By Chuck Klosterman
Originally accrued in Eating the Dinosaur and now on hand either as a stand-alone essay and within the publication assortment Chuck Klosterman on Pop, this essay is set ABBA.
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Extra info for ABBA 1, World 0. An Essay from Eating the Dinosaur
That said, I also can’t think of any other band who needs my public support less. This, I suppose, is my essential point: ABBA succeeds because the rest of the world isn’t necessary. They operate within their own actuality. In 2002, ABBA was offered $1 billion to reunite. That’s a billion, with a B. That’s $250 million apiece. If someone reads this book in the year 2110, that will still be a lot of money. But they turned it down. “We had to think about it,” Björn told The Guardian, “because one could build hospitals with that much money .
AC/DC was irrelevant in 1984 because they lacked the visual impact of less-heavy metal acts like Dokken, and they were irrelevant in 1989 because they weren’t releasing power ballads about teen suicide. They were irrelevant in 1991 because of grunge. They were irrelevant in 1997 because they weren’t involved with the mainstreaming of alternative culture. They were irrelevant in 2001 because they weren’t implementing elements of hip-hop into their metal. When they played Madison Square Garden in 2008, the always likeable New York Times critic Jon Caramanica opened his review like this: “All the recent talk of how AC/DC is due for critical reappraisal?
As a rule, people who classify art as “irrelevant” are trying to position themselves above the entity; it’s a way of pretending they’re more in step with contemporary culture than the artist himself, which is mostly a way of saying they can’t find a tangible reason for disliking what something intends to embody. Moreover, the whole argument is self-defeating: If you classify something as “irrelevant,” you’re (obviously) using it as a unit of comparison against whatever is “relevant,” so it (obviously) does have meaning and merit.