The Blues is a fundamental part of every piece of music you listen to. All of them. And I’m going to prove it to you.
First of all, let’s start at the obvious. The Beatles would have got nowhere without emulating their blues influences and bringing them to the mainstream. Don’t deny it, it’s the truth. And the Beatles had a tiny influence on popular music, wouldn’t you say? Also they covered Chuck Berry songs. I can almost rest my case there…
Yes, 12-bar can be repetitive and, dare I say it, boring, but the chord structure is a key part of every style of popular music that has arisen since. You may not like Chuck Berry, but it’s artists like that which shaped the music you listen to every day, from metal through to punk and back out to classic rock and prog. The rock ‘n’ roll movement changed music forever. You can’t escape it.
Just like you can’t escape Lady GaGa on mainstream radio, or that terrible “Friday” song being played in offices around the world EVERY FRIDAY. Even if it is “as a joke”. Even these diabolical excuses for songwriting stem from the basics. Three or four chords, basic structure and a hook. Punk music is simple, raw and influential.
Three words you would also use to describe the blues. Because it is the blues. Three chords based around a pentatonic scale? Definitely blues. “Metal’s based on complicated chord structures and classical influences” I hear you cry. Well could they recreate that sound without distorted guitars pioneered by early blues artists such as Chuck Berry on “Maybellene” and multi-track recording which was innovated by blues legend Les Paul?
I’ll help you out – the answer is no. Oh and, by the way, if you hate blues because it all sounds like Status Quo then I have no time for you. You shouldn’t have even been listening to Status Quo in the first place. What’s wrong with you? Anyone who uses Status Quo to back up their argument is an idiot.
Against the Blues
So, the blues may be the ‘godfather’ of popular music today, and yeah sure, without the blues we would not have rock ‘n’ roll, pop, punk and metal cementing its status as the backbone of the industry for generations of listeners, but the fact that it could even be blamed for a tiny influence on Miley Cyrus is reason enough to hate it, surely?!
Now, for any abuse I give the blues there will always be those who argue that the blue’s has influenced everything, from distorted guitar to harmonic arrangements, but just because something influenced something else does not give it any worthy notoriety. Apollo 1 influenced Apollo 11, but I would hardly consider Apollo 1 a success, would you?!
Have you heard THAT new country-blues song?! Of course you have!!! We all have!!! A million times, by a million different artists who all have the same southern-American vocal tone and 12-bar blues arrangement. This is what I truly hate about the blues: the repetitiveness… repetitiveness… repetitiveness. It’s like pulling teeth, but the teeth are being pulled by a man who’s hair is a little too long, jeans a little too tight and belly is hanging over said jeans a little too much. Now I know that all popular music today is repetitive, and all music has to have a sense of repetition so that it is simply not just noise, but the blues… the blues just takes repetitiveness to a whole new level.
I have even gone to the effort of using the words repetitiveness and repetitive to such an excessive extent to give you the same sense of repetitive hatred that I hear each time the sound of the blues worms its way into my poor unsuspecting ears. Below I have made a list of a few songs to help put my next point across a little better. Please have a listen to the following: Chuck Berry – Johnny B Goode The Beach Boys – Fun, Fun, Fun Louis Jordon – Ain’t That Just Like a Woman Chuck Berry – Roll Over Beethoven Now the fact that one artist is in this list twice is almost pathetic.
My point is: listen to the intro of each of these songs. Each are blues artists (apart from maybe the Beach Boys’, who are in that difficult 1960’s rock/pop/blues era, but for the sake of my argument they are blues), so already a similar sound is expected, but the same intro?! They’ve not even tried to make them sound different. Lazy! The blues is lazy! If I were to take Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now solo and use it in my song would that be OK?! No, it wouldn’t! I’d never get away with it, because it’s not my solo, and because it is already well established as a part of a very popular song. But, then again, I would not have the audacity to attempt such a feat of pure, unadulterated plagiarism.
And like I said, the fact that Chuck Berry is in here twice effectively copying himself is shocking. Calling him a musician or songwriter would be a crime. This surely makes him a lyricist with an endless backing track at best. Maybe they have the blues because they’re not very creative?! Now everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I could well be a misinformed cretin (which I’m not), but if the only positive aspect of a genre is that when you go to a Status Quo concert and miss your favourite song when buying a beer you can catch it again (another 4 times) later in the set, you’re certainly not onto a winner in my eyes. Join the debate and let us know what YOU think!