If you had an Imagination, Music Videos were always disappointing.

A little over a decade ago, before the rise of YouTube, music videos and MTV were on a slow spiral downward out of relevancy in the music industry. Artists were still making them, record labels were still paying for them and MTV was trying to make programing that could collect nielsen ratings from them. Total Request Live was not the hit show it once was post-Carson Daly, if you can believe it, and pirating music wasn’t going away anytime soon.

Now, music videos aren’t what they once were. Shows like Making the Video were a big deal, videos were often how artists premiered the song entirely, and those premieres felt like big events for the said artists following. Today, music videos are just part of millions of videos on YouTube. Some get a high number of views but it isn’t the same. If you missed the premiere of a music video you couldn’t just type the song into Google and watch it again, you had to wait for it be shown on one of the music channels again.

This may sound like I’m mourning the music video but in fact I rather disliked them. I’m not sure if other people listen to music this way, but when I hear a song I imagine the story behind it. Not what the songs mean but literally a story behind like a movie in my head. I once heard the song Australia by The Shin and had to immediately outline an entire science fiction novel (which I’ve never written.) The story I hear when I listen to a song doesn’t have the band posing while they play into a camera, no budget restrictions and no director deciding what his vision for the video is. My imagination has no limitations while music videos have nothing but limitations.

I guess dislike is a strong word in this case, because for the most part I don’t think about them and honestly don’t even search them out. If it’s the only way for me to hear a new song from a band I like thanks to YouTube I can just like on another tab in Chrome while it plays. It was only in my twenties that I thought about the limitations of video versus my imagination mostly from exploring the adaptation of books but I was teenager when I discovered my disappointment with music videos.

I can recall exactly where I was and what video it was. I was over my former best friend’s house and we were watching MTV waiting for the world premiere of Eminem’s Stan. I remember thinking, I’ve listened to this song at least fifty times. This is not how I imagined it at all. What were they thinking?

I didn’t understand budgets, productions, or the fact that unless you framed around programing there was no way for music videos to make any money because it didn’t count towards nielsen ratings. No nielsen ratings means no advertising means no money means Real World / Road Rules Challenge marathon.

I think part of the reason I loved underground hip-hop so much was because they couldn’t afford music videos so the picture playing in my head was never tainted by bad acting, no money, and poor decisions.

There’s only one music video that matches the story in my head, and I think part of the reason is that the video is so ingrained in pop culture that you can’t help but think of it.

That video is of course Michael Jackson’s Thriller

Weird Obsessions – My iTunes Library Playcount

     I think I made the transition to .mp3 a lot later than most. Until 2005 I still mostly played and bought my music on CD’s. My stereo, with a 200 CD’s change attached to it, was still a better audio system than my computer with it’s tiny speakers and subwoofer. My absolute favorite CD’s though I had ripped onto my computer in .mp3 form and made copies of for more car so I wouldn’t damage the originals. When I wanted to play them on my computer I would use WinAmp. This memory might not be correct but I remember making a playlist that would sort them in playcount order that would update as I listened to them. I did this every once in awhile because it was difficult listening to songs a certain order on CD.

     Then I received my first iPod, the iPod nano. I would plug it in, install iTunes and take all those .mp3’s that I had played in WinAmp in my new fancy iTunes library and then onto my iPod. Somewhere along the line I dropped my iPod Nano on Campus of Suffolk’s community college where it ceased to work. Yet, I still used iTunes. It was a slow transition but when I bought my iPod Video with my own money is when I officially made the transition to digital.
     My taste in music would change and so would my iTunes library and every time iTunes would update it would revert the brackets you could sort your music by back to their original format. I would then go in and add Playcount back in. Sometimes that’s how I would listen to my music, in playcount order when shuffle would be kind of disappointing (as shuffle often is) and other times I would search for the tracks that had low play counts and give them a change. My computer was old, from 2002 and I didn’t really seek out upgrading that much. With Windows ME then XP on it I would often have to format the hard drive and reinstall everything then start my play count all over again.
     Then inevitably, one day when looking at my sister’s iTunes on her old desktop I noticed a Top 100 Playlist and asked her how she got that. She explained what a Smart Playlist was and that was that. I made Top 100, 200, 300 Songs Playlist, Top 100 Stand-Up Comedy Tracks, Top 10 Radiohead Songs and etc. Still, I had a lousy computer, an unstable one. Finally, in 2011 my friend Dan convinced me to upgrade my computer. So I saved up money received from family members, income tax check and my own paychecks to finally upgrade my computer. Finally, I had a computer that I could keep a stable iTunes Library on where the play count would never reset.
     It was so frustrating though that the play count wouldn’t go up when I listened to a song on my iPod Video and then my iPod Classic. That all changed when I got an iPhone. Now I have Top 300 Songs, Top 100 Stand-Up Comedy Tracks, Top 100 Soundtrack Songs, and the list is endless. All my plays on my phone sync up with my desktop.
     Rationally, I know the amount of plays a song gets doesn’t affect how good of a song it is. If you think about it, the shorter the song the more likely it’ll reach the end before I skip it and thus increase the playcount. Other songs from artists I used to like before 2011 should be at play counts so high that what I currently listen to wouldn’t break the Top 100. Shuffle, not being random at all but just a organized way of playing songs in a different order tends to play certain track more often than others even when I don’t like them as much.
     I do so enjoy though when I lose myself in new music then finding those new artist have broke my Top 300, 200, 100 and entered the top 50, 25 and 10. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look at the playlist sometimes choosing a song that I currently love that is at say one play less than a song I used to love and playing it twice just so it’ll rise in the ranks.
     One day though, I’ll have a new computer where I’ll have to start over again and most likely all the songs currently with the highest play count will go back to zero, struggling against the music I am then currently listening to.  

