Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What Is Dubstep?

I know I'm not old. Sometimes I like to say I'm old, but all I really mean by this is that kids today aren't watching the same shows I watched on Nickelodeon when I was eight, and this makes me insecure. When you get right down to it, I'm still only 23. I'm not a kid anymore (although I do still have an affinity for Hey Arnold!), but I haven't started losing my hair, I'm still convinced that "joint pain" is just a rumor propagated by AARP lobbyists, and I don't really have a problem with Pop-Tarts for dinner as long as you're not making a habit out of it (once a week, max) (maybe twice, but we'd have to be talking about some pretty outstanding Pop-Tarts in a scenario like this).

But this whole dubstep thing is making the "old" issue a little more complicated.

I want to make one thing clear right away: the problem is not that I hate dubstep. Hating a genre of music that's popular hasn't disqualified you from being young and hip since at least 1978. Personally, I completely gave up on trying to like all types of popular music sometime last year, as I was working with middle school students who repeatedly made sure that I knew this was never going to happen. And it turned out to be easier and more enjoyable to retreat into my narrow little slice of pop culture where everyone is really excited for the new White Rabbits album and pretty unaware of what Katy Perry is up to anyway.

So, to reiterate: the problem is not that I hate dubstep. The problem is that I don't know what dubstep is.

I mean this very, very literally. I know that it's a type of music, and that's it. I've read the Wikipedia entry (kind of) (I mean, I read the intro to the Wikipedia entry. I would've read the whole article, but it was long, and I'm a busy man), and I've listened to a few YouTube videos named something along the lines of "Song [Dubstep Mix]," and I still can't really figure out what dubstep is. The videos I've found either just look and sound like bass heavy remixes of already popular songs or postmodern Target commercials.

Honestly, though, I can't say the Wikipedia entry was entirely unhelpful, as it did offer this relatively concise and straightforward definition of the genre: "tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals." I don't really understand what this means, but I can see how it might be helpful should dubstep ever come up in conversation:

Hip Young Person: Say, have you heard the latest dubstep song?

Me: You mean the one featuring tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals?

Hip Young Person: Umm...yes. That one. Anyway, I'm going to walk away now. But you should stay here.

Which would actually be great for me because I wouldn't have anything to say after that first sentence, thus proving that we've really only treated the symptom here.

It's one thing to hate something popular. There's honor and occasional foresight in that, as anyone who didn't buy a Furby can attest to. But to be almost entirely ignorant of something popular? There's not too much honor in that. Just a lot of senior discounts.

I think I'm going to grow my hair out.

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