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August 14, 2009 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Twitter documents the breakdown of Calvin Harris, British electropop musician due to critical reviews. posted by ashaw (93 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The guy is a bit of a wanker.

His humanthesizer bit was a good idea in principle but the song was horrible and the product was rather anticlimactic.
posted by ageispolis at 1:51 PM on August 14, 2009


This is like that time Stephen Fry got trapped in an elevator and tweeted about it, or that time (okay, hundred times) Warren Ellis got really drunk on Twitter, except those were fun.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:52 PM on August 14, 2009


I like Twitter. It lets me know which complete strangers have poor impulse control, and then allows me to add them to my list of people I never want to meet. I can then lead my life with the goal of not meeting them in mind. Of course I guess this is true of the Internet in general. Just think, there's an entire generation of people growing up who will not remember when you actually had to meet someone in person, or at least talk to them on the phone, before you could come to the conclusion that they're a dick.
posted by dortmunder at 1:53 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


That said, his new single is complete pants – and I didn't need monied parents to tell me that.

I learned a new UK slang word today.
posted by scrutiny at 1:56 PM on August 14, 2009


I learned a new UK slang word today.

monied or pants?
posted by ashaw at 1:57 PM on August 14, 2009


This morning, Calvin Harris – one of our favourite musical tweeters, no less – got out of bed on the wrong side. And it appears the wrong side of Harris's bed contains broken glass, open mousetraps and some terrible, terrible reviews.

Forgot the rakes. There should be rakes too.
posted by i_cola at 2:02 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"THIS ENTIRE INDUSTRY IS FULL OF RICH PEOPLE'S KIDS, EVERYWHERE"

Well, yeah, it definitely is.

So is pretty much any industry.
posted by rokusan at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2009


The guy is a bit of a wanker.

And is now also a lulzcow.

PANTS
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude played synthesizer using bikini girls and body paint. He makes purposefully cheezy disco records. Am I to really believe he gives two shits what critics think?

Clearly, he's trying to be the white Kanye. But he's not there yet. HE NEEDS MORE KAPS LOCK
posted by fungible at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2009


It would be complete pants if it were "monied".
posted by codswallop at 2:05 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, as someone who was cyberstalked last week by a group of people on Twitter -- largely because these individuals didn't have the decency to contact me directly to clear up any grievances or misunderstandings they had formed (and still lack the courage to talk with me civilly on the phone) -- I find myself very much on Calvin Harris's side. Have any of you met Harris? Do you honestly believe that a 140 character tweet conveys any one person's full essence? If so, I humbly request that you reconsider your worldview.

What is the lede of this article? "There's nothing quite like a pop-star meltdown. And thanks to Twitter, we no longer have to wait for frazzled egos to be caught on camera – we can simply log on and watch them implode in real time."

He's "a bit of a wanker," you say? Really? Have you met the guy at a bar or a cafe? And did he throw a drink in your face? Why the instant judgment? The dude's just typing things into his BlackBerry and you seem to believe that you have a deep insight into the guy's soul. What do you plan to do next? Practice psychotherapy without a license?

Talk with Harris for a few hours. And then you can tell me why he's "a bit of a wanker." And I'll still probably ask you whether you might be overstating things. But don't think that you know somebody on the basis of your relationship through half-assed spurts on a screen.
posted by ed at 2:08 PM on August 14, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm not getting the West Wing reference.
posted by brundlefly at 2:10 PM on August 14, 2009


I felt really icky about this article. There is more than a little "BABY GONNA CRY? WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOURSELF" going on and it close goes the tab.
posted by The Whelk at 2:10 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


ageispolis: The guy is a bit of a wanker.

SHHH! Don't you understand? He's fragile!

There, there, Calvin. I'm sure your wonderful music is very significant, you poor dear - they just don't understand. And those wonderful glasses and the big megaphone - those must be very cool!

Here, have some milk - mommy's just getting a fresh batch of cookies out of the oven. And after tea you can sit on the nice soft pillows on the couch and I'll cue up your favorite dvd of that American group you love so much - what are they called again? The Jones Brothers?
posted by koeselitz at 2:10 PM on August 14, 2009


I'm sure I'll never meet him, but I'm going to go ahead and put him in my pants file.
posted by the bricabrac man at 2:13 PM on August 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


As bad as it is to be cyberstalked, I think it's quite different than sitting at your mobile/comp and firing off one post after another very publicly raging about how critics responded to your album, especially if you know you're a semi-famous person (with 73,000+ Twitter followers), and that this self-same media is going to be paying attention to what you very publicly fire back.

The "bit of a wanker" remark isn't an assessment of the guy as a whole in terms of his entire life and body of work, and I don't think it should be treated as such.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:15 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


dortmunder: Just think, there's an entire generation of people growing up who will not remember when you actually had to meet someone in person, or at least talk to them on the phone, before you could come to the conclusion that they're a dick.

