Billy Corgan: 'Where's The Rebellion Today?'

The Smashing Pumpkins frontman asks where today's musical revolution is, and claims that Kurt Cobain wouldn't make it in today's musical climate.

Billy Corgan: 'Where's The Rebellion Today?'
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Billy Corgan has unleashed a scathing review of modern music, warning young wannabe rock stars that they'll never make it in today's climate. Speaking to the Daily Beast, the Smashing Pumpkins frontman speculates that a modern-day Kurt Cobain would never have an impact today like he did twenty years ago: "Let's say you're the next Kurt Cobain. You will be appropriated on your first album by the Pitchfork community. Your record company will rally round that idea because that's your marketing platform. "But the minute you're in that world you're frozen. Those Pitchfork people are very much about social codes, about whether you're wearing the right t-shirt. That orthodoxy is no different than the rigidity of the football team at school." There could be hope for new rockstars, but they'll have to be smart to have the same effect on culture that older rock acts did. "You've got to want to subvert the social order of the high school. That's why Nirvana was so fucking dangerous. They had the jocks listening to them. Kurt Cobain used to talk about how weird it was to be performing, and see the people who used to beat him up cheering along." Then Corgan asks a powerful open question: "Where's the rebellion right now? There's almost no music about what's going on politically, which is crazy because this is the craziest political time I've ever lived in... Where are the bands of dissent? Where has the pushback gone?" He's right, of course there seems to be a lack of musical revolution, which is ironic given that we live in the era of Occupy Wall Street, Wikileaks and the Anonymous hacking movement. Are musicians missing out on a big opportunity, or have today's revolutionaries found other outlets like computer hacking to rebel? Share your view, and how we could fix it, in the comments.

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    Minivirus2
    Social media, over abundance of internet usage, television, etc. The 'rebellious' folk of today have a hard time doing so, because the mainstream is force fed to us from several different angles at any given moment and social media allows for ridicule to extend beyond face to face contact. This isn't the early 90's (or earlier) where things were fairly isolated and you had to find things for yourself or by word of mouth. Over exposure has also made the world a sterile place. Little is shocking and hardly anything is 'new'.
    Abacus11
    Everyone's too lazy and stupid today for real rebellious music to have as much of an impact as it did even just 15 or 20 years ago. People are too glued to their iphones and facebook to even realize how insane the world is around them anymore. There is plenty of intelligent, rebellious music out there today but most people would just rather listen to empty pop music about sex and parties while sucking down kfc than actually think about anything anymore.
    BloodyPumpkins
    Dude, or Billy Corgan is a very smart guy, or I'm slightly retarded, because I don't know what the **** he means in most of his interviews. But...
    "Wheres the rebellion right now? Theres almost no music about whats going on politically, which is crazy because this is the craziest political time Ive ever lived in... Where are the bands of dissent? Where has the pushback gone?"
    Agreed on that.
    BwareDWare94
    There are way too many things to do nowadays. Instead of finding ways to express your emotions, people will vent through watching or playing some violent video game. Creative minds have been derailed by the way technology has developed. There's constant internet use. Even in the 90s, most people had to go outside once in awhile. Now, everybody's holed inside their houses with AC and web access. Nobody is active. Nobody wants to find ways to express themselves. There you go. I'll probably get some hate for this, but I do blame our advanced technology for our lethargy. For the love of God people, read a book and forget about turning on that controller. Don't hit the power button on your laptop, pick up an instrument and play. We rely on things other than ourselves to be content, and that is what's wrong with today's society, musically and in every other way.
    stonedhippos
    the rebellion already won. the Death Star has been destroyed. OT: grunge is pretty much dead now. of course Kurt would have trouble making it in the music business today.
    cptcomet
    The record companies have all the power, they don't allow what doesn't fit with their aims.
    Shuei5
    We write lots of music about it, all the time - but no one gives a **** because it's not dubstep.
    JonnyMonster91
    jbass13 wrote: Going to an all boys school which is pretty much filled with the dumbest jocks you will ever meet who only go because they have a check for the school. They listen to whatever is played on the local pop station while I'm listening to the station with bands that aren't commonly talked about. At my school, you either listen to what's popular all the time or you are out. I listen to some of their stuff like Coldplay and Dave Matthews (probably because I like what they do with their music) but I don't go running around grabbing my croutch saying, "Hey I just got the new Eminem CD, I'm so f**king cool." I just reply, "Congratulations you are one of the millions of people who have no clue that there is other music out there. Now excuse me, I'm gonna go listen to some Nine Inch Nails and think about how stupid you all are for just doing what everybody does."
