Jan 10, 2020

New Musical Genres

By Ed Goldman

Since the Grammy Awards will air in just 16 days—an annual ceremony in which God’s name is invoked more often than on a battlefield, at Mass, during the Jewish High Holy Days and throughout Kwanzaa—I thought it may be helpful to provide a guide to the various musical genres that have popped up over the years.

In addition to the familiar categories —rock, hip-hop, country, metal, rap, jazz, gospel, reggae and rhythm & blues—we also have nominees in fields such as alternative, urban, Latin pop and Contemporary Christian.

Pat Boone would qualify for that last one but since he’ll turn 86 in June, they’ll need to create a new genre for him. Evanescing Evangelical springs to mind. He’s allegedly updated his famous 1958 hit, “Love Letters in the Sand”(“On a day/Like today/We passed the time away/Writing love letters in the sand…”).

The new words—with apologies to the rather large team of songwriters who wrote the real tune: J. Fred Coots, Nick A. Kenny, Charles F. Kenny, and Knud Pheiffer— are:

On a day/
Like today/
I may just pass away/
So I wrote my will in the sand…

There’s even a category featuring parents singing and messing up the lyrics to songs their kids loved.
Anyway, here are some additional categories that didn’t make it to the final slate of nominations and a few words about each:
  • Sedimentary Rock. Talk about multilayered! This sub-genre features a heavy beat and, along with the downloadable lyrics, an Intro to Geology lesson.
  • Cluster Funk. Oh, just read that again. It’s not what you feared or wished it said. (You never misread “Grand Funk Railroad,” did you?) The songs in this discipline feature “sampling” (thieving) from every imaginable genre. Ergo, the cluster.
  • Classical Gasp: While this sounds like the lively 1968 instrumental by Mason Williams, it actually features the real sounds of young people hearing Mozart, Beethoven and even Tchaikovsky for the first time and marveling at how music that doesn’t include cop-killing, woman-beating and inept rhyming could ever have caught on.
  • Romanian Rap: Dracula—the real one, he’s immortal, remember?—grabs the mic and thrums out his hit song, “Fangs for the Memory.” With inept rhyming, of course. But I’m not going to be the one to tell him.
  • Folks Music: You guessed it—a category featuring generations of parents singing and messing up the lyrics to songs their kids previously loved growing up. Instead of “Poetry in Motion,” for example, we get “Oh, A Tree in Motion,” because that’s what Mom and Pop thought you were singing around the house all the time. “Blame It on the Bossanova” morphs into a paean to your employer’s Chevrolet (“Blame it on Your Boss’s Nova”), while the Beatles’ plaintive phrase in “If I Fell”—“‘Cause I couldn’t stand the pain”—takes on new life as a boosterism tagline for New Mexico’s liberal culture: “‘Cause I could in Santa Fe.”

Finally, three product spinoffs of Emo Pop, Rhythm & Blues, and Spoken Word—will find their way to your favorite retailer this year:

  • EmoDium: If you listen to much EmoPop, this probably needs no explanation—or prescription, for that matter.
  • Rhythm & Booze: For those who need something extra to get their groove in gear.
  • Broken Word: A book filled with useful lies about why you’re not watching the Grammys this year even though you promised someone close that you would.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).