While I'm peering through the irony-free filter internet wondering just how ironical you're trying to be, maybe somebody can help me understand why the thought that the next generation of kids will be able to spot and ignore 'people who are dicks' faster than ever before scares the ever-lovin' shit outta me.
posted by koeselitz at 2:16 PM on August 14, 2009


i_cola: Forgot the rakes. There should be rakes too.

Sure there were rakes. Aren't they the ones Calvin's so pissed off at?
posted by koeselitz at 2:18 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"THIS ENTIRE INDUSTRY IS FULL OF RICH PEOPLE'S KIDS, EVERYWHERE"

Well, yeah, it definitely is.


Yeah, but it is my impression that music reviewers are especially bad (and oddly, the publishing industry). Of course my one anecdote happened to be at a Vampire Weekend concert when a photographer for some hipster blog (which I fucking forgot, and I lost her number, but whatever it wasn't Pitchfork) ... she whips out this AmEx black to play for a drink. It was almost like unsheathing a samurai sword. Hey not only does she get to put drinks on her Amex, but she has some sort of super secret card. I made a comment about how a concert photographer gets an Amex black and she rolled her eyes and said really off handedly that her "dad works for Amex." It was a real Bret Easton Ellis moment and now the joke amongst my friends is that if you ever see an amazing job like photographing concerts it will almost always be taken up by some sixth year Bennington undergrad.

Of course this was the magical summer before the economic "troubles" and I was young, carefree and not afraid to go to a Vampire Weekend concert and hit on big glasses wearing hipster girls in cute outfits without feeling self-conscious and dweeby. Of course it was a Vampire Weekend concert in Miami Beach. I guess if Prescott Bush was there in full Yale regalia doing his best Mr. Burns impression I probably wouldn't have batted an eye.
posted by geoff. at 2:22 PM on August 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


Holy cow, looking at that twitter feed maybe it was a classic example of drunk posting. Hanging around MetaFilter that's certainly nothing unusual.
posted by crapmatic at 2:26 PM on August 14, 2009


It took him two years, working on the album all day every day, to make his album? I don't even have to hear the album and I already know he sucks.

If it takes you two years of all-day-every-day work to come up with one album of releaseable material, you suck.

Somebody needs to burn CDs of every song ever posted to Metafilter Music, put them in a pillowcase, and hit this guy over the head with it repeatedly.
posted by The World Famous at 2:27 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: monied rich people's pants
posted by festivemanb at 2:34 PM on August 14, 2009


I'm here!
posted by Pants! at 2:35 PM on August 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


> Do you honestly believe that a 140 character tweet conveys any one person's full essence?

If the Twitter post says something along the lines of, "I KILLED MY OPHTHALMOLOGIST AND ATE HIS HEART. THEN I KICKED EVERY DOG I FOUND AND DROVE DAD'S CAR INTO THE LIQUOR STORE. I HATE EVERYBODY!!" it can at least expose the aspects relevant to any possible exchange I may have with him.
posted by ardgedee at 2:36 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this part of the newfangled humdinger Metafilter bash-the-ludicrous-hipsters craze?
posted by blucevalo at 2:37 PM on August 14, 2009


If the Twitter post says something along the lines of, "I KILLED MY OPHTHALMOLOGIST AND ATE HIS HEART. THEN I KICKED EVERY DOG I FOUND AND DROVE DAD'S CAR INTO THE LIQUOR STORE. I HATE EVERYBODY!!" it can at least expose the aspects relevant to any possible exchange I may have with him.

God damn it I thought I blocked you.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:38 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


I KILLED MY OPHTHALMOLOGIST AND ATE HIS HEART

I do that one goddam time and suddenly it's some kind of MeFi lulz line. What. Ever.
posted by everichon at 2:41 PM on August 14, 2009


If it takes you two years of all-day-every-day work to come up with one album of releaseable material, you suck.

Releaseable is the standard you hold yourself to?
posted by smackfu at 2:46 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


brundlefly: I'm not getting the West Wing reference.

I think I speak for everyone here when I say:

Huh?
posted by koeselitz at 2:46 PM on August 14, 2009


Is this part of the newfangled humdinger Metafilter bash-the-ludicrous-hipsters craze?

Don't think so, i think it's just a general aversion to unfettered self importance. The whole rant just sounds like a machine which couldn't compute and malfunctioned because someone said its music was horrible.
posted by ashaw at 2:49 PM on August 14, 2009


You know, as someone who was cyberstalked last week by a group of people on Twitter -- largely because these individuals didn't have the decency to contact me directly to clear up any grievances or misunderstandings they had formed (and still lack the courage to talk with me civilly on the phone) -- I find myself very much on Calvin Harris's side. Have any of you met Harris? Do you honestly believe that a 140 character tweet conveys any one person's full essence? If so, I humbly request that you reconsider your worldview.

