I went to see Stevie Wonder in Hyde Park last summer with my mum (yes, it was the best thing ever). Not only did the marvelous music mogul’s four-hour set leave me uplifted, inspired and awed, but it left me asking myself: how is this fair?
How is it fair that my parents grew up with Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Queen, Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Elvis Costello, Madonna, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan? And that we got…Adele?
I don’t want to be a traitor to my generation and all, but 95 per cent of the popular music that I hear nowadays – I’m talking gym soundtrack, ‘club classic’ stuff – gives me ear fatigue (it’s a thing. I googled it). The din that comes out of speakers in most shops and nightclubs often sounds like corn syrup pop and industrial, misogyny-infused hip hop are having a battle to see who can drive me away the quickest. What happened to the classics?
Muse, I hear you say. Arctic Monkeys. Beyoncé. All great musicians in their own right, I know, and perhaps the next generation will look back on this era and feel the same way I do about my parents’ time – but it seems that for every potential legend of our generation, there were half a dozen more in theirs. And to be honest, to try to put Arctic Monkeys and Queen in the same league is clutching at straws.
I don’t mean to insult those who like this modern-day music, or to suggest that the aforementioned legends of past decades are flawless (except for Stevie Wonder. He’s flawless). But I feel disappointed that we millennials don’t seem to have even close to the amount or calibre of fine, timeless musicians as the previous generation. I can’t imagine that Ariana Grande has a vault of studio-recorded, unreleased material so plentiful that she could release an album every year for the next one hundred years (as Prince purportedly does).
But I may be naïve – after all, I’ve spent a much larger percentage of my lifetime listening to original cast recordings than contemporary popular albums. If I am, someone, please, prove me wrong.