J. Edward Keyes, Editor-in-Chief for eMusic, told WNYC: “In 2011, expect the line between independent music and big-name, arena-filling acts to become increasingly blurred.” That sounds about right. (Top Three Places We Saw Phoenix With Like 100,000 Other People) But the mainstream-ization of indie rock has played out since before Zoo Kid was born: “Alternative Rock? Alternative to what?,” etc., etc. It’s a new year, though, and everybody wants to sit at the apex, to reflect and to predict but mostly to overstate the present. So let’s look at time and point nothing out, maybe this will be the year the world changes.
Looking back to look forward: last year Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire had #1 albums, but the highest-ranking rock band on Billboard’s 2010 Artist of the Year chart—languishing at a pitiful #16—was fucking Train, who were followed by The Script (?) at #41. What does that even mean? Maybe selling records isn’t the point? Two of the 10 top-selling rock albums of last year were Twilight soundtracks. Maybe trailers are the new platinum?
TV commercials are a fun way to make money. Pomplamoose did Hyundai, Grizzly Bear did VW and so did Thee Oh See’s. Imitation Sigur Rós ads seem so quaint now, with authentic indie acceptably car-commercialized. Can Sour be next? Probably Apple is to blame for all of this. Remember “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” The Yael Naïm MacBook Air? Feist, Franz Ferdinand, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, N.E.R.D., Daft Punk, Gorillaz, Chilly Gonzales, Mary J. Blige, Coldplay, Eminem, Chairlift. Thank god they invented the iTunes Store, we were really hoping someone could monetize advertisements.
We’re looking forward to The Tripwire in 2011: British Sea Power have a new album, but it’s called Valhalla Dancehall. Mogwai’s new one is Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will; how about that title, eh? There’s new Social Distortion, The Strokes are working on something. But probably the most broadly exciting, new, not-overly-weird rock artist was born in 1994, and there’s something to that. If 2011 is truly on some new shit, it’ll be found in the babies.
The last Pop Montreal festival slogan was “Weird is the new indie.” Let’s assume everybody is right. Indie is the new mainstream, weird is the new indie; green is the new red, Blake Lively is the new face of Chanel, and black is the new black. Zoo Kid is…