Quarter Life Crisis

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Arctic Monkeys

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All right, the whole Artic Monkey business has been coming upon us for a while. Yet another young British guitar band, with even more enjoyable songs. Hardly something I’d object to. To make things more interesting they’ve been hyped through the net for many months now and to top things off this hype was actually founded by the band having put a number of songs, demos, whatever, online for us to download and enjoy. This gained them many friends and now that the record has been released for real it shows that those friends will actually go and buy the record although they’ve already been listening to the songs from the web for a while.

And as things are, everybody is happy or even thrilled: The band will be (I guess), the fans are, the record company will be and the download zealots will be for sure. They’ll be saying ‘Woot, we did it!’, ‘Gosh, are they great!’, ‘Hmmm, big numbers in my spreadsheet!’, and ‘Hah, I’ve been telling people for years that downloads don’t kill music’.

I’ll try to mildly disagree with the latter point – or with where it’s coming from rather. Not only doesn’t it fit into that row of statement (too long, lack of exclamation mark, dull, …) but it’s missing the point. As everybody who is actually buying music – or even addicted to that pastime – will assure you without having to think for long: of course the music lover / avid collector will end up buying the record. There’s no question about that other than, possibly, an empty bank account.

All right, let me add one qualification to the statement about music lovers: They’ll need to love, like or at least temporarily enjoy the music to buy the record. If it’s a crappy record, chances are they won’t buy it and just trash the files they might have gotten from the internet because –well, they weren’t worth listening to anyway. So my – well hidden – point is that having non-trivial samples of a band’s songs on the web is a nice thing but it’s neither essential (just helpful) nor hurting a band’s success. Making enjoyable music remains the key to getting fans. So the next time someone tells you that the Arctic Monkeys are the proof for <random statement containing the words music and internet here>, you may be tempted to reply Whatever people say they are, that’s what they’re not and even vaguely remain on topic that way.

The band just makes enjoyable music. While I fail to see how their music is revolutionary as large parts of the web or even the ‘proper’ press claim, it is solidly good music. At least for those of us who have been enjoying the guitar bands of the past years. And if they have a certain charme and / or popular touch that makes them sell big numbers of records, then so be it.

While I enjoy many of their songs, I have to admit that I’m starting to be tired of their late 2005 single I bet you look good on the Dancefloor that seems to have been played too many times in too many clubs by now – without being good enough for that. On the other hand there are songs like A Certain Romance which are just excellent and have been listened to too many times by me so far (also check out the nice acoustic version!). Heck, a few months ago I didn’t even consider ‘tracky bottoms’ to be a valid expression and now you can buy them on eBay already. Time will tell how long my amusement with a song containing zeitgeistily amusing lyrics like there’s only music so that there’s new ringtones will last. Currently I’m optimistic.

Uh, and I have yet another T-Shirt idea for that song in mind… if only I were good at drawing!

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

January 27, 2006, 9:10

Tagged as music.

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