Home Forums Ganymede & Titan Forum Red Dwarf DVD commentary – a question

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  • #3159
    Richey
    Participant

    I’ve just finished re-watching series 1 and 2 over the last few days, with the cast commentary on. I can’t help but notice how much of a prick Norman and Danny are being towards each other. What’s the deal here? Do they genuinely have a problem with each other or was it tongue-in-cheek banter that just happens to come across as being vile towards each other?

    #94759
    Rad
    Participant

    I thought it was just generally good fun.

    ‘Craig Ferguson lives in Los Angeles now’
    ‘And Norm’s in Clapham’

    I think Norm does get annoyed with it a bit eventually to do with them constantly bringing up his hair or his spots but I think even then it’s mainly a joke. ‘Alright Danny, there’s nothing I can do about it, I’m sorry!’

    Verdict: TONGUE-IN-CHEEK BANTER.

    #94760
    Richey
    Participant

    Cheers for your thoughts, Rad.

    #94761
    Carlito
    Participant

    Agreed, I never thought there was hostility, just that Danny comes across as one of those guys who thinks he’s funny when he rarely is, and the other guys just kind of roll their eyes and shrug it off.

    The fact that Norm was present at Danny’s verdict kinda gives me the impression they aren’t at odds.

    #94762
    Turk Thrust
    Participant

    > Danny comes across as one of those guys who thinks he?s funny when he rarely is

    Nice description. :-)

    Agree that Danny and Norman seem to get on very well.

    #94791
    Carlito
    Participant

    Don’t get me wrong, he’s a funny comedy performer without doubt.

    But without a script, he seems to constantly reach for gags without much success on the commentaries. It’s probably the pressure of trying to be ‘entertaining’, to his peers as much as the audience… I doubt he’s like that 24/7… but those recording studios must have been overrun with tumbleweed after the DVD commentary recordings. He’s not bereft of humour, he hit the mark lots of times, but you could imagine it wearing thin fairly quickly, which is why the others probably ignore him, rather than having any hostility towards him.

    #94815
    Plastic Percy
    Participant

    The fact that Norm was present at Danny?s verdict kinda gives me the impression they aren?t at odds

    why do I have the image of Norm standing at the back of the court in a black hood holding an executioners axe and with a large grin on his face?

    #94819
    Carlito
    Participant

    It’s not completely out of the clear blue sky. Norm HAS been known to generally wear a big black hooded cloak on his daily business, just so people recognise him as Holly.

    Fact.

    #94835
    peas_and_corn
    Participant

    Ahh yes, I remember meeting him when he was wearing the coat.

    Me: Oh hey! You’re Holly, right?
    Norm: I wish people would stop referring to me as Holly, I’ve done heaps of other stuff other than red Dwarf
    Me: Sorry Norm
    Norm: Please, call me Holly

    #94843
    Dave
    Participant

    >why do I have the image of Norm standing at the back of the court in a black hood holding an executioners axe and with a large grin on his face?

    Norm paints his on

    #94849
    Pete Part Three
    Participant

    >Me: Oh hey! You?re Holly, right?
    >Norm: I wish people would stop referring to me as Holly, I?ve done heaps of other >stuff other than red Dwarf
    >Me: Sorry Norm
    >Norm: Please, call me Holly

    You made me do a LOL

    #95071
    Ben Paddon
    Participant

    >You made me do a LOL

    In his pants.

    /Has stopped using the blockquote tag.
    //Actually, stopped using funny pre-quote comments a while ago, and nobody noticed.
    ///Is sad.

    #95098
    mick
    Participant

    Norman is actually a bit of a prick to be fair.

    #296567
    Asclepius
    Participant

    Hi, dead thread.

    I’ve been listening to the Series 1 commentaries for the first time (it’s mad that they’re from 20 years ago). It struck me that Danny said he’s “the only one that visits” Norman, suggesting that they did maintain more of a friendship than the other guys did with him. Perhaps that was the source of the mad bantz?

