Friday, July 27, 2018

Feel Good Friday ~ best musical moment of 2018 so far!

Where else are you gonna find a "feel good" post dedicated to a song from an album about the plague? Nothing but Quality Content™ here, folks.

But seriously, is there a more cathartic moment in music this year than at 1:39? *drums* THIS IS THE MOMENT OF JUST LETTING GO! That's how music is supposed to feel. I'm glad someone still gets it.

Another thing I was thinking about - I don't think musical tastes have actually changed much, if at all. What's changed is how we listen to music and how it gets popular.

Imagine if streaming, memes, and viral hits were a thing in the 80s and 90s. I don't think people would have had any better taste, maybe it would have even been worse! But thankfully those of us who grew up then were spared, and presented with mostly music that took actual effort. Because in most cases, you HAD to make an effort to be heard then. Of course there are always dumb novelty hits and exceptions, but how many "Ice Ice Baby"s would we have had? How many Milli Vanillis? (That they even had more than one hit might be the biggest shame of my generation.) But that goes along with my point. People will always listen to shit, and there was probably a TON of shit we never heard back then because there was just no way for it to circulate. MTV mostly used its power wisely. Probably the worst thing they did was promote a lot of terrible late-stage hair metal, but I think they were as glad as everyone else when Nirvana came along.

So it's no wonder those of us who grew up back then, and still have a hunger for new music, are put off by today's scene. For kids it's just normal cause they've never known anything else, but I'm glad I remember a time when quality was still a factor, not just clicks. And I'm glad there was no Zombie Challenge or whatever dumb viral shit back then giving the lowest common denominator control over music. And children. I think that's the biggest reason for the change. Kids will click on any dumb thing, and they don't have to pay anything for it to count. And then we all pay for it. How many dumb things would I have uncaringly clicked on as a kid, if I'd had the chance? Probably a lot. System be broke, fix it, blah blah blah.

And now I'm gonna have a rockin' weekend with some Trash Boat, Halestorm, Killers and Weezer. Peace.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

"Music taste doesn't matter, listen to whatever you want!"

Sometimes I see comments like this, boldly proclaimed as if from a mountaintop, and you know, it's my job* to think about them and break them down.

*not actually

This is one of those statements that seems obvious on the surface, the "all lives matter" of music hot takes (without the baggage), but like that, it doesn't really stand up when you question it.

My knee-jerk reaction: of course you can listen to whatever you want in private, you can listen to Hitler's Greatest Hits (there's a pun in there somewhere) and ain't nobody gonna stop you. That's just a basic right we all have. How does it hurt anyone else? And have I already lost my own case by bringing up Hitler? Dammit. Well the answer is probably obvious - what you buy and/or stream affects what's popular and therefore, affects other people.

I already made a whole post about why what's popular matters. Unless you live in a bubble, you WILL hear it. In a shop, a restaurant, the gym, out of someone's car, whatever. I never once voluntarily listened to "Shape of You" and I heard it approximately 1635345 times the past couple years. Thanks, people with terrible taste!

Also, if one kind of music gets popular, it tends to push out a lot of other music you might want to hear. Like rock. Or actual country. Or hip hop that doesn't suck. Look what's happened just in the past 10 years. Rock has all but disappeared from the mainstream except for a boring Nickelback clone or two. If you hear a rock song in a public space today, it's probably from the 90s or before. Country radio pushed out women and more traditional sounds to court bro-country and a slew of interchangeable t-shirted and ballcapped dudes. Hip hop - okay, I don't know what hip hop sounded like 10 years ago, but I know it CAN sound good and not like this boring shit that's taken over today. Basically, your shitty taste actually CANCELS OUT music I like. Why am I supposed to not care, again?

So yes, musical taste matters because popular music is played in shared spaces. It can either be like secondhand smoke, or a really nice perfume. Of course that in itself is dependant on taste. Which brings me to -

The other main point I want to make: some musical taste IS measurably better than others. And no, I'm not about to say mine is better than yours. I've said before that one way to actually judge "good" and "bad" music is the amount of effort put in. If it sounds lazy, like rap that's nothing but the same words repeated three times for the whole song, then it's bad. That doesn't mean you can't like it, but I won't say that buying or streaming it doesn't harm our shared musical culture. I'm not saying you have to think deeply about all the music you listen to, but maybe think a little? Ask yourself if the "artist" is looking to make art, or just money? Lazy can apply to music listeners as well.

