Vinyl Vs. CD

27 Aug

Clashing with what is considered mainstream or a part of the mass culture, rebellion if you will, has been a part of the youth culture for many years. Since James Dean brooded his way through “Rebel Without a Cause”, the spirit of teen rebellion or youthful dissonance has carried on in different ways. This article focuses on the attempt to stray from the transition from music recorded on vinyl records to digital means such as MP3 or Compact Discs. The reasoning behind not switching varies from remaining true to what is considered “true music” before corporate manufacturing, money reasons, and design of the discs, as well as rarity of numerous compilations. But there may be another factor that isn’t taken into account, one that takes into consideration the predecessors of bands that we listen to on a daily basis being inspired by the realness of musical artists of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and the grittiness of their recording technologies.

This is a fact not only highlighted in the recording style but, as writer David Hayes points out, the popular culture relying on the past to produce the future. By this I mean that modern audiences rely on, to a degree, the past films and music to appreciate the more contemporary. Hayes mentions the Austin Powers movies and how to understand the structure, characters, and humor that audiences need to familiarize themselves with “late-‘60s British spy films” and “blaxploitation” movies such as “Shaft” (292). Another well-illustrated example is how films like “High Fidelity” bring in the interest from today’s younger audience by associating vinyl with “an opportunity for youth to assert their independence from parents”, or even as a “prelude to sex” (293). With both ideas being very appealing to teens, it is easy to see along with previously stated reasons, why vinyl is a format that is still finding legs with younger crowds.

To this very day, certain music stores such as Hot Topic or Half Price Books sell vinyl versions of singles or of entire albums. At both stores, you will find numerous people on a daily basis skimming the racks to find hidden or valuable additions to any record collection. This brings back the question: why vinyl and not digital formats? Well, the short answer, the financial one, would be that modern day customers are somewhat frugal with their money and decide to continue with the cheapest format or even the format that they already have in their homes or ones that were passed down to them from previous generations. The real answer, I believe, is that the quality of the sound was slightly better than when it is converted to digital, it is a more real sound than what we are accustomed to.

Today, most musical artists compromise their music with auto-tune or digital modifications in order to make sure they sound better. In the golden age of rock and roll, the sound was dirty in addition to fast paced, and was completely imperfect. If you don’t believe me, pop open and put down a vinyl copy of The Ramones’ debut album and play the same tracks alongside digital versions from itunes or compact discs. You’ll find out that the sound from vinyl sounds more authentic as opposed to today where even after multiple takes, the sound editors will do whatever they can to modify the sound best to appeal to a wider mainstream audience. The realness of bands like the Ramones is what inspired many punk and rock acts of today such as Green Day to take to the stage and to honor their predecessors, it would be wise to follow in their footsteps and engage in recording their own sound in an authentic way. As the old saying goes, “the past becomes prologue” as we must look into our past and see what works best in order to bring the present to where it should be.

Works Cited

Hayes, David. “‘Take Those Old Records Off the Shelf’: Youth adn Music Consumption in the Postmodern Age” Common Culture: Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture. Ed. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Sixth ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2009. 288-308. Print.

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