Sappy, whiny pop needs to die
James Blunt is responsible for everything bad in popular music
There is one fact that is commonly overlooked when discussing “pop” music, and it actually has to do with the word itself more than anything about the genre.
It’s that pop music was coined originally in discussing popular music, which didn’t have a distinct style per se, but was rather just whatever music the masses were enjoying. It doesn’t matter how you classify The Beatles, Pink Floyd or Arcade Fire. Technically, they have all been pop at some point for being the popular choice of listeners.
Generally, there are two streams when it comes to popular music. The first is what the music artists themselves put out in attempts of being recognized and loved. It changes with time, as it goes where the listener’s ear goes.
The second is the manufactured stream, where record companies assemble the perfect super-groups who are a lock to win over the people who will pay for their product. While this practice is much more popular in countries like Japan and Korea, you only have to put on your favourite boy band to find it a little closer to home.
However, there has been an overlap of these two styles recently, and the end result has been a depressant on music. A depressant that has lowered the standards we expect from pop music, and a depressant that literally just makes listeners sad.
There has been an overwhelming amount of music put out since the mid-2000s that follows the same style of building the song from the core of emotional lyrics that aren’t actually overly emotional, but rather just sad sentiments the majority of people who have ever felt sad can relate to.
If you listen to Coldplay or Snow Patrol, this applies to you. Same to people who enjoy Taylor Swift and Adele. If you think you’re exempt, remember that this also applies to bands like Bon Iver, Death Cab for Cutie, GOTYE — the list just goes on.
There is one man we can actually point the finger to and blame for this mess, and it is because he had to show his soft side in 2004 and tell women and girls everywhere over and over that they’re beautiful.
The sad, sappy culprit is James Blunt.
Take a minute before you dismiss this as sheer poppycock. Yes, it is true that many of the aforementioned bands had been around since before 2004. Yes, it is also true that You’re Beautiful was Blunt’s only major contribution to the music world.
Consider, though, how everything changed after that song. Death Cab for Cutie capitalized on the new demand for feelings, switching labels to the very popular Atlantis. However, when Atlantis became a major factor, Death Cab’s sound went from that of emotional to whiny.
Coldplay greatly cashed in on this, and upped their game to match. Their album X&Y was released just as this craze was starting, and they raised the stakes from Viva La Vida on by hiring producer Brian Eno, among many others, to help them capitalize on their depressed, heartfelt act.
After listening to both bands for a while though, a common reaction is just to get bored with it because people can only tolerate being mopey for so long before they begin to move on — as they rightly should.
James Blunt never really had another song quite like You’re Beautiful, and no one ever brings up his name anymore because that’s all that he had going for him.
He tried to encapsulate the goldmine he thought he had for a couple albums after, and was called out by notable reviewers like The Guardian and NME among others for sticking with the same shtick, with most critics hoping he would just stop.
He has, at least for now. But not before leaving a sad, ugly mark on the music scene that the higher-ups are only too happy to cash on, ironically.