What’s the next dangerous music?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading/listesning about music lately.  I get on reading jags about different subject, and I often return to music for obvious reasons. 🙂

Been thinking about where the next revolution in music will come from.  And I don’t have a good answer.  “The next big thing” usually starts with an element of danger and/or fear attached to it.  Jazz, rock, metal, rap… All were feared by establishment when first released.

There’s something called The Law Of Diminishing Exclusion.  That means that people will dislike something new and weird until they get used to it.  Then something newer and weirder will come out to replace it.  And it’s definitely something that takes place in music.

All of our major revolutions in music over the last hundred years have been the result of mainstream music assimilating music from black culture.  Jazz, rock, and hip-hop.  But since then, black culture hasn’t come up with anything new for the mainstream to steal.  White people gave up creating their own marketable sounds after Romanticism in the late 1800’s.

Here’s my prediction… Middle Eastern sounds will become a huge part of American popular music in the near future.  Their influence on the world is growing considerably.  And we’re already hearing bits of those sounds mixed in with hip-hop songs and such.  But I think it’s going to make a bigger splash.  A big reason is that, even though they’ve assimilated some our traditional sounds into their music, they haven’t let go of their own traditional sounds.  Unlike the Asian countries who have used American sounds so much that their pop music sounds exactly like our’s in a different language.  I think the Asian country’s really missed out on being able to influence us pretty heavily.

But will the Middle Eastern influence be dangerous and feared enough to make a splash?  Is it going to have to be called “Terrorist-core” or something equally stupid to get it there?  That’s the key to musical revolution.  Elvis was feared.  The Beatles and Stones were feared.  Coltrane was feared.  Public Enemy was feared.  I’m currently reading about Brazilian popular music.  Even Bossa Nova was feared and criticized for its modern use of harmony.  Frickin’ Bossa Nova!  Just goes to show, you don’t have to be Marilyn Manson to get a rise out of people.

Music needs something that goes against the grain of society in a meaningful way.  Admittedly, that’s why I, and many other comedy music artists I know, write funny songs.  It’s our way of going against the grain and making people slightly uncomfortable.  I don’t have any fantasies that comedy music will be as mainstream as rap and rock, but it’s our subculture.

I don’t see anything big happening for a few more years yet though.  Artists are too subdivided and niche’d down to make a huge change.  But someone will and I’m interested to see what it becomes.

Update: I just saw this great post from Keith Andrew.  And I think he makes a good point.  Maybe there is no “next big thing”.  Maybe we as artists just need to concentrate on resonance.


Phil Johnson

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