My cousin was talking the other about Attention Deficit Disorder and my first reaction was "wait, doesn't everybody have A.D.D. ?" I mean I was listening to my iPod the other day and it struck me that I rarely listen to more than 45 seconds of a song anymore. It's sorta like I listen to a song until it hits the big chorus or so and blammo, I want to hear the next song. It's like wanting to get a music high and you want to cut out all the boring parts.
This phenomena isn't new with music at all. In fact the idea of having short songs that are to-the-point is sorta the roots from which pop music was born in the late 50s and 60s. Make a short song sub-3-minute song that is suited for radio play (because you are able to play it frequently per hour) and you've got the technical specifications for making a hit. The advent of the CD is sorta what screwed quality music up because people had a lot more time to play with than the usual double side vinyl and as such albums and songs got longer. Hip hop takes it to a bit of an extreme by often times adding skits and whatnot which with rare exception (De La Soul's "3 Feet High and Rising") just dilutes the whole album. On a different note hip hop as of late is sorta becoming overly disposeable. You take a single, listen to it excessively for 3-4 weeks, and throw it out. Shit don't sound timeless no more.
Furthermore it seems like there just aren't very many albums that you can listen from beginning to end without any compulsion to skip forward or change the album. It is on that note that two recent albums standout as being absolute gems from front to back, one folk, one hip-hop:
Ray LaMontagne, "Til The Sun Turns Black." It's funny that often times I listen to the oldies radio station (which for some reason always seems to be between 100.1 to 101.9 FM in like every city) and think that it stinks there just aren't simple songs like there used to be. The fact of the matter is that that is abolutely wrong. This is the sorta album that you can just put on in your living room and listen to the whole thing. Moreover at just over 45 minutes it's in a digestible size.
The Roots, "Game Theory." This may be the best album hip hop album of the year so far. One of my top 3 to 4 hip-hop groups/artists (Common, Mos Def, are on the shortlist) this is CD is not so much a collection of songs but rather one music piece. The sound is darker and a bit more sinister than their previous albums but it works. At the risk of restating the same concept over and over ad nauseum, while there are defintitely standout tracks the sum of the parts is greater than the songs standing alone.
Around the corner in a few weeks is a new Mos Def album and I think Common too...