I'm sorry to hear that, ed. Would you like to talk about it? Hold on, my tea's steeping.
posted by katillathehun at 2:49 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think about 90% of all men are wankers. I wanked in the shower this morning. Anyone else? *counts raised hands* That's what I thought.
posted by hippybear at 2:51 PM on August 14, 2009


I learned a new UK slang word today.

All these years, I've been telling people who ask what my shirt that says pants (not the actual shirt I have, mine has no extraneous period, pshaw) means, that it's about how words lie.
Damn you brits, now I'm the liar.
posted by nomisxid at 2:55 PM on August 14, 2009


I KILLED MY OPHTHALMOLOGIST AND ATE HIS HEART

Wrong organ specialty.
posted by benzenedream at 2:56 PM on August 14, 2009


Releaseable is the standard you hold yourself to?

I'll modify the statement: If it takes you two years of all-day-every-day work to create a masterpiece, you still suck. No album should ever take that long. Some great albums have taken a very long time, but none of them need to. And if you have to toil over an electro-pop record for that long, you really, really suck.
posted by The World Famous at 2:57 PM on August 14, 2009


It was acceptable in the 80's!
posted by yoHighness at 3:08 PM on August 14, 2009


If it takes you two years of all-day-every-day work to create a masterpiece, you still suck. No album should ever take that long. Some great albums have taken a very long time, but none of them need to. And if you have to toil over an electro-pop record for that long, you really, really suck.

Sounds like someone who's never cared deeply about something they've created.
posted by Magnakai at 3:10 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Critics can eat a bowl of dick. That song is great.
posted by fleetmouse at 3:15 PM on August 14, 2009


Critics can eat a bowl of pants.
posted by cazoo at 3:22 PM on August 14, 2009


How is this even a breakdown? Flagged for 'pants'.
posted by chugg at 3:25 PM on August 14, 2009


He may be a wanker, but he does have a point about rich people's kids getting cool jobs that poor people's kids could not afford to take. I think it may be the only way journalism will be able to survive.
posted by snofoam at 3:27 PM on August 14, 2009


but he does have a point about rich people's kids getting cool jobs that poor people's kids could not afford to take. I think it may be the only way journalism will be able to survive.

So. Fucking. True. There are a few industries that exist only because you can afford to not pay a huge amount of talent because of the assumption that that wont *have* to live on it. Or to put it via Dorthy Grambell (paraphrasing)

"So someone takes a year off to work on their portfolio, fine. People should take advantage of the advantages life gives them. But then people say that 15 dollar cocktails are the only way to go. Fine, takes all kinds. But when these are the same people......"

I think this was right before her semi-breakdown-move-to-Arizona as well, so YMMV.
posted by The Whelk at 3:35 PM on August 14, 2009


So can we talk about that and something substantial rather than making fun of someone who had a bad reaction to bad news and showing everyone how cool and unaffected and hip we are about the whole fucking thing cause emotions are for losers, man?
posted by The Whelk at 3:37 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Have any of you met Harris? Do you honestly believe that a 140 character tweet conveys any one person's full essence? If so, I humbly request that you reconsider your worldview.


For better or worse, people are judged by the perceptions of themselves that they create. If you're going to tweet like a wanker, people will call you a wanker, it's almost a physical law as regular as atomic decay or gravity. So maybe Calvin is a radiant aura of creativity and a truly wonderful person, he should still learn not to post reactively on twitter (or any public forum). It's part of managing a public personae, don't react to your critics because chances are, nobody has read them anyway.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:37 PM on August 14, 2009


Holy god, that new "Ready For The Weekend" single truly is absolute and utter trash. Argh; is this just forced amnesia?

One of the few instances in modern times in which Americans clearly and definitively have had better taste than people in the UK has been that shit song which "Ready For The Weekend" seems to be aping. Yeah, that's right, I'm talking about the song that's dumber than dirt, that raver anthem "Everybody's Free (To Take E, Tie Glow-Sticks To Their Pants, And Dance Around The Mall Like Frumpy Idiots)." It was popular here for, what, a month maybe back before Nevermind hit; after that, well, songs like that were pretty much a lost cause over here. Whereas that tune's been a hit about four times over there, hasn't it? Every three or four years Rozalla puts out a new one, and everybody gobbles it up like candy. Whereas we took so long to absorb the post-punk ethos that when it finally hit it was tinged with so much apathy and malaise that (and this is the fantastic side-effect) we'll never have to put up with Madonna-esque pop tripe again. Or so I would have thought. We're significantly stupider over here than we were even back then, so you never know.

