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Quora Answer : What is the music of today's counterculture?

Feb 9, 2020

That presupposes that there is a counterculture.

It's not that there aren't people outside the system. Even hostile to the system. But to think of it - as perhaps we used to think of counterculture - as a singular movement, is perhaps wrong.

Today's musical cultural landscape is completely fragmented into hundreds of tiny niches and tribes. It's not possible to talk about a single genre representing a significant social group or political attitude. It's not even possible to talk about "youth culture" as we are all (even ageing adults) part of this. Or "pop culture" as most of it is related to popular music but not particularly popular.

Some of the most radically underground attitudes in music are probably related to the queer post-club musicians coming out of the voguing / ballroom scenes. (AJA, by AJA) But these styles of music are extremely influenced by, and in dialogue with, the most mainstream pop musicians like Beyonce and Lady GaGa. They just cut and chop and glitch it all into a kind of chaotic noise that's often closer in spirit to early DIY and industrial experimenters like Nurse With Wound.

But is that "counterculture"? It's not building an alternative. It's totally parasitic on our existing culture. It's even, in some ways, desperately trying to be part of it.

Young people jostling for their space within the mainstream also isn't very "counter". See pretty much all of hip-hop, trap and rap these days. Everyone wants to JOIN the system, no one wants to overthrow or tear it down. Or even create an alternative outside of it.

Frankly there's more genuine dissatisfaction with the "mainstream" and revolutionary zeal going on in the alt.right forums on 8-Chan and Reddit than anywhere where you'd traditionally expect to find a counterculture. What are the incels listening to? Well, frankly, the incel world-view seems like nothing more than taking the average mainstream hip-hop or pop video and mistaking it for reality. You can't actually make a more incel art than Lil Wayne used to.

So what else? There are tonnes of small genres of extreme noise and extreme heaviosity and extreme speed and extreme blah blah. They're all "counter" to mainstream tastes. But again, it's hard to see that they count as representative to a something that promises to build an alternative. They are, again, defined largely in opposition to the mainstream.

If there is a recognisable counterculture with its own musical world today, I haven't come across it. And I've done a lot of looking for obscure music.

So I'm guessing that there isn't much. And that tiny fragments and micro-niches is all there is.

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