I recently finished reading Bob Stanley’s Yeah Yeah Yeah. As hoped, it is an excellent book, in particular when he gets to phases of music that he lived through. And it’s great to have a music history that is told through the prism of pop rather than rock.
The book finishes with the demise of the physical single format in the early 2000s. For Stanley, this marked the end of an era. He believes that it led to a less intense relationship with pop. On the final page he remarks ‘Instant downloads require no effort, and so demand less of an emotional connection – it’s less likely that you will devote time and effort to getting inside a new record, trying to understand it, if you haven’t made a physical journey to track it down the first place.’
I’m in broad agreement with him and I’m as guilty as anyone of spending less time on new music now that it is freely available. I used to work at any album I bought, even if I didn’t particularly like it when I first got it home. I was so obsessed with recording formats that I used to dream about records that I wanted to own. Nevertheless, I think that Stanley’s thesis holds more water when it comes to rock, indie and dance records than it does for pop, which is ironic given the overall focus of his book.
My record collection features numerous punk and house records, as well as old rock and soul albums. I needed to buy these – if I didn’t have them I would rarely come across them in my everyday life. In contrast, there are many pop records that I love, but I don’t own them. In fact, I never felt the need to, as I knew they would crop up on radio, TV and jukeboxes and in shopping arcades and clubs whether I wanted them to or not. It was by this means that I got to know them inside out. As such, my record collection isn’t always a true reflection of the music with which I’m most emotionally connected. It is my digital fingerprint that points unwaveringly towards my pop heart.