Just a little placeholder post before more in-depth analysis of the shifting political landscape.
Because Trump's finale of the Reagan era was terminated artificially through election theft, and not through an organic realignment of the parties and voters, the current admin is an uneasy interregnum before true realignment occurs and ushers in a new era. Everyone but the most out-of-touch libtards can sense the instability during this supposed "end of our national nightmare," which everyone knows is only just beginning.
The dread and anxiety is still there, because the decapitation of Trump and the GOP has only left a power vacuum, which all sectors of society with even an ounce of life left in them are going to wage war in order to fill. That is no less true on the left half of society, who are just as fractured as they were less than a year ago, during a bitterly divisive primary.
Indeed their divisions and lack of enthusiasm were key factors in their defeat at the ballot box. Rigged elections can win the struggle for power between parties, but cannot force unity on the factions within the winning party. Now they all know that the only reason they won was the urban machine elites stuffing ballot boxes, and the intel agencies hijacking social media platforms.
So there will be no spoils doled out except to those entities -- not to the still apathetic Millennials, let alone Zoomers, not to the Bernie bros and babes, not to Independents, not to private-sector labor unions. And crucially, not to any non-white ethnic group other than those in the top of the relevant sectors -- Talented Tenth blacks in Democrat machines, Brahmins in the intel agencies and their social media appendages, but not Hispanics, nor most East Asians.
Libtard elites aside, everyone could use a little resilience music today. It's another visit from a Manic Pixie Dream Girl fave, Avril Lavigne, from the last restless warm-up phase of the excitement cycle (late 2000s). Not that it matters so much, but it's a relief to see her not wading into politics throughout the entire electoral cycle -- not during the BLM / Antifa riots, not the general election, not the inauguration, or anything else. One of the few in the entertainment sector to not have sullied her purity by politicizing her material.
Here's looking to another free-spirited nurturer born in the early '80s manic phase, Tulsi Gabbard, as we enter the downward spiral of this anarchic interregnum.
January 20, 2021
Just a little placeholder post before more in-depth analysis of the shifting political landscape.
January 15, 2021
So many of the ongoing themes of this blog going on here in the new music video by Pale Waves --
Everyone recognizes the Avril Lavigne influence, but it's hard to place when. The sparse instrumentation and mellow vocal energy during the verse is like her songs from 2002-'04, but then the chorus explodes and soars, and it no longer sounds like the early 2000s at all. The tone is way too uplifting and feel-good to belong to the bummed-out early 2000s. More like "Smile" from the early 2010s, and the non-pop-punk song of hers from the late 2000s, "Keep Holding On".
The "mellow verse, intense chorus" contrast is characteristic of the restless warm-up phase of the excitement cycle, when people need to be shaken out of their slumber and forced to get moving. During the early 2000s, it was a refractory phase, and most people wanted to grumpily lay in bed under a protective pile of blankets after the alarm clock had gone off. So it's more like a song from the late 2000s or the early '90s. Something between "I Touch Myself" by Divinyls and "Head Over Feet" by Alanis Morissette.
I immediately thought the lads-and-lesbians crowd would love this one (not so much the girls-and-gays crowd, who likely find it sappy and corny). Sure enough, the singer is a lesbian. They love singing about love, and bonding to just one person, much like their lad counterparts who have a low body count, sensitive nature, and preference for cozy intimacy rather than abject copulation. The cozy groypers from Twitter, and the cottagecore girls from Tumblr and TikTok.
tfw no wholesome goth lesbian bff
But that crowd is painfully awkward at the flirtation and mating-dance-ritual stage of interaction, so their music is not very dance-driven or club-located. One of the funniest things that lesbian TikTok showcases is their inability to take the physical initiative even when they're literally face-to-face. Their foreheads are touching, they're putting on their best seductive eye-narrowing gaze, and yet neither one can bring herself to give the other the slightest peck on the cheek. Lesbian bed death, before they're even in bed. Not because they're avoidant, though -- they love cuddling and all that other intimate stuff. It's adorkable.
The setting for the music video is straight out of cottagecore Tumblr or cozy groyper Twitter as well. In contrast to gays, lesbian aesthetics are consciously anti-metropolitan -- like gays, they live in a densely packed urban shithole, but unlike gays, they pine for a return -- or at least a regular respite -- to a pastoral, idyllic environment. This is true for the music videos of the other singles from their upcoming album Who Am I? ("Change" and "She's My Religion").
After all, intimacy and pair-bonding is not possible in faceless urban cores, while anonymous promiscuity is. And so, cities are magnets for gays and high-body-count girls, but lesbians only converge there reluctantly to find each other, and would rather retreat to a charming small town once they found a gf or wife.
