient.
‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’ through ‘I Want It That Way’; ‘Tearing Up My Heart’ through ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’; ‘Show Me Love’; ‘Baby (One More Time)’ through ‘Stronger’.
You may not have liked it, but you knew it. Same sound, everywhere. Pop values reshaped. Bar raised. And, most importantly, the taste for precision production was carved into the kids’ consciousness. A thirst for that verse/bridge/chorus/verse/chorus repeat blueprint of world domination. A chorus that mattered
- for dancing and drowning and jubilant cries, not an excuse for some ego-trip guitar solo auto-eroticism. “This is not a mistake/ It’s the dawn of a new day.”
So considering everything that came before, it’s no surprise we’re back with our old dealer, Mr Martin, begging for the good stuff. Only this time there’s a twist.
Riffs and drums and leap of intensity. A sound that gleefully dances on the razorblade edge of the shock!horror credible
borderline because the acts may be styled former TV-stars with dubious 00’s pop credentials; they may not have written or played or toured the underbelly but what does that count for anymore when the indie kid spends an hour crafting his side-swipe hair and the emo boyz loose sleep over the statement of their goddamn trucker hats?
When you’ve got the bloody valentines failing to craft a compelling spectacle with their MySpace journal self-destruction, and people calling for a panic in their discos over a little overindulgent eyeliner application, isn’t there something to be said for the old-school? When beats were pumping on the stereo in the studio
, because they’ve got the perfectionist vision to re-record and program until it’s this crisp and frenetic? Where a riff has something to prove, because if it doesn’t ignite your blood then they’ll just toss it for a different sample?
‘Since U Been Gone’ through ‘I Just Want U to Know’ through ‘4Eva’: the new paradigm demands more from the angst-pop-rock that cluttered the airways. We want it new and improved! Shiny! Irresistible! So now we have Ashley (with only his ruffled blonde fringe and the disquieting perfection of chord structures keeping this song away from fall-out-emo status). The surge, the fall, the relentless enthusiasm that whirls you into drama. And Marion, stealing Kelly’s beats but raising her Robyn’s cello use, until we get anger vibrating with clarity; those bridge notes a shiver-still moment of haunting poignancy.
This, my friends, is pop evolving another blissful level. Darwinism on your airwaves.