    #296569
    Unrumble
    Participant

    Hi, dead thread.
    I’ve been listening to the Series 1 commentaries for the first time (it’s mad that they’re from 20 years ago). It struck me that Danny said he’s “the only one that visits” Norman, suggesting that they did maintain more of a friendship than the other guys did with him. Perhaps that was the source of the mad bantz?

    Now in my late 30’s, “isn’t it mad, passage of time?” observations seem to increase exponentially, and have become slightly weary.

    However, as a hypocrite, I am as guilty as anyone of them. And it is mad how when I first watched/listened to those commentaries in my early teens, it was almost like they were talking over ancient history, when those shows were barely over a decade old, whereas double that time has now passed since the commentaries were recorded.

    I know it’s obviously about perspective shifting, based on how much time you’ve been alive for and experienced. In the early 2000’s, Series I was literally a lifetime ago for me. Still… mad, innit.

    #296571
    Warbodog
    Participant

    And it is mad how when I first watched/listened to those commentaries in my early teens, it was almost like they were talking over ancient history, when those shows were barely over a decade old, whereas double that time has now passed since the commentaries were recorded.
    I know it’s obviously about perspective shifting, based on how much time you’ve been alive for and experienced. In the early 2000’s, Series I was literally a lifetime ago for me. Still… mad, innit.

    I totally have this, and a necro’d thread from 2009 is as fitting a place to discuss it as any. How the likes of Red Dwarf I and Blackadder II felt distinctly vintage and of a previous generation when I was catching up on video in 1997 (enhanced by stuff like the low quality film stock in Bells and light trails in the opening scene of Waiting for God), and how those episodes still feel exactly as distant from now as they did from then, like the speed of memory is relative or something. Around Series III, it gets a kind of CBBC/CITV live action vibe that helps ground it in my childhood memories of TV and feels more relatable to my experience. (McCoy era Who has this hugely, even though I didn’t catch much of it, thanks to looking and sounding like ChuckleVision a lot of the time).

    #296573
    tombow
    Participant

    and how those episodes still feel exactly as distant from now as they did from then



    culture froze. Philosophers like Mark Fisher talk about it. The game “GTA Vice City” was set 16 years in the past (1986 – 2002) and had a clear “clothes, music, decor and cars you don’t see anymore” setting. Imagine anyone caring about a game set in 2008 now.

    #296574
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Kids today won’t understand how inconceivably different 2008 was. David Tennant was the Doctor and Red Dwarf was about to be revived with a run of specials. I was so excited, I nearly dropped my iPhone.

    #296575
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    mid-00s fashion is very noticeable, actually, I only realise this because I’ve been seeing a lot of “can we bring this back” posts for some of the most mid shit imagineable. That and electronics with see-through plastic. Media from the time has a pretty dinstinctive feel compared to like 2013-onwards. You don’t see many people wearing Converse anymore. Or calling things gay. Trends in women’s makeup have come and gone, as well as hairstyles and facial hairstyles. Pop Rock music has completely fallen off the airwaves, many of the modern pop/hip-hop tropes didn’t exist yet. A Katy Perry album used to have distorted guitars and riffs on it, now we have… shit. The internet was all LOLcats and rage comics, the boomers hadn’t discovered it yet. There was a lot of Seth Rogen-style comedy going on. Superbad was huge.Superhero movies hadn’t taken off yet.

    About the 80s specifically – the 80s were nothing like GTA, Stranger Things, Ghostbusters Afterlife or whatever other neon-synth-vapor-wave shit people think of now. It was all beige. 3-2-1, Countdown. Red Dwarf Series 1.

    #296576
    Unrumble
    Participant

    the 80s were nothing like GTA, Stranger Things, Ghostbusters Afterlife or whatever other neon-synth-vapor-wave shit people think of now. It was all beige. 3-2-1, Countdown. Red Dwarf Series 1.

