Trawling my way through Spotify’s Australia Top 50 playlist in order to prepare myself for going out with friends on the weekend (studying for clubbing – I’m not weird) the repetitiveness of the charts these days really hit home.
I’d barely scraped the surface of the playlist and already been served with multiple songs that are capitalising on older, previously charting songs. Bits of The Jackson 5’s “ABC” in Sigala’s “Easy Love”, Baby Bash’s “Suga Suga” in Robin Schulz’s “Sugar”, I could go on.
Of course, this phenomenon has always existed. It just seems heightened in recent times. As someone who doesn’t usually listen to commercial radio in my own time means I’m often confronted with this glitzy world in the brief periods of time I’m in friends’ cars. And just lately in these small moments I’ve noticed the sheer amount of songs that have simply been repurposed with an added EDM dancefloor-friendly beat by executive producers who know that these songs will chart again and are an easy way to make a quick buck. Hitting listeners’ ears with the sole purpose of being enjoyed in cars for a few weeks, danced drunkenly to, shopped to in similarly fast-fashion shops and then binned – never to be heard again. These songs are intentionally designed with a short shelf life, a pre-determined expiry date. It’s like the $2 shops of records. Cheap products pumped out of factories to be used once or twice before breaking down or being thrown out. Is anyone really going to look back with fondness on Nelly’s “The Fix” like we look back on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”?
What’s the line? A lot of these songs are classified as remixes or using samples, and I wouldn’t normally have seen these as being in strictly the same boat. The act of sampling and remixing is integral to modern music. Perhaps it’s the difference between remixes that are created by producers paying respect to the originals rather than music that’s wrapped into a big shiny package by big corporations, ready to be delivered the everyman who craves the comfort-zone of familiar music from their past being recycled time and time again. It’s that ambience of laziness. And desperation (and who can blame them, I guess). It’s like, eating meat may not be inherently wrong, but the way we’re going about it is certainly not 100% humane.
But is this a problem, really? Remixes, covers – these can be wonderful homages and re-expressions of art. Music is made to be enjoyed, and if these songs are being enjoyed and thus fulfilling their use of being someone’s soundtrack, what’s it to you or me?
Exclusively hand-picked just for you, by Jane.