Well, yes, obviously

Frances Bean Cobain has admitted she’s not a big fan of her dad’s music in a candid new interview.

Speaking to Rolling Stone Magazine about her documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the frontman’s daughter revealed she’s not really into Nirvana.

‘I don’t really like Nirvana that much,’ she said.

That’s rather the purpose of pop music of course. To shock the generation ahead and bore the one behind.

37 thoughts on “Well, yes, obviously”

  1. @TimN – arguably acid house and the early 90s rave scene, or the Marilyn Manson crowd – there’s not a lot of shock rock about these days and if anyone purses their lips disapprovingly these days it’ll be because Mumford & Sons are such utter binjuice

  2. I’d disagree with Tim about the purpose of pop music, though it certainly is the purpose of Nirvana’s type of pop music.

    The last lot of shocking pop music was probably gangsta rap, but sadly it turned out that they had no sense of irony and actually did intend to commit rape and murder. Which somehow made the music itself less shocking. (Well, the lyrics: the actual music was never shocking.)

    Lost Prophets?

  3. Thing is in the past it was easier to be shocking. The Doors saying the word “high” for example. I remember hearing Guns N Roses say “Fuck off” in a song and being amazed (admittedly I was about 10 years old). These days you would actually have to be singing about raping children or something else that will surely never be acceptable to anyone (except certain Labour politicians) to upset people.

  4. bloke (not) in spain

    “@TimN – arguably acid house and the early 90s rave scene

    Yup, I’d go for that. Although it’s 20 years ago! 😮 ”

    Except, thanks to the internet, time has ceased to exist. All recorded music exists in the eternal now. So it’s quite possible for some kids to discover The Doors, or Acid House, or gangsta rap & it’ll be new & shocking. or not. To them.

  5. To an extent this debate about shock-ability is irrelevant. Music is far less important to teenagers today than it was 20-40 years ago. We thought it important and dedicated time and money to it. We grew from listening to the new chart countdown, fingers crossed that our acts were climbers, to despising commercial pap, and claiming that so-and-so were rubbish now that they had a hit. We took the NME seriously!

    My kids download the tracks they like and pretty much ignore albums. They have 101 other interests reducing music to the background. Occasionally they will spend 5 minutes reading something about a band on the internet. And their friends are pretty much the same. The schools have battle of the bands wherein the dads of my generation buy equipment the kids use (far superior to the Woolworths guitars that my generation started out with). The local council runs a youth festival and employ people to help the youth express themselves in approved ways (packaged rebellion).

    It’s done – popular music is the establishment. Glastonbury is the biggest event on the BBC calendar. Rebellion remains the default pose but this is ersatz. Pundits suppose it upsets Daily Mail readers but it is approvingly reviewed in the pages of the broadsheets.

  6. “I think nowadays it just bores everyone. When was the last music movement that shocked anyone?”

    Polyphony?

  7. b(n)is,

    “Except, thanks to the internet, time has ceased to exist. All recorded music exists in the eternal now. So it’s quite possible for some kids to discover The Doors, or Acid House, or gangsta rap & it’ll be new & shocking. or not. To them.”

    Plus, there’s really not much new out there. Youth movements are about new fashions and new sounds. If you were around in the early 80s and had bands like The Human League, they didn’t look like bands from a few years earlier, or sound like them.

    If you look and listen to say, The Arctic Monkeys you’re looking and listening to The Buzzcocks. Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk is like something that The Time would have recorded back in the 80s, and the video even looks like it’s out of the 80s. Get Lucky unapologetically has Nile Rodgers playing on it, and it could be a Chic song.

    Which isn’t to say there aren’t good tunes out there, but there isn’t the same sort of generation gaps there once were.

  8. > When was the last music movement that shocked anyone?

    The medium of shock has changed. In the 1960s you picked up a guitar and shocked people, because that was what you could afford. Today’s teens produce Youtube videos that are far more shocking than anything in the music scene.

    No doubt the next generation will glance at videos of ISIS beheadings and roll their eyes: “We’ve seen that before dad, it’s sooooo boring.”