But... so this guy is actually trying to sound like one of these mindless dance groups of the late 80s early 90s? Frighteningly, I don't think he's alone. I swear, the man was right, große tragödie & lumpige farce and all that. There was good music in the past; why aren't we listening to it?
posted by koeselitz at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2009


Releaseable is the standard you hold yourself to?

I'll modify the statement: If it takes you two years of all-day-every-day work to create a masterpiece, you still suck.


I liked your first statement better, The World Famous. No amount of time is too long to spend on something great. Two years for a releaseable pop album, though? Definitely too long.

I guess you get into semantic trouble when you try to define masterpiece. Whatever...I'm pretty sure that Calvin Harris doesn't know what it means, bless his little heart.
posted by nosila at 3:45 PM on August 14, 2009


The World Famous: I'll modify the statement: If it takes you two years of all-day-every-day work to create a masterpiece, you still suck. No album should ever take that long. Some great albums have taken a very long time, but none of them need to. And if you have to toil over an electro-pop record for that long, you really, really suck.

Magnakai: Sounds like someone who's never cared deeply about something they've created.

You don't suck if you take that long to record a light, breezy electropop album that's not in any apparent way intended to be anything more than a fun record. You're just mithering, and you may well be far more worried than you ought to be about the perception of fools.

Rephrase it thus:

If you spend two years of daily effort to make a record, and if you put that much of your back and that much of your soul into creating this slab of plastic, well then for god's sake don't rely on Twitter of all things for a gauge of its reception amongst kindred spirits or on rock critics of all people for a metric of its relative quality and importance.

I can say I can't stand this record, Mr Harris, and so can a lot of other people, but we didn't spend two years on it, now did we? So who the hell cares what we think?

It's not really Calvin Harris' fault, when it comes down, it's only naive for the poor fellow to be wringing hands here. He should be laughing; all the stuff he's said about 'they're popular because mum fucked a journo,' quite witty in fact, is more of a joke than anything else, and the fact that it doesn't seem like a joke to him indicates that he really has been working hard and probably does need to step back and think about what he's doing before giving a crowd of craps the undeserved respect of caring whether they like his music.
posted by koeselitz at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2009


argh, dithering, and I'm the one that deserves a mithering
posted by koeselitz at 3:57 PM on August 14, 2009


I'm not so much for the "I'm an artist doing my thing and THE MAN can't tell me where to get off" folks who get into a tizzy when THE MAN doesn't like their things.

Boswell told us what Johnson thought of that kind of whining (UK=whingeing):

'Nay, sir, do not complain. It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at only one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.'

Shirley this is true of music as well?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:08 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sounds like someone who's never cared deeply about something they've created.

Yeah. That's me. Mr. "I can create a good pop song in less than 2 months because I don't care deeply about my art."

I had a long response written out explaining that there are tons of talented people out there every day caring about their music and turning out far better creations in tiny fractions of the time that it allegedly took Calvin Harris to complete his album, and how some of those are people whose songs you would likely recognize but whose names you have never heard or read. But never mind all that.

Bottom line: When he says it took him two years of working 'round the clock to make that album, he's lying. And if he's not, he sucks. And sucking and caring deeply about what you're creating are not mutually exclusive concepts. Anyone who has to take that long to create that album is not good enough at their job (for whatever reason - including indecision or dithering) to be paid to do the job.

Again, I have no doubt that his "I worked on this all day every day for two years" thing is a lie. But if it's not, he needs to step aside and yield the stage to one of the thousands of people lined up behind him and wanting that stage who don't take that kind of time to turn out that kind of product.

He should be on his knees thanking whatever higher power he believes in for granting him a cushy life in exchange for doing what he does - not complaining when some people don't like his pop album.

He says: "Imagine you just spent 2 years of your life making a record. on your own. every single day, long hours, working to get it sounding right." Yeah, I'm imagining how awesome it would be paid to have that job, and then I'm imagining how I could record several albums better than his in that time. And I'm not some kind of musical genius or anything.
posted by The World Famous at 4:10 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is why you never directly respond to critics. Nothing good can come of it.
posted by vibrotronica at 4:12 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


I propose a Pepsi Challenge based on Calvin Harris' own statement:

Go on Metafilter Music and listen to the Most Playlisted Tracks (of all time) in order. For each one of those songs, do what Calvin Harris suggests. Imagine if the Metafilter user who created that song spent two years of their life paid vast sums of money to do nothing but make as many songs as good as that one as they could for two solid years. Every single day. Long hours, working to get it to sound right.

Then come back here and tell me if, compared to those Metafilter users, none of whom (as far as we know) is an actual pop star, Calvin Harris doesn't suck.
posted by The World Famous at 4:23 PM on August 14, 2009


As a counter argument, I would point out that Chinese Democracy was fussed over for many more than two years, and really really sucks.
posted by hippybear at 4:28 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


brundlefly: I'm not getting the West Wing reference.

