November 4, 2005

The Rant

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One of the greatest injustices of new music technology is the invention of the Party Music Hijacker. I’m not talking about file-sharing or copyright law, but rather am concerned with a new trend of tampering with the conscious music choice of a party host. I’m talking about the guy who takes your iPod, while connected to the speakers, and systematically kills each song by not letting it finish. This is a high crime and needs further examination if we are ever to claim full control over the sonic ambience of our own environment.

Have you ever been to a gathering of people, (nay, a “party”), and suddenly the songs over the stereo start cutting off in the middle, corrupting the essential nature of each? At the crescendo of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” no boom, but silence. Somebody has changed the song. 50 Cent, then The Doors? Something is wrong. The flow has been shattered, and you get edgy. You tell yourself it must be a mistake. One quirk is forgivable. Your ears naturally adapt to whatever is playing, and after 30 seconds of the new song, you readjust.

Don’t get too comfortable, because whoever is at the helm has changed songs once again. You see him and his friend hovering over your computer, rifling through your CD’s, casually clicking your iPod, tasting and sampling each song at their own leisure, completely oblivious to the existence of other people. They are like children shoving dirty hands into buckets of candy, defiling the sweetness for the rest. Soon a new song appears every 10 seconds, and hell breaks loose.

It must stop. There is an implicit etiquette to being a houseguest, certain rules one carries when entering foreign territory. The obvious guidelines, such as ‘Don’t break, steal or set fire to anything’ are well understood. The more modest ‘Be considerate to their music choices’ may go unheeded. Some students at Cornell give a damn about what they listen to. For those without the means for a DJ, the “party mix” is a highly creative and meticulously thought-out piece of work, incorporating ideals of space, time and movement. This science, while highly relative and unique, is calculated.

To provide a painful example, I give you this: At a recent Halloween party, I devised the dorkiest mix I could. Anything vaguely relating to witches or death, fantasy or alter-egos went in (from Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt” to Sun Ra’s “I’m Gonna Unmask the Batman”). At the John William’s Superman theme song, somebody put on Gorillaz. Ouch.

So if you find that lonesome iPod fueling the party, let it be, my friend. Dozens of human beings are engaged with the music, have given themselves to it. For you to grab hold with mangy fingers the source of energy and life and torture everyone else with your impatience is extremely inconsiderate!

Ok! Let’s calm down, I’m getting whiny.

We can admit this much: the culprits are not entirely to blame. This heresy, in fact, is part of a larger epidemic sweeping young people everywhere. It is called Mp3 A.D.D. This disease is the manifestation of restlessness due to the easy accessibility of music. Managing Mp3’s is extremely simple. With a click you can navigate through thousands of songs in a second. This impatience is specific to our generation because older forms of music technology were less convenient. The large vinyl record had to be carefully placed on the turntable, and then the needle precisely dropped into the rivulet of the new song. Listening to music was not as easy as it is now.

In fact, its difficulty made listening to music an activity as opposed to a diversion. The time it took to prepare a song created an attachment between you and it. This symbiotic nature has definitely been lost with the ease of new technology.

Party Music Hijacking is Mp3 A.D.D. in the worst way. Because music has been made so accessible, certain partygoers no longer feel the need to invest in a full-length song, but are content to sample each and leave it behind, forming no connection and insulting the piece or work (much like popular music video formats on that “MTV” the kids are watching these days).

Not only is this attention-deficient person suffering a severe lack of musical patience, but he is inflicting this disease upon others as well, spreading the infection. It’s dangerous. Just try turning off “Like a Prayer” at a frat party. The sorority girls will rip your head off.

Archived article by Jonah Green
Sun Staff Writer