The Who’s Pete Townshend is gifted with a venomous tongue, and when he uses it, more often than not, something disparaging comes out when he opens his mouth. With that, it is perhaps unsurprising that he’s not a fan of modern music, believing instead that something is currently missing from the landscape.
Townshend famously had a fair few harsh words to share about many of his contemporaries over the decades, even criticising legendary acts such as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. If Townshend find faults in the celestial talents of the greatest that has ever lived, then he’s able to lambast any artist on the planet.
Perhaps this rage derives from the fact that The Who matched anyone when it came to both talent and ferocity, altering Townshend’s expectations of what a band should be. Not only was he the man in a power stance thrashing his guitar, but he had Keith Moon reciprocating that angst on the drums, John Entwistle scaling up and down his bass, and Roger Daltrey leading the chaos.
He expects every band to tear up the system in a similar anarchic style to his own band, and that’s something he struggles to see from the current crop of modern artists. Townshend first started firing shots at younger bands in a bizarre blog post in 2007, a time when he blamed the political climate for the lack of vigour shown by artists.
“I think rock music is about to throw off some of its testosterone-driven defiance,” he wrote. “Wherever I look today I see younger musicians demanding a new level of intimacy from their audience. This is not entirely about protest, rather about music performed gently that expresses a single idea, even anger is delivered gently.”
He added, “Perhaps the invasion of Iraq, the horrible mess that we now face on top of the horrible mess we made when we created the country in the first place, is sifting down through the current generation of songwriters and producing a quieter voice.”
Then in 2014, Townshend again unleashed his fury to The Mail on Sunday. He retained the same point about a lack of anger from bands in the current climate and thought that the presence of One Direction epitomised the dreary state of the world.
“Where are the artists writing with any real sense of angst and purpose? There are no movements at the moment: we had mod and then there was punk, but it’s so hard to start a movement now. Unless it’s ISIS,” he strangely remarked.
While Townshend evidently has a valid point about the lack of anger in the mainstream pop sphere, there’s more to music than the likes of Ed Sheeran, who currently dominate the charts. However, there are still countless artists keeping that maverick rock ‘n’ roll spirit alive; you just have to dig a little deeper to find the gems. As a man accustomed to ‘researching’, perhaps he should use his time more wisely and find some new bands to wrap around his ears.