time to change the way we view music and the arts

Crazy Chart Concoctions for 2011

Readers, we approach the end of yet another year. I can’t believe how fast this one has gone by. I’ve really enjoyed writing this year’s posts and hopefully starting tomorrow, (well, truthfully in a few days) the first posts of 2012 will get us off to an equally awesome start!

I know we’ve officially hit 2012 in Australia, New Zealand, Samoa (which, as recently as the 29th moved the international dateline for their country to be in line with New Zealand.) and our friends in Asian nations, but for those of your in the same U.S. time zone as me, as well as anyone else still waiting on the moment of 12:01, I offer you thoughts on some of the music from this year, as a way to look ahead to new radio play.

The theme for the dropping of the crystal ball in Times Square this year is “Let There Be Friendship.” The Waterford Crystal sphere received new crystal panels for this year’s celebration, featuring the etched images of all different people holding hands as a sign of friendship and camaraderie. Friendships can form between any kinds of people; even those that some might not expect but that are still enjoyable for what they are.

The same could be said for the songs, artists and genres sharing chart space over the last year. Every New Year’s Eve we look back on what’s been popular, and there’s usually a mix. Chart neighbors aside though, there are some now big-shots of radio play that no one may have expected to see had you thrown the prospect at them back on this day last year. A few of my favorite conversation pieces to climb the ranks:

Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks
This song, and subsequently this band, have gotten to be, pretty much in the ranks of household name status. Similar to the wave that Fitz and the Tantrums started to ride, Foster the People has catapulted “that indie/analog/old school sound” right to Top 40 radio presets. Much of what I’ve heard about them by the wayside is of either a “love ’em” or “hate ’em” vibe. They’re not my favorite band, but I’m loving the love for the gritty and slightly unusual. I just also know that those who want to keep indie in the dark are probably raging somewhere too.

Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
Indie was to popularity as Dubstep was to America: almost non-existent to the majority of listeners not dedicated to the genre. Sonny John Moore, better known as Skrillex, has cut the line from “total unknown” to “leagues of screaming fans” in less time than it takes for the bass to drop on his first track. The average ‘screaming fan’ (I can say this because I know someone that is) can be known for saying things like “this is the most amazing dubstep!” Here’s the thing: Dubstep is largely known for it’s UK roots/popularity and this transition over to American audiences is all well and good, but surprising and possibly questionable when one thinks about how tracks like this one could be riding on the similar energy of the club/dance/house music craze that has recently hit American shores as well. And as any purist *cough* James Blake *cough* might say, unknowingly lumping together house with dubstep from sheer tempo/volume tendencies can result in “a direct misrepresentation of the sound.” Whether or not Blake is overreacting, he does have a point that while Skrillex is a dubstep artist, not all dubstep artists are (like) Skrillex.

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross – Hidden in the Snow (from “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Original Soundtrack)

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have teamed up twice now for some serious film composition and outside of his more mainstream foray, Nine Inch Nails, Reznor has gained undeniable momentum as a singular industry figure. While the movies Reznor and Ross have backed are very much mainstream and exploded in popularity, (The Social Network and now The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the idea of heavily complex instrumental compositions and a project spanning over three hours of what can be easily deemed highly experimental material speaks volumes to how much faith Ross and Reznor have in not only their individual work, but the the importance of this type of music in enhancing the movie viewing experience to drastically mood influencing levels. These pieces aren’t just 90 second clips for filler but powerful pieces that can have equally chilling effects when standing alone.

OneRepublic – Good Life
After a disturbing downer like that, to round things off, this might throw you off a bit. I know, I know, OneRepublic has already been in top chart territory for some time now and is no stranger to the fame. The surprise factor here, particularly for this single, comes from my own experience. When I think about discovering (and loving) this song for the first time, I’m rewinding way back to 2009, not long after the album “Waking Up” had launched. I considered it almost like my personal, secret theme song for the time when I was studying abroad in in London. (I remember listening to it while riding the Picadilly Line tube to get to my flat for the first time.) The song definitely hit a stride over the summer this year and has been the big OneRepublic radio hit as of late. As such, the majority are singing it and playing it widespread, as if it’s the best ‘new’ thing to hit airwaves. This being over two years after the same amazing song hit shelves. The nature of the life of a radio hit is so interesting, isn’t it?

Well, regardless of how odd a group this might be, the diversity of our ever changing tastes and how they can mesh together almost infinite combinations in our portable music players just goes to show how year ending chart reviews will always be a great symbol for starting fresh in a new year. Happy New Year’s to all of you! Be safe and talk to you in 2012!

Leave a Reply

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS