Two imaginary islands in the torrent of streaming audio bits
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Choices! You've got choices. And you better make them wisely. In cyberspace your tastes define you. It's your space, your tube, your shared pod. You're all your bandwidth allows. Be all you can feed. After that OCD-chosen primary photo, it's all "about me." But hit that select button carefully. Get those lists exactly right. Not too few favorites, not too many — just enough to embrace your current unique user's criteria, to pique his or her browsing interests. You're just one click away from rejection.
Eclecticism is the new aphrodisiac. And yet it's a tightrope. One wrong combination of favorite musical selections and — next! The perfect come-hither "Interests: Music" DNA — one part wacky unheard-of-yet indie, one part sentimental oldies, some classic Brazilian or Afro-Caribbean, a stream of your friend's bedroom electro, something involving damaged hair, a wild card from inner space — and voilà, instant Top Viewed. Too bad this list is copyrighted. You'll have to get your own.
But how? How to pick and choose your nimble-footed way through the Internet audio wilderness? How to fragment the flood of dinformation into listenable chunks, to find the very perfect swells among the aural whirls that represent yourself to others? There's just too much, it seems.
It's a challenge that many of us face — some better than others. Already the enormous freedom of musical choice is having negative effects. Certain individuals — your friends, your coworkers, maybe even you — may be suffering from what psychologists are now calling streaming audio archival decision disorder, or SAADD. SAADD manifests itself through a combination of various symptoms: lack of updated profile, aversion to Pitchfork and Pandora, obsessive list sharing. Sometimes, victims of SAADD can disappear completely from your Friends List, deleted by a site's inactive-user bot.
We here at Bristol-Meyers-Squibb-Def-Jam want to help. That's why we introduced Klikemol this year, to help combat the growing number of SAADD diagnoses among the general population. Klikemol is a mild anti-agoraphobic that allows people to once again wade bravely into the streaming music marketplace and begin to reconstruct the online personality they were born to inhabit, to reach the maximum gig space in their lifePod. It also gets you high if you snort it, so at least you can post some funny shit on your Interests list. Maybe that vid of the Chihuahua on fire playing piano.
If you've stopped enjoying music because there's too damn much available, maybe Klikemol is for you.
"OK, fine. We give up," the major record labels announce in a widely ignored teleconference. "We're folding up the shop." What were they making anyway, like a penny a download? That could hardly keep them in town cars, darlings.
Suddenly, major recording artists everywhere are left to fend for themselves. What are they to do? They could self-release, but that would put them in the same boat as their former labels: no one buys CDs anymore, and as everyone knows, recording artists need a lot of town cars. Cashing in on live performances and swag is no way out — anyone can watch their performances on cell phones for free, and unless they can project themselves back into Def Leppard, no one covets their T's.
So they do the only thing they can and begin recording and releasing commercials. Fans don't mind, since these artists' songs had basically been about nothing in particular to begin with. Love, blah blah, betrayal, blah blah, I want/hate you, blah blah. In fact, the former arena acts' embrace of well-known and emerging products in their new ditties actually gives them a fresh resonance, a contemporary sense of purpose and connection.
Soon these "jingle-singles," called "prod-casts" in the vlogosphere, fill up iPods everywhere, and the artists walk away with affirming paychecks, courtesy of such cultural megoliths as Depends and Love's Baby Soft. The airwaves are ads; the streets become walking commercials. The ascendancy of this new popular art form is clinched when Kelly Clarkson releases a top-downloaded iTune that packs a grillion product name checks into one helluva pop wallop — Orbitz on the verse, Go-gurt in the chorus and, at the end, a heart-stopping trademark melisma: Ri-co-laaaaa ...
Ever attuned to a comic opening, "Weird Al" Yankovic releases a jingle-single for iPod itself, titled "iCod" and sung loosely to the tune of "Dear God" by the British pop group XTC. In it, a sassy urban contemporary-sounding fish (think Mo'Nique with fins) climactically links "a menu wheel, an electric eel/ Turning on its heel just to zap you in the ear" and asks humans to "save the waves and steams of Earth/ We'll choke, if you don't net the last of us first." The joke here is that fish can't sing. It becomes a top-selling ringtone and scores a coveted Googlie for Best Practice: Unique Penetration.
Have you got it yet? SFBG
MARKE B'S TOP 10 GUILTY PLEASURES
•Downy the Anti-Queen
•DJ Bus Station John's Manhattan
•Whodat and Bugo, Housemusique, Netmusique.com
•The Cowbell Project
•Quentin Harris and Monique Bingham, "Poor People (Saxy Dub)" (Syam US)
•Leela James, "My Joy (Timmy Regisford Shelter Mix)" (Restricted Access)
•Claude VonStoke, "Beware of the Bird," Beware of the Bird (dirty bird)
•K-Fed on The Teen Choice Awards
•Steve Reich's 70th birthday
•Gladys Knight, "Love Is on Your Mind," Still Together (Buddah, 1977)