Game of Genres Season Premiere

Welcome to the season debut of Game of Genres. In this first quarter-final we see Jazz, Reggae and Indie-Pop tear each other apart.

andrew niven anthony mishra Bill Evans everything everything game of genres indie-pop jamie webb Jazz Johnny Nash Music reggae

Cambridge, it is your turn to fight for your house. And not just for your house, but also for the jazz, rock, classical, indie, pop or whatever tunes it is that brings courage to you this term.

For this is Game of Genres, and it is your turn to let us know what musical genre is to sit on the iron throne and be crowned the rightful favourite music genre listened to by Cambridge Students.

Who will sit on the Iron Throne this May Week?

To find the rightful monarch of music we have created a tournament where each week you vote for your favourite musical genre.

Each week we will have a number of genres fighting it out to progress through to the next round of the competition, and by Week 8 we will have an undisputed “Cambridge Monarch of Musical Genres”. Importantly, if you want to see your favourite genre represented in the games, please write in to [email protected] with your selection!

Don’t just sit their and whinge in the comments like Joffrey did at the Battle of the Blackwater, instead draw your metaphorical swords and stand and fight as Tyrion did. (Such simile – hint you can write even if you think you’d be terrible at it!)

To help you decide each week, we have searched throughout Cambridge since the last Winter to find those with a passion to stand up and fight to defend their genre. Fighting it out in the first of our quarter finals we bring you Jazz vs Reggae vs Indie-Pop.

JAZZ – Anthony Mishra

Jazz is no mere genre, it is a way of life: the ultimate expression that spontaneity and expressive exuberance are what makes life worth living. Bill Evans thought of Jazz as being just what happens when a skilled musician improvises in any idiom – by this definition, few have ever ‘jazzed’ with the original flare of Mozart flinging off a cadenza, or Handel free-styling a Sarabande.

There is more of the Lizst in a piano player hammering his life out at Ronnie Scott’s than in any conservatoire student in Europe. Of course, Jazz is too broad a concept to be considered a single genre. There is more that divides the ordered trad-bands of Jelly Roll Morton and Glen Miller from, say, the free Jazz of The Joseph Holbrooke Trio or the religious ecstasies of late Coltrane.

What unites these musicians is a deep commitment to improvisation as a mode of being. Jazz is not commercial or cynical or sensible or rational: Jazz is an engine of complete existence.

Jelly Roll Morton – Maple Leaf Stomp

REGGAE – Andrew Niven

The reason reggae is unambiguously the best form of music is simple: Rasta. How many other genres can claim to be so intrinsically linked to so beautiful an ideology? Peace, love and the rejection of materialism – what’s not great about that? The fundamental principles of the Rasta movement are something that we all, in some way or other, aspire to.

Even if you’re the type who thinks Cambridge is just a conveyer belt whisking you towards a six figure salary in the City so you can indulge in materialistic bliss for the rest of your life, the Rasta movement must nevertheless hold some draw as a nice concept at the very least. And that’s where reggae comes in.

Actually being a good person is quite a lot of effort, and quite frankly we’re all too busy trying to pass our exams. Reggae music allows you to, for the length of the album or playlist, forget your sins and lose yourself to relaxing blissful happiness. You’re not actually doing anything good for anyone else, but hey, at least you feel good about it! If it all gets too much this term, the only option is to put on a Bob Marley CD.

Johnny Nash – I Can See Clearly Now

INDIE-POP – Jamie Webb

Despite cultivating an image as the choice musical pursuit of skinny jeans wearing, wide-rimmed glasses wielding hipsters, indie pop is a very broad church. From math pop to dream pop to folk pop, guitars to synthesisers: sorry Socrates, but I’ll be damned if I can define it for you.

All I can say is that at its best, it’s exhilarating. The preponderance of ‘club bangers’ dominating the charts means indie pop had the chance to go away and get interesting. Whatever it is, Katy Perry it is not, and Bastille is only the tip of the iceberg. Listen to Everything Everything’s extraordinarily inventive yet wildly entertaining brand of pop and you’ll wonder why nothing else sounds like this when it’s so good.Try Beach House’s album Teen Dream, and I defy you to hear anything so intensely beautiful this summer: it sounds like sunshine. Metronomy and Wild Beasts are achingly cool, HAIM gloriously uplifting and endlessly singable, Daughter write lyrics that’ll make you cry.

For those who crave knowing about the next new thing, give Arthur Beatrice, MONEY, and SHIELDS (caps lock seems to be very ‘in’) a play. Most of all, don’t let anyone tell you that all indie pop ‘sounds the same’. Just play them some instead: you don’t even need to wear skinny jeans to like it.

Everything Everything – Cough Cough


Come back next week to see which genre brutally decapitated the others. We are also looking for more noble champions to defend their genres, so please email in at [email protected] to give us your thoughts.