Play Listen Repeat Vol. 34

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I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of learning of an important, definitive artist or record, then listening to the music and either not liking it, or not understanding what all the fuss is about.
What I’m curious about this week is how you listeners would describe or explain that experience.
Can you name some music that you both know is good but also that you just don’t like? Can you describe how you know it’s good? How can you hear the “good-ness” of the music, even though you don’t like it?
I always think of this when I hear people say they don’t like a certain genre of music, because almost every genre must have some artists that are good, right? Separating my personal taste from evaluations of the quality of music is a great challenge, but it can have great rewards. I’m very curious to hear how you all think of it!

Pandora

The Pandora Team http://www.pandora.com/

70 thoughts on “Play Listen Repeat Vol. 34

  1. Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen.
    What is it with these? They are morose, they are bad singers, their lyrics are nothing special – not even their lyrics come to that.
    I fully expect to be attacked for this. But what gives? Where is the artistry?
    As a baseline – so readers know I am not comparing these guys to A-Ha or whatever – I consider, of an overlapping, era Dylan lyrics to be interesting, Beatles to be tuneful, and so forth.
    No idea how cults get to be so dominant.

  2. I’m also one of those underwhelmed by Dylan. And I’ve never been able to stand Neil Young’s voice. My college roommate used to play Neil Young records to get me to leave the room. My bedrock/touchstone in rock music is Joan Jett, and once a colleague at work said: it’s one thing to like a cult band, but why can’t you like a GOOD cult band? (I never really liked her after that). Everyone’s got their cult, and I just accept there are some people who aren’t going to get MINE, so I’m not going to get theirs.

  3. The music of Philip Glass was supposed to be or is considered by some to be great. I have tried to understand what it is in his compositions that make them great and I still don’t get it. I saw some PBS show where they were explaining how his music is a reflection of our modern times, they showed some skyscrapers in New York focusing on the windows and repetitive patterns which Glass mirrors in his compositions. I hate to say this but I still don’t get it. This troubles me because I was taught that if you don’t like something it’s probably because you don’t understand it yet. I have a CD on which Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass collaborate, well actually they take turns composing and I think one or two tunes are actually co-composed. I can’t stand any of the Philip Glass stuff but Ravi Shankar’s compositions are brilliant, Philip Glasses’ are the most boring drivel I’ve ever heard in my life. If anyone out there can help me understand Philip Glasses’ music please post a comment.

  4. There is a song that wouldn,t even be called a song by those who are the doctors lawers and professors of music only because of its simplicity. It simply said “Don’t Worry Be Happy”

  5. i’m thinking more of an artist, but for me Panda Bear fits this description. There was a lot of critical acclaim for his newest album – a must have. It was quite humbling to listen to it several times and just not get it. The albums seems to me just a collection of ambient recordings. Each time it reveals itself a little more, but I still can’t get into it.
    I know its a good record, but can’t exactly say why. I can’t accept that I don’t get it and keep listening to it, hoping the next listen will open the door. I guess thats why I know its good – i don’t completely get it, but continue to try.

  6. I heard that Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica was something that everyone should hear. I also knew it was more of a sonic experience than a traditional recording of songs, but I have not been able to enjoy it despite numerous attempts. I think one night, I’ll awaken suddenly to find that I am in love with it, but I doubt that will be tonight. Zappa finally hooked me so Captain Beefheart probably will too. Or I may always be in the dark in regards to its inner genius.

  7. This is for Rachael (4/16 10:57pm), I know exactly what you mean. I bought a copy of ‘Trout Mask Replica’ many years ago and I still don’t like it very much either. I think it’s a bit harsh myself, you should try to find the Beefheart recording that has the songs ‘Tropical Hot Dog Night’, ‘Harry Irene’, ‘Bat Chain Puller’. The Captain has some good material on Zappa’s ‘Bongo Fury’ too. What I’d like to find is a copy of the double album ‘An Evening With Wildman Fisher’, sorry thinking about this stuff brought back memories.

  8. I have NEVER understood all the hype about the beatles. I’m sure they’re good and all, but no thanks. Also, in general(not always) I’m not a fan of older music, it just doesn’t get to me.
    I guess i can’t really see the “good-ness” in a song that i dont like because i just don’t care if its well made or whatever. For example, would you want to read a book about… oh lets say how your arm hair grows(or something boring like that, who knows, someone might be interested in arm hair)… even if it is perfectly written?
    You shouldn’t have to worry about whether other people will approve of the music you listen to.
    I guess alot of the time, I have to be able to relate to the song, be it emotional pain or happiness or whatever.
    Sometimes I will like a song just for the instrumental part of it, and sometimes for the vocal ability, and sometimes just for the amazing lyrics, or a combination of all three, whatever.
    “Chasing Cars” by Snow patrol is a good example, really simple guitar line but amazing lyrics and voice. The lyrics have to make sense and speak to you on an emotional level.
    lastly… I love it when I am driving, listening to the radio, and a song comes on that you can just sing along to, even if you have a bad voice. Some songs I just can’t help but sing along to, THESE are good songs.

  9. Songs that have been on the top of the “Billboard” list are considered to be cultural classics simply beacause millions of records were sold indicating that the general public “liked” the music enough to purchase it.
    I dont like alot of these so-called hits. The reverse causality in point is that when an established artist is releasing his/her 3rd-4th album, the marketing and publicity will be so great that the “new single” becomes a self fullfilling hit.
    A recent example that comes to my mind is the Jay-Z “American Gangster” track that had a accompanied video. Any hip-hop/rap enthusiast knows this song is garbage but with the money involved including the flashy video the song must be a hit.
    If any other artist released the same track with no video… the song would be a dud.

