Today's POP is George in New York. Our newest POP girl with a specialty in music you don't want to mess with.
The New York Scene is Dead. Long live the superstar.
Words Georgina Langford. Assistant Editor, District MTV
There's an undeniable difference in attitude between Americans and Brits when it comes to music. At home we're used to watching unknown, scuffy, imperfect new bands manoeuvre the back room gig circuit and actively strive to be the person who saw 'that band' play a tiny festival stage back in the day, relinquishing our fan status as soon as they have sold more than 10,000 albums. In the USA, however, it appears they care not for the up-and-coming, preferring instead to worship at the altar of the superstar. One look at Rolling Stone magazine's perennial Bruce Springsteen features says it all.
Spending the recent holidays in New York was enlightening. I scoured 'local' (as if anything in a country that vast could ever be truly localised) punk blogs and live music listings, desperately hoping to see a show. Back home in rainy Brighton, being at free gigs three times a week is the norm. But there was nothing to be seen in the US capital during the Christmas-NYE limbo period, unless you wanted to lay down $179 to see Jay-Z and Coldplay. Even with the exchange rate, that ticket price is enough to induce a stress migraine.
New York earned its place in the timeline of music history. But standing on Joey Ramone Place, outside the former site of CBGBs, now de-grimed and polished into a John Varvatos clothing store was a depressing face-palm moment. There I realised that New York is now a place where bands who have previously gained a certain level of fame come to play. It's the launch pad for the mainstream-ready, as opposed to the frenetic cauldron of new music that it was once rightly known as. The scene is dead. Instead, American citizens are unabashed in their celebration of international success. Just after noon on New Years Eve, the streets around Times Square filled with an army of policemen, some armed to the teeth with paradoxical anti-terrorist weaponry. Millions of people – predominantly teenage and female – flooded the area, wearing tacky NYE accessories and hyped with excitement over the fact that Taylor Swift would be performing there before the midnight ball drop. I became trapped in the crazy as patrol cars and barriers shut down the streets, readying New York for the event and creating the atmosphere of a real-life action movie, with bonus extra teen fever. It was truly something to witness.
What's significant about this happening is that Taylor, as brilliant and beautiful a pop star as she undeniably is, was scheduled to perform just two songs. Ten minutes of chart hit time, for which people were prepared to wait eight hours in below-freezing conditions. Naturally, an audience would have been heading to Times Square for the party itself, but I'd bet my last dollar that seventy- five percent of that crowd were Taylor fans and their folks. Some of whom had definitely travelled in from out of state just to witness their idol in action. It's hard to imagine that happening, to such an overwhelmingly massive extent, in central London. For a little while I got swept away in the indulgence of pop hysteria; it's an addictively euphoric, fun feeling, like eating too many sweets. Surreal.
God Bless America: the land of the brave and the super-mega-multi-million-selling-international pop star.
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