One final impression: the Pale Waves singer was born in the manic phase of the second half of the '90s, a cohort who are starting to stand out more in pop culture (especially as Twitch streamers). Not really the chaotic wild-child type born in the restless phase of the early '90s, and not the sad-girl type born in the vulnerable phase of the early 2000s -- they're more happy-go-lucky, emotionally resilient, and socially autonomous / healthy attachment style (preferring company, but neither clingy like the restless phase births, nor avoidant like the vulnerable phase births). They remind me of my fellow early '80s births (including Avril herself), who were born during a manic phase.
However, they're likely going to grow to resemble those born during another manic phase -- the late '60s births, who turned 25 in the early '90s, which the current zeitgeist is going to resemble more than the late 2000s or the late '70s (all restless warm-up phases). This is because a full cycle alternates between a high-energy and a low-energy state, and the 2005-2019 cycle was high-energy, so the cycle that's just begun in 2020 (and lasting through 2034) will be a more chill and laid-back cycle overall, just like the 1990-2004 cycle.
But the late '90s girls are a topic for another post.
January 11, 2021
"Driver's License" by Olivia Rodrigo: The confessional reconciliation anthem signaling end of refractory phase of excitement cycle
At the end of 2019 I explored a type of song that appears at the transition between the refractory phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, and the restless warm-up phase that follows. It's part of the broader zeitgeist of the end of "don't approach me" hyper-sensitivity, and coming out of your shell to reconnect with others, especially the opposite sex.
The lyrics are confessional in tone, reflecting on a past relationship that went bad. But unlike a typical torch song, where the singer is mainly mourning their loss in solitude, here they're making a bold direct address to their former lover, proposing to reconcile and to renew their relationship.
The music is mostly dream-pop -- layers of droning and sighing voices, whether human or instrumental -- which prevails during the previous refractory phase, when people are only in the mood to float through an ethereal expanse by themselves. Now that the mood has changed, and people are getting restless, there's a greater desire for melodic hooks and a driving beat, in contrast to the focus on harmony and a languid beat during the vulnerable phase.
Also like the other examples, the key is major, rather than the minor-key tonality that prevails during the preceding vulnerable phase, suggesting a turn toward the hopeful now that people are no longer in a refractory state.
Read that post for a fuller analysis, and for links to earlier discussion of dream pop's role throughout the excitement cycle.
The major examples are "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt and "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis from the late 2000s, "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor and "One More Try" by Timmy T from the early '90s, "Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore and "Dream Weaver" by Gary Wright from the late '70s, and "I'm Sorry" and "Break It To Me Gently" both by Brenda Lee from the early '60s.
I predicted this type of song would see a new example in the early 2020s, as this phase transition takes place again. They aren't very numerous, but they're so recognizable and distinctive of their era, that they don't have to have dozens of examples. You'll identify it immediately upon hearing it.
Sure enough, the other day YouTube recommended me a trending music video for "Driver's License" by Olivia Rodrigo, and I instantly knew this was the one for the current restless phase. It's rapidly taking over streaming platforms globally, so like the other examples from similar phases, it will be one of the defining songs of the early 2020s.
Overall it's most similar to "Nothing Compares 2 U," although closer to "You're Beautiful" and "Bleeding Love" in minute stylistic details, due to those two coming from a more recent restless phase.
Lyrically, it's different from a torch song in directly addressing her former lover, proposing to reconcile not only their past troubles, but also to move beyond the fact that he's found someone new in the meantime. She's making an offer to revive their relationship, not just whine and mope alone about her heartbreak, the rejection, etc., which belong in the past.
Musically, it's defined by layers of droning and sighing voices, both instrumental and human, and an overall feel of floating through emptiness, as in a dream. And yet unlike a typical dream pop song, the vocal delivery is neither languid nor hyper-sensitive / distancing. It's earnest, bold, soulful, and sending itself off on a melodic rollercoaster during the chorus.
The beat is also not the typical plodding rhythm of vulnerable-phase dream pop -- it starts with no percussion, then introduces a skipping-rhythm clickity-clack, adds a persistent marching-step or running-rhythm bass drum during the second verse, and a backbeat during the second chorus. That development is more like stirring awake from a dream and getting your body moving at the start of your day, not continuing to sleep or lie in bed under a pile of blankets in a heroin-like daze.
The vocal takes on a percussive role as well during the peak line of the chorus -- "I guess you didn't mean what you wrote in that song about me" -- where you can feel the force on each of the stressed syllables. There are two unstressed syllables before the stressed ones, giving it a galloping rhythm and adding to the impression of not sleeping or laying around, but single-mindedly advancing toward a target to confront them.
The bridge is the most purely dream-pop section, and by itself sounds like it could have come from the late 2010s. That has the effect of making their past feel more dream-like, mellow, and ideal, in contrast to the somewhat painful awkwardness of stirring awake and trying to reconcile and restart their relationship in the present, which characterizes the other sections of the song.
After the hazy dreamy bridge, you may be yearning for a dramatic pay-off, both to complete the rising physical tension developed throughout the song, but also to satisfy the lyrical theme -- resting assured that their reconciliation and renewal is going to be a smashing success. But that's not where they, or we, are at right now in the 15-year excitement cycle. The singer is just stirring awake, and making a bold proposal seemingly out of nowhere. It will take a little while for the other side to process what's going on, and for both of them to figure out the way forward.