  10. Pearl Jam is something I never could manage to take. No matter how much I tried I simply hate them. The music is uninspired and formula. The lyrics are just gibberish and the vocals are so awful. The individual musicianship (excluding vocals) is actually quite impressive but the songs they came up with are just not good. I know there are millions of people who think they walk on water but I just don’t get it.

  11. I really enjoy vocal jazz, from the 20′s through the present, especially standards; but I have never been able to listen to scat for more than about half a song… My 5 year old “scats” when she can’t remember the words, or is just jabbering melodically. – Doesn’t sound all that different to me…

  12. I am a huge Pink Floyd fan and absolutely love most of their work, but I just can’t stand music from the Sid Barrett years. I know he’s supposed to be the pioneer of that type of music and an inspiration to many musicians even today, but the man just sounds insane (he was), drunk or really really high on drugs in just about every one of his songs. I really don’t know what all the fuss is about. David Gilmore was a much better lead vocal than Sid ever was anyways.
    Although I must say I do appreciate him inspiring Shine On, my favorite song.

  13. This is for Rob who posted a comment April 21, 2008 at 2:00pm. It might help if you think of the human voice as just another instrument. I personally don’t even like songs with lyrics very much, I think they get in the way of the music. Although since you like vocal jazz standards from the 20′s I suppose the vocal part is the main melody part of the songs. Maybe if you listened to more instrumental music you would develop an appreciation for scat, you like Popeye don’t you?

  14. I must admit, I have little taste for country music. The only country music I enjoy hearing are the songs that everyone knows and sings to at bars, and I only like it because it makes everyone have fun. I can’t even think of one right now that I like though. Not one I would put in my CD player and listen to in my car or at home alone. With friends, drinking at a party, sure there’s a few I’d play and maybe even sing too, but not very many.
    I think the difference between me and country is less about musical style than it is about musical attitude. Rap too usually. Sure the attitude directly affects the style, but sometimes the style can be good even if I dont like the attitude. But if I like the attitude, the music is much more likely to suit me.
    It’s not really about subject matter of the lyrics though. *I guess the question is how does the particular presentation of a style of music convey an attitude for the artist?* Jimmy Buffet and his Margaritaville and pretty much that whole cd I like, but the parkeet album with kids singing makes me puke. Too corny/happy. Can’t take it seriously.

  15. I can completely understand this question. I know there are artists out there that are considered “great,” that I don’t like. One I can think of off the top of my head is the Rolling Stones. I don’t like them, but I can appreciate them, meaning that I know they are talented. I know they have had a big impact on a lot of current artists out there, but I just do not like them. If that isn’t good enough, I can think, easily, of an entire type of music I don’t like, but that I can appreciate. That would be opera. I don’t enjoy listening to it. I appreciate what the performers do, though, because I know they have to be incredibly talented to do what they do. Any good opera singer will have quite a wide vocal range, and they will have a full, supported tone, whether singing quiet or loud. They can sing slowly, or quickly with equal ease, and they can control their vocal dynamics very well, meaning that they can change seamlessly from soft to loud. All those things and more, they do, and it all takes a high level of skill and talent. I certainly appreciate that. I still don’t like opera. Perhaps if it was just music with no singing, I would enjoy it, but then it wouldn’t really be opera, right? So, there are individual bands or artists, and also entire genres that I don’t like, but that I can appreciate. I could go on for quite a while on this, but I won’t say anymore, except to say that I have pondered on this a bit myself.

  16. As a few others on this blog believe, “good” music is relative. I personally think that everything on the ITunes Top 100 is total cr*p (am i allowed to say that?). Either way, it’s all awful. Over-produced, underwritten, oversung, underperformed, cookie-cutter written music.
    In my attempt to look at American music in a positive light, i just can’t. it’s just getting atrocious.
    therefore, i’ve turned to Europe (the continent, not the band, though i do have The Final Countdown on my pump-up playlist on my IPod). I’m proud to say my favorite bands right now come from Finland (and they sing in English).
    To get back on topic of the blog, i feel that there are two main factors that make or break a song: the vocals and the drums. The vocals have to entice me to the song otherwise i can’t stand the song. I also feel the drums, if played poorly (with the exception of MEg White/White Stripes) absolutely ruin a song. Though if played with fluidity and precision, can make a song absolutely breathtaking and send chills up my spine. Guitar work i also find important, but if there mainly for commercial purposes to steal the limelight (though i myself do play). A guitar can be played absolutely awful, or strangely creative(i.e. Tom Morello/Rage against the MAchine), but the drums and vocals will make the song.
    This all leads back to the main point of the blog. I feel a good song comprises of appeasing vocals and fluid drums, though a wicked guitar riff will get me everytime, but what 16 year old wouldn’t?

  17. I like many genres of music, from classical to 70′s and 80′s…..I am sick of rock and roll and also getting kind of sick of country…my favs are Crystal Gayle, Nana Mouskouri, Eva Cassidy, The Mamas and The Papas, ABBA and then Luciano Pavarotti, Mozart………….I cannot seem to keep my favorite types on my station here. Seems like if for example Crystal Gayle has sung Country then the station sends many Country songs which I am sick of at the moment. I would love it if I could just keep the ones I love….thanks for listening and caring about us on this end…

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