Wednesday, March 27, 2013

You've Been Voted off the iPod

It is perfectly understandable if, after reading this Blog you've come to the conclusion that I only listen to classical.

You would however be incorrect.

See, while I love listening to Classical live for the atmosphere in the room -- the connection between anywhere from a single performer through a quartet or sextet up to a full hundred-member strong orchestra, when it's not live--in other words, in my car or at my desk--I actually prefer almost everything except classical. (On the other hand, it's been a long time since I've attended, much less enjoyed a non-classical concert, because the sound engineers tend to be rather deaf and think that "more bass" makes it sound better).

As a result my iPod is a carefully curated collection of 5,200 songs, 1114 albums, 781 artists, and 86 distinct genres. (If you're wondering about running time, according to iTunes that's just under 14 days if played end to end).

Song titles range from A-Hole (Bowling for Soup) and Aaj Ki Raat (Performed by Sonu Nigam, Mzhalxmi Iyer and Alisha Chinai from the Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack) to Zombie Me (No More Kings) and Zopf: Giles Farnaby's Dream (Penguin Cafe Orchestra). Numbers range from #1 (Nelly) to '92 Subaru (Fountains of Wayne) and 96,000 from the In the Heights original cast recording.

Each new entry to my iPod is carefully evaluated and earns a star rating from one to five stars. And a series of interlinked Smart Playlists helps to ensure that songs are rotated to avoid musical burnout. When a song is no longer "new", a song I've given the coveted five-star rating to may show up as often as once every two to three weeks, where a song that I've assigned the dreaded one-star rating to may only be heard, on average once every two years.

I am however, a cruel curator: Songs are regularly promoted or demoted on my whim, without leave for appeal or curatorial oversight.

When I received my first iPod, Christmas of 2004, it had a 20GB hard drive. And at the time I thought there's no way I'm ever going to fill this up. On September 16, 2008 I got my current iPod Touch, with 32GB of solid state flash memory. Once again I thought, "Even with apps, there's no way I'm ever going to fill this up". (Despite working in a corner of the software industry, I've never really gotten the App craze)

Despite no longer running the latest version of iOS, not having a camera (do I really need another device with a camera?), no longer having the greatest battery life, and having more than a few battle scars it's been by my side or in my laptop bag nearly every day since. And I haven't quite hit that 32GB ceiling. (The 20GB iPod, on the other hand has been maxed out for at least a couple years).

As a result, I've functioned with the premise that once I acquire a piece of music, it is never deaccessioned. In other words, my music collection has become somewhat of a roach motel -- what goes in never leaves.

Carefully considering a few additions to my collection this evening I noticed that the once unfathomable 32 gigabytes of music is rapidly approaching. This leaves me with two options.

Option 1: Buy a new 64GB iPod Touch so that my collection can grow without worry of being edited down. At $400 I have a hard time justifying the purchase to myself, especially since my current iPod still mostly works -- even if it is only the equivalent of a few Cleveland Orchestra concerts.

Option 2: Remove those songs that have earned the dreaded one-star rating from the collection to free room for new acquisitions. This just feels wrong on some level. Partially it's my inner pack rat but it clearly makes more sense economically and practically. So, Tyrese, I'm sorry you're I Like Them Girls, you are the first to have been voted off the iPod. I'm actually not entirely sure how you snuck in in the first place. I don't think you'll be missed.

If you're curious, and at the risk of embarrassing myself, the lucky new additions tonight are, in no particular order:

Josh Grobman: Brave from All that Echos. Really cool sound, nicely mastered, and a music video that kind of gave me chills for some reason I can't put my finger on (and made me miss doing live event/recording production). I kind of dream of seeing the Cleveland Orchestra team up with a pop artist ala The London Symphony Orchestra's Symphonic Rock

A Great Big World: Rockstar and others from A Great Big World (EP) and the single This Is the New Year. I found the EP after first discovering This Is The New Year, and I'm hooked. In both pieces the vocalists have a sound that I can only describe as honest and real. Aside from the crisp piano and nice mastering, the lyrics are catchy and move a story ("There's a girl in the tree top looking at the stars/Waiting for a touchdown comin' in from Mars/Thinkin' "is there anybody out there?"/There's a boy thinking of her playin' his guitar/Searching for the answer buried in his heart/Singin' "ah, ha ha, is there anybody out there?").

I feel slightly compelled to attempt to produce a promo video/ :60 for The Cleveland Museum of Art built around This Is the New Year -- having been woefully unimpressed by the "Discover Amazing" campaign -- but I'm afraid all I have is the creative vision. (I have a similar, if impractical vision associated with  Miike Snow's Black & Blue)

If they come to Cleveland, I'd probably be interested in hearing them live.

Jim Brickman: Good Morning Beautiful from Believe. Very light and bubbly, part of it's selection may be due to the proximity to Rachel and my second anniversary of dating.

Matt Hires: Restless Heart from Forever.  Not actually the biggest fan of the lyrics, but I think it will be a nice, fairly fast piece to wake me up when I'm working late, particularly through the driving guitar.

Passion Pit: Carried Away from Gossamer. This is just one of those somewhat addictive songs that show up in a commercial and just kind of get stuck in your head. Like ice cream on a hot summer day, you can't really help but to enjoy -- speaking of hot days, once the weather warms up, I have a feeling this will make it on to my "Run" play list.

Walk Off the Earth: Red Hands from the album R.E.V.O. The sudden tempo change at the beginning caught my attention, the initial gritty male vocal piqued my interest, and the soft female vocal standing in stark contrast roped me in. The chorus are chantable -- even if I'm not sure what to make of the meaning (That gun is loaded, but it's not in my hand/The fire burns, I'm not the one with the match, man/That gun is loaded, but it's not in my hand)

Since this is getting really long the remainders will pass without comment: Rebel Beat by the Goo Goo Dolls from the deluxe version of Magnetic;  It's Time by Imagine Dragons from Night Visions;  Closer by Tegan and Sara from Hearthrob; Hung Up by Hot Cheele Rae from the single of the same name; Just Give Me A Reason by Pink (featuring Nate Ruess) from The Truth About Love.


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