The official buzzword of 2008 was "change." "Hope" was just as commonplace early in the year, the first word's inseparable partner, but before summer gave way to fall, it started to fade, as the new global economic crisis started to set in the collective consciousness, transforming from story lines into everyday realities, as housing values plummeted, credit card rates rose, people were laid off, jobs disintegrated, and businesses locked their doors for good. And so, in 2009, the change that we may desire most is a few extra quarters jingling in our pockets.
What will all of this mean for the arts, and for music? Will people visit fewer exhibits, buy fewer CDs, and hang with friends at the local bar rather than pay 15 bucks to see a live band? The last recession, for better or worse, spawned a flannel revolution, with Kurt Cobain in his dingy striped sweater and a tattooed cheerleader as catalysts for the ascent of grunge, and an indie movement that spawned thrift store chic as a fashion trend. Both of these movements were, at their essence, middle fingers held up to 80's greed, materialism, and flashing neon lies.
Maybe this year will yield a deconstruction, and creative reconstruction, of the arts, music, and mass media. The forecast for mass consumption of media can't be good, and in the absence of monetary support, things fall apart quickly. Maybe this year will see an audience rejection of pointless reality TV shows, and magazines with instant celebrities-for-no-reason-than-their-zip-codes will sit on shelves collecting dust. Maybe we'll see actual music videos on MTV again. Maybe people will listen to the radio more. Better yet, maybe the kids, whose parents have just cancelled their cable and killed their high-speed internet connection and thus their online gaming portals and myspaces, will pick up cheap guitars, start bands, and become the new middle finger. All one can do is hope.
In the meantime, here's a farewell song from the neon 80's.
Cyndi Lauper - Money Changes Everything (Live, 1984 FM Broadcast)(mp3)
Also, here's a Tom Gray (The Brains, the songwriter) performance of the song: