We all know clichés are used everyday without even noticing them (like a knife through butter). That's what clichés do, they sneak beneath the radar through common acceptance. And that's fine for everyday discourse where we have to be efficient and easily understood above all else. But what about in music? Is efficiency and simplicity the all encompassing aim? Is that why we (presumably followers of independent and alternative music) choose to delve much deeper underground for our musical sustenance instead of paddling the shallows of chart regurgitation?

Not to get all studious, but we need to know exactly what cliché is to know where it pervades and why it's such a problem in music, and art in general. So, cliché is defined as an '[expression] that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought'. First let's take issue with the overuse aspect of that definition. Overuse in terms of what?

Well, tropes (metaphor/similie etc), aesthetic (definitive aspects of a sound such as the fast down strumming associated with punk), subject matter (love is a common one, but relationships, break-ups, etc), and narrative (the way in which the protagonists of a song behave). Let's take as a random example, by virtue of the date, the current UK number one at the time of writing, 'What About Us' by The Saturdays feat. Sean Paul.

The first phrase of the song ends with "I'm suffocating," presumably a metaphor for how the uncertainty of unrequited 'love' is affecting the individual, rather than actual asphyxiation of course (damn). A quick google search finds an Ashlee Simpson song, 'Undiscovered' with similar sentiment and the "I'm suffocating" motif; also Chase & Status', 'Time', with the slightly more exuberant "Why must I wait 'cause while you decide I'm fucking suffocating."

So what, I presume you ask? Well let's consider what the implications are. I've given a couple of examples and they are likely to be a tiny proportion of the regurgitated approximation of suffocation to despairing in love. I won't even delve into the related cliché of "You're the air that I breathe" which Maroon 5, Alexis Jordan and Boyzone all churned out with almost identical purpose.

It tells us a few things about the artistic intentions of musicians and lyricists (accepting that these examples are from people not particularly interested in artistic integrity, but it applies to independent music as well). At the very least it defines these people, i.e., the songwriters, as unambitious and uncreative. But more substantially it shows us that they consider the audience to be imbeciles; the art benign, and only value the tools (lyrics and voice) of other 'artists' instead of their own.

This narrow, abstract comparison to the feeling of love is no genuine comparison at all. It exemplifies that clichés are husks of someone else's idea; someone else's voice. By accepting and reapplying it, it both narrows the potential of the idea to resonate and begins to make less and less sense. It comes from a lack of accuracy in language which is wasted by songwriters in order to fit a particular sound or lyric pattern. And also from this innate desire of chart music to make hyperbolic statement sound irreverent when it's nonsensical. The idea being that if you sing it with your hands cradled to your bosom, and puppy-dog eyes (sorry for the cliché) pleading with innocence, anything can make sense (or rather we ignore the nonsense).

It goes beyond belief that someone who would consider themselves creative, i.e. a songwriter, would want to use the tools and language of not only another generation but other 'artists' of their own generation. Wouldn't you want to express yourself in your own way and words if you were a songwriter, not somebody else's? Apparently not.

Let's consider the aesthetical values of the UK number one single which we can all be proud to tell our grandchildren (sorry again) was a cultural pillar of our generation. The opening electronic melody certainly echoes the popular Swedish House Mafia track, 'One (Your Name)', but more transparent than that is the aspiration of any chart musician to affiliate towards a sound which sells. Make no mistake, these are not songs written with songcraft in mind, they're written to be number one, whatever it takes, pandering to expectations which they created.

These clear movements in clichéd aesthetic which we saw in the early 00s through indie music and see now with a vast lunge towards R&B and electro, aren't a sudden shift in public affection but rather a corporate decision probably based on the success of one or two 'artists' whom they believe are signifiers of change. Actually, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you flood the charts with R&B music, it will become popular. Most people don't have the inclination to explore music like us fanatics and as a consequence are fed whatever comes through the radio speakers. And why? Because it requires zero engagement or understanding. Its shallow familiarity provides comfort while we do something else at the same time (work, drive), we can recognise these overworked motifs and know immediately what they stand for. But by creating this expectation, the art disintegrates.

We're no longer talking about music, about art; but about business which is reliably profitable. Major labels that promote this, exist to project what is or isn't acceptable. Instead of embracing the medium of expression and allowing the public to find their own commonalities in taste, the individual isn't considered and we have music for the masses where we're identified as a whole collective of prejudicial stereotypes.

Cliché is dangerous because it not only projects what music should sound like to be popular, but projects an image also. For a long time The Strokes were what a band 'should' look like; today we see the repeated motifs associated with Hip-Hop which project how a rapper should dress and behave (and therefore if you want to be cool, how you should dress and behave as well). Likewise, there are deeply embedded associations of how anyone connected with music should look, and that in no small part returns us to the role of what is or isn't acceptable through clichéd projection.

