On finding new music

I’m too tired today to tackle any large, complex issues in the world of music. It’s spring outside, and suddenly there are 20 times more people that go to Carnegie Mellon than there were a month ago. All of these people are sitting across the Cut with their newly rediscovered arms and legs exposed, listening to whomever’s stereo won the volume competition by the Fence. What I am noticing, however, is that the music coming out of these stereos is largely the same music that was played last spring, and the spring before that. In fact, a lot of it is the same music that students were listening to in high school, because that’s what was on commercial radio and behind the advertisements on television for things like Mountain Dew and Doritos.

Frankly, it’s pathetic. You’re building robots and telling jokes about the fourth dimension while listening to Dave Matthews Band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Oasis. Regardless of the merit of these bands individually (which is, itself, debatable), there is absolutely no reason, and no excuse, for them to be on repeat.

Discovering new music has become almost distressingly easy these days. The Internet, that little thing most students are hooked up to 24/7, has a wealth of resources. There’s a handful of popular websites that connect you to artists similar to those you know and like, such as last.fm and Pandora (even if they get it wrong sometimes). There are also music blogs that offer plenty of free MP3 downloads, and user-driven sites like muxtape.com (see article to the left) that put a personal touch on discovering new sound on the Internet.

Of course, the Internet is not the only place to discover new music. Right on campus, in the basement of the UC, is WRCT, a free-form radio station with programming that ranges from blues to hip-hop, to avant-garde neo-Dadaist musical hodgepodge. While you’re not guaranteed to like everything that’s playing every minute of the day on WRCT, chances are you be able to find at least one program to tune into for a little bit every week and hear what’s new in the music world. In addition to WRCT, the Activities Board brings plenty of great acts right to campus to check out each month — it doesn’t get much easier than that.

So while I am too tired to tackle any complex musical issue, I do feel responsible for trying to help fix this one. We talk about music as being the universal language, yet so many people fail to expand their vocabulary. I’m tired of feeling like I’m in one of those bad ’90s college movies when I’m on my way to class. Step up, Carnegie Mellon. Listen to better music.

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