Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Music ain't what it used to be

Here's a bold statement for you: we don't appreciate music like we used to.

I believe that most music lovers today, including myself, don't treasure the purchase like we used to, because music is so readily available. Bob Lefsetz on his
Lefsetz letter podcast (which I subscribe to via iTunes) described it well. He said that when he went to college in the early 1970's he had more LP's than any other person on campus and that was still only a fraction of the albums on the average iPod today.

Growing up in the 1980's, I had around 15 LPs and then got into CDs - but even then, it was a couple of years before I amassed more than 25. A CD used to cost more than today - if it had kept pace with inflation, a standard single CD would now be £20-25.
Each LP or CD I bought was listened to carefully and studiously. I knew every track of every release I owned: the reasons why I liked or disliked a song. I listened out for each nuance, sound, idea, structure and feel within each piece of music and I read and re-read the sleeve notes. I certainly appreciated the music more than I do today.

Having thought about this since listening to Bob's podcast, and considering how I love music, I am perhaps enjoying it less due to the huge choice (I have nearly 5,500 songs on my iPod). I now buy a CD or download an album, listen to it... and move on. I don't have the personal interaction with every song on an album I used to have and I miss that. So my aim is to revisit some of the music I have purchased lately and truly appreciate it... or at least understand why I don't like it.

While on the topic of music, I have recently figured out why I don't like rap music.

Rap doesn't work for me for 2 reasons: (1) Rap lacks humour and (2) they rant about completely false situations. The rap guys who claim to be gangsta doods with their ho's are full of bull. They are acting a part and are unlikely to risk losing their privileged lifestyle by getting involved in crime. They sing about stereotypical scenarios and I don't have an interest in their immature, exaggerated and aggressive stories. This leads impressionable youths to think that crime is cool and anyone who gets in their way has to be dealt with.

So why is rap popular? In my view, partly the rhythms are good and very occasionally a rapper goes off course and produces some original lyrics, but mainly I think it mainly appeals to people who aren't interested in melody and get something from the lyrics. That's no bad thing and I am not saying that rap can't be appreciated in addition to "real" music. I can enjoy the beats (but don't really like the rapping part), but as for the anger, bravado, anti-gay slurs and sexist views - you can keep that (c)rap thanks.


  1. Check out K'Naan's "Troubadour" record that was just released. I'm not promising you'll like it, but it's 100X better than most anything else out there.

  2. Spot on mate! Made me think about how I listen to music. I gotta get back to really loving it too.

  3. Music is the sound track to our lives, it's so important to the soul and is, if we let it, food for our minds.

    That said, I've always thought, rap should always be preceeded by the letter C!

  4. Don't diss rap, dismissing an entire genre is a bad idea.

  5. Rap doesnt work for me either. It's a load of stupid guys shouting.

  6. Thanks for the deep musical insight there, you do realise that comment makes you look like a stupid guy shouting?

  7. Tommo's view is a little "blunt" I think. But imagine an alien landing on Earth and turning on a music TV channel. He sees these guys prancing around the screen with the sound of heavy beats and them talking loudly in an angry manner with the rhythm. It could be said that looked a little like "a load of stupid guys shouting."!

  8. let me get this straight, you dismiss out of hand an entire genre that you have no real experience of, then throw generalised and inaccurate insults at it. I expect better here, small mindedness is an error in all its forms and many of the accusations you throw at rap could be levelled at many other music forms. Rap is far more than you think it is, you should give it a go, let me know if you open your mind to it.

  9. I didn't dismiss it without giving it a chance. "Walk this way" was OK, but apart from that, I am disappointed by the lack of originality. I have investigated all kinds of music and found some amazing surprises. With rap I found none. That's the way it is - I doubt any of the rap millionnaires will be losing any sleep over my lack of participation.

  10. I seem to have recently come to the same conclusion as I have just bought a CD/DAB unit as I want to get back to the time when I buy a new CD and then play it to death for a while (rather than sticking it on my ipod and it disappearing into the electronic ether!).

    Re rap, I personally love (and find to be non-shouty) Public Enemy, particularly It Takes a Nation of Millions... or Fear of a Black Planet. And the best 5 minutes of tv I've seen for years (but sadly doesn't seem to be available now) is a piece the BBC did for the Olympics about Usain Bolt, with the music being "Follow the Leader" by Erik B and Rakim - it is awesome!!

    Norm D

  11. Cheers for the comment tormod46 - I am regreting mentioning rap now as the main focus was about ENJOYING music again!

    I wonder if the art of putting an album together has died a little? Remember when an album "flowed" from start to finish? Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band is a good example, but there are plenty of others.

  12. Walk This Way ain't rap.

    If you ever need schooling in rap, you give me a shout.