Slow music and short attention spans
As so often happens when there’s a list involved, last week’s post outlining OTR’s 30 best albums of 2010 so far generated a large bag of comments. Inbetween the ones listing individual lists (always welcome) and giving out about albums …
As so often happens when there’s a list involved, last week’s post outlining OTR’s 30 best albums of 2010 so far generated a large bag of comments. Inbetween the ones listing individual lists (always welcome) and giving out about albums I overlooked (also, always welcome), there were one or two comments which set me thinking.
Regular OTR reader Ally rowed in with some discordance about lists in general and how he’ll wait for the end of the year to pick three albums from 2010, while our friend in Moscow Morov wondered if we were still listening to many of the albums listed in June 2008. Interesting questions and points, which leads us to slow music and short attention spans.
We live in a time when nearly absolutely every piece of music is available at the touch of a button. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s true. Bar out of print records and analogue stop-outs, you can find every single tune out there online via Google. If you’re like me, this is the greatest thing ever, as every day becomes another treasure hunt complete with a new set of maps.
But even if there’s infinite choice, there’s only a finite amount of time. There just isn’t enough time in the day or week or month to get through all that music which is out there to be heard and experienced. Infinite choice and finite time means that we’re in churnover territory. I know I’m not alone in going through albums and tracks at a much faster rate of knots than used to be the case in years gone by. You listen and if it doesn’t work, you’re onto the next thing. Why not? There’s something new coming down the pipe right now and if you blink, you might miss it. Some of you may say you should stick with an album for longer but I spent far much time this year on dross like Joanna Newsom and Yeasayer to fall for that one again.
And it doesn’t just apply to music: look at a fad like facedown which prompted mainstream press articles a few short weeks ago (here’s one from The Irish Times and here’s one from the the Irish Indo a week later). Have you noticed anyone doing the facedown thing of late? And we’re leaving the Oxegen facedowns out of it because they’re facedowns of another kind. No? It seems that the facedown addicts had their day in the sun and moved on. Bought the fad, tweeted the fad, moved onto the next fad.
There are countless other examples of trends and phenomenon which have a brief moment in the sun before falling to earth, but I always felt that music wasn’t subject to the same demands. After all, if the music is good enough, it will surely make a case for itself and force its ways onto the agenda. Comments welcome – but only till 6pm because we’ll have moved onto something else by then.