BEYONCÉ, HILLSBOROUGH AND UNITY THROUGH SONG

by Mike Vinti

It’s been a pretty big couple of weeks in the pop world. Prince died, Beyoncé pulled a well, a Beyoncé, and today (Friday April 29th) Drake has released his new album VIEWS. If ever there was a week to remind us of popular music’s impact on society and culture, this is the one.

While each of these moments are significant in their own right and worthy of articles of their own, of which there have been many, together they’ve demonstrated the power of music to unite people. Be it through, grief, shock or pure unadulterated hype, the three most significant cultural moments of the past eight days have used music to bring people together and for a few days at least, forget about those intent on tearing us apart.Continue Reading

LET THE WORLD SHAKE: THE LYRICAL ACTIVISM OF PJ HARVEY

by Jake Reynolds

On October 2nd, 2011, PJ Harvey appeared on The Andrew Marr Show alongside David Cameron. As soon as Marr mentions that Harvey’s then-latest album, the glorious Let England Shake, tackles ‘a big political subject, in this case Britain and war’, Cameron grits his teeth and asserts that he is ‘very keen’ on the album. Harvey’s polite laugh is the kind we all offer when confronted with a mildly xenophobic taxi driver.

‘Do you think they [the government] are doing alright on culture?’ Marr asks. At this point, Harvey gently and articulately condemns the ‘100% cuts’ in her home county of Somerset. She laments the notion that economic growth in Tory Britain is viewed as the only worthwhile goal. Bizarrely, Cameron awkwardly nods, as if a brief and sudden shot of humanity has temporarily penetrated his reptilian hide. She is, of course, swiftly and patronisingly cut off. ‘You’d better go and get your guitar ready,’ Marr says, clapping his hands together. And so the camera crops her out and focuses back on the men in suits.Continue Reading

RAISE THE PITCHFORK: MUSIC AND MAINSTREAM MEDIA

by Mike Vinti

It was announced on Wednesday that influential music blog Pitchfork – virtual second home to many music nerds – has been sold to Condé Nast, the publishing group behind Vanity Fair and Vogue.

On the face of it, this is a pretty boring piece of news to anyone other than music journalists; Condé Nast is no longer the giant of media it once was, and Pitchfork has a relatively niche audience.  As such, this announcement has been met with derision by many in the blogosphere, perhaps wary of the old-world Nasties infringing on their ad revenue, alongside some legitimate concerns for the diversity of its audience and contributor pool. Yet aside from the dull business of one company purchasing another, the deal proves far more interesting than it first appears.Continue Reading

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT MUSIC

by Mike Vinti.

If 2014 was the year of anything it was the year popular music started to be taken seriously. Services such as Spotify, and the dawn of Smartphones, means that music is more a part of our lives than ever before; a trend that’s influencing the way we engage with it both in terms of platform and as an art-form. It’s easy to view music as a compliment to life, a melodic enhancer to otherwise mundane activities and there’s nothing particularly wrong with treating it as such — I can’t force you to like Death Grips. Music can and should bring pleasure, but as we listen to more and more of it, its messages and intentions are being ignored.

For years now, debate has raged about the messages and politics in TV, Cinema and in Literature, hell, even music videos have had their fifteen minutes of ‘long read’ blog coverage, yet music itself has gone largely ignored. The reason for this, as a friend of mine noted recently, is because of music’s ubiquity — it’s everywhere, all the time. It soundtracks our walks home and our work, our free time and our periods of most intense concentration — as I write this, I am, totally unsurprisingly, listening to music.

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