Love Music to Surprise You? Jon Caramanica Recommends TikTok Dives
I also know it might sound strange to say that I’ve found solace in TikTok, the centerless, directionless app that grabs your neck and holds you by the neck for as long as you allow it, but I found it relentless, crossed rhythms soothing. There are endless rabbit holes to fall into, countless subcultures to look into, countless superstars who have finally found their dream environment.
Gilbert asks: Yes, I heard you said something similar on a recent episode of Popcast, where you talked about “having had trouble listening to albums this year” and wondered about the “usefulness of the album.” . Do you think this is a quarantine function, or is it just an extension of the music playlist tagging? In all honesty, almost every new song I’ve discovered this year came from a Spotify playlist. (No free ads.)
Jon replies: As terrible as it sounds, an album is now just a data dump. That doesn’t mean some artists no longer aim to be writers of the form – Taylor Swift or Adele, for example – but as soon as albums hit streaming services, they are sliced and diced, and the songs are put into the slots of the Playlists banned. and everything after that is crap shooting. The truth is that albums only worked as a medium because everyone was a prisoner. Now, when you look back at your favorite older albums, you are sure to see the vulnerabilities that you would have liked to have programmed if you had the technology back then. Now you do. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next generation of pop stars figured out ways never to put out an “album” again – they’ll just leak music, one automated brain-chip download after another.
Gilbert asks: OK, but I have to come back to something. It’s embarrassing.
Here it is – I’m just not on TikTok much. (Include grimace emoji.) I know I should be because it’s an important part of culture, but there are only so many ways I can manage my time. This book by Robert Caro won’t mess itself up, Jon! What are some of the best things you saw there this year?
Jon replies: It’s cool man – you get paid to run the department and I get paid to do that.
#FrogTikTok. Teens who talk about reading political theory as both a means of revolution and flirting. @ funkbeezlys taxonomy of friends. The exposure of Noah Beck’s Yale football scholarship. The house that nobody asked for. Jordan Scott. (Sorry.) (Someone helps him with his merch, however.) The joy of the comments when Charli D’Amelio finally danced to ppcocain’s “3 Musketeers”. High fashion satirists who are about to need a chiropractor. Jeremy O. Harris’ “WAP” dance in Pompeii. @cyberexboyfriend. The very long, very specific memory of @nfbroleelove. “Who is the drunkest?” Dances to Phoebe Bridgers and Soccer Mommy. @ Karchill and his mentos. The many flavors of Pop Smoke and Lil Tjay’s “Mood Swings”. Children in Zoom classrooms tell their teachers how much they appreciate them. Jasmine Orlando. “Where? Bunny? Surplus? Work? Value?” And of course Larry Scott, who always had a “nice” one ready when I needed one.
Gilbert asks: What’s the longest time you’ve ever spent scrolling through TikTok?
Jon replies: Ummmmmmm … three hours? So not long enough.