Back in the day, I was a bit of a music snob. And by back in the day, I mean high school. Then somewhere along the way, probably amidst the academic pressure of college, I found myself enjoying pop music again. I came to the realization that there’s a time and a place for all kinds of music, and there’s room in my heart for many genres.
One musical genre that I was particularly against in high school was “techno.” Every time they played “Sandstorm” at a dance, I was filled with annoyance. Then, during a stint of late-night TV, I was exposed to the beautifully intricate electropop of Imogen Heap and was forced to concede that maybe electronic music wasn’t all bad. (I think it was this performance that I saw. She’s really impressive live.)
Fast forward to the present, and I’m listened to Robyn‘s Body Talk album on repeat while I run errands in the afternoons. In the hilarious track “Fembot”, Robyn takes on the persona of a robot with a broken heart. She may just be taking a metaphor to the extreme, but regardless, she makes a valid point: “I’ve got some news for you / Fembots have feelings too.” It reminds me of how I used to dislike electronic music because I thought it lacked emotion. The truth is, in its best form, all the beeps and blips are just another way to tell a story.
There are many artists who fuse electronic tools with musicality in very interesting ways. I don’t claim to have an extensive knowledge of this genre, but I’ve come across some great examples in the past few years. Besides Imogen Heap, one of my first exposures to electropop was The Postal Service. Not exactly thinking outside the college indie music box, but their album Give Up is widely considered to be, well, awesome. Since one half of the duo is Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, you can bet that their songs have an emotional/narrative thread.
For your consideration:
Another group that’s close to my heart is Freelance Whales. Last spring I went to a concert with my friend Amy. I wasn’t really familiar with the headliners, the Shout Out Louds, but it doesn’t take much convincing to get me to a concert. As it turned out, I became a fan of the opening band, the Freelance Whales. Their quirky appearance and music reminded me pleasantly of Carleton students. Recently their songs have popped up in several commercials, which makes me a little sad, but their album Weathervanes is pure joy. (Wikipedia doesn’t classify them as electropop, but heavy use of synthesizers is enough for me.)
Here’s the song that first got my hooked:
College is all about personal growth, right? Maybe expanding musical horizons isn’t exactly what the brochure writers have in mind, but it’s certainly something that I appreciate. Without it, I would have missed out on a lot of great music. Just in case you’re clamoring for more, I’ll leave you with my new favorite Robyn song. O dearest Robyn, how you speak to me.