entertainment

Well-known member
For all the hysterical grandeur of this music, people who listen to enthusiastically often seem totally unaffected. Overwrought vocals, emotion amplified through the roof against maximalist productions, feverish crescendos and overstated climaxes... all reduced to perfunctory current of muzak exhaled faintly by the anemic car speakers of an annoyingly convenient mini-van stuck in traffic on the motorway, being steadily washed down by the sound of the air conditioning.

Its emotional content is not to be taken (certainly isn't taken) at face value and in that regard, it is like reality tv.
 
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Corpsey

call me big papa
The overuse of superlatives to describe the relatively mundane. American style. The use of the word epic for example. This sandwich is epic.

Epicness is a cheap way to make us actually feel shit.
This prompted me to think of how advertising these days is often anti-dramatic. It's all tongue-in-cheek, ironic, using "epic" music only to deflate it with a blokey eye roll. Obviously you still get pompous adverts with sweeping crane shots but I'd say the norm is now the opposite of that.

Whereas as a general rule music doesn't seem to be cheeky or humorous or even innocent (not that advertising ever is).

Music is fighting for attention and significance, advertising is cloaking itself in mundanity.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Also when thinking about the "dark" "moody" pop and rnb, it's relevant to consider movies and TV that are popular ATM - Christopher Nolan, David Fincher, True Detective, (even Game of Thrones?).

High definition textures, "cold" filters, dark shadows, psychic unease, paranoia. James Bond becomes a therapy case. Some of those BBC dramas are like this too -The Bodyguard, The Night Manager. IdleRich's thread about Lynne Ramsay made me think of this.
 

entertainment

Well-known member
This prompted me to think of how advertising these days is often anti-dramatic. It's all tongue-in-cheek, ironic, using "epic" music only to deflate it with a blokey eye roll. Obviously you still get pompous adverts with sweeping crane shots but I'd say the norm is now the opposite of that.

Whereas as a general rule music doesn't seem to be cheeky or humorous or even innocent (not that advertising ever is).

Music is fighting for attention and significance, advertising is cloaking itself in mundanity.
Advertising has a history of these evasive maneuvres going back to the 50's. There's a dialectical relationship between advertising and consumer culture, where advertising has to subvert its own principles in order to retain cultural authority.
 

entertainment

Well-known member
Whereas as a general rule music doesn't seem to be cheeky or humorous or even innocent (not that advertising ever is).
I think there's a trend right now of irony in music, mostly stemming from internet culture. Look how popular this fucking thing is:


These meme thing is a profoundly inwards culture, constructing ironic personas by ironically appropriating artefacts that are already steeped in irony. Defining identities by paradoxial recursion. It's definitely got something to do with the aversion to emotional sincerety, sadmanbarty was talking about in the Autechre thread, taking on a post-internet shape here.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Not heard that (this is the problem with someone as out of touch as me proclaiming on pop music). What's interesting here is that the video is all comical and ironical but if you close your eyes the chords it uses are highly dramatic, brooding, portentous.

Music videos are made for YouTube now, effetively, and the most popular content on YouTube (I assume) is often facetious, funny, memeable, shareable.
 

sadmanbarty

Well-known member
The revenge of structure.

Show tunes used to be pop music. Like classical music they're meander melodically and aren't particularly repetitive. A verse might not even have a repeated melodic idea in it. They're narrative in that respect (and of course were written to serve a narrative function).

In the post rock n roll world there's been an increasing trend towards repetition and- to quote big knob blissblog- "the endless succession of NOW". blues three chords vs the harmonic complexity of show tunes/classical music. 1 bar melodic motifs repeating over and over in pop songs. the harmonic stasis or modal jazz/rap/grime etc.

this trend corpse has grasped is a return to the previous narrative, showtune emphasis on structure and narrative (the thread after all is call dramatic).
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Also, if there is an ironic aspect to the more upbeat pop music now, that's of a piece with the moodier stuff insofar as its no longer "innocent".

