Music's Top Five Hottest Trends For 2011
Photo illustrations by John Seaborn Gray
Every year-end Rocks Off prognosticates the likeliest trends in music for the upcoming year. So far, we've got a 100 percent success rate, although since the FBI made us take down all of our previous predictions, we have no way to prove it.
So you'll just have to copy and paste these predictions and save them on your own computer, and come next December 30, you can bear witness to our flawless prophesying.
5. Auto-Tuned Vocoder
As music grows more and more computer-generated, actual human voices will become more and more out of place. The previous solution, Auto-tune, is rapidly becoming stale in the minds of flash-in-the-pan pop audiences. So to put a fresh spin on it, Kanye West puts a previously unreleased My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy B-side, which features him experimenting with Auto-tuned vocoder like a modern-day Zapp, on his Web site. Once Kanye has done it, everyone else is doing it within three months.
4. Supergroup Lottery
We're all familiar with the concept of the supergroup: When two or more famous bands split up and their remainders unite, that becomes a supergroup. Examples include Damn Yankees, Audioslave, A Perfect Circle and Them Crooked Vultures.
Although previous supergroup membership was determined by artists' knowledge and respect for one another and consideration for how well their particular talents would meld, it's decided that due to flagging album and concert ticket sales, more drastic measures are needed. Hence, every major or minor artist available submits their name into a lottery pool, from which a band name is drawn once a month, then a performer's name, and that performer must then join that band.
The experiment starts off with a bang in January when Jack White is drafted into the Black Keys, grows into unbridled awesomeness when members of The Black Angels and The Sword are traded, becomes awkward when Miley Cyrus must sing for NOFX, and finally lapses into total ridiculousness around July, when Rob Zombie is forced into Florence & the Machine.
We could literally write about the possibilities all day, so we'll stop now.
3. Glo-wave and Alpha Hipsters
Indistinguishable synth-drone genres chillwave and glo-fi will be combined into one genre called glo-wave. Only the douchiest of douchsters will be able to tell the difference, but at least it keeps the rest of us from having to try and suss it out.
Unfortunately, an unexpected side effect causes us to question the wisdom of the merger when a phenomenon known as the Alpha Hipster emerges. Jocks, brosephs, and rappers all across the country find themselves bullied and victimized by the aggressive Alpha Hipsters, who relentlessly mock them for not owning more than one collection of Neon Indian B-sides. Identifiable by their enormous white-boy Afros, ironic sweat bands and extra-short running shorts, Alpha Hipsters are soon the target of a national campaign against scene-bullying.
Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, Royal Pains' Reshma Shetty, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's Charlie Day and several other cable stars record PSAs stating that just because you're really, really into Miike Snow is no reason to push other people around.
2. YouTube Sensation Backlash
2009 and 2010 were the years in which YouTube performers were plucked from obscurity and handed record deals, TV shows and more. 2011 is when the backlash starts.
Alienated by an increasingly fickle audience that hungers not for consistent quality from familiar artists but only for the next flavor of the month, various YouTube sensations rapidly change the tone of their output. Antoine Dodson will record a very graphic gangsta rap video portraying him tracking down, torturing, and killing his sister's attempted rapist.
Lucas Cruikshank, a.k.a. Fred, ditches the helium voice and creates a new character called Acrothok, the troubled, self-cutting lead singer of a rapegaze act. Pomplamoose turn into a DC-style hardcore punk act reminiscent of Bad Brains, and Alexis Jordan disowns Jay-Z's Roc Nation label when, thanks to the supergroup lottery, she's assigned to membership in Opeth.
The only YouTuber to profit from this darker turn is Mark Gormley, who crafts a prog-rock epic of pain and sorrow even more intense than "Without You," if you can imagine such a thing.
1. Pop Singers Reading Erotica On Tape
With pulp erotica still gaining popularity and pop and R&B growing ever more sexually graphic, the two finally make their long-overdue merger official in 2011 when many Top 40 artists start reading the books-on-tape of various softcore petticoat-rippers. The results aren't always spectacular.
Tom Jones' reading of The Lusty Discoveries of Miss Edwina Havisham is decidedly awkward, especially with Jones repeatedly pausing to ask what the hell he is doing here. Ke(Dollar Sign)ha's reading of Untamed Bodices is also critically panned, with the audibly slurring pop star constantly stopping mid-sentence to have an assistant pronounce certain words for her.
Mariah Carey fares better by making several different characters in Lord Pantaloon's Sweaty Indiscretions come alive, while Nicki Minaj is praised for her enthusiastic performance of bringing herself to climax repeatedly during her recording session for The Heaving Bosoms of Florentine Abbey.
R. Kelly, meanwhile, goes on to win a 2012 Grammy award for his reading of The Disciplining of the Midshipman's Mistress.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.