no such thing as a perfect pop album?

May 15, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Posted in musings, new music | Leave a comment
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Interesting stuff over at DDDD zine (issue 58 I think) about how 2010 has been a duff year for music so far as it hasn’t yet produced a perfect pop (hereafter: PP) album.  At least not one that DDDD has heard, anyway.  Showing their usual patron-saint-of-lost-causes attitude, they have dedicated themselves to finding it.  Whilst I applaud the dedication, and am broadly in agreement with their definition of PP, I have to take issue, politely of course, with their unit of measurement.  They are looking for a PP album but surely the unit of PP is the song?  Mischievous Rob might even assert the following:

There is no such thing as a PP album – it is a contradiction in terms.  A perfect album has a coherence and identity perfectly served and expressed by the songs on it.  More than that, the songs all have to be necessary (‘all killer, no filler’) and in the exact order presented.  Anything less is not a perfect album.  However, a PP song stands gloriously alone and self-sufficient – that, I would argue, is part of the definition of PP – thus any attempt to plug it into the context of an album can only be partially successful.  It sticks out like a teenager’s boner and tents the otherwise faultless cut of the otherwise perfect album.  Thus any album containing one or more PP songs cannot be a perfect album by definition.  I thank you.

I’m not sure I totally buy Mischievous Rob’s argument (please note: views expressed by radiofreemidwich may not be the views held by radiofreemidwich) but I see where he is coming from, the little tinker.  Think about it: how many PP songs can you name?  Loads, isn’t it?  I bet your internal iPod is skipping through dozens right now.  And how many PP albums can you name?  Hmmm: not so easy.

A final paragraph on ‘best of’ anthologies and mix albums.  Maybe one or two (or three) anthologies may be chocka with PP, and almost perfect albums as defined above, but such quality is vanishingly rare.  My heart sinks, for example, when approaching the final third of any anthology by one of the great soul voices of the 70s as this bit invariably features the lame crap recorded after they found god in rehab.  Mixes may seem like a safer bet: they have flow, are the product of a single vision and/or aesthetic, and can, in theory at least, seamlessly weave in the stompers.  The problem is, of course, that while a mix may be perfect on its own terms, how many feature what we normally understand as perfect pop?

Comments welcome.

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