I don’t have an iPod. I’ve mentioned this before, mainly by asking for one from a) the compassionate public b) my uncompassionate parents and c) the Apple store on the first floor of the Illini Media Building in past columns. My feelings on the iPod have always been a struggle – a fierce wrestling match between two internal forces. On one hand, in the most consumerist and materialistic way possible, they are really cool. As resistant as I am to “conforming” and whatnot, I can’t help but get wrapped up in the majesty of the iPod. They’re so compact, convenient and white. These all led me to hint to the public that I wanted to get my pod on.
While my body is telling me yes, my heart is saying no. iPods are in a lot of ways changing how people listen to music. The shuffle mode is ruining not only the album format but even the idea of a song. To avoid being skipped, artists are going to start writing 50-second songs consisting entirely of a chorus. Either that or people will start writing songs that are made of 15-second clips of several different songs to mimic the sensation of shuffling your iPod.
I hate it when people make the claim that iPods are tearing society apart, that somehow we are becoming an isolated world because of those white buds in our ears. First of all, not that many people have iPods. Sure, on a college campus where a sizable amount of the population comes from the Chicago suburbs, the land where iPod gifts are as commonly seen at high school graduation parties as sheet cakes, the prevalence of the devices is disproportionately high. People are just as isolated as they’ve always been. If anything, the increase in musical interest could be seen as a unifying quality to a fragmented society such as our own.
In general, they just seem so unnecessary. The few times I’ve had $350 of disposable cash, blowing it all on an MP3 player seemed silly. I could buy a decent amp, a new wardrobe or 393 soft shells from Taco Bell. That’s a whole lot of beefy goodness.
I decided to drop the junior high-era CD player and move into the future but not with Apple. I started using a Sony Walkman phone, both phone and mp3 player. It has about one gigabyte, which seems more than enough for walking to classes and avoiding conversation around campus. Though I would still graciously take a free iPod, the conflict has currently been resolved. Instead of humming the theme to “Sanford and Son” as I walk across the Quad, here’s what I’m bobbing my head to:
“The Mending of the Gown” by Sunset Rubdown
“You! Me! Dancing!” by Los Campesinos
“Dreamin’ About Bein’ Well-Hung Blues” by Everything, Now!
“Ziggy Stardust” by David Bowie
“A Postcard to Nina” by Jens Lekman
Naturally, I listen to these songs within the album format, but these are the standouts from the respective records. But seriously, listen to Everything, Now! Right now.