October 27, 2012

I already don’t remember what it was I was so excited about with those other songs and mixes I posted about earlier this week, because this edit of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” by Jerome LOL is the only thing I want to listen to now. I fell asleep to it on repeat last night before bed feeling lonely and disconnected, and it was the first thing I wanted to hear when I woke up. Will I like it tomorrow? Who knows. Does that matter? I don’t think so.

There’s probably a lesson in there about the disposable nature of an overabundance of music in the contemporary internet assembly line, but I’m not even sure that model has to be received as a negative thing any more. Who says that your relationship with a song has to be everlasting? Can’t we meet songs, or people for that matter, and throw ourselves fully into their gravitational orbit for a few fleeting moments in time, maybe a day, maybe a few weeks, and then move on to the next one and start the process all over again? (I went through a similar cycle with LOL Boys’ “Changes” a while back in a week-long surge of infatuation).

It’s a common criticism of pop music of course, but one people level at electronic music as well with its unending stream of new edits and remixes and tracks flooding the internet. “This is disposable crap,” some of my grumpier rockist friends say.  That’s often true, and maybe it is even in the case of this song specifically, but I feel like people who think that way are truly missing out on rich listening experiences that don’t have to replace your traditional taste, but can run alongside it. Do you need every song that you enjoy to be a song you’re going to like for the rest of your life? When you find ones that do it’s certainly a beautiful thing, but that eternity fallacy is harmful to our reception of culture.  It’s a common stance among rock purists (aka old people) and, I imagine, among people who don’t understand how simply speeding up the vocal to a Rihanna song, accentuating the drums, and editing out half the lyrics can amount to a transcendentally transformative new work of art that somehow improves on the original “proper pop song.” (For another example of what I’m talking about here, consider this track from last year by Jacques Greene, in which he does something similar with a Ciara vocal.)

Compare yourself. Here’s the original Rihanna track.

It’s perfectly serviceable, maybe even lovely, if not exactly something that ever spoke to me. Now listen to the edit below. Maybe you think it’s a pointless exercise in recycling someone else’s artistic creation. Many of you will, I’m sure. Maybe you think something is lost in the translation from an actual human voice in the original to one more removed from its humanity. I happen to think it’s the exact opposite. Stripping the song of its organic feel (such as it is; this is still a pop song produced in the year 2012) and placing it in the context of the continuously updated avalanche of computer-based culture makes me feel paradoxically more connected to its, and my own, humanity. It’s no longer being sung by Rihanna, that one celebrity whose personal life we all know too much about, it’s decontextualized and thereby made more universal. It’s something we can all relate to in our own way. I think that’s exactly what music is supposed to be.

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