ces by Pitchfork's Jeremy D. Larson: "As one of nearly half a billion people who pay a small fee to rent the vast majority of the history of recorded music—not to mention the 2 billion people per month who use YouTube for free—I have found that, after more than a decade under the influence, it has begun to reshape my relationship with music. I’m addicted to a relationship that I know is very bad for me. I know I am addicted to Spotify the same way I was addicted to nicotine or Twitter. It makes me happy, aggrieved, needlessly defensive". However - "the beauty of the algorithm of your mind is that it makes perfect sense to no one but yourself".

The Face asks whether Coachella is being transformed from a festival into a platform: "As hundreds of thousands influencers and festival-goers flocked to Indio, California for the festival over the past two weeks, an abundance of content surrounding everything except the music flooded the internet. The veil of manufacturing fun and doing things solely for the internet has lifted, begging the question: has Coachella transformed from music festival to content festival with music in the background? And what does that mean for festival style?".

Firestarter
March 27, 2022

TikTok "ruining" our favorite artists

"TikTok app is being blamed for the ‘TikTokification’ of music, but not only by adults who don’t understand it" - The Forty-Five notices a trend. "Urban Dictionary defines ‘TikTokification’ as, 'A song that was once amazing is now the worst thanks to TikTok'. While it’s true that trending music can get stuck in your head until you can’t bear to listen to your favourite song anymore, the complaint also reveals an online discourse that treats fans who discover music through TikTok as less authentic and respectful than fans who discover it elsewhere."

Van Magazine talked to four teenage musicians from the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and their orchestral manager, Alexandra Zaytseva, about the situation on the ground and the small consolations of music in a state of high alert. Uliana (16) from Kyiv who plays viola, shared some sad thoughts: "I played my viola for five minutes yesterday. Just so that my instrument knows it’s OK. My viola was very out of tune; instruments feel. My viola is at home, under my bed. It’s very important to me. It might get damaged, because rockets have been hitting the higher floors of buildings".Give Kyin a chance

Black is the color...
February 04, 2022

A new wave of ambient music - uncomfortable!

"For years, ambient music has carried connotations of comfort, even wellness. New Age’s hipper, younger cousin, it’s considered the ideal soundtrack for spas, meditation, and guided trips" - Pitchfork introduces the new generation of ambient music. "Their take is darker, fuzzier, more psychedelic—and more disturbing. It’s also more unpredictable: Variously influenced by genres including industrial, dub techno, and IDM, it’s pocked with trap doors and secret passageways, and released on a network of DIY labels where even the most bucolic chill-out soundtrack might be followed by a harrowing blast of noise".

Heart at young
January 31, 2022

Ted Gioia: Is old music killing new music?

Give Sons of Kemet a chance

"Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market... But the news gets worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking. All the growth in the market is coming from old songs... Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—should look at these figures with fear and trembling" - music writer Ted Gioia writes about the status of new music in the Atlantic.

The New Yorker looks into the very successful career of NBA YoungBoy: "It is easier than ever to be a hit by all of the industry’s standard performance metrics and still go unnoticed by the general public—to have an enormous following that barely registers within the wider pop-culture ecosystem. This occurrence is, first and foremost, the by-product of a streaming infrastructure that uses a plays-per-song model to approximate record sales—a system that allows artists to bypass the old display stand, even if they risk anonymity. But it also illustrates a gap between what is promoted and what is popular".

Rob Sheffield writes a lovely ode to the CD (not sure he really proved the CDs are back, although in 2021, CD sales increased for the first time in 17 years): "It’s an inarguable fact that music sales reached their all-time peak when the CD was king. No audio device did a sharper job of separating fans from their 20-dollar bills. People loved to buy those digital discs, in numbers that look crazy now. We all spent the Nineties going to the 'record store' ('CD stores' never existed, even though most record stores had no vinyl), browsing the racks, taking something weird home, listening all the way through. You invested time and emotional energy, instead of giving up quick as you do with streams. The disc encouraged you to turn off your 'meh' reflex and let yourself hear whatever weird shit was going on".

"Rappers like Young Thug and Lil Nas X incorporate rock sounds just as the Beatles and the Stones appropriated rhythm and blues, the category of rock itself seems to be reconstituting itself. Band guys are still around, many making great music. But they're sharing space and the culture is better for it" - NPR writes in its interesting essay about the nature of the band.

Moving meridians
December 12, 2021

Amapiano - the go-to sound of post-lockdown UK

"Having surged in global popularity in the spring last year, the genre – which developed in the townships of Gauteng in the early-to-mid-2010s – became 2021’s hottest sound of London’s post-lockdown nightlife. As Covid restrictions eased in late summer, UK nightlife pounced back into action. Venues like Brixton Jamm, Boxpark Shoreditch and Hackney’s Colour Factory started amapiano parties, while Days Like This teamed up with legendary twin brother-duo Major League DJz for a night of deep excavation into the Afro-house sound" - The Face looks into the South African genre moving into the UK.

