Radio Hits One: Foster The People, Cage The Elephant Lead The Charge Of New "The" Bands

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Back around 2001, a Transatlantic cabal of music critics led a media hype machine declaring that rock was "back." To further this thesis, it grouped together a disparate set of bands offering variations on the stripped-down "garage rock" template who were often cheekily referred to as the "The" Bands—The Strokes The White Stripes, The Vines, The Hives, and so on. I always thought that was kind of a silly way to label those bands, since a huge number of band names have always started with the word "The," with a slightly smaller subset of that group naming their bands "The [blank]s."

Looking at Billboard's year-end Alternative Songs chart for 2011, however, you might wonder if a decade later we quietly experienced a new wave of "The" Bands, only this time with names that had words on both sides of the "the." The top two spots on the chart are occupied by Foster The People's "Pumped Up Kicks" and Cage The Elephant's "Shake Me Down", with Young The Giant's "My Body" at No. 14. Like the "The" Bands of 2001, there's not much uniting them other than the fact that they're all fairly new (only Cage The Elephant enjoyed any chart hits prior to 2011) and offering major-label-sanctioned, radio-friendly versions of musical and vocal styles usually associated with indie rock.

Those three "The" Bands are also among the only relatively new faces on a year-end chart that's otherwise heavy on bands that peaked during alternative rock's commercial heyday of the 1990s. The top 20 includes songs by The Foo Fighters (twice!), The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, Blink 182, Bush, and the extremely distasteful Bradley Nowell tribute act Sublime With Rome. Even one of the relatively younger acts on the chart, The Black Keys, was lumped in with the tail end of the garage-rock revival.

Since I covered this back in June, the Foo Fighters/Foster The People dichotomy has only intensified. Times critic Jon Caramanica recently declared 2011 "The Year When Rock Just Spun Its Wheels" in a fairly scathing takedown of the artistic and commercial relevance of major-label rock that served equal scorn to the uninspiring new bands and the veterans overstaying their welcome.


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1 comments
Spagnanamossly
Spagnanamossly

Now although they are some what low key and obscure. I think you should have given some mentation to the band On Do The Blind Rigor. They only have two short but hard-ass numbers put togrther. I beleive one is called 'Don't Drink My Skunk!" and the other is titled "Nutmegen Up On B. B. B. Ridge?" Being in and around all types of music for 60 years, I think we need a really heavy bust- out of like real deep inside grunt. It only stands to reson in conjunction with what the younger artist are endorsements are a fair acknowledgement of the time we live in. I just would like to see more open possibilities for more artist to have the open form possibilities tobring thier works to the people. With a hell of a lot less struggle to get it out there! By the way Cage The Elephant is at the door. DO IT PEOPLE! GET DOWN AND GET REALLY INSIDE OF THE WORKS. Have a great year ahead, in all your lifes endeavors. PEACE AND LOVE.

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