Friday, January 22, 2016

That Time I was into Music: Episode 2

Warning: The following blog post will be filled with nothing but wankery since it's about musical tastes. Seeing as you can't talk about musical tastes without the discussion turning into a self-righteous wank fest, this still needs to be brought up.

One of the weirdest things about getting into learning languages and having Korean as one of your first languages to learn is that I was thrown into this weird world known as K-pop. My Korean teacher would enthusiastically show us all of the crazy music videos with the hard hitting beats and the hard hitting layover synth tracks. "Whoa! Look at how out there Korean music is! It's so different, so better!" I can only imagine the American K-pop fans would be saying.

But, then there was me who could only look at the videos and hear the music just to say "Hold on...this is just like the pop here in the US." Apparently that's not something to say in front of Koreaboos because they will defend how much different and better K-pop is until they're dead. Even my Korean teacher tried to justify that "No. Look, they're different. Look how skinny they are." Well, if your point of reference is on how skinny the stars on the videos are...well, it's not a very convincing argument. For one thing, that's really just a visual fashion key point. And another thing...well, a lot of pop stars in the US are then. Sure, now we have this movement towards stars that are heavier, but they're the exceptions that prove the rule. As in, the reason they exist is to comment on how most stars in the US are stupidly thin.

Anyway, here's an post describing on how K-Pop and Western Pop are basically the same thing, and he does it in a way where you learn a lot about music history and a little about music theory. It's a seriously awesome piece of work.

So, what's the point of this digression? Well, it seems like I'm one of the few people who not only has the audacity to point out how K-pop really isn't all that strange and unusual, especially compared to the US, and that I seem to be one of the few who's able to notice.

But, this even happened with my first exposure to K-pop. Remember when Gangnam Style was a thing? When I first heard that song, I just thought it was Party Rock Anthem all over again, and I'm not the only one to point that out!!!

So, my point here is that my ears seemed to be trained differently in that I can usually pick up on stuff like that where others can't. This may or may not be a reason why I like to listen to different kinds of songs that seem to put off others. If there's an artist that you and I would like, we probably like them for different reasons. I might actually like some of their songs that they're not exactly famous for. Most of my favorite Beatles' songs weren't exactly singles. Candy-O is my favorite album by The Cars, but the only song I don't like on it is the only one they play on the radio from that album. But I'll be damned if I know anyone else who wants to hear anything else from that album.

Does this make me better than anyone? "Oh, look at me! I'm the hipster who likes songs that you don't know."

No, not really. My life got a lot more relaxing when I wasn't in an environment where I had to talk about music constantly. Though, I'm constantly questioning why most of the songs that get popular seem to get popular. It seems really bad when you realize that a lot of songs that people consider to be really bad were really popular at one point. Todd in the Shadows goes back in time to tell you which songs were really popular only to tell you why nobody likes those songs anymore or why anyone cares. And it depresses me that seems to be a repeating cycle.

It's not all bad, I guess. Some of the songs eventually do get to be considered good, it's just too bad that it's hard to tell when you're in the middle of it all.

Hell, it seems that some people get mad at the artists who seem to actually matter. Let's go back to 2004, which just so happens to be the year that was reviewed by Todd in the Shadows. One fascinating album came out by a group called Franz Ferdinand(a band that I absolutely adore) and here's a user review from Metacritic during the time of when that album came out.

"Why is it that all these no name bands get great reviews. All these indie/art rock bands are nothing 
and will never be remembered for anything."
Some Impressive Wanker

It's honestly quite funny. I still know people who listen and talk about Franz Ferdinand. I hardly know anyone who talks about the pieces of shit songs that were featured in Todd's video. Yet, those songs were the most popular at the time apparently.

Anyways, the point of this really long, pretentious post is that I seem to like music in a different way than others do. Sure, that's the same with everybody, but I find that people who play instruments tend to listen to songs as a whole more than just hearing the singer or the important melodies. Though, I do seem to have unusual tastes even among other instrumentalists.