    While obviously shows that cater to nostalgia are going to exaggerate certain elements, the first 3 things vs the last 3 you listed are U.S. vs UK. Maybe they are a little more representative of 80’s U.S, if not UK?

    #296577
    Warbodog
    Participant

    I mainly remember action figure cartoons and Pat Sharp’s Funhouse, they were pretty vibrant. Postman Pat and Fireman Sam’s vehicles were so radically bright in hue, it was noted in the songs.

    #296578
    Ridley
    Participant

    About the 80s specifically – the 80s were nothing like GTA, Stranger Things, Ghostbusters Afterlife or whatever other neon-synth-vapor-wave shit people think of now. It was all beige. 3-2-1, Countdown. Red Dwarf Series 1.

    You wasn’t even there!

    #296579
    Warbodog
    Participant

    It was all beige.

    My mum had an umbrella so similar to this Colin Baker one that I get a rush any time I see it.

    (We also had the killer car from ‘Father’s Day,’ but blue, not brown).

    #296580

    Not gonna lie, I see people in converse all the time. All ages. 

    Fashion wise, the biggest difference is skinny jeans were still either hipster or emo clothes back in 2008, now they’re middle aged women clothes. 

    #296582
    Ian Symes
    Keymaster

    The biggest difference is we’re all old now, we have no business noticing the subtle changes in young people’s fashion.

    #296584
    Jenuall
    Participant

    Speak for yourself, whilst you may be old I am

    *checks notes*

    *puts on reading glasses*

    … old.

    #296590
    Moonlight
    Participant

    I opened this thread and was thinking “WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE” and “WHERE ARE THE SMEGADRIVE MEMES” until I saw it was from 2009.

    I’ll be real, I never listened to many of the cast commentaries even when I was young. I feel like I got spoiled by The Simpsons having the actual writers / directors / staff talking about the process of making the show on each commentary and the Red Dwarf ones are just the cast pissing about.

    #296593
    tombow
    Participant

    Postman Pat’s van (like all Royal Mail vans of the time) was actually grey. Many people have a Mandela Effect due to the paint on the toys turning a bright red due to discoloration over time. Jess was a ginger tom. 

    #296594
    tombow
    Participant

    mid-00s fashion is very noticeable, actually, I only realise this because I’ve been seeing a lot of “can we bring this back” posts for some of the most mid shit imagineable. … Ghostbusters Afterlife or whatever other neon-synth-vapor-wave shit people think of now. It was all beige. 3-2-1, Countdown. Red Dwarf Series 1.

    I think a lot of that is people being nostalgic for pop videos, aesthetics of “cool” places (like clubs or roller rinks), youth fashion and stuff. Anyway, even if everything was grey in the 80s, it’s still notable to me that people were interested in/idealised 1986 in 2002, in a way we wouldn’t now. Like maybe people miss emo and Shrek but there isn’t a generic 2000s “look” I can think of, in the way that neon makes the 80s, flares and naff wallpaper makes the 70s, GAP clothes and coffee shops make the American 90s, etc. I don’t even think there’s that much of a strong “90s” look that’s too distinguished from today. Some Britpop fashion maybe? Tight shirts and messy hair. I remember the “3rd Rock From the Sun” episode when the  characters all got makeovers to make them fit in better, and they looked like Friends characters.

    #296595
    Warbodog
    Participant

    Even my crap town had pink neon signs, so people trying their best to live a beige life like my nan had awesome 80s shoved in their faces. Until it was replaced with bogus shape graphics in the 90s.

    #296597
    Dave
    Participant

    Anyway, even if everything was grey in the 80s, it’s still notable to me that people were interested in/idealised 1986 in 2002, in a way we wouldn’t now.

    I think that part of this is the constant availability and presence of pop culture from all eras in modern society.

    Before modern online culture, it was common for trends from previous eras to recede and become uncool, and essentially lose their presence in society. Then they would come back around on a roughly 20-year cycle – think about the way elements of 70s culture became cool again in the 90s.