African king
December 11, 2021

Dr. Nico - Africa’s guitar god

"If cascades of gorgeous-to-gritty tone, an effortless flow of sparkling, playful melody, harmonization and dazzling polyrhythmic syncopations make up your idea of six-string divinity, Dr. Nico surely belongs in your pantheon" - Guitar World writes introducing Nicolas Kasanda wa Mikalay, aka Dr Nico.

"The insurmountable rise of Lil Nas X, Billy Porter, and other artists represents a paradigm shift in the culture" - Rolling Stone writes in the introduction of its piece about the year of the Black queers. "Who could have fathomed that Black queer men would be at the top of the charts, in Congress, and on TV and movie screens? We’re living in a world where not only is the Black queer community being embraced, but those who show us hate are being disgraced".

Rolling Stone conducted a 9-months investigation on Marilyn Manson based on court documents and more than 55 new interviews. They found he "conditioned women through flattery and dark humor before introducing a pattern of abuse that allegedly included whipping, carving initials into skin, forced confinement, and rape. Some accusers allege that he plied them with drugs and alcohol, controlled their eating and sleeping habits, and held them captive emotionally and physically until they submitted to his will". A disturbing story on power and abuse of it.

LGBTQI royals
November 06, 2021

How Abba became gay icons?

"Lesbian separatists and gay male misogynists might grumble, but most of us relish ABBA’s unmatched gender parity and equality. Being strong women and sensitive men who love and respect one another is central to the group’s alchemy as well as its enduring LGBTQ appeal" - LA Times argues in its article about how two Swedish hetero couples became gay icons.

Back after a server revamp
October 29, 2021

Essay: How pop music embraced grotesque and gory aesthetics

Pitchfork got inspired by the latest Ed Sheeran video and published an essay about gory aesthetics in pop music: "This stylized imagery, heinous and perversely hilarious, was once foreign to the purview of chart-topping pop stars. For years it was weaponized by hard rock and experimental artists who sought similar extremes in their music. Dating back to the late ’60s, metal and its spawn of heavier subgenres have long been the cradle of horrific stimuli—all on some Satanic mission to corrupt the American teen, as the Christian right often argued. But in the past 13 years, the gruesome and gory has been liberated from that stronghold and embraced by the status quo".

Guardian celebrates the 20th birthday of the iPod: "In October 2001, the music industry was riven by piracy and had no idea how to solve it. Enter Steve Jobs, whose new device created a digital music market – and made Apple into a titan".

All Music looks for obvious clues for the rise of popularity of EPs: "By releasing an EP in a shorter amount of time, artists are able to offer a steady stream of releases to keep the interest of fans... Money also has a substantial influence on why EPs have become more popular, and the consistent release of EPs in-between album projects generates a more reliable income for artists... It is also significantly cheaper for newer artists to drop an EP instead of putting in double the resources and time to produce a debut album". All Music also selects a few outstanding ones.

Brotherhood of unity
October 18, 2021

The (almost) forgotten pop music of Yugoslavia

Miha Kralj

A lovely little article in the Guardian about Yugoslavian pop music in the 1980s when it got closest to the trends of the western world: "Yugoslavian musicians defied the limitations of technology to make superb electro-pop in an apparent socialist utopia... Yugoslavian disco, post-punk and electronic music thrived in the 1970s and 1980s – yet was mostly forgotten until recent efforts by hobby archivists and specialist record labels".

"The ability of a machine to do or outdo something humans do is interesting once at most" - Jan Swafford writes in her review of Beethoven's X symphony, which was finished by AI in the last two years. "Artificial intelligence can mimic art, but it can’t be expressive at it because, other than the definition of the word, it doesn’t know what expressive is. It also doesn’t know what excitement is, because there’s a reason people call excitement 'pulse-pounding', and computers don’t have pulses".

"One of the primary reasons most musicians—not just the top .01 percent—need to make money outside of recorded music is because the economics of streaming make it incredibly difficult to make a living, much less generate wealth, off listening alone. This is why the music business must fundamentally reconsider the potential for interactivity, community building, and immersion" - Dave Edwards, head of revenue at the music streaming platform Audiomack, notes in an analysis for tech blog Future.

"Despite disco’s rep as a frivolous trend, it was a fundamental chapter in American music and cultural history. Born out of Black music and queer subculture, it went on to influence generations of musicians. But disco also inspired a fierce backlash, and a concerted effort to write it off as nothing more than cool beats and bad fashion. That narrative stuck, and disco is just now starting to get its due" - the latest Quartz Weekly Obsession reads. It looks back at the start and the meaning of disco.