For instance. As a guitar player, what would be my favorite guitar solo ever written? Something fast, right? Maybe it's Eruption by Van Halen? So fast, so much tapping. Or maybe it's something by Steve Vai? Joe Satriani?

Nope! I'm honestly kind of tired of guitar players being praised for how fast they can play. That kind of playing is really just guitar players being masturbatory. Yep! It takes a really mastered, technical skill, but I rarely hear anything that's worth listening to when it comes to guitar players trying to play as fast as possible.

No, my favorite solo is the one done by Paul McCartney in Taxman. A twelve second guitar solo that comes out of nowhere and really defines the song. It's really quirky but in that sort of good way. There aren't a lot of guitar solos like it.

A close second for me would be from a Franz Ferdinand song. A band where throughout 4 of their albums, they've only really had two guitar solos in their songs. You're The Reason I'm Leaving has a solo that's so well implemented and composed that you don't really even realize that you're listening to a guitar solo. It feels more like a composition rather than just the the band deciding to stop to have a short jam session.

But the one that really sticks out with me is the guitar solo in this song.

It's already a great song, but then the guitar solo comes in that just defines the whole things. Then, suddenly, another guitar is added for harmony and it sounds incredible!

I could go on, but I don't want to and I get the sense that nobody really cares anyway. Music has always been something that has felt more personal and private to me. It's never really been a shared experience I've had with others. There were a couple of times when it felt more shared though. Like when Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action was brand new and I sang the songs with a couple of other people when we were driving. Granted, one of the guys was the guy who introduced me to this band but it was still cool. Another time was my time in Korea where I met a friend and we seemed to be really, really similar in music tastes and when we did Noraebangs(singing rooms) we liked singing a lot of the same songs together. It was honestly something truly special.

So, there we go. The two times in my life where it actually did feel like something special.

I read somewhere that most people's favorite songs are based on the memory of they had while hearing that song. That's not really true with me. Most of the time, when I discover my favorite songs I think "Wow! This is awesome!" and I'm the only person in the room listening to it. I will say that two really silly songs known as Uptown Girl and Wham!'s Last Christmas will now forever be attached to a bittersweet memory of my final moments in Korea. I'm not sure if I really like those songs, but those are songs that I have memories attached to.

But, other than that, music isn't really something I'm able to make friends with. And it's a big reason why I don't like talking about music.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Time I was into Music

Every time I tried to start writing, I would always go back to whining about my life. But, I guess there are only so many ways I can complain about the same thing. But, I guess if there's anything worse than being a whiny little douche who doesn't do anything about anything is being seen as a whiny little douche who doesn't do anything about anything.

So, here's an attempt to talk about something more fun.

Or at least, it should be more fun, but I always end up wanting to punch somebody in the middle of this kind of discussion.

The discussion of music.

This is something that I usually don't like to talk about because I'm never on the same page with anyone...ever! I think one of the many reasons why I was alienated in high school(aside from being weird and annoying) is that I did have a pretty condescending attitude towards people who didn't really "get" music.

An irony is that a lot of the music I used to like is now music that I just...kind of don't. There was a time when I thought Guns'n'Roses was a good band...oh, dear, Sean, if only I could go back and tell you how wrong you were.

But, it went a little further than that. If you need a general idea of what kind of music I was into, yes, it was mostly classic rock but there was also a point where I was really into Peter Frampton. Yes, the guy with the talk box. Yes, a guy in his teens really started to like Peter Frampton when the 2010s started. Five years later, I would find out that someone my age was also really into Peter Frampton, but I never got to meet the guy. But, I learned it wasn't an isolated incident. I learned that there are people who share my musical tastes, if that means anything anymore.

Well, maybe a lot, actually. I heard about this guy during my time in Korea. But, the guy who told me this was someone who was a really good friend for the month I was in Korea. Maybe we didn't see eye to eye on everything, but we did have very similar music tastes. We both really like David Bowie and we don't like Guns'n'Roses. That's a pretty good match. I have to wonder where someone like that guy was from during my time at ACM.

