For a few years in the late 90's early 21st Century we had been in a musical drought, brought about by media consolidation, the death of independent labels, and the FCC regulations which has destroyed radio. It seems the early 90s and its grunge were last important movement (because rock/rap and teen pop would not suffice).
Any time you listened to the radio and watched a video show, all you saw was angry suburban white guys with too much testosterone and too little to say moaning about the terrible quality of their lives or angry black guys with too much street cred and too little depth going on and on about bitches, hos, getting crunk and wearing jewelry (ice or bling) they will not be able to afford once their lifestyles and lack of talent catch up with them. Or, you could just watch the next manufactured hair and breast teenager who would one day be known for her eventual breakdown and subsequent Playboy photospread and not her "music."
So, to survive you had to retreat to the music of your youth. Thank God U2, the Beastie Boys, Ben Folds, Johnny Cash, Radiohead and VOL were still making important music. Or, you could listen to old Prince, the Clash and Public Enemy albums.
However, during the past few years a revolution has begun. Somehow in the midst of the darkness music is being revived. Hip Hop has given us fresh new faces, such as Blackalicious, Jurassic 5, the Roots (who have been around a long time, but gained in popularity), Kanye West and Mos Def (however, there is still too much crunk, "I got 10 bullet holes in my chest" bragging out there).
In the "alternative" scene we find out the 80's were not a bad thing after all. All those kids rediscovering the Cure, the Smiths, the Thompson Twins and the Cars have, like a good theologian learning from the master and improving on his thesis (think Yoder and Barth), reminded me why the first New Wave was so important to music.
Listening to bands such as the Low Millions, The Arcade Fire, Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, the Killers, Kings of Leon, Coheed and Cambria, Dogs Die in Hot Cars, Earlimart, the Postal Service and Bright Eyes (along with many great young bands I have not mentioned) gives me hope for the future of music.
But remember, with music, as well as with religion the future is always in the past.