Charlie Robin Jones on how exciting this year could be if we let it.
A few people have asked why Dummy never did anything to mark the passing of the 00s. The answer, aside from the feeling that a ten-month-old website summing up a decade would have been a little hubristic, is that nothing could bore us more than picking over the past. It’s the decade ahead we want to think about.
Of course, a new year is an arbitrary passing. Pop music honours no calendar – the 80s ended 19 months early when Shoom opened in April 88, for example. And no music hack can divine more than a few weeks ahead. From here the first months of 2010 look smashing, but I have no idea what the rest of the year will sound like, let alone the decade. Off the top of my head, Darkstar, Pictureplane, Joy Orbison, Tanlines, Monarchy, Ikonika, Kindness and the LHF Collective will release some amazing music. The albums of Yeasayer, Pantha du Prince and Vampire Weekend are wonderful. The albums of Four Tet, Hot Chip and LCD Soundsystem will more than likely be wonderful too. With a bit of luck, Cassie and Christina Milian will finally release the blinding albums they’ve been promising. What else? DIY Dalston will hopefully get its shit together and produce an amazing album, British club music will continue to be the most thrilling in the world and, of course, Brooklyn will continue to churn out weird but perfectly formed rock music. Soul may return. Rap probably won’t, despite the best efforts of Drake, Giggs and Theophilus London. But it’s when we stop playing racing tipsters and start looking for the newest and weirdest stuff that we’ll really get our heads blown. All we can say with absolute certainly about the music of the next decade is that it will sound absolutely, indescribably wild. On a few laptops and still fewer myspace pages are already the strangest, newest sounds in the world. Finding it is going to be fun, hearing it even more so.
We find it fun because we’re a new music website. Sure, we know where what we hear comes from, but, mostly, we want to hear what’s next. We want to hear what’s next because we hold true the rather quaint, Modernist notion that music has an obligation to look forward because it should reflect the world and itself rather than its past. We also hold true to the equally quaint, Smash Hits-ist notion that pop music is about excitement and nothing sounds as exciting as what sounds new. Without lumpenly tying this rant to the bleaker-than-ever outside world, nothing I read in the Guardian tells me we should be hid away in sleepy nostalgia. I don’t wish for a second for the return of Red Wedge, but the time is right, I feel, for music of engagement rather than music of retreat.
Now, the mediocre will say that nothing truly new can be made. But when they say this, they are forgetting their duty, as musicians, artists and humans, to re-make our shared reality, and make it wonderful. To herald in the new, you have to say goodbye to the old. The most interesting point of Simon Reynolds’ recent, much circulated piece on the death of hip hop as a creative force was the least mentioned – that, for the sake of hip hop, hip hop needs to die. Reynolds did not go far enough – a style does not have to be drained before it should be ignored. This decade demands the abolition of rock, pop and dance and anything else that sounds like anything else!
OK, OK, kidding, kidding. We all know most of the best records of the next ten years will probably be just as in thrall to the past as ever. After all, the best music is neither new or old, it’s timeless – I’ll be dead and buried before ‘The Freewheelin’…’ stops breaking my heart, ditto ‘Album’. Forward-thinking musicians, as a rule, are only too willing to acknowledge their debts and sternly Modern music generally ends up sounding dull. But vanities still need bonfires and this decade will be wonderful, as long as we let it be. The world can change, we’ve just got to listen out for it. It’s a new decade, and that means it’s a good a time as any to start making, buying and thinking about new music. I’m really, really excited.
Charlie edits this website.