mar 15

Face the Muzak

In The Clash ... Goin' Up?, The Observer looks at the pervasiveness of music in daily life. "Do we even listen to music anymore? Or is it all just sinking into the background, surrounding us like air-conditioning?" (The "history of Muzak" story comes out at least once a year [The New Yorker's lengthy example from a couple years ago], but this one ties in some iPod theory.)

1 comment

I think there's a couple of interesting things going on here:
1) One is that this has a lot to do with the fragmentation of pop culture - i.e. to appeal to people's 'long tail tastes' you have to, as a marketer/restaurant owner whatever, use the same mentality; however, it's the same fragmentation that evacuates music of its counter-cultural potential 'cause there's never enough of a base to resist anything. Besides, even if you could get a million people together, how in the late-capitalist ethos of "everyone is a unique individual", could you ever get everyone to agree? And what would you resist if you could agree? Capitalism, the very thing that gives people their individuality?
2) There's something very powerful about the moment-set-to-music. If one of the reason music 'works' is because of its capacity to speak things language or images can't, then that makes sense. But I do wonder to what extent this isn't now some massive social form of branding which uses the cultural signifiers of music to create associations with products or destinations - that New York has in some weird way become a Grey's Anatomy episode.

posted by Nav at 5:54 PM on March 16, 2008

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