Wednesday, November 22, 2000
Josh, your argument that hi-tech production in pop is the equivalent of special effects in big budget movies seems to rest on two apparent "givens": one, that pop music is the equivalent of big budget Hollywood movies, and two, that pop songs are narratives to which production provides a sort of tangential spectacle.

What seems to be taken for granted is that just because, say, a Britney Spears song sounds expensive, it's therefore expensive to produce. This is clearly untrue - sure Max Martin will get a hefty cheque because he's a commercially successful producer, but there's nothing in Britney songs technologically beyond the grasp of a bedroom techno producer. Timbaland's R&B might sound futuristic, but so do UK Garage white labels made for pence.

The indie film culture is at least partially underwritten by the idea that aspiring filmmakers who are denied access to the sort of funding that a studio will provide will necessarily compensate by concentrating on those aspects of the film that don't require a big budget (script, direction, acting), which is given scant attention in Hollywood films. However, in indie music, the preference given to "natural" or "lo-fi" production is an aesthetic, not economic choice. It's generally driven by a set of ideas not unrelated to heirachal dualism, dictating that low-fi sounds are somehow more honestly musical than hi-tech ones. But since a reverbed guitar or a dusty sampled hip hop beat add essentially the same sort of musical colouring as a crunchy Max Martin backing track, arguably those who listen to indie rock/hip hop are just as interested in "special effects" as pop fans.

Furthermore, I'd be the first to admit that generally pop song lyrics are less than insightful (though it's all about context - Mya's lyrics in "Best Of Me" would mean nothing to me on paper, but within the song they sound great), but they're hardly supposed to be. While scripts for films can stand up quite well by themselves, who honestly sits down and reads the lyric sheets for songs with the expectation that enlightenment awaits? I mean, apart from Morrissey fans.

Ultimately I reckon what producers like Max Martin bring to a pop song is similar to what auteurs like Quentin Tarantino bring to the films they direct but don't necessarily write - stylistic and thematic concerns that perhaps aren't present in the script but later come to dominate the final product. And those concerns include special effects, but are hardly limited to it. The only recent film I can think of where the special effects could be held up as comparable to the production in pop is The Matrix, which used its special effects in a stylised fashion that dominated even intellectual discourse surrounding the film, and like the production in successful pop songs has been copied shamelessly since its release.


Post a Comment


everything here is by tim finney



mail me... here



Jamesy P

Patrick Cowley

It's About (Lopazz & Casio Casino's Maxi Mix)

Glass Candy
Sugar & Whitebread

Beats International
Dub Be Good To Me (Smith & Mighty Remix)

Depeche Mode
A Pain That I'm Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)

Girls Aloud
Wild Horses


Bobby Valentino
Gimmie A Chance

Freeform Five
No More Conversation (Richard X Remix)


House Is A Feeling


A Wild Young Under Whimsy

And So This Is Christmas

Anthony Is Right




Bowling Ball

Breaking Ranks

Chantelle Fiddy's World of Grime

The Church Of Me

Cis Don't Like It Easy

Clap Clap Blog

Country Glamour

Cucina Povera

DJ Martian

Doubt Beat

Everything's Usable



Freaky Trigger

Freelance Mentalists

Freezing to Death in the Nuclear Bunker

Gel & Weave




The House at World's End


I'm So Sinsurr


Josh Blog


">Lex Scripta

Home of Matos

Must Try Harder

New York London Paris Munich

Orbis Quintus

The Original Soundtrack

Pearls that are his Eyes

Pearsall's Tunes

Philip Sherburne

Pop Life




Quicksilver Shapeshifter

Radio Free Narnia

Sasha Frere-Jones

Shards, Fragments & Totems

Silver Dollar Circle





Spliiiish (Atommick Brane)



Vain Selfish and Lazy

Why I Stopped Smoking


Words, Words (??????): A Catalogue of Errors

Worlds of Possibility



February 2004

January 2004

December 2003

November 2003

October 2003

September 2003

August 2003

July 2003

June 2003

May 2003

April 2003

March 2003

February 2003

January 2003

December 2002

November 2002

October 2002

September 2002

August 2002

July 2002

June 2002

May 2002

April 2002

March 2002

February 2002

January 2002

December 2001

November 2001

October 2001

September 2001

August 2001

July 2001

June 2001

May 2001

April 2001

March 2001

February 2001

January 2001

July 2000

June 2000

May 2000



Daft Punk


Ian Pooley


Artful Dodger

The Loft