The Big Hurt: The decade ahead

Music predictions for the pubescent millennium
By DAVID THORPE  |  January 12, 2010

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As a new decade dawns, it's time to cast a curious eye toward the future. The landscape of music has changed so much over the past 10 years, it might seem impossible to say what'll happen in the next 10. All the same, I'm calling on my unsurpassed knowledge of pop music, my intimate understanding of the record industry, and my quasi-psychic futurist abilities to whip up a list of predictions about the decade ahead — predictions that, if my ego is to be believed, will prove uncannily accurate.

THE DIGITAL-DISTRIBUTION FAD WILL END | The Internet's stranglehold on the music industry will loosen in the middle of the decade as consumers cast aside iTunes and embrace a music-distribution technology that doesn't require a computer: whistling.

CRITICALLY IGNORED BANDS WILL BE RE-EVALUATED | Just as cult figures like Scott Walker and Townes Van Zandt were canonized anew in recent years, the next decade will see critics looking back over the past 20 years to rediscover performers who never got the attention they deserved. By 2019, Daniel Powter will be a household name among music snobs, and Bob Dylan will be but a footnote to the Jakob Dylan story.

CASUALTIES WILL BE MINIMAL | I know what you're all thinking, and no: none of the Rolling Stones will perish. In fact, no notable musicians will die in the next 10 years. No rappers will be murdered, no aging rock stars will finally kick the bucket, and no pop ingénues will overdose. The combination of health-care reform and a negative public attitude toward death will ensure that musicians survive the decade. That doesn't mean they'll survive unscathed, however. Lil Wayne will contract juvenile diabetes, Tom Waits will play a character with a broken arm in a Jim Jarmusch film, and Kevin Griffin of Better Than Ezra will have his Dungeons & Dragons character viciously level-drained during an encounter with an ancient vampire.

INDIE GROUPS WILL "GO POP" | The cyclical nature of rock dictates that any foray into the avant-garde will eventually swing back into pop territory. Just as the experimentalism of post-punk mutated into the lustrous sounds of ABC and Scritti Politti, so today's most experimental artists will become high-gloss pop acts. Radiohead will top the charts with their 2014 track "Down by da Fire (I Need U Girl)," and Avey Tare and Panda Bear of Animal Collective will evolve into uncanny doubles of Andrew Ridgeley and George Michael.

THE BEATLES WILL RE-FORM | Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr will finally give in to decades of popular demand and reunite the Beatles for a major concert tour. After a lengthy audition process to replace the deceased members, John Lennon's role will be handed to Daryl Hall, and guitarist Todd Nichols, formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket, will find himself standing in for George Harrison. Their tour will be a success, and the resurgent Beatles will eventually release a comeback album, Meet The Beatles . . . Again!, which will go on to shatter sales records and surpass their 1960s material for critical and commercial success. Lennon and Harrison, having been revived by medical science, will release a competing skiffle comeback album titled The Original Silver Beatles; it will be largely ignored by a Hall-and-Nichols-hungry public.

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