The history of music is probably the most interesting part in the history of our culture. Generations have been listening to music to free their souls, to get a feeling of understanding from their idols. And a lot of idols have come and gone. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé: they all represent a movement in culture (especially in youth culture) and perhaps also different genres in music. As we move into the 21st century, a new movement has been spotted that refers to a tradition as old as America: the folk and blues music. What better example to explain this movement then the biggest hit at the moment: Mumford & Sons.
As my blog grows, I really should explain where my motivation and inspiration for these pop culture observations is coming from. I will describe it in a different post, but for now I will lead you to the following website: http://www.metamodernism.com. A total description of metamodernism and neoromanticism will follow, for now I’ll explain it briefly in relation to the Mumford & Sons hype.
Mumford & Sons is a band from London and are life and kicking since 2007. Their first album Sigh No More went multiple platinum in the US and the UK. And with a new album out (Babel) they are back on the road, back where they belong: live and communicating with the audience. This aspect of live performing fits so well with the boys that they recorded some songs on Babel live: ‘When you’re in a room with headphones and microphones and no one else, you play it quite differently to how you play it live’, so Mumford says.
Neoromanticism in 21st century music is a very interesting thing and a lot different then the big Rihanna hits we hear on the radio. But it is winning territory with the hugeness of Mumford & Sons in 2011 and 2012. One element of the neoromantic ‘’genre’’ in music is the search for authenticity in the music. A lot of artists are looking for this authenticity in the use of instruments like a banjo, mandolin and piano, played with a rhythmic style based in alternative rock and folk. A less mediated form of expression is also being used by Mumford & Sons.
Another interesting aspect in the Mumford & Sons story is the name. The band stated that the name was meant to invoke the sense of an ‘’antiquated family business name’’. The idea of a little family business seems very grounded and familiar versus the big city London where the band started. This two way feeling is the core of the metamodernism en neoromanticism: the feeling of a small community within the consciousness of a big world. This is exactly what music should do during a concert: unite the band and crowd as a small family within the big world, creating hope and imagination.
– Gracia Visscher