But in terms of cars and music, since I've moved to LA I've fallen in love with the radio again, and I've been listening to a lot of chart pop, like actual pop music, through being in the car. It's something about driving through a city, that certain kinds of music really go with that, don't they? They're brought alive by that. A lot of this modern banging chart pop wouldn't work at home, but it makes sense when you're driving.
THERE WAS A SIMON FRITH PIECE I READ ONCE WHERE HE WAS TALKING ABOUT HOW THERE ISN'T REALLY "BAD MUSIC" PER SE, IT'S ALL ABOUT SETTING AND APPROPRIATENESS.
Yeah, I read that one.
DO YOU EVER THINK THAT MUSIC, WITH STARS AND CELEBRITIES AND WHATNOT, WILL FADE, IN THE SENSE THAT IT WILL SEEM LESS EXCITING AND BECOME MORE UTILITARIAN? BECAUSE I KIND OF FEEL LIKE THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING, IN A SENSE.
Well, if you think about emotional energy — libidinal energy, the economy of being interested — there's so many more rivals for music nowadays. The '60s and '70s and perhaps the '80s were probably the golden age of pop music as a central force. Music was the most exciting thing, the most glamorous thing to put your energy into, and naturally it became the focus of obsession. But gradually other things have encroached on it: games, the Internet, social media; and they all rival it for the buzz of whatever gets people's neurons firing, because you can get that other ways. I remember people talking about games being the new rock n' roll very early on. I worked for Melody Maker for many years and we did an issue about "Are video games the new rock n' roll?" And that was 1991, and they'd been around quite a long time at that point.
There's probably a finite amount of obsessional energy that any individual has, and any population or culture has. Some of it has been shunted off to these other things, and there has to be a decline somewhere, and so pop music has felt that. And as a result music becomes connected up with games and connected up with films and all this other stuff, and it's no longer the sole purpose. And it's now aligned with all these other things.
AT THE SAME TIME, EVERY GENERATION COMES TO THE TABLE AS A COHORT, AND THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE PAST. THEY DON'T KNOW THAT LIKING THE BEATLES IS REGRESSIVE PER SE, THEY JUST HEAR IT WITH NEW EARS AND THINK IT'S GREAT, EVEN IF IT'S TO THE DEPRIVATION OF NEW MUSIC.
There's certain things that music can do that nothing else can do. It seems to be one of the best ways for people to figure out something to do with love and desire and sex and all that, so that's one thing it does. As long as you want to dance, then music's gonna be the way that people will do their dances.