How vastly different we are in tastes and there were two scenes I recall where this came through strongly, one of them I wrote about years ago:
Scene was the ex-gf, my mate and I at my birthday party for three in Russia. I was into some groups or singers the ex-gf was also into and one I can’t remember or find now, her favourite – would probably be seen as screaming, postulating rock now. Wiki:
In Russian, the original meaning of word “рок” is “fate” or “doom”.
So, she’d brought some of her music with her, that which would give her ‘cred’, not for us but establishing that she was ‘above’ anything we were into, my mate had brought his Paul McCartney, really wicked, more on that further down.
I put on this song among others:
To many readers here who love their classical and jazz, I’d be the devil’s disciple for that offering, metalheads though would smile at the wholesome Higham and his pretty-pretty idea of Bad Boy – Uriah Heep do not have a good name with the really hard core metal fanatics – it’s more wannabe metal rock, like Ten Years After.
Anyway, at that ‘party’, none of the three could stand the others’ music that evening, a most interesting situation to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like some of McCartney and the white album was quite good, Abbey Road, but they were just something from a long time in my past.
Partly explaining my mate’s love of Paul McCartney:
The first rock bands in the Soviet Union appeared on the scene in the early sixties in Moscow, and they were heavily influenced by The Beatles.
The live bands grew popular in spite of governmental restrictions. This continued into the 1980s, when native bands gained some success, but were still hampered by state regulators who would not allow them to be officially recorded, and placed restrictions on lyrical content.
In the late 1980s another band started operating in Russia, reaching a cult status: Sektor Gaza. They proclaimed themselves as “kolkhoz punk rockers”, mixing elements from Russian village life with punk music. However, while some called the band “original” and “true folk punk”, others criticized the band’s style. Mikhail Gorsheniov from Korol i Shut said: “Sektor Gaza were never a part of the punk rock wave! They have no idea in music at all”.
I’ll come back to this theme later.
A few days back, I asked a metalhead here in Blighty for some definitive examples of metal I could use in a post and his list included Korn – Thoughtless, Did my time; Ill Nio – How can I live; Alkaline trio – Burn, Disturbed – Remember, Prayer, Marilyn Manson – Bootiful people, Rammstein – Du riechst, Sonne; Slipknot – Vermillion; System of a Down – Toxicity, Chop Suey.
Also, Lord Somber had some interesting American songs he ran in comments at one time.
I’ll come back to System of a Down. Going through the list on youtube, listening to as much as poss, it not being my first choice in music, this was maybe the most accessible to ‘ordinary boys’ who liked The Clash and The Stranglers:
System of a Down came out in my second scene in two parts – one was in Russia with my Year 9 students, the other a Year 9 over here who also liked Ed Sheeran and so on. The Russian girl offered Franz Ferdinand, the English girl offered System of a Down. Pretty underwhelmed by both but said the right things and otherwise stayed shtum.
This was my mate’s first song I ever saw back here from him – on screen:
… and the thing which now becomes quite obvious is that it’s not just that everyone thinks his or her own music is really edgy, oozing with cred – we all do that but it’s not the only thing – it’s that he or she gets into a sort of groove and judges, not necessarily by the riffs or lyrics but by the beat, by a certain rhythm.
I’d admit today, but not formerly, that I quite like 20s and 50s, 70s and 90s but not so much the other decades. Also, my idea of edgy at the time was Joy Division, which leads to another point:
Much of that Russian ‘damned’ music was all stage show, devil costumes, same over here, e.g. Uber’s really wicked band Kiss. Many Russian artists tried to ‘do’ the scene by dressing Real Bad with tatts and tongues poked out, in France, one pair trying to be Real Bad were Niagara [pronounced nee-a-ga-ra] – everyone was trying to be Real Real Bad for street cred but seriously, in my eyes, it was creampuff music.
Exactly as metalheads see mine. The notion of alienation, doomed, damned, is major with metalheads and yet my mate is eternally optimistic, so ‘go figure’.
I once played him some Amon Duul, the edgiest thing you could get in the 70s, far edgier than the Sex Pistols, and he asked what the hell was that? It was awful. My classical music friends would certainly agree.
I know girls for whom The Cars were cutting edge, even Steppenwolf.
Metalheads give a hollow laugh and put on Korn:
I’d wager there’d be Real Real Real Bad Boys who’d scoff today at Korn.
Is street cred the issue? Or is it that we become used to a certain rhythm, a certain style? I love the clip-clop cobblestones jazz of the 20s, not the 30s and certainly not the bland swing of the 40s. How many would agree?
Many in the mainstream found Du Hast, by Rammstein, quite accessible but to me, that was because it was melodic in its base idea.
And metal is certainly popular, not fringe – if you go to those songs on youtube, some get 7/8 million views, some 20 million views.
Why? One commenter wrote:
This video is symbolic of the social isolation that many people feel for one reason or another. The feeling that you just aren’t on the same wavelength as the people around you. You try your best to interact and form lasting relationships but either fail outright, or never truly feel like could be yourself. The superficial bonds you manage to forge break and again you are back where you started. This video is loneliness visualized.
Being alone really does make it seem as if your life is flashing by as you sit, inert and helpless. You become frustrated with yourself and shameful of your inability to do what seems to come easily to the people around you. A sense of despair underpins this experience. At night you contemplate the lack of meaning and fulfillment in your life.
This is life for many people, including myself in the past. It is a terrible way to live. That’s why I now make a point to reach out and talk to people I see hanging on the fringes. This is not out of pity, but empathy. You would be surprised how people blossom when they feel comfortable being themselves.
You no doubt noticed that he/she was articulate, not a spelling error at first glance. Probably American with that spelling of ‘fulfillment’. Hardly our concept of the long-past-yoof single male in his basement at the semen-stained computer, headbanging the keyboard.
Interesting concept, cred – maybe one for another post sometime.