I have the pleasure of working with someone who has a rather eccentric and unconventional music taste. I get to learn all about a whole side of music I didn’t know existed but also get incite into a cynic’s view of pop music. One night he and his band went through the UK’s top 40 and there wasn’t a single band on the list. I thought that in his old age of thirty he maybe just didn’t recognise some of the new pop bands names. However; when I decided to test his theory I was blown away to find the only band with a featured song was Clean Bandit. Some questionable exceptions might include Maroon 5, Train and The Vamps but in the words of Max Bemis, “They’re only actors who can play guitar”.
In my previous blog post I talked about how it was important for young generations to explore “classics”. Given the streaming platforms like Spotify’s libraries it’s really no wonder that we are sifting through old back catalogues and embracing almost forgotten classics. Whether through Dadrock or some Motown everyone should take a look at the roots of music to see how far we’ve come, or digressed in some crotchety “born in the wrong generation” types opinion. If you listen back to the likes of Otis and Dionne and find yourself longing for the sounds of old there’s plenty of revival music bringing the sound of the classics to the modern era.
Sometimes people can’t simply enjoy a good thing given to them. This is the case throughout the history of hip-hop due to the constant argument about the inclusion of sampling. Many see sampling others’ music in your own as stealing creative ideas due to an inherent lack of creativity on your part and believe that to call a song your own you have to build it from the ground up as a completely original idea which only embroils you in another musical argument about whether or not any music can be considered completely new and unique nowadays. However; there’s those of us who don’t hate life and actually like to enjoy music and see sampling as a way of not only enjoying others’ music but also sharing it with more people. Many artists find that including a sample in their music acts as a sort of shout out to the original artist while other artists use it as a way to involve themselves in the history of the original music.
Given the recent events taking place highlighting that we as a whole must continue to strive towards equality I thought this would be as good a time as any to explore a thought I’ve had about pop music. If you took someone who puts little stock in music, relying on chart music you’d find that their view of women in music is quite skewed. Chart music tends to feature pretty lifeless and frankly vapid songs from female artists with a few rarities that could be considered to have substance though they usually rely on the crutch of love. Unfortunately the charts want us to focus on the same old boring break up songs rather than highlighting something more akin to the classics or towards the heavier side of the spectrum, granted the later is also influenced by the fact that rock really isn’t present in any form in the charts as of late.
Having been an avid Spotify user for the past few years I discovered in a conversation with a friend that I really haven’t been getting the most out of Spotify’s services. How could this be, how could I have Spotify open at almost all times and not know about a crucial part of what it offers its users? In my ignorance I had glossed over the discover and radio tab. It turns out Spotify updates a Discover Weekly playlist that contains 30 songs they think you might like based on what you’ve been listening to. The algorithm they use basically uses other users own playlists featuring songs you listen to in order to form this new playlist.
Perfect! A way to discover new music with no effort required making discovering new music easier and more convenient. Well, not really because this is where the differences between my friend and I differed the results of the playlist. You see he likes old rock music, “dad rock”, stuff that’s considered classics so there’s a firm connection between all the classics already established. My taste however is more contemporary and looks like someone with Parkinson’s threw darts at a chart of music genres and whatever they hit was what I blended together. I also tend to listen to albums rather than playlists which might annoy the algorithm slightly.
So here’s where I began to think about discovering music and how it really isn’t something you can leave up to an algorithm and that’s ok, in fact it adds a bit more depth to the experience. Rather than having a service pigeon hole you into a certain type of music you need to go outwith that service and really explore using every tool out there, and that’s exactly what we’ll do throughout this blog.