I think I speak for everyone here when I say:

Huh?


"in an appeal reminiscent of Josiah Bartlet..."

I didn't get it either, and I don't even watch The West Wing.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:34 PM on August 14, 2009


I think you need to add "pants" as a tag.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:49 PM on August 14, 2009


Huh? Oh, they're size 32. Why do you ask?
posted by koeselitz at 5:01 PM on August 14, 2009


I am ready for the weekend.
posted by everichon at 5:05 PM on August 14, 2009


Something for the weekend.
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't get it either, and I don't even watch The West Wing.

I did, and I find it hard to imagine Josiah Bartlet having a twit-fit. Unless you count the season finale where he verbally gave God the finger in National Cathedral.
posted by brundlefly at 5:21 PM on August 14, 2009


I really can't see how the length of time you spend doing something equates how bad you are at it. Elton John once said it takes him literally minutes to compose the music for Taupin's lyrics, and his body of work has run the spectrum from the brilliance of "Tiny Dancer" all the way to the flavorless dreck of "Still Standing". On the other hand, Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon spent ten years on and off writing "Can't Fight This Feeling", so I could be wrong.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:23 PM on August 14, 2009


I really can't see how the length of time you spend doing something equates how bad you are at it.

Remember you wrote that if you ever get a bill from a lawyer who charges by the hour.
posted by The World Famous at 5:26 PM on August 14, 2009


I know people who know Calvin Harris personally, and from all accounts, he is a swell guy and really down to earth and he is not putting on an act here.
posted by empath at 5:30 PM on August 14, 2009


Can we figure out some way to weaponize this to make all 'Electro-Pop' artists break down?
posted by lumpenprole at 5:37 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


If it takes you two years of all-day-every-day work to come up with one album of releaseable material, you suck.

You know absolutely nothing about the process of making dance music.

Firstly -- the songs may appear simple, but in most cases, the producer and the composer and the engineer is the same person. The bassline might be dead simple to program, but you can be sure that they've spent days getting the plugin settings and layers and eqs and everything JUST RIGHT so it works on the dance floor.

Here's a video of a producer who makes similar music to Calvin Harris:

Chris Lake Tutorial.

He's producing a song that has one bass line and one melody, but the melody is played by 8 or 9 different synthesizers simultaneously, and he engineered every one of those from scratch -- no presets involved. It's not the case that you can just load up a copy of Logic Pro and FM8 and kick out a hit record. If you don't have THE sound, you're doomed before you even start.

And once you've got all the song 'finished', your work has really just started, you're going to spend days and days listening to the same loops over and over again, listening for weird resonances, finding muddy spots, bits that are just slightly off key, tweaking equalizers. It could really drive you insane. The demands in terms of production quality for AAA dance music is just unreal. You can't have a sour note or a bass kick that sounds flat. There is so much competition out there in terms of tracks that are released, that if it's not perfect, you won't get any sales at all.

It's not like punk rock where you can record some shit in your garage and sell a bunch of copies.

Now, a talented producer who has been making records for a decade can churn out a remix in 2-3 weeks, maybe even a couple of days if they're lazy about it if they re-use stuff from other songs they've done. But it takes 8 or 9 years of being a nobody, working from your basement to get to the point where they have a studio full of synths they know how to use well enough to make a pro-quality song in 2-3 weeks.

But Calvin Harris actually adds another layer to that in that he's not churning out faceless, disposable, functional dance tracks, he's actually making pop-dance records, that still have serious dance floor credibility. It's not the kind of thing you can just crap out in a weekend once you've got a bunch of synths and samplers, like you can if you're just doing a minimal techno record. I bet for the 8 or 9 songs he's got on the album, he's probably got 100 songs that never went any where. I don't doubt for a second that he spent 2 years working on it.

The shitty part about it is that if he just stayed underground and stuck to the club/dance music scene, he'd get ecstatic reviews. It's only because he reached for mainstream success that he got burned by people who don't understand what he's doing or why. But you know, his normal friends and family probably don't get the dance music scene, but they read the reviews in mainstream papers -- it's got to feel like shit to have a review in a paper that your mom reads (finally, someone respectable!) and have them trash you.

Oh well, the people that matter still love him. Fuck the critics.
posted by empath at 5:52 PM on August 14, 2009 [11 favorites]


You know absolutely nothing about the process of making dance music.

You are absolutely incorrect. You have no idea how incorrect you are. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, but you are just so mistaken in that assertion.

His assertion about having worked on the music all day everyday for two years was likely hyperbole.
posted by The World Famous at 6:06 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh well, the people that matter still love him. Fuck the critics.

