Published Dec 18, 2015Maybe it's the holiday stress getting to us, but there's something about this time of year that has us getting all whiney. Sure, it's fun to argue about whose rearrangement of the same 10 albums makes for the best year-end list, but eventually we have to call it like it is — there are some trends in the music biz that need to die.
Not that it's working, per se: a number of the items on last year's list are still going strong as we're inundated with VHS music videos, unnecessary cover tracks, ridiculous reunions and resource-ruining reissues.
Still, we can't help but try and make the world a better place with our gripes. As such, in the spirit of Festivus, let the airing of grievances begin.
To find more of Exclaim!'s year-end writing, head to our 2015 in Lists section.
Trends We Could Live Without in 2016:
Look, we get it — movies rule, sometimes even more than music. And there's no better way to scratch that itch than by combining the two loves with a good soundtrack. But you know shit's getting out of hand when every soundtrack ever gets a 180-gram vinyl pressing with big, lavishly done gatefold art. Not only do we dread the day that discount bins are cluttered with unsold copies of the Air Bud score, but we're worried for the record collectors who can't stop buying this trash. Trust us, gang — in two years these soundtracks are going to be collecting dust alongside your ambient deep cuts and white-label electronic releases from "when dubstep was actually good."
7. Gimmicky Metal Bands
Despite their mighty beards, Satanic tattoos and love of the extreme, there's something so clickbait-able about metalheads. They just can't get enough of a good gimmick (and to be fair, neither can we — it's part of being a human being in the Internet age). But the line has been crossed as more and more metal bands put the jokey bit first. Caninus and Hatebeak were fun and all, but 2015 saw an overwhelming onslaught of metal gimmickry. Admittedly, Grindmother (fronted by a 67-year-old woman) was a fascinating project that challenged notions of age in extreme music, but then there were those that pushed it too far. The McDonald's-themed group Mac Sabbath thrived like none other, as did the Spongebob-living xSPONGECOREx. Then there was Okilly Dokilly — a Ned Flanders-themed metal band that crafted some of the worst music we heard this year. Frankly, we're getting a little sick of all these Irony Maidens, and we dread the day we get press requests for MacGrubergrind, Dairyqueensrÿche and Lambchop of God.
6. Unnecessary Vinyl Pressings
Want to press a 7-inch before your band goes on tour? Instead, it's gonna take so long to arrive that your band can have a solid career, break up, resent one another and get back together for a reunion show by the time your records are ready. That's because pressing plants are completely slammed with unnecessary bulk that no one's buying. It used to be easy to blame it all on Record Store Day (and they still pressed some utter trash this year — anyone want to buy 13 copies of the Stone Sour covers EP?), but other people have gone vinyl crazy too. Take New York brood-core bros the National, who released a nine-LP box set featuring a six-hour experimental version of their own song "Sorrow." Yes, one song spread across nine fucking LPs. Sorry about that 7-inch-shaped gap on your merch table, DIY bands.
5. Streaming Services
Jay Z's midlife crisis is not playing out with an illicit affair or an embarrassing dangly earring. Instead, he's attempting to get in on the streaming biz. He's not alone, either, as a bunch of suits are rushing to the business like old-timey prospectors digging for digital gold. Hell, streaming was even a major plot arc on this season of Empire (we always had a feeling Marisa Tomei was no good…). Trouble is, streaming hasn't really proven to be all that profitable for anyone, and it's especially hard on artists who make mere pennies after thousands of plays. How about instead of repackaging the same old services under different tech-bubble names, we figure out a way to make the music industry sustainable for artists again?
4. Stupid Album Rollouts
Want to hear three-second snippets of some Coldplay songs? Or how about call some sort of Ty Segall hotline? Someone recently tweeted that they "unlocked the fourth room of Rihanna's ANTI website," whatever the fuck that means. Then Animal Collective played their new album over the Baltimore airport P.A. on American Thanksgiving weekend, meaning snivelling Avey Tare fanboys were probably bumping into stressed, travelling families just to try and feel out the record's vibe in front of a Sbarro. Call us traditionalists, but we'd love for big pop artists to cut the Banksy bullshit and simply announce their albums on time.
3. Surprise Album Anxiety
Speaking of which — ever since Beyoncé changed the game with that digital drop in 2013, we've been living every day in a state of panic and paranoia. Who knows what mysterious new album will arrive out of nowhere, as a surprise? So far it's been a disappointing way to exist as most of the big ones haven't — this year we've waited patiently for Rihanna's ANTI, Kanye West's SWISH, Drake's Views from the 6 and Chromatics' Dear Tommy, among others. And frankly, we're starting to feel a little jaded every time a big milestone comes and goes without a big surprise event album. (And no, that shitty Miley Cyrus/Flaming Lips record doesn't count.)
2. Drake the Meme
Then again, it doesn't even matter if Drake releases a new album at this point. After all, he's reached Lil B levels of meme-dom. He won the Meek Mill beef by, essentially, being likeable on Instagram. Then "Hotline Bling" happened, and quickly went from being a fun earworm of a single to the second coming of the "Harlem Shake" and "Gangnam Style." Everyone's covered it, parodied it and turned it into their own thing, to the point where we already hope we never hear it again. We're really sorry that you just spent $80 on your "Hotline Bling" Ugly Christmas Sweater, because that shit is played out.
1. Male Musicians Being Turds
Last year ended with DIIV bassist Devin Ruben being accused of posting some racist, sexist and homophobic trash on the 4chan message board, but that didn't stop a whole bunch of turds from doing reprehensible shit online and elsewhere this year. Members of the Philly shoegaze band Whirr posted a terrible transphobic Twitter rant against the Olympia hardcore crew G.L.O.S.S. (and were subsequently dropped from two labels). Whirr once shared members with Deafheaven, who also got into some hot water when it was discovered that their guitarist Kerry McCoy used to love using the homophobic F-slur in his tweets.
Waka Flocka Flame went on a batshit crazy rampage against Caitlyn Jenner in a radio interview, while Mark Kozelek's hatred for War on Drugs started off kinda funny and quickly became mean, sad and misogynistic when he randomly called a female journalist a "bitch" onstage. Then there's the whole Viet Cong-troversy. The implied racism of the band's name has been covered from every possible angle, yet they still haven't followed through on their promise to change it. All of this is shitty for myriad reasons.
Stop being turds in 2016, dudes!