    Having time away from cultural aspects of previous decades allowed subsequent generations to discover them again for themselves. Which is what GTA Vice City did so well, providing a capsule of 80s culture (even if it wasn’t quite accurate, it was what people felt was the essence of that era) for ’00s gamers to enjoy.

    As well as the fashions, movie references, graphic design choices etc. I think a big part of Vice City’s appeal was the soundtrack, with the radio stations that featured countless hits from the 80s (my favourite was Emotion 98.3, which was just perfect), many of which the young gamers of 2002 probably wouldn’t have been familiar with.

    But in the modern cultural landscape, where everything is constantly available and nothing ever really fully goes away, I don’t think you have that same thrill of rediscovery of reclamation of a previous decade’s culture as your own. Everything just becomes part of the ongoing mass of culture and sticks around forever.

    #296599
    tombow
    Participant
    • But in the modern cultural landscape, where everything is constantly available and nothing ever really fully goes away, I don’t think you have that same thrill of rediscovery of reclamation of a previous decade’s culture as your own. Everything just becomes part of the ongoing mass of culture and sticks around forever.

    • I was actually thinking about that this morning. BBC6 played “tell me something good” this morning. And it reminded me, there was a character on “Will and Grace” who listened to that song when he was horny (IIRC). And it sounded  weird and offbeat when you heard him play it, because that was the kind of music you just never heard then. But now… the lost contents of old records are much more accessible to us. Weird digital radio, streaming, etc. A song like that can never sound as “weird” now as in the 90s.
    #296600

    Oh good lord why is your message so far over to the other side? I don’t think it can all actually be read. 

    But in the modern cultural landscape, where everything is constantly available and nothing ever really fully goes away, I don’t think you have that same thrill of rediscovery of reclamation of a previous decade’s culture as your own. Everything just becomes part of the ongoing mass of culture and sticks around forever.

    I was actually thinking about that this morning. BBC6 played “tell me something good” this morning. And it reminded me, there was a character on “Will and Grace” who listened to that song when he was horny (IIRC). And it sounded  weird and offbeat when you heard him play it, because that was the kind of music you just never heard then. But now… the lost contents of old records are much more accessible to us. Weird digital radio, streaming, etc. A song like that can never sound as “weird” now as in the 90s.

    But in the modern cultural landscape, where everything is constantly available and nothing ever really fully goes away, I don’t think you have that same thrill of rediscovery of reclamation of a previous decade’s culture as your own. Everything just becomes part of the ongoing mass of culture and sticks around forever.

    There, that’s better.

    #296601
    Ridley
    Participant

    #296602
    Jenuall
    Participant

    Whilst I think it’s undeniable that there has been something of a homogenization of pop culture over the last 20-30 years where there is less distinction between eras than there may once have been, I do still wonder how much of an effect age has on our appreciation of change.

    I, as a man rapidly hurtling toward the end of my 4th decade on this planet, may believe that there is not really that much distinction between the culture of today and that of the early 2000s in the way that the 80s felt very different from the 60s, but I have no doubt that a child or teen of today would look back at the music, TV, movies, fashion etc. of 20 years ago and find no end of ways that it is radically different from what they see as the zeitgeist.

    #296603
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    My mum had an umbrella so similar to this Colin Baker one that I get a rush any time I see it

    My dad had an umbrella just like that in the early-00s. Maybe he was throwing it back to the 80s already at that point.

    Then they would come back around on a roughly 20-year cycle – think about the way elements of 70s culture became cool again in the 90s.

    This still happens, at least in some circles. Contemporary rock bands suddenly pivoting to crap 80s snyth shtick when rock became unprofitable (Paramore et al), followed by a 90s grunge revival (Tancred at al), followed by an attempted dogshit emo revival (MGK).

    tombow what are you doing to make your posts look like that lmao

    #296604
    Dave
    Participant

    I also think that nostalgia cycles are shorter now, and at the same time culture is leaving harder than ever on nostalgia and existing ‘brands’ (especially in TV and movies). So again, stuff never actually has the chance to go away so it can come back again.