    Being a part of counter culture for the sake of being in the counter culture makes you just as bad as the pop culture kids. Doing something simply for the sake of being like or unlike another shows you are being untrue to yourself as an individual. It also makes you appear ignorant. Do what pleases you.
    e7add9
    stonedhippos wrote:grunge is pretty much dead now. of course Kurt would have trouble making it in the music business today.
    you're missing the whole point if you think this article is about specific genres
    HARTATTACK69
    I'm not trying to impress you or anything buy I logged onto Disney.Com without my parents permission.
    yearzero
    Abacus11 wrote: Everyone's too lazy and stupid today for real rebellious music to have as much of an impact as it did even just 15 or 20 years ago. People are too glued to their iphones and facebook to even realize how insane the world is around them anymore. There is plenty of intelligent, rebellious music out there today but most people would just rather listen to empty pop music about sex and parties while sucking down kfc than actually think about anything anymore.
    Sorry for the double post, but this is spot on.
    GameSkate
    onetonryan wrote: "Wheres the rebellion right now? Theres almost no music about whats going on politically, which is crazy because this is the craziest political time Ive ever lived in... Where are the bands of dissent? Where has the pushback gone?" Short answer: Most musicians are liberals, and they have their guy in office right now. Also, there is not a widely unpopular war taking place. When W was prez at the height of the Iraq/Afgan conflicts, I recall a nauseating amount of anti-political music.
    It may suprise you, but not everyone in the world lives in USA.
    Idiot Pineapple
    Dear aging musicians, Music is better than it was when you were famous. What's on the radio is not a good or fair metric for the quality of musicians today. Stop bitching and do about 5 minutes of searching to find some amazing bands and artists. Signed, Every not 16 year old dad rock fan
    yearzero
    It's just my opinion but I think the abundance of connectivity (laptops, smart phones, social media, 24 hour news channels etc.) has created this flavor of the week kind of attitude towards media. Nothing really seems to "sink in" anymore if you know what I mean. Driving to the record store to buy the latest albums used to be a real event. But now I just listen to previews on Youtube and buy from Itunes or Amazon.
    wspeed6
    bitchfist wrote: Vic Magnetic wrote: Last I recall Megadeth are still writing songs about politic. Last 4 album: The System Has Failed had a couple of political songs, United Abominations has four of 5 political songs on it, Endgame has 4 or 5 political songs, as well these 3 albums have titles that are political and last the newest album Thirteen has 4 political songs on the album. So imho I think Megadeth is still in the loop when it comes to writting a political song on thier albums. yeah but dave mustaine is a narrow minded republican, not the person to be listening to if your trying to start a revolution
    You sound just as narrow minded. A revolution can come from anywhere or either side of the spectrum. As far as being a political band, Megadeth was one of the first current bands I thought of. Whether you agree with the views or not. That being said anyone who thinks a specific party has all the good ideas needs to pull their heads out of their asses.
    onetonryan
    "Wheres the rebellion right now? Theres almost no music about whats going on politically, which is crazy because this is the craziest political time Ive ever lived in... Where are the bands of dissent? Where has the pushback gone?"
    Short answer: Most musicians are liberals, and they have their guy in office right now. Also, there is not a widely unpopular war taking place. When W was prez at the height of the Iraq/Afgan conflicts, I recall a nauseating amount of anti-political music.
    False_God
    The general public prefer songs that are about sex and relationships. Selling sex to young girls is almost as important as saving the planet.
    guitar7masta
    onetonryan wrote: Short answer: Most musicians are liberals, and they have their guy in office right now. Also, there is not a widely unpopular war taking place. When W was prez at the height of the Iraq/Afgan conflicts, I recall a nauseating amount of anti-political music.
    Oh yes because there certainly aren't any conservatives left to be angry about. Nope, you heard it here first folks, the U.S government is comprised entirely of one person.
    mradubz33
    Rise Against, Neil Young, Rage Against the Machine, Graveyard, etc are all bands of dissent I would say. Not trying to be an *****, I just have no respect for Billy Corgan anymore, or what he has to say. I think most people are so fed up with the extremely divisive political scene in the the world right now that they have become apathetic towards it, so they don't want to hear songs about it. The "powers-that-be" in the music industry recognize that, so "bands of dissent" aren't given the same marketing resources as the bands singing about teen angst, or living the gangster life, or whatever else it is that bands like that sing about.
