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08 September 2010 @ 08:42 pm
Random popular music musings  
My musical tastes are probably "mainstream pop", technically, but I'm ridiculously picky. Thanks to my parents, the Moody Blues and the Beatles were foundations of my musical exposure. I liked most mainstream pop/rock in the 70s and early 80s, but I retreated to 60s stations and "Weird Al Yankovic" to avoid the Rick Astley / Michael Bolton era. (I still can't stand most modern ballads/diva songs, which seriously limits my appreciation of R&B.) In college, I got into singer/songwriters; lately the new songs and artists I'm picking up from radio while I drive are noisy and/or angry selections like Modest Mouse, Muse, Finger Eleven, Stone Sour, and so forth. (Pause for ninjamonkey73 to mock the "poser bands" ... and done.) Anger has also been a major theme in a lot of my recent writing; I'm not sure why.

Classical music is pretty sounds to me, nothing more. I'm fond of cello pieces, but they all tend to blur together. I don't "get" the Goldberg Variations, at all, whether on piano or transposed to strings. I've never learned how to listen "properly" to music.

I like jazzy rock but don't know what kinds of jazz I do and don't like; I hate blues but like quite a few bluesy rock songs. I don't disdain rap, but I haven't heard any that catches me and I do disdain the whole "look how much expensive crap I have" ethic. (I adore "I'm on a Boat", for puncturing that whole thing ... and because goofy white guys acting tough tickles me.) I appreciate Eminem's skill but haven't yet heard a song by him I'd actively want to listen to. I really like Shakira's voice and Pink's sense of humor, but again, none of their songs have really grabbed me (though I found myself liking "Glitter in the Air" on the radio on the way home this evening, even though it's totally not my usual thing.)

My mp3 player has 6500 songs. I dump albums onto it and then filter out songs I actively dislike ... but that's hard, because when I first listened to all of "Recovering the Satellites" I really disliked it ... and then a year later I loved it. So I'm hesitant to delete even songs I dislike, because I might change my mind, you know? I still really dislike later Counting Crows, but it took me a long time to warm to "Massive Attack", and so on. I don't listen to albums straight through anymore, but I might want to someday, in which case those little filler tracks make a difference ... blah.

Every few months or so I record blocks of music videos to catch up on the current scene. (The young'uns on my flist may be surprised to learn that MTV and VH-1 once played "music videos" — like fanvids but original compositions! On television! That's even where the V in both names came from! Nowadays these strange artifacts can still be found, but only in the middle of the night on bizarre stations like "Palladia".) There's a lot of repetition, but I find it worthwhile to do a few times a year. I sometimes get to like new songs this way, too — when I first saw "Toxic", I laughed at what a stylistic train wreck it was (conveniently forgetting that Paul McCartney's "Uncle Albert (Admiral Halsey)" is just as fragmentary) ... and it swiftly grew on me. I don't like any of her other songs, but I still like that one; I don't like most of Justin Timberlake's stuff, but I like "Sexyback".

It felt like a long time since I'd done this, but when I grabbed a week's worth recently, I recognized probably half of the videos, which was puzzling. Those last two vids were in there, for example. A lot of others bore me. I like pre-"Atomic Bomb" U2, but I don't think a single one of their videos has been worth my time. Madonna both impresses and embarrasses me, somehow simultaneously and in equal measure, but except for the first 30 seconds or so of "4 Minutes" making me giggle hysterically at the way Timbaland is having fun with the whole thing, I haven't wanted to listen to anything of hers since something I don't quite recall in the "Ray of Light" era. I don't have any use for concert- or performance-style videos, so I was able to skip a lot of those (with the exception of "Dani California", which is brilliant, and which made me not hate a Red Hot Chili Peppers song). I hate "artist randomly dorks around in front of the camera" (Jason Mraz, looking at you) or "artist randomly walks around for no good reason" (for shame, Coldplay in "Lights" or "Fix You" or something) or "artist randomly surfs for no good reason" (Jack Johnson, Ben Harper). I want something that rewards my attention — something that's truly visually striking or that tells a story.

