Re: [AH] The WORST synth songs

From ndkent
Sent Sun, Jan 22nd 2006, 20:45

The whole subject is hard to take at face value once you think about  
it from just about any direction.

  Mainly that it has to have "gotten" to you in some very real way to  
rank highly. I hear crap all the time as I'm sure everyone does but  
there has to be some kind of baggage with it to motivate the "WORST"  
badge. I certainly get the feeling that a degree of jealousy comes to  
play for a lot of people and their picks. Sometimes it's justified  
though I guess my point that the actual unbiased quality of the music  
rarely is the main motivation.

Some of the reasoning that comes to my mind. Certainly I grow to  
really dislike something I'm not charmed by and then forced to hear  
over and over. I remember the "Axel F" theme used to be played  
disgustingly often. On the other hand now that it's not it's sort of  
fun and nostalgic today (and I guess I avoided the frog cellphone  
version of it, something that I think proves the ability make  
something annoying take leaps further into annoyingness).

"Popcorn" is something that a pretty good number of people can  
identify but far fewer know much about. It does get the nod as the  
first mostly synthesizer song to have real pop chart action. Sure  
it's dated sounding but it is pretty memorable and certainly not  
played ad nauseam any more. I for one think it's fun and nostalgic  
too. The Hot Butter version, which was what charted was actually a  
cover version of an original by Gershorn Kingsley, who IMHO with then  
partner Jean Jacques Perrey pioneered synthpop with some very  
enjoyable releases. I don't think their solo stuff was as good as the  
two together, I guess they needed someone skilled to bounce things  
off, though Perrey solo had Angelo Badalementi co-composing with him  
for a while which definitely helped. There of course is a Jarre  
connection. Young J.M.Jarre was one of the dozens of acts to release  
a cover single of "Popcorn" years before he was well known and the  
poster was pretty observant to catch the influence, which I too can  
hear. On the other hand I do hand it to Jarre that reached and  
surpassed the level of his influences (though they more or less had  
had long retired from commercial pop and Jarre could fit in with  
newer genres).

The George Harrison album does deserve a nod because I agree that  
there are multiple levels wrong with it. I'd not be the first or last  
to say though that by far the main reason it ranks is because it has  
has a temporarily or soon to be ex-Beatle's name on it. It would  
never make a worst list if it was a Paul Beaver album... though it  
likely have never been released either.

I guess one thing that really gets me as bad is people who noodle  
(which is fine, I love to noodle like everyone else) but then go and  
release it as hot crap. Maybe they even brag that they did it direct  
to their soundcard or something just so I say to myself, "yeah and it  
sounds like it". And then thats their justification if someone brings  
up a weakness "well it was live and straight to my soundcard".  I  
guess I may have been guilty of  the noodle part a few times though  
at least I share it to get feedback rather than announcing how hot it  
is to get people to buy into it.

There's a huge amount of terrible music out there so there has to be  
some sort of personal baggage get it to rank as "worst". You forget  
about the crap, it's the stuff that somehow found a special place in  
your memory that continues to annoy and come back to mind

The Kraftwerk comment does seem kind of disingenuous. I'd call their  
attitude droll. It should be obvious that their songs are about  
technology in a pop context. I can see how someone legitimately  
doesn't care for them but I can't see how someone could rank them  
"worst" without some sort of additional baggage, mentioning does  
sound like some sort of troll attempt because one would have to be  
very naive to not know their esteem in synth music circles. Not that  
you have to like them but not recognizing their contribution does  
make one scratch their head and wonder what the agenda really is. Now  
I'm curious about what the person who thinks "Pocket Calculator" is  
worst thinks is best.

> I love many kraftwerk songs, but I have to admit - what on earth  
> did they
> use their synthi for? In fact, what on earth do they need a collossal
> doepfer modular for when their sounds are so very simple?

They never used a synthi much but it's definitely good for short  
embellishments. Jarre used it that way for instance, he's not doing  
melodies or sequences, he's doing FX sounds and transition sounds.

Hmmm.... collossal doepfer modular? Where did you hear they had that?  
They had the vocoder rack they consulted on for the design of and  
they used it for ... get this ... vocoding.

It's funny that just the day before this thread started I accidently  
found a page about what Kraftwerk used to play on stage for Pocket  
Casculator (and the Joe Rivers flash simulation of it)
http://www.handheldmuseum.com/Mattel/BeeGees.htm
I mostly just heard mention of later custom-built  controllers by  
Doepfer

In the discussion of entertainment in general I guess "worst" has  
grown to have a more complex meaning. There's a whole area of  
"badness" that's very amusing and entertainment to a lot of people if  
it reaches a certain combination level of attraction and revulsion.  
Certainly the bad bad should consist of something you couldn't listen  
to and were never in a position of being forced too.

nick