    motorizer
    He`s right, Todays music has nothing to Rebel with .. Its all shit its nothing but pussy`s and knock offs of what used to be, Hopefully someday people will see that and realize just how pathetic and weak todays music world really is
    nljst1883
    Right on man, the guitar is ready for a new roaring sound and billy is just the right man... The smashing pumpkins stand alone in their sound even to this day, nobody in the genre could ever touch them, tho many have triced replacating their structure and approach . Oceania is the new bands "gish" not as original but just as self-defining and explorative for a band. Their next album I beleive will revolutionize rock,...again. the pumpkins have never gotten the credit they deserve ... Hopefully they finally aquire the recognition they and billy deserves
    AC0RN
    Billy needs to listen to Serj Tankian's new album 'Harakiri.'
    lb_728
    Play music from the heart and it will be heard. Real music goes a long way, beyond marketing, record sales, and radio hits. If more focus goes towards the music, and making good ALBUMS and not singles, a musical revolution will naturally be born. If your making music to get signed or get stinkin' rich your in it for the wrong cause, and sadly nowadays this seems to be everyone's motive.
    FN77
    There is no rock music anymore. All the new rock bands coming out are making some terrible dance/rock hybrid. Cobain is probably rolling over in his grave at the lack of people taking up his rock mantle. Mainstream music is slowly but surely going over to the lowest bidder.
    DickHardwood
    Well,he is right. The mainstream is all about stupid love songs, nobody ever tries to breach a subject of actual importance. Eventually some guy will.. and he will either crash and burn or turn the music mainstream around, this will happen sooner than we may thing, no matter what genre it will be in.
    DisasterMatt
    Let's all do everything we can to change it... stop letting it out on video games, and even comments like this one, CREATE your message. don't just sink it into something else.
    Lapidus
    The number of guys who formerly f@cked Courtney Love and now praise Kurt Cobain is sky rocketing these days...
    Dylan6998
    His entire argument is still based around the idea that if you aren't in the mainstream, you aren't a real band worth noting. Billy seems to have forgotten that there's an entire culture of music that exists purely in the underground, U-N-D-E-R-G-R-O-U-N-D. most of the bands i listen to and discover coming from the internet, through Facebook and band camp and sound cloud and reviews from allmusic and blogs dedicated to the genres of music that i like. there are thousands of bands touting political platforms and voicing concern for our modern society. Apparently, if they aren't on the cover of Rolling Stone, none of those bands ever existed. He's just another aging rock relic that made his millions riding the wave of success and mainstream marketability rock music has had since the 60's, which is now coming to a close since more and more music is being marketed to us. Rock had it's time, and everyone was convinced that to be successful you had to have a world tour, sell millions and be a rock n' roll douche like all the rest. what they all failed to realize, is that none of that was based on their talent as musicians and had everything to with them fitting a niche, like Billy describes. when the record industry wanted a goth-y alt. rock band with an unusual looking frontman, Smashing pumpkins fit the bill. so it would make sense that Billys only test of success would be the same test that he passed, his band made millions, sold out stadiums, blah blah blah, now everyone else ahs to adhere to the same model to be taken seriously by him. notice how the likes of Billy, Gene Simmons, Lars Ulrich and other aging rock stars or young but successful millionaires are the only ones who care about music piracy or whatever? Its because theyre the only ones that are experiencing the backlash. Bands making millions now making thousands are of course gonna be pissed. indie bands go from making zero dollars to making several dollars however have ZERO COMPLAINT!!! the record industry is dying because its so diluted and directionless there isnt a single band or performer that the ENTIRE world can get behind and cash in on, those days are dead and gone and you know what? THATS OK! The problem we experienced in the 80s and 90s is that any douche with a microphone could sell a million records if they sold out enough. It happened often enough that these aging rock stars were led to believe they were somehow entitled to all their frivolous material possessions and wealth and lost all perspective. The core of music is still writing it, recording it and playing it live, thats it. There is not a single aspect of that that included any level of success unless you want it to. Again, there are thousands and thousands of bands and performers that are absolutely content performing small clubs and making little to no money, they are a thousand times more creative and powerful as Nirvana ever was, with a message and attitude thats just as caustic and aggressive as anything else. The only difference is that when billy takes a sh*t every morning and flips through the latest music magazine, he doesnt see any of them, he sees stuff he hates. in conclusion, Billy is so completely out of touch with the music world and his perspective is so crushingly narrow hes sounding almost senile in his apprehension to accept that times have changed. People dont go out and buy records from one band or performer, they buy singles, steal music online and youtube them instead of paying ot see them live. THATS IT. No if and or buts about it.
    _LoveFuzz_
    Youve got to want to subvert the social order...You will be appropriated...once youre in that world youre frozen
    It's true. Being claimed by one group of people often means rejection by another group. An artist being pigeon holed is often a function of the fans themselves rather than choice of the performer. Appropriation is going to happen with every artist, however the battle lines today are drawn within hours of publication.
