Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past by Simon Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Music journalist Simon Reynolds examines mainstream pop music's seemingly relentless revivals and revisitations of past eras. Like many other critics, he wonders, and worries about, whether or not America and Britain are stuck on repeat. Is it possible to innovate when the past and the near-past are ever present, especially with the easy accessibility to the obscure and the well-known that the Internet affords us? How can we be nostalgic for a decade that just ended? Reynolds also looks at different forms of art — architecture, fashion, movies, TV, and more — to find out how they are afflicted with retromania. Toward the end of the book, Reynolds seems to argue that the music circles of the 2000s and of today are not saying much about the present day nor will they contribute much to the efforts of future revivalists because there was nothing original about them. At best, what musicians, singers, DJs, and producers did during this decade was reveal how seemingly disparate sources of music can fit together into a song. But can you create something new with this mosaic? At a time when critics and commentators argue that we live in an age of "atemporality," maybe it's time to forget the past so that we can move on with the future. Well worth reading.
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