Thursday, December 21, 2006

XM Radio: Saving Music One Genre at a Time

I love XM radio. Seriously. And not just for the commercial free playback, but because of the extreme, unmatched variety of music.

Not too long ago, old man Bob Dylan claimed that the last 20 years of music just plain sucked. At the time, I was inclined to agree (although I felt that there was more good music than he did). However, ever since being introduced to the full glut of XM radio channels, I think I have to change my opinion.

It's true that regular FM stations tend to not play the best of tunes anymore. Top 40 all seems like crap, alt rock is becoming way too emo, and even emo is becoming way too emo. Heavy metal is in a sad state of affairs, with most of the new bands just trying to pretend that they're devil worshippers so the freaks come to their local Wal-Mart shows. Even hip-hop is starting to sound decidedly just, well, hip-hop. Most of you know my theory behind why this is, and, combine that with my theory that mass pop culture is mostly contrived programming, and there you are... music sucks.

Well, maybe not.

Along came XM radio, which provides a venue for all of those "not-on-regular-rotation" talents (and I do mean talents) that truly are progressive, truly do know what they're doing, and are truly artists. I can honestly say that I scan almost every XM music station to see what new sound some obscure small-label artist has come up with. Just a few months ago, I was worried that I was doomed to be that cynical, long-haired fruitcake at the end of the block who only listed to classic rock stations. But, thanks mainly to XM channel 50 (the Loft), I have an enormous new music collection that I wouldn't otherwise have.

Once again, I'm rambling... but it all boils down to this. The masses are easily fooled. Everyone bitches about wanting something different, but in the end, the public just wants the same old hits rehashed and repackaged over and over again. Pop has always been somewhat of a bad word in the art and music community, and now I definitively know why. Of course, pop has always been a good word in the producing community, and that's a little sad. Although I do believe that the public is easily fooled and programmed into what they'll end up liking, I don't believe that the public is inherently stupid (well... no comment). They can be "retrained" into recognizing talent, instead of bump and grinding to that inevitable one-hit wonder.

Or maybe I'm too optimistic.

Eh, none of this my concern. I'll let pop culture solve the pop culture problem. In the meantime, I'll be listening to XM.

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