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Itpop

My childhood was shaped by many dynamics of opposites. When I went to second grade in Milan, I was a poor country boy in the school of the rich in the big city. At weekends we commuted to visit my father, who was already working in Gabicce Mare, in the province of Pesaro but on the border with Emilia Romagna, which at the time was the province of Forlì. Then the following year we all went to Gabicce, and this time I was a rich city kid in the school of the poor country kids. I was physically the smallest and shortest, and I immediately made friends with the biggest and biggest. I think my fascination with opposites is therefore deeply rooted in my history, along with my fascination with boundaries, paradoxes and constant movement.

When I grew up, between 2008 and 2009, I happened to live for a while away from the city, in Abruzzo. At that time I read a book by Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved, where he insisted on the concept of the ‘grey zone’ between good and evil, between victims and executioners, between innocence and guilt. At the time, let’s say I was working as a music journalist, and I immediately wanted to transfer this idea of the grey zone to my field. Where the dialectic between independent music – symbol of authenticity, artisticity, beauty, innocence, vitality, future – and mainstream music – symbol of arrogance, greed, falsehood, corruption, compromise and decadence – was very much alive. Thinking back to this dynamic of the musical world through the concept of the grey zone, I noticed that the indie music circulating in 2009 was not all that innocent, and that mainstream music was not all that corrupt. The result was the birth of the word mainstindie, which I used a lot and others ended up using as well, to refer to that whole grey area of music that wasn’t totally indie or totally mainstream, but a bit of both.

In the following years I stopped writing about it and the word mainstindie was forgotten, but every now and then I think back to how right I had been in catching an aspect that has since expanded to become, ten years later, a major part of today’s music.

Another word I had invented, ‘m-blog’, indicated what in the rest of the world were called ‘mp3 blogs’: but I was pushing for their propagation also in Italy and for this reason I had searched (with some success, I must say) for a more effective expression to define them.

Just this morning, while browsing through the cultural pages of the Washington Post, an article recalled the golden age of music blogging in the late 2000s, and in particular a site called All Things Go. That site still exists and has even organised a festival, All Things Go Fall Classic, for a few years now.

A young, up-and-coming Chinese pianist, Conrad Tao, says that the mp3 blogs from 2010 to 2013 exerted ‘a huge influence’ on him.

In Italy, on the other hand, in these days of late summer 2018, memes have begun to circulate on Instagram by an anonymous man who calls himself grandpa indie, and who nostalgically evokes the more or less well-known characters of the independent music scene at the beginning of the century: fifteen years ago, a time now long enough to trigger the desire for revival.

So, when my indie grandfather recently evoked the word ‘mainstrindie’ by associating it with the current itpop of Thegiornalisti and Calcutta, I felt a sweet sense of nostalgia and I felt happy to be in my turn a kind of grandfather who has seen something born and now sees that something become adult: and even if not for his own merit or fault, he still feels part of all this. It also reminded me that a few years ago I wrote a little piece entitled L’indie spiegato ai miei pronipoti, in which I imagined myself in the shoes of an indie grandfather, or rather a great-grandfather, who told the new generations about that little world of his youth. At the end of the story, however, the great-grandfather discovered that the children had fallen asleep from boredom.

I believe that eventually this so-called itpop and trap will merge into a single whole, their distinctions being more superficial than real.

At the end of 2018, I thought of a playlist of the year that sums up the meaning of this macro-genre, which finds its perfect link in Carl Brave:

Ghali, Cara Italia
Thegiornalisti, Control
Carl Brave ft. Francesca Michielin and Fabri Fibra, Photography
Sfera Ebbasta, Rockstar
Calcutta, Kiwi
Leo Pari, Montepulciano
Zen Circus, Il fuoco in una stanza
Motta, What we have become
Cosmo, When I met you
Frah Quintale and Giorgio Poi, Missili
Pop X, Litfiga
The Camillas, Romantic Error
MYSS KETA, Last hurrah in Paris
Generic Animal, Tsunami
Francesco De Leo, Lo zoo di Torino
Ketama126, Fireflies
Liberato, Je te vojo bene assaje
Tedua, Vertigini
Bianco, 30 40 50
La Rappresentante di Lista, This body
Nu Guinea, Disco sole
Case, Fosbury
Achille Lauro feat. Cosmo, Blue Angel
Dark Polo Gang, Change now
Salmo, Shut up
Giant, War
Dutch Nazari, Calm the waves
Campos, La notte il giorno
Baustelle, Perdere Giovanna
Paletti, La notte è giovane
I saved this playlist calling it “itpop 018” in an online mixer, Web Audiosource – where I am active with my usual nick, ilblogdelladomenica.

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