The End of the Music Blog?

This week, along with “5”, Glorious Noise also celebrated its 10th anniversary…and announced it was going on hiatus. GloNowhich once carried my byline on a Raconteurs album reviewis our favorite music blog. A misnomer perhaps, since, truth be told, it’s the only music blog we read on a regular basis. Yeah, we take the occasional peek at EarFarm, Spinner, Stereogum, and the dreaded Pitchfork, of course, to take the pulse of the hipsterati, but GloNo was a daily pit stop and frequent source of both fun (all the spirited exchanges with fellow, knowledgeable music geeks) and irritation (exemplified by the unchecked hyperbole in calling The White Stripes “The Last Great Band” when announcing the duo’s dissolution) that we will miss.

In his quasi eulogy for GloNo, contributor Todd Totale bemoans on his own blog, Glam-Racket, how the music blogosphere is quickly becoming a place for those who want a quick fix and no longer the province of music geeks and their opinions. And how that culture may have led to GloNo’s hiatus.

[W]e are living among a younger generation of interweb controllers. Those who couldn’t be bored with the endless parade of no-it-alls who talk about music. ‘Just put up a link, for christsakes, and let me judge for myself.’ They’re immune to the clutter. They view the internet as something they must tame upon each login. To get to the goal is their task—like an endless version of Super Mario Brothers, they click, close and minimize until they get the advance of the new Decemberists album.”

Totale’s post got us thinking about a topic that’s been very much on our minds lately.

It used to be that once you reached a certain age whatever current popular music was of the time didn't make sense to you, and you moved on and/or found solace in the music of your own youth. And that, was that.

But a funny thing—which, if we're not mistaken, has been referred to as "the acceleration of the culture"—happened along the way to the 21st century: much of the music of our youth has become timeless (or just plain ubiquitous, take your pick), sometimes regardless of musical merit, simply by being embraced by those who, in many cases weren't even born when these tunes were originally released. For example, it would seem that Abbey Road was more of a cool relic to a 15 yr old in 1989 than, say, Nevermind is to a 15 yr old today. In other words, the latter album could be more of an everyday record to the current teenager, than to his 1989 counterpart vis-a-vis Abbey Road. We're not suggesting that Nevermind is what today's teenagers are listening to, but trying to illustrate a point: that it seems less foreign to them. In other words, it's not that strange to encounter the possibility of a teenager and his 60 yr old grandpa both having Led Zeppelin on their respective iPods, right? Yet, what were the chances of us Gen-Xers and our gramps having overlapping albums in our record collections 20-25 years ago? Slim, at best.

Which leads us to the following: those of us past the age of 35 still feel we have the right to opine on pop music as if we're still part of the conversation/experience. Why? Because we're immersed in a culture that puts a premium on youth, that tells us we don't need to curtail our extended adolescence or stop wearing Chuck Taylors as we hit the big-40. (60 is the new 40, haven't you heard?) And so, we oblige.

But soon enough we start comparing current music—and movies, etc—to that of our youth and feel the new thing just doesn't live up to the level of our old standard bearers. But instead of stepping aside, like every previous generation did, we step forward. Which is when the offended young'uns casually and cruelly remind us that—at least as the pop music game is concerned—we are in fact, old. And quite possibly irrelevant, as well.

Are they right? I conveniently don't have the answer to that question, but their finger-pointing does lead to the obvious: it's not music made for us and we shouldn't care. But accepting that would render us out of touch. Or worse: our parents. Good grief! heh, heh

Like the music biz itself, everything in its periphery is in a transitional phase and music blogs are not immune to the changing tide. Which means they are, in addition to the lack of interest in actual content, suffering from the same glut of competition and over-saturation—regardless of quality—as are music artists posting on the web; all victims of the absence of gatekeepers. Anyone can post anything at any time. Hey, go ahead, do your thing. But who weeds out the wheat from the chaff?

To quote Mr. Rose, where do we go now? Where do we go?