Music For The Masses

Hello everyone, today I want to talk about music. I’m a massive music fan and believe there’s a real magic in the way certain music or lyrics stir emotions. My own music tastes are somewhat eclectic. If someone were to steal my phone and check out my music they would probably piss themselves laughing be surprised at the mix of people I like. Singers like Mika sit alongside AC/DC. Black Veil Brides next to Scouting For Girls.

This post however isn’t about my weird music tastes although it is to do with cool and uncool bands. It was actually inspired by a couple of things I saw on Twitter this week. The first was this fab post If Music Be The Food Of Love by my lovely friend Jan. In the post Jan mentions one of her former girlfriends only liked music that wasn’t mainstream.

The second thing was a twitter thread on the subject of one of my all time favourite bands Green Day. Somebody said  they only liked Green Day early albums before they went mainstream. This got me thinking about what  mainstream means and whether it’s a fair criticism to level at bands.

When good bands go mainstream

White background, red boarder, woth the word mainstream written in the middle.
‘They’ve gone mainstream’ is something most successful bands will be accused of at some point in their career. It’s usually defined by a certain album.  Critics say Green Day went mainstream with their American Idiot album, for Coldplay the change came with the album Vida La Viva.
But what does it actually mean for a band to go mainstream, and is it a fair criticism? I think the issue of mainstream-ness can be broken down into several parts

They have too many fans

When starting out bands tend to play small venues, so fans have the opportunity to get up close to bands at gigs. Photo of an audience watching a band on stage There’s even the possibly meet with the band after the gig. People who support bands when they start out also have the advantage of having discovered something the rest of the world doesn’t know about and  this can add to the coolness of a band.

When a band’s music starts to get played on radio suddenly a lot of people including Uncle John and the 15 Yr old from next door find out about them. Bands gradually start to play bigger venues to accommodate Uncle John and all the other new fans wanting to watch them. As a result the intimacy of the small venues is lost, and the chance of an after gig drink with the band  rapidly diminishes.

The increase in popularity of a band doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the band has changed. However there can be consequences to a band becoming more popular.

Copy Cats

New bands often offer unique twists on styles or come up with totally new styles of music. Punk, grunge and indie music all started off underground. But when these bands becomes listened to the masses some people will inevitably mimic their style. The 15 year old  from next door (lets call him Tom) begins a band based on his new favourite band, and he isn’t the only one. Before long there are loads of bands playing that style of music. The style has through no fault of the original band become mainstream.

When band get big they change their style to appeal to the masses.

This is the biggest issue a lot of people have with their favourite bands going mainstream, because they believe it’s something the band could prevent. The chain of thought is that as the band gets heard by a wider range of people such as Uncle John and Tom they change their writing style to appeal to the suposedly more pop based music taste. They lose their unique edge and become tame.

I think this criticism is a bit harsh. It is based on the assumption that the masses only like pop based music and doesn’t take into consideration the natural growth of bands. Change is inevitable as bands get older. Indeed if bands didn’t change at all, they would be (fairly) acused if going stagnant.

Looking at Green Day, they were formed in 1986. That’s 32 years of writing music. Bands write about things they experience or things that inspire them. Back in the 80’s the boys in Green Day were inspired by raising anarchy, smoking weed and wanking!

However by 2004  when American Idiot was written those boys had grown up and were husbands and fathers.  Their outlook to life changed and so the focus of their music changed too.

Is The Mainstream label fair

Three cardboard labels
For the most part I don’t think so. I believe it’s in part a dig at bands becoming successful and in part a reaction to the natural changes in style and  content as they get older.
However my opinion and this little post wont change things. The mainstream label will always be attributed to bands who achieve a certain level of sustained success. And there will always be  a certain type of music fan who won’t listen to a band once they have been identified as such. Personally I don’t get that level of music snobbery and think it makes people look like twats rather silly, but everyone is free to their own opinions.
I shall continue to listen to my favourite bands regardless of how cool or uncool they appear to other people.

Are you a fan of non mainstream music? Do you think bands have a tendancy to become too pop
based? Should bands activly avoid becoming too popular?

