With 2014 well underway, a lot of my favorite people are back in the radio groove. And by “groove,” I mean
polar sonic vortex. A million new albums need to be listened to, need to be added to stations’ rotations (like, yesterday), need to be championed by promoters and programmers alike, need to be shared with as many people as possible, as fast as possible. Oh, and don’t forget, there are all of the shows to see. My Instagram feed is already an endless scroll of bright stages and performers in motion and the backs of hundreds of heads, and it’s not even February.
And so it’ll go, for the rest of the year, week after week.
There is, of course, nothing inherently wrong with this. There’s an undeniable thrill that comes from the discovery and sharing of new music. And the energy, the sense of excitement and community involved in the whole process? Infectious.
It’s way too easy, though, to get sucked into the cycle. Things move fast, there’s more music than can ever be absorbed by one set of human ears, and without reserving some very important personal time, losing grasp of what you really love (vs. what you’re trying to like just because everyone else seems to) is a very real possibility.
Strangely enough, it’s just as easy to feel out of the loop based on the contents of your fridge as it is on the contents of your record player–I mean, you do own a record player, right? Don’t tell me you’re still listening to the Atkins diet of the music world that is sad little MP3s. Do you play them on a Zune, too?
If you let it, keeping up with all the hippest superfoods can get stressful in the same way that keeping up with all the newest records can–but here’s why, at the end of the day, you honestly don’t need to.
1. There will always be the newest, most exciting thing that you HAVE TO CHECK OUT RIGHT NOW, OTHERWISE OMG YOU ARE TOTALLY MISSING OUT (but, really, you’re not).
“What? You mean you haven’t gotten into ______ yet? It’s seriously the hottest thing right now. Dude, you’ve gotta check it out. Everyone who’s cooler than you loves ______, and you’re about to lose cred if you don’t hurry up and start liking ______ like they do.”
Potential fill-ins for this blank, Round 2: kale, goji berries, lucuma, chia seeds, maca.
A record is a record is a record, and a food is a food is a food. And queuing up a loud, scuzzy surf-rock album just because it’s new, when all you’re really in the mood for is mid-90s acid jazz, will not change your life–it’ll probably just make you wish you’d turned on some jazz.
If your fitness-obsessed friends and Pinterest peers are all knocking back spirulina by the spoonful, but you’re just now starting to eat spinach without wanting to puke, then enjoy the hell outta that spinach and leave the algae at the grocery store for the time being. Eat and listen to what you crave, until you’re actually ready for something new–forcing it won’t make the experience any more fun.
2. Hype and trends come and go.
Remember how massively popular this song was? It hit noncomm radio at the end of 2011, then made its commercial transition and played–seemingly every 15 minutes–on every Top 40 frequency just a few short months later.
Now, no one has a clue what that guy’s up to.
Someday, no one will give a shit about putting kale leaves in their smoothies; we’ll all have moved on to free-range chard or grass-fed cabbage or something.
Barring the trends you follow as part of your job, who caaaares about timeliness? I just discovered purple sweet potatoes this year and think they’re pretty much the coolest thing ever; meanwhile, everyone else is really into pink Himalayan sea salt, and I’m hoping my current ambivalence toward it leaves me far enough behind the bandwagon to score some super-deep discounts when I finally get around to caring what color my salt is.
3. Trying new things is great. But in the end, it’s okay to stick with what you really love.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with adding a few fancy ingredients to your regular repertoire–that’s the spice of life, right? You get a taste of something new, and it opens up a whole new world of flavors and textures, sounds and people you’d have otherwise waltzed right past. Growth and change are very good things.
The trick, though, is to remain conscious of what’s really working for you, vs. what you’re just keeping up with to ease external pressure. Can’t stand garage rock? Then stop pretending you care about it and put on the damn folk album. Don’t like green juice, even though everyone keeps rambling on about how great it makes them feel? Quit choking it down and have a bowl of oatmeal. That’ll make you feel pretty great, too.
No one else has your ears, and no one else has your taste buds.
Put into them what actually makes you happy.
*Please note that I have absolutely nothing against these artists or the teams working to support their music (I actually really dig a few of their new albums, myself). They were used here merely to make a timely point.