I just spent last week with an up-and-coming, in danger of being a wannabe turning into a has-been ‘indie rock band,’ and something the bass player said really resonated about what we consider music. He said the lead singer, pushing his mid-forties, happily married to an heiress after struggling in sweat-drenched clubs and dive bars from coast to coast, had broken down Nirvana’s songs and they were basically classic ‘pop’ songs with a new face, a schizophrenic, dark and twisted face — ‘I will eat your cancer until it turns black’ and “Rape me” are hardly candidates for Neil Diamond covers.
Which all got me thinking about the notion of a pop song and the incarnations needed to make it in the world today. It needs to make you want to dance, or at least move your feet; if not that, then play air guitar, bass or drums. Then there is the sycophantic matter of pop lyrics, usually sniveling the loss of a two-timing bush, or a bad boy who breaks hearts, after charming your parents and eating all the turkey dinner, while hitting on your younger sister. The inspiration for Hole and L7, borrowed from the feminist papers of Gloria Steinam.
Pop songs basically cover three topics: love, lost love and dance, dance, dance til you drop. Then came along this genre of indie pop rock, an anomaly at best—because indie and pop seem to be contradictory and pop seems like the temporary supermodel phase of rock.
So it’s back to the lyrics, they have to save the day.