and mur­der­ing techno and house on the dance floor, writes Una Mul­lally

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

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.

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