No Popcorn

For the same reason I don’t eat at Jack Astors, I didn’t watch the Grammy’s this year. I have a lack of interest in things that are generic. That is, things that are politely produced and packaged to have the widest possible appeal. When interviewing the nominees on the Grammy red carpet, they talk about recording artistry, song writing and inspiration. But what they really should be discussing is marketing techniques, winning song formulas, how to get the attention of the media, and image (the last one they usually do discuss at length).

A number of scientific studies prove that popular music has steadily been becoming more and more simplified. Here are two studies for your reference. The Million Song Dataset, and the Plos One Study. Melodies are getting simpler. Chords and progressions (the harmonic motion that carries the melody) are getting simpler. Rhythms are so safe and simple its like they are designed to teach rhythm-deaf people where the 2 and 4 is. Its pretty dire. Studies have shown that it is no longer the attitude of “snobby” or “elitist” musician types. Studies show this is the reality. They also show the correlation between greater sales and more watered down, simplified music.

An inspired notion, originating from a mysterious and elusive figure from the underground of Toronto’s vibrant music scenic, has surfaced. Lonely Vagabond first wrote his post “A Declaration of a New Alternative” on Music Think Tank. His idea is a term (a concept really) called “No Pop.” In LV’s words its “short for Not Popular. Meaning anti-commercial, non-chart-friendly, also inferring there is no expiration date on music nor is it limited by geographic or regional boundaries.”

This movement has been underway for some time. But having a term like “No Pop” may help to spread this ideology of making great, artistic, personal music (free of contrivances aimed at aligning a sound with the existing watered down pop music paradigm), to a larger public. It probably won’t spread very quickly to the mainstream music consuming public, but a larger subset than currently exists would be a nice change.

For years I have been working with artists who have expressed this idea in one way or another. But if a term like “No Pop” were to become a well known, understood and embraced concept I think it would serve to bolster the wills of the truly independent minded artists who create timeless music that originates in their hearts.

Artists and musicians in Toronto are leaders in more ways than one. Here is our opportunity to demonstrate this to the world. I propose to the artists of Toronto, who are already deeply engaged in a “No Pop” approach to music, to adopt the term. To talk about “No Pop” as a movement, and to describe their music and MO as “No Pop”.

Instead of us all complaining so much about the shinny and shallow homogenous drivel that wins Grammy’s. Lets declare this new alternative (that really is new only as a term), and live by an ideology where independent artists are proud to be creators of truly unique and personal non-commercial expression.

Please take a moment to listen to a small collection of some truly unique Toronto based artists that I have produced. You can hear them on my Sound Cloud.

What do you all think? Is this something where Toronto artists can take a leadership role?

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