Dude, Where's my riff?!
It’s Friday night, I should be out but I live in the middle of nowhere and the mud hut I live in is warmer than it is outside. What I usually do at home is listen to music. I use Spotify if I’m the mood for listening to something new. Don’t get me wrong, I have a pretty good record collection but sometimes I just want something different. It’s just after I load up Spotify that I’ve realised I’ve failed. I can’t actually think of anything to search for. So I search for a band I like, listen to a track then look for a related artist on the menu at the top.
Today I started with ‘Within Temptation’. I like metal and I like classical so this band are a pretty good fusion of the two. From here I select ‘Lacuna Coil’. All good fun so far, so let’s keep clicking. ‘HIM’, ‘We are the Fallen’, ‘Avril Lavigne’ (It was the least worst in the list), ‘Paramore’, ‘Linkin Park’…
Um… this isn’t right, I have a headache. Okay, so these aren’t the best bands in the world, but music shouldn’t have this effect. Then it hits me. I’ve just had 40 minutes of Epic-Chorus overload. I understand now. It’s like too much of a good thing; like eating Minstrels for 40 minutes solid and forgetting to chew. Then an epiphany. What are all of these guitarists doing? I’ve listened to all of these tracks and I haven’t heard a single riff. What are riffs too good for you guys now?
All I’ve heard is big open chords and palm-muted power chords in predictable harmonic sequences. Where’s the riff? That wonderful guitar lick? Are you guys even awake when you’re playing this stuff? I really don’t get this new fashion for uber-epic choruses and simplistic guitar parts. Okay, some riff material may sound very dated, but it’s the job of forward-looking musicians to see where music is going and evolve into something new, expressive and something that represents the now. If this stuff is where 21st century music is at, we might as well just all become mental dutch painters and hack off the very things that made us enjoy the nineties.
I know it’s such a teenage thing to say, but are these bands selling out? They’re all popular and successful and I have no idea why. Answers on a postcard, preferably a blank one. I wouldn’t want you to be more creative than these guys…
Matt is a composer of instrumental music as well as music for film. Explore the website to find out more and don't forget to claim two free tracks by liking Matt's page on Facebook. You can also find him on Twitter (@MattKeil).