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.

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