Saturday, January 30, 2016

PC Music

The more I think about pop music, the more uncomfortable I get. Why is it so easy to like pop music? Why is pop music so popular? Is it because everyone happens to have similar music preferences? Or is it because our brains are wired in such a way that certain sound structures are more pleasing than others? If our brains are wired to like pop music, is it not a little concerning that there is a massive industry taking advantage of our unconscious gravitation toward these sounds? And then there's the psychological effect music has on a person. People can't help but define their self-identity around music. They dress a certain way, talk a certain way, even get tattoos of their favorite lyrics because of the effect music has on them. If music is manufactured by corporations taking advantage of our brains' reactions to certain sounds, do we really have a self identity at all? Is that manufactured as well? Am I anything more than what I purchase?

Then I distract myself with some Ariana Grande and I feel much better.

There is a music label called PC Music that is making music that perfectly embodies this duality in pop music, simultaneously pleasing and disconcerting. They crystallize pop music into it's most basic form: instantly pleasing, comfortable, and fun. However, they strip something else away in the process: the music's very humanity. PC Music lives in this fascinating "uncanny valley" that is somewhere between human and artificial. Imagine if a computer generated a love song. Does a computer understand what love is? Even if the music hit all the right notes, it would still feel empty in some way.

My two favorite artists on this label are Hannah Diamond and SOPHIE. Hannah is incredibly sweet. Here she is fantasizing about meeting boys in person after building them up in her head after viewing their online profiles.

And SOPHIE makes wickedly fun trap and dance songs with chipmunk female vocal samples laid on top. Had I heard SOPHIE's PRODUCT last year, it would have easily been in my top 5 albums of the year. It's so fucking good.

However, my favorite aspects of PC Music are the fan-made videos I've found on youtube that perfectly express the weird cute-yet-harrowing nature of this music. Here are my favorites:

Sufficiently weirded out? That's ok. We still have Ariana Grande.