Recently on these pages it was suggested that if indeed stylistic distinctions between pop music and everything else are becoming less meaningful, then NewMusicBox ought to just throw in the towel and broker a Rolling Stone buyout. Hmm. What if, by some miraculous twist of fate, modern composition actually went mainstream? We’re talking chart-topping record sales, airplay, videos on MTV, viral YouTube spoofs, composers in rehab, the whole nine yards. What would we musical outcasts do? Create a new incarnation of unpopular music to fetishize?
Personally, I’m a true believer in the notion that stylistic distinctions are becoming less pervasive in the minds of music creators—and yes, it’s a good thing. I think I’m a more well-rounded person and maybe a better musical citizen given the fact that my iPod has a huge selection of contemporary and classical music wedged alongside pop crooners such as Joanna Newsome, Peaches, Goldfrapp, Lil Mama, Deerhoof, M.I.A., Caribou, even Alex & A.J.—to name only a few. Music can be exciting in so many different ways, and I’m happy to have 80 gigs in my portable kitchen sink available anytime I’m ready to indulge.
Despite a widespread belief in the classical music world, pop music isn’t unintelligent. Sure, some pop is dumb, some is self-aware and ironically dumb—just like contemporary classical music. Music can be many things to many people, a placebo to set the mood or something to absorb more cerebrally. No matter how we choose to listen, it doesn’t make sense to shut something out because it does or doesn’t resonate with the zeitgeist—which, in fact, is always changing. But the fact remains that our musical evolution seems to move at a glacial pace, so I’m not expecting to see a platinum selling Milton Babbitt album anytime soon. But on the other hand, music consumers aren’t so complacent or ignorant as to never make that happen—and who knows, that might be Jann Wenner phoning in a bid for the Box right now.