Maura needs to chill, because hype is not only the most important subject in music in
2006 2007 2008, it is also, despite all evidence to the contrary, actually a healthy thing for developing bands, something that should be embraced rather than disdained. So sayeth Tim Jonze of the Guardian at the tail end of a screed about “hype bands” and their tendency to complain in interviews about the machinations that have led to the “hype” prefix being attached in the first place. But while it’s undoubtedly annoying to listen to young psuedo-celebrities griping about their sudden spike in acclaim, isn’t a little skepticism a useful tool for a band in the hyper-mercurial world of Web 2.0? Of course not. Don’t be so jaded.
It’s fashionable to hate the establishment, to want to represent the alternative… but if there’s nothing to back this up, who are they kidding? I suggest they all either take a leaf out of the Arctic Monkeys’ book (who made it a right pain in the neck to get an interview and refused to bow down to radio and TV station demands even before they were signed) or admit that, deep down, they secretly love having journalists frothing at the mouth over their unique ability to play a bass guitar in time with the drums.
Because hype’s not really an evil thing. These days especially, it’s born from small fan movements, writers and radio DJs who love your band and want you to do well. It’s a vital tool of your trade, and hearing you slagging it off when you’re using it would be like listening to Heston Blumenthal moaning all day that he hates pans.
Wait…really? See, we thought that if there’s one thing that we’ve learned over the last 12 months of music blog meta, it’s that there’s very little “grass roots” about the lemming-like progression of blog-age hype once it gets rolling, as much (if not more so) the product of a pre-orchestrated PR push as any organically grown “small fan movement” watered with genuine enthusiasm. (Unless things work very differently in the U.K., which is highly doubtful considering the way the Brit music press has long operated.) And given how common it is to now read trend pieces about bands being deemed “washed up” or “over” by those very same “small fan movements” before the product even hits stores, a certain skepticism over the almost inevitable boom-and-bust results of the blog age seems essential, however honest a place it comes from. Maybe Foals, Jonze’s chief annoyance, are naifs without the self-awareness to gauge their own complicity. Maybe they’re already knowing press manipulators. Maybe it’s icky either way. But a hype-suspicious stance seems a savvier business decision than blindly assuming bloggers, critics, and P2P addicts “want you to do well,” maybe more a sad sign of the cynicism required to survive as a mid-level indie band in 2008 than anything else.