and murdering techno and house on the dance floor, writes Una Mullally
has taken its place.
The most popular, energetic and arguably coolest club night in Dublin, if not the country, is WAR, which started two years ago at Spy on South William Street in Dublin before moving around the corner to Andrews Lane Theatre last year. It’s a polysexual young hipster sweatbath, laden with the latest haircuts and fashions. If it were in any other city in Europe, you’d expect forwardthinking beats to be booming from the sound system. But WAR is a pop night. Gaga, Britney and ironically played 1990s dance hits create the soundtrack for the night. Its formula – hundreds of pretty people wrecking the gaff daubed in face paint and lit up by photographers clutching their Canons over their heads – has been replicated around the city. These kids don’t get dance music. The clubs their peers are going to in London and Paris and Berlin are weird. They just want to dance to music they know. It’s remarkable: the trendiest places are playing the most mainstream sounds.
There’s also an overriding environmental factor that is making pop music popular in clubs. People want fun. All day, everyday, we’re bombarded with depressing economic messages, and come the weekend what’s mainly on the minds of those who are heading out is to get trashed. Pop music is the soundtrack to this. It’s fun, it’s frivolous, it’s the opposite to what many people are dealing with in their day-to-day lives. artists have already trended on Twitter. In the same way that status updates, tweets and live blogging have redefined breaking news, the internet has determined that everything is known almost as soon as it happens. Discovery and assimilation into the mainstream are beginning to happen almost simultaneously. The viral is becoming a virus.
It’s this internet-fuelled velocity that has squeezed attention spans into a mould that’s perfect for the consumption of pop music. Pop is a quick hit, a sugar rush that’s as disposable as it is easy to consume.
Much of the attraction of dance music was about things outside of the sounds themselves: searching for a record, waiting in line for a club, meeting people, parties, the drugs that went hand in hand with house and techno. Trawling record shops has been replaced with trawling YouTube.
Kids don’t seem to have the time or desire to listen to a seven-minute track and see if they like it. There’s a giddy yearning for instantaneousness. If it catches the ear after 20 seconds, the job is done. And pop music is the genre most friendly to that. Pop wouldn’t be consuming everything if the content and the people making it weren’t flourishing. The artists getting the most attention and crossing out of their spheres into all kinds of media are all pop ones: Lily Allen, La Roux, Florence & The Machine, Nicki Minaj, Marina and the Diamonds, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Rihanna.
They are predominantly female. While male solo artists continue to make MOR tracks, it’s the women in pop who are pushing things forward the most, and in turn flooding the charts. Icons are rising again, and where pop music once lacked respected critical forums for its discussion, outlets such as Pop Justice allow for the intelligent discussion of a genre previously dismissed as dumb. When Girls Aloud started churning out brilliant tracks by the British songwriting and production team Xenomania, it became okay to like pop music, principally because it was so good.
It’s perhaps a little disingenuous to say that the Lady Gaga quote in the opening paragraph is meaningless. There is a hint of insight. Gaga lives quite honestly for the lie. And the lie is what pop music is all about right now. The value of authenticity, like privacy, is an alien concept to a new generation. Keeping it real used to be everyone’s raison d’être, now faking it is held in much higher esteem. The pop monster – to use Gaga’s vocabulary – will continue to devour much of the music consumer’s life, from clubs to festival line-ups to genres themselves. But we’re living in a golden age of pop, so maybe we should just dance.