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Music history, for better or worse

The Darkness is one of the groups that I hear about in music fans’ social circles. The hard-rock group from Great Britain seems to be rapidly growing in popularity.

For a while, I asked myself: “What am I missing?” Apparently, nothing; I heard the band’s album, and it wasn’t impressive.

Then again, other people probably aren’t impressed with the idea that I love the Velvet Underground, an influential NYC group that sang about heroin and street life.

Well, screw them.

How popular is The Darkness going to be twenty years from now?

Folks don’t still talk about how great M.C. Hammer was once upon a time. Though Hammer sold plenty of records in the ’90s, he’s more likely to be seen as a washed-up musician featured on E! True Hollywood Story. The problem with M.C. Hammer was that, even though he sold records and wasted those earnings on an entourage, he didn’t have any real cultural significance.

Sure, he could rap, but his songs never meant anything. If you were one of the thousands of people who bought a “Hammer Time” cassette way back when, you probably found it in a corner gathering dust several years later and threw it in the trash can with all of your other garbage.

Fast forward to 2004, where artists like Juvenile and 50 Cent are doing the exact same thing that Hammer did ten years ago. It’s important to think about where these artists will be in a decade. My guess is that they will all be struggling to sell records rather than becoming the enduring cultural icons they wish to be.

Artists like KRS-One, on the other hand, will still be talked about as having been one of the leaders of the hip-hop movement from the ’80s and beyond. He doesn’t rhyme about his Rolex and a bottle of Moet. Rather, he has turned his music into something more important. He’s turned it into something that can withstand the test of time. His material is just plain classic.

The Rolling Stones are one of the most significant bands in rock history. People still listen to the music The Stones created forty years ago, and they have unparalleled feelings about those songs.

However, most people probably won’t be talking about how great Korn is in 2040.

I would say that the Velvet Underground is the best group of the 20th century, but I’d probably have to face the wrath of people arguing for Nirvana, Run DMC, the Grateful Dead and every other band that made an album in the last 100 years.

But one of the best aspects of pop music is not only that it permits the Hammers and the Korns to exist, but also to be able to hang with the historical big boys; even if they won’t be here tomorrow (thank God). And it’s because of a perpetual variation of musical tastes harbored by listeners.

A person’s perception of music is completely subjective. There’s not a “best band ever,” and fortunately for music, there never will be. It is the diversity of music that makes it such a large part of today’s society.

One person may absolutely love the hardcore sounds of Slayer, while another person wouldn’t be able to stand them. This is true about any band, group or artist.

Someone once told me that in music one should always remember that “It’s not what you like, it’s why you like it.”

People should remember that.

If you want to like The Darkness, then that’s your own damn problem. Or maybe that’s your own blessing, depending on how you perceive the music.

Staff writer Whitney Meers can be reached at