Pop Nuggets for Future Dance Consumption

In honor of the SciFi comedy FUTURE ’38, which screens Wednesday, May 17 at Flix Brewhouse, the OWA staff is creating a Time Capsule to be opened in 80 years. 

FUTURE ’38 is a Technicolor valentine to the classic screwball comedies of the 1930s and ‘40s, with a SciFi twist. It’s a time-travel adventure which presents the exotic future-world of 2018 A.D., as imagined by the filmmakers of 1938! 

     Buy tickets HERE.

     More info HERE. 

The OWA Time Capsule is designed to represent the most significant artifacts from our era and to explain to the people of 2097 what we were all about and, frankly, what was wrong with us.


Pop Nuggets for Future Dance Consumption

Hello people of 2097. Music in 2017 has reached a zenith of pure commercialese, computer processed, and company packaged so that everyone has access to exactly the type of music they like best. Yes, niche genres are the thing. I mean there’s Punk, Post-punk, Pop punk, Proto-punk, Cowpunk, Skate Punk, Horror Punk, Folk Punk, Gothic Punk, Crust Punk, Hardcore Punk, Post-Hardcore Punk, Ska-core, Grindcore, Queercore, Trampcore, and Orgcore. And that’s just one sliver of the musical color spectrum. Personally, I groove on Splittercore, which is a sort of modern techno that at speeds of upwards of 600 beats per minute has the power to induce instant migraines and sounds a bit like a sentient arcade assaulting you with intent to shatter eardrums.

So how to sum up the musical imprint of modern society?  I’ve selected five aural delights that I think capture the melody of the moment.

1) Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams GET LUCKY – nothing encapsulates the need of artists to team up to maximize potential revenue like this cash grab by two faceless robots, already billionaires by any degree of measurement, with current it-boy producer and wearer of Arby’s hats Pharrell Williams. Pharrell is so consistent right now, the top two best-selling singles of the last decade both have his name on it (this one comes in at #6).  Why one of the most creative electronica acts going felt the need to bring in a hired gun best known for making penguins dance is beyond me. I mean this was a band that did a score for TRON. Still, robots gotta oil. That said, the song seems factory-made to elicit the exact amount of joy and toe-tapping to click ‘buy’ as soon as possible, and that’s a complement. Authenticity only gets you respect. Dance Punk plus Top 40 Pop = mass market penetration. The best way to enslave the masses would be with hidden messages in a song like this.

2) Mumford and Sons (I would select a particular song but since they are all essentially identically forgettable, let’s just include their entire oeuvre). The ‘best’ representative of the genre I like to call Beardy-Hipster-Folk, Mumford and Suck play with the faux earnestness of an East-Coast Prep School production of Annie, with orphans singing about their hard knock life and then rushing off to be picked up by their au pairs in Cadillac Escalades. While singing vaguely blue collar anthems, their banjo player (don’t they all play banjo?) is the son of a billionaire hedge fund founder. They dress like they wandered in off the set of a remake of GRAPES OF WRATH. Listen, friends don’t let friends buy Mumford and Sons and yet someone still does. It’s as if everyone’s mom has this album in the car… and there are a lot of moms out there, moms with absolutely no taste. When their first album created an onslaught of followers, Mumford and Suck bravely struck out on a new path for their second album by releasing fundamentally the same album. Mumford and Suck have spawned so many imitators that the most mumfordy of mumford and sons songs isn’t even by the band, it’s by The Lumineers, which might as well be named Sons of Mumford’s Son.

3) I hope that by the time 2097 hits people will be less consumed with themselves, but right now the millennial movement seems to think that the entire world cares what they think, what they are currently eating, what dress they didn’t wear today or what they are presently listening to on Spotify so that they don’t have to buy the album and give money to the artist. This sort of self-importance reached its apex when the court jester of hip Kanye West interrupted the Grammies twice in five years to complain about the winner… in categories he wasn’t even eligible for, as if we cared about his opinion. In fact, almost everyone in music thinks you care about every moment of their day to day life as if they had vast lessons to teach. Case in point… Adele. Her debut album, 19, offers such self-important kernals of conceit as “I've made up my mind, don't need to think it over, If I'm wrong, I am right, Don't need to look no further,” and “You know I know just how you feel, I'm starting to find myself feeling that way too.” She titled the album to capture what she felt at that age… and a few short years later, she really wowed us with the wisdom of being 21. Nothing epitomizes millennial vainglory as “Baby, I have no story to be told but I’ve heard one about you” and “you've got your head in the clouds, you made a fool out of you, And, boy, she's bringing you down.”  I am so glad we have Adele to tell us about us. The best is when Adele tries to get political, as only a clueless millennial can. Her song Hometown Glory “shows that we ain’t gonna stand shit.”

