During any point in the 20th century, a person could point to the music industry to signal what was going on in culture. During the 50s, Elvis shook his hips and became the first major iconic musician, while kids truly rebelled for the first time against their parents. During the 60s, cerebral folk music rose to the top as colleges boomed. Later in the decade, psychedelic rock was king while acid melted minds. The 80s was coke and disco/anthem rock. The early 90s was alternative rock and Prozac-cable television cocktails.
Then, we came to the late 90s and early 2000s- the period in which I grew up. A period all about blow jobs (Clinton was the spokesman), making money, and… big-bling-over the top music. Rappers were wearing baggy pants and flashing Benjamins while they rapped about bitches and hoes and getting rich. Shallow boy bands were staging HUGE productions and dating the most beautiful women in the world. Only rivaled by disco, it was probably the most soulless period in the modern music era. But, why was it like that?
Last year, an older friend of mine said, “I feel bad for you kids today, having to deal with that recession. In the 90s, we were all swimming in money.” Swimming in money! That’s when I realized why this-
Cash MONEY Bitch!
Happened. People were going crazy (I can't blame them!) because they were making money hand over fist. For God’s sake, they were getting free money in the mail. Why would anybody care about anything? Why would a person be introspective when they’re loaded and greed is good?
But as we slipped into the recession and people were no longer swimming in green, a slow tide washed over the music industry. Executives couldn’t sell bling and grilles and rims because nobody had any money. They couldn’t sell over the top rappers and a half dozen boy bands. For a while, the executives seemed lost. Music was in a transition period, and soon enough, crazy shit started to appear. Even to the point where underground electronic-techno music became popular (somebody kill me), and people actually believed that guys like DJ Pauly D were musicians.
Today, as everybody recovers from the financial crisis, the music industry is still trying to find itself, and fortunately, one movement of substance has actually emerged: a new age hippie-blues music scene. It’s the first major wave of good music that has appeared since the early to mid-90s. Free spirited, introspective bands like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Mumford and Sons are selling out large venues. Dirty, bluesy bands like Alabama Shakes are being featured on Saturday Night Live. Because of this, more and more bands are coming out just like them. Their success has spurred an entire movement with soul and spirit. It’s a movement that wouldn’t have been possible in the late 90s and 2000s because the country had to go through a “depression” to shake us up, and bring us back to some good, soulful music.