There’s a radio station in my area, as I’m sure there’s one by yours as well, that specializes in “Today’s hottest music” (their wording, not mine.) I have this station programmed as one of the radio favorites in my car because sometimes there’s nothing better than listening to a catchy pop song. I figure everyone’s got at least one pop culture vice, and this one happens to be mine.
The longer I expose myself to this kind of music, however, the more it dawns on me that very little of the new songs nowadays are actually new. Well, they’re new-ish, but it seems like for every three minutes of a song, two of those minutes are spent repeating certain parts of that song over and over. Essentially, it sounds to me like artists need to only record one minute of music in order to create a new song.
For example, let’s look at Kanye West. I know Bono endorsed his music and it’s treason to disagree with the almighty Bono, but humor me here for a minute. West’s most well-known song is perhaps “Golddigger”, or maybe “Stronger”, and they’re both fun to listen to and pretty catchy. If you listen closely to “Golddigger” though, you’ll notice that the same sounds keep cropping up all over the place and that, for the most part, the song is mostly sound effects and chorus. He may be a decent rapper, but his songs are so buried in silly little sound loops and maddeningly identical choruses that I’m more inclined to be impressed by his producer.
For another example, let’s look at Justin Timberlake. He released a wildly popular song, “SexyBack”. I have no idea why the song title needed to be smushed together like that, ditto to the name of the album (FutureSex/LoveSounds…?) but the song is catchy and probably easy to dance to so it took off like wildfire. The only problem is, it has the same problem as Kanye West’s song. It’s sound loops, random noises in the background, and the virtually same refrain throughout the whole song (Also, is the chorus “Go, hippie, go”? Is JT a closet beatnik?)
The music I hear on this popular music station reminds me forcefully of the Friends episode wherein Ross fancied himself a musician and serenaded everyone with random sound effects from his synthesizer.
It seems like the problem with a lot of popular music is that it’s all too homogenous. If you stumble into a song that’s already started, you have no way of knowing if the song has just started or is almost over because it’s so repetitious. Maybe that’s what sells albums, though, because popular music doesn’t reach that category without appealing to a lot of people, right?
As I’ve been told before, I’m not the arbiter of all good taste, so what may be bewildering for me may be musical genius to someone else. I am wondering, though, if I could perhaps make it as a pop star. With pitch correction, sampling, and sound looping, pretty much everyone can sound good, right? I’ll just starve myself, fix myself a pretty little crack addiction, and I’ll be on the road to financial well-being in no time!
Then again, I don’t think I’d stand up well under tabloid speculation so I think I’ll just stick to blogging. No one ever wonders if a blogger is pregnant just because she ate Mexican food for lunch and is wearing her husband’s t-shirt because it’s laundry day, you know?