Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Thursday, 10 November 2011

GENRE: Resources, Key points, + Indie Hindi...

We've been exploring genre this week, and some key points should be evident:
  • its a deceptively simple concept
  • every genre is in a state of constant flux; one new act/band/vid can lead to major changes
  • 'pop' itself is the most extreme case, constantly taking on features of new musical forms depending on what sells at any given time (examples have been disco, New Romantics, rave/techno - all asociated with specific time periods)
  • geography can also be a defining feature: Florida for death metal, San Fransisco's Bay Area for thrash metal, Scandanavi (espec Norway) for black metal, Seattle for grunge; some genres are named after the area the bands come from: Delta blues, Madchester, Merseybeat; many others after key record labels which become associated with particular types of music, eg Blue Note
  • every genre itself builds on and utilises aspects of existing genres
  • some genres support distinct youth (tho' perhaps also increasingly 34+?) subcultures, and can be at the centre of moral panics (read this article on the FBI declaring 'Juggalos', fans of Insane Clown Posse, a criminal gang + info on how the always balanced + enlightened Daily Mail linked My Chemical Romance to a teen's suicide), dating back to the 50s Mods + Rockers (see Quadrophenia, or the just remade Brighton Rock)
  • genre definitions have traditionally been controlled by retailers and mass media (the Billboard magazine, which compiles the USA's most recognised charts, is responsible for many such as Rhythm and Blues - which they had called negro music originally), but digital media is arguable democratising this...
  • ...though perhaps this democratisation is undermining the function and usefulness of genre as ever more micro-genres receive labels from blogs, e-zines and the twitterati? Surely genres still require signifiacnt retail and mass media usage to become widely accepted?
  • postmodernists don't accept such stratifications as genre, although postmodern videos such as Depeche Mode's No Good deconstruct the format and genre in a thoroughly postmodern manner
Use the links list, lesson notes, Q1b handout (espec for theories), additional blog posts on genre, and various books/journals in F6/Lib

The following is just one of these - fantastic for the detail on the role retailers AND online databases play; THERE IS A FAIRLY OFFICIAL GENRE-NAMING BODY AFTER ALL...

Music's New Mating Ritual

As genres are fused, cryptically named hybrids emerge; the story behind 'gypsy punk'

more in Media & Marketing »
Indie Hindi, socaton, skurban. You may feel like you need a dictionary the next time you go shopping for music.
The music world is getting thick with hybrids, or cryptically named blends of established styles. Indie Hindi, for example, is traditional Indian vocals tinged with edgy American-style rock. Socaton is dance music that has elements of rap, calypso and reggae. The number of genres is up more than 40% over the past four years, by one measure -- Gracenote, which maintains the music-classification system used by major sites like Yahoo and iTunes, now recognizes more than 1,800 genres. It recently added "hyphy," a jittery form of hip-hop from the San Francisco area.
Defying standard genres has traditionally been a risky move for bands in part because it's difficult for retailers to figure out where to place them on the shelves. But increasingly, fans are finding music in less conventional ways -- like perusing strangers' online playlists, or following a trail of links on MySpace -- paving the way for bands to define themselves in more exotic ways. Bands are also keenly aware of the recent commercial success of blended genres like reggaeton, a Jamaican-Latin-rap mix, and popera, radio-friendly songs done with operatic vocals.
[Fusic image]
Even some genres that don't hit commercial high notes are finding followings. Take "nerdcore hip-hop," rap music that revolves around geeky subjects like videogames and J.R.R. Tolkien books. The father of the movement, Damian Hess, performs often around the country and says he makes a comfortable living selling his albums and merchandise. But nerdcore hasn't registered with mainstream listeners. Fans of the genre have fallen short in a petition drive to get MySpace to add nerdcore to its list of 127 genres.
Mr. Hess, who goes by "MC Frontalot," is hardly discouraged. "Top of the esoteric fringe is really the ideal place," says Mr. Hess, who sports a short-sleeve shirt and necktie on stage. (See Mr. Hess's Web site.)
Jazz singer Jacqui Naylor decided to try something different after getting one too many requests for "My Funny Valentine" during a tour of Japan in 2001. Her arranger and piano player Art Khu came to her with a translation of AC/DC's hard-rock anthem "Back in Black" as an instrumental vamp. Into that, Ms. Naylor wove the familiar melody to "My Funny Valentine."
The process, which Ms. Naylor calls "acoustic smashing," marked a turning point in her career. Her first two albums of straight-ahead jazz didn't get much notice outside jazz circles. But her most recent albums, including "The Color Five," have gotten play on some rock stations. Her next album: "Smashed for the Holidays," which includes a fusion of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama."
This is, of course, not the first time musicians have blended styles to create genres (that's how rock 'n' roll came about), but the number of sub-niches has been growing at a remarkable clip. It's being fueled by the migration of music online and a "mashup" culture that has spawned everything from spoof movie trailers to fan-made music videos. At dance clubs this summer, DJs are spinning "baile funk," a dance-rock fusion from Brazil. Recently at No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart was the crossover hit "Party Like a Rockstar," a rap-mashed-with-distorted-guitar number by the "hood rock" group Shop Boyz.
Anoushka Shankar
[Anoushka Shankar]
A new album from this sitar player and DJ Karsh Kale has Indian and electronic influences, a blend called "desi dance."
Jacqui Naylor
[Jacqui Naylor]
In her "acoustic smashes," Ms. Naylor sings the melody of jazz standards over well-known rock instrumentals.
Bonde do Role
[Bonde do Role]
This trio mixes "baile funk" from its native Brazil with punk riffs and electronic samples. The group starts a U.S. tour next month.
Meanwhile, Falguni Shah, a classically trained Indian vocalist who records under the name Falu, uses the term "indie Hindi" to describe her New York band's sound. (Her producer coined the term.)
While everyone from the bands to bloggers to fans come up with the names for new genres, ultimately it falls to music-cataloging companies like Gracenote and All Media Guide to decide whether to acknowledge them for posterity.
Gracenote, in Emeryville, Calif., supplies the information that pops up when you put a CD in the computer, like the title, artist and genre.
About 40 music analysts, including some working in Japan, Russia and other countries, use an internal Web site to nominate genres. They make their case by citing important bands and media mentions. A small group of editors makes the final call. Not all the genres are new -- among some 30 currently on the table are several subcategories of folk music, including "prison songs" and "hokum," a blues style marked by comedic patter.
While the editors agreed to add "hyphy," the San Francisco rap sound, "snap music," which has inspired dance crazes in the South, was deemed a passing fad. Meanwhile, some newer music-recommendation services like Pandora and iLike are moving in the other direction and doing away with genre labels altogether.
Marketers smell an opportunity in the proliferation of genres. Klee Irwin, a Los Angeles-based entrepreneur whose main business is selling vitamins via infomercials he hosts, has launched a group of rapping skateboarders called Board Bangers. His idea draws on the growing number of black skaters, a culture merge referred to as "skurban." His hope is to sell Board Bangers music and merchandise to suburban white kids. (See Board Bangers' Web site.)
Mr. Irwin says he spent $150,000 building a recording studio, and more than $1 million on 19 music videos to promote the group's debut, including an upcoming album release. He had to audition over a hundred teenagers to find his crew. "Every time we found cool, aggressive street skaters, they couldn't rap very well," he says.
Write to John Jurgensen at

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