Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Coachella
Musician Ragnar Þórhallsson of Of Monsters and Men performs onstage during day 1 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 12, 2013 in Indio.
Maybe you somehow managed to avoid the pervasive “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers, though God knows how. But the current folk revival is continuing to build steam, with Of Monsters and Men appearing on this past weekend’s “Saturday Night Live.”
They performed “Little Talks,” which takes a page from the “Ho Hey” playbook and, while not quite so dramatic, features a lot of yelling “Hey!” over the course of four minutes. This use of language as a percussive force in the new folk world harkens back to singing around the campfire.
They use a simplified version of the vocal percussion of a cappella music to give their songs a propelling force, taking the mellow folk vibe and injecting it with a vial of caffeine.
The Chicago Tribune took a look at this phenomenon in an article a few months ago, pointing out the similar brief exaltations in “Home” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, as well as its use a few years back in “No Cars Go” by the Arcade Fire.
The Tribune’s writer speculates that maybe this has to do with creating the kind of singalong that pulls fans in at live shows, ever more important to an artist’s bottom-line as the music industry tries to figure out how to reclaim their spot in a digital world. It also seems to make sense in a DIY world where everyone wants to make their own thing — it’s less about musical knowledge and more about just doing it.
Even outside the new folk world, today’s hits include more of that anthemic vibe than they have in a while. Just look at the continued success of the band Fun, where every one of their songs is an anthem.
No telling whether this trend will last or expand further — though the Tribune also mentions a surge in banjo classes, so we may be raising up a whole new generation of future folk stars. Heaven help us.