I was watching the trailer for The 2nd Law, Muse's new album, which I've talked about here. It's divided opinion massively, from what I've seen, in so much as it appears that Muse are now incorporating dubstep into their sound. But there was a comment on the video that I thought sums everything up perfectly;
"People criticize when a band's style of music stay the same, but they also criticize when they change, so what can they do? Muse is a band that love experimentation, so yes they are far from their original music style, but they are right to evolve. If you're a Muse fan, you'll understand it." (Youtube user madlois1)
This person has hit the nail on the head. The very essence of music, as I see it, is to experiment, to push the boat out and make something truly unique that will stand the test of time and really stay in people's heads, so that later they'll look back and say "wow, they were brave and really went out on a limb to create something special, and it worked, even if they didn't entirely know what they were doing".
If you stick to a standard formula, things might become generically popular, but it doesn't make them stand out. Most of my favourite bands are incredible because they push the limits of what people might expect from that band, and it breaks down the barriers of 'genre'. Bands such as Enter Shikari, Mastodon, Rolo Tomassi, Pink Floyd - they're all distinctive because they don't stick to a set formula. Each of those bands, just as examples, have songs in their respective repertoires that sound like they could have been written by different bands altogether, and that is what will help them last the test of time.
Take Mastodon - I've spent too much time over the last day watching some of their 'making-of' documentary films about their albums, and it's really interesting to hear from them how in some songs, they really didn't know what they were doing, but just went with stuff because it sounded cool. It resulted in some of their best work. The song Creature Lives from The Hunter; the first time I heard it, I was just like "wut?". Listen to it, then listen to something like Blood And Thunder from Leviathan. Could be different bands. But Creature Lives is my favourite song from that album, because it's just...epic. And it's things like that that have made Mastodon into one of the world's finest metal bands, because they stand out and aren't afraid to be unique and unusual.
So back to my original point, regarding Muse. People may criticise, but I would say that they don't truly respect and appreciate the band's vision, their willingness to remove themselves from their comfort zone so that they can make something that's never been heard before, to blend genres and make something undefinable that really holds its own as being truly unique.
The root of inherently great music is to do what the hell you like, not to worry about a definition, and above all, be different. Because it's fun, too.
Keep your eyes peeled, because I'm going to try something new soon, a giveaway...if you like Japanese Voyeurs then it will be of particular interest. But I haven't actually considered how it's going to work yet.