Oh my God. That is great. That really sounds like the kind of thing somebody would say.
posted by ND¢ at 6:21 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Really, this post and the whole discussion would have fit nicely at the bottom of the comment page for the Calvin Harris FPP from 2 days ago.
posted by robinhoudt at 7:10 PM on August 14, 2009


The dude's just typing things into his BlackBerry and you seem to believe that you have a deep insight into the guy's soul. What do you plan to do next? Practice psychotherapy without a license?

Seems a little ironic that this is based on one sentence someone typed as a comment.
posted by Bort at 7:26 PM on August 14, 2009


Oh well, the people that matter still love him. Fuck the critics.

Wow, those grapes must be sour.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:32 PM on August 14, 2009


Okay, lets run a bona-fide experiment. I have a Korg EMX-1 synthesizer, recording equipment, a scant amount of experience, and time on my hands. Before midnight I will compose and record a dance track, upload it to MeFiMusic and we'll see if I can best Mr. Harris.
posted by hellojed at 8:25 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


You have no idea how incorrect you are. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to be a jerk or anything, but you are just so mistaken in that assertion.

Heh. That really isn't much of a counter-argument to empath's quite long post. Could we call it "Appeal to trust-me-I'm-an-authority"?
posted by smackfu at 9:17 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kylie Minogue did her last album using Songsmith.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:23 PM on August 14, 2009


empath, The World Famous... I think we all know how this argument has to end.

DANCE-OFF!
posted by koeselitz at 9:42 PM on August 14, 2009


Heh. That really isn't much of a counter-argument to empath's quite long post. Could we call it "Appeal to trust-me-I'm-an-authority"?

You're right. It's not a counterargument. I'm not interested in a Metafilter argument about who does or doesn't know anything about dance music production. I'm not asking anyone to trust me, nor am I holding myself out as an authority.
posted by The World Famous at 9:43 PM on August 14, 2009


So is that a Yes or a No to the dance-off? Don't tell me you're backing down like some jive turkey.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:54 PM on August 14, 2009


Well, the song is done. Here it is. Maybe you guys can have the dance off to that.
posted by hellojed at 10:01 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


No offense, but I find it laughable that you guys think the stuff you are putting on mefi music approaches anything that the pros are doing.

I have friends who sweat blood over the dance records they do and barely manage to break even on it. I actually have one friend who spent 8 months working on just his first single. It got signed to a label, a few big name DJs playlisted it around the world, and it was gone off the charts in a month. I don't know if he ever made a dime from it. It may be disposable music, but it ain't easy.

There actually is a professional dance record producer on mefi, though I don't know if he posts any more.

All that said, I'd rather have Calvin Harris's problem (bad reviews) than most of my producer friends ("Who are you, again?")
posted by empath at 10:37 PM on August 14, 2009


Okay:

It's easy to get all

empath: You know absolutely nothing about the process of making dance music

and

The World Famous: I could record several albums better than his in that time

here and pile on whole heaps of hyperbole, but let's come back down to earth, shall we?

I don't make dance music. I've played around with synths and sequencers, I've got a copy of that fun little psycle program on my laptop here that I fool around with sometimes, but I've never, like, recorded an album or anything. But I really like electronica, maybe not for its own sake but in certain circumstances. I guess I don't have a grand reverence for dance music; years ago, I guess people would call what I'm into on that front IDM and glitch, but hell, I don't know.

I guess all I know is that the time you put into an album doesn't mean much, unfortunately. I know there's a lot of work involved with putting together dance music - actually, a brief digression...

What the hell is so wrong with presets? Yeah, I know this has been a big thing with people for years - heck, I'm pretty sure I've read interviews with Eno from the 70s where he does some sneering about never using presets - but at this point what does that mean? I know what that meant to Eno and all the others - having a certain level of plasticity, exercising a finer grade of control over the music... but who's really doing that any more? I'm sorry, but I can't hear it; I can't hear the difference any more. I can hear it when I listen to those 90s discs - I can hear it when I listen to Orbital 2 or Tri Repetae or Ambient Works (that disc is probably the pinnacle of the whole 'eschewing the presets' thing, given the awesome found-sound work) but - maybe it's the fact that there are just so many presets now, maybe it's something else - when I listen to dance & electropop records nowadays, they just sound like they're floating on waves of presets. Sure, there are still pioneers out there who are able to bend the sound to make it entirely their own, I think, to gel everything together perfectly - Matthew Dear's Leave Luck To Heaven was awesome (jesus, was it really six years ago now that thing came out?) and Gui Boratto's Chromatophobia from a year or two ago makes me happier than any electronic album I've heard in at least half a decade. But the thing is that we all know that nobody that really fancies themselves an electronica person doesn't use presents... and yet there's still, if I can be pardoned for saying so, a lot of this music that sounds like it may have been made with presets anyway for how flat it is; and sonic plasticity isn't really the point of an electropop or dance record, anyway. So maybe we should give up this ridiculous hipster-cred thing of never using presets. Hell, Cabaret Voltaire used presets on essentially every song they recorded in the first five years of their existence, and their music was f'ing awesome. Maybe it's just what you do with it.