So yes, if you just mindlessly listen to whatever comes your way in the background and don't really care about it, then your music taste is worse than mine. And I like "MMMBop."

People are gonna listen to what they want to and in the name of freedom, they absolutely should. But it's not all equal. That's a dumb thing to say. Some possible solutions to this, other than calling the Music Police, would be making chart position mostly dependant on purchases, so the dumb throwaway trendy streaming stuff doesn't catch on outside its little niches. If you're actually buying something, you're probably gonna think about it more. But that probably won't happen. People stream now. And it's something I find so weird - having all this music available should be amazing, it should open up the mainstream to all kinds of varied artists. But instead it's made the focus SO MUCH NARROWER. One thing catches on, and then that's all you hear. I'm guessing that has to do with greed, as most evil things do. But man, does it suck. Such squandered potential of a medium.

The other possible solution would be for the music industry to not be greedy and LOLOLOL I can't even finish. I mean hey, you gotta make a profit. But maybe instead of doubling down on garbage you can put some different stuff out there? Because honestly, I don't like blaming some random person listening to music alone in their house for the woes of modern music, even if they are listening to Post Malone. But I'm also not gonna say their taste is equal to someone listening to a band that spent hours writing their songs and days rehearsing them rather than just slurring random nonsense over a beat and going out for a smoke. No.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Annoying pop song alert!

Man, it's been a while since I've talked about an annoying pop song. Most of what I've heard this year has ranged from good to boring, with little really sticking out as bad. And if you're not gonna be good, go all the way and be bad, dammit. Boring is the worst, and that's what so much popular music has been recently. (From what I've heard, anyway. I don't think I've heard that rapper who died and if I did I might disrespect the dead, so let's just move on.)

The annoying song in question is called "Friends." *deep breath* So no one told you life was gonna be- NO! *slap* We are NOT doing that. Simmer down. So what makes this song so annoying? First of all, it's a spelling song, which is pretty much universally annoying.* If you grew up in the 80s, chances are hearing the letters "M-E-T-H-O-D" will trigger some kind of P-T-S-D. And that was an actual decent band. Duo. Whatever. What happens when this "Marshmello" fellow tries it? (I'm assuming it's a fellow anyway, it's one of those EDM producers who presents itself as an amorphous blob. We'll just go by Ghostbusters rules and say it's a Marshmallow Man.)

And this is the form of destruction we've chosen - stupid pop song. Okay, maybe it's not New York-crushingly bad, but a lot of things about this tweaks my nerves. Full disclosure - I had a previous, fleeting familiarity with Marshmello with his song "Wolves" ft. Selena Gomez. That song is... okay. Yeah, it's kinda catchy, I don't mind it. But this. First of all, this "Anne-Marie" chick makes Selena Gomez look like she has a personality. I don't know how she pulls that off but it's impressive. We're talking Bebe Rexha levels of generic here, which I'm sure means she'll be on the next huge "country" smash with that guy who did "Singles You Up" or whatever. These are the times we're living in. (Hmm, maybe I wasn't so far off with the "choose your form" thing...)

ANYWAY, we've got some weird EDM dude and a generic female pop singer, that's just another Tuesday, right? But no, according to Anne-Marie, this is the "friendzone anthem," and the world NEEDED a friendzone anthem. Since most of the world is not in the 8th grade I assure you that no, no we did not. And what's the deep, impactful, anthemic chorus of this... anthem? She spells out the word "friends." Except... if you're gonna make spelling out a word the centrepiece of your song, maybe you wanna enunciate a little better so it doesn't sound like you're misspelling it?? "F-R-I-N-D-S!" she proclaims proudly. I just wanna be "frinds," which sounds like some kind of weird kids' food from the 90s, like frozen pork rinds. "Try Frinds! They're extreeeeeeeeeme!" and then some kid with floppy 90s hair shoots down a waterslide with one.


