Digital Double-Edge

Daniel Cook, Columnist

Since the inception of Napster, the world knew that the digital age would revolutionize music. I don’t mean electronic music –that’s a whole other animal, I’m talking about the distribution. Metallica fought it, Prince still does, but iTunes and it’s ilk are far and beyond the preferred means of music distribution, with record stores becoming more and more of a distant memory. This system is a godsend for pop music, releasing singles couldn’t be easier, which is the heart and soul of pop music. This isn’t to say acts like the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson didn’t assemble some phenomenal albums, but pop music is all about mass appeal, and the populace isn’t really keen on concept albums anymore. The heyday of Pink Floyd and the Who is over with. Now music is extremely subjective– as is this article, but I would say that pop music is at it’s zenith right now . I will take Katy Perry,Lady Gaga, and Bruno Mars over the boy bands* shudder* of the 90’s anyday. Pop is huge, it has all but consumed Country and Rap, the two genres eager to accept the ease of releasing digital singles. The digital age has brought us true singles, while in the past no one went to the store just to buy one song, you had to package in some remixes and B-sides to get people to bite. But what has this done to my precious Rock n’ Roll? It’s been relegated to the underground, a place where metal and hip hop have always and continue to flourish. When I turn on my local “rock” station and hear some anti-bullying anthem is climbing the charts (looking at you Shinedown) I’m almost brought to tears. Where’s the rebellion? The sex, drugs and rock n’ roll? Listen a little longer and you’ll find it… in the most literal, cliche, and terrible way possible. Bands like Nickelback have stooped so low to try and be rock that they literally just sing about sex and drugs, no clever metaphors, no substance, just “hey, were in a band and we totally do drugs and party”. No one takes you seriously Chad Kroeger,  at least not me. Your macho posturing lyrics about beating up some guy who grabbed your girls ass just make me laugh. A real rockstar wouldn’t take the time to write some whiny song about it, he’d go get ten more girls, including whichever one was unfortunate to be with your pathetic self, Chad. Guns and Roses are still more rock than any of the bands on rock radio today, even without Slash and a 300 lb. dreadlocked Axl Rose pumped full of enough botox to provide for an entire Hollywood block. This isn’t to say the digital age has been entirely unkind to rock music, programs like spotify, bandcamp, and even youtube provide a free or relatively cheap way for bands to get their music out. If you like a group enough, you can even fund their next project on kickstarter, and without the pressure to get on the airwaves (and the lack of desire to pit your musical integrity next to let’s say…. Five Finger Death Punch) artists are much more free to explore new soundscapes knowing that they’re going to be niche anyways. People like to think a certain era of music is intrinsically better than another, but that’s not the case, there’s always crappy music that has to be waded through to find the good. While the digital age has pushed a lot of crap to the forefront, it’s also made easier access to the good stuff floating around.