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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Where’s the good stuff?

In a past column, I wrote about the importance of questions. One such question that was highlighted was a quote taken from a story that I once heard. The question was “You don’t like any music? Have you no soul?!” Admittedly, it is an intriguing pair of questions. The importance of music is not in question to us as human beings. However, something I do wish to question is the quality of the music we listen to on a regular basis.

This past weekend, I borrowed my dad’s car to drive up to San Francisco. Having forgotten my CDs in my car, I was forced to either listen to the radio or the sound of the wind blowing through the leaky deformed window siding. I have to say that I’m disappointed that just listening to the high-pitched airy whistle would have been the better choice.

As an eclectic music lover, the most disappointing aspect of radio is the fact that I know music infinitely more meaningful, artistic and just plain better-sounding are tossed away never to be heard. I wonder why the radio world is so backward. If a song is playing on the radio multiple times, it has to mean not only that someone liked it enough to endorse it, but that listeners like it too. At times I am just utterly bewildered as to why.

Rap was once noble and one of the best ways to tell a story – even comedic stories. But sadly, classic songs like “Rapper’s Delight” will be left to sink into the classic rap genre never to manifest itself in contemporary mainstream. My only consolation is that periodically, comedians like Jon Lajoie create Internet rap videos like “Everyday Normal Guy,” but even then, that joy is slightly tarnished since he uses the F-word as much as I ask questions. Is he maybe just being satirical of the rap genre by doing so?

Even Flight of the Conchords can come up with a good rap song, and they’re a couple of hairy white guys. What does that mean for rappers flooding the radio with monotonous hooks and lyrics about what their sex experience was like? If a pair of talented general musicians can rap, then rappers should rap better. Am I alone in thinking this?

Rock has been a similar disappointment. I believe that just as in any kind of music, in rock, you have the ability to express your point of view, whatever that may be. However, only bitter words ever make it to radio. In my humble opinion, Thrice is the best rock band out right now, yet it has no air time whatsoever, while bands that I don’t even care to learn the names of tell me about how much life sucks for them a countless number of times on rock/alternative stations.

In the past, perhaps I have been a bit hard on all the people I see with ear buds lodged in their heads (though I still advocate moderation). Since an iPod offers the ability of most directly selecting the music you listen to, it is a form of escape from some of the dismal music offered by the radio. However, if you allow the radio to be the sole guide of what you choose to put on it, you may be putting your soul in danger.

My sentiment is this: Life is finite. Not only that, but life is short, as the saying goes. Thus, the amount of words or sounds that we hear or make is also finite. Given this, doesn’t it only make sense that each moment devoted to listening is precious? Why spend such moments listening to – or perhaps the worse crime – making any meaningless music, words and sounds? It’s a waste of life and detrimental to the soul that music indicates of existing. Bring music back to radio!

To end this column, I’ll just make mention of a few artists that I believe deserve some additional recognition: Atmosphere, Thrice, UnderOath and Nujabes.

 

JEREMY MALLETT was just really pissed about what he was hearing on the radio that was passed off as music. Send him your musical recommendations and remedies to jjmallett@ucdavis.edu. XXX

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