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Posted on: November 27, 2010

Music For Stereos Live in Berlin - Nov 28th 8pm

Cory Arcangel - Music For Stereos

I‘ll b performing at 8pm (20:00) @ The Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin on Nov 28th. Here’s alittle text about the performance / composition  / concept. Its called Music For Stereos. Hope 2 c u all there!

Anyone culturally half asleep, confused or fogged would be forgiven for missing Lil Wayne’s album Rebirth. The recording, which includes twelve tracks, was released in February 2010, barely making a blip on the Billboard Top 40. It was, after all, Lil Wayne’s “rock record”. For an artist known as “the hardest working man in hip-hop”, releasing a record featuring guitars, screaming, and even Travis Baker from Blink-182, it `might... have seemed an odd undertaking.

The most telling track on the album is the song Knockout. The lyrics are classic boy / girl: “‘Cause once you go black, you never go back - And once you go Wayne, everybody else is whack “, though musically the song represents a newer trend in pop music. It is a kind of hyper melodic diatonic pop punk filtered through early millennium teen cultural poles; hot Topic, skinny jeans, neon splatter black tees, MySpace, Emo, & autotune. To be fair to Wayne, the rock&rap crossover angle is not the most interesting aspect of the song. After all, country darling Taylor Swift and American idol Kelly Ckarkson have both taken a crack at this style. It is this style itself that is of interest.

We are taking pop music here, so by style I am referring to several aspects that combined produce what is “of pop”. Specifically, melody, harmony, production, and something that we will call the 5th member - a kind of unknown variable which is attitude / image / ??? We are talking some sort of secret ingredient. “If you got it, flaunt it”, Warhol would say. So Lil Wayne, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, and lets tack on a few more for good measure - Miley Cyrus & Avril Lavigne, have all recently released songs that have had similar melodies, harmonies, production, and “5th members”. What is going on here? This is music as fashion. Ready to wear, and one size fits all.

My audio performance is an argument for the possible boundaries of this style; its inception, forward leaps, back tracks, tangents, and major players over the last fifty years of contemporary pop music. We will consider the melodies and harmonies of Phil Spector, Tommy James and the Shondells, and Weezer; the production of Denniz PoP, Max Martin, Dr. Luke, and the images of Avril Levine, Joan Jett and the Ramones.

This is not the story of “punk”. Not even close. We are talking the real deal Britney Spears style Top 40 trash - with affection. As Miley Cyrus put it in Party in the USA: “Too much pressure and I’m nervous; And the DJ dropped my favorite tune; And a Britney song was on; And a Britney song was on(x2)”.

Above pic: Music For Stereos at ARTIC. Image Todd Rosenberg