  9. “Rebellion remains the default pose but this is ersatz.” It was just as ersatz in the sixties: we laughed at the poseurs in the Rolling Stones. We still jumped around to their music at parties, mind.

  10. Just Got Paid Let’s Get Laid by Millionaires might upset a few Daily Mail readers. I really wish it had been a big hit over here: could have stirred up a bit of genuine “Are these role models for our daughters?” controversy.

  11. Stig,

    > there’s really not much new out there. Youth movements are about new fashions and new sounds.

    Just a theory, but I think this is a side-effect of torrenting. Steven Williams (No-Man, Porcupine Tree) said something interesting. When we were kids, we saved up our money for an album, bought it, and listened to it, and, because it had cost money, we listened to it hard. If it was a disappointment initially, we still listened to it again and again in the hope of getting more out of it. We had a limited amount of music, so we invested our time in getting maximum value out of that music. If a kid these days wants to start, say, a metal band, they can trivially easy get hold of every important metal album ever recorded and listen to it all. What Williams reckons is that this means kids don’t work so hard to get everything out of their music. They have no investment in it. I also think it leads to less originality, because, with access to so much, there’s less need to create something new. Most modern hits are retro. The kids reckon it’s all been done before so there’s no point bothering. Sad.

    Still some great non-hit stuff happening, but then isn’t there always?

    The major exception is probably BT, who is genuinely breaking new ground with his music. But he still wraps most of it inside a very mainstream catchy package.

    I’m just going to take this opportunity right now to say that the next Squander Pilots record is going to be amazing.

  12. @SQ2:

    I can buy that theory, and would also extend it to the reason a lot of us lose touch with “new” music as we get older.

    When I was younger with lots of free timei I used to listen to anything and take the time to get into it if it was hard. Similarly for going to gigs – I’d take a chance on new bands, go and see support acts performing on their own etc (we’ve discussed before that we were probably in the same crowds for gigs in Glasgow).

    As I got older and had less free time due to other things such as work I wasn’t as prepared to make the effort on new stuff. Why waste an hour of my precious free time listening to something that has a high chance of being shite when I can put a familiar album on that I know I’m going to enjoy?

    Guess I’m just a proper old fart now.

  13. So it’s quite possible for some kids to discover The Doors, or Acid House, or gangsta rap & it’ll be new & shocking. or not. To them.

    90s raves still shock, particularly the degree to which how utterly fucking ridiculous the participants look. I still listen to it, some of it is cringeworthy (but some is absolutely brilliant).

  14. I would have thought that the demise of the distribution control of music by producers (due to the internet) means we now have a lot more specialist approach, whatever your tastes it can be found and downloaded and it can be made profitable doing so, a “long tail” effect if you like.

    In the past, producers/distributors would have had to come up with something different and sellable, thus the the latest “new wave” movement or “shock” factor, but nowadays that is simply not needed any more.

    Anything from politically motivated songs, pro-jihadist rapping and, on the subject of rapping, what about Youtube’s ERB with over 10 million subscribers and over 1 billion views (downloads)?

    Here’s a research paper that tries to demonstrate that popular music is become more “stable”:

    Popular music is a key cultural expression that has captured listeners’ attention for ages. Many of the
    structural regularities underlying musical discourse are yet to be discovered and, accordingly, their
    historical evolution remains formally unknown. Here we unveil a number of patterns and metrics
    characterizing the generic usage of primary musical facets such as pitch, timbre, and loudness in
    contemporary western popular music. Many of these patterns and metrics have been consistently stable for a
    period of more than fifty years. However, we prove important changes or trends related to the restriction of
    pitch transitions, the homogenization of the timbral palette, and the growing loudness levels. This suggests
    that our perception of the new would be rooted on these changing characteristics. Hence, an old tune could
    perfectly sound novel and fashionable, provided that it consisted of common harmonic progressions,
    changed the instrumentation, and increased the average loudness.

    http://mtg.upf.edu/system/files/publications/srep00521.pdf

  15. Jim,

    > Millionaires is just ladette culture c. 1993 isn’t it? Hardly new and shocking.

