How do you know when a music artist is good?
It’s when you just started listening religiously to this band for about a month ago, and you got so hooked that you tried stealing their music off the internet. However, the musical orgasm you had while listening to it made you feel extremely guilty that this heavenly sensation was actually illegal, and you decide to buy original records.
Having said that let me tell you a story, morning glory.
When I was a kid, I knew that piracy is the demon that will kill the career of my favorite boyband Westlife, and so I had to save up to buy original records to support them. But as I got older (and I thought wiser), downloading via torrents became the better (and oftentimes only) option for me. A lot of people are doing it and no one gets punished anyway. Plus, they’re of the same quality as the original.
And then Oasis—oh boy, Oasis—came into my life and things changed. You know what they say about drugs and pot and cocaine and stuff like that? That’s Oasis. It feels good and you don’t mind spending for them because they keep you sane. It’s unbelievable. And 100% legal. Imagine, you can have eargasms in public and still be accepted by the society! What can be better?
Now here’s the catch: what makes Oasis similar to drugs is that it is almost impossible to obtain it legally, a sad truth that I have learned when I had a trip to the record shop last week to obtain my drug. The new releases rack was half-filled, and that half-filled was half-filled with “OPM” records—nothing but a fat lie. The songs are not original, the singers are not exactly Pinoy nor the most of the songs are, and this is not what I freakin’ call music. Knowing how to speak do not give you a license to sing but heck, things like this are what the Filipino music scene offers the audience nowadays. The other half of that half-filled rack were Koreans and Japanese artists.
Heading over to where the foreign (by “foreign”, I mean non-Asians) acts are gave me much dismay— Having been arranged alphabetically, seeing Miley Cyrus in between Maroon 5 and Nirvana made me cringe. I never imagined finding Dashboard Confessional and Coldplay as the same rack as Jay-Z and the overrated Bieber guy. Same. Rack. IN. THE. FREAKIN. SAME. RACK. Good heavens. What happened?! The last time I happily perused these aisles to make a purchase, Rock and Pop are two entirely different things with two different racks. Alternative is another thing. Hiphop is another. Now they are all in the same freakin’ rack, under the label Rock/Pop.
It is disheartening to admit that the last time I happily perused record bars to make a purchase was during the cassette tape era, almost ten years ago. In between then and now, this is what happened.
The fact that most of the artists of my era are virtually invisible on these shops today sadden me. Oasis, Dashboard Confessional, Incubus, and Goo Goo Dolls to name a few—the artists that ruled the glorious era of the 90’s! Yet when you look for them in record shops, you’re lucky enough if you find a copy of their best of or greatest hits. No Definitely Maybe or (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? I may be young during the 90’s, but I remember that music back then speak so much more than euphemisms for getting laid or bling blings or feeling like a plastic bag. That is exactly the reason why my sound trips were actually remembering the artists I used to flip channels on while waiting for the snail mail I sent to MTV’s Most Wanted to be read.
Fact of the matter is that great music died quite a while ago. [Now] Everybody’s got records ‘featuring’ somebody else: it’s either a sh*t rap about somebody’s struggle, or just… f*cking shit music set to some reggae backbeat sung in some trans-atlantic f*cking accent. And then they’ll throw some Cockney in just to keep it fucking ‘real.’ (Gallagher, 2012)
So where the heck am I going with this?
There are a lot of reasons why music ended up like what it is today. On the quality of today’s music, I don’t know if it really is degrading or I am just getting old to not appreciate the music being held by the racks of the same record shops I used to buy my Westlife cassettes from. But these two are objective truths I can attest to with regard to the obvious death of the record bars: First, the existence of iTunes reduced the production of physical CDs, which could mean that the music industry is not losing as much as I thought. However, a second, and more obvious reason for this is illegal downloading which we all know is illegal yet no one gets arrested. To add, Filipinos (those in the same age bracket as me, at least) are fans of pirated stuff and do not really buy CDs, so the record producers can’t be arsed anymore to send records here. I am guilty of this, but like the polar bears in Antartica or the barren forests of the Amazon, I wasn’t aware of how bad it was until I saw it myself.
I am not here to suddenly act holier-than-thou, telling everyone who downloads illegally are criminals and we should instead buy original records. But when you really support an artist or a band, buying their records is the least you can do to show your appreciation, innit?
I shall end this sad story by saying that I have gone to at least five record shops and only found two copies of Oasis’ Time Flies (Greatest Hits, that’s the best I can get), one of which I mentally reserved my next pay day for. But still, I am pleased to say that I have supported the wisest man in rock by purchasing his first album as a solo artist. Yes, I am referring to the better Oasis sibling, Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds. The fact that they have Noel Gallagher on their racks mean that there is still hope after all.
While we’re waiting for Mr Gallagher to do his thing, I shall check if my Visa card will be able to transact successfully with Amazon.