The Asylum of TerminalFrost

Rearranging me ’til I’m sane

Some thoughts on what makes a modern pop-song (work in progress)

The past couple of years I’ve sometimes tried giving some thought as to why I dislike most of the music that is popular with the masses nowadays. As this involves analyzing what exactly characterizes modern music, I have reached some conclusions on this topic that I feel are worth sharing (although some points probably are rather unoriginal, just as I don’t really have any credentials when it comes to music, so don’t expect technical terms).

The music that has been made and played since my adolescence in the late 90’ies has been a mixture of straight pop and (especially since the turn of the millennium) R’n’B, so this is what I’ll be discussing in this post. The following is what I see as characterizing this music:

1. Repetition.

    Songs usually have a short introduction of some sort, but quickly move on to the chorus. This chorus is then repeated once or twice, before a short break with some gimmickal variation, before quickly returning to the chorus, this time repeated several times until the song ends.

    This structure in effect reduces the song to one stanza or chorus that is repeated until just before it gets (too) tiring. Not that the chorus can’t be a great and catchy one; they usually are and they have to be, because they carry and sell the song. But the fact that it is played through a dozen times during the course of the song is intolerable and shows no depth.

    2. Horror vacui

      Horror vacui is a Greek term that means “fear of emptiness”, usually used to describe a painting style rampant at one point in time in ancient Greece. It basically involved the need to fill out any blank area on the painting or vase with, well, with whatever one could imagine.

      Modern music has a horror vacui also. It is frightened to death of having a part of the song that isn’t filled out with vocals. Music nowadays is incapable of letting the instruments speak for themselves; it needs someone singing or howling at all times. This is sad, really, as what can be more expressive than for instance a guitar solo?

      (Something about the death of music: the appearance of MTV, talent loses importance, attention spans being reduced.)


      August 28, 2006 Posted by | Music | Leave a comment

      When Racism is Bad, and When it isn’t (Necessarily)

      I routinely run into people with strong opinions against racism (don’t we all?). The thing is that, in my opinion, they often mix up what matters and what doesn’t when it comes to racism. Let’s first look at what the term means in the first place.

      I can find at least two meanings of the word “racism”. Boiled down, the first meaning is a belief in inherent differences between races. The second involves hatred towards or discrimination against a particular race or races.

      Now, I can’t see anything wrong with the first belief, at least in its pure form. I think it’s a fairly well-established that there are inherent differences between different races. Take as an example the superiority of long-runners from sub-Saharan Africa, compared to those from other parts of the world. These people simply have greater stamina; their top-athletes do, anyway. This could be because of their slightly different leg-structure, or it could be because of a better ability to absorb oxygen. Either way, they are different (and superior, in this regard).

      Having the opinion that races (on average) are different isn’t necessarily an evil thing. What is evil, though, can be expressed very easily: treating people badly. If one treats people badly (and that includes treating people discriminatorily) solely on the basis of those people’s race, then one is evil. This is the second definition of racism as outlined above.

      A lot of energy in every-day arguments is wasted on people calling others racist (or at least implying it). And a lot of the time the claim of racism rests on the basis of the first definition of racism, the opinion that races are different. Considering that the truly bad thing about racism is really just the bad treatment of others, this energy should be used on these “true” racists, and not wasted on what often amounts to accusations made by over-sensitive anti-racists, keen on seeing racism in all and everything.

      It’s simple, really: just treat others well.

      August 28, 2006 Posted by | Racism | 4 Comments