The 2010s in Music: What's Going On

We're coming now towards the end of 2013- which means, we are four years into this decade- the 10s? (doesn't quite have a ring to it, does it?). Journalists and historians of course, love to categorise periods of time to help make sense of the world. In music, it's no different- we see the 60s as an age of rock n' roll mixed with a flavour for psychadelia- a new dawn, in many respects. The 70s- a time of glam, punk and long hair. The 80s- MJ, Madonna and a bunch of weird synths in between. The 90s- a more grounded era of rock with a counter-active burst of boybands. The Noughties- a decade we're beginning to make sense of- a time of great diversity but little originality. So, what exactly is its successor- the 2010s? It's, in many respects, an impossible task because we lack proper hindsight and we cannot yet properly judge the vagrants from the champions but there have nevertheless been a few notable trends:

The Feature

Every damn song in the charts these days seems to require the "feature." It's usually a rapper, who can't string a decent song together, chipping in for the third verse the songwriter's not bothered with. It loosens up the tempo and the mood and it brings in the money. It's usually for those who aren't quite popular enough to do it on their own (Cher Lloyd) but other, more popular stars have been known to whore themselves out (Rihanna, Chris Brown).

Age of Nostalgia

Reunions have become ridiculous. Did you hear All Saints are reuniting? Even a girl-group with a few hits from the late 90s/ early 00s are able to attain renewed perspective. You don't even have to be a major rock band from the 70s anymore! Reunions seem to rekindle our love for music through reconnecting us with our past selves but they are illusions; the glorious 90s can never be recaptured. We will always have past classics but new, valuable music from the likes of Spandeau Ballet just isn't going to happen. It's best to take the Morrissey or Paul Weller route and just resist the urge for the mega bucks! It also makes a nice excuse for a fancy re-issue.


Dance/ House Music and DJs

Simon Cowell once fathomed the idea of an X Factor-like show for DJs. He deemed them the new "rock-star." It was a terrible idea and it has not yet come to pass but Cowell was right on the mark with his latter notion. DJs are no longer confined to Fat Boy Slim's shadow. They can sell-out massive shows, they can garner the reputation of a pop star and they can vote. This is likely a reflection of the increased standard in recording technology and production. Anyone can become a DJ really- some people really shouldn't- but they can!
Hand-in-hand with this is, of course, the rise of dance music which can be seen on our island through the rise of platforms like Residence. DJs are hardly going to launch into a set of mid-tempo ballads, so this makes sense. While opening music up to a new area of the populace and making it accessible for glazed-eyed pill-takers however, one must wonder where exactly the heart of music is going. Then again, if you're going into a club with prospects of allocating true romance, you may be in the wrong decade!

The Effect

Like the rotten texture of a potato struck fear into the hearts of 1840s' Irish farmers, this man has exerted an undeniably dark presence in today's music scene. This decade however, he doesn't even need his Black Eyed Peas. He's doing it on his own with songs like "The Hardest Ever," "This is Love," etc. His true evil lies in the collaborations he does however. He commercialised the Script to the point of no return and he burdened The Great Gatsby this year too. What's more- his atomic bomb-like plan has been revealed; a collaboration with Miley Cyrus!


Sluttier Videos

I don't mean to betray the vision of certain sectors of men or to sound like an ultra-feminist here, but do female pop stars need to strip to sell? Well Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Rita Ora, Miley Cyrus et al. do anyways. This is a continuation of a trend that has gone through the last few decades of course but it seems to have accelerated. Men are hardly the target audience, so why do these artists sell so well?

Reactions to the Sluttier Era

The popularity of singers like Adele and Emeli Sande draws an interesting contrast with the last point. Not everyone is pleased with the way female pop-stars sell themselves and for the first time in years, having a singer standing in front of a microphone and just singing is a refreshing concept.


The Renewed Allure of Acoustic Music?

This may be a bit of a guess but is acoustic music getting more popular again? Pop stars and rock stars are always doing acoustic versions of their songs in the Live Lounge. X Factor contestants are constantly moaning against a single guitar for the effect of "being deep." Even acoustic songs are propelling their ways into the mainstream with the likes of Ed Sheeran. It's always been around but it's taking on a new form of appreciation and value- perhaps, as a reaction to the greater wave of production dominating the charts.

And even more downloads/ digital music...


These are just a few observations I've made. I also wonder if the indie-landfill of the mid-noughties is finally beginning to decline. I see less of bands like The Blizzards each day and more and more solo artists, in Jake Bugg, Miles Kane and so on. Have you noticed any trends? Please comment below.




Andrew Carolan
Article written by
Andrew (b. 1991) is the main music-editor. When not correcting the haphazard grammar of his brother and co-editor Matthew, Andrew enjoys listening to old rock and pop music, thinking about his favourite animals and playing piano.

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