Yeah… it’s Monday and I’ve already made peace with the unpopular musical opinions that I’m in possession of. Now I’m shoring up for the potential concomitant pushback that might arrive on the shore of this here musical outpost. So I was peeking around on Spotify and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m not a fan of the service, to the contrary, I spend a lot of time listening to music on Spotify. A lot. Now I must provide full disclosure and state that I’m not big on playlists but I believe that has a lot to do with my quirky personality. A personality that is and has always been extremely picky. Extremely. So most of the time that I’m on the service I’m looking for and listening to what I’m interested in at the time. Every now and then I open myself up to discovery but that’s more the exception than the rule.

Now the reason that I was inspired to discuss this particular playlist that I’ve embedded below is that I have a few questions of the why variety that I think we should open for discussion.

1. Why is the playlist description a half sentence that does not provide a definitive place or time that we could cite as a destination?

2. There’s a “remix” on here that yeah why?

3. Why am I feeling that some of these choices were forced and/or not well researched?

4. Why do I not believe this playlist has amassed 1.6 Million followers in two weeks?

5. Why do I believe this playlist has amassed 1.6 Million followers in two weeks? (I meant to do that)

Listen, I truly understand I am not the target demographic for this playlist(or pretty much any other one as I stated above) but the reason that I’m writing this(this is where the unpopular opinion part comes in) I’ve got to say and yes this is really just an opinion (and we know what opinions are like) but there really was some terrible music that was popular in the 90’s and early 2000’s. Ok, I got it out. I actually typed the honest thought that was in my head. Now the world will know and I’ve been exposed for having a counter opinion.

I mean I was around in the 90’s. Heck, I was still going out to Da Club in the 90’s. Heard a lot of these tunes and I must say out of the 50 here 12 songs I mess with so that’s what around 24-25%. Now out of that 12? There’s probably 3 or 4 that I really, really mess with. So that’s probably 6%. It would be fun for me if my GFM Fam would like to take a guess at which three songs on this list I mess with the most. It would probably not be too hard to figure out if you’ve read any of these rants of mine.

I’m not super math nor business savvy so I don’t know what percentage of mess withability the average user needs to achieve to follow a playlist but for me if you have 50 songs and I really and truly dig 3, I’ll just play the three on my own and skip the process of having to follow the other 47. The other thing that I would like to point out is that at times this playlist feels a little all over the place and that’s just the stickler for date and time in me, which goes back to the question surrounding the playlist description as “Taking it way back…” which my retort is: To where? Now I’m not going to let my ego get in the way and advance that I’m still not ready to accept the 90’s as way back. Yeah, I know, I know, just let me keep living the dream at least for another two years.

The reason I bring up the playlist’s space-time continuum is that it’s hard for me to group music from ’93 and ’94(perhaps ’95, ok yes def ’95) under the same umbrella as the late 90’s and early 2000’s. See for me there’s music that’s B.S.S. and A.S.S.(I mainly use these qualifiers for Hip Hop which is what makes up a majority of this playlist). What do those acronyms stand for? Oh, easy… Before Shiny Suit and After Shiny Suit. Now I’m not saying that it’s a hard and fast rule that music would be considered A.S.S. after a certain date, to the contrary but what I am saying is if you look at a lot(not the outliers, the exceptions to the rules like oh I don’t know… one example might be a group from the South with something to say) of the music that was popular after a certain date perhaps they were moreso a product of the times and not a timeless product.

You know that last statement is really what this screed is about. I mean to me sometimes the point is there is no point but we just need to go to the intellectual gym and throw some ideas around to stay fit. But I think during this session I’ve discovered that there really is a difference between a popular product of its time and a timeless product. Now every now and then you’ll have that magical combination of music that is at once popular at a specific point and time and its appeal goes on much longer than its initial popularity. That’s rare. That rarity probably speaks to my own personal affinity for only a few of these songs. It’s not that I’m looking to diminish the success of any artist or any songs. Popular is as popular does. I have a feeling that as I continue to wrestle here in this gym of thoughts that my concern is that when we consider the history of music, the way back if you will, is that the surface is where many choose to keep the conversation. That only becomes a problem when that’s the only conversation going and well…

So I just want to be certain that I don’t come off as a Killjoy, Elitist, Snoberella or whatever because whilst a lot of this music I don’t have a desire to revisit in the context of listening, I would cut a rug to a majority of them in the right context. So maybe what the real issue, the real why here, for me is the presentation. Perhaps I’m looking at this playlist(and quite a few others) as a tool to teach me something or expertly contextualize an era of music and perhaps that’s not the purpose at all. Perhaps the purpose of this playlist was aptly stated in its description. Perhaps this is just a small view into overlapping and unrelated periods of way back and if I was coming expecting anything other than I’m just simply in the wrong place.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.