    (Big hit movies of the early 2000s were stuff like Spider-Man, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. There’s no sense of retro appeal to them, like there would have been for 80s movies in the early 2000s, because those franchises have never gone away.)

    #296605
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    Harry Potter has been pretty much actively memory-holed due to JK’s behaviour, which on the one hand is understandable, but I for one am not ashamed to be like… Harry Potter hit when I was ten years old. I’m not going to pretend it didn’t just because some lady went insane. Lord of the Rings on the other hand is held in incredibly high regard with nerds my age, which is also fair. You also have legions of people who wish Doctor Who was like it was in 2008 forever, then when it actually is like it was in 2008 they suddenly don’t like it. I’m rambling though

    #296606
    RunawayTrain
    Participant

    Genuinely the only noticeable style change I’ve seen over the past 20 years are glasses (spectacles).  You can date media reasonably reliably by the frame styles, to within about 5 years or sometimes less.  Not so much by clothes, any more, nor really hairstyles.  Maybe people with a keen eye and interest in those things might be able to say what features were ‘in’ during certain periods of time but there’s no guarantee most of the people in any given piece of media will have kept up with more subtle trends.

    #296607
    Dave
    Participant

    Harry Potter has been pretty much actively memory-holed due to JK’s behaviour,

    In general though it’s still a huge, popular franchise that ever since the early 2000s has been putting out new stuff – multiple movies, multiple spinoff movies, video games etc – and is coming back yet again soon in the form of a TV series.

    There wasn’t ever a point in the last 20 years where Harry Potter wasn’t huge.

    #296609
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Yeah, Harry Potter is still huge, sadly. The projects following the conclusion of the main film series have shown its limitations though. Cursed Child has done incredibly well (despite its annoying Part 1/Part 2 structure and generally crap story), and so did Fantastic Beasts 1. But each successive Fantastic Beasts movie took like $200 million less than the last, and now they’re not even going to bother finishing the series. They tried to re-brand as “Wizarding World” and were clearly expecting anything set in the same universe to do Harry Potter money. Yet the impression seems to be that if it isn’t literally Harry Potter himself or Hogwarts, people largely don’t give that much of a shit.

    Still, it’s stark that despite Rowling trying her best to poison the well and queer people/allies trying hard to get people not to drink from it, Hogwarts Legacy became the most successful game of 2023, selling an eye watering 22 million copies. The game supposedly wasn’t even that good; it was mid. IT WAS MID.

    Although, financial success is a very different thing to cultural relevance. A new Harry Potter thing hasn’t felt like a noteworthy event in popular culture for a very long time. And with the only major thing on the horizon being a simple re-adaptation of the books for TV (which given the speed of TV production nowadays, will probably either fizzle out after 4 seasons or finish in 30 years), I can’t see that changing. Harry Potter doesn’t have the reference power it once did.

    #296610
    Dave
    Participant

    Still, the point I was making was that it hasn’t ever gone away, so isn’t something that a new generation can feel like it has re-discovered for themselves. Same with a lot of the endlessly extended franchises of recent decades.

    I think things have to go away for a while if they want to be able to feel new and exciting again.

    #296611
    Flap Jack
    Participant

    Right, fair enough.

    Would people just losing interest in something from the 2000s for long enough be sufficient to count it as “gone away”, or would it need to become genuinely difficult to access, like a TV show that was never released on DVD or streaming?

    #296612
    Warbodog
    Participant

    People also obsess over lost media for its very absence, so you can’t win.

    #296613
    Dave
    Participant

    I guess it’s maybe a bit of both. Pretty much everything is accessible now but it doesn’t mean it remains popular or part of the cultural landscape.

    I feel like rock music is something that’s actually gone away quite a bit in general, and could feel like a retro revival if and when it comes back into vogue.

