Music fans, readers of poetry, viewers of art – do you compare?
Making comparisons in every day life seems natural. People compare themselves to others all the time: judging their own performance at work or socially; judging their own views against someone else’s; judging their own appearance in comparison with someone else’s; judging their child’s progress at school against that of the neighbour, the list of comparable situations is endless.
Read about new or up and coming bands and you’ll find they are always compared to other artists in their genre. Is this fair?
Copy and articles in the media compare bands and music artists to each other. Captions in magazines introduce groups with the words “For fans of…”, or “Sounds like…”, and liken them to other artists. This gives the listener an idea, but the suggestion will always be embodied in the listener’s mind. Why should a band’s sound be twinned to someone else’s in order to be recognised?
There can be no denial that similarities can be identified. Take Australian rock band Airbourne, notoriously likened to AC/DC . Lots of the components are there including two brothers, copycat riffs and a lead singer who appears to model himself on a mix of Angus Young’s lead guitarist antics and Bon Scott’s loveable cheek, wit and raspy vocals. But take away those saleable characteristics, put on to entertain the crowd, and it’s the music that is different. They do have their own exciting sound, despite it being peppered with something familiar. Examples of other bands in multiple genres could be dragged up for pages and pages to come, but every one of them is different on some level, it’s just discovering how the sound affects the ear on a personal level and subsequently how it moves the listener. Surely that’s what it takes to be a true fan? I like Airbourne. I like AC/DC. I don’t like Airbourne because they have been likened to AC/DC.
Can poets be compared to each other? Look at the current poetry and spoken word scene, huge and ever growing in popularity. Many London poets have been witnessed ranting along in monotone modern London dialect, a little bit street, a little bit middle class, sharing messages about political concern, personal opinion, dilemmas, glitches in our social systems and either make light of them or or target the audience with soapbox fury. The familiar strain seems to be, who can shout the loudest? Then again, all their words are valid and their work is listened to and applauded, because they cannot be compared. Each one has something different to offer and listening hard, or reading close, will open minds and stimulate. The beauty in each one can be identified as something unique.
Can authors be compared to each other? Can painters or designers be compared? Probably, but please try to ignore the comparisons dictated by someone else, it’s lazy. In writing about bands for the last three or four years, I have been guilty of making a comparison or two myself. I will do my best not to in future.
There will always be something in a style that stands apart in each group or individual. That style will catch the eye if we want it to, regardless of any similarities marked alongside anyone else.
Long Live The Fans!