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:: Posted by emory0 on January 10, 2013
"How many of us just think that a good song is a good song, no matter how simple or complicated it is?"
Well, what I personally have been puzzling over is that I actually agree (in general) with many of the musical snobs who will declare that a certain song is "crap" artistically. This is actually the other side of the coin where (particularly musicians) declare another piece or song high art.
I thought perhaps to point to that category of songs that are undeniably well-contructed, where thereís even a sort of "art" (or craft) to their construction and the emotional cylinders they fire. I know of no Jazz or classical musician who will declare "Uptown Girl" as high art.
But why? Does it all boil down to "if you like it then itís good"? I donít think I agree with this statement (even if Iíd like to be that openminded about other peopleís pleasure). As evidence, consider that no human being has ever put on a Britney Spears record and just sat there listening to it, without text their friends or doing something.
A strange byproduct of this musical prejudice is in the form of my 14-year-old son. As he grew up I actually consciously made sure I didnít declare any music to be "crap" or "sucks". But also, particularly in the car, Iíve always had excellent music playing. When he was 5 or 6 I was playing Trey Gunnís Joy of Molybdenum (I think it was) and heíd say "Play Trey Gunn!" Or Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan or (much more recently), Bowie. Heís seen Steve Reich play Music for 18 Musicians(!), Bjork, Richard Thompson and Steely Dan.
And yet, he will now readily declare lots of pop tunes sucky, or if (on the news) they mention, "Coming up, Justin Beiber" heíll quickly add, "Sucks!" He is strangely opinionated even though I tried very hard not to let him see this part of me. No doubt he has absorbed some of my personality traits, but I also canít help thinking that exposure to quality music has given him the "gift" of recognizing that some music is just artistically better than other music. But what that means ("artistically better") I donít seem to have the words for.
Prog & Pop
:: Posted by WaitingMan on January 09, 2013
How many of us just think that a good song is a good song, no matter how simple or complicated it is?
Allow me to throw íCanít Get You Out Of My Headí by Kylie Minogue into the mix. An extremely simple song both musically & lyrically, but no less enjoyable for that... especially if you listen from a production angle ~ the way simple hooks weave in & out of the framework, the intimate sound of the vocals, the odd, squelchy synth noises...
And incredibly catchy, with or without the video
For me, it has the same lineage as other European electronic music like Visage, Air, Depeche Mode... all descended from the early 70s íKrautrockí artists like Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream & Neu, where simple beats, minimalist melodies & repetition created an atmosphere & sound not heard in ípopí music before
So where do we place Brian Eno then? An avid fan of those German artists & the man who brought atmosphere & ambience to the ípopí song, through both his own albums & production work. A man who released an album consisting of half a dozen notes repeated in various ways for an hour. Pop or prog? Or neither?
Does it matter?
Are the albums Jon Anderson made with Vangelis better or worse than Yes? Theyíre certainly simpler, more directly melodic & mostly ípopí oriented in structure, but much as I love íClose To The Edgeí, Iíd infinitely prefer listening to íThe Friends of Mr Cairoí than íThe Gates of Deliriumí
Briefly going in the opposite direction ~ I do love what Yes did to íAmericaí... although Paul Simon apparently didnít
As for Billy Joel, donít forget that years before íUptown Girlí he wrote songs like íCaptain Jackí & íThe Ballad of Billy the Kidí... neither of which are exactly ípopí songs in structure or length... or degree of ícatchinessí. Does this make him a íProgí artist who sold out... or a íPopí artist with pretensions? Or just an artist whose talents widened & moved with the culture?
To bring it all back home ~ which is better... íElephant Talkí or íEpitaphí? íProvidenceí or íPeopleí?
Whatever floats your boat, really... but your boat will travel better & further if the Navigator has an appreciable knowledge of many different seas instead of just one lake...
PROG X POP
:: Posted by GonzalezPaulo on January 09, 2013
Dan Anderson wrote:
"I love it when proggies begin to talk about pop music. I am a diehard proggie/ adventurous jazzer type and remember spouting off about how pop music was a narcotic to dumb down the masses and so forth. Well, I got better. There is some intelligent life out there in the forms of Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and some others whom I begrudgingly acknowledge. I still donít listen to much pop music but when I do, I try to listen to the above and yes, Billy Joel makes the list as well...."
Congratulations Dan. I liked what you wrote. I have some proggie friends here in Brazil whose pick-up needles are stuck in PROG RECORDS ONLY and canít hear about anything else other than PROG ITSELF. Wanna make them furious? Talk about a POP band... they take POP as an insult.
