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File under: “Nobody predicted this”.
So very recently an almost 40 year old song hit #2 on the Apple iTunes charts. What was the song and why?
Well, two young brothers posted a YouTube video of their reaction to hearing Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” for the first time. They were a little surprised to hear the point where the drums come in, and their video went viral; currently well over 6 million views. And this boosted interest in the Phil Collins song.
So music reaction videos are a thing. Folks set up a YouTube channel where they film themselves listening to a song for the first time and reacting to it. Viewers subscribe to the channel and make song suggestions, and apparently there’s some ad revenue involved. And it’s a way to promote songs.
So what’s happening here? A couple of things…
The music industry hasn’t really had a business model for a few decades. (I don’t consider “fraction of a penny per megabyte” streaming to be a valid business model.) Before the mid ’80s, radio stations would curate, present, and promote songs, and record sales would follow. And that worked pretty well. In the ’80s, MTV took that job over, at least for a couple of genres. And it’s been messy ever since.
While it sure had its faults, the earlier radio-and-record-based business model matched the cultural, artistic, social, market, and human nature needs pretty well. And much of that has been missing since.
So I think the reaction videos are addressing the need to say, “Hey, check this out, lemme play something for you”.
But there’s something else; modern popular music is, for the most part, really awful. Sure, it’s easy to dismiss an older guy whining about “you kids with your lousy music”. But by any objective measure, the songs on the charts are not very musical; in terms of melody, chord changes, theme and variations, lyrics, arrangements, beauty, craft, creativity, sophistication, playing skill, and so on.
So the reaction videos are folks hearing examples of this sort of musicianship for the first time.
Sometime last year I started enjoying a specific genre I’ll call “Black people hearing Pink Floyd for the First Time”. And if you do a YouTube search for “Pink Floyd reaction”, well, that’s what you see.
My favorite Pink Floyd song is “The Great Gig in the Sky”.
Modern popular music is also compartmentalized into very restrictive genres. In the ’60s and ’70s, exploring combinations of genres was itself a form of creative expression.
And while music used to bring the races together in wonderful ways, as the left has weaponized racism, music has suffered.
So I guess there’s this new genre I call “Black People Hearing Black Music for the First Time”. I kid, but this reaction to Living Color’s “Cult of Personality” is priceless:Published in