The musically omnivorous site Popdose reviewed High School Musical-spawned starlet Ashley Tisdale’s Guilty Pleasure, and the report, despite having the subtitle “How Bad Can It Be?”, is actually not all that bad: Writer Jack Feerick has fun playing what he calls “Spot The Influence” with the album and marveling at its unhingedness, although he hates that the act of listening to it has unwittingly dragged him into the Loudness Wars that previously trapped people who committed the crime of wanting to listen to Metallica’s Death Magnetic:
What’s not so fun, though, is listening to all the songs in a row; that’s just kind of exhausting. The album fades in on the sounds of an orchestra tuning up, and it’s the last moment of unprocessed, acoustically-produced sound you’ll hear for the duration. I probably sound like a cranky old man pissing against the tides of modernity, but it’s God’s own truth. I find myself energized by listening to a spacious recording of live instruments interacting, but the hot, hyper-compressed mix of Guilty Pleasure literally fatigued me. Look at the waveform on this.
Everything’s in clip, and even at a low volume, after a while my ears just wanted to fold themselves shut. The vocals are the worst of it, multi-tracked, pitch-shifted, and quantized from here to sonority. The inescapable synthetic quality is enough to send me out to a karaoke happy hour, just to be reminded of that sound unprocessed human voices. It’s soul music for Cylons, and as a default setting it gives me the screaming heebie-jeebies.
That waveform is for the track “How Do You Love Someone,” which does indeed have that Velveeta feel that super-processed pop has these days:
What I’m wondering is: Is there a pop song out there with an even more clippy waveform? And—and this is just some idle speculation being thrown out on a Friday afternoon, which I might very well pick up on later—how is the creation of these fatigue-inducing albums having an effect on peoples’ ability to consume pop music over semi-lengthy periods of time, by which I mean “the length of an album, or even of a commercial-free block on a Top 40 radio station”? Tisdale’s album, just for the sake of throwing statistics into the mix, sold 25,000 copies in its first week—hardly High School Musical numbers. Sure, correlation isn’t causation, but the fact that these super-sweet aural confections aren’t exactly doing gangbusters in the marketplace is certainly worth bringing up.
Ashley Tisdale, “Guilty Pleasure” [Popdose]
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