You hear a lot of interviews with a band or a musician, wherein they bitch and moan because their album didn’t do as well as they had envisioned it would. They’d planned for success, and it didn’t happen.
Kindness – “I’m disappointed that it could be true that the core audience for a record like this is smaller than I originally thought” (Loud and Quiet)
Marina and the Diamonds – “It didn’t go as far as I wanted mainstream-wise” (idolmag.co.uk)
Villagers – “I waited for something, and something died/so I waited for nothing, and nothing arrived” – Nothing Arrived
Why? Why wasn’t it a success? It WAS a success, or I wouldn’t know about it. So what’s the problem?
I think that these bands made an error in too readily devising THE CONCEPT.
Marina and the Diamonds (who I can’t bleedin’ stand, by the by) decided that She was Marina, ‘and YOU [ie, the crowd] are the Diamonds’. She’d devised this entire concept based around her own legend and now she gives interviews wherein she bemoans the fact that she isn’t Florence and the Machine (who I can’t effing stand, by the by). She called her new album Electra Heart. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but Electra Heart is merely a combination of two pretty sounding words that might be a concept look for this season at Topshop, and mean precisely as much as a knat’s fart. It was up on a massive billboard on Shoreditch High Street. They dedicated eight metres to a knat’s fart.
The other two, I like very much. Villagers, despite looking like a painted porcelain doll from the 1890s, makes good music. And Kindness is daft, but produces an intruiging tune. I do laugh when I watch that video where he plays synth with a kid, though.
THE CONCEPT is a seductive thing. It means you have a story, a meaning, a brand. In the current climate of marketability and readily accessed backstory, who wouldn’t want to add some enigma to their mundane tales of reality: ‘We met on the Internet. I’m from Sheffield, Mark’s from Lincoln and Johnny came from Leamington Spa. We just like playing guitars, man. We want to make energetic music that can’t really be categorised, and play live shows that are full of energy and guaranteed to get the crowd going.’ – Steve from Follicles*).
I was in a band, just after I’d moved to London. London filled my every sense experience, and it was amazing. I really wanted to subsume and reflect that amazingness. Deep down, though I didn’t really see it at the time, I was mildly mimicking what I saw other people doing. That’s why it didn’t work out. It wasn’t what I really wanted to do. The concept had overtaken reality, and my soul was left in a sort of metaphysical cardboard box out by the bins. That simplifies what happened, and parts of it were rewarding – but not for long.
The bands that really did well in 2012 were the weird ones. The bands who weren’t trying to be anyone else, or impress people, or be something they were not. Odd, they were, at times. I mean, who names their band after a triangle? ∆ did. But I don’t think they did that to be superior. They did it, as the lead singer clearly states, because ‘triangles are my favourite shape’. Ergo, he’s being himself. The band operates entirely on this basis.
Kindness wants to be more successful than he was 2012. Maybe he should stop considering the external factors. Holding his head high (might be difficult with than mane of hair), and making music truly meaningful to himself, means it has been a success.
That monochrome vision of satisfying arrival. THE CONCEPT. It’s just a mirage.
My favourite bands from 2012 do have ideas, but that doesn’t mean they blindly chase THE CONCEPT. Because THE CONCEPT is an illusion.
*this band does not exist. Or does it