4) Radiohead: Kings of Limbs. Yes, the ‘greatest’ band of the modern era puts out an album every four years or so and every critic trips over each other trying to put their review on the top of the praise pile. It’s not that Radiohead is bad, it’s just that they stopped making actual music in 2000 (2001’s Amnesiac was all recorded during the Kid A sessions). Their last several albums have been a series of musical bleeps and bloops and Thom Yorke gesticulating like a bad Joe Cocker impression without actual words coming out. Radiohead has become a band that you feel you HAVE TO LIKE but no one actually does any more. You won’t be able to tell that in 2097 when everything you can find about them is how great they are but trust this time capsule… Radiohead is a bad band.  They have no idea how to have fun. They take themselves as seriously as Al Gore does global warming (side question: you all solved that, right?). Every Radiohead lyric could be summarized as “I’m so disappointed in humanity for X (insert point of song here).”  They beat you over the head with their seriousness as if they single-handedly can change the world (they can barely change a chord). Look, just because your music is ‘intelligent’ or ‘complex’ does not mean you have a fast lane to depth. But can’t deep also sound like music? Like have a melody that you can sing to? Let me describe a Radiohead song to you. Acoustic guitar strumming. A couple slow brooding piano keys… not a chord because it hurts too much… no just a few notes… like a soundscape. A repetitive drum beat. Something you could hit record on a two-measure loop and walk away from, leaving it to repeat over and over again. And then enter Constipated-Conrad, Thom Yorke, who doesn’t sing so much as make noise out of his orifice that sounds like it might be human… but could also be a whale with a bellyache. He just… hums... for like four minutes. Occasionally he'll cry out in a high pitch. Oh wow, what a moment! This tells you he is REALLY mad about whatever he is mad about. If you ever have the privilege of seeing Radiohead live, Thom Yorke at this point puts his arms out in a Jesus-Christ-Pose, making you wish you had a hammer and some nails. Also, who spells Tom with an h? And honestly, that way he is dancing feels like he is trying to shake loose a poopy up his poopshoot. After climaxing (which often sounds like that), the song slowly disintegrates into some sort of dirge-jam of dissonance and feedback.  Radiohead’s popularity comes solely from a society’s need to feel ‘smart’ and ‘serious,’ and claiming you like Radiohead is sort of the easiest way to brand yourself above the Nickelback and Mumford and Suck crowd. 

5) Rebecca Black: Friday. Boilerplate pop lyrics with pitch-corrected vocals that still seem somewhat off, a video that looks more like a parody of a video than an actual video, and an uncharismatic teen whose rich parents bought her daughter stardom and then complained that the production company that wrote, recorded, produced and filmed the video was taking too much of their money… could anything be more millennial? We even get the play by play of typical millennial day. “Seven a.m., waking up in the morning, Gotta be fresh, gotta go downstairs, Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal.”  It is a day filled with tough choices “Kickin' in the front seat, Sittin' in the back seat, Gotta make my mind up which seat can I take?” As the creepy much older-rapper who seems to be following the thirteen-year-old girl around in his town car tells us, it is a day filled with the clock going “tick tock, tick tock, wanna scream.” Unlike Radiohead, Rebecca Black knows how to have “fun, fun, fun, fun,” something she accomplishes by “partyin’, partyin’ (yeah)” and “getting down on Friday.” She even lays some knowledge on us “Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards.” Could anything be so instantly forgettable and permanently etched into our brains forever?  I am glad to make sure 2097 can enjoy its wisdom as well.