    #296614
    tombow
    Participant

    a re-adaption of HP is another point. The first HP film came out 23 years ago in 2001. Imagine if HP was a lot older and it had come out in 1978…kids would have wanted a remake in 2001. Acting styles, film look, effects etc, had moved on so much. But now? Do kids think the film series looks old now? (I mean, I’m sure they’re gonna do it differently, fit much more of the story in. Films 4-6 really sharply cut the book plots down IIRC).

    I feel like some of it is technology and style reaching a kind of peak for creating quick entertainment in the 80s. The snappy pace and quick dialogue of Spielberg/Lucas type films, Back to the Future type stuff, has sort of remained unchanged since then (compared to the difference between 40s/50s films and the 80s). And I think the kind of tech and approach that made albums like Thriller hasn’t moved on that much. Sure there’s production trends now but to compare Thriller to a 1942 jazz album…which is the same time difference…

    #296615
    Ben Saunders
    Participant

    The first two Potter movies were full of joy and colour and imaginative shots, if they remake it now it will probably be murky green-brown dogshit with everything center-frame. Media does look atrocious now, by and large, obviously there are exceptions but recently I saw bits and pieces of The Acolyte and it put me on a downer.

    #296618
    Nick R
    Participant

    Now in my late 30’s, “isn’t it mad, passage of time?” observations seem to increase exponentially, and have become slightly weary.
    However, as a hypocrite, I am as guilty as anyone of them. And it is mad how when I first watched/listened to those commentaries in my early teens, it was almost like they were talking over ancient history, when those shows were barely over a decade old, whereas double that time has now passed since the commentaries were recorded. I know it’s obviously about perspective shifting, based on how much time you’ve been alive for and experienced. In the early 2000’s, Series I was literally a lifetime ago for me. Still… mad, innit.

    I don’t think it was just our ages at the time that made it feel like loads of time had passed between the episodes’ broadcasts and the recording/release of those commentaries. Those bonus features came on the brand new, shiny, high-tech DVD format that represented a jump in technology generations, which added to the feeling that the episodes dated from a completely different era. (I know DVD had been around for a few years, but we didn’t get our first DVD player until 2002, and Red Dwarf series 1 was one of the first discs we ever got, alongside LOTR: FOTR Extended Edition.)

    Imagine if DVD had never taken off, and instead laserdisc had been the dominant format in 2002 when Red Dwarf was released with commentaries and other bonus features. In that case it would have felt like the home video format dated from the same period as the episodes themselves, so it would have felt more like a contemporary release and less like a retrospective one.

    #296623

    Anyway, even if everything was grey in the 80s, it’s still notable to me that people were interested in/idealised 1986 in 2002, in a way we wouldn’t now. Like maybe people miss emo and Shrek but there isn’t a generic 2000s “look” I can think of, in the way that neon makes the 80s, flares and naff wallpaper makes the 70s, GAP clothes and coffee shops make the American 90s, etc. 

    Nah, the trend for the past few years has been “y2k” and it’s very striking. I live by a school, and all the sixth formers look exactly like everyone did when I was in sixth form. Girls especially, in crop tops, cargo jeans, centre partings with highlights, it’s actually the most accurately pulled off retro style I’ve ever seen. Turn of the century music videos were all silvery futurism, heavily Matrix inspired, which I see a fair bit of online. Trance and UK garage are pretty big influences on modern pop, especially the slightly odder ends of it (hyperpop and the like). Looking online, there are a LOT of teenagers aping the nu-metal look with disturbing accuracy. And in the past year, there seems to have been a real revival in the whole scene/emo look, albeit with nu-metal style baggy jeans mixed in. Kids are calling it the “rawring 20s” (I hate it). There’s a LOT of false nostalgia for the early 2000s around in teenagers at the minute. I can’t really see it myself, but then people of every generation think that when their own era reappears.