I rap, therefore I am
October 03, 2021

Essay: Similarities between rappers and Philosophers

Level goes on an ambitious quest - tries to connect wordings of contemporary rappers with those of classic philosophers. One of the comparisons is between Kendrick Lamar and Plato, who both deal with issues of identity, reality and ideas:

“What money got to do with it / When I don’t know the full definition of a rap image? / I’m trapped inside the ghetto and I ain’t proud to admit it / Institutionalized, I keep runnin’ back for a visit” - Kendrick Lamar, 'Institutionalized'

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light” - Plato.

New York Times Magazine published an essay by Carina del Valle Schorske, 'Dancing Through New York in a Summer of Joy and Grief', which centers on the desire of people who've spent months in lockdown to be with others - "I needed my physique to affect and be influenced by different our bodies — this time not as a vector of illness however as a vector of pure feeling". Dada Strain looks somewhat deeply into it - "not just people’s need for simple contact, but for mass movement in improvised unison, for socially engaging rhythm, and for devising instants of momentary intimacy, locking into primordial practices of celebration and mourning".

Laser sharp
September 23, 2021

Michael Azerrad: My time with Kurt Cobain

A beautiful article in the New Yorker by Michael Azerrad, a journalist and one of Kurt Cobain's closest friends: "That’s the kind of thing that haunts people who know people who have committed suicide: Is there something I could have done? Twenty-seven years later, I still ask myself that question. I tried, but perhaps I could have—and should have—tried harder. The thing is, although I was in my early thirties, I was still immature and naïve. Maybe I wasn’t so well suited to the task". The long read also gives quite a convincing albeit prosaic explanation for the suicide: "Kurt had several clinically established risk factors for suicide, including inhuman levels of professional pressure, chronic and severe physical pain, and a heroin addiction that he just couldn’t seem to shake (or didn’t want to). He also had a long family history of suicide".

A great read in The Ringer about the cases of too similar songs, of which their creators aren't aware of: "We’re now squarely within a new era of music copyright litigation, signaled by a steep wave of fresh cases and settlements arriving on top of what was already a steadily rising tide. But while plagiarism has never been a larger industry issue than it is today, it also has never been more poorly defined. And given the way songwriters often borrow ideas without realizing that they’re borrowing—a documented artistic tendency that is likely increasing in frequency in our chaotic online world—this latest squall of disputes may be just the beginning of an even larger storm". The latest such case has involved Lorde's 'Solar Power', and Primal Scream's 'Loaded'.

True when sad
September 18, 2021

Why do we like sad songs?

“When we watch something or listen to something that undeniably does make us feel sad at some level, it’s not like we’re only seeking to feel sad” - Mary Beth Oliver, PhD, a professor of media studies at Penn State University Oliver told Elemental. “I think we’re trying to have a greater insight into the bigger questions — the purpose of life, or of human virtue” - sha added. Rather than “sad", she said she prefers terms like “meaningful” or “poignant” or “bittersweet”. “It’s absolutely possible to feel good about feeling sad sometimes,” she said. “Our emotions are much richer than some of these blunt terms we use”.

Ex-Rolling Stones tour manager and author Sam Cutler describes his friend Charlie Watts' funeral in a lovely Mirror article: "It's fitting to learn that Charlie Watts’ funeral – held last week in Devon, the place that he loved best – was modest and private. It perfectly reflects the man he was, and I completely understand the choice that was made. He would have hated a fuss and the commotion that involving the public would have meant". Cutler describes his friend's character further on - "Charlie, was in some senses, an anomaly. In the entertainment industry where bluster, fluster and muster are all, Charlie remained quietly confident, almost serene in his laid-back attitude, and possessed of an evergreen sense of humour". Cutler remembers a dinner with Watts: "As the meal progressed, I noticed a fan hovering nervously nearby with an autograph book and as he neared our table I rose to intercept him, asking him to come back after the meal was finished... Charlie intervened and happily signed the man’s book, and we regained our seats. He looked me kindly and said in that softly civilised voice of his, 'Sam, never forget, it’s the fans who pay for dinner'”.

"In the history of American orchestras, only one woman has risen to lead a top-tier ensemble: Marin Alsop, whose tenure as music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra ended last month. Her departure has ushered in an unsettling era for the country’s musical landscape. Among the 25 largest ensembles, there are now no women serving as music directors" - The New York Times (via Art Daily) takes out the ugly truth. But, change is (maybe) about to happen...

With a little help from my dead friends
September 10, 2021

The future of dead celebrity discourse - chatting on Twitter?!

Rolling Stone goes into the new trend of rock stars tweeting as if they're still alive. This week George Harrison and John Lennon both tweeted through an online listening party celebrating the 50th anniversary of 'Imagine'. It's not only the Beatles breaking the space-time continuum - Tom Petty recently mourned the death of Charlie Watts.

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