When we think about decades, particular in the second half of the twentieth century, we think about the music that defined that generation. Broad generalisations will have to do here, as there simply aren’t enough pages in the world to properly analyse every musical nuance of the last fifty years. And besides, this isn’t the point of this article. To start with arguably the most landmark era, the 1960s it was the emergence of the pop and counterculture, with world-renowned bands such as the Beatles, The Kinks and the Who that really defined music. Similarly in the 1970s we had Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones – all generation defining bands who will forever be fondly remembered by those entering adolescence and young adulthood in that period. Even the much maligned 1980s had its own distinctive musical culture – this was the era that brought electronic elements in music firmly to the table with bands such as Depeche Mode and the Eurythmics, and who could forget the invention of house and club music that the 1990s brought to the forefront. Indeed, the impact of the less-celebrated last couple of decades is one we can still see in modern music produced and released to this day. However, when the generation growing up listening to, produced and making music in the ‘noughties’, is looked back upon in thirty or forty years, what will they make of us? Is there anything we can honestly say that we’ve brought to the table? Firstly things first, music is so different today to how it was ten years ago, and the main way in which this is showcased is in how the availability of music has changed. In this sense, the internet has obviously been a massive influence. Many will argue that this is a good thing – the fact that people can make a piece of music with some cheap software on a laptop and then make it instantly available to millions usually at no cost to the listener has definitely made it much more accessible to all. Fifty years ago, if you wanted to make a record, you had to be good. Record pressing equipment was scarce and so in order to make a record you had to impress the label owners who owned said equipment. This undoubtedly would have meant that the individual prejudices of these label owners and producers would have left some very talented bands behind, but generally speaking, only the best got through. So is this brings us to 2011. We’ve had the first ten years of the 21st century and what conclusions can we draw? Well firstly, there are a lot more average-to-poor bands around then there used to be (of course, no-one shall be named) and this is an inevitable side effect of the ease of which music is produced and made available these days. You could also point to the advances in house, dubstep, electro and other forms of ‘club’ music but what is arguably the biggest change is the amount of people who do not subscribe to one genre or sub-genre of music has skyrocketed in the last ten years. I myself listen to a wide range of acoustic, alternative rock, motown, indie, punk, house and dubstep (to name but a few) and like this the majority of people dip their toes in lots of different pools and pick out bits they like. Even the older generations are getting in on the act – look at Gordon Brown name-dropping the Arctic Monkeys for example. But is this something to be proud of? Well firstly, this issue is arguably more political than it is aesthetic or creative. Up until the last couple of years, the UK was particularly stable economically and politically very centralised for a substantial period of time, and this is in stark contrast to the four generations previously to this where ideology was a big part of your upbringing, be it regional, social or political. This is not a history lesson, so I won’t go into it in detail, but try and think about domestic UK issues in the 21st century in comparison to the previous four decades. You can’t really, but you also can’t think about artists, bands, scenes and genres that have honestly changed music in dramatic ways, and this leads to the really quite depressing conclusion that we aren’t as creative purely because during our upbringings we didn’t really experience any real political, economic or social drama. Indeed, the dearth in contemporary inspiration can be seen very clearly in the sheer volume of modern bands and artists that turn to previous generations for inspiration like never before. However, there is a glimmer of hope. We now seem to be entering a period of sustained economic depression (in case you hadn’t noticed!) and in previous years when you get depressions, you get polarised political viewpoints and this sparks creativity. Just a few months ago we had the student protests and there’s been backbench political revolts – let’s just hope some of this anger and political re-enlightening transfers into music and the next ten years can give us something we can be proud of.