One thing that no music lover will never be able to escape is the idea of people claiming that they ‘were born in the wrong generation’.
Whether they desire to be living through the synthpop era of the 80s, Bowie’s glam days in the 70s, or the Britpop battles of the 90s, there is always a section of society which just isn’t content with their contemporary kingpins of the music biz.
But the best way to judge a certain decade of music is by assessing what it will be remembered for. This begs the million dollar question of what will the 2010s be remembered for? Which songs will we be showing our kids to give them a taste of the music scene in our time? What movements of music are we going to be able to say we lived through?
As we are well into the final quarter of this decade, here’s a look at what the answer to those questions could be:
The main success story of the decade so far is hip-hop making the leap from an underground movement to the mainstream. It was recently announced by Billboard that it became the most consumed genre in the US, overtaking rock music for the first time, and we’re not close behind following the trend on this side of the pond.
The days of MCing being collectively considered as a niche art form are completely over. Drake was categorically the biggest superstar in the world last year, and artists like Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, and French Montana are making mainstream waves that their predecessors failed to achieve.
Of course, this element of hip-hop which has achieved unmatched success is far from what we were listening to in the ‘golden era’ of A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, and N.W.A, the genre has evolved from that. Albums such as Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreaks and the rise of trap-rap have shaped together a new brand of hip-hop which has much more pop appeal.
But what’s happened to the forgotten genre of rock which filled the void previously? The 2000s saw an undeniable indie boom, with Franz Ferdinand, The Strokes, and Arctic Monkeys at the top of their game, it wasn’t out of their reach to have a top 10 single. Imagine that, a rock band making the UK top 40… near enough unheard o f these days.
Hip-hop and rock music trading places isn’t the only shift in the spotlight. There’s been a colossal change in who exactly is getting the credit for the biggest albums and singles in the world right now. No longer are producers and songwriters hidden behind the boards for only the morbidly curious to find – they are the ones making the headlines.
DJ Khaled is the most blatant and socially relevant example of this. If ‘Wild Thoughts’ was released 10 or 15 years ago (see Santana’s ‘Maria Maria’ to see what that would sound like), then it would be Rihanna and Bryson Tiller getting all the praise. But Khaled doesn’t seem like the type to shy away from the limelight and rightly so, the time for producers is now.
Other producers such as Kaytranada, Metro Boomin, and Knxwledg have also released projects under their own pseudonym to much success. This is just the beginning of what is likely to become a worldwide trend.
Looking at what is popular in a certain decade is one of two ways of determining what it will be remembered for. The alternative method is to see what is making progress as a dark horse, what movement of music is creeping it’s way to popularity in the subtlest of ways? The standout candidate for this is disco.
Hints of disco have been floating around in the charts for a handful of years now, and this comeback can almost be pinpointed to one seminal album – Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories in 2013.
This album saw the legendary French duo trade in the synths and kickdrums for bass guitars and a brass section. Deploying guests such as Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams made it clear to the world that disco was about to come out of hibernation.
More recently, you can see signs of disco in practically every sub-genre from commercial pop (see Calvin Harris’ ‘Heatstroke’), to art-rock (see Arcade Fire’s ‘Everything Now’), and all the way back to french house (see High Contrast’s ‘The Beat Don’t Feel The Same’). This trend is one that will carry on ascending and is more likely to realise its full potential in the 2020s. But the prospect of this decade playing host to the rebirth of disco, is certainly a welcome one.
No one can truly predict what our time will be remembered for, and in a way, we’re better off that way. But hopefully this has proved that there is enough creativity and enough musical diversity to be aflame with excitement for what the rest of this decade has to offer.