The year is 2113. Humans communicate via synthetic telepathy and intergalactic travel is way easier than travelling across London on the Circle Line. The weather is controlled by a click of a button and dating robots is totally de rigueur. Your great-grandchildren can easily see pull up that gif of you dressed up as a Human Slinky on your 18th after 20 WKDs, or that Top 20 Lolcats blog you wrote – but which bands and artists from our time will they care about? What will be our Rite Of Spring?
Historical figures deemed worthy of remembering tend to be a) genocidal maniacs b) individuals that invented something world-changing or c) artists who revolutionised their medium. It is unlikely, really, that the music of One Direction and Lady Gaga will be taught in 22nd Century schools. It is unlikely, actually, that many artists will be remembered at all. 100 years is a long time, and many excellent musicians and artists will have been consigned to the digital dustbin. If we look back to 1914, popular music included ragtime, calypso, songs by Irving Berlin and Henry Burr, and lots of classical composers such as Delius, Satie, Vaughan Williams and Ravel, but there isn’t a huge amount remembered by the everyman. The vast internet archive will make research easier but our ancestors will be too busy hover-boarding around Jupiter to care about The Weeknd or Brooke Candy.
From a revolutionary point of view, artists like Run DMC, The Beatles, Elvis, Lou Reed, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Aphex Twin, James Brown will be up there, though the potential list is long. Artists with a story attached stand a good chance of surviving. Michael Jackson may be remembered for ‘Thriller’ being the first video by a black artist to air on MTV, but he may also be remembered for his bizarre life and the child abuse allegations. Biggie and Tupac may be remembered for their fatal rivalry, the Spice Girls for Girl Power – more, unfortunately, than Bikini Kill – and Amy, Janis, Jimi, Kurt of the ’27 club’ for that easily-packaged fact. Then you’ve got the Harlem Shakes and Gangnam Styles, examples of early 21st century mass hysteria and internet viral psychology. Tracks used in films by directors such as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers will probably have more longevity, and even those used in musicals such as Mamma Mia (Sondheim’s music will surely endure much longer than Drake’s, for example).
Suggestions from the NME office include Beyoncé, Kanye West, Led Zeppelin, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Dave Grohl, David Bowie, Radiohead, Adele and Justin Timberlake. I’d go for Philip Glass, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Kraftwerk and Kanye West. It’s unlikely massive bands like Kings Of Leon, Coldplay or Oasis will be remembered. So if you had to guess five artists or bands who’ll be made into holograms at festivals in 2113 who would they be? The rules are as follows: they must have been alive in the 21st century, or survived by other band members. So Nirvana would count even though Cobain died in 1994. See this as a time capsule and let me know in the comments or on Twitter using #in100years.