There wasn't much. I like Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" only because of the SGA vid; the "drunk/stoned party girl" theme of her music puts me off, and her videos seriously feel like watching Japanese commercials, as if I am (or she is) lacking a narrative reference point. I'm still fond of Sara Evans's "Cheatin'", and I find Brad Paisley both cute and entertainingly funny ("Alcohol", "Online" except for the slightly cruel edge early on, "Celebrity" — the man knows how to make good videos!), even though I still don't have a particular liking of country. Pink's "Stupid Girls" and "Please Don't Leave Me" are great, and the new Coldplay ("Life in Technicolor II") is a lot of fun. Still, I didn't really find anything new to fall in love with.

Except.

I'm an SGA fan; we all know John Sheppard has a poster of Johnny Cash in his quarters, and this has led in fanon to extensive reference to the Man in Black. Despite this, I've never cared about any of Cash's songs; they didn't happen to work for me. (And I'm a Rodney fangirl anyway, heh.) But I found myself watching his cover of "Hurt"**, and being really affected by it ... even though I'd seen it before and didn't care. It just really, really struck me this time.

(** A few days ago, I re-encountered (and have since misplaced again) the fanfic in which Rodney snarks that whatever it is he likes is timeless or something, "unlike Johnny Cash, who had to cover Nine-Inch Nails to stay relevant." John of course glares in response. I suspect I didn't know what that meant the first time I read it; now it's just funny timing to run into it randomly again.)

Then I saw "God's Gonna Cut You Down", and again, I'd seen it and didn't care, and religious songs are often problematic for me anyway, but this time I loved the sound. Loved.

And of course "God's Gonna Cut You Down" isn't available by mp3 download in the US. Normally I prefer to buy albums and rip them, so that I have a high-quality archive with no real effort, but I've been making peace with buying mp3s when I only like one or two songs by someone ... so of course I didn't have that option here. With one thing and another, I ended up buying both albums (because of course they couldn't be from the same album).

So. Now I need to find a way to wedge 27 Johnny Cash songs onto my overburdened player, when I was pretty sure I didn't even like the guy's music. Go figure. And I can't even rule out discovering a liking for songs and artists I've already dismissed ... dammit!

Originally posted at Dreamwidth | Comment | comment count unavailable comments
 
 
 
Amy- ninja extraordinaire, bad monkey: Pigs in Spaceninjamonkey73 on September 9th, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
You took the fun out of my snark... :)

Most modern mp3 players let you rate songs and it's supposed to affect their frequency in random shuffling. You could try marking ones you don't like 1 star or somesuch and see if they come up less often.

Also, 6527+ songs = sweet, holy frak!
michelel72: Cat-Gonzo-Out of itmichelel72 on September 9th, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
The thing is, I don't want to hear them less often; I want to hear them often enough to know I can delete them!

And, well, technically it's 6460 + 14 CDs to be ripped (including the two Cash) + 12 completely random CDs I picked up for free and need to listen to and see if I want anything off them ....
Amy- ninja extraordinaire, bad monkey: Pigs in Spaceninjamonkey73 on September 9th, 2010 03:18 pm (UTC)
I adore your complexity. That is all.

Edited at 2010-09-09 03:18 pm (UTC)
sings and wanders: butlervioletcheetah on September 10th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
U2 videos
Oh come on, don't tell me that the one for "Discotheque" wasn't hysterical. I mean, I don't need to see it every day, but I feel my life is richer for having seem them hamming it up. Never has a crotch been thrust at a low camera with such irony.
michelel72: Cat-Suzie-Yawnmichelel72 on September 10th, 2010 03:32 pm (UTC)
Re: U2 videos
I stand corrected, at least in that specific case. Heh.