Friday, September 14, 2007
What gives music UNIVERSAL appeal?
Think about your favorite album. Can you remember the first time you heard it? How did you feel? I remember the first time I heard one of my favorite albums. It was ATLiens by Outkast. I bought the record from Tom Tom Music (Now a Curves Fitness) in Sandy, Utah. That was in 1996. This was also the first CD I purchased with a parental advisory label smacked on it (back in the day they were stickers you could peel off, so Mom wouldn't get pissed at you for owning a record that "cussed"). I promptly took the CD over to my homie, Kristjan Morgan's. At the time, Kristjan had the best AIWA 3 disk system for listening to rap. We put the CD in and listened to history. To me, it sounded like an album from the future. I'd never heard beats or lyrics like that. Almost 12 years and three copies of the CD later, I still have ATLiens playing- I listened to it today in my car. I still have the same reaction to that CD as I did on first listen. That, my blogospheric comrades, is a record with Universal appeal.
I suppose I'm getting into this due to a recent dust-up with a few good buddies on a road trip back from Colorado. We nearly got into a shoving match over what makes a band great. I couldn't quite articulate what makes a band universally appealing in the heat of the argument, but I think I'm nailing it down.
Without venturing into a variation of You might be a redneck if..., I'll name some characteristics of timeless album.
If you can't tell when an album was made (80s was fraught with overuse of synth, seventies had that overuse of the octave disco bass riff, early 90s grunge, and so on and so on)it's on the route to Universal appeal. Of course, some of the best albums (SGT. Peppers) are great due to the particular en vogue style.
If as many people in New York or L.A. know about the album as they do in Adelaide Australia, the record has global appeal. (case in point, 50 cent's music can be heard bumpin' by any number of Aboriginal folks in AUS)
If you can name a tune from simply listening to a two-second snippet, the song has potential for Universal Appeal (Arcade Fire's Neon Bible).
Music Means different things to different people. For me, I like music that arouses an emotional impact. Depending on the mood I'm in, I'll bust out some music that reflects my moods. I'd dare say that's about par for the course for most people too.
I love checking out albums of potentially epic proportions. For now, marinade on one of the greatest of all time.