Spoiled by Digital Music While Traveling


     I don’t listen to the radio. I haven’t for years. I got my driver’s license in spring of ’03 and my car stereo with a CD player that Christmas. 
     Then in ’06 my family surprised me with an iPod nano and I quickly looked for a way to get it working in my car. By the time I bought one of those receivers that plugs into the cigarette lighter I had dropped the iPod nano at school, essentially breaking it.
     Come April ’06 I managed to scrap the money together to buy an iPod Video, an iPod would have until it finally crashed and burned in April of 2012.
     In January of 2011 my car was destroyed in a car accident. The car I was given and still drive was not as good as the car I had owned but it had one advantage over my former car. It had a line in. No longer was I bound by shoddy radio signal to pick up my iPod on it nor was I bound by the eighty minute limit of CD’s. 
     In April of 2012 that iPod Video finally stopped working. I went on to replace that with an iPod classic and then replaced my Droid X with an iPhone 4S. In hindsight, I should of replaced my iPod Video with a larger iPhone instead of buying a smaller iPhone 4S and an iPod Classic. I honestly did not think I would love my iPhone as much as I do now.
     This brings us to last week when we discovered my car had a leak of brake fluid and I had to use my father’s car to get around. He had a audiobook in his stereo in the exact spot he left off so I did not want to remove the CD. Instead I pressed the function button to the radio.
     I want to make this clear. Yes, I’ve heard the radio in other people’s cars but in the time since I owned a car, a car stereo, an iPod, and a smart phone I never turn the radio on.
     I also want to make it clear, I’m not stupid, I know how a radio works. I didn’t look at this machine and I think “How do I work this device?” like a luddite. I had in fact, been in the passenger seat for years trying to wrestle control over the radio from my father just as my sister did before me.
     Also, we’re talking about analog radio not any kind of satellite radio. So when I turned the radio on, searching the station for something to listen to I was blown away how terrible it was.
     They just play the same songs over and over again, I thought. Why would anyone choose to listen to the radio when they could play music of their own choosing on so many devices.  Don’t even get me started about the quality. I was better off turning off the radio and just placing my iPhone in a cupholder playing music.
     I did just that. Which led me to conclusions that I’ve been spoiled by digital music. Sure, some people have even better car stereo that have USB slot to plug their devices in but there are probably still people driving around listening to analog radio.
      I’m sure too, that there are great radio stations out there in areas with great reception but it’s not anywhere I live. Some people wanting to hear the same songs over and over again, browsing the stations for their favorite songs. Sometimes too many choices, which digital music can give you, is overwhelming so why not let someone else be in control?
     Think about it. iTunes, Last.FM, Pandora, Amazon… I’m sure there are others I can’t think of right now. For someone like my mother, who has difficulty with technology that can be mindblowing. Turning on the radio? Simple, hasn’t changed in years. I, however, like a choice and quality music while I drive. The Radio is not for me.
     Don’t even get me started with talk radio. Google “top” or “best” with “podcasts” and tell me to listened to talk radio. I’m covered. 

What We Are Given, What Is Left Behind.

     This has been on my mind for about three or so weeks, about what people give to us. Not physical objects like gifts or presents on our birthday but the taste in things we like.

     I think of it whenever one of these things stir my memory. Like when I am searching the music on my iTunes library I’m reminded of who these bands came from, which person from my past or present told me “Hey, you should listen to this. I think you would like it.” There are even some bands that I didn’t like when I was knew the person, but who I like now or they double up where one person got me to casually listen to a band but another person got me really into it. 

     For awhile I just thought of this in terms of music but the same can be said for television, movies, and books. One of my favorite movies Hot Fuzz I saw the premiere with someone I dated who I haven’t heard from in years and it just so happens that it’s one of my closest friend’s favorite movie as well. Game of Thrones will forever be linked to this group of friends I have now even though the future of that group watching it together may not be certain.
     With books this concept bears much more weight, being an avid reader. There are books and authors forever linked to people who I’ve either had long discussions about, read with at the same time, or either recommended or had recommended to me. One friend is linked just to the process of buying the books. I would pick her up from her house, drive to the nearest Barnes & Noble, buy a ridiculous amount of books, then go grab something for dinner. That experience will be linked to certain books every time I look at them.
     There are people in my past who I no longer speak to or think fondly of but will be reminded of them in a positive way by the impressions they had on my taste. I guess this is why I sometimes see on a musician’s or author’s webpage comment section you’ll see comments like “Your creative-thing-you-made got me through a hard time in my life” even when that said creative-thing-they-made is not linked to whatever problem they had whatsoever. It’s just a thought.