For the past few years or so, I've been in a tortured love affair with the two most vociferous presences in my life: music and social media. While the first is proclaimed dying, broken, or simply dead-broke, the latter is gaining ground at a lightning-fast-4G-LTE-triple-play speed. Despite this internal feud, it seems that the two have come to find a common ground in what has become my arch-nemesis -- House Music. I'm not talking nu-age electronica, with subtly recurring beats and distorted melodies. I'm talking predictable, repetitive d-d-d-d-d-drop the bass bangers I hear in clubs and basements all across the eastern seaboard.
Both assert their own legitimacy as the new creative outlet of the 21st century, and not without reason. I'd be lying if I said I'd never decided to take the dogs on a hike partly because I might get that golden-hour Instagram, heralding 50, 60, maybe even 100 seals of approval. House music seems to compile these delightful blips into concentrated beats, double-timing and rising in scale until they explode into a frenzy of wide-eyed dopamine.
Thus, the Drop is born. Delivering a kind of instant, if uninspired satisfaction that we so long for in an age where we live in constant fear of falling behind. It shoots out just as we pull the trigger on our Instagram feeds, swiping down in hopes of finding some Lo-Fi'd fall foliage, desperate for more of the same. We substitute longer captions with emojis just we shy away from revealing lyrics. We laugh between likes at a @thefatjewish meme, then continue on in our fruitless search for something juicy enough to flood our lungs with the same breathlessness we experience in the frozen pause just before Tiëstos' chorus.
Music now has a shelf life maybe a tenth as long as it used to. Songs live on only in remixes, trapped in Soundcloud, The Cloud, etc. waiting for four weeks of glory in semi-social circles. And no, I'm not writing this from a room full of wrinkly rock posters, claiming the entire music scene is a sham. My radio show runs the gamut, from Talking Heads to Chance the Rapper to HAIM, the works. And I really did give Deep House a fair chance. If I were dating house music, the effort I put in rivaled that of that 'might-be-gay-but-I'm-too-afraid-to-ask' guy who took you out on a few less than perfect dinners, and finally decided it was in both of your bests interests not to waste each others time.
But what happened to the music that makes me want to weep? To fall on my knees and submit blindly to my most carnal desires and emotions? These songs get tossed aside into the 'indie' and 'alternative' categories, destined to drown in a sea of B-list music blogs because Viceroy's just come out with a MUST-HEAR house BANGER to "getting' Jiggy with it."
Such a movement could only exist in this infantile millenium. Information moves faster, deadlines are shorter, meaning in condensed into 140 characters. In fact, hats off to you, if you've made it this far into this article. Nobody has time to sort through the chords of a five-minute power ballad. So we find the part of the song everyone can anticipate, agree upon, and exploit it.
To me, it all seems like a part of our generation's dying sense of individuality and passion. It's way easier to comment on your love for EDM than it is to admit you'd rather listen to Animal Collective because it dissects your most potent regrets, or that Purity Ring makes you want to lay on the floor naked in the dark feeling abandoned and emboldened at the same time. Our generation checks our phones an average of 43 times per day. We see the same photos, often from the same small percentage of the people we follow, yet we still derive some kind of satisfaction; tell ourselves we're learning something from the ceaseless repetition. I'm not preaching asceticism, nor do I plan to take every uninspired DJ to task. I think that both electronic music and social media have extraordinary powers to teach us skills and theories about creative efficiency that will bind us to our generation in the most positive way. But we owe it to ourselves to admit that maybe there's a part of us that would rather confront our misgivings than bury them deep in a Drop or a Like. It's up to us to make the meaning, to break the cycle. Not just to refresh, but to reinvent.