On Friday 18th July, the Maltese population was literally spoiled for choice. Whether it was taking slow and tasteful sips of Marsovin’s delicacies, or listening to the vocal dexterity of Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja alongside X- factor winner Leona Lewis and Italian singer Claudio Baglioni, or just chilling by the serene Grand Harbour coupled with soothing jazz music and Maltese dishes. Organizers were concerned about the turnout of the general public, and even though all three events were taking place in close proximity of each other, attending all three was somewhat impossible.
The Jazz Festival is always held on the third weekend of July and, since most artist bookings had to be made way before summer, the thought of clashing with another event did not cross the organizers’ minds. For non-jazz enthusiasts, the name Brad Mehldau might not ring a bell. However he is a very distinguished pianist and composer who was nominated for several jazz instrumental performances.
In Malta, different generations are drawn to different genres and only a few seek non-‘mainstream’ music. The constant bombardment of pop songs on TV, radio and, for the party animals, Paceville, unknowingly enables people to ‘prefer’ pop culture over other genres. One’s preference depends on that individual’s exposure to that particular type of music. Certain likings vary according to what is popular at the time. As a case in point, when ‘The Great Gatsby’ was released in cinemas last year, many people got hyped up with the roaring twenties. The soundtrack was played everywhere around the island, and the movie inspired the KSU’s Grad ball theme. Most of the people who loved listening to the Great Gatsby soundtrack were not necessarily twenties- enthusiasts, but the songs’ successes drove the public into liking them.
It’s all about timing. I am not saying that people do not have a personal liking or a favourite genre, but that such opinions are indirectly influenced by society. Joseph Calleja was not as popular ten years ago as he is now. He was definitely as good as he is today, however as he internationally flourished, more and more people started to follow the trend and attendance to his annual concert increased. This year’s performance was said to be beyond words, as the artists crafted their voices into the audience’s hearts.
Events like these could enable people to discover new artists or to take more interest in an artist’s music. Unfortunately, the current generation is less into lyrics and emotion, and more into beats and rhythm. Most of the new songs released, popular amongst the teen generation, have an overall variation of lyrics as much as a limerick. The gradual shift of artistic preferences is primarily influenced by what is popular rather than by what is best. Then again, one cannot generalise as many have un-fluctuated tastes.
This summer has been characterized by hipster and indie music, most of which have reached the top of the Maltese music charts. However, events such as the ones that took place on the 18th of July help the public embrace the possibility of alternative music, rather than the same old same old. We should all be very thankful for having continuous events enriching our perspectives on the arts and constantly reminding us that, no matter what genre the music is from, there are always amazing artists to grasp our attention. New movies and events are coming out, meaning new influences. Let’s see what the hype of summer 2014 will be!