Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘MP3s’

Music Consumption 2014

As I was driving listening to some CDs the other day, I started to think about all the changes to the music industry I have seen in my lifetime. Albums, cassettes, eight tracks, 45s, cassettes, cassette singles, CDs, CD singles, music videos, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, internet radio, satellite radio, MP3s, iTunes, Spotify and more. The way we consume music has changed forever that is for sure. And there is no going back.Music Energy (+clipping path, XXL)

Here are some of the things I was wondering as I was listening: Does anyone care about albums anymore? I love the fact that I can buy just one song from an album these days. I remember singles used to be on 45, then cassette single or CD single. Then the record companies didn’t make them available at all, and forced you to buy the whole album for one song. This is one of many issues I think where people really felt ripped off by the record companies.

But by buying one song are we missing out on listening to an album the way the artist put it together? In the old days, you had to listen to one side of an album, then flip it over to hear the other side. Sure, you could put the needle down on the one song you wanted to listen to, but more often that not you didn’t get the position of the needle right, and it would be too early or too late for the song. Cassettes also didn’t make it easy for us to listen to just one song.

When CDs came along, besides the great sound quality, we finally had an easy way to listen to our favorite tracks. You could just go to that track # or push skip to get to the song. Great albums have hits for sure, but often the non-hits are often worthy songs too. They may work in the context of the other songs, or be something a little quirky or edgy that wouldn’t work as a single. But in these days of “hit single” mentality, does anyone really listen to the rest of the songs?

Once upon a time, an album told a story — It carried the listener on a journey of highs and lows. It was meant to be consumed in its entirety. You would peruse the album cover, and look over the lyric sheets too. That’s not to say you wouldn’t have your favorite songs on it, but to me I feel it gave you a better insight into the artist themselves than just hearing the hit songs. For example, Donna Summer has a great live album called “Live and More”… yes the hits are there, but her cover song choices showed me the real Donna. I was able to get a better sense of her as a singer.

Back to my drive-time listening, I was listening to Mariah Carey’s “Rainbow” and Duran Duran’s “Pop Trash.” “Rainbow” has some hits on it, but it was good to hear the album tracks too. Duran Duran’s album to me, was one of their more experimental albums with a grungier sound. It is not a bad album at all, but it is not one of my favorites either. I remember seeing them on this tour and enjoyed the songs they performed from the “Pop Trash” album in the show.

Once upon a time, musicians were encouraged to experiment and push themselves. But do labels even want that from their artists anymore? You could make a flop album, and the label wouldn’t fire you because of it. This was because they valued you as a multi-dimensional artist who was in it for the long haul. Now, I don’t know that a record company views their artists in the same way as they did back in the 60’s and 70’s. They are more concerned for the bottom line and how many singles you can produce now. Not if you are a career artist who wants to be in the business 10-20 years from now.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Best of ‘Greatest Hits’ for the Holidays

The holiday gift giving season is upon us. Do you have something for everyone on your list? As a big music fan, I have quite a CD/MP3 collection. Greatest hits collections are great for gift giving. You get all the hits people know, plus usually a few choice album cuts too. They are great for casual fans or die hards too.

  1. Madonna “Immaculate Collection”
    Still a gold standard as far as “greatest hits” collections. She has had a few other collections, but this one is still the strongest. It is amazing how many of these songs you still hear played today: “Holiday,” “Vogue,” “Crazy for You”. If you want to go deeper, try “Celebration” her most recent and most definitive collection (available as a 1 or 2 disc collection).
  2. Journey “Greatest Hits”
    They are still popular! I really believe we have “Glee” to thank for their continued popularity. After “Don’t Stop Believin’” was featured on there, you heard a lot more of this band. They have great sing-along songs and put on a fantastic live show. Not a bad one in the bunch. If you want to go deeper, try “The Essential Journey” (available as a 2 or 3 disc collection).
  3. Blondie “The Best of Blondie”
    Another influential and overlooked group of the 70’s and 80’s. Big hits like “Rapture,” “Heart of Glass” and “The Tide is High.” Debbie Harry was the cool chick lead singer that influenced everyone from Madonna to Britney Spears. If you want to go deeper, try the anthology “The Platinum Collection.”
  4. Donna Summer “The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer”
    Her most recent best-of collection featuring all her essential 70’s and 80’s hits (“Love to Love You Baby” to “This Time I Know It’s For Real”) plus a few new songs too that will have you out there dancing on the floor.
  5. Duran Duran “Greatest”
    Little did people think that the Fab Five as some people called them back in the day, would have the legacy that they do. Expanding upon the earlier “Decade” collection, this is the definitive collection for them. Everything from “Girls on Film” to “Ordinary World.”
  6. Keith Urban “18 Kids”
    I’ve heard his music described as “country for people that don’t like country music.” He’s much more rock than traditional country…with pop sensibilities to his songs. You are sure to tapping your foot and singing along to such songs as “You’re My Better Half” and “Think of Me.”
  7. Michael Jackson “The Essential Michael Jackson”
    A much more comprehensive collection than “HIStory,” this CD has everything from the Jackson 5 to the Jacksons to all of his solo mega-hits. One of the biggest and most influential entertainers of our lifetime — that was taken from us too soon. His songs will live on forever.
  8. Britney Spears “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative”
    Yeah, there is another collection called “The Singles Collection” that from the looks of it, is pretty good too (don’t have it), but her first best-of collection shows what made her the star that she is. Catchy tunes that you will be singing for days from “…Baby, One More Time” to “Toxic.”
  9. ABBA “Gold”
    This group has shown some longevity as far as popularity. They never seemed that big in the US to me… always bigger in Europe or South America… but then a little show/movie called “Mamma Mia” brilliantly brought them back into the spotlight and they haven’t left. Hear the original versions of all the original ear candy songs from the 70’s and 80’s. Definitely a guilty pleasure.
  10. Earth, Wind & Fire “Greatest Hits”
    Another great group that has had a great run. Sure to be a favorite at your backyard BBQ or dinner party, these guys combined rock, funk, and R&B into a delectable combination. Featuring such classics as “Shining Star” and “Fantasy.”

These are sure to be popular stocking stuffers for everyone on your gift list. Whether you order them from Amazon or download them from iTunes… you are getting collections with tons of hits on them.

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