This summer I'm going to be 27 years old. And I'm starting to worry. One of my big interests in life is popular music, and inexorably approaching towards 30 means there's the chance (borne out by oh-so-many precedents) that it'll stop being on top of my agenda. Thirty is the age critics usually start to falter, dismissing new music off-hand as crap and derivative and then slowly creeping towards irrelevance.
This all wouldn't scare me very much (since I hope to bypass it) if it wasn't for the fact that otherwise cool blogs have started to feature new music I don't particularly like. And that it might be the start of a trend I will have a hard time not feeling excluded from.
The first blog-hyped genre I don't get is the entire cumbia nueva thing. I wasn't very fond of cumbia in the first place (it being a rather broad, safe, geographically detached lower-middle-class music) and most of this new stuff has retained all those questionable virtues. It's very much latino (rather than musica negra), it's not properly locally grounded anywhere, it's too reverent to an earlier, fairly dull generation. This all means the obvious analogy is to "rock" in the western world, which is not exactly a glowing endorsement coming from me.
Another aspect is that even the most digital stuff is very samplerrific and shying away from the synthesiser extremes of the past few years. That's something it has very much in common with the other new genre I don't "get", funky. It's kinda softish house-beated, mid-tempo garage with an (almost universal) afro-carribean 3+3+2 latched onto mild house diva or r&b vocals, and it's apparently huge in the london clubs. To me it has all the fairly staind qualities of recent zouk and I just don't see the fun (or the supposed connection to soca).
Still, if indeed we're seeing a trend away from the extreme bassline-oriented electro-styled music of the past few years then I'll have to adjust or be passed off into uselessness, won't I? To me, accepting (and correctly appraising) music I feel totally indifferent to is a huge problem, and a much bigger one than the opposite one that has been discussed a lot recently. How on earth are you meant to critically engage with a subject matter that you don't like or hate but that just bores you?
When critical distance passes off into critical indifference, that's when you really have to start to worry.