Genre Study - 6.5.2010 - Part 2

I should consider making a new blog just for this....

Queried Album: The Postal Service - Give Up
Gracenote Genre: Post-Modern Electronic Pop
Wikipedia Genre: Indie pop, Electropop, Electronica
My Genre: Electropop
HAHA OH WOW Sorry, sorry. It's just... post-modern? Really? REALLY?

If you take that bit out then Gracenote's genre is perfectly fine; electropop is a portmanteau of electronic and pop, after all. It's a little wordier than necessary (when a genre name begins to resemble a Bob Dylan song title you know you have issues), but at least it's accurate. Calling this post-modern though... that's a bit beyond the pale, isn't it?

Post-modern is a term that's gotten tossed around by so many art critics that it's lost a lot of its actual meaning, but generally it refers to a work that elevates or subverts some aspects of a pre-existing genre. Like the famous "Treachery Of Images", or the classic "Duck Amuck" sketch, it's something that causes the viewer to question their perception of the referenced genre/movement.

The Postal Service doesn't do any of that. At all. As far as I know, no band/artist could claim to be post-modern. You could make a case for Frank Zappa I suppose, but his music was more about sheer entertainment than anything else. Music isn't really a proper venue for such things, as making melodic music requires you to employ at least some conventional structure. Lou Reed's notorious Metal Machine Music did that, but it was also tossed into the proverbial dustbin of artistic failure, and has never been reclaimed by society as a whole.

It's an interesting dynamic, and it's one that I'm not really capable of discussing in depth, partly because of a lack of relevant knowledge and partially because of a total lack of interest. I am not a student at an art school, and therefore I don't give a shit about the distinction between modern and post-modern. The point is, The Postal Service didn't push any boundaries with Give Up, they just made an electropop album.

Which is absolutely fine. Give Up is a perfectly good album that made lots and lots of money by selling over 900,000 copies, which is pretty damn good for something that Sub-Pop released.

This brings us to the Wikipedia genres, which are by and large fine, except for that hated word, 'Indie'. People, especially critics, need to figure out that indie is a completely meaningless name for a genre, and has absolutely no distinguishing features. It's basically another word for twee, and the term's massive vagaries leads to it being slapped onto all kinds of unsuitable artists. Any genre that claims to include Arcade Fire (baroque pop), Peter Bjorn And John (electropop), Fountains of Wayne (power pop), and fucking Oasis (brit pop) is full of shit, period. No arguments accepted or warranted.

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