Music series

Song Exploder: In Praise of Netflix’s Excellent Musical Series

Song exploder

It’s an in-depth look – lasting about half an hour – into the make, structure, causes, and effects of some absolutely iconic pop and rock hits.

My favorite episode, out of the eight available so far, is on REM and the track, of course, losing my Religion. With that single song, the band went from four friends in Athens, Georgia, with a cult on the student and varsity radio circuit – of which I was ardently a part – to selling stadiums and moving millions of albums around the world. whole world, even in the song itself was not obvious Let’s dancegravy train style.

As is emphasized early and often, you don’t write a five-minute song, without a chorus, with the lead line played on the mandolin, thinking that fame and fortune is coming.

losing my Religion also benefited immensely from a pretty brilliant video on MTV high-rotate. Director Tarsem Singh embarked on a distinguished career as one of Hollywood’s most recognizable directors. His The cell is a cult hit to this day, while Disinterested – which is on Netflix – is an entertaining shameless waste of time about a billionaire transferring his consciousness into the body of a younger man. It’s a great wasted idea, but fun to watch nonetheless. Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley are the stars.

REM's Losing My Religion is the focus of an episode of Netflix's excellent Song Exploder.

Netflix

REM’s Losing My Religion is the focus of an episode of Netflix’s excellent Song Exploder.

READ MORE:
* This is Pop: Netflix’s mind-blowing series delves into the great stories of the genre
* Revision: Auto / less
* Director Tarsem Singh talks about himself / less

Netflix

This is Pop is now available to stream on Netflix.

It’s pop

No one will ever accuse this series of being a deep, exhaustive, and encyclopedic dive into the history and effects of pop music that the world may one day need. And, we should all be pretty happy about it. I don’t believe it’s even possible to make an authoritative documentary about someone or a movement before they’ve been dead and buried for a few years.

And, no matter how bad some of the more modern iterations of pop music might be, at least we can agree that she’s not dead yet, and there is still some amazing pop music out there, unique and original in progress, although most completely elude the algorithms that program your local commercial radio.

It’s pop, over eight not-so-well-connected episodes, examines a bunch of stuff that’s all pop music, but doesn’t even bother trying to be some sort of definitive story of what pop music is today. The episode on the auto-tune – still considered by many to be the death of music – points out that if the jazz greats of the 1950s sang today, then even their voices would need a “correction”. sit in the cool digital perfection of synthesis and compression. backing tracks. So while I agree that T-Pain may be one of the worst singers to ever emerge from rap and hip-hop, then maybe his approach, of doing music. ‘presetting some of the sound and not hiding its existence, might be the most honest approach to its ailments.

Other episodes, on the history of the song-maker The Brill Building, the rise of Brit-Pop, the dominance of Sweden in pop music, the transition from country to pop – in which Shania Twain emerges as an unsung genius of writing and production – and the unanswered question “What can a song do?” Which everyone from Billy Bragg to Chuck D struggles to answer, adds up to at least one endearing, cowardly, and pleasantly self-deprecating series of vignettes.

It’s pop is not the last word on pop music. But I hope nothing will ever be.