So the resolution has to be a low-key subsiding of tension -- the pause after a bold proposal as one side awaits the other's response, not the dissipation of that tension altogether. The fact that it's only a pause means there is still unresolved tension, and it leaves us yearning -- but that's precisely how this process feels, before the other side has had time to think it over and respond. It's not like a cliffhanger ending in a TV series that is never followed up on, so we don't feel upset at the less than 100% resolution. We recognize that that's just how this process goes, and we'll have to wait somewhat anxiously to see how the other side responds.
This is an instant "lads and lesbians" classic, to touch on another recent theme around here. Definitely not for "girls and gays". Not only pining for an ex, but actually contacting them to revive the relationship because you two were meant to be together. I have no clue whether Olivia Rodrigo is a literal lesbian, or one of the straight girls who fits in with the L&L crowd. Heavy channeling of Taylor Swift hints that she's not just a spiritual lesbian, though.
At any rate, glad to know that we've reached another milestone in the transition out of the #MeToo refractory phase, and into the restless warm-up phase. Like the other examples from the past, I doubt this will go down as one of the best songs of its time, but its role is more than aesthetic -- spurring forward the nascent process of coming out of your shell, after holing up during five years of hyper-sensitivity.
January 1, 2021
Oh, just reflecting on the passage of time while moderately buzzed on New Year's Day, and of online culture in particular (where increasingly more of our "interactions" take place, sadly). Remembered the craze of "fuck yeah Tumblrs" circa 2009-2010, before they invented hashtags, and each theme had its own Tumblr account.
In effect, the character string "fuckyeah" served as the tag-marker before the theme's name -- no different from the # symbol, just a bit longer and more earnest and over-the-top and quirky, like everything else of that time.
See the WaPo's early retrospective on the phenomenon, from 2015.
We're going through a late 2000s revival now, so why not take this up again? It's worth reviving for nostalgia value itself, but also to archive things that have been otherwise erased from the public record since the 2010 heyday. And also to celebrate things that were not the object of celebration back then -- like online culture.
In 2010, the "fuck yeah" topics were all offline (pizza, the Glee TV show, etc.). With so much culture creation and consumption taking place online, there's a need for a whole new class of fan-based micro-blogs.
fuckyeahheatherhabsburg.tumblr.com -- how is this not taken? We could also ask that about the woman herself. :)
It's harder to preserve online culture, compared to other media, because so much now is on platforms whose accounts can be privated, deactivated, or suspended, and their whole history just vanishes in a puff of digital smoke.
You'd have to rely on second-hand copies of the long-lost original...
Don't make us do it, Heather and Alison, just reincarnate as a blog and your posting career can be public without getting piled on by toxic retards (simply moderate your comment section).
December 21, 2020
An ongoing non-ironic joke with the Red Scare podcast hosts and their audience is that the show is primarily for "girls and gays". As with all things feminist, there's no such all-encompassing group as "girls" -- they mean a certain subset of them. Urbanite, transplants, high body count by age 30, open to experimenting with drugs, living in squalor, glorifying abjection, and so on and so forth. That creates a large overlap with how gays live, so they're two peas in a pod.
This primary filter leads to a secondary one for the straight guys who take part in the fanbase -- they're also urbanite transplants aiming for a high body count by age 30, will have few / no children, open to drugs, etc., and are looking to shack up with the girls in the primary audience. To the extent their lifestyles are similar, they may share cultural tastes, which can serve as conversation fodder in between episodes of abject hook-ups.
In contrast to this fast-living demographic, there's another mix of hetero and homosexuals of different sexes, who are more in the slow-living lane -- call them "lads and lesbians". As with all things MRA-ist, there's no such all-encompassing group as "guys" or "men" -- this would be a certain subset of them. Suburban, small town, rural, or unwilling urbanites. Low body count / volcel, aiming to have a lifelong pair bond and several children. Preferring natural vices like satiating meals and dancing rather than artificial ones like drugs. Living in charming coziness, eschewing abjection. That makes them overlap enough in lifestyle with lesbians for them to share a sub-culture.
(Yes, I know the term "lad" has the fast-living connotation, but it has to be alliterative with "lesbian" to counterbalance "girls and gays". "Dudes and dykes" is too rude to forge an alliance. "Guys and gal-lovers" sounds too forced. Maybe "lads and lezzies" for a more informal, gently negging tone.)
With that primary filter in place, a secondary one would select for straight girls who were interested in such guys as boyfriends, husbands, and fathers of their children. Girls from a similar demographic.
Just as the (certain subset of) girls need to be able to vibe with their gay friends, these guys would have to be a subset of their sex who could vibe with lesbians. Most lesbians aren't that butch, so we're talking guys who are not high-energy dominant go-getters, nor the attention-seeking type who were the class clown, life of the party, lead singer, or other entertainer. Sensitive, introspective, empathetic, self-effacing, social harmony over individual ambition.
