by Shelton Bumgarner
It goes without saying, at least relative to where I sit, that pop music is pretty boring these days. The closest we have to rock music, oddly enough is not even rock at all: it’s EDM and Rap. The complete absence of rock music of any sort for about 10 years now is really strange.
Which makes me think back to the last time we had really good mainstream music being churned out on a regular basis — the turbulent late 1960s and early 1970s. Now, I am not suggesting that even the existential threat to the Republic known as Trumplandia could cause, say, a new Beatles to pop up.
But I am suggesting that “woke pop” as practiced by the likes of Katy Perry, might be the first stirrings of something far more significant — “protest pop.” Woke pop is about as subtle as it comes when it comes to talking about issues of the day. It’s like a tap on the shoulder or a wink, when I want more of bitchslap. I guess what I want is a revival of the type of music that Public Enemy was producing back in the day. That was the last time I can think of where you had politics directly spoken about in music, though Rage Against The Machine had elements of it as well.
Yet, as I keep saying in different ways, really all this boils down to the marketplace. Given how docile Americans are in general, it takes a lot to rile them up. The protest music of the Civil Right Era and Vietnam Era happened gradually as 1967’s Summer Of Love became, well, 1968.
Some of what happened during that period obviously had something to do with demographics. The Baby Boomers were hitting the brick wall of the Great Generation’s power in society and they weren’t having any of it. I keep thinking that the current dearth in good music is also the result of demographics. Eventually, at some point, my logic goes, the people who were born around 2000 — Millennials — will pick up an electric guitar and discover the joys of punk or rock or rap or whatever.
But as I keep saying, Americans are extremely docile. It takes a huge amount to rile us up, but once you do, watch out. The question, of course, is Trumplandia unto itself enough to bring back politically charged protest pop. Right now, the jury is definitely out. I just don’t know.
It’s one of those things that could go either way. If Tsar-A-Largo grinds on for years and it becomes pretty obvious to everyone that Donald Trump is, in fact, compromised by the Russians, then it’s possible what I want to have happen, will happen. But nothing comes of it or if Trump leaves office significantly sooner than any of us expect, then we’ll have to continue to suffer bad music.
Really, what has to happen is people start writing protest songs and throwing them against the wall. Eventually one of them might stick and open the floodgates of great music. I guy can hope, can’t he?
Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He is a writer and photographer in Richmond, Va. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.