An Argument For Expanding Your Musical Horizons

“And the Grammy goes to . . . Robert Plant and Alison Krauss!” The crowd cheers, just as they should, and Robert Plant proceeds to accept his fifth Grammy of the year with yet another “thank you” speech. What is wrong with this scene? Anyone who watched the Grammy Awards of 2009 probably noticed the repetitive nature of nominations and awards for the collective year of 2008.

Now, I know people got excited about Coldplay’s new album Viva La Vida, but seriously folks, seven Grammy nominations is a bit excessive. I know for a fact that there are more than ten musicians in the world, and I can prove it too, if I have to.

A band based out of Georgia by the name of Of Montreal released one of the most unique and musically ingenious albums of the year, Skeletal Lamping. Caryn Ganz from Rolling Stone comments on the lead singer, Kevin Barnes, by saying “[. . .] he’s a glam-funk warrior, drenched in the sounds and sexuality of Prince, Freddie Mercury, and Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie.” She then goes on to describe the album as, “[a] soulful romp through psychedelic melodies and sprawling noise-scapes.”

It seems as though Of Montreal suffers from being ahead of their time. “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games,” a song released by Of Montreal in 2005, only got the recognition it deserved after Outback Steakhouse used it in a commercial over a year later. This new album, Skeletal Lamping, has been orchestrated in the same manner as many classical songs—consisting of no definite verse, chorus, or bridge—but are merely song segments arranged side by side and are extraordinarily complementary of each other.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of musicians that deserve just as much recognition that Radiohead and The Jonas Brothers receive.So why do we let others decide what music we are going to listen to and movies we are going to watch? Convenience, I think we all can admit, does play a significant role. It is much easier to just turn on the radio and listen to the latest in catchy pop melodies than to really search beyond what is being spoon-fed to the public by the media.

There is no need to be ashamed that you’ve fallen into this trap; almost everyone does. I can understand different musical tastes. I, myself, bounce around between country/folk, opera, alternative rock, classical, and many other sub-genres. I’m not saying that well-known, famous music is bad, but merely that as a culture built so profoundly on the art we enjoy, we should strive to extend our appreciation to various types of music, movies, and other fine arts and not let others decide for us what is the best.

So try turning off your radio for a little while, look up a band you’ve never heard of, maybe even rent an independently-made film. You may be surprised at how much you’ll enjoy it.

Here's a little taste of Of Montreal with their single "Gronlandic Edit"

Chase Coppins


Constance Marie said...

I love Of Montreal. Way to go for giving them a little recognition.

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