So I urge you and everybody here as well, if you have a chance, to experience some POP music which is really sophisticated and highly melodic:
SWING OUT SISTER : Somewhere Deep In The Night / Kaleidoscope World / Get In Touch With Yourself / Itís Better To Travel / Where Our Love Grows / Filth & Dreams.
THOMAS DOLBY: The Flat Earth / Aliens Ate My Buick / Astronauts And Heretics / The Gate To The Mindís Eye.
PREFAB SPROUT: Two Wheels Good / Jordan The Comeback / Andromeda Heights / Swoon / From Langley Park To Memphis / The Gunman & Other Stories.
KATE BUSH: Never For Ever / The Dreaming / Hounds Of Love / Lion Heart / The Sensual World / The Kick Inside.
TEARS FOR FEARS : Songs From The Big Chair / The Seeds Of Love / Raoul And The Kings Of Spain.
SADE: Promisse / Diamond Life / Stronger Than Pride / Love De Luxe.
:: Posted by fishbonealice on January 09, 2013
The new Bowie song is wonderful, and one of the first things that struck me was the gorgeous floating bass line. Had a mooch through Google trying to find out who was playing, with no luck. I then popped into DGM and, lo and behold, discovered that Tony Levin is responsible. Iím embarrassed I didnít immediately recognise the Bottom-end Geniusís tasteful and masterful playing.
:: Posted by albemuth on January 09, 2013
Later on, I will ramble on about why it is interesting and fun to try to figure out why we like certain songs (without overloading the board). The new Bowie masterwork "Where are we now?" certainly has the bittersweet feeling that I find in my favorite songs. Bowieís song is brooding at the start and seems to meditate on times and places that are lost. But, in the end, it reaches a kind of hopeful affirmation.
(Remember the Philip K. Dick book I take my name from, where the "true god" is trying to communicate with a fallen world through secret messages sown into pop culture.)
Bowie has done this kind of song before. Under Pressure comes to mind, as does Heroes. But take a look at the Guardian today and see the "Hip" cover design for Bowieís new album, which is simply text written on a white square superimposed over one of his classic album covers, which I think we will all recognize!
Pop & Proggies...
:: Posted by DanAnderson on January 09, 2013
Yeehah! I love it when proggies begin to talk about pop music. I am a diehard proggie/ adventurous jazzer type and remember spouting off about how pop music was a narcotic to dumb down the masses and so forth. Well, I got better. There is some intelligent life out there in the forms of Steely Dan, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, and some others whom I begrudgingly acknowledge. I still donít listen to much pop music but when I do, I try to listen to the above and yes, Billy Joel makes the list as well. Now back to Nik Bartschís Ronin. Yum!
:: Posted by emory0 on January 09, 2013
"Uptown Girl is a *great* song that is really enjoyable"
Well, on one level I agree. Itís a phenomenally well-crafted song. It seems to come from nowhere, as if that song couldnít have been anything else. Kinda like Mozart in that regard (a composer I donít particularly care for, however). But hereís my question to you:
Have you ever actually sat down between stereo speakers and just *listened* to it (ie, without washing your car or taking a dump)? Iím not trying to challenge you or anything, I am truly curious whether a fellow CrimFan(TM) could actually hear this song as true music (as opposed to tolerable background silence-blocking). Arguably, any music this well constructed has to be music to somebody, perhaps, but Iíve never encountered that person yet.
More than happy also to not talk about it anymore, but I admit itís a puzzle and enigma for me to hear extremely well-made music and yet sometimes hate it. (In my defence Glenn Gould once stated that íMozart was not a very good composerí.)
:: Posted by writingmiles on January 09, 2013
Why get tied up in whether the music is "good" or not? What each of us considers "good" (which really is just our personal list of things we like that are not on our personal list of things we dislike) is an entirely subjective debate.
It doesnít matter if you like it or not. Does it (a) move you, and (b) is it creative? Is the music being informed by an impulse that is higher, and is the ego in service to that impulse in the composition and performance?
:: Posted by writingmiles on January 09, 2013
Uptown Girl is a *great* song that is really enjoyable. And Iím not particularly concerned whether you respect my musical point of view, level of ability, whathaveyou, or not, because itís a bollocks reason to attach more credence to my like/dislike of the song.
Where are we now?
:: Posted by albemuth on January 09, 2013
Thanks for the heads up about this terrific new Bowie song. It has intervened at exactly the right moment in our discussion about "what makes great pop music." Away with you, Uptown Girl; we need not debate your shiny and shallow charms any longer. Thatís where we are now!
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