If it were a podcast about politics, without any irony I would sum up a potential co-host pair as Michael Tracey and Tulsi Gabbard. (I'm not 100% sure she's lesbian, but after looking into their distinct characteristics this year, it seems more likely than not. The point being that the woman would at least have to strongly ping your lezdar.)
And although there are lots of guys in this mold on the left (especially the trad-Caths), I'd wager a majority of the groypers (the original kind) are of this type as well. Like Red Scare, this project would have to be heterodox enough to attract people from both sides of the spectrum. For instance, this one would be more SWERF-y and TERF-y (feminists opposed to sex work and to men-pretending-to-be-women hijacking the LGBTQ discourse and policies).
Then again, maybe the hosts would be only straight guys, who could attract a large enough lesbian following to brand themselves as "lads and lesbians," in a mirror-image of Red Scare. "Tfw no tradwife gf" guys, and cottagecore girls (straight or lesbian).
I'm not even sure the focus would be mainly politics or cultural commentary. These guys and their lesbian fellow travelers are less cerebral than usual for the media / entertainment sector. There would be more of a focus on the crafts, not only the arts, and practical rather than theoretical concerns. Artisanal cooking (of your own), vintage clothing, antique books, DIY home maintenance, folk music and dance, weightlifting and sports rather than cardio, all that calm and cozy stuff. And since lesbians generally do not have big boobs, this would be a rare case of butt girls having a room of their own in the discourse, which is dominated by cerebral boob girls.
The intro song would not be electronic dance club oriented, but combining folk, indie, rock, heart-on-sleeve sincerity, desire for intimacy, yet falling back on moody pining from afar -- something by Mazzy Star. (In retrospect, Hope Sandoval gives pretty strong lesbian vibes.) If more mainstream, Taylor Swift from 2010-'14 (her lesbianism is an open secret). Hard to think of better uniters of slow-living sensitive guys, sensitive girls, and lesbians in particular.
It wouldn't have to be a podcast, of course -- too many of those damn things anyway. YouTube show, livestream, group blog, or other "long-form" and episodic format, with fans reacting ideally on a site of their own (forum, blog comments section, etc.), or if not, a sub-culture on Tumblr (God forbid the gatekeeped sites of Twitter or Reddit).
I contain multitudes, and would not be the target audience -- I'd be split between the grinding to Charli XCX in a dance club audience of Red Scare and the lap-cat by the fireplace audience of the Lads and Lezzies show. So there are probably some other common factors to be pointed out, and I'll add them in the comments as they occur to me. Leave your own as well.
December 18, 2020
Looking over the top 100 songs for 2020, I was struck yet again by how much rap there is. I've noticed this for the past several years, and figured I was just out of touch with that area of pop music, since I don't listen to rap radio stations, don't know anyone who's really into rap, and don't go to clubs that play rap. Still, it just seemed like a growing presence that was not my cup of tea.
But having studied the seismic shift that streaming has had on the music culture, I can finally make some sense of it. Rap is in fact a niche genre, with a few crossover hits to mainstream audiences. However, the media elites who construct the chart formulas have put their thumb on the scale in order to over-emphasize rap's popularity and influence, at the expense of truly popular genres like pop, country, and dance.
The formal trick they use is giving substantial weight to streaming stats, which do not distinguish between breadth vs. depth of exposure. And popularity is about breadth of exposure across the entire music-listening population, not the depth of devotion among fans who expose themselves repeatedly to the song, as opposed to casual fans who expose themselves to it far fewer times.
So if you too were wondering why there's so much emphasis on rap in the media, you weren't crazy. It's another example of woke representation practices, meant to buy off the "talented tenth" of African-Americans, who get employment in the entertainment sector, and placate the bottom 90% of them with cultural cred -- rather than the entertainment and media elites using their high status to lobby the Democrats into providing desperately needed public goods and services.
* * *
First, a clarification -- the Billboard charts are a product of the media sector, not entertainment. The record labels produce the music, the artists perform it, and various other channels distribute it to the audience (radio stations, clubs, streaming platforms, etc.). Billboard is more of a trade publication than a cultural commentary one, but it's still part of the media sector, albeit the entertainment-focused media.
So, this is not a case of the production side making a ton of rap songs that nobody wants to listen to. Nor is it the distributors taking a niche genre and foisting it on users of their platforms like YouTube, radio stations, and so on. Those two sides are too driven by the cold, hard laws of supply & demand to attempt to deliver a bunch of stuff that is largely unwanted.
However, the media who describe and comment on entertainment are under no such constraints. Or rather, their supply & demand laws are different because their audience is not listeners of music per se, but readers of music-themed discourse. Their audience wants to read takes, and spit out takes of their own, which is orthogonal to what types of music they enjoy listening to.
