When musical culture becomes a drug to seduce the sleeping masses!
Following a response to an article written by Rhys Mwyn (http://link2wales.co.uk/2014/crudblog/blog-rhys-mwyn-why-its-unlikely-ill-discuss-welsh-language-music-like-this-again/) in which he criticises a panelled debate on Welsh music he participated in during this year’s annual National Eisteddfod, I felt I wanted to respond myself, partly for the fun of it and partly due to the article in question’s (http://melynwy.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/we-fought-the-punk-wars-for-this/) criticism of an album review written about mine own band was mentioned in the responsive article (http://melynwy.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/we-fought-the-punk-wars-for-this/). The album review was written by Neil Crud (http://link2wales.co.uk/2013/crudblog/album-review-radio-rhydd-trapped-in-the-game/), and was criticised in the responsive article for making “no reference to Radio Rhydd’s album” at all, but rather focusing on what other bands don’t do. As traditionally, album reviews focus predominantly on the album’s musical merits and contents, this one did quite the contrary. And although I would agree, there is more to the mechanics of Radio Rhydd (and indeed any band) than my political rants and leftfield politico-socio views, I can still absolutely see the point that Neil (Crud) was making.
The responsive article raised some interesting points, and although I don’t whole-heartedly agree with them, I respect the views expressed. However, I do believe it to be almost dangerous to allow this accepted consensus that musicians and bands can make music without giving a second thought, or two fucks, as to the lyrical content of their songs. By an almost universal acceptance of this as the modern norm of song writing I believe we are creating dangerous conditions whereby musical culture becomes yet another social drug of the same vein as football which is ultimately used to lullaby the sleeping masses deeper into a semi-conscious sleep.
I have heard several arguments that argue the contrary of the point that I (and I believe Neil Crud) are making. One such point, which I believe was underlined in the responsive article, argues that it doesn’t really matter, because, hey! It’s ‘only pop music’. To this argument, I would say that it is almost a blind and absurd statement to insinuate that culture, and indeed musical culture, can ever be fully detached from politics. Another argument that I have come across in defence of the other side of this particular debate, is that hey! ‘All art is subjective’. Now this myth can be easily dismantled by pointing out the historical importance of art as a propaganda tool in some of our history’s most repressive regimes, such as for example Gobbels’s propaganda campaign during the Third Reich in Nazi Germany used art as a means of winning the hearts and minds of its ‘subjects’. Even if we look at today’s examples we can see just how dangerous art can be as a propaganda tool (if done deliberately by the artists, or not) and in reinforcing faith and acceptance of the status quo. Such modern day examples include artists that performed at musical events at the 2012 London Olympics, which was arguably used to bolster support for the unionist camp ahead of the referendum on Scottish independence.
Now my point for writing this article is not necessarily to condemn bands purely for not being overtly political, leftfield and/or contentious. But my point is that songwriters and bands should take greater care in lyricism, because if we like it, or not, there is no part of culture which is inherently, and can claim to be wholly detached from international, and domestic, political events unfolding around us. For an example domestically (within the Welsh language world), Y Bandana could be perceived as the most a-political band, but consistently writing songs about drinking represents a general apathy amongst young(ish) bands and the people that listen to this music. In my opinion, apathy in itself is a political statement, albeit the wrong kind of political statement. There are a lot of Welsh-language bands in Wales at the moment, but all I can see is a lot of bands that sound the same, that look the same and sends out the same message-a lot of bands who are interested in keeping the Eisteddfod-going, Maes(Hysteria)-B crowd happy. Then again, maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree;-maybe culture, and indeed, musical culture is just representative of a general apathy amongst society as a whole. Maybe bands don’t give a shit, because, hey! They just don’t give a shit! – Back to the concluding point, in my opinion music should never be a lullaby drug seducing the masses; music should be something dangerous, exciting, energetic, sharp and honest. And I truly believe that writing lyrics just because it fits with the melody and without giving two fucks about it, is dishonest. Members of these bands have opinions, they must have, but they don’t use music as a platform to express them! To me, that is dishonesty.