Classifications

How do you put music into categories?
Broad sweeping statements trying to group similar styles together? How can ‘vocal’ be a category – it could apply to anything with any singing in it!
It’s always bothered me slightly that iTunes classifies music in a slightly odd way. If I want to find all the Christian music in my library I have to search for Christian, Worship, Religious or Gospel. Texas, one of the least offensive and most mainstream of bands, is listed as Alternative.
Downloading iTunes 9 last night, I was immediately enraptured by the new genius mix feature – I like my eclectic musical taste to be played effortlessly – but noticed that its basis is in classifications. This is how I’ve ended up with four Soundtrack mixes (out of a total of 12).
Doing some comparing with a friend, who had no soundtrack mixes, we mused over the strangeness of classifications. I also felt a need to defend my soundtrack heavy library. My issue is that, despite my love of musicals, not everything classed as ‘soundtrack’ is that kind of soundtrack. There’s quite a large number of film scores that really, if you’re looking at genres could be classed as classical.
The Simpsons Movie? Largely classical by the wonderful Hans Zimmer.
Carrie? Mostly classical and hugely haunting, with beautiful flute solos.
O Brother Where Art Thou? Awesome vocal score.
Pleasantville? An inspired classical theme with classic tracks alongside it. (Plus, it contains the song I’ve decided will be the first dance at my hypothetical wedding.)
I could go on. Of course, being the good music student that I am, I also know that ‘classical’ can be sub-divided in any number of ways, and if applied strictly only applies to music composed between 1750 & 1825 (approximately), falling between the Baroque and Romantic periods…
You know what, I’m clearly just miffed that I had no classical mix amongst my 12 (my friend had a couple), which I think reflects badly on my music collection and supposed intelligence. I’ll get over it.
But, it means I can share a favourite clip from a favourite movie – The Holiday – in which Jack Black’s character highlights the best in movie scores. Love it, particularly the Dustin Hoffman (ok, I may have got it wrong first time…) cameo. A friend of mine has a similar passion, which is probably how I ended up with so many soundtracks in the first place.

Secret bonuses

It’s been pratically a year since I acquired my lovely ipod, yet I’m still discovering that large swathes of my music collection isn’t in my itunes yet. One might say that if I’ve not listened to it for a year perhaps it’s not worth keeping. Possibly, but then (like books) music isn’t something to get rid of on a whim!

So I’m currently uploading (amongst other things) my Blur back catalogue, Heather Nova, Dido and Robbie Williams*. The latter I was reminded of largely thanks to watching Finding Nemo (for the first time ever!) last night – the closing credits run to his version of Beyond the Sea.

Looking at the track listings its reminded me of the phenomenon of hidden bonus tracks on CDs. All the Robbie Williams albums have them; there’s a classic on Damien Rice’s O, not to mention a slightly bizarre one on the second Daniel Beddingfield album…

It got me to thinking, in the age of the digital download, will there still be a market for the mysterious bonus track at the end of a CD’s last track? If you’re listening to an itunes playlist, the inclusion of a 30min track including at least 20mins of silence isn’t really a bonus. So maybe they’ll cease to exist and I think that would be a sad thing, don’t you?

* Make no comment on my taste in music please. It’s eclectic and quite respectable in some contexts. Honest!

And this is why I’m a loser at heart

I’m disappointed with my last post and have calmed down a tad since my stressful journey home. Now that I’ve eaten and chilled out a bit in my rather empty flat, (I’m minus a flatmate again, but that’s a story for another occasion – needless to say the word of the month is “trust”), I’m a lot happier.

As so often happens when I’m home alone, I’ve been doing some tuneful/less singing to myself and opened my itunes to hear a track that’s been one of my favourites since celebrating the Lord’s birthday in September. I’m almost ashamed to share the title of this track, which now resides at #1 on my most played list…you won’t have heard of it…ok…it’s: “I Believe my Heart”.

It’s a lesser known Lloyd-Webber track – from The Woman in White – which has been performed by Duncan James, hence my slight embarassment. But I do adore it. It’s probably just because it taps into the hopelessly romantic bit of my personality.

Anyway, I also felt a need for a new playlist so thought I’d let the genius tool work its magic and now have a wonderfully cheesy selection to listen to on the tube tomorrow. God bless genius!

Just felt a need to share some of the (50) gems it’s provided for me:

A Different Beat – Boyzone [Worryingly, my best performances at the gym lately have resulted from listening to the Boyz.]

Especially for You – Kylie & Jason [Incidentally, this song did wonders for my spelling when I was 8. “Especially” is a tricky word when you’re trying to write out the lyrics to your favourite song!]

Angel of Mine – Eternal [Have quite a story about this, but it’ll make me look even more of a loser than this post already does!]

Beyond the Sea – Will Young [Have I mentioned before just how much I love Will Young? Gosh, my loser rating is rocketing sky-high now…]

Jump (For my Love) – Girls Aloud [Note to self: must watch Love Actually again before Christmas]

Love in the First Degree – Bananarama [Gutted I’m missing the 80s night at church this weekend as I discovered last night some friends are doing a Bananarama tribute!]

Oh, I could sooooo go on. Suffice to say, I’m going to be grinning & giggling to myself a lot tomorrow. Actually, not tomorrow, today. And as it’s after midnight this can count as Nov 19th’s post! Whoop.

Shiny new things

1. My new laptop. It’s purple – enough said.

2. itunes 8. The Genius tool – genius.

itunes requires a certain amount of patience/effort. There’s adding in album artwork when it can’t find it; making it aware that compilations are in fact, compilations; adjusting volume levels; sorting out playlists…

Playlists are rather essential when you’ve got a 180GB storage capacity, yet I kind of can’t be arsed to put the effort into creating them.

I basically had four:
“Female Diva Showtunes” [The default playlist for all cleaning/baking activities.]
“Gym” [I believe that may be self-explanatory.]
“Freedom” [I’m not going into what that is here…]
“Worship Tracks” [Again, self-explanatory.]
Plus the handy itunes standard ones, like “purchased”, “recently added” etc.

Now I have Genius I can create playlists at the touch of a button. (Gosh, it’s like Apple marketing are paying me to write this! They’re definitely not, by the way.) Basically, you pick a song, press a button et voila: 25 tracks from your library that are similar to the one you picked.

To test it, I picked The Feeling’s Never Be Lonely and it came up with tracks to go with it. It included some logical choices, like Razorlight and Queen and some slightly more unusual ones, like Damien Rice and Will Young (actually, maybe it just knows me very well!). Overall, a great playlist with minimal effort.

Whilst I’m on the subject of itunes, I’m also very happy that my external hard drive succeeded in backing up my library complete with song stats and my top 25 tracks. It was very important to me to keep that – I’ve worked hard at making it look respectable as it’s ocassionally the focus of a competition!

And on the subject of other new things, I like new facebook too! Yes, it took a while to get used to, but it’s so much more aesthetically pleasing than the old one.

Change is good, embrace it!