[This was my column for GlobalNews.ca. The blowback has already begun–but hear me out. – AC]
On warm summer nights, the park across the street from my house is filled with people playing dribbling soccer balls, playing volleyball, or engaging in aggressive games of Spikeball.
Nearly all of them will have music playing through Bluetooth speakers, usually from the Spotify Top 100. And if I’m honest, none of this music is any good. All I hear is mumbled lyrics tunelessly rendered (well, except for the overuse of Auto-Tune) and beats so quantized that they could be substituted for an atomic clock.
I just re-read that last sentence. Harsh stuff from someone who doesn’t understand the music of today’s yoof? Or am I scratching the surface of a problem facing the recorded music industry?
Consider the following:
- Kate Bush’s 1985 song Running Up That Hill hit number one on the U.K. singles charts and has reached the top five in other countries around the world. Hounds of Love, the album which spawned the hit, peaked at #8 on the Canadian charts earlier this summer.
- Metallica’s 1986 track Master of Puppets has been given such a boost by its appearance in Stranger Things that it’s currently in the U.S. Top 40. This eight-minute metal song is competing for attention with the latest from Lizzo, Beyonce, Justin Bieber, and Cardi B.
- Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album Rumours is one of the top-selling albums of the year so far. It’s number nine in the U.S. Rumours is also one of the top-selling vinyl albums of the year so far.
- The Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen from 1977 is the top-selling vinyl single of 2022. Further down the list, you’ll find that the Clash’s Rock the Casbah (1982) is the eighth best-selling vinyl record.)
- This past week, Queen’s Greatest Hits (1981) just became the biggest-selling record of all time in the U.K. with seven million copies sold after more than 1,000 weeks on the British charts. Last week, it was number 24 in Canada, a couple of positions ahead of Yer Favourites, the Tragically Hip’s greatest hits collection.
Older music is certainly having a moment this summer and much of this interest is not being driven by nostalgic oldsters but by the same kids playing Spikeball across the street.
Don’t stop here. I have plenty more things that people will find sensitive/controversial/enraging/life-affirming. Keep reading. Oh, And here’s one more article worth reading on the subject.