Corporate rock still rocks

You know the story painfully well: You’re shopping with a friend during winter break at Amoeba Music for the first time in 1999, and you ask the clerk for some Weezer records. The douche laughs at you and buzzes you off. Your friend, on the other hand, asks for Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and gets a golden road.

Is now really the first time in the history of rock music that this cruel double standard has been destroyed? Perhaps. It is no question that underground favorites such as Modest Mouse, Interpol and the Pixies have simultaneously pleased their underground fan bases and mainstream America. If these bands had reached their commercial success five years ago, they would’ve been branded as traitors by indie fans everywhere.

Why? Perhaps their music is simply too good to ignore. But perhaps we as music fans have matured and come full circle. Last year, for the first time in a long time, it was A-OK to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic;” every indie prick dug it. In turn, this year, it’s totally A-OK to dig Duff, Clarkson and the like. What’s going on? Perhaps it can be best described by previous generations; we’re rebelling against their elitism. Most of our parents and older siblings listened to the popular music of their day. This means we can go home to Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and, if we’re blessed with a hip family, the MC5, Velvet Underground, Black Flag or Subotnick records.

These two groups of “hip” and “not-so-hip” started a cultural war as soon as rock music was turned into a business strategy by the corporate world. The groups that sided with major labels owned the world, and the groups that stayed underground remained iconic for the curious few. Siding with corporations is very un-rock ‘n’ roll, so major label bands did poorly with serious music fans. But this year, the tides have turned. With downloading the prime source for music, corporations no longer dictate our tastes. Fans no longer emphasize the economic status of a band. The combination of such an attitude and the rebelling against our previous generations of peeing down on successful bands has helped indie bands rise to success without losing credibility. Let’s hope next year we see the rise of Wolf Eyes.