It's perfectly possible, then, for Billboard to mischaracterize the state of supply & demand in the music industry, if doing so will satisfy the cravings of discourse junkies. It would be wrong to call this "foisting" their narrative onto the music-listening public, because the typical music fan probably never looks at the Billboard charts. Those who do consume media commentary on music, though, evidently eat up the narrative about how influential rap is, so the media outlets are not foisting the misleading description onto their audience either -- they're just supplying the demand for a certain narrative.
But if you do want an overall accurate picture of what the zeitgeist is like, out of curiosity, just bear in mind that the media chart creators can and do rig the outcome in order to please their target audience above all else. It won't be totally outta whack, since such a picture would not even be plausible, and the audience wants the illusion of reality as well as the ideologically soothing distortions. Still, something to take into account.
* * *
Now, the basic problem. For the 2020 Hot 100 chart, I count 30-some rap songs. Not a majority, but still a sizable share. And to anyone who's been in touch with music this year, way too many. What gives?
Well, the Hot 100 chart is actually made up of several component charts. The three with heaviest weighting are sales of singles (i.e. digital downloads), radio airplay, and streaming plays. As of 2013, these carry weightings of 35-45%, 30-40%, and 20-30%, respectively, and the weightings change week to week.
The shifting weekly weightings is the first obvious sign that the chart creators are using these stats to rig the desired outcome, otherwise the weightings would stay the same in order to judge all songs by the same set of standards. In one week, one weighting will accomplish the goal of maximizing rap at the expense of pop, dance, and country, while a different weighting will be needed for another week, since each week's batch of songs perform somewhat differently relative to one another.
For example, if the sales stats favor pop over rap by a huge amount in week 1, and to a lesser degree in week 2, then the chart-riggers will have to give a lower weight to sales in week 1 than in week 2.
Let's turn to Billboard's Digital Songs sales chart, of which their website lists only the top 75. For the 2020 chart, I count about 10 of the rap songs that are also on the Hot 100 chart, and several others that are not. Scaling that to a list of 100 by sales, that would be about 15-20 rap songs -- in other words, only half as many as actually appear on the Hot 100 chart.
Not only is rap less pervasive on the sales chart, but big hit songs you've been hearing all year do in fact show up, while they're mysteriously missing from the Hot 100 chart. "Kings and Queens" by Ava Max, "Midnight Sky" by Miley Cyrus, and "Stupid Love" by Lady Gaga in the dance genre. "Lover" and "Cardigan" by Taylor Swift in the adult contempo genre. And a slew of country songs I don't recognize because I'm not in the target demographic. Again, that's only for the 75 songs listed on their website; if they had a full list of 100, there would be more staples of the zeitgeist in those genres that were kept out of the Hot 100.
When I looked over the sales chart, it felt 10 times more familiar than what's listed on the Hot 100 chart. And that's not just from what I seek out deliberately -- it's from what I hear in any public place that plays music, what's on while changing radio stations, what's popular on Tik Tok trends, what a popular streamer like Pokimane plays in the background while chatting, what anyone is talking about, what online memes refer to... literally every source of pop culture other than the music media itself.
There is a heavy overlap between the sales and Hot 100 charts, since the big-picture narrative from the Hot 100 chart cannot be totally divorced from reality. Still, it's striking how disoriented a normal music listener -- who doesn't care about woke ideology being reflected in the list -- would get from there being a sizable minority of fake rap songs shoehorned in, and the same number of actually popular dance / pop / country songs erased from the record.
* * *
As for radio airplay, Billboard doesn't list their top 100 songs online, but by genre it must reflect the distribution of radio station listenership size by genre (called a "format"). See Nielsen's overview of the top radio formats at the end of 2019.
There is no dedicated rap or hip-hop format, but they are included under the urban contemporary and (to a lesser degree) the urban adult contemporary formats. So however well those formats do, rap must do worse, since urban contempo (and especially urban AC) also includes a bunch of R&B songs.
Among music stations playing current music, the formats with the largest listenership size are adult contempo, country, and pop, followed by hot AC and urban AC, with urban contempo lagging down with Mexican regional. Notice that this is the opposite ranking of which genres are artificially boosted on the Hot 100 chart.
Even more telling is the fact that Mexican regional does not get over-represented on the Hot 100, despite the potential wokeness cred that the chart-riggers could enjoy from doing so, and despite it being as popular or more so on the radio than rap. However, the cultural commentators and their audiences don't find Mexican culture interesting, other than the food, and they don't feel as strong of a need to "heal historical traumas" or "correct the historical record" by amplifying recognition of Mexican culture today, as compared to African-American culture.
The same goes for the Spanish contempo format, which is about as popular as rap (if not urban contempo as a whole, due to R&B's popularity), and is as popular as alternative. But listening to reggaeton enough to have an opinion on it one way or another, let alone actually dancing to it in a club with thicc-booty Cuban girls, would absolutely mortify the dorky white liberal males who control the music-themed media sector, and make up most of the audience as well.
