Old vs. New|Alt vs. Neu

Wherever I look, I can't help but get the impression that people are obsessed with making everything “new”. I talked about change before, but the topic still uses its nasty tentacles to hold me tight and occupy my mind. Usually, I'm all for change. I love making things better, but I always thought there's a difference between “better” and “newer”.

Take music for example – for years, literally no one cared for Michael Jackson. Ironically, he managed to be the topic of the month by leaving earth (for better or worse). Still, despite the fact that he's much more present than he's been in the last 5 years (combined), new artists are getting hyped all over the place. Lady Gaga has frequently been called the “most successful female pop star of our days”. Well, 6 months earlier pretty much no one knew about her. Or let's say 9.

A year ago, Katy Perry was called “the new Madonna”. I didn't really hear much from Katy Perry since then to be honest (to be fair, I haven't really heard much more from Madonna…). Maybe new artists are getting hyped over the top only so their fall is so much more ugly (see Amy Winehouse) and will in turn allow for more “top stories” that can be printed in shitty magazines.

15 years ago, the standards were pretty different. I assume you've heard of the band Nirvana. Some went as far as saying that ‘Music history will from now on always be divided into the “Pre Nirvana era” and the “After Nirvana era”‘. While I agree that Nirvana has certainly had a big influence and could be described as the band that was able to catch the zeitgeist of a whole generation, the same can be said about Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Madonna and Michael Jackson. But I'm digressing, sorry, my actual point is that I'm surprised that there are more Foo Fighters fans on Facebook than there are Nirvana fans. I like both bands, but I think Nirvana has been a lot more influential than the Foo Fighters and I doubt that the Foo Fighters will ever release an album that can create a buzz as big as Nevermind or even come close.

Did people forget about Nirvana just because they're no longer existing? The answer seems to be quite obvious, but still I'm fascinated about it. Further, even the most played song of the 90s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” hasn't been number 1 in the US, the UK, Germany or any other country that's somehow important in the music world. Nowadays, a young artist needs to come up with “Pokerface”, a single that tops the charts in 3 countries and they're already the “most successful female pop star of our days”.

Don't get me wrong, I too listen to Lady Gaga's songs. However, why did the perspective change so dramatically? There were times when it was more important to top the charts and still you were seen as more influential, more successful or in a word: more important than any other artist. Nowadays, people only care for numbers.

This trend is not only present in the music industry (although it's quite easy to come up with a million examples when looking at this field), you can see people getting crazy over change in every other field too. One of the more interesting stories of the week was the name change of Chicago's Sears Tower. The “iconic building” will change its name as part of a deal with a British investor and officially be called the “Willis Tower”. Americans are getting crazy over it as they state the Sears Tower belongs to Chicago and there's “a long history” involved. “A long history” according to American standards are 30 years (read a little more here). Good to know.

It's nice to see that not everyone thinks “newer = better” (and that there are certain people who have ridiculous standards when it comes to the meaning of the word “historic”.

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  1. #1 by Blaine on May 14, 2011 - 02:17

    Yes, you are right. Newer doesn’t always mean better. I like the way you take the music industry as example for this changing. Because I also think that this field always changes rapidly. It becomes a new trend for people these days. I like your post.

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