December 10, 2004



Being the third of five propositions on genre, humbly submitted by one of the many fine guests to blog on the site of the future king of all the known world, Coronado Anaxamander Paulo Freire-Jones, or just plain "CoJones" to his Cointreau drinking buddies.

Over time, social content becomes sonic form.

And at some point, so much social content has escaped into sonic form that the genre is dead. Or at least, for some bands, the social conteent is converted to sonic form, and they no longer have a legit claim on the genre.

So, to stick with punk rock as an example genre since white dudes are so good at talking about it almost all the time and thrice on (Taking Back) Sundays, Green Day has a graciously refined sense of punk rock sonics; you can tell because they sound like Buzzcocks, or else like Bram Tchaikovsky after huffing a third rail of Jolt Cola. I ran into Billy Joe in a wrecka stow once and asked him what he thought of Bram Tchaikovsky, and it took him about three minutes to successfully enunciate the name. This was before he became a dad.

But "unlike" Good Charlotte, Green Day endeavors to say the things one is supposed to say in a punk rock world view, or at least a-British-punk-rock-1976-1981-
. They probably believe them.

Still, if the social content of punk rock is, in part, a big fucking NO to the shimmery tungsten cage of boredom that appears around us viz corporate transmutation of every border of daily life into some kind of slick product we are free to buy or not to buy, that is the (only) question, then Green Day can't really qualify, now can they? 'Cause try as I may, I just can't find that NO anywhere in what they do, in any serious way. Them things they say are now just part of the stylistic performance of the genre, and tough they seem not to be the astounding creeps one might find in Good Charlotte, they nonetheless share with that band an incapacity to engage at once the two elements that must be present and in drama with each other in a vital genre. Green Day, I am saying: not punk rock, just formalists.

But they're kind of good. I am not saying Green Day sucks. I like them. I like that song "Warning" a lot. Historically apt punk formalism can be a blast, and historically apt disco formalist is good for dancing, and so on. This is not about what band does and doesn't suck. Nor is about calling out poseurs. (By the way, in the case of music, "poseur" is a contraction of "all sonic formalism, no social content.")

It's about genre.

And the thing is, if you reverse Prop 3 -- I mean, if you assume it to be the case and then swim backward through time -- you come to realize that a lot of the stuff that you might accept as sonic formalism in a genre started as social content. My elders tell me that the guitar sounds on Bollocks were supposed to be hard to listen to, like Metal Machine Music, were supposed to make you take sides, were supposed to set up inclusionary/exclusionary boundaries between the lovers and the haters of the slick, easily consumable item -- it was a clique track, in a manner of speaking. By the time of Green Day, that sound is a slick, easily consumable item, and so the social content of the sound is lost, or rather, falls into sonic formalism. Like I said.

What does this have to do with rap, race, and misogyny? Everything. But let me figure out how to put into blog-words the five propsositions first. Thanks for your patience,


Posted by at December 10, 2004 12:56 AM | TrackBack