Tuesday, July 13, 2004

One-Hit Wonderland

Last Sunday was a good day, a day of flying kites, tossing frisbees, eating sandwiches and muffins, and hanging out with wonderful friends. You know this, of course; you were there. :) And as you know, I ended up asking ten year-old Zo what his favorite band is. "Weezer," he said. (Whoa, I thought). What about your second favorite band? "Manic Street Preachers," he answered. And the third? He thought for a moment, then decided: "The Beatles."

I was impressed. If someone had asked me the same question when I was ten, I probably would have answered: General Public, maybe Spandau Ballet, and finally, probably A-ha (bands that, as we all know, have had a deep and lasting influence on popular music and are still extremely relevant today -- har har). Not half as nice a list. Of course, Zo has the advantage of having a mom with cool listening habits. :) Or, to put it another way, he has a great tour guide.

I remember that when I first started buying music on my own (or rather, when I first started telling my parents what I wanted -- I was not earning my own money then), I had this sense, of music having a geography of sorts. There were fairly well-defined areas, and places to visit. My brother and I lived in Pop City, where all the music of the moment was broadcast, all of the 80s cheese and glory, from Madonna to Michael Jackson. Over there was Beatles-land: a very popular location, almost a tourist trap, but no less a must-see for that. (Kuya and I eventually traveled there via Beatles Ballads, not a proper album but still containing enough good songs to make us staunch admirers). Our parents lived in the Old Music, a place we would visit by listening to their tapes of Frank Sinatra and Manhattan Transfer and the Ray Coniff singers when they were at work. In the distance were islands belonging to the Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Who, the Rolling Stones. I always meant to explore those places more thoroughly, but I ended up spending more time hanging out in the realms of Queen and David Bowie.

The Music World, as far as my young self could see (and hear), was, ultimately, manageable. I think I believed that I would eventually get around to hearing everything worthwhile. As I got older, though, listening to music -- along with everything else -- got a little more complicated. Bands came and went. Different genres and subgenres (and their attendant subcultures) reared their heads. Not everything good led to an island or city or state, sometimes a captivating tune just led to barren wastelands. (One started to define a personal One-Hit Wonderland, where one could confine all those misleading songs). I was probably in college when I figured, what the hell, it was no use mapping the world of music any longer. I would never see (or hear) all of it in my lifetime. I just had to trust that my travel guides -- music magazines, music video shows, friends' recommendations -- would keep me informed of any areas that deserved my attention. I had to accept that it would always be a world of fragments, and not the neat consistent landscape I once imagined.

Anyway, speaking of my bro, I've been putting together some mix CDs, for his store. It'll probably be a series instead of just one disc... KYCSmix.one will contain upbeat indie-pop stuff (Death Cab for Cutie, Stars, Shelleyan Orphan, Narda, Boldstar, etc), the second will have a soul/hip-hop selection (The Roots, India.Arie, Common, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, etc), the third will have dancey, happy stuff (B-15 Project, Daft Punk, The Avalanches, Basement Jaxx, etc), and I'm still thinking of what the fourth CD should have. Four or five CDs total should be good enough. I'm not sure if the music will induce massive spree purchasing amongst customers, but maybe at the very least it'll cause them to linger a little longer in the store. :)

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