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The End Of History?

So 92 year-old Vera Lynn is top of the album charts with a collection of songs she recorded nigh on 70 years ago while The Beatles occupy four of the remaining positions in the top 10. What should we conclude from this? Nothing more complicated than the fact that older people buy the majority of CDs these days.

This isn’t to suggest that lots of younger people don’t like music from previous eras but rather that they’re far more likely to download it illegally.

This being the case, the only accurate way to gauge what under-25s (and particularly under-20s) are listening to is by talking to them.

I had just such a chat with 23 year-old Frankmusik last week.  He was talking about his formative influences, which are the early to mid-‘80s synth-pop his parents played when he was growing up. Clearly his experience is typical and explains the revival of the ‘80s sound we’re seeing now with artists such as La Roux. We briefly touched on the subject of the Beatles remasters, which were to be released the following day, but he was quite unapologetically nonplussed.

He wasn’t trying to be controversial or different for the sake of it. Rather, I got the impression that the Fab Four were as interesting and relevant to him as Dame Vera.

Just a few years ago this would have been unthinkable.  During the 1990s it was little short of blasphemy to say you didn’t like The Beatles. The Britpop bands who filled the charts when I was his age were falling over themselves to declare their love of all things ‘60s.  In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an Oasis interview from back then where they didn’t mention The Beatles.

And why? Well, surely for the same reason. It’s the music they will have heard around the house growing up.

It got me thinking about the cyclical nature of this sort of thing, particularly given that I’ve spoken to a 15 year-old and a 17 year-old (thanks Dan and Haley) in the last 48 hours, both of whom, independently of each other, claim The Smiths to be their favourite band ever. Clearly this process is moving onward down the timeline of music history.

But what happens in another 10 years or so when the children of the Britpop generation are forming bands? Will they be reviving a musical style which was itself the revival of a musical style? Clearly not. Something entirely new and unexpected has got to happen and I’ve got the feeling it’s only a few years away.

I can’t wait.


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