"Spanish music" is still too dance-oriented and corporeal for it to appeal to the cerebral types who are take junkies and media consumers. There's no pretension in the lyrics about "telling a larger story," "raising awareness," etc., and there's no raw angsty attitude like in modern rap, which in many ways has become the black version of punk -- non-musical angst, verbal focus, and a basic beat without melodic instruments.
When rap is (slightly) more melodic, dance-oriented, and aimed at dudes and dudettes grinding on each other in a club, rather than individuals stewing in angst alone in their room, music media people lose all interest. Suddenly it's just a pretext for animalistic booty-shaking. Like all good cerebrals, they only condone sex-having and lust in music if it's centered around boobs (elevating) rather than butts (sinful).
* * *
That leaves only streaming as the component of the Hot 100 that must be artificially boosting the popularity of rap, and diminishing that of pop, dance, and country. This component reflects all the big platforms -- YouTube, Spotify, et al.
The first problem with streaming is the youth bias: 55% of Spotify users are aged 18-34. And in Nielsen's radio listenership article, urban contempo skyrockets to 4th place in that age group, while Mexican regional and Spanish contempo lag far behind. Giving greater weight to streaming means giving rap more representation compared to pop, country and Spanish-language music.
But there's a far greater distortion that comes from using streaming stats. Billboard uses the total number of plays across streaming media (in the US), which could be a lot of people listening a few times each (a broadly popular fad song), or a few diehards listening to it over and over again (a niche song that will last forever in the fanbase).
That makes streaming unlike sales of songs, where one sale could be listened to one time or one million times -- it's still measuring the song's exposure to just one individual. Diehard fans do not skew the overall results by listening to their purchases many times more than casual fans who bought the same song. Total sales of a song = total individuals exposed directly.
And it's also unlike radio airplay, which takes audience size into account. They use the share of radio listeners tuned into a certain station for at least 5 minutes during a 15-minute interval. If a song is played in that interval, that audience size is about how many people were exposed to the song.
Even if someone tunes into the station and hears that song every day, it doesn't skew the overall results because they aren't adding to the audience size by tuning in every day -- it's roughly the same size from one week to the next. Diehard fans may be tuning in every day, while casual fans only listen some days of the week -- but the total size stays about even because some casual fans who are absent on one day are made up for by other casual fans who are tuning in that day. (And when those casuals tune out later in the week, the casuals who were tuned out earlier in the week show up to replace them.)
So if anything, radio airplay is skewed more by casual listeners than by diehard fans, since the total number of casual listeners is hardly all present on any given day. Thus, the station's listenership is larger than it would appear from a snapshot in time. And assuming some song is a regular in the station's playlist throughout the week, it's reaching a broader audience than it would appear from a snapshot. Like sales, radio airplay measures breadth rather than depth.
The streaming stats could be made accurate by measuring the total number of unique individuals who played the song during a given interval, regardless of how many times they played it. Spotify could do that, since their users have to have downloaded the app and be signed in. But YouTube does not require you to even have an account, let alone be signed in, to search for and play videos. And big hits get in the 100s of millions of views on YouTube (albeit globally), so that is no small problem with aggregating streaming stats across all platforms.
I guess YouTube could try tracking how many unique IPs within the US played a video in a given interval, regardless of number of times played. But they're not doing that.
And the larger point is they don't want to -- it would ruin their goal of over-representing rap in the Hot 100 chart, to construct the narrative of how influential a certain part of African-American culture is in the broader society. Using youth-biased streaming stats, with a substantial and shifting weighting, and measuring total plays rather than audience size, are just the technical means toward the end of narrative construction.
If you think they aren't aware of these problems, you think they're stupid, and these people do not have low IQs. Even if you didn't think of the breadth vs. depth issue beforehand, your BS detector would be screaming when you checked the results of your algorithm and saw 30-some rap songs on the top 100 for the year. "I knew there'd be some, but not this many -- something's wrong with our formula."
Any naive techie geek who pointed these issues out would be gently ignored by his managers, and fired if he pressed on it. If these problems were solved, the results would only have 15 rap songs out of 100, and 20 more songs from pop, dance, and country -- ummm, lame mayo music much? Gotta get more hyped-up rap songs in there somehow, or else our descriptive narrative won't fly with the target audience of woke take junkies.
December 15, 2020
Late 2000s infatuation anthem "Here (In Your Arms)" by Hellogoodbye, the ultimate nostalgia for early '90s births, the next viral Tik Tok "kissing my friend" song?
While looking further into the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle, to get a hint of what's coming in the current restless phase (2020-'24), I came across this song from the last restless phase (2005-'09). Really embodies the "coming out of your shell" aspect of the restless phase, after the "don't come near me" refractory state of the preceding vulnerable phase. Bonus points for the music video being set in the early '90s, the most recent restless phase at the time, creating a zeitgeist echo.
