I’m a huge fan of all sorts of music. Maybe not surprising given that I formally studied it for longer than anything else, including history and writing. I like almost everything – especially jazz of all genres, but also classical (meaning medieval, baroque, classical, romantic, modern orchestral and so on), all styles of rock, metal, grunge, synth-pop, techno, operatic metal, prog rock, folk and lots of other stuff.
Well, I draw the line at country. And western. Neither appeals. Anyway, I thought I’d check out some of the stuff that’s come out in the past couple of weeks. So I can compare apples with apples I checked out some prominent singer-songwriters in the same genre. One relentless blat of You Tube later and…
- Taylor Swift – Look What You Made Me Do. By the time I got to it, 40 million other people had watched the You Tube video. The whole thing was amazingly slick and very competently done. But the music had been tweezed to the point where it didn’t have any life.
- Katy Perry – Swish Swish. Nice quirky video and a catchy song also previously viewed by about 40 million others. Exactly the same genre and general sound-styling as Swift’s. Slick, tightly arranged, wonderfully produced and competent, but also engineered to the point of being musically lifeless.
- Tove Lo – Fire Fade. Not so much a song as a 21-minute short film with grunge synth-pop soundtrack. Provocative, thought-inducing and innovative, lots of human edge. The human side was there in the SFX too – I am pretty sure she used the same analog techniques as Kubrick in 2001.
- Lorde – Perfect Places. David Bowie described Lorde’s work as the music of the future. Too right. Perfect Places is a great song. We should all listen to more of Lorde’s music. (You know she’s a New Zealander? And yeah, everybody knows about NZ scenery and hobbits and things, but did I mention that NZ also built its own satellite launcher? And Kiwis invented the jet boat, gave women the vote for the first time, had the first cradle-to-grave-welfare system, pioneered plastic surgery, split the atom for the first time, helped invent sonar, ran JPL and climbed Mount Everest. Soon, all going well, the NZ satellite launcher will send a US-built lander to the Moon. Just saying. Disclaimer: I am also a New Zealander. Ahem.)
I picked these four for good reason – they’re all in the same overall genre. To me the American stuff was product. Nothing wrong with that, but I missed the slight mis-rhythm and imperfection of sound that betrays a live musician – which can certainly be captured in the studio if desired, even with synthesisers. The music that resonated for me was from Sweden and New Zealand, because it had that sense of life to it. And yeah, I know both were also constructed, tweaked and designed to engage a commercial audience, but that’s not what I mean.
Any thoughts? Music means different things to everybody, so hopefully everybody’ll have different views – and it’s all good, because what counts is what any piece of music means to you. We don’t have to share that specific like – what we share is the common experience of enjoying and emotionally responding to the particular music that means something to us. And I think that this shared emotion, irrespective of personal preference, is what reveals the power of music in all its forms .
Is there any music that’s captured your imagination lately? What fires you up musically?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2017