These same restrictions apply again to 'artists' who rely on cliché in terms of what they can sing or write songs about. Our example tows the well worn path of love and relationships, which is a fine normal thing that finds its way into all music. The problem in this case, and many others, is the clichéd progression through the songs narrative that's as predictable, and consequently dull, as possible. "Boy it's now or never, time we got together" (ignoring the null forced rhyme) plays on this idea that all anyone is ever doing is performing this salsa-esque ballet of exchanged half-glances in a nightclub when all anyone is actually doing is getting shitfaced and slobbering on strangers. It's the same kind of mythology which drives fairytales as a form of escapism that forms social expectation.

The particular track we chanced upon is so laden with meaningless phrases, vague allusions and forced rhyming patterns that it's difficult to make sense of what they are actually trying to express. If they're suffocating because of anything, it's their lack of any tangible language which expresses a genuine sentiment. Here's a slew of phrases which either repeat the same thing with a different rhyme; "Been a long time coming, now I need that loving," "I like the way you tease me, let's just make this easy," or convey absolutely nothing at all; "Put me in control, we can switch roles. And I'll take the lead, you're so far behind me, you know what I need."

It's this vague nonsense which chart music babbles through as a prelude to a single hook in the chorus which is all anyone wants to hear in the first place. Not surprising considering the wasted lyrics that are awash here. What's to distinguish these lyrics from say, Girls Aloud, or Taylor Swift, what does it tell us about any of the individuals involved? I'd suggest nothing. Cliché isn't useful to an individual because it reduces their potential to a stereotype which is precisely what music moguls want people to be. After all, if we all like the same thing it makes it easier for them to sell it to us.

Ultimately it doesn't matter to them whether it's R&B, electro or indie which tops the charts, so long as we all sign up to the acceptation of the cheapest and easiest ways to write songs; through the regurgitation of cliché. We ought to take it as an insult that they believe our minds can only contemplate and interpret that which it has already encountered many hundreds of times before. So let me set aside the chart branch of the discussion, because actually we aren't talking about music as art but as business, so in that sense it isn't music at all. It's a blueprint which is reworked for monetary purposes.

Let's talk about what originality means. That was the other part of that definition. Originality allows those who value their artistic license and don't want to use the tools of another person or generation to express themselves; they want to form their own identity. They're able to alight new ideas in the imagination of listeners and offer a new perspective even if the subject matter is common. It's not so much about that one poignant comparison through simile which makes originality powerful but how it leads us into further fulfilment as an audience.

Take the success of Ty Segall in recent months. He actually blends aspects of music history which were heavily worked but, crucially, which hadn't previously been combined; and it's his and his bandmates' personalities which generated that. A set of individuals who offered us a reinterpretation of garage rock that most suited their way of expressing themselves, with a reticence for melody along with their wild inclinations.

There is no comparison of course in terms of record sales but we like to measure it in less formal matters: the guy is selling out tours, festival performances, getting on national TV, and receiving rave reviews in the press; that's as good as it gets in this world. There is no fiscal reward for originality, for daring to be creative and therefore respect what you're doing. But as a fan when you can keep a record for a lifetime, that experience becomes priceless. Doesn't it say more when we find commonalities through music when it isn't generic but individual.

This relates back to the more mainstream aspects of music press and a seeming lack of respect for originality, and misunderstanding about generic reproductions. NME recently published a short article with an introduction to the band, Bleached, in which they said: "Bleached sing tales of teenage love without the clichés." Now you would hope that such a prominent publication as NME would have a grasp of what is or isn't cliché, after all they've been around awhile. But apparently not.

I don't want to victimise Bleached , because all they have done is produce a record, and as far as I know they aren't claiming to be especially original or inventive, but they're an example. As well I won't give a full review but outline just how misled this introduction is.

I'm sure it was a throwaway comment just to fill an introduction to an album stream and not particularly thought over, but that's their mistake. One good point is that you can listen to it for yourself and decide. Ride Your Heart is essentially a record about heart break from a female point of view projecting towards a male partner; pretty familiar territory as we've seen. Their entire sound owes to their listed influences on BEAT magazine's playlist they curated. The lyrics are particularly lazy and overworked, for example: "Get out of my mind boy you know I think about you all of the time," sound familiar? Quite close to the UK number one in terms of the narrative as well. So the sound, message and entire ethos of Bleached is a cliché, i.e., something which lacks original thought.

It's hard to tell whether that owes to lazy journalism; a lack of knowledge or simply an individual pandering to a publicist. Ok, if she's a fan, fine. But I'd be concerned if that is what NME considers original and non-cliché. Point is, it's prevalent throughout music and we should pay homage to those who don't reduce their potential to a set of tools which were in use before they regurgitated them. We should be much more interested in those who innovate and strike for something new. Ezra Pound's famous words echo here as well, "Make It New," after all the only rule of poetry, and art, is "Don't use cliché".

I suppose more than anything it tells us that when we come across something clichéd, the artist is not concerned with anything other than furthering themselves by hijacking another group or persons words or ideas. It is simple to call it lazy, but more than that it shows a lack of ambition not to take the opportunity to express in an individual manner. Being in debt instead to perceived outward success. It's reductive and regressive, and if like NME you admire that kind of thing, then I suppose you also want to see The Smiths reform, indie-rock triumph above all else and be eighteen again. Surely there's more to explore in music, and in life, than that?