    I didn’t say it was new and shocking. I said it would have annoyed certain people and it would have been fun to watch.

  16. Arnald,

    Yes, thanks, it was nagging away at me that I’d got it wrong, but I couldn’t be arsed taking the five seconds necessary to research it for some reason. Doh. Getting senile, I think.

  17. bloke (not) in spain

    @TimN
    “90s raves still shock, particularly the degree to which how utterly fucking ridiculous the participants look.”

    It’s always fascinating the glacial pace music fashion disseminates*. I’m sure there’s some lads in an obscure valley in the Caucasus has just discovered heavy metal & the villagers are suffering the consequences. No doubt 90’s raves’ll be passing through there in due course but are probably currently the rage in Sumatra.

    *Came to that conclusion when i found Led Zep seemed to be the thing in Scotland long after the band itself had split.

  18. GlenDorran,

    “As I got older and had less free time due to other things such as work I wasn’t as prepared to make the effort on new stuff. Why waste an hour of my precious free time listening to something that has a high chance of being shite when I can put a familiar album on that I know I’m going to enjoy?”

    But this isn’t just about that. Kids today are into so much other stuff. They’ll have friends over and watch DVDs with them, or stuff on catch-up services, or games. They Instagram and message each other, send each other funny stuff on YouTube and so on.

    They still like music, but there isn’t anything cutting-edge about music. No-one’s breaking taboos, or saying much new or making something that sounds like something you haven’t heard before.

  19. I’m still shocked that anybody likes K-Crap music, especially the male groups, which all seem like derivative hip-hop wannabes in foppish outfits all wearing so much TV makeup that they look almost asexual.

    The bubblegum-pop girl groups aren’t much better.

  20. bloke (not) in spain

    @TedS
    You do know the average age of the recording buying public? Lat I heard it was in the region of 13 1/2.

  21. Bloke in Costa RIca

    Thanks to Internet radio, I’ve heard a load of stuff I would never have heard otherwise. It’s the usual Internet disintermediation taken to a new level. I’m going through a phase of listening to female Scandinavian singer-songwriters that would be really hard to find on normal commercial radio (e.g. First Aid Kit, Anna Ternheim, Ebba Forsberg, Eivør, Agnes Obel, Ane Brun, Sophie Zelmani). They’re not all brand new, but the fact that they’re available at such low cost of entry is amazing. It used to be really hard work to find new stuff; now it’s easy.

  22. @ bloke (not) in Spain: That’s an interesting question. Strictly speaking, most physical recordings – i.e. CDs – are bought by the over 35s. But that’s probably nothing to do with music, and everything to do with an older generation favouring an older technology with which they’re familiar. And because it costs the same to manufacture a CD regardless of whether it contains one track or several, it follows that older people tend to buy pre-packaged song collections – i.e. albums.

    The under-35s are much more likely to download music, which is priced per track, and as a result aren’t heavy album-buyers – why pay for a lot of tracks you don’t particularly want or like? Younger people are also likely to be more cavalier than their parents in their attitudes to file-sharing and copying.

    So although the young may consume more music, older people tend buy more.

    If, then, older generations are such good customers for recorded music, it would seem both anomalous and bad business for so much popular music (I use the term in its widest sense) to be so heavily targeted toward the young.

    The reason is simple. Most people’s tastes in popular music are firmly set by the time they’re around thirty to thirty-five, and they’ll continue to buy the same old stuff for the rest of their lives. So the trick is to capture the young audience in the knowledge that they’ll be loyal customers in middle age and beyond, and won’t need much encouragement by way of costly promotional and marketing effort by the record companies.

    The only difficulty with this model is that it requires bands and performers not only prepared to pursue lengthy careers, but also to keep issuing new material which is to all intents and purposes is exactly the same as their old material. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… The Rolling Stones! Alternatively, in some instances, old material can be recycled in “new” versions. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Led Zeppelin!

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