That's probably why the quality of a record doesn't unfortunately have that much to do with how long you take to make it. I've heard that Autechre spend a month and a half on LP5 - a month and a half. On LP5. I am very sorry, and I hate to come back to the "of course everyone agrees with me" tone that some people have been pulling, but - does anybody here who really likes electronic music really believe that this Ready For The Weekend thing is even close in caliber or quality of beats? In fact, I'll bet there are records that are closer in genre (I'm not as familiar with it) to Ready For The Weekend that took a tiny amount of time to make by comparison. That's not because it's easy to make electronic music. Yes, it takes work to hone a synth tone and tweak a sequencer; but it takes time to play a guitar or piano, too. Once we get past the point where we realize that these people are actually hard-working musicians - a point I'd thought we passed years ago - don't we actually have to judge them on that standard, too?

Also, isn't Chris Lake just a little, er, different from Calvin Harris? I mean, sure, maybe Calvin is working through his tracks a lot, and I buy that he's putting a lot of time in; but Chris Lake, while I'm no huge fan or anything, seems like he's doing something at least a little 'purer' and more sonically cohesive. Maybe I'm just getting fooled by the faux-nostalgia veneer that Calvin Harris seems to be covering his music in; I don't know. You seem to be saying that that's all it is, a veneer, and that under it he's actually doing some vital and innovative things as far as dance tunes are concerned... so maybe I missed that. I'll keep listening; I don't deny that he's doing a lot, it just seems so predictable to me at this point.
posted by koeselitz at 10:38 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


And one last thing, since this isn't something one can let pass without making a point about it:

empath: It's not like punk rock where you can record some shit in your garage and sell a bunch of copies.

Heh.

Yeah.

Right.

"Listen, you ridiculous punk rockers have no idea. You can't just pick up a guitar and riff; it takes years of work to learn to play this stuff. Pink Floyd took a decade to really get to the top of their game! You have no idea what it takes to make real music."

"Listen, you silly guitar wankers have no idea - you think it's just plug in and start soloing. We'll have you know that the jazz we play? Took years of our lives to learn. Music isn't something you can just plink out in a weekend."

"These jazz musicians sure are naive. Don't they know that to be a real musician you have to be trained from birth? And that, if you did that, you still could almost never get to the point where you were good enough to pick your own notes? Improvisation - what a ridiculous scheme. It'll never work."

You're just reciting tired old lines, man. The difference is, you feel burned because you think some people think it's easy to make electronica. But the fact that it's hard to make doesn't mean it's always good. It's kinda like, oh, every other kind of music that way.
posted by koeselitz at 10:48 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


What the hell is so wrong with presets?

In dance music, at least, the problem with presets is that dance music thrives on novelty. it's not the melody, it's the timbre and feel of the sound that matters. Just as an example -- Deadmau5 is no musical genius, in terms of the melodies he puts together -- it's the sounds that he makes that made him a big star. That song is dead simple, but wow that synth is beautiful. It doesn't sound like anybody else. (well, it didn't before everyone started copying him -- compare this remix of Fragma by another producer, done about 9 months after Faxing Berlin came out)

Those sounds have a sell-by date of about 9 months, then they just have the punch that they had before.

So the life cycle goes like this:

Some hot new producer: (Benny Benassi) makes a new sound -- the bassline inSatisfaction.

It blows up dancefloors all over the world (note-- it's not because the MUSIC is genius -- it's just THAT SOUND that made that song a hit record)

Then the producers out there who are engineering geniuses and good mimics start making original tracks using that bassline -- not really just being copycats-- but when you're DJing you want songs that sound similar so the mixes are smoother-- they're serving a purpose...

That lasts for the next 2-3 months or so.

The production messageboards all blow up with newbies posting "How do I make the Satisfaction bassline!!!!!!!!!!"

Then you get the second wave of remixes and bootlegs of pop records and top 40 stuff ripping off the sound -- this is when it hits the radio -- California Dreaming

This is where new sounds go to die -- the fun of hearing new sounds with familiar hooks lasts for another few months.

In the meantime, all the synth manufacturers are programming the bassline into their presets. By now, everyone is already sick to death of the sound, and it's in the hands of people who don't really know what they're doing -- and you get a flood of garbage hitting the internet using the same bassline and no one wants to hear it any more.

That's why presets suck, at least for the hook of the record.

They're useful for pads, etc, but even then -- when you engineer a top pro-quality song, every part of the song needs to fit JUST SO. So you end up using a ton of filters and adjusting envelopes and applying compression and adding LFOs, etc and by the time you're done you aren't using a preset any more.

