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Breaking out of the iPod bubble

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“Love of iPod” is not exactly an original sentiment. I’m coming up on two years of ownership of my 30 GB “video” iPod, which holds no video and, despite the presence of some audiobooks, I mostly see as a music machine. The house and car are finally arranged such that I can listen to it anywhere, sans earphones (which hurt my ears, and make me sound particularly insane when I sing along). I love the playlists—the ability to combine a subset of my 3500 songs according to genre, mood, theme, composer, quality, date…

But the downside, of course, is that you really limit your exposure to new artists and songs—ones you might well come to love and appreciate, if only you ever had a chance to listen to them.

Then again, even before iPod, I’d already mostly given up on radio stations that played new music, whose between-song patter and ads were clearly aimed a couple decades younger than me, and the music television stations, which seemed to be largely taken over with rap music. At least, with the iPod/iTunes store, I cheaply sample a song or two from a new (or new to me) artist, if it happens to reach my consciousness.

I haven’t deleted the “Purchased” playlist that the iPod software automatically places all your bought songs into. It becomes kind of a map into the music that has managed to break through the barriers of “the music I already own”. So what does manage to burst through?

Music from TV. (Just not from music TV.)

Most influential has to be the addictive reality shows Rock Star: INXS and Rock Star: Supernova, from which I have not only have I bought performances from the show itself, but also originals of what was covered, and songs by the performers on it. But there’s also a smattering of Canadian / American Idol, and even some influenced by dramatic series.

  • “Single” by Kalan Porter. The winner of the first season of Canadian Idol I watched most of, the judges kept commenting on his rich, mature voice. Though recognizing he was a good singer, I didn’t really grasp that quality of his voice until this song, which really plays that up from its opening notes. Hard to believe he’s only 17.
  • Nevermind by Nirvana. I had the Unplugged album already; Rock Star: INXS convinced me I need this one too.
  • “Wish You Were Here” by Marty Casey. A breakthrough moment in Rock Star: INXS, as Marty Casey sang this more melodically than anything he’d done previously, which helped carry him through to the final. Also a bit of a breakthrough for me, as I finally started to understand the mania for Pink Floyd, a band I’d previously dismissed as too dark. “Wish You Were Here” is beautiful, and some of their other stuff doesn’t suck, either.
  • “How to Save a Life” by the Fray. This song became so associated with Grey’s Anatomy that I actually thought it was the official theme song, and wondered why it didn’t play at the start of the show. Then it stuck in my head and I had to get it.
  • “Anything, Anything” by Dramarama. The wonderful Storm Large won her first encore on Rock Star: Supernova with her performance of this song, that I’d never heard of before. It’s a barn burner. (I also bought Storm’s own “Ladylike” single, a true feminist anthem.)
  • “California Dreamin'” by JD Fortune; “Baby One More Time” by Marty Casey. Two radical reinterpretations of these well-known songs reveal the creativity on display in Rock Star: INXS. In both cases, I think I like these better than the originals.
  • “Save the Last Dance for Me” by Ben E. King. I bought this because it was the soundtrack for Brian and Justin’s season 1 prom dance on Queer as Folk, and have developed an appreciation for just how sexy this song is, in its own right.

Others in this category: “Pretty Vegas” by INXS (their first single with winner J.D. Fortune), “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Suzy McNeil (a tour de force from the show), “Man Who Sold the World” by Jordis Unga (beautiful song, beautiful performance), “We Used to Be Friends” by the Dandy Warhols (Veronica Mars theme song), “Over My Head” by The Fray (since I liked their other song), Suzie McNeil’s Broken and Beautiful album (girl has pipes), and “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers (whom I suspect I should get more of).

On the dance floor

I don’t have a whole lot of pure dance albums, but I do love me a really good dance tune. Sometimes I first read about these; sometimes I caught a minute on MuchMusic after all; sometimes I heard it when out dancing at parties or weddings! “Mambo No. 5”, “Livin’ La Vida Loca”, “Hips Don’t Lie”, “Maneater”, “Can’t Get You out of My Head”…

But the ultimate has to be Great West’s “Home for a Rest”. Because that’s just what you need to do after dancing along to this infectious tune.

From when I used to listen to radio

“Laid” by James. I loved this song when I used to hear it on 102.1 (back when I still listened to that), but had a heck of time figuring out what the song and artist name were. When I finally found it, this became, like, the fourth song I bought for the iPod.

The only other one in this category, I think, is “Closing Time” by Supersonic.

The Grammy’s / The Junos

TV again, but in the specific genre of music awards.  These would have some influence over my owning some Shakira and Nelly Furtado (as previously mentioned), and definitely affected these purchases:

  • “Hey Ya!” by OutKast. He was really criticized for his “native American” theme here, but it kind of blew me away.
  •  “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. I don’t think he performed at the Oscars, did he? But he still won, and I love this song, and I don’t even know why, because it’s definitely rap.
  • “Hallelujah” by KD Lang. Gorgeous, gorgeous; I have two versions of this, live and studio. The lyrics just get me; I don’t understand them literally but they seem to reach right past the logic into the emotion. (I also bought a few more of her covers from Songs of the 49th Parallel.)
  • “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera. This was not a beautiful look period for her, but she really killed this song.
  • Green Day’s American Idiot album. It’s sort of punk/pop and kind of great.
  • “Not Ready to Make Nice” by the Dixie Chicks. Although, it was more the documentary than all the Grammies that had me buy this song.

One thought on “Breaking out of the iPod bubble

  1. Ive tryed to watch her show, I cant get past the first ten minuets.the words “dumbing down of America comes to mind” I stoped watching AI because of her.

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