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Will Beck's lastest single 'Wow' change the course of musical history?


In 1996 Beck entered the attention of the global musical sphere with his now critically acclaimed breakthrough album Odelay. Being seven-years-old at the time I cannot remember exactly what my thoughts were regarding his initial success, however I seem to remember it being something along the lines of this…

‘It is interesting that someone from a scene as tightly contrived of that as the folk and alternative scene of early 90’s Los Angeles has decided not to cash in on the already fruitful relevance of which it already holds in popular culture.

‘Beck has instead decided to merge what would be seen by many as the un-merge-able (I’m seven, remember), the combination of guitars, break-beats, modern production styles, lo-fi recordings and a vocal delivery reminiscing of a rap artist recovering from a dose of anaesthesia.

‘I am curious to see if this seemingly very ‘of the moment style’ will have an impact on the musical landscape of the future or simply become a passing trend,’ I thought to myself.

In hindsight I think my opinion on the now Grammy winning artist was slightly pretentious, however being before Google was a household tool and the accuracy of my prediction I don’t think my prepubescent self did to badly.

This week Beck decided to gift the world again, this time with the video to his new single ‘Wow’.

Now we will have to wait until 2030 for twenty-something’s in flying cars writing blogs on smart phones the size of a fingernail to tell us if ‘Wow’ changed the course of musical history or if it was just a Paul Weller / Style Council kind of moment for Beck.

With its contemporary pitched vocal, stuttered drum production and two word chorus resembling in the kindness possible way much of today’s churned out chart drivel, and an obscure video of Beck’s best dad dancing, some children dancing, some horses, a bearded cowboy and a ginger man sitting down, much of which in slow motion ‘Wow’ seems more comparable to viral hits like the Lonely Island or Gangnam Style than much of his back catalogue.

But in fairness it is pretty catchy, and who knows ‘Wow’ might be same anthem for the youth of today as ‘Looser’ was for the MTV2 generation.

Adam Robson.