July 25, 2007

Influenced by

Sometimes when I'm working at home I have the TV tuned to one of the all-music channels. Don't laugh, it's how I hear nearly all new music. (Although said quanity is pathetic, my 21-year old self sneering in disgust.) Since it's TV they have to show something, so they divide the screen into a crawlspace at either the bottom or the top, and a photospace. The ratio is 25/75, and typically the photospace will cycle through shots of the band, and have a thumbnail of the album cover along with the artist, song and album name.

But the crawlspace is where it's at. It moves through a series of quotes and trivia about the artist. Sometimes they're just inane ("Joe Jackson appearned on Late Night with Conan O'Brien in 2005"), somtimes they're mildly interesting (quotes mostly, and odd stuff like "Bonnie Raitt appeared in the 1978 film "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"). One of the weirdest ones they have is "Foo Band was influenced by bar, baz, and flurble." For instance

  • "Corrine Bailey Rae was heavily influenced by Led Zepplin as a teen"
  • "Caillat was influenced by Hawaiian music"
  • "Growing up, Coldplay's Chris Martin listened to Michael Jackson's Bad on his way to school"
  • "James Brown, Lou Reed, Billie Holliday, Johnny Cash, and PJ Harvey influenced K.T. Tunstall"

Even better is when they don't have any trivia about the artist. They just blurt out a bunch of trivia about the music business that I can't imagine anyone cares about:

  • "Billboard Magazine launched the 'Hot 100 Singles' chart on August 4, 1958."
  • "By 1995, country music accounted for more than two billian dollars in record sales."
  • "Philips introduced the first compact audio cassette in 1963."

One of the worst offenders is the "Soundscapes" channel, which is only occasionally on because it sometimes helps Ella get to sleep. But since very few of the artists on the channel aren't trivia-worthy, we get a lot more genre-only trivia, learning things like:

  • "The world's first teleharmonium weighed 200 tons"
  • "The theremin, an electronic instrument invented in 1920, creates a sound with an eerie vocal quality."
  • "In the mid'60s Donald Buchla was Robert Moog's main competitor in the synthesizer marketplace."
  • </ul>

    I hope the person who writes these things up reads this, because they can have an awful lot of fun with the system. For instance:

    • "In 1989, Mariah Carey dealt any common sense in her head to the devil in exchange for inexplicable success and nice cleavage."
    • </ul>

      Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the 'Adult Alternative' channel is yet another in a list of things making me feel old, as one of the pieces of trivia they display is the birthdate of the lead singer -- nearly every one of the artists are younger than me, some significantly so. Urg.

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