Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Elegance Foresaken

As I review and contemplate large lists of music released in 2013, it strikes me that there is a distinct shortage of elegance in modern music. My default listening habit is to check out as much new and interesting music as possible in each and every year. This hopefully helps me to avoid being "that guy", who is fundamentally stuck on music from certain eras long past. All that said, my affection for 80's era British alternative, post-punk, new wave, synth pop and new romantic bands is well documented. It is my sweetest of sweet spots as a devoted music listener.

Much of this era epitomized what I would describe as an elegance long since largely abandoned by artists. I am not speaking strictly to the style and fashions displayed by these bands, but as much a sense of care and loveliness you could hear in every melody and timing, supplemented with an image projection bordering occasionally on decadence or ridiculousness, but without ever crossing that line. Always staying the course of sophistication, intelligence, and acceptably high brow. One definition I read summed it up nicely for me:

"Tasteful opulence in form, decoration, or presentation"

When I look at the class of 2013, artists who convey elegance musically and optically, are few and far between. A shame really. One could file Hurts from Manchester in this column I suppose. The National have always embodied class to me. Janelle Monae and Alison Goldfrapp are both absolutely elegant in every way. I am certain there are a few others. Of course Pet Shop Boys, OMD, Johnny Marr, and Bowie all released new music this year, but they are remnants of the very era of romance and suave songwriting and style I am about to showcase. These songs and videos are all from a period of music where these artists were deliberate yet seamless in the tasteful presentation of image and song, and rarely contrived or forced. For all the new music I spend time with each year, I can't help but wish more artists took this level of care in how they write and perform their songs.


Roxy Music

Duran Duran

Spandau Ballet

The Style Council



Kate Bush



David Bowie

Heaven 17

Pet Shop Boys