"Here (In Your Arms)" by Hellogoodbye (2006):
Judging from the YouTube comments, this remains one of the most painfully nostalgic songs for people born between 1990-'94, who were born during a restless phase and then turned 15 during another restless phase. I thought some of the late '80s births would have chimed in as well, but they're pretty uniformly early '90s births.
It resonated the most with high schoolers experiencing their first major infatuation, where they're finally getting close to the other person, beyond merely pining and crushing on them unbeknownst from afar. For the late teens and early 20-somethings of the time, they'd already been through that, so while it was popular with them, it was not such a life-stage-defining anthem as it was for the early '90s kids.
It came right back to life for me, an early '80s birth, even though I couldn't place exactly where it was from -- probably at dance clubs, where I was actually going, since I was not listening to the radio. However, Billboard says it was only a hit on dance radio stations (#3 weekly, #14 year-end) rather than in clubs (did not chart), so maybe it was a quirk of the particular club I went to. And despite coming out on an indie label, it crossed over to the Hot 100 chart (#14 weekly, #81 year-end).
You can search YouTube for 'hellogoodbye here "200X" ' for some year in the late 2000s, and aside from the live concert videos, there are plenty of self-made music videos of teens dancing around their room with a friend to this song. All normies, and the occasional "indie who was friends with normies". Very much like Tik Tok these days, only the movements are more freeform and joking-around, rather than a standardized dance-step routine that everybody does.
The point being, it was super-popular back then, and you'll remember it if you were in touch with those times, but it's more of a deep cut nowadays. Thus far into the late 2000s revival, we still haven't seen this one go viral all over again, like "Shake It" has done on Tik Tok.
And that's not because it doesn't have the potential -- it could easily be the next soundtrack in the family of videos about "working up the nerves to kiss my best friend". It would start out with "Our lips can touch," allowing a little tension to build but not forever, then when the chorus erupts in intensity, the person goes for it and plants a big one right on their lips. Similar dynamic to "Electric Love," which has been a gigantic success in that family of videos.
It could also be showcased in late 2000s revival movie, whose vague concept I've been toying around with, but that's for another post.
December 12, 2020
I've been looking at various Tik Tok trends this week in order to write a yearly wrap-up post about how they reveal the shift from the vulnerable refractory phase to the restless warm-up phase of the 15-year excitement cycle. So now YouTube is suggesting a bunch of Tik Tok compilations, and a good deal have titles like "Tik Tok thots October 2020".
It made me wonder -- does the label "thot" imply that she's a corporeal butt girl? That's one of the most distinctive things about Tik Tok vs. other major online platforms -- way more tushy than tiddy.
You don't really hear much about "Twitter thots," even though the women on there post selfies all the time, talk about their secondary sex parts all the time, and the men on there are terminally thirsty for said selfies and discourse.
Yet as I showed in a highly cited research article, all of those verbal / cerebral types on Twitter are boob girls and boob guys. I originally described them as political junkies, but it's more general -- any part of the verbal / cerebral "take" industry.
Googling "YouTube thots" or "YouTuber thots" returned an order of magnitude lower results than "Tik Tok thots" or "Instagram thots". YouTubers are nearly all in the takes industry, they just have an audio-visual mode of communicating their takes to the audience, as opposed to the primarily textual mode of Twitter.
But Twitter and YouTube are mainly thoughtties rather than thotties.
There are no takes on Tik Tok, or Instagram for that matter -- the other platform highly associated with the label "thot," and again where you're likely to see a fair amount of butt girls.
Do an image search for "thot(s)" on Google or Twitter, and a solid majority of the selfies are focusing on the ass / hips / thighs region, only a minority on the chest.
All these lines of evidence confirm my initial hunch that "thot" is used to refer mostly to butt girls, for whatever reason.
In that case, who are the "thot patrollers" who post "thot begone" on the verbal / cerebral take platforms like Twitter? Why, the very same boob men who populate that part of the internet. It's only natural that they'd want to drive the butt girls off of their patch of the web -- they aren't interested in seeing what's around back, but what's up front. The women go along with these memes for the same reason: they want to see a rise in the value of boobs, not buns.
To put it directly -- it has nothing to do with horniness in guys or attention-seeking in girls. These guys are horny as hell, but only for boobs. They never stop talking about milkers, milkies, milk trucks, and drawing Apu memes with the hands reaching up for some babe's bouncers. And the women never stop talking about their big naturals, often posting pics of them on main. Where's the "hornt police" to throw these offenders in "hornt jail"?
"You see, officer, I was merely lusting over a rack, not a rump. I lost No Nut November like a stoic gentlesir, to a boob girl, not to a butt girl like some thirsty simp."
Notice how the verbal / cerebral people always need to rationalize and even moralize about their base animal instincts? OK, so you're horny for boobs, I'm horny for butts, big deal right? No, one of those instincts is morally righteous and to be indulged, while the other is sinful and to be punished.
