Sunday, January 13, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: What's in a Name?

Let’s talk about Genre

I love music, this should be obvious to anyone that has been friends with me on Facebook. I have my own song-a-day page, I’m blogging a list of the 100 albums that make me love music, I throw charity concerts, etc. I love music so much that Genre’s begin to blend together. This has been made extra clear to me on one of my favorite subreddits /r/poppunkers

I feel like Genre is a tough thing to specifically pin-down. As genre’s evolve they expand; suddenly people are part of the genre by association. The most controversial (and most downvoted) posts on the subreddit involved two artists: “Weird Al” Yankovic and Weezer.

The “Weird Al” fiasco happened over the summer. I decided to post his parody of “American Idiot” titled “Canadian Idiot”. It’s a fun little parody, far from his best but let’s face it “Weird Al’s” style of anarchy laced parodies and originals is punk attitude in a comedic New Wave package. Surely I thought, this parody of Green Day’s explosive hit would go over huge. How wrong I was.

“Weird Al’s Not Pop Punk” was the overwhelming reply. While I agree with the statement that doesn’t necessarily mean that his parody of a pop punk song isn’t. It’s not like he changed the music and turned it into a polka. The song sounds exactly like the original track (which is accepted as pop punk).

The next offense I made was posting something off Weezer’s Blue Album which someone stated wasn’t pop punk but Alternative Rock. I again don’t disagree.

Here’s the issue I have with genre. Music is like a Venn Diagram to me (specifically rock music). Everything stems from various overlapping influences. Pop Punk almost falls into a category even more difficult to properly pin down; I mean by name alone it’s a combination of two of the most disputed genres.

What constitutes a pop song? Pop is short for Popular music, which originated from 1950’s rock and roll. By definition Pop music can pretty much be anything N*Sync, Michael Jackson, Drake,  Bobby Vinton, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Costello and Katy Perry have all been labelled pop artists in one form or another. It’s ridiculous that a label can cover so much ground.

Then we look at Punk. I mean how many stupid conversations have stemmed from just the argument of who the first punk band was. I mean the typical debate is The Ramones vs. Sex Pistols (A Stupid Argument because if you acknowledge The Ramones as a punk band at all than they have the Sex Pistols origins beat by 3 or 4 years... argument over) but then elements of attitude come up. What about The Stooges or The New York Dolls or The Velvet Underground? I even made the argument that if you define The Ramones as the first official punk band you have to include 90% of the musicians from the 50’s as punk rockers. I mean if anything that’s what The Ramones entire career was; writing (and occasionally covering) faster versions of rock songs from the 50’s.

So what should be constituted as Pop Punk? To put it simply. If you identify yourself as a fan of pop punk; then everything you like could be part of that fan experience. I’m sure you’re going “that’s retarded” but let’s think for a second about some of the “Pop Punk” music festivals out there. Things like Warped Tour and Bamboozle are made up for mostly pop punk bands; but then you have artists with varying pop punk influence that perform. There’s been rap groups like Jurassic 5, Atmosphere, Black Eyed Peas and mc chris. Bands like Weezer and Bon Jovi have headlined festivals plus countless ska, swing and rockabilly grounds and even 50’s Surf Guitarist Dick Dale or 2 different tours. 

I guess the point of this little essay can be summed up into two simple things:
  1. We need to stop being so defensive of title. If you like it, you like it, if you don’t like it you don’t. But to simply dislike something because it’s not to your exact specifications of the genre seems silly. Weezer may not be a pop punk band but they are a major influence to some of the bands that are and even wrote what many consider the original emo record. There’s more to a genre than the non-existing guidelines that you created.
  2. I don’t understand genre and this is just a whiny complaint about reddit downvotes
Talk to you next week!

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