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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

On the Theory of Music Fame Relativity

Every now and again, I like to look at my massive, steadily-increasing music collection (consisting mainly of proper physical CD-based albums, though I also have four Genesis cassettes, dozens of vinyls, and even an EP or two-- bottom line is, I never purchase downloaded music) and ponder things about relative music popularity as a whole.

So if you look back at the earlier music, we can see a bit of a clear pattern. For the 50s and earlier pieces, anything we hear is a classic, as anything else has died off due to unpopularity. Natural selection of music. In the 60s, you mainly hear about the big acts, such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Doors, The Beach Boys, all that jazz. Much like the earlier stuff, these have been carefully selected by us (we 'select' the music in such a way that reminds me of hive minds, collective consciousnesses) as being truly classic, while if you look hard enough, you can start to find some of the less 'classic' pieces (such as Genesis' From Genesis to Revelation, or literally everything made by Led Zeppelin!) (..I'm teasing).

Then, as the years go on, we start to get exponentially more music to choose from, but we can still easily tell which are the 'classics.' In the 70s, these are such bands as Rush, Yes, David Bowie, (perhaps Pink Floyd, if your standards are low enough,) AC/DC, ..and.. other bands from the seventies (I'm sorry, I can't easily name the years of many bands)! In the 80s, we get such classics as Metallica, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Genesis (their pop years were 'classic!' ..shut up!), Billy Joel (if you're into him), Meat Loaf, INXS, Tears for Fears, Talking Heads... you get a lot of bands, basically, with still even more non-classics!

Then we get to the 90s. For a long time, the nineties weren't exactly associated with good music, you see. But yet now we look back and we can see some true 'classics' such as Depeche Mode, Dream Theater (their early work), Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, U2, Oasis, The Prodigy... and loads more than that, no doubt.

So now we have the 00s. The nowties, if you will. ..noughties. 00s. It doesn't seem like too many amazing pieces of art were released recently, but that's just the nostalgia filter talking. Here we get to the point I've been trying to get to for a while.

What bands, what albums, what sub-genres and whole genres that were focused on in the 00s will we look back on in the future and regard as true 'classics?'

Looking back now, I can already name a few of my own personal taste.

Coldplay's Parachutes is a classic-- it certainly is to me. Even if Coldplay, themselves, hate the album. Every song sounds carefully chosen, carefully crafted; it's one hell of a debut album.

Radiohead's Kid A, for sure. Now don't get me wrong! I'm a strict prog guy most of the time! Radiohead is way too mainstream for me usually, but.. Kid A, much like Parachutes, just.. tugs at my emotions in strange ways. Plus, I already made a blog post describing my love for it.

Muse's Origins of Symmetry.. I mean, even the album, itself, has a rather famous backstory, showing the band being held back by their record companies or.. whatnot. And then the songs, themselves, are fantastic-- especially when compared to the tracks of Showbiz.

Oh god yes. Dream Theater's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Now.. yes, I'm a Dream Theater fan at heart-- my views are biased. But this might possibly be the one DT album on the list. Six Degrees is everything one could ask for in a prog album-- six songs revolving around a set concept (in this case, inner turbulence, or mental unrest), with the shortest song being just over six minutes long (oh hey six 8D) and the longest, the sixth, being forty-two minutes (six times seven 8D) and revolving around six specific cases of mental problems. The songs, themselves, vary in sound from the heaviness of "The Glass Prison" to the eerie gaps of silence in "Misunderstood."
( put it simply, Six Degrees is one of the very, very, very, very few albums that gets to be referred to as one of my "big four" favourite albums. I'll talk more about them later.)

Possibly Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf. Possibly.

Now, this is most likely just my opinion.. but Coheed & Cambria's collective Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV is one of the finer classics out there, storywise (lyrics and otherwise), structurally, and in some ways sound-wise. Of course, this is only when Volumes One and Two are counted as one single double-album. Alone, they.. are lacking. Considerably. Together, they make for a rather diverse (for punk) trip into the meta and sci-fi worlds, even managing to accurately pull off Through the Eyes of Madness (a feat admirable on its own). Now... I will admit that one of the biggest reasons I adore Good Apollo is because the story of the Writing Writer is so uncannily similar to my own.

Mastodon's Blood Mountain.... well... maybe. Consider this entry as just simply saying that I, myself, prefer Blood Mountain by far above Crack the Skye. xD So just ignore this entry.

Muse's Black Holes & Revelations is another maybe.

Oh, here's a definite classic: Between the Buried & Me's Colors. Here's an album that shows, above all else, unbelievable potential and true diversity in sound. Really, though, don't get me wrong. I, like many others, have a strong distaste for growling vocals. They are easily the low-point of Colors for me. Yet still, this 64-minute progressive trip into the cityscape (the same one that burns brighter by the hour) absolutely astonishes upon merely the first listening. Every consecutive listening only strengthens my love for it. It is, structurally, an absolutely insane in every definition of the word... masterpiece. It is, lyrically, a cryptically poetic, a poetically cryptic, a divine and deep beyond imagination... masterpiece. It is, in terms of instrumentation, an intense exercise on your expectations, a masterpiece that starts off brutally beating the shit out of your ears, leaving you wondering where the hell the "art" is in this unforgiving sound.. but as it progresses, you begin to discover exactly where the colors lay in this beauty... this loving and always-forgiving (all together now...).... masterpiece.
...loljk it sucks n BtBaM are fags
But yeah. >_> I love Colors, and I intend on following Between the Buried & Me, listening to each and every consecutive album of theirs from now until they disband (hopefully not for a long time).

Muse's The Resistance... musically, it's catchy and beautiful in a couple of ways. Lyrically.. a tiny bit lacking. Structurally, it's uncannily similar to 1984, albeit with the extra "Exogenesis Symphony" (which, by the way, is my favourite Muse song by far). Now, frontman Matthew Bellamy claims the album is not a retelling of 1984, which disappoints me. You see, if it's not a retelling, then it is one of the most unoriginal albums ever made. If it is, it's pretty damn genius, with the aforementioned "Exogenesis Symphony" being a proposed 'solution' to the horrible Orwellian dystopia.

Finally, quite possibly the last album you'd expect from me, Plan B's The Defamation of Strickland Banks. This is an R&B/Soul album by British rapper Plan B. But.. you see, it just so happens to be a concept album. It tells the rock opera of eponymous Strickland Banks, soul singer who is accused of rape and unjustly imprisoned. I've gotta say, I was hardly expecting this album to be anywhere near good.. but holy shit. It's powerful, it's catchy as hell, it's just the kind of story I'm interested in, and it has a rather ambiguous ending. Now, once again I say don't get me wrong. I hate ambiguous endings more than anything else. The end to The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway was quite possibly the ONLY part of the narrative I disliked, as well as the ending to Inception. But.. I mean, it actually fit in Defamation. It relies on the instability and risk of the court system, after all. Just.... bah! Defamation.. just about every part of it clicks with me in all the right ways. yeah! These are just my personal 'classics.' I hope at least a couple of these will turn out to be popularized as such in the future.

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