Making a song using only presets or mostly presets, it sounds cheap, and everything doesn't QUITE in the way that custom engineered synths do.
posted by empath at 10:59 PM on August 14, 2009


It's not easy to make good electronica. But it shouldn't (and doesn't) take two entire years of working all day everyday to make one decent album.
posted by The World Famous at 10:59 PM on August 14, 2009


I didn't mean to say punk rock was shit, btw... just pointing out that you can make punk rock with a minimum amount of talent and time and have it be good enough to sell records.
posted by empath at 11:01 PM on August 14, 2009


Pretty sure that also applies to electronica.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:02 PM on August 14, 2009


But it shouldn't (and doesn't) take two entire years of working all day everyday to make one decent album.

I don't think anybody though he was spending all day every day on it. Sometimes you spend a few minutes here and there on a song over a few months because you get burned out on it. Sometimes you don't do anything but just think about music for 3 months. But I don't doubt that it took him 2 years to make it and that he couldn't have done it faster.
posted by empath at 11:03 PM on August 14, 2009


I don't think anybody though he was spending all day every day on it.

He said he was. That's the point. If you're saying you agree with me that he was lying, then fine.

But I don't doubt that it took him 2 years to make it and that he couldn't have done it faster.

I don't doubt that he finished it two years after he started it. But that's not what he claimed.

No offense, but I find it laughable that you guys think the stuff you are putting on mefi music approaches anything that the pros are doing.

1. Some of the stuff there is done by "the pros." You should listen to it more.

2. I think that, given two years of all-day-every-day like Harris claims, the best MeFiMusic contributors could come up with a lot better music than Harris allegedly did with that amount of work. I don't count myself among those contributors.

3. And yeah, I think that some of the stuff that "us guys" are putting on MeFiMusic approaches a lot that "the pros" are doing. You should listen to it more.

I'm not claiming that my MeFiMusic posts "approach anything the pros are doing," but I am claiming that, given what I know I can produce in a few hours, I could produce a lot more in two full years of all-day-everyday work. I think that Harris could, too. Because I don't believe for a second that he worked on writing and recording that album all day everyday for two years like he claims he did.

I actually like his music quite a bit. But I don't think it's a massive epic genius masterpiece that should take two full years of all-day-everyday work to create.

(Although, actually, sometimes the longer an artist spends on an album, the worse it is. See, e.g., Chinese Democracy.)
posted by The World Famous at 11:40 PM on August 14, 2009


No offense, but I find it laughable that you guys think the stuff you are putting on mefi music approaches anything that the pros are doing.

Oh, none taken. I mean, if someone like me could make a hit song in 2 hours then it's the end of the world.
posted by hellojed at 11:41 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I felt really icky about this article. There is more than a little "BABY GONNA CRY? WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOURSELF" going on

Amen.

You don't suck if you take that long to record a light, breezy electropop album that's not in any apparent way intended to be anything more than a fun record.

Pop is harder than it looks; "I would have made this letter shorter, but I did not have time."

A local orchestral composer who's also a drag queen tried doing pop, didn't get very far, and commented on how hard it was to craft 3-4 minute songs that didn't completely suck.

It's not like punk rock where you can record some shit in your garage and sell a bunch of copies.

Well, most famous punk is actually a great deal more involved that the PR of punk would have you believe.

Could we call it "Appeal to trust-me-I'm-an-authority"?

"My mom knows about this stuff."
posted by rodgerd at 1:02 AM on August 15, 2009


This guy is a wanker? I would have thought failing to present a seamless public persona was very much the mark of someone who is not a wanker.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 1:41 AM on August 15, 2009


I think we need to take the argument to this thread.
posted by benzenedream at 11:11 AM on August 15, 2009


He's "a bit of a wanker," you say? Really? Have you met the guy at a bar or a cafe? And did he throw a drink in your face? Why the instant judgment? The dude's just typing things into his BlackBerry and you seem to believe that you have a deep insight into the guy's soul. What do you plan to do next? Practice psychotherapy without a license?

Whoa slow down there buckshot. Easy on the straw man.

I wasn't even judging his whiney response. Have you listened to his music?

I mean, how much more wanky can you get?
posted by ageispolis at 9:48 PM on August 15, 2009


I downloaded a leak of the new album and it's great! The songs are catchy and annoy the hell out of pompous IDM fans.

Thank goodness he had or staged this "meltdown" or I might never have heard this well crafted dance pop.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:26 AM on August 16, 2009


I mean, how much more wanky can you get?

Tom Jenkinson? Aaron Funk? Yngwie Malmsteen?
posted by fleetmouse at 7:31 AM on August 16, 2009


Learning the epithet "pants!" and its various usages ("oh, PANTS!" "that is totally pants" etc etc) has been pretty much the high point of my working for a UK-based magazine over the past year. Hands down my new favorite thing to say when something sucks.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:32 PM on August 16, 2009


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