Friday Top 5: Music Technologies

1998. The sweet sounds of Savage Garden on the radio. The warm assurance of knowing the stock market will continue to go up forever. A time of wonder. Those memories seem so faint now. After the Y2K epidemic caused our government to collapse and the America’s secret zombie program was inadvertently unleashed, the situation- I think we can admit now- got a little hairy.

For a while there the walking dead feasted on the brains of the living and wrought havoc on everything in their path. But hey, at least American Idol was good. I loved zombie Paula Abdul! Now that I think about it, that may have just been regular Paula Abdul. Those times were great, but I’m glad our benevolent overlord Stephen Colbert was able to defeat the zombie menace and piece together the somewhat functional government we have today. It’s possible I’m not remembering the past correctly. Savage Garden could never have actually been popular. Right?

Luckily, when I’m feel nostalgic for the turn of the century I can just hop in my 1998 automobile. The interior seems modern enough, but if you look just above the CD player you’ll see something mind blowing. It’s what the ancients referred to as a “tape player.” You see, back before music was just a series of 0’s and 1’s being read by a computer, there were these little tapes that held reels, and on those reels there was music. Crazy right? Crazier still, I continue to use this wacky contraption. Only now, I plug my phone (which is really a pocket camera/mp3 player/super computer, WTF!) into a device which goes directly in the tape deck. Then, I hear the music. Glorious music. The faint hiss of the tape deck and music.


5. Music Blogs

Music blogs are a fad that is destined to die. Unless of course you’re reading this sentence in the year 2117. If so: “What up homie? Release me from my cryogenic sleep chamber so we can take a spin in your flying car! Come on! Isn’t my archaic slang hilariously charming? Unfreeze me so we can get crunk and get jiggy with it!”

Okay, so at the very least blogs are a good way to shine a light on talented bands that are toiling in obscurity. And as it stands now, blogs are as relevant as the print media from which they sprung. At least that is what I am trying to explain to the bouncer who wants me to pay to get in this show. Don’t you get it? I’m a blogger. I’m HUGE on the Internet. Come on dude, I didn’t bring any cash. My name has to be on the list. Look at your list again. Dude, come on. Be reasonable.


4. The Random Button

I’m a bit torn on this one. There’s nothing I love more than listening to a well constructed album from front to back. But let’s face it, a lot of good albums have bad tracks. And there are some albums in my collection I wouldn’t even think to play. So I hereby confess, more often than not, I just put iTunes on random and see where it takes me. Who would have thought to play Marvin Gaye next to Queens of the Stone Age next to Wu-tang Clan next to The Smiths next to Ini Kamoze? Who is the mad genius that programmed this radio station? Oh, that’s right, it was me and my crazy awesome taste.

Mostly though, I use random because I’m lazy. Really really lazy. You mean I have to click my mouse three times to pick an album? And I have to think about what album I actually want to listen to? UGH. Nevermind. Random will be fine thank you.


3. Internet Video

Every once in a while you’ll hear someone over the age of 23 grumble: “MTV, Bah! Why don’t they show videos anymore?” This sentiment is absurd. MTV is dark soulless pit of awfulness and has been for some time. . ooooooo what’s this? Extreme Pregnant Teen Makeover is on? I’ll be right back.

[30 minutes pass]

Wow, that show really changed my perspective on things. I may just have to get someone pregnant so I can get the attention society owes me. Music videos be damned! It is not as if they have relevance in a world where I can type a few characters into YouTube and- think about how insane this- instantly have access to thousands of music clips: performances from long forgotten TV shows, music videos, and fan made remixes. Just be sure to advert your eyes from the comment section lest you be sucked in the vortex of dumb.


2. Digital Distribution

Like many music fans, I am disturbed by the decline of record stores. Sure, you can buy records from an online store or directly from the artist, but nothing can replace the supreme aura of indifference of the average Best Buy employee. That blue shirt is like a magic cloak of apathy. Fortunately, there are still plenty of good independent record stores chugging along. And if you happen to live in rural area, you can still buy Mastodon’s entire discography online. Thanks Internet!

I also heard there are people on the Internet sharing music files illegally. “But isn’t that stealing?!” I hear you object. Yes, much file sharing is illegal so you probably shouldn’t do it. But to be honest I’m much more concerned with the fact I can hear people objecting to things I write when clearly I’m the only one in the room.


1. Digital Music Players

Back in the day I used to have this thing, it was this invention called a Walkman. You were probably born in the 90’s and haven’t heard of it. I’ll explain. Basically, it was a portable music playing machine that couldn’t hold eleventy billion songs. It did have its perks though. For example: if you had a Walkmen that was running low on battery juice it was like having your own personal chopped and screwed remix of any tape in your music collection.

Probably the best thing about today’s mp3 players is their amazing skip protection. Some people think I’m a horrible driver because I run over a lot of curbs. But really, I’m just trying to make music on my iPod skip. And I can’t seem to do it! The little CD player in there must be pretty amazing. You would think that would stop me from trying, but I’m nothing if not persistent. Aren’t the technologies wonderful?



  • I’m a throwback like you jon. My car has a tape deck and a cd player that skips.

    I still buy albums, though more frequently from amazon than lunchbox records in Charlotte.

    I’ve got a tape deck / mp3 player adapter gathering dust in my glove box. sweet sweet tape hiss…

    my last order from amazon actually included a cd player lens cleaner kit for my car.

  • Extreme Pregnant Teen Makeover is the shizz.

  • Hey, how about that shout out to the random button! I myself am just discovering my love of setting my ipod on random play. But I choose a different technique, like picking an artist and setting all their tracks on random. You find out that not only can Grizzly Bear put together a fine album, but when you mix up all their songs together you still get a solid playlist. Also, how else would I ever listen to anything on the horrid ‘Black Tie, White Noise’ album unless I put my Bowie on random…

    *this useless information provided courtesy of Trinity Stardust.

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