Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pop Has Eaten Itself

On the strength of Bird Dog, I was all poised to strike the record button on my portable cassette player when the disc jockey announced that he'd play some Everly Brothers after the break. Turns out it was a song I hadn't heard before, Cathy's Clown. For years all that was played back was my disappointment.
    One song feeds into another. From old mix tapes, song orders are cemented in young ears. It would jar when it wouldn't follow. It's like when two songs that lead quickly into each other, forming a one-two punch of awesome rocknroll are hacked asunder by some FM radio robot, leaving you hanging. We Will Rock You must be followed by We Are The Champions. There is no need to explain.
    I wonder how some of these songs, forty years old now are still somehow around. I wonder if they have any contemporary analogues. Will there survive some listening structure of format that will accommodate today's songs in forty years ? One hit wonders from 1978 still get 3 million hits on YouTube. Will there be a YouTube to host all of today's songs in the future ? And how many mixtures are there ? Playlist after playlist, burnt CD, the revived cassette, the film soundtrack of curated oldies. So much to sift through.
    There's no way of telling which of today's songs some kid will make a tape of. Like the death of saturday morning cartoons, a focused kids culture exploded into distinct VHS habits changing from family to family. Once all kids were hooked into Bugs Bunny, then some kids demanded Winnie The Pooh to be looped endlessly by desperate parents while others sunk into the sickening appeal of Caillou. A generation torn asunder, unwoven, disentangled. Watching space shuttles blow up in the sky. Sampling can only go so far, what could they do but mash-up ?
    And now we have what once was a years work primed for a conceptual showing in an art gallery along with impenetrable text presented as another anonymous GIF tossed off into the slop trough of our collectivity, shared reactively for the moment and then forgotten.
    That stack of vintage art magazines ? Track down the cover artists. Let's see how they did.