Corporeal butt people never do this: we just go with the flow, to each their own, everyone likes whatever they like, and so on. If horniness is to be shamed, then it should be shamed no matter which secondary sex region the person is focusing on. And if exhibitionism is to be shamed, it should be so no matter which region the girl is showing off.
Twitter people post shaming takes about Instagram and Tik Tok thots (and their simps), but Instagram influencers and viral Tik Tok stars, and their commenters, never make images and video clips to shame the verbal boob junkies on Twitter. Nor have they come up with a pejorative label for "attention-seeker, but only with her boobs" as a counterpart to "thot".
The policing obsession only goes in one direction, because cerebral people are more likely to suffer from mental disorders like depression and autism, which would drive them to fixate endlessly on the things that make them irritable, whereas corporeal people are more happy-go-lucky and don't let the jealous hate coming from the take-makers get to them. The idea that you would try to police other people's horniness only if it ran against your own personal preferences for secondary sex region, would simply never occur to them. "Okey-dokey, dork!"
I don't like having to always return to this "butts vs. boobs" discourse, but how can you not, given how sexualized everything is on the internet? It turns out that where you are on that dimension lines up with where you are on a whole bunch of other dimensions. And on the internet, someone is far more likely to share their secondary sex region preference, than whether they like or hate dancing, whether rich food or hard drugs is their vice, and so on and so forth.
By this point, that's the first filter that I classify internet-people by, to understand the context they're coming from -- boob person or butt person?
December 8, 2020
The week of Thanksgiving I planned on making a root vegetable stew to get in the cozy autumn mood, and decided on chicken livers as the meat. I figured it wouldn't be too different from beef heart stew, or fried beef liver & onions, or fried chicken hearts.
But in a Bob Ross turn of events, a happy little accident resulted -- liver in more of a pate consistency, totally broken down in structure after only stirring it around with a spoon. I did expect it to be falling-apart after 6 hours in the crock pot (what strivers have re-branded as a "slow cooker"). Just didn't think it would be so spreadable.
Given how expensive liver products are, though, I was only too happy to stumble upon the process for making your own at home.
The recipes for liver pate include a bunch of butter mixed in afterward, so this is more like a liver spread or liver salad. No pork, ham, bacon, or other meat either, unlike a proper pate or liverwurst.
Still, I prefer a variety of textures, and some separation of tastes to play off of each other, rather than a homogeneous mash. So if I wanted butter and bacon in the mix, I'd make the liver spread the same way, then slather some butter onto the toast before the spread, and top it off with a few slices of bacon. But if you like the all-in-one pate form, there are plenty of recipes for that as well.
If you're like me and were not raised on liver, its distinctive taste will be too bold and rich by itself, so I included some astringent vegetables like parsnip and celery to cut through the liver-y taste, as well as coating the top of the toast slices with yellow mustard. You could stuff this spread into half-sliced peppers, too -- anything crisp and acidic.
Ever since I discovered the low-carb / paleo / keto thing about 10 years ago, I've always made sure to include liver in my diet. There's no better source for vitamin A, since that's the organ where it's stored. It's so concentrated, you only need a medium slice of liverwurst a day to get all the retinol your body needs.
Now I can finally prepare it at home, without having to regularly eat fried beef liver & onions. Don't know why I never bothered looking up a recipe for pate, guess I always assumed it was a big laborious ordeal because of how expensive it is. But nope! It couldn't be simpler.
It will make a huge amount, though, more than you can consume before it starts to spoil after a week or so. (Speaking of which, store in the fridge with an airtight seal around the entire surface of the mass, whether plastic wrap, aluminum foil, etc.) The day before Thanksgiving, I filled a small casserole dish to the brim and gave it to the elderly woman I know next door -- and I still had enough to last about 10 days, with heaping servings every day.
Since this was the first time I made it, and on accident at that, what's below is more of a report of what I did, than a tried and true recipe, in case you want to keep it as simple as I did.
Normally I'd make the base out of a can of diced tomatoes, watered down, then a variety of herbs and spices mixed in. But I was experimenting with sauces out of the jar at the time. And if I'd known I'd be making a spread for toast, I would've minimized carbs by cutting out the rice, which was intended for a stew.
* * *
1.25 lb tub of chicken livers
1 jar tikka masala sauce
Water to fill the sauce jar
1/2 medium turnip
1/2 medium parsnip
1/2 medium yellow onion
2 stalks celery
1/8 to 1/4 lb white rice (did not measure exactly)
Toast, crackers, or pepper halves for serving
Empty sauce into crock pot, watered down with enough water to fill jar
Dice the turnip, parsnip, onion, celery, and add to the pot
Add rice to the pot
Rinse off the livers in a colander, then add them to the pot
Stir everything well
Cook on low for 6 hours
Slice livers apart and stir all around until a paste forms
Let cool for 30 min
Transfer mixture to Pyrex dish (or other hot-to-cold-to-hot dish)
Refrigerate overnight, with mixture covered in plastic wrap or foil
Serve on toast, crackers, pepper halves, etc., with yellow mustard