Questioning Bangers

Column: Features   |   Date Published: Monday, 20 October 14   |   Author: Cody Atkinson   |   20 hours, 39 minutes ago

The whole music world is talking about bangers. Bangerz by Miley, bangers in the club, bangers and mash for breakfast. If the early 2010s will be defined by anything culturally, it will be bangers. Or not. I haven't really been paying attention. Cody Atkinson writes words.

So what's a banger? A banger is a banger. It is a song that bangs.

But what does that mean? It means what it means. Nothing more, nothing less.

You don't know, do you? I do, I do. I'm cool, I'm hip. I'm with “it”. Of course I know that a banger is.

Well, what is it then? “If a song is extremely tight or just unbelievably awesome, it is a banger.”

You just looked that up on Urban Dictionary, didn't you? How dare you try to besmirch my good name!

Come on...OK, I might have, but I do know what a banger sounds like at least.

OK then, what does a banger sound like then? A banger doesn't necessarily have a strictly defined sound.

COME ON, ARE YOU JUST MAKING THIS UP NOW? No, no, no. A banger usually has a four to the floor beat, but beyond that there's a little room to move. It's not necessarily constrained by genre.

So you can head bang? No you don't head bang to a banger...well, not usually. I mean you could get your headbang on, but it would be unorthodox. I think.

You think? I thought you were meant to be an expert or something? Meh, I'm doing this one on feel. I'm not going to overcomplicate this one. It's about bangers, it's about the vibe.

But there's no such thing as a shoegaze banger, surely? Hmmm, not yet, but may the talented musicians of Canberra take this as a challenge – $20 for the first person to write a shoegaze club banger. And some other random merch we have lying around.

Do you have the authority to issue challenges like that? Almost certainly not.

OK, how would you use banger in a sentence? Man, that song is a banger. It just, you know, bangs. I can't believe how hard or long it bangs. It is banging so hard that it would measurable on the Richter scale.

I get it, I get it. Where do you normally encounter bangers? You mean in the wild?

Yes, “in the wild”? The clubs are the place where the banger lives and dies. The dancefloors around the town and indeed the nation, heave to the constant rhythms that underline the core identity of bangers.

Ah, a “club banger”, I've heard of that...Yeah, that's an early derivation of some bangers, but not all bangers are club bangers. And there are music awards for the best “club banger” of the year.

Really? Yep, the BET Hip Hop Awards have done it for the last few years, awarding the peak of banging-ness of music.

Where does the word “banger” even come from? The entomology of “banger” is a bit disputed. Gang banger has long been associated with the US hip hop/rap movements. In his verse on the Wu-Tang Clan's ‘Bring Da Ruckus’ (1992) Raekwon closes with “Wu-Tang banger, 36 styles of danger”, potentially referring to either his weapon or (more likely) the track's ability to move heads.

In a written form the earliest mention of “banger” or “club banger” that I can find with a musical context is in a 2000 issue of Vibe Magazine. Mike Skinner from The Streets took it internationally on their 2002 track ‘Let's Push Things Forward’, stating that “I write bangers, not anthems”. Since then, “banger” has seemingly been open game for everyone.

Open game for everyone...Who was that person who released an album called Banger? You mean Miley Cyrus and her album Bangerz?

Maybe? Yeah, I think that's the one. Miley symbolically announced her new “dance” direction by taken the term that has been recently been used to describe popular dance music as that of her album. And then she added a “z” at the end to try to make it cool I guess?

Perhaps. Is Bangerz full of bangerz? I genuinely have no idea. I can't remember listening to any of it. And I certainly won't admit to doing so here, even if I did.

But did it work? Probably. A lot of people bought that album. Note to self: make a record called Number One Singlez. I put a “z” there to make it look cool.

So what is the point of bangers? People enjoy them? Is there anything else required?

While people can get on their critical high horse and deride them as lacking depth or substance, is that really required to like a song? Isn't enjoyment the point of listening to music? Bangers exist because people like listening to bangers. They like dancing to bangers. And that's all that's needed.



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