Isn't there something touchingly, heartbreakingly naive about disco music, say, to our modern ears? (Which doesn't mean it was made during a naive time, at all.)

"Happy" was a throwback formally and emotionally, but it is impossible to hear it - as an informed listener - without hearing a slight wink or raised eyebrow, it's faintly parodic of 60s soul.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Am I just tying myself in knots trying to explain something that is explained by the nature of culture, where fringe elements (Sometimes) become mainstream?

IDM would be a good example - the people making pop find a way to incorporate the glitches and dynamics of that music that (as nerds) they appreciate into music that more casual listeners can enjoy.

You can boil the question down to - Why did RNB go "dark"?

Tempting to invoke 9/11, the Internet, the looming apocalypse.
 

sadmanbarty

Well-known member
You can boil the question down to - Why did RNB go "dark"?
this is part of the broader question of where the fuck did rnb go? when i was a kid all music was rnb. from about 2003-2010 rnb was the only music about. now it's completely disappeared.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
It definitely lost its innocence. It merged with rap music.

Usher used to make tender love songs. Now he makes vulgar songs about banging strippers.

And also, you get these RNB songs now occasionally that are very heartfelt and accoustic and they seem like throwbacks to a more innocent time. Were the 90s and even the 00s innocent?
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Wow, the moment when she sings about him she's doing a sort of faux heartbroken look. Weird.

I love that song, btw, so I had to stop watching the video before it ruined it.
I've got bored of vigilant citizen because he's just repeating a forumla with diminishing returns but a lot of the force of that project cane from foregrounding precisely these jarring incongruties, the sense of some hyperreal occult pageant being ennacted.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Occurs to me that this is a sort of sister thread to "why is ambient so popular now?"

Ambient music vs Dramatic, epic, histrionic music
 

sadmanbarty

Well-known member
I've got bored of vigilant citizen because he's just repeating a forumla with diminishing returns but a lot of the force of that project cane from foregrounding precisely these jarring incongruties, the sense of some hyperreal occult pageant being ennacted.
"dramatic" in this context reads as a short form for "melodramatic", which is of course the opposite of naturalistic.

it brings us back to the beyond soul paradigm. the obliteration of emotional authenticity in the popular imagination.
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
there seems to be a greater tolerance of obvious, calls-attention-to-itself artifice than in the Rock Era

relates to that thing of how a lot of pop music has collapsed back into musical theater

the way that the Musical, a once seemingly dead, mid-20th Century phenomenon, has come back as this zombie force as an actually popular form of entertainment - something that actual young people, kids, listen to and enjoy (Hamilton, La La Land, Dear Evan Hanson)

some would say, though, that the supposed naturalism of rock etc conceals its own theatricality and contrivance - its stylization c.f. the method in acting, mumbling, quasi-conversational, Mike Leigh etc

'realness' as just another set of conventions

that there is a no form of performance that isn't stagy

but certainly for my taste i find a lot of the current pop way too histrionic
 

blissblogger

Well-known member
histrionic hypocrisy

ha i was looking up "histrionic" cos i vaguely remembered that its root is the Greek for actor and i spot this:

"Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking emotions, usually beginning in early adulthood, including inappropriately seductive behavior and an excessive need for approval."

sounds like all pop stars ever

(as well as lots of other people)

actually "histronic" is from the Latin - histrionicus, ‘actor’

the Greek-sourced word i was thinking of is hypocrite - hupokritēs, actor
 

firefinga

Well-known member
ha i was looking up "histrionic" cos i vaguely remembered that its root is the Greek for actor and i spot this:

"Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking emotions, usually beginning in early adulthood, including inappropriately seductive behavior and an excessive need for approval."

sounds like all pop stars ever

(as well as lots of other people)

actually "histronic" is from the Latin - histrionicus, ‘actor’

the Greek-sourced word i was thinking of is hypocrite - hupokritēs, actor
That seems to be a mass phenomenon today, though. Instagram-mad-disease.
 
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