Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ramble On: Music and the Importance of TRL

We take a break from this regulary scheduled blog post to substitute another blog post.  I'm going to be doing Healthy Living tomorrow because I was at a concert last night (which if you can guess is the reason why I'm posting this blog) and I didn't get home until 12:30 and had scheduled myself to come in to work at 1:00 this afternoon.  I like to weigh myself at the same time and that's usually around 6:00am.  Since I slept in I'm holding off until tomorrow so it's a more accurate representation of the week.

Anyway, onto the topic at hand:  music.  Last night I experienced something that my 12-year-old-teeny-bopper-self would probably never imagine would ever happen in the Legends of Summer tour which consisted of the amazing colaboration of Jay Z and Justin Timberlake.  Growing up in the late 90's I was definitely all about the boy bands.  First it was the Backstreet Boys and anyone who tried to come up against them was just a rip off and I wouldn't have anything of it.  Then I started to bow to NSYNC and 98 Degrees and LFO and all the rest of them.  The more the merrier, right?  That was my life.  I just loved boy bands and pop music and nothing else.

That is until a little show called Total Request Live started airing on weeknights.  They would play 5 songs voted on by the public in numeric order by the number of votes each video got.  It was a simple enough concept but man was it probably one of the most important music-related things that could have happened to my generation.  Obviously the show ended up morphing into a full hour-long show that blew up and was all anyone talked about.  Anyone with internet access would vote their heads off to make sure that their favorite band's video wasn't bumped from the ever coveted number one spot.  The genious of this show was that while I was sitting there waiting to see where "Bye, Bye, Bye" fell in the Top 10, I was taking in all these other genres of music that I wouldn't have ever given the time of day and the scope of Top 40 music changed.  As much as I tried to hate Korn, who always seemed to be one of the bands trying to knock my beloved boy bands from their top spot, their songs started to grow on me.  Same with Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Jay Z and the like.  All these artists that I would scoff at at first started to become artists that I wanted more of.  Not to say that I stopped loving my boy bands but I was able to enjoy other genres just as much.  And I think that speaks to most of the TRL generation.  I think you would be hard pressed to find someone in their mid-to-late 20s that doesn't know "Freak on a Leash" even if they aren't Korn's biggest fan, or someone who doesn't love rocking out to "Bawitaba". 

I feel as though this realization was evidenced even more last night at this concert I went to.  I don't know what I was expecting out of the crowd at this concert to be honest.  I know that personally I was way more excited to be able to see Jay Z than Justin Timberlake but when I got to the show I felt like I was probably going to be in the minority.  I was dead wrong.  There were just as many people around me going lyric for lyric with Jay as they were with Justin, and girls who didn't look like they knew any words to Jay Z surprised the crap out of me.  Granted I'm probably included in that category because one probably wouldn't look at me and imagine that I can pretty much rap word-for-word the entirety of "99 Problems". 

It makes me sad to think that the generation behind me doesn't really have an outlet that allows them to explore music the way TRL did for me.  Everyone has iPods and Spotify and pretty much listen to what they like instead of trying to branch out and try new stuff.  And the sin of it is that it takes some time to for most new music to grow on people.  The beauty of TRL was that odds are that most of the music on that show was on there for at least a week so you started to be able to form a better opinion of it as the week went on as opposed to listening to something and turning it off after a couple seconds because something about it doesn't sound right to you. 

We could obviously go on and on about how MTV barely even plays music anymore but that's common knowledge and an argument that apparently just seems to fall on deaf ears anyway.  The point is, you should be trying out some new music every once in a while.  Step outside your comfort zone.  You never know what you may end up liking and having a broader knowledge of music never hurt anyone.

Anyway, the concert was beyond amazing and is rivaling Mumford and Sons for the best concert I've ever been to.  The way they weaved in and out of each other's songs and how Justin would seamlessly collaborate on a Jay Z song by playing guitar or piano was the coolest thing ever.  And good lord, I give Jay so much more credit for being able to rap and bounce around and move all over the stage because I would get myself so out of breath trying to keep up with him while I was dancing!  I just wanted that show to keep going forever and lord knows they probably could have.  The music library between them is vast and they somehow were able to narrow it down to I would say 30-40 songs between the two.  I almost feel like it didn't happen, it was that surreal, but my sore throat from screaming and singing and my sore body from dancing for three straight hours remind me that I did indeed experience this once in a lifetime performance.

Somewhere inside me my little teeny-bopper self is still in disbelief that a collaboration like this even happened.  If you asked me 15 years ago if this would be a concert I would ever see in my lifetime I probably would have told you that NSYNC is never breaking up and I probably wouldn't go see Jay Z in concert.  Look at me now.