“Blame it on the Pop”: Music Without Variety

By Jeremy Quitin
Elm Staff Writer

The student body has been back on campus for less than two weeks, and already we’ve been greeted by a number of live music performances around campus.

The first major event, the Annual Foam Party, has already come and gone. The campus green between Hodson and Somerset was transformed into a battlefield of suds with the students at ground zero, and a playlist of popular artists brought the euphoria for the night. No matter what, no party is complete without a sick list of tunes.

Yet at the same time, while the air was pumped full of loud music, the evening didn’t present much in the way of variety. Anyone checking out the event would hear pop song after pop song and not much else.

There’s nothing wrong with this on the surface. This article isn’t about to take the stance that all pop music is bad—I would be a complete hypocrite in saying so, considering that I have “The Best of Michael Jackson” sitting on my computer. It’s when you start hearing such repetition in each musical event that we encounter the problem.

On the very first Wednesday of the academic year, students walking into Hodson Hall were treated to a live DJ performance. The music was, again, less than various, presenting yet another list of pop songs. And on top of this, the music was less than live.

Looking at his set up, the DJ was working with some very professional equipment: two turntables, clear vinyl, a high end audio mixer, and a MacBook no doubt running his choice of DJ software. Even with all this, anyone could see that the jockey spent most of his time sitting down, not actually doing anything with his equipment. This is because he didn’t have to.

All he really had to do was put together a set list for the crowd, then sit back and allow the good vibes to do all the work for him.

It’s a shame that the Hodson Hall DJ didn’t give his gear a greater workout. The art of the DJ has become much more than beat-matching, the process of aligning music so that the pitch and tempo blend from one song to the next. With the advent of new software and hardware, DJs can now reinvent songs into new genres and create music on the spot.

If last year is any indication, this year will bring the same issue of all the large scale events presenting the same music every time. Students who only go to these events will be missing out on a world of music.

The Gibson concert series alone will be presenting live instrumental performances unlike anything else on campus, working with acoustic and multi-cultural musicians alike.

There are also the end-of-the-year Jazz and Afro-Cuban ensembles that are an absolute shame to miss out on.

Chestertown has its own live music series which will be presenting a bluegrass performance on Sept. 11, and the US Naval Academy Jazz Band on the 25th. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of bluegrass, you might surprise yourself with a new sound.

It’s always highly encouraged to follow the underground or lesser-known music scene, not out of some biased reason about popular music being inherently bad and indie music being inherently good, but because bringing variety into one’s life also brings the opportunity to hear good music we might have missed out on otherwise.

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