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Pop will Eat itself, and its Excrement shall be as Wine
Part One

Something strange is happening to popular music in the early part of the twenty-first century; pop appears to be, as a particular band cautioned (or celebrated?) many years ago, eating itself.  

We refer, of course, not to the standard regurgatative practices of the interwebmegalink (and other rogue studios), nor the (de)constructions of negativland, john oswald, and their ever-present ilk.   

We refer, rather, to ‘bastard pop’.

There is nothing new about using someone else’s music to make your own; nor is there anything particularly interesting about sticking multiple songs together.  There is, however, something interesting about the accessible nature of the end product.  Many of the best of these ‘bastard pop’ tracks are indistinguishable from mainstream pop.  They slip innocuously into the required aural environment, just as catchy, just as hooky, just as poppy (if not moreso) than the originals.

And as such, this decentralised movement of independent artists manages to achieve the memetic liberation that so many sample-based-musicians seek to create all the more thoroughly.  Instead of forcing the brain to rewire itself in a sudden ecstatic flash, ‘bastard pop’ eases the synapses apart, letting them gradually accustom themselves to their new, more ecologically-diverse, memetic repertoires.

“The clown, the trickster, or shape changer becomes the personification of chaos for cultures all over the world.  Though he is the ‘epitome of the principle of disorder’, the trickster is also identified as the bringer of culture, the creator of order, a shaman or ‘super-shaman’.  The trickster is the wily survivor, the mischievious underdog who defies convention, and gives birth to new ideas.”

page 9,  Seven Life Lessons of Chaos: Briggs and Peat, 1999

The inevitability of pop eating itself turns out to be its own self-cannibalistic saviour.

And what about our children?   A recent buttress o’kneel piece, ‘let’s smooth their caps back’, couples the vocal parts from michael jackson’s ‘bad’ and ‘smooth criminal’, and places them in a bastard pop duet with ice-t’s ‘let’s peel their caps back’, a street-level account of mid-nineties urban gang warfare.   Someone born in, say, 1985, may only have a shadowy recollection of michael jackson’s meisterworks, and even less memory of a more-marginalised artist like ice-t.   This child of the eighties downloads ms o’kneel’s contemporary piece, and familiarises herself with its catchy beats and insightful lyrics.  When, by some crazy happenstance, this eighties-born raver catches mr jackson’s ‘smooth criminal’ on her father’s ancient Record Player, she is taken aback; someone’s fucked with that buttress track!   

You see our point; if this gentle redistribution of cultural meme-space is to continue, soon we may have an entire generation of people who have a completely subversive memetic action-skeleton! 

The conspiracy will have failed!

interwebmegalink report, circa. early october 2002

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