Friday, March 9, 2007

Why Peter Bjorn and John Must Be Stopped

As I mentioned in my previous post, we are headed into SXSW with the serious danger that Peter Bjorn and John will be turned into the "buzz" or "breakout" band of the festival. What is the evidence for this? Consider:
For the people doing the judging—i.e., the major media, many of whom parachute into the indie-rock world for SXSW and want to emerge having declared someone the victor—these are just the sort of signposts that they study to figure out which bands to follow while they're there. Right now, as I type this, reporters for national magazines and newspapers are looking through music blogs, looking at download charts, trying to draw up a short list of potential buzz bands that they can flog to their readership.

As much as we would all like to just ignore the whole "buzz band" phenomenon -- to chalk it up (correctly) to the meaningless machinations of a press in need of a story -- the fact is that those decisions matter. They matter in terms of what bands get played, what bands get signed, what bands get associated with indie rock as a genre. Whether we like it or not, the sound of the "buzz band" gets attributed to us, in terms of what we supposedly like. We, the indie-rock fans, suffer when the buzz band is bad.

Which brings us to the question: Do we want Peter Bjorn and John to be hailed as the standard bearers for a whole genre of music? And the answer is: NO WAY. As I acknowledged in the previous post, "Young Folks" was catchy and harmless, but this band is not a significant band. Peter Bjorn and John must be stopped.

And we can do it. As admittedly cheesy as this may sound, if there's one thing that blogs (and consumer-generated media more generally) have taught us in the last few years, it's that those of us who try hard enough really can affect the culture, even if we never get some big cultural institution to back us up. This has been especially true with indie rock.

We make these bands ourselves, online, though our posts, listens, downloads, and links. If we want to take them down, we can. In the case of Peter Bjorn and John, we must.

As for how, I will get into that in the next post.

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