Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner has divided people a bit. His acceptance monologue at The Brits had some people roused, throwing the horns in salute of his words: ‘rock and roll…will never die, and there’s nothing you can do about it’.
Other people, well, they thought he was being a prick. Or just off his head. Or both?
Let’s be honest, he didn’t come across spectacularly well, but I actually liked some of what he said.
The Brits are, to be honest, irrelevant to rock and roll now. I’m trying to think back to a time when they were relevant, and for me that was some point in the 90’s, when bands, actual bands won awards and played the show. Even then though, it was always tame. Always sanitised, and always for the masses. In fact, thinking about it, I’m pretty sure it was my youth and naivety that made it feel relevant.
Is rock and roll for the masses? Yes and no. It eeks out into popular culture, into the mainstream. It crops up in the most unlikely places, elements of it get borrowed, reworked and made ‘radio friendly’. So yeah, that’s for the masses.
But the real rock and roll? The electrifying punk rock, the snarling frontman/woman, the dirty riffs, meaty hooks, booming baselines… they’re confined mostly to smaller venues (as a fan, I’m thankful for that, soulless arenas aren’t my favourite places), talked about in fanzines and blogs, with crowdfunded or shoestring-funded recordings that get feverishly passed around groups of like-minded friends. Sometimes the odd band escapes, has a moment of glory, or stays ‘out there’, gets adopted into the mainstream and paraded out as headliners on the festival circuit year in, year out.
It’s good though, isn’t it? That despite all the sparkle, glamour and auto-tune, The Brits still gives a nod to a band like Arctic Monkeys?
I’m not saying they’re the most rock & roll outfit out there (clearly not), but compared to the sterile landscape of rent-a-writer pop that fills these type of awards, they are a nice change.
It gives a bit of hope that maybe out there, there’s a future artist out there…a lass or lad watching, who sees someone like Alex Turner making a bit of a show of himself, but saying something. Giving a sly two fingers at the whole thing, and presenting a challenge: ‘there’s nothing you can do about it’.
Oh yes there is. You can make it better. You can create noise, join a band, do something different. Better still, support bands. Get to gigs, as many gigs as you can – from the 100 capacity venues, to mid sized places like Rock City, The Cockpit, The Leadmill, and that pub in town that’s always got gigs on. Why aren’t you there every week? What have you got to loose?
What are you going to do about it?