The Hype of March

Who will be the band of 2006, and why you shouldn’t care

The NME sends a scribe out to their big show, and said writer is either cynical or naive or lager-pissed enough to actually go to print with his paid expert opinion that "the Librarians are the best band in the world." A couple of weeks later, the NME releases a list of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time, and the Librarians' Daft as a Brush comes in at No. 3, behind whatever Beatles album the hipster canon is highest on in any given year (a five-year cycle that churns through Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's, the White Album and Abbey Road) and maybe Astral Weeks or Pet Sounds or Exile on Main Street or some punk landmark like London Calling or Never Mind the Bollocks.

And then the Librarians were launched upon America. Every once in a while, it clicked here too, and you would get an Oasis or something. But far more often, these bands foundered on Plymouth Rock and were tossed overboard like so much unwanted tea. Our critics savaged them mercilessly. American fans knew and mocked the British music press. The NME had about as much credibility as Tom DeLay pontificating about ethics. Americans were immune to British hype.

But ever since everyone got on the Internet, we have succumbed to an American version of the same. Pitchfork is the Yank NME. All it takes is a grade above 9.0 for a band to have it made here – at least until the backlash sets in, which will arrive with your second release. If you fail to heed their advice and just go away, the scorn will intensify with wild abandon on your third album. After all, no one likes to see a puffy, bloated hulk, a shadow of that once lean 'n' hungry hero, sneaking belts of cut-rate vodka behind the potted plants and bloviating loudly to all and sundry about those long-gone wild nights in Silverlake, SoHo or Williamsburg with Winona, Kate and/or Drew. (Or Paris Hilton, if you were into fucking ironically.)

And given that Pitchfork deems 99 percent of reissues as superior to 99.9 percent of new albums, you won't be cracking the nines until your boxed set comes out in 2031. Then, on that joyous day, some yet-unborn Pitchfork geek will give your reissued music a 9.6, singling out for special praise your "criminally underrated second and third albums." (Of course the next week, they will give a 9.7 to Revenant's 16-CD set Crack Corn: 337 Joints of Funky-Fresh Golden Age Hip-hop from Topeka's Phiendin' Pha Phat Label.)

"Over those who would sell to the hipsters, then, hangs the promise of instant adoption but also the specter of wholesale and irrevocable desertion" Wasik writes. In other words, at any given moment, only one band matters, and that band matters only until the next one comes along.

Yep, to quote that much-mocked sage Huey Lewis – or is he ironically appreciated now? Or is he cool? What does Michael Ian Black think about him? Can I quote him? Will people laugh at me?

Anyway, as I was saying, to quote Huey Lewis, now more than ever, it's hip to be square. And it's hipper still not to care either way.

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