    90s? The whole “grunge” fashion which was a huge thing throughout a lot of the 2010s, lots of references to grunge music but also the fashion, baggy check shirts, flared ripped jeans. 90s dance music has been heavily reappropriated over the past ten years, from piano house to rave and jungle. The one thing that’s not really been done is British mainstream imagery. Music videos and telly in the mid 90s were all about heavily oversaturated primary colours, there’s a really distinctive look, but it’s one of those things that’s not really been revived. Actually, that’s true of a ton of British 90s culture. Britpop doesn’t seem to have really had a particular comeback, a lot of electronic scenes like ambient house and big beat have been completely passed over, there was a very brief period when things like bucket hats and polo shirts popped their heads up but none of it really caught on. Generally it seems these days, nostalgia and revivals tends to come from US culture. 

    Despite being on the wrong end of my 30s, I still keep in touch with a lot of modern fashion and music and there have been very distinctive callbacks to the 90s and early 00s that have been enthusiastically adopted by younger generations. I think once we get past the nu-rave dayglo makeup and cassettes as necklaces era we’ve finally run out, though. I haven’t noticed any distinctive new fashions in the past 15 years, and musically we’ve only really had trap, footwork and hyperpop, two of which are still as prolific as ever. I can’t actually identify what could possibly be in a 2010s revival, given that it was the first decade that seemed to be almost entirely made of revivals. I suppose lo-fi house might make a comeback. Fuck knows.

    Actually, I think the next thing will be the death of any consensus in fashion. There are already teenagers out there wearing skinny jeans inspired by scene kids from 2005, despite incredibly baggy jeans being very much the fashion right now. Late ‘60s and early ‘70s stuff seems to still be very big with people in their mid 20s onwards, at odds with the y2k style of people only a few years younger. I think as we reach the point where there are no longer individual eras to ape, the mainstream will begin to splinter in the way more underground scenes have over the last 20 years. 

    #296624

    And I think the kind of tech and approach that made albums like Thriller hasn’t moved on that much. Sure there’s production trends now but to compare Thriller to a 1942 jazz album…which is the same time difference…

    The problem with that is ‘pop’ as we think of it now didn’t really exist in 1942. Yes, vocal jazz was around, but it was almost a different medium. You might as well compare Taylor Swift’s latest album to a vocal jazz album from 1924 and point out they have way more in common than folk music and romantic compositions from 1824.

    When Thriller was released, styles like shoegaze, speed garage, IDM, nu-metal, hyperpop, footwork, dubstep, grime, big beat, emo and electro house – to name a few – would have sounded mind-bogglingly futuristic, and yet all of them provided high charting records in the UK.

    Also, while on the surface, there may be more similarity over time, there are other points to consider. It’s much more common these days for artists to use music to express outsider perspectives, to make music about queerness, mental health and feminism, for example, than it was in the 1980s. Artists like Charli XCX, Arca and Sophie would never have been given the opportunity to write and produce for mainstream pop musicians even in the 90s. While rock and indie have disappeared from the singles charts, they have been replaced by pop artists who write their own lyrics and music, choose their own producers, and decide how their records are marketed. While that was true of Michael Jackson, it was actually extremely rare for mainstream pop singers until the last ten or fifteen years.

    As things carry on, and more and more new ideas are used up, and technology becomes more broad, offering more options and thus defining each era less by its own limitations, there will naturally be fewer truly original things that come along, but honestly, I don’t see the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s or 2020s as especially less distinctive than the four decades that came before them when it comes to music. I’m always finding new and different things and have yet to reach a point where I’m not excited by new and different music coming out.

    Case in point: I remember around 2016/2017, putting on Lady Gaga’s ‘Let’s Dance’, and at that point it sounded to me like the most embarrassingly dated thing ever, much more than stuff from earlier decades. That electroclash-inspired pop of the late 00s is heavily indebted to its own time and doesn’t sound at all like anything that’s come along since. It’s as different to modern pop as Destiny’s Child were to Stock Aitkin & Waterman era Kylie.

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