Music fans like myself often find themselves in precarious conversations, specifically when it comes to discussing genre. Music, like all other art forms, is subjective, therefore leaving room for discussion. Sadly, in this day and age, discussion and argumentation are often confused with each other. Even me, with all my charms and wit, am subject to tout my opinion as fact. I am quick to scoff at the type of crowd that deems Fall Out Boy as their favorite punk band, but really who am I to judge. As I stated previously, music is entirely subjective, leaving an insane amount of questions about genre.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard [insert musical genre] is dead, I’d have a fair amount of dollars. But when is a genre truly dead? After it stops getting radio play? After it’s tentpole artists cease to be critically successful? All these questions and more run through my head in an endless loop, leaving me clammy, unfocused and utterly sleep deprived. I personally find it hard to believe a genre can just up and “die”. It can certainly dilute in quality over time, but again, that comes down to opinion. The mere phrase “Pop-punk,” throws me into a primal rage, but what makes that off shoot of punk less legitimate than the core genre itself? In the specific circumstance of punk, many would point to the philosophy of the genre as a tenant for any future artists, but again, countless musical historians have argued over the philosophy of punk until they turn blue in the face. Countless arguments have broken out over when punk truly started. These arguments are interesting as well as entertaining, but I think that many tend to go overboard in their arguments while missing the point entirely.
Recently I was traversing the tangled and desolate web of malice known to many as youtube, listening to an obscure metal band. I then made the fatal mistake of scrolling ever so slightly to the comments. What I saw there was slightly disconcerting. A number of furious commenters arguing as if their life depended on it on which different subgenre of metal it was. Some cried that it was doom metal while others screamed that it was stoner metal. I sat there dumbfounded, staring at my monitor as if understanding would somehow surface by waiting. I think this is characteristic of a large numbers of music fans missing the point. To me, I could care less which specific combination of seven different genres your favorite obscure band is, I only care if the music is a satisfying listening experience. While understanding what genre an artist falls into helps us discover their influences and artists similar to them, I think many take it too far while missing the point. If we try our hardest to categorize and file our favorite music into concrete genres, are we not becoming the very thing we try to avoid? Art is fluid, and the moment we put too much emphasis on the logistics rather than the expression, we have become the enemy. We become the ever dreaded, ill defined and utterly horrifying. We become, The Man!