The Big Bang and the Slow Burn

Every Saturday on Anthrax Laundromat (8-9pm EST) I share some of what I’ve been really interested in listening to that past week. When I’m trying to put together a radio show, I try to go for a consistent feeling in each of the songs. They could be a mix of genres, tempos, subjects, lead singer genders, etc. but the idea is that when you’re listening to the show in order, the listener never experiences a quick change in the feeling of the song, the vibe, so to speak. In my humble opinion, this makes shows easier and more pleasurable to listen to even if you don’t know any of the songs. In the past couple of months, I’ve started to take note of an interesting trend: putting together a cohesive playlist is easier when I’m dealing with more modern songs (or really any songs that are all from a similar time period). In fact, I even challenged myself to make a few different show playlists which either take one decade’s music and showcase the diversity of vibes and genres which were popular in that time period, or the opposite, to take songs from a broad span of decades and still try to make them fit with one another.

This week I’ve been listening to an interesting mix of artists. Among my most recently added Spotify artists are The Weeknd, Modest Mouse, Adele, Giraffage, Misterwives, and Fetty Wap. While hip-hop, pop, electronic, and alternative rock are all represented among those artists, I’ve noticed in listening to them that many of them have a similar vibe. This is a trend in current music which I am actually really enjoying. Harkening back to my awkward middle school days of Abercrombie jean jackets over band tees purchased at Hot Topic (clearly I hadn’t yet figured out what my vibe was yet. Still working on it.), I started re-listening to Panic! at the Disco recently. They put out a new album at the end of last week, and while each song is uniquely Panic!, there is also a newer sound to them. Regular listeners of my show or readers of the blog will know that I am very interested in a bands “creative arc”, by which I just mean how their music has changed through different albums and different eras. One of the things that kept sticking out to me from these songs was that I kept having this feeling, or this thought that wow these guys have really taken on a modern sound. As it turns out, the more I listened, the more I realized that the element I was identifying as “modern sound” was that many of their new songs are more “beaty” (that’s a real word, apparently). This is something I’ve started to notice more and more in recent, modern music. I would draw your attention to two songs which I’ve been listening to a lot lately, The Hills (The Weeknd) and Death of a Bachelor (Panic!). If you listen to these two songs, even though they are pretty different at face value, they share a certain vibe. They are a little dancy, driving, moving forward at a hurried pace but still in tempo. One song that would contrast with these in my opinion would be Hello (Adele), another popular song, currently. There are definitely some big percussion moments, especially during the chorus, but it’s obviously not as beaty as the other two.

I really love this new turn that a lot of modern music is starting to take, and I’m interested in where it leads us. Even a few years ago, there seemed to be a pretty big trend toward big drops or buildup and release (like a big bang). What I think the more consistent, persistent, beaty vibes do for a song is underscore lyrics or motifs which can be more intense, darker, more macabre, or perhaps more hopeful. It continues to drive the prevailing feeling of the song home, and it pulls the listener along. It’s almost active and consistently drawing the listener in. One could argue that the trend in more popular music being constantly engaging may reflect the trend in all other media our generation consumes. That is, they keep us stimulated (not that it’s getting shorter. lookin @ u vine.), it’s part of what we expect from a lot of media now. We aren’t used to waiting, we aren’t used to not being continually stimulated. Whether or not there’s anything to that is content for another article.

Thanks for reading ya’ll, I know I haven’t been as consistently updating. I have a lot of new and awesome ideas for articles but because of who I am I always feel like I need to take more time to really think about an issue before I write about it. As a result I end up thinking about it ad nauseum and never thinking my opinion is at a point which I can publish proudly. Expect that same quality content, but I’m trying to take some more risks in getting my thoughts on an issue out faster and more succinctly!

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