(While also playing a video game.)

If you listen close you can kiiiiinda hear her slide into the "E," but I don't recommend listening to this thing close or even far away. It's the epitome of a vapid pop song. I was gonna wait and talk about it on my worst of the year list, but I'd probably have forgotten everything I wanted to say about it and maybe even the song itself. And oh yeah, how could I forget this questionable lyric - "You really ain't going away without a fight
You can't be reasoned with, I'm done being polite." Umm honey, I think he's gone past F-R-I-N-D and into S-T-A-L-K-E-R at this point. Maybe it's time to just cut your losses?

*D-I-V-O-R-C-E is a good spelling song, because there's an actual reason she's spelling stuff out. Oh and "Respect," because Aretha is so fire she burns the spelling bee down.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


So yeah, I like both of the Toto covers. Obviously I do. I love Weezer and I love 80s rock, you might as well ask me if I like sunshine and unicorns. DUH.

Of the two, I like "Africa" better. The "Rosanna" cover makes it a liiiiittle more obvious that Weezer's drummer is um, not quite on par with Toto's drummer. But putting that aside, I mean when you talk about Weezer you're pretty much talking about Rivers, and I think he brings the goods. This is what "Weezer covering 80s rock" sounds like all right, yup. It doesn't make me go "OMG BEST THING EVERRRRRR," but if they did a whole album of 80s covers I'd buy it. Oh yeah. Man, they'd do a mean "Surrender." I think that's actually a 70s song but w/e, same aesthetic.

How men and women can help each other out!

So I keep seeing this comment an actor made about flirting all bloody day and felt compelled to write about it. Pardon me, music lovers, let me get this off my chest and then I'll get back to talking about Weezer or whatever.

"I don't want to go up and talk to her because I'm going to be called a rapist or something."

No, the simple act of talking to a woman will not get you labelled a rapist, unless she has severe emotional issues. In which case she could accuse you of something without you ever even talking to her, and then do the same to your dog. That seems unlikely so you're probably safe, bro. If you flirt with a woman and she flirts back, that's okay and always will be okay. If she doesn't seem interested, step the eff off. That doesn't seem so complicated, does it?

Except maybe it kind of can be? I started thinking about how men and women have been socialized for so long and it's really kind of sick. A lot of discussion of this has fallen on men - men are socialized to feel they're entitled to women, to be persistent, to "break her down" til she says yes. Which can be true, and also really gross. But what about how women are socialized?

I wasn't personally raised this way, but a lot of women my generation and previous generations were - and that is to be coy. To say no or maybe when they mean yes, to string guys along because God forbid you actually act like you like a guy. Women must be pursued, or else be seen as forward, or desperate, or "not a good girl." Yeah, a lot of women were taught that being "good" means playing games with people. Being "good" means lying, or at the very least denial. All for what? To be a virgin, or appear like one? What century is this, anyway?? These old timey social mores kinda encourage stalking - and we wonder why things are so fucked up.

And even for those of us who weren't raised that way (and I really hope this next generation isn't), it's aaaaaallllll over entertainment. "Romantic" comedies can be poison. How many times has the plot of one of those things been "wearing someone down" til they get together in the end? This not only teaches women they can't be honest about being attracted to a dude, it teaches dudes that sometimes women lie about not being attracted to them. It encourages them to keep at it, which CAN lead to a woman feeling like she's being harassed. (Harassed, NOT "raped." Really wrong word to use there, Superman. Not one ya wanna throw around like a football.)

So while I think you should generally be able to tell if someone wants nothing to do with you and stop talking to them, there are gray areas here that need to be addressed. Let's stop playing games with each other. It isn't romantic, it doesn't make you "good," it just reinforces stereotypes that have done subtle but pervasive and long-lasting damage. Be honest and treat people the way you want to be treated. It's time to change the narrative. There won't be as many awful romantic comedies, but... yeah, there's really no downside to it at all! :)

tbt ~ Bush

Don't know if this is an unpopular opinion, since they're not talked about as much as some other 90s rock bands, but I think Bush's first two albums are really good. If you haven't revisited them for a while or heard them at all, check em out!