Saturday 24 August 2019

Why isn’t there any anger in modern pop music?

It’s all so spineless, modern pop music. Don’t you think? If One Direction and Ed Sheeran are the musical expression of the zeitgeist, what does it say about the fire burning in today’s youth?

It’s hardly even a fire, it’s a gas-powered fireplace turned to moderate heat to which you can snuggle up with a hot chocolate. Surely part of growing up is being an ‘angry young man’ (or woman), almost all the best pop music from the preceding decades were fuelled with youthful anger – Public Enemy, NWA, Nirvana, The Smiths, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols are just the tip of a very large, angry iceberg. Even John Lennon ensured there was an underlying rage in The Beatle’s catalogue. Go back to Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis and you’ve got the essence of rock & roll right there. Pure anger.

Being angry is all part of growing up – slamming doors, piercing your nose, boots and leather jackets are all expressions of an anger with the world and it’s healthy. Because let’s face it, the world is a messed up place, when you get to your teenage years you begin to realise that. They say that if a teenager is not rebellious, then you need to worry.

It’s funny though, as the outward and musical expression of anger disappears, replaced by manufactured, X-factor inspired pulp with more focus on ‘soulful’ style rather than actually saying anything, there seems to be more news of violence among our youth. Are we missing something here? Perhaps the angry aspect of rock & roll served a function, a safety valve for youthful rage that isn’t present at the moment.

The Who’s Roger Daltry summed it up perfectly – “There's not enough anger out there in the music," he said in a recent interview with The Standard. “And there's not a lot of contemplation in the lyrics, it's all very sweet ... but that's the iPhone generation.”

The Prodigy, the angry young men of the noughties roll into town to play The 3 Arena on the 30th of November and they’ll have the grand old masters of politically infused hip-hop Public Enemy with them. If you’re old enough to have been a part of underground rave scene of the 90s then you’re probably still young enough to enjoy a blow out at the gig.

While many of the original ravers have since grown-up, found sense and had children of their own, so they might indeed have kids old enough to appreciate a bit of anti-establishment, rave-influenced cyber-punk techno.

They’re promoting their new album ‘The Day is My Enemy’. The band’s main man Liam Howlett said about it - “I can’t tell you why this record came out so angry, I think it’s just inbuilt in me,” he says. “It’s more about what I like music to do. I’ve always seen music I like as a form of attack. That’s what I use music for, it’s an attack. I didn’t plan this album to sound violent, it’s just the sound that came out of the studio, a kind of build up over the last 4 years. ‘Anger is an energy’, that’s a lyric which always resonated with me. The tension is buried deep in the music right from the first drop. It’s all about the sound having that sense of danger. That’s what The Prodigy sound is about.”

Maybe you were a Prodigy fan in your day, maybe not, but you could do worse than introduce a younger generation to ‘angry music’ they just might enjoy it.

The Prodigy and Public Enemy play The 3 Arena on 30th November. Under 16's to be accompanied by parent/guardian.


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