In the early 90’s, Terminator 2 (aka, T2) was one of my favorite movies. The special effects were years before its time, Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) ushered in a new era of female heroines that could kick some serious ass, and those half-sentence catch phrases from Arnold Schwarzenegger–man–who couldn’t resist those? Though I loved the film, I always thought the storyline was a little far-fetched. Computers and robots taking over the world? Yeah right!
(above: “I’m the biggest rock star of the decade!”)
As I sit here today, a good 17 years after the film was released (has it really been that long?), I realize that its premise wasn’t too far-fetched after all. The Terminator wasn’t just a movie franchise, it was a prophecy!
In years past, when a decade came to a close, we’d usually look back at all the people in music and pop-culture that made it so special:
1980’s? Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and Madonna. Hip-hop goes mainstream. Underground punk gives way to New Wave. “College-rock” is born. American hardcore and post-punk emerge.
1990’s? Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. A young pop-tart named Britney Spears enters the scene. Punk and thrash metal go mainstream (thanks to two bands from the Bay Area). People go goo-goo over industrial, electronic, ska, alternative, and grunge music. “College-rock” bands score major label deals (and some don’t even have to whore themselves out in the process).
2000’s? Hmm. That’s a good question. Um, how ’bout that “Garage-rock” revolution? Oh yeah, I guess that never really took off the way music journalists wanted it to, did it? How about emo? I don’t even know if we can call this a movement since many “emo” bands don’t consider themselves “emo” to begin with.
Who were the big rock stars of the 2000’s? Dang, I think I can count them all on one hand, and the biggest one doesn’t even play rock music. Isn’t that right Kanye?
Sarah Connor would probably agree with me on this, but when people look back at the 2000’s (which they’ll start doing in about a year), the first thing that will come to mind are computers. Blackberries, YouTube, iPods, iPhones, blogs, Facebook, ProTools, RSS Feeds, and MySpace pages are the true rock stars of the ’00s.
If something was big this decade, there’s a good chance a computer had something to do with it. Record stores have been replaced by a quick browse and click on iTunes (or a gazillion other sites on the web), singers don’t have to sing in key anymore as long as they’ve got vocorders or auto-tune software, and why should a kid start a rock band when they can just buy a video game simulation of it?
Bands that were discovered this decade were discovered–on a computer. The latest music news and gossip is no longer told through ‘zines, press releases, or fan club newsletters, it’s told through blogs, which is done via–you got it–a computer. Encores at concerts are requested, not through lighters, but by the LCD screen on a cell phone. Many DJ’s don’t even cut up vinyl anymore, they simulate it by doing the “wicky-wicky” motion on a circular piece of plastic, that will then digitally “cut up” the files on their computer.
I could go on and on like a dramatic Sarah Connor monologue (flashbacks and all). Leafing through a book of CD’s in the backseat of a friend’s car has given way to scrolling through a playlist on their MP3 player. Why hang a concert flyer, when you could send a concert eVite? Why go to the box office, when you can buy and print out a ticket online? Why wait for a music video to play on your television, when you can watch any one you want (at any time of the day) on your computer? Why take the time to find a drummer who’s easy to get along with, when you could just rip some software that will program beats for you. Why pay for guitar lessons when you could learn the same thing on a 5-minute YouTube video?
If you work in music and don’t think a computer can do your job, think again. How soon will computers be able to write blog posts (which will pretty much end my tenure in the music industry)? It already has the power to put red zig-zag lines under each word I misspell, how long before it puts a red zig-zag line under me? Let’s face it, without a computer a music blogger is pretty much obsolete.
It’s coming everyone, Judgment Day is coming. You’ve been warned…