Alternative Subcultures

Yay, it’s indie music week! This is what I’ve been waiting for – to be able to talk about my favorite genre. Basically, I’m an indie music aficionado. It always satisfied me in such a way that no other genre could quite manage. It’s oddly satisfying – as a celebration of weirdness, indie music gives me the fix I need to make me feel like I’m listening to music in outer-space played by a band that uses a Styrofoam cup, plastic spoon, washboard, didgeridoo, chorus of squirrels… Wait, does that actually exist yet? As all indie people are fully aware of, the coolest band out there is unheard of by all and actually does not exist yet. I think the human paradox of wanting to be a part of something larger but also wanting “otherness,” exclusivity and something different is what leads a certain niche to people to music that celebrates independence and freedom from the dictatorship of major labels. It’s such a breath of fresh of air to hear something different and real.

Wald’s article on feminism discusses Gwen Stefani, her songs and her style. I remember being very young when “Just a Girl” debuted – my friends and I went nuts over it. But what I remember most clearly was Stefani’s look. The essay describes it as a sort of “punk Marilyn Monroe,” which I think is the perfect description. She is a feminine figure but toes the line between girlishness and mocking conventions. With her platinum blonde hair and attitude, she was the new role model we aspired to be. We were just starting elementary school and Gwen Stefani along with the Spice Girls entertained us primarily. The Spice Girls appealed to our glitzy, girly side, while Gwen Stefani appealed to both the glamorous little girls we wanted to be while softly rebelling against the establishment. I must commend the marketing teams for the artists – cleverly done. Gwen Stefani covered all bases.

The article on Mexican music was difficult to understand at points. I imagine this is because I am completely unschooled in Mexican music, with the exception of Ritchie Valens (La Bamba remains one of my favorite movies and songs since I saw it when I was in elementary school). I must be honest here – I had a hard time getting into the article. However, something interesting I picked up from it is that “No Hay Manero” puts memories of the past back into a social and economic landscape that would rather forget them. Music should indeed keep memories of everything possible within a world that moves towards globalization daily. It is a valuable artifact that can record histories and sing them back at us.

The Hesmondhalgh article discusses record stores, which are among my favorite places on earth. Specialist shops arose because of changes in the distribution sector of the British music business. Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, labels started to pop up. The labels themselves were formed by the specialty music shops. The presence and significance of independents was increased. Even though it says Rough Trade went bankrupt in 1991, is there where today’s Rough Trade Records fits in? I could spend a few hours squealing over the bands on this label (Belle and Sebastian, The Strokes, The Mystery Jets, The Hold Steady, Arcade Fire, just to name a few). Rough Trade was a shop, a big label and a distribution company. A major way the indies tend to market themselves is though Do-It-Yourself marketing all the way through. This is independence brought a whole new plane. I have to give them my respect, since I’m a firm believer that independence is the road to the true creation of art.

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10 Responses to “Alternative Subcultures”

  1.    mtambawala100 Says:

    I agree that independence is conducive to creativity and art. I think these days people are looking for something fresh and different since the top 40 on the radio all sound the same. I wish there was a better balance for indie bands to get their music heard by bigger audiences but still stay true to themselves.

  2.    Amy Herzog Says:

    Sorry we ran out of time for the Banda-hip hop article! I was interested in the way ideas of “home” get negotiated in new global-local communities by fusing musical styles…

    And the Rough Trade article is kind of a heart breaker for me– so sad that a company that wanted to do the right thing couldn’t remain independent. The good news is that, even in their new not-quite-as-independent guise, they have done a brilliant job signing new, talented artists.

    I’ll be anxiously awaiting the release of a single involving musical squirrels!

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