    Eclectic Lizard
    The rebellion is there, it`s just everyone`s too busy bitching about how there isn`t any good music today instead of buying it!
    Root Beer
    There is no revolution; people can't get their heads out of the cloud of rehashed pop shit that pollutes the world today.
    guitargodwannab
    ok so according to Corgan, Megadeth hasnt touched on anything political in the past few years? thats wut theyve made their career on. Rise Against hasnt apparently as well. maybe he should listen to MAKE IT STOP (SEPTEMBERS CHILDREN) and HELP IS ON THE WAY from endgame.....maybe hed change is mind
    stef123
    Most young people these days just listen to music that makes them feel good. Political songs are not feel good songs.
    AustinHoag
    There's plenty of rebellious music. Just not at a recognition level of The Smashing Pumpkins. It's harder for certain types of bands to break through anymore because no one cares about them past a local level.
    bitchfist
    he's right of course. i'm 22, and todays/my generation doesn't stand for shit. all we do is party, drink, smoke weed and **** around. i have grown sick and tired of music with no message, its not what the world needs right now with society on the brink. i'll admit i'm guilty of it too. most of my efforts go towards school, women, and partying. but when i get my shit figured out i'd like to make a difference with music.
    Epi g-310
    Maybe it's because people bitch and moan when artists like Green Day and Tom Morello come out with political albums? Make up your minds, folks, you want politics in music or you don't.
    rob904
    Vic Magnetic wrote: Last I recall Megadeth are still writing songs about politic. Last 4 album: The System Has Failed had a couple of political songs, United Abominations has four of 5 political songs on it, Endgame has 4 or 5 political songs, as well these 3 albums have titles that are political and last the newest album Thirteen has 4 political songs on the album. So imho I think Megadeth is still in the loop when it comes to writting a political song on thier albums.
    Too bad Dave's opinion on politics hasn't been remotely close to intelligent since the 90s
    lukerguitar52
    The metal scene is about all the rebellion you get anymore. And instead of head banging dudes you get a bunch of kids doing karate kicks. The only rebellion I see today is those who go to a GNR concert and expected Axl to show up.
    WhoCanSay
    Riggy wrote: Rebellion doesn't necessarily make good music. I know the political situation or whatever isn't on my mind when I'm writing a track, rather 'Does this sound awesome, or not?'.
    I know I'd much rather hear a great song about a girl than some terrible pop punk band trying to be political
    Dostoyevskian
    I dunno, I think that especially with the rise of the internet, everyone has started falling into these niche interest groups. I think the last paragraph made a great point: yes, musicians aren't as political, but now we have all these intelligent, revolutionary groups and movements in non-musical areas doing great things.
    Guitarlicker
    I think there's alot of political music out there. It just doesn't get as much attention as the rest.
    Zan595
    I have absolutely no idea what he said for the majority of the article, but this...
    Theres almost no music about whats going on politically
    ...shows me that he probably hasn't listened to most of the music he's so critical on all the time. Rise Against, Meshuggah, All Shall Perish, System of a Down, Dying Fetus, Lamb of God, Affiance, Machine Head, SikTh, and Protest the Hero all write about politcs, and these are just a few bands off of the top of my head. He has no point here, it sounds like he's just rambling.
    coco-axeman
    Music as artistic expression (on a large scale) was killed off quite some time ago. The industry that manufactures most modern music is part of the system and would not want to hurt its own interests. So music as rebellion is out, but music as expression against conformity still exists. Ironically, if it gains popularity, it becomes another fold the members of which expect conformity of thought and action.
    "Tele" Steve
    He's completely right. The indie rock community of 15 to 20 years ago was able to go mainstream and still keep their fans and gain new ones without compromising who they were to a large extent. Now the hipsters keep dragging all the bands down, keeping them at a stagnant indie level because the music has become secondary to the cool, aloof image bands seem to have to exude to get respect by these people. Politically charged music is apparently too unhinged from the conformity to hipsterdom these people expect. When people say there isn't any good rock music anymore, that's just not true. You have to look harder but that's also a shame because rock music used to be a lot more universal and the Pitchfork machine won't let it spread it's wings for fear of the highly ambiguous state of selling out.
    Vic Magnetic
    Last I recall Megadeth are still writing songs about politic. Last 4 album: The System Has Failed had a couple of political songs, United Abominations has four of 5 political songs on it, Endgame has 4 or 5 political songs, as well these 3 albums have titles that are political and last the newest album Thirteen has 4 political songs on the album. So imho I think Megadeth is still in the loop when it comes to writting a political song on thier albums.