Thoughts on the current state of the music industry, in part inspired by the standard of talent on display at Glastonbury 2017.
Chris Cornell 2017
Foo Fighters
The recent death of Chris Cornell brings much of what has been described as grunge into sharp focus. If Soundgarden were central and Audio Slave were heavy rock then Foo Fighters are often thrash. And their 2017 set proved to be a meandering, unfocussed thrash that continues my belief that Grohl lacks the musical creativity of most of the grunge leaders.
The Pretty Reckless 2017
The Pretty Reckless
In stark contrast is the power and authenticity of Taylor Momsen and The Pretty Reckless, who provided one of the most heartfelt tributes to Cornell in their live performance of Like A Stone. It was interesting to note, however, the majority of lady-led bands at Glastonbury 2017 were way back down the road compared to the energy, variety and professionalism of Momsen & Co.
Wildwood Kin 2017
Wildwood Kin and The Jacksons
Like Haim and so many other vocal groups, there’s a lack of soaring, individual voices in these bands today. Three singers singing the same lines for song after song lack magic.
Haim 2017
Michael Jackson’s unique vocals lifted the original Jacksons to great songwriting and arrangements. CSN&Y and the Eagles brought together gifted vocalists in their own right, who then crafted songs of both bittersweet harmonies and thrilling individual vocal contributions.
Rag n Bone Man
Rag’n’Bone Man
Speaking of gifted vocalists, you’d need to go far to find a voice the equal of Rory Charles Graham. His phrasing is as much a feature as his power and range. This is the blues, this is emotion, this is sincerity behind every word.
Radiohead 2017
Radiohead and Katy Perry
Nothing to see here! Yes, Radiohead were groundbreakers, trendsetters and armchair revolutionaries – and still bring some magic in a reconstituted way today. But nothing new. Katy Perry is a plastic clone, a 3D-Printer replica of a once promising singer who went for fame and money rather than music.
Katy Perry 2017
Sidebar: Some people are pop stars (Britney, Katy, et al) and have huge followings and sometimes are the ‘front’ for great music, even if they only last a few years. Some people are singers (Shirley Bassey, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis) and have life-long careers. And it doesn’t matter where they’re found, whether traditional music processes, talent shows like X Factor and Idol, or from committed touring including appearances at festivals.
Lorde 2017
Lorde and Florence and Louisa Johnson
Meanwhile, early indications are that Lorde could last the distance, taking time between album releases and sounding fresh, using the time off to live a bit more life and team up with a variety of songwriters and musicians. And Louisa could really benefit from teaming up with a blues and/or jazz outfit and stretch those awesome vocal pipes with some live tours. In short, Louisa’s fantastic voice is wasted on pop.
Louisa Johnson 2017
Clean Bandit
And speaking of Louisa, Clean Bandit continue to create interesting and modern music with their songs and various featured vocalists. If anything, they can be seen as successors to Frankie Goes to Hollywood and The Pet Shop Boys with their emphasis on melody and orchestration, and a desire to try new things and expanded accompanists. No, Clean Bandit have not yet created songs to equal the heights of FGH or PSB, but there’s a great chance they’ll come.
Clean Bandit 2017
Simon & Garfunkel
There wasn’t a tribute act to S&G at Glastonbury, but the Artists for Grenfell version of Bridge Over Troubled Water brought together many famous singers alongside up-and-comers, including X-Factor winner Louisa Johnson who, not surprisingly, gave the most powerful and passionate contribution to the song.
Artists for Grenfell 2017
And if you want to hear an awesomely powerful version of The Sound of Silence, check the unusual reading by Disturbed. By the way, Disturbed and The Sound of Silence had a significant impact for X Factor Australia in 2016.
Disturbed 2017
In summary, 2017 shows the music industry is alive and well. There are plenty of fantastic artists developing their style and sound, and plenty of new talent starting to appear. The doldrums of the past 5 years appear to be over.
Glastonbury 2017
Music Festivals – bringing so much great music to so many people!
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