Friday Top 5: Skippable Track Types
You seem like the modern sort. I bet you have 80 bazillion digital music files don’t you? Wow, you have 90 bazillion? That is impressive. How in God’s name do you listen to that many songs? Let me answer that for you: you don’t. You’re a fickle song skipping beast. It’s okay, I do it too. It’s the only way to cope with such an overwhelming amount of music. I’m liable to skip any track on a whim, but there are certain types of songs I find myself skipping all the time. Here are the types of tracks I’m talking about:
5. The Instrumental Track
Apparently, and you might not believe this, there is a long tradition of music that does NOT feature vocals. Bach, Stravinsky, Miles Davis, you and I are cool. My beef is with bands that have perfectly good singers, but for some reason choose to give them a song off somewhere in the middle of an album. I should backtrack a bit. There are instrumental tracks I like—some I like a lot—but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t skip songs without vocals most of the time. Here’s the weird part. Even for someone like me (a dirty dirty word whore), it almost doesn’t matter what the lyrics are. Just the fact that a human voice is present seems to make music resonate with me more. So if you’re reading this Axl Rose, please lay down some kick ass vocals on Beethoven’s 5th Symphony so I can finally learn to appreciate it.
4. The Hidden Track
This phenomenon is mostly a relic of the CD era, but it still seems to pop up occasionally, so it should be addressed. I will now speak directly to hidden tracks: “Hidden tracks, go away. The problem is you are not hidden well enough. You can still be found. Go off somewhere that you will not be discovered. By anyone. Ever. I am listening to music to listen to music. I do not want to be forced into an awkward 5 minute silence, only to have you jump out from behind my speakers like an audio boogieman. In conclusion, go away forever and don’t come back. Love, Jon.”
3. The Remix
Definition of remix: “noun- slightly crappier version of original song.” If that seems harsh, ask yourself a few key questions. Question 1: Should anyone bother to remix a song that sucks? Probably not. I guess they could, but no one would listen to the song except as a novelty (extended Cotten Eye Joe remix anyone?!). Question 2: If you decide to remix a song that is already good, won’t it pale in comparison to the original track? Almost certainly. Which leads us to Question 3. Is releasing a remix on an album worthwhile? Not really. To be fair, I should point out I’m thinking specifically of remixes that are tossed onto an album as an afterthought. In the context of a DJ set and drunk dancing, I say remix away.
2. The Big Hit
Let me be clear, I’m not talking about some kind of hipster aversion to what is popular. Popular is great. If it weren’t, I’d have to get rid of all these Bieber tattoos. Not likely! Besides, I can’t afford laser removal surgery in this economy. . .wait, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, songs that have been beaten to death. Sometimes this is a self-inflicted wound. “I love this song! I want to hear it over and over and over and over. . . and now I hate this song.” Other times, a song gets entrenched in the cultural ether. If you go to a restaurant, it’s playing. If you avoid the radio, it’s on a TV commercial. Pretty soon the first few chords of this catchy ditty will make you to want to stick a fork in an electric socket. Probably safer just to press skip.
1. The Rap Skit
Die rap skit. DIE DIE DIE. It was mildly amusing the first time, but each subsequent listen is torture. It’s as if, to paraphrase one skit that has been pressed into my brain, someone is pulling my tongue out and stabbing it with a rusty screwdriver. If skits aren’t grinding a perfectly good album to a halt with some half-assed comedy, they’re clumsily attempting to impose dramatic weight where it’s unwarranted. Worse yet, many skits are embedded in otherwise great songs. “Hey listener, here’s the best track on the album plus an extra minute and a half of abysmal, indulgent rhinoceros poop.” Gee, thanks.
‘audio boogieman’…pretty good. Jon, you need a weekly column in the statesman.
I skip them all. I prefer the bollywood music scores. see you in bangalore!
Wow. Way to come off as an angsty teenager. I hope you haven’t convinced yourself that you should be doing this for a living.