The changing sound of the underground in the Noughties

Came across this article posted on the Guardian and thought I should share. I also really love the term “Noughties” for the first decade of the new millenium.

Simon Reynolds’s Notes on the noughties: The changing sound of the underground

 In this decade of webbed connectivity and media supersaturation, the divide between underground and overground has steadily dissolved

Recently I went to my local magazine store only to find the music section, which is dense with titles but rather cramped, completely occupied by emo fans. The teenage threesome were flicking through mags, mocking particular bands (like Paramore) and pointing out others they thought were cool, while playing tunes to each other off portable players (sharing earbuds, a sweet if insanitary habit). Waiting for them to finish, I overheard their conversation, including some playful joshing about who had heard a hot new band’s big song first. The banter went something like: “I heard it on MySpace”, “Nah, you heard it on a commercial”, “Nah, you heard it on Disney.”

What struck me about this exchange was the sense of a hierarchy in terms of the medium via which you discovered music. MySpace was cooler than a TV ad, but a commercial seemed to be superior to RadioDisney (presumably because it equates with Miley Cyrus-style teen pop). What I took away from this accidental field research is the impression that for many young people the idea of “alternative” – music that bypasses the commercial and corporate, that fans engage with in an active way that transcends consumerism – still has a strong romantic appeal. Yet MySpace’s parent company, Fox Interactive Media, is owned by News Corporation, the world’s second biggest media conglomerate (behind only Disney, actually) and third largest entertainment conglomerate. Strictly speaking, finding out about a group through MySpace ought to be no more “underground” than hearing a song on Clear Channel or buying a CD made by a Big Four music corporation like Universal.

In the noughties, the idea of “the underground” in music seemed simultaneously to wither and to flourish. This paradox – the underground as an eroded/outmoded concept yet a strangely persistent and relevant practice – has something to do with the peculiar properties of the medium through which music culture increasingly organised itself as the decade progressed: the web.  [Read the full article here]

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One response to “The changing sound of the underground in the Noughties

  1. I prefer using “The Ooze” for the OOs, sounds more dirty… and more appropriate for what the first 1/2 of the decade brought me.

    As for “indie” music, he does have a big point. A lot of indie acts are now mainstream (Canadian examples include Feist, BSS, Arcade Fire). Those folks try to cling to their indie-cred, but as we Canadians tend to do, we build up our acts and toss them out until they find success in the US.

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