“Pulp’s upending of class stereotypes, their anger and their experimentation matter now more than ever, as a government waging naked class war elicits no response at all from our cowed, moribund pop music. But with the decimation of the infrastructure that produced them, from access to education to arts council grants to the dole itself, has the British political and popcultural landscape changed so much that a group like Pulp is now impossible?
A very good article. It’s difficult to believe that, not so long ago, artists such as The Smiths, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, Pet Shop Boys were not just regular fixtures in the charts but sometimes having huge hits. It’s easy to slip into a rosy-eyed nostalgia for ‘times gone by’ but it really does seem that a political consciousness is almost entirely absent from mainstream music in 2011. Not only in terms of the artists themselves, but also music journalism. From magazines to books to blogs, the overwhelming sense gained is of an extremely one-dimensional approach to music where all that matters is whether or not a tune is ‘catchy’. Attempt to delve deeper than that and speak about where it fits in culture, what it says, who is saying it, why they are saying it etc etc, and you are seen as ‘humourless’ and/or ‘thinking about things too much’. Celebrating the celebrity on their terms and alienating ourselves from the unbreakable bond (and overlap) between culture and politics is the order of the day. It treats pop music as froth instead of as a serious art form, which it undoubtedly is.
Maybe I’m wrong and the 21st century equivalent of these acts, of this criticism, is out there and hitting a younger audience. I need to be told!