Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is popular music the new "snacking"?

In Adorno's essay "On Popular Music" he laments the end of an era where albums and songs were entities made to be relished from start to finish. There would be a logical evolution in songs that required the audience to not only pay full attention to what they were listening to - instead of multi-tasking like they do today - but to also appreciate every part of the song; not just the catchy hook or chorus P(19) " The beginning of the chorus is replaceable by the beginning of innumerable other choruses". He also brings up that popular music today is no longer the unique experience it used to be; new songs are released at more frequent intervals.

Songs are produced and recorded in incredibly small amounts of time which do not allow artists to truly produce innovative music. Musicians and their producers rely on imitation of past hits in order to ensure their investment wil be a success. As he says on page 39: "incessant supply of largely undifferentiated material"Audiences are not exposed to truly innovative or fulfilling music which explains why hits come and go so fast. Popular Music has become disposable, just as cheap snacks like chips, candy, etc. It sounds like a good idea at first with its catchy hooks and glamorous vibes, however in reality top 100 hits are generally just a cloak for an unfulfilling and empty promise. If popular music is the junk food of today, I think I'll just stick with granola...


  1. Alexia, I like this comparison to snacking, at least if we consider snacking today to largely be the consumption of unnecessary calories brought on by marketing and boredom, or the antisocial replacement for what used to be longer family meals (now we eat "on the go" or on an "on demand" basis). One other thing to consider is that Adorno makes a distinction between recorded or broadcast music and live music performance. Does having music at our fingertips lessen our desire for the potentially imperfect but potentially more genuine physical performance?

  2. I'm not sure if this necessarily lessens our desire for a more genuine experience, but one thing I can undoubtedly say is that there is a major difference between listening to music live and listening to a mediated version through a device (computer, ipod, cell phone). Live music offers a fuller experience that really allows you to soak in the true essence of the music. Being surrounded by the sound, creating memories laced with the excitement of the show, seeing the instruments and masters behind the lyrics, and hearing the notes and melodies that are otherwise merely experienced through speakers or earbuds… it’s a whole different world. Going along with this whole snacking comparison, I would say that the difference between broadcast music and live music is comparable to listening to someone describe the qualities of any given food, versus actually tasting it.