I noticed recently that I'm drawn to extremes in music. The stuff I like -- and by that, I mean the stuff I really like, the stuff I'm obsessed about -- is usually either really heavy or really light. On the one hand, we have stuff like Zeppelin, Sabbath, Kiss (see: Omnibus Blog Post 2, coming soon), the Cult, Wolfmother, Jet. On the other, things like the Free Design, yr. various Yacht Rock groups, Joe Raposo, Carpenters, certain Beach Boys albums, whatever. Heavy as an anvil, couldn't possibly be heavy enough, or so light it's in danger of floating away into the stratosphere. Extremes.
I've also noticed recently that nowadays, you can't really get either. Oh, there's a couple (literally just a couple!) of bands doing Really Heavy -- particularly Wolfmother, they're nicely heavy, and really really good. And a couple bands doing Really Light, too (though I'm hard pressed to name 'em -- certainly nobody doing the Carpenters, or something that blissfully airy). But for the most part, everything's straight down the fucking middle. Think of a band like -- I dunno, Modest Mouse. Good band, I suppose, but they're Middle of the Road in every possible way in the old-school use of the term. Straight down the middle. And safe. Very, very safe. Good songwriters, I'm sure, but they're just kind of...the same. All the time. Not fast, not slow, not hard, not light, just THERE.
And that's why I hate everything nowadays, I think. And not just music, but everything. It's not just that people are AFRAID of extremes, though they clearly are -- "we want to," goes the logic, "appeal to a majority of people, and the way to do that is to never go too far in any direction, to play to the widest tastes, to offend nobody." This goes for every artistic media, from movies to television to music to whatever -- and hell, even in politics and conversation and fashion and everything. Can't be too heavy. Too light. Too theatrical. Too big. Too flashy. Too gay. Too whatever.
But it goes beyond simple fear -- it's almost like people are embarrassed of extremes. Like -- okay, let's do this. Imagine you're in a club and a band is getting on stage. They've got makeup on, and are wearing -- I dunno, purple velvet jumpsuits and feather boas. And they light into music that's loud and heavy and they posture all over the stage. What do you think? What's your first reaction? Ten bucks it's to get embarrassed and laugh.
But I mean -- double-you tee eff? That's cool, isn't it? When did we stop desiring that? Are we afraid that expressing an extreme means it'll reveal something about you? Provoke strong emotion? Strength or weakness?
What's weird is even when artists these days GO extreme -- think of, say, Marilyn Manson -- it seems so half-assed in some way. His music wasn't terribly extreme, for one thing -- it was second-rate watered down Nine Inch Nails. And all he was doing was adding more cock and blood to something Alice Cooper had done already. It was a real sort of SAFE extreme. Like climbing up onto a diving board, yelling "Hey, look at me, I'm going OUT THERE!" and then tiptoeing up to the edge and then climbing down.
And the end result is that there's no band that provokes the kind of SLAVERING ADMIRATION AND ADULATION that groups used to, y'know? Like -- can you imagine 30, 40 years down the line being a part of the Modest Mouse Army? The Daughtry Army? I dunno. I just feel like lack of extremes also means lack of enthusiasm. You like. you don't love.
So, y'know, that's my challenge to you, artists. Go balls out. Do something risky, big, splashy, stupid, loud, quiet, long, super-short. Do something that goes to an extreme, and don't feel like you gotta slide it straight down the middle. That's all.