But, to be fair, I guess there were more people like that at ACM than I realize. I just wasn't very good at networking or being able to make friends and work on projects together that didn't require a grade. But, I'm not sure if I could have played things differently. Maybe it was just a weird time, maybe I was playing things off well.

Oh, I also play guitar and I did have my own dysfunctional band during my time in high school. There aren't a lot of videos that really show off how good we were, I mean, we had some downright terrible performances. But, here's the only existing video where we were actually pretty good.

I think it was after this where everything just went slowly downhill. Maybe we should have broken up after seeing things not go well after this performance. Hell, there wasn't really even official break up. We just slowly deteriorated where members decided to suddenly be to busy for the performances I wanted to do because they were getting sick of me.

Sadly, this was the pique of anything related to music for me. When I went to ACM, things were somehow just a little worse. The first band I was assigned to started not to like me because I was jerk about how people should play their parts. But, I didn't feel like I was in the wrong because I tried to grow familiar with each song we were assigned. I had to learn the bass parts to the song so I knew which chords to play, even if I didn't play bass in the band. It was good to know. Also, I had a basic understanding of music theory that others didn't seem to grasp, which made communicating what parts I wanted people to play to be pretty hard. But, with all of that, yes, I do feel like I have something to say when I can hear someone isn't playing their part correctly.

But, people thought I was being a jerk, so I had to back off a bit. They told me I was getting better, but it felt like the whole thing would set the stage for the rest of my time at ACM.

But, this wasn't an isolated incident only with me.

In the next group, I decided to keep my mouth shut, but it was a little easier to do because the people in the next group were more competent at what they did. Or they were better at preparing for their parts. But what made it hard was that we had three different singers who all wanted to do their own thing with little regard to any of the instrumentalists who maybe wanted to try something of their own as well. In the end, it was always the most popular song at the time that we would always play. It marked the first and only time I would play a god...damn...Maroon 5 song. Yuck...

But, one thing that was interesting was that it was the first time I performed an original song that I helped write with one of the singers. A song that I find to be perfectly okay but everyone else seems to really like for some reason, so there's that I guess.

So yeah...there's the song that "me and the guitarist wrote"


thanks for the credit

But, one of the things that happened that made me decide not to want to be a part of anything anymore was when we practiced one song and a couple of the singers were clearly not practicing so the third singer called them out on that.


Who knew that suggesting performers to actually try their best would be a little too...much. And she wasn't being mean about it either, but that didn't stop the two singers from calling her a "bitch" and a "cunt" and...yeah, I don't really miss that time.

I don't know what it is, but I kind of regret learning how to play the guitar. Like, if there was ever an instance of dreams being completely ruined, I think this was it. I've never really had anything where I was so sure about what I wanted to do with my life only to have it gradually be the thing that I just sort of dread. But it's hard to explain why. Obviously, if it was something I truly wanted, nothing would stop me, right?

I don't really know what happened inside of me. Maybe it was because I never really had the personality or communication skills to really get what I want. I was always playing for other people but I never got to play for myself. And, maybe I'd play acoustically and play a couple of songs I like for myself, but nobody really wants to hear that. They just want to hear the same few mediocre songs that they hear on the radio every day for the rest of their life.

But, on a lighter note, maybe it's not over yet. One of the members from my original band wants to try something new again. And we'd probably try something if it wasn't for the fact that he's in the military and I'm probably going to be spending more time in Korea in the near future. But I also met someone who I felt like I could form a band with if I didn't meet him somewhere where it'd be hard to really see each other again. But, I guess there's still something at least. One time, a few years after writing Fix My Heartache, I was introduced by someone as the guy who wrote that song. This happened when I didn't even know if people still cared about that song. The fact that some locals are performing that song is really weird to me.

So, where is all of this going? Is everything finally done? Is the writing on the wall? I don't know.

Next time, I get to bore you with my tastes in music, so stay tuned if you honestly care, you weird bastard.