As we hit the half-way point in 2019, let’s entertain the notion that things can only get better.
Fanciful, I know. I won’t bore you with a laundry list of everything I believe is wrong these days. And of course we might not see eye to eye on all the items I’d put on that list. But hopefully we can agree on this general wish: I’d like to see a year filled with music that does more than simply provide solace and distraction. Not that I look down my nose at these things. But in the end, shouldn’t art, in terms of ultimate goals, aim higher than to soothe and distract? Call me an Anne of Green Gables dreamer, but I’m choosing to indulge in visions of big, bold music for 2019. A bumper crop of great songs, made by people I won’t be embarrassed to call “daddy” or “queen” on Instagram.
Here are my five wishes for music—wishes backed by prayer, and, if need be, payola.
1) A funk-metal revival.
Why do you laugh? Look, I won’t pretend this brief, pre-grunge genre was the best musical thing that’s happened in our lifetimes. I mean, I don’t break out my Psychefunkapus cassettes all that often. Like with ska, bands that added slap bass to thrash riffs had an unfortunate habit of shoehorning the word “funk” into their names. It was abundantly silly music that often lacked the lyrical heft of, uh, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
But there was also an appealing genre schizophrenia—a winning duality—that, when thumping in the sure hands of musicians like the dudes in Primus and Fishbone, felt brash and free. Or maybe I’m just bristling at the current nu-metal revival. (For those not following this stuff, nu-metal began with nineties rap-rock bands like Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit, and now…it’s back.) If I’m going to have to live through white people with dreadlocks again, I’d like it to be accompanied by a horn section, not a backward baseball cap.
Incidentally, if funk-metal can’t come back, how about electroclash? Adults in crotchless rompers mixing new wave, techno, synth-pop, and performance art—who’s with me?
2) Ex-wife country music.
It would replace bro-country. Yes, I’m listening to the excellent new Pistol Annies album, Interstate Gospel, as I write this. I don’t have any skin in the “real country” versus “fake country” debate game. But I must say, the fact that the songs on this album don’t sound like Bon Jovi B-sides is a real plus. Also, it occurs to me that since there might be two or three ex-husbands reading this, I should probably amend my term and express a wish for…ex-spouse country music. Songs made by grown-ups that put a premium on living lives where love is believed in, at least fleetingly, and the stakes have real weight. People falling in love, proclaiming that love in front of God and family, and then, when it all falls apart, writing songs about something other than a pickup truck and the Daisy Dukes moldering in the cargo bed.