The original jazz gangster, Branford Marsalis.
The original jazz gangster, Branford Marsalis.

Pink Pop

Music genres are getting ridiculous these days. Some names describe everyone, like "rock." Quick, name three bands that don't play rock music! See? "Rock" can mean almost everything. Some names describe almost no one, like "darkwave." There are maybe five bands in the whole world that can accurately say the music they play is "darkwave."

Never in my ten years of writing about music has a musician ever said to me simply, "I play jazz," or "I play rock." Always, always, it's, "I play fusion/bebop/authentic jazz," or "I play hard glam rock." So to help our musician friends better describe what they play, without having to go into multiple genre-slash-genre-slash genre monikers, we've come up with some new, altogether complete genres. These genres need no slash additions to them (at least that's what we hope).

1. Pink pop: This is what G-rated junior versions of Britney Spears (with their panties on, of course) sing. It grew out of the "bubblegum pop" genre. (Most bubble gum is pink, hence pink pop. Get it? Oh, don't be so serious.)


Music Genres

2. Hardheaded rock: quasi-hard rock played by teenage musicians. At least two out of every three musicians in the band must have had a verifiable IQ test score lower than 109. If anyone in the band can correctly pronounce "verifiable," the group is automatically disqualified.

3. Gangsta jazz: Front-runner here is Branford Marsalis (no, the other other Marsalis brother). Story is that gangsta jazz started when saxophonist Branford walked up to Sting, who was in a jazz phase at the time, at the start of their Dream of Blue Turtles tour and said, "Your music is a motherfucker." Sting was cool enough to know that was a compliment.

4. Underground gospel: Real music history buffs know that gospel got its start underground and then slowly moved into the church. The music sung in most African-American congregations today would have been considered blasphemous by organized religion back in the beginnings of the genre -- all that wailing and whatnot a little too heathen for the house of God. Now rappers and singers like Kirk Franklin are taking gospel music, again, outside the church house. Gospel MC battles can't be far behind.

5. Alternative Cajun: The tricky part here was getting the Cajun musicians outside of Louisiana to hear any alternative music (they never wanted to get too far away from their crawfish stash). Then a little something called Hurricane Katrina came along and whoosh, Cajuns were suddenly in Detroit, Seattle and Salt Lake City, most them without their accordions and fiddles. So they picked up electric guitars, figured out drum machines and went right back to singing. That's about as alt as you can go.


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