I am a loyal reader of Idolator, the onetime Gakwer Media-owned music blog written now almost exclusively by Maura Johnston. It has become a populist conscience of sorts for a music-crit world that has always been in dire need of one, and the importance of the role it plays can’t be overstated. I’m perfectly willing to admit that from time to time I need someone to remind me I should be listening to something other than Belle and Sebastian and Wilco, and I don’t think I’m alone there. So the site’s tendency to jump at every single opportunity to piss on “indie” as a genre or a sensibility or a demographic or whatever the hell else it might be is perfectly understandable—except when it’s completely baseless.
In a post from earlier today about news that Death Cab For Cutie will appear on the soundtrack to the new Twilight movie, Johnston says this:
And the pandering to the indie demo doesn’t stop there! According to Billboard “music industry sources have the sound headed in a more indie-centric direction than the first “Twilight,” with Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear and Muse all in the running.”
Aside from the fact that it’s perfectly normal for a movie soundtrack to feature artists with a similar sound, and aside from the fact that the very idea of “pandering” to the indie rock demographic seems kinda silly in light of the fact that “pandering” to almost any other “demo” (fans of hip-hop, country music, or mainstream teen-pop… you know, the people who actually still buy records) would be far more lucrative, it doesn’t strike me as all that sinister or dangerous that someone—in this case Stephenie Meyer—has taste in music doesn’t span every genre under the sun.
It’s worth noting, too, that by including artists like Bon Iver and Grizzly Bear on the soundtrack, the Twilight people are actually doing the opposite of pandering: They’re exposing millions of people to music they’ve probably never heard and likely never would have were it not presented alongside something they already love. If this is a bad thing, and if the argument here is that only fans of indie rock can stand to benefit from broadening their horizons, well, it’s massively flawed.