Hype: Apparently It’s Not As Bad We Thought

Jan 28th, 2008 // 11 Comments

hypehypehype.jpgMaura 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.

Don’t Believe The Anti-Hype “Hype” Of Musicians [Guardian]

  1. Nicolars

    Isn’t Tim Jonze the douchelord who did the interview with Morrissey for the NME last year?

  2. Ned Raggett

    I just blog for myself and if anyone else notices, that’s a bonus.

  3. jetblackturd

    @Nicolars: Yeah Jessums, no one gives a fuck what this ball-bag says. He hates music.

  4. mike a

    I for one welcome our music-industry overlords. If it means that the Fall Colors or the 75s (to name two of the poorly-hyped bands whose MP3s I’ve posted) get some recognition…then hell, bring on the spikes.

  5. Jasonbob7

    Jonze gets it wrong – most hype doesn’t spring from some altruistic desire to see a band succeed. It’s based on a selfish craving for the attention/cred/pageviews/free swag that come with being the first to “discover” a buzz-band. FANS spread the word because they love a band…BLOGS create buzz because they want people to love THEM.

  6. bcapirigi

    while it’s annoying to listen to listen to bands complain about their own hype, what the hell else is a journalist going to ask them about when they’ve only been together for a month and already got signed to interscope? as much as i like, i don’t know, cajun dance party, it doesn’t mean i should automatically expect them to have deep or even interesting thoughts about anything in interviews.

  7. Anonymous

    @Jasonbob7:
    It’s not like it’s specific to blogs, NME has been hyping terrible bands forever trying to get people to pay attention to them like they did after they “discovered” The Smiths, blogs are just a way to do it infinitely faster.

    As the late Jobriath could tell you devastating hype isn’t new, it’s just much more efficient.

  8. CarsmileSteve

    yeah, the uk tree-based press has been this bad for as long as i can remember, need i mention Terris and Gay Dad? as well as Birdland, Fabulous, NWONW etcetcetc.

    the main difference seems to be that now every broadsheet has a music section (staffed primarily by inkie writers from 10-20 years ago, of course), and NME is written for 8 year olds there seems to be a wider perception of it, before we even get to the blogamasphere.

  9. Anonymous

    @Nicolars:

    He is that douchelord.

  10. Anonymous

    Yeah…pretty much piss on this article. His one complaint that makes a bit of sense was that you can’t cry “boo, all of my hype!” while you (or your publicist) bombards magazines with requests to do features on you. That seems valid. But JASONBOB7 pretty much hits the nail on the head. Fuck this dude.

  11. WHAD1

    “Learning to Let Go” is a great damn album.

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