I was riding the bus home one day, and I had a less-than-wondrous epiphany.
I've succumbed to this generation's musical plague, more commonly known as dubstep.
My earbuds are now slowly but persistently filling with the very same obnoxious wub-wub-wubs I've come to cringe away from or ironically imitate during periods of merriment with like-minded friends. As much as I'd like to deny it, with claims like, "Well, it's not really dubstep," or, "it's only the 'good' dubstep," there's no point in trying to prolong the delusion any further. I'm
pretty much listening to dubstep, and I've fallen waist-deep into the hypocrisy hole in that regard.
I suppose it began rather innocently. Dubstep was just becoming an internet-mainstream thing to know about. The verdict was that it sucked, and only stupid wannabe "edgy" teens listened to it, though not necessarily the same ones that would be enamoured by the ilk of Justin Bieber or One Direction. Regardless, it was full of things that should never be done to music, ever, and any musical skill that the style may have had was instantly crushed into complete harmonial discord (dis-chord?). So I stuck to my DnB and my raunchy techno, with the odd synthpop or rock ballad or what have you, being satisfied with having labeled a couple of YouTube showings of this new dubstep remix thing as "very suckish" and "ruining the originals". It became a point of personal pride to, despite the almost cool-sounding name, have the musical sense to stay away from this hazardous waste.
But, of course, the musical world was unfortunately not so well-reasoned. Many remix artists, be they big-budget stars, humble talent hailing from various fandoms, independents just bent on sharing some rockin' tunes with their internet bros, or some fourth thing completely orthogonal to the other three, jumped at the chance to utilise these greasy sounds and drop the bass, hardcore-style. I, being an avid musical connoisseur of one of these fandoms—ahem—and this fandom being a heavy user and promoter of art, especially music, I was no doubt going to come across of much of these wacky dubstep shenanigans. I learned quickly to stay away from anything that had the words DUBSTEP REMIX in the title.
But I still kept a shred of hope, that it might not turn out to be some sort of ear-grating nonsense. That maybe this dubstep would be bearable. Some of the drops and the wobbly thingies—the wubs?—were not bad, and might be cool in a slick DnB album, like Pendulum or something. But it never was. So I held my distance, and kept to my Pendulum albums.
Time passed. Artists I knew and followed—they're pretty underground, I doubt you'd've heard of them—slowly turned to the dark, greasy side, where basses were dropped and wubs were wubbed. I picked up a couple of songs that were just barely barely barely dubstep, but you could definitely draw a line somewhere and have a stray fragment of graphite rebound off my musical choices then. In particular, I'll note that Skrillex started becoming a thing in this glazed over period here.
So, we enter a semblance of the present day. The aforementioned Brony fandom's best musical names come together in a huge music collective, Balloon Party, inspired by and lightheartedly parodying Knife Party, a fresh new EDM duo that was considered pretty damn awesome. Balloon Party, like many other things to come out of this fandom, was a charity initiative, wherein all proceeds from its purchase went to various charitable organizations. Also, like many other albums to come out at this time, it was the sort of thing to be a little experimental with its style. I like experimental, because it very often does interesting things with the instruments and the melodies. Some of these interesting things sound a whole lot like dubstep. You might see where this is going already. I tried not to.
And so, having immersed myself in most of the good stuff on the album, and letting it permeate my iPod, I step off the train and onto the bus one day. I sit in my usual spot, using a sheet of paper folded around a small book as a makeshift desk for recreational mathematics. The bus slowly fills up with passengers. One of the latecomers is this lumber "street" teen, complete with the huge puffy jacket, the sideways cap, the horrid sneakers, the phone blasting music sans headphones. The music in this case was some horrid dubstep, the "hardest" and "greasiest" you could get.
And the whole bus could hear this. It seeped in through my own earbuds—though I suppose a part of that is my fault, I don't keep my music at deafening levels, like the majority of today's youth. A young woman sitting nearer to the front of the bus was looking back towards the source of the noise with disdain. We exchanged glances, knowing what each other meant without having to say anything. I looked back down to my calculations. In that space of time between putting pencil to paper and actually beginning to write, my mind wandered around, eventually noting that the dubstep coming out of his phone was eerily similar to the things in my ears.
Of course, I wasn't being the asshole whose shitty music was filling the bus and disturbing the peace, but that was beside the point. This was when I'd realized something. Maybe this was me slowly being conditioned to like dubstep. Maybe this was how everybody got into dubstep. Slowly easing into it by converging onto it. Maybe I really am that slow at this, and just don't hang out underground enough. My mind reeled, and I felt, briefly, like I had learned something. The darkness wasn't so bad after all, it just wanted a hug.
Then, after I'd pulled the yellow cord to sound the ding of my approaching bus stop and of satisfying closure, I suddenly heard what sounded like a synth-y rendering of the beginning of the lyrics to the Winnie the Pooh theme. The bass began to wobble, the wubs began to woo, and I instantly lost all hope in humanity.
I walked home from the bus stop feeling nothing but pity for the world.
EPILOGUE. Pendulum has recently (as of 2012) disbanded, and the lead singer, Rob Swire, moved on to a side-project with fellow member Gareth McGrillen, called Knife Party. It deals mainly with electronic dance music, and dabbles in things like house, techno, DnB, and the occasional full frontal dubstep. I am entirely convinced Swire bears an odd but definitely thorough resemblance to Tigger.