Slicker Than Slick

Posted by  Grand Poobah  May 2, 2014  •  No Comments  • 

You know, there’s produced, and then there’s overproduced.  When I hear the latest radio fare, be it rock, “country” (quotes because pop country is really bad 80’s rock), or especially pop music, I’m really struck by how overproduced most of it is.  To ears that can hear it, all the sounds have been compressed, pitch corrected and processed until they barely resemble sounds that occur into the real world.  I actually get agitated when I hear pop music, with anger and revulsion.  Yes, my reaction is that visceral, and that may be hard for many to understand.  For an analogy, consider images of men and (mostly) women in glossy magazine ads.  Many of the images are so Photoshopped that they seem to depict Barbie and Ken dolls rather than actual human beings.  I think both the Photoshopped images and the overproduced music betray a cultural obsession with perfection.

I think the Photoshopped images foster an unrealistic expectation of bodily perfection in oneself and others.  Hello, anorexia, bulimia, and obsession with plastic surgery.  Similarly, overproduced and overprocessed music set an unrealistic expectation that musical performances be “perfect”.  Overproduction is not a new problem, but I think it’s one reason that you almost never hear live music in dance clubs and many other venues anymore.  And I think it discourages people from playing music as amateurs or professionals, because no matter now good you are, you’ll never play perfectly.

Fortunately, I see signs that not everyone is taken in by the airbrushed reality we are sold in current mass culture.  There is righteous anger in the air over the slick images we see, the overprocessed food we eat, and, at least where I live, reclamation of older musical forms and live music.  “I’m so tired of plastic faces on every screen; the real world is marked with scars…” Hope springs eternal.

Now that I have that off my chest–have you seen the “Impatience” video yet?

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