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Thank you, Mrs A Xx

17 Comments

  1. Liberty Henwick

    May 16, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Bands need to make a living so obviously they will do better if they have a bigger fan base, but if you like their music surely it makes no difference whether they are ‘mainstream’ or not. Like you I don’t see a reason to be a music snob! Didn’t realise Green Day have been around that long. #LGRTStumble

  2. kayleigh

    May 16, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    I remember at school there were always those kids who just hated everything mainstream and as soon as a few people had heard of a band – went straight off them. Ive always just liked what I like, no matter how cheesy or popular it is (or was!) #LGRTstumble

  3. Michelle Kellogg

    May 15, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    I never understood the whole “mainstream is bad” thing. The only thing bad about it is that some bands/artists get so big that they can’t handle the pressure. a couple years ago I saw one of my favorite bands, Shinedown get smashed on Facebook by fans after the release of their album. Their music was very different from what they had done in the past but it wasn’t that different. I mean, not to me. They got so much hate though and called mainstream and sell outs. Their response was about how they have evolved as they’ve gotten older and artists love to experiment with different sounds. They were still rock – they just went a bit more hard core – which by the way isn’t exactly mainstream if you look at the billboard charts. That’s what I consider to be mainstream because they are the most popular songs and they happen to be predominantly pop music. At least here in the states anyway. I agree with you Tracey. Artists grow older, they grow up and that is reflected in their music. If you’re a true fan, then you respect that. I love Green Day so much. Yes, they have changed their songs a bit but they still have the same distinct sound that makes them Green Day. I love that you talked about them. So much nostalgia there:) #LGRTStumble

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      May 15, 2018 at 9:17 pm

      I am a huge Green Day fan and will follow them regardless of any labels others might give them. Was luckily enough to see them live in 2010, best gig ive ever been to

  4. Anne

    May 14, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    I’ll have to show my hubby this post. This is an argument he has often with his friends, he’s always calling them music snobs. Personally, I like what I like and my only gripe about a band becoming more popular is that their gig’s get so huge. I went to 2 Kasabian gigs before they headlined at Glastonbury. Then the next gig was 3 times as big and as I’m not a big lover of huge crowds I didn’t enjoy it so much.

  5. Anne

    May 14, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    I’ll have to show my hubby this post. This is an argument he has often with his friends, he’s always calling them music snobs. Personally, I like what I like and my only gripe about a band becoming more popular is that their gig’s get so huge. I went to 2 Kasabian gigs before they headlined at Glastonbury. Then the next gig was 3 times as big and as I’m not a big lover of huge crowds I didn’t enjoy it so much.

  6. Melissa

    May 14, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Cool or uncool? The older I get the less bothered I am. A mix is good too. I can’t classify myself as being into just one type of music. That would be narrowing.. #LGRTstumble

  7. Chloe

    May 14, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Hi, I love a real mix and match of music depending on my mood and have been to both small and large gigs and loved them for different reasons. Napster is my friend especially when blogging #LGRTStumble

  8. mummy here and there

    May 14, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    I like Goldfrapp, they had a couple of hits but I would not call them mainstream and they have lots of different styles which I really love because I ge bored easily. P[lus I also have some Green Day albums too X #LGRTstumble

  9. This Scribbler Mum

    May 14, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I don’t really mind mainstream or not as long as I like what I hear and enjoy it. #lgrtstumble

  10. Tracy Albiero

    May 14, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    I am pretty picky when it comes to bands. I like what I like. Tend to not stray too far from them. #LGRTStumble

  11. Sophie

    May 14, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    I suppose it’s an idea of definition; does mainstream mean a band has ‘made it’ and what does ‘made it’ mean anyway? Most bands want success I would have thought as that brings the bigger money opportunities. I like pop and mainstream music that I listen to on the radio. The radio plays what it wants so does making it mean having your song on the radio? #LGRTStumble

  12. Sarah | Mummykind

    May 14, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    I like what I like and I don’t care if they’ve “gone mainstream”. If anything, it’s a good thing because at least they’ll make enough money to produce more great songs! #LGRTStumble

  13. Enda Sheppard

    May 14, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    This is excellent> It really is an interesting topic, this thing of having favourite bands or artists and then going off them just because they get really popular. I do think it has something to do with maybe losing the intimacy of sharing a little known pleasure with a few people. And all the other factors you touch on. People change. Bands change. And heaven forbid, they get paid the big bucks when the suits use that killer song on an ad for beans!! We all have our treasured stories of bands we saw before they really made it. I saw REM in a converted church hall that could barely hold a hundred people standing up!

  14. Daddy poppins

    May 10, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    I like all kinds of stufff but on the Green Day debate dookie was their pinnacle. They had a few good songs after that but in general it was regurgitated muck. (See kings of Leon 🤣)

  15. Jan

    May 10, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Great post 😊👍
    I think, as far as my ex was concerned, it was a bit of “I know something you don’t know”. I never understood why she disliked stuff, just because they were popular.

    1. hooks_and_dragons

      May 10, 2018 at 9:22 pm

      I know a lot of people with a similar attitude. I just like what I like xx

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