20 June 2016

The Pop Paradox

Last weekend we attended a bar mitzvah; the young man is the son of a colleague and friend of the Mrs. The event was really nice, with teenagers running semi-amok and a delicious meal. A DJ was on hand to keep things festive, spinning pop hits covering the past decade or so.

A couple of things struck me about the music. I don't exactly follow pop these days, but I knew the majority of the songs, or at least the performers. But nothing was played as a nod to the adults in the room; nothing from the '80s, or even the '90s. (What the Mrs. thought was "Baby Got Back" turned out to be its sample-child, "Anaconda.")

But more notable to my mind (and ears) was a sameness to the music. Other than the occasional vocal performance, nothing really stood out. There's a similarity to how modern pop songs are constructed, even down to some of the chord changes they employ, that suggests they emanate from a factory somewhere. You hear the same structure, the same types of flourishes, the rap verse dropped in at approximately the same point.

It's not just simple nostalgia, or even the argument that the music we love and connect with as teenagers remains the most powerful and most significant to us. Divorcing myself from those sentiments, today's music just isn't as good as pop from eras past. While the roster of performers may come from more diverse cultural backgrounds, the music they are producing is not nearly as diverse as the sounds radio offered in the 1970s, or even the '80s.

05 June 2016

Hey, There

A few times over the past couple of weeks, I've wanted to post but felt like I didn't have enough to say to justify it. At the moment I'm almost ready to head off to bed, but a few thoughts are swimming around and I can probably turn them into small bits.

My work continues more or less the same, though my employer has allowed me to shift my hours so that my work day now finishes at 6 pm instead of 7. While I did like having time in the morning to accomplish certain things like paying bills, drinking coffee and eating breakfast, and catching up with my online reading, I much prefer being done earlier and having that time free in the evening. So that's something.

Outlet shopping ain't what it used to be. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we visited Freeport, Maine, the home of L.L. Bean. We hadn't been there for a number of years and I kind of bugged the Mrs. into going. Even though we have Bean stores around here now, it's always fun to visit the original, but aside from that it wasn't a very exciting day. I didn't see anything in the stores that interested me much; part of that is just what's available at a given time, part is that outlets serve a different function than they used to; and part is that my tastes and preferences have shifted somewhat, and I also try to think more carefully before making purchases. Truthfully, my shopping urges could have been satisfied at the Kittery outlets, which are an hour closer than Freeport.

The weather cooperated; the day before it was 96 here, but the day we went it barely managed to hit 60. We did stop for dinner at the Portsmouth Brewery, which is always a good idea; they take the food as seriously as they do their beer. And following dinner we made our way over to Annabelle's Ice Cream, which I first visited over 30 years ago. It's still in the same place, and as far as I can tell it hasn't changed at all.