Participants in our Music Journalism Course are answering three questions related to music and writing. Once they respond, they post three questions for someone else. It keeps going like that. You can see all the questions and answers here. Tag, you’re it.
Tim Coffman posed questions for Alessandra Guaneri after he answered three questions from Patrick Foster:
TC: Have there ever been any bands that you always heard were incredible, but for some reason they never clicked with you?
AG: That’s a great question. Personally, I would say definitely. I think everything in life is about personal preference and music is not an exception to that rule. An award winning chef may make a gourmet meal, but the person who eats it may still despite it. It’s often not because that chef isn’t talented or because the food wasn’t good. It’s simply because they didn’t like it. Music is the same way. Some of the most talented musicians and artists to ever be heard, in my opinion, have been torn apart by music critics and fans around the world.
Personally, I think it’s important to recognize that musician’s have talent and are creating art through sound before judging them based on your own taste. There have been countless bands and artists with an impressive following that I have listened to and genuinely didn’t enjoy. However, I don’t think a person is being honest if they say they love every single artist and musician they have ever heard in their life. I can listen to a song that I think is genius, but it still may not go one of my playlists. It doesn’t mean it isn’t good or unique, it just means I don’t see myself listening to it again.
This whole question brings me back to a concept I try to carry with me which is to recognize the individuality behind a track and the talent that created it before thinking about if I personally like it. I guess that’s just the music journalist in me!
TC: How much do you think the production of a song matters in the song’s overall appeal? Do you think there are some songs that could have been great but just wasn’t necessarily pleasant to listen to?
AG: The production of a song is crucial to its existence. If a song isn’t pleasant to listen to sonically, I will most likely never listen to it again. I think there are countless artists that are creating music with incredibly impressive production and there are also artists and audio team’s who could be doing a lot better. I think this also goes back a bit to preference. I may think something sounds a little off and another person listening may think it’s the most genius thing that they have ever heard.
What makes one song’s production better than another? Every person you ask that question will have a different answer. I guess that just means musicians and their teams have to make what they believe is their best work and leave the rest up to the listeners. I don’t like to hear artist’s make music that sounds like they are just trying to please people or get a spot on the Top 100.
I do think there are songs out there that scream lazy to me. I’m not a fan of the whole “cut and paste” technique in the studio when it comes to the structure of a song. I think each verse should be treated as its own part whether that means adding a new guitar lick here and there or bringing in a solo for one verse and not the other. It’s all about effort. If a song is given the correct amount of attention in all aspects, including production, it will be successful.
TC: How do you feel about artists or bands that use visual aids in conjunction with music (a la Gorillaz and Daft Punk)? Do you get a better connection from seeing an actual person performing or do these enhanced visuals work just as well?
AG: I’m a huge fan of artists and bands that use visual aids in conjunction with their music. However, personally, I would rather see an actual person performing because I can watch something on a screen from home. It may sound sort of lame, but unless it’s an electronic producer/DJ act, I think the artist or band should be putting on a show for the crowd that they had to work for themselves.
To be able to entertain a crowd without visuals is a true challenge, but it’s something that every artist and musician should master and also a fear they should conquer. I enjoy seeing visual aids simultaneously happening alongside a performance, but I am not a fan of only watching them. I think what Taylor Swift did for her Reputation Tour this past summer was rather impressive in that aspect. By combining moving visuals with her live performance, it truly felt like an experience and not like I was just watching a movie. She made it feel like I, as an audience member, could have it all and that set the bar pretty high for me.
It’s crucial for an audience, in my opinion, to feel like they’re experiencing something and a part of the show. I want to know that if I go buy something from the merch stand, the show will not be paused and I can’t find the exact show I attended from my seat online. Fans want to connect with their favorite artists. They want to be able to scream lyrics back and forth and desperately make eye contact from nosebleed seats after their friends tell them for the fiftieth time that it’s physically not possible. Anyone could perform, but to be able to entertain and leave an audience with something they’re going to remember is a whole different ball game.
Now, Alessandra has three questions for Charlotte Kohlberg:
- Do you think music would be different without social media and streaming platforms? In your opinion, would it be better for the industry or worse?
- In the music industry currently, what do you think an artist needs in order to succeed? How can upcoming artists compete with those who are already established?
- Do you believe going to live shows, such as festivals or concerts, is something that will eventually die down when technically advances or will it live on forever? Why?
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.