Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bad, bad music

Last night I found myself in a Ximending pool hall that's popular with teenagers. It was a great place to play pool, with level tables and plenty of room to move around in and not too much smoke. The only problem is that they were playing Taiwanese pop music way too loud. And so I was forced to pay closer attention to this style of music than I've ever been forced to before.

The songs fell into two categories -- overproduced love songs full of over-protesting vocal mechanics, and teenybopper rap songs with herky-jerky beats that were supposed to be funky but weren't. I couldn't understand a word that was sung, of course, but I'll wager that all the song titles could be roughly translated as "I'll Love You till the End of Time, Longer if I Retain Consciousness after Death" and "Ooh, Girl, You So Fine, I Can't Wait to Get wit' You, Baby."

Two modalities. Two possible nodes of human emotion. Life's great banquet reduced to a greasy cheeseburger and a butterscotch ice cream sundae.

The Taiwanese pop music industry is just mimicking the state of affairs in the States, of course. The only thing you can blame the Taiwanese industry for is recruiting no one to sing on record who doesn't sound exactly like the Backstreet Boys or some female equivalent. Here, even the rappers sound like the Backstreet Boys. At least in the States you hire a thug to do a thug's job.

Given a choice, I'll listen to Taiwanese taxi music, that cheesetastic Casio-generated genre of yesteryear. Taiwanese taxi music occasionally provides you a melody worth listening to, and it makes no pretense of rhythm, which is better than promising rhythm but not providing it. Broken promises of rhythm are all you get from current Taiwanese pop and, for that matter, most American hip-hop and R&B.

1 comment:

the j said...

DOTS you disappoint me. Embrace the cheese(burger) and belt out a Jolin or Jay Chou number next time you're at karaoke. Guaranteed instant popularity and admiration.

And I'm not sure about Taiwanese thugs in the music business (though I'm well aware they're there, behind the scenes). Can you imagine the betelnut boys from the Bamboo Union putting it down for the streets? Me neither.