Blake’s Beats: The Microwave Society
Constant content doesn’t allow us to fully appreciate our music or other media
Blake Williamson is a junior journalism major who writes "Blake's Beats" for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Blake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Normally, a day where you get new albums from Earl Sweatshirt, The 1975 and Meek Mill would constitute a reason to rejoice.
But instead of being excited and celebratory, I find myself overwhelmed and unable to fully take in and digest the constant influx of new music.
In 2018, unfortunately, very few people had the time or the interest to just get lost in music. We live increasingly hectic lives, and with our collective brains constantly jumping from one thing to the next, we lose a little bit of the magic from the music.
We live a microwave society; we need to have everything immediately with no room for hesitation. Because of this, nothing has time to stick — to permeate and become part of us.
Advertisements are shot at us from every corner of the internet. Sometimes it really feels as if the music has become nothing more than a commodity; just space between the ad you always skip after five seconds.
When one of my favorite artists drops an album, I have a whole ritual for the optimal listening experience. The lighting has to be right. I have to be in a comfortable place where I can just get lost and envelop myself in what the artist has given me.
Unfortunately, I find myself just not being able to adequately consume music the way that I want to. I see it with my friends too. We just constantly race through the cycle of new releases so that we can get onto the next.
Albums are dropped, people send a couple tweets and declare it as good and bad within a day or two, then it’s on to the next. We always want more.
The things that came out in January of this year feel like they were released a lifetime ago. With a few simple clicks, our libraries grow and grow and it is so difficult for something to stand out from the pack.
Despite this, there are definitely still albums released this year that will prove to stand the test of time. Albums like Pusha T’s “Daytona,” Saba’s “Care for Me,” Smino’s “Noir,” or Kanye and Kid Cudi’s “Kids See Ghosts.”
The music on these is thought provoking and will be listened to and enjoyed for years. They are deeply personal, colorful and poignant. What makes them most special is their individuality. They exist on their own and have their own quirks that keep me coming back to them.
Finding those distinct pieces of work has become harder and harder for me. As much as I love the thrill of the hunt, sometimes it can feel like a chore.
This is not just happening with our music, though. It happens in our TV shows, our movies, even our news programs. Scrolling through Netflix is often a daunting task — how can anybody decide what to watch when there’s a hundred recommendations in every category?
With so much content and so little time, what can become truly timeless?
Admittedly, I contribute to the problem; I subscribe to Apple Music and other content streaming services and I find myself adding an album, listening to a couple tracks and then moving on to the next hot thing.
My feed is updated everyday with the app itself telling me what I should listen to. So I mindlessly add an album and maybe I’ll get around to it, but inevitably it will get lost in the shuffle.
It’s not that there was more music in 2018 than in years past, it is just that our access to it has never been greater. It is a double-edged sword.
On one side, it’s great because you can be listening to the latest and hottest hip-hop album, and then at a moment’s notice you can be listening to some obscure Swedish prog-rock song from the 70s.
With this access to music, it can become like the episode of “Spongebob” with the fake Krabby Patty: just so much filler. The listener is left looking for the substance, and finding this substance is becoming more strenuous as our technology rapidly evolves.
I fear that our music will soon be nothing more than a file in the cloud that is appreciated for 30 minutes then forgotten.
I don’t want my music to be a microwaveable TV dinner: quick, easy and continual with no sustenance.
This is so much easier said than done, though.
How can we escape when the world’s biggest music library sitting in our pockets at all times? Can our music truly be cherished if it relies on a good wifi signal just to be heard? These are both big questions, ones that I unfortunately have no answer for. I don’t know if the microwave will ever be unplugged and I really don’t know what the future holds.
But I know I will continue to seek out and discover new music.
Finding stuff that touches my soul, that opens my eyes and makes me think. That music is out there. By finding these pieces of art, and supporting them in other ways than downloads, music will always remain in a safe place. The goal is to take the music back, make it ours instead of a platform’s.