Guitar music is coming back! Sadly, it's likely to be rubbish

When Kiss FM and Radio 1 start trumpeting the return of guitar bands, it's the anonymous likes of Fun. they have in mind says Sam Wolfson

In November, indie fans thought they'd found an unlikely saviour in Andy Roberts, the programme director of dance station Kiss FM. In an interview with trade rag Music Week, Roberts claimed that guitar music was about to get big again, and when it returns "it'll be a fusion of something [Kiss] can play." Radio 1's programme director George Ergatoudis, having previously said that most listeners weren't interested in alternative music, agreed emphatically, tweeting "guitar music is definitely on its way back".

But consider what Roberts means by the word "fusion". Of the 10 best-selling singles of last year, only two were by bands. One was Payphone by Maroon 5, a band who might be seen as the godfathers of "fusion" guitar music. Their smooth-corners production and duets with Christina Aguilera and Wiz Khalifa blurred the lines between commercial R&B and soft rock.

The other was by Fun., the would-be posterboys for guitar music's next generation. Alongside Reykjavík's Of Monsters And Men, they are part of a new breed of bands who have combined the yelping undulance of Arcade Fire with the desperate twee-for-cash corporatism of Scouting For Girls. The result is God-channel rock, if references to Jesus were replaced with children shouting and xylophones. In the same way that Pitbull is technically a rapper, these are guitar bands in name only, perfect for FM radio.

What separates this new generation from their Maroon 5 forefathers is their anonymity. Do you know what Fun. look like? Does their number one fan? Do their parents? By keeping their personalities as far away from their music as possible, they can maximise their fanbase and keep their options open. Fun. can legitimately collaborate with David Guetta and get a slot at Latitude. No one can cry foul if their next record gives up on guitars all together and goes dubstep, because no one truthfully understood what they were in the first place. They're everything to all people and nothing to anyone.

They're also just the first off the production line: Dublin's Little Green Cars, who made the BBC's Sound Of 2013 longlist, are the next band destined for not-fame. Their new single features the line, "It's easy to fall in love" repeated endlessly atop a genderless background of "ooh"s.

What's really going to happen to guitar music in 2013? The same disaster in the pop factory that smelted rap, R&B and dance into an amorphous mass of indistinguishable gloop, is – by osmosis – going to start dripping out guitar bands as well. Homogenisation is a powerful force, and six strings and a Marshall amp little protection.


Sam Wolfson

The GuardianTramp

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