Monday, 11 October 2010

Internet dreams and stained jeans

So, a few months behind the curve of vitriolic message board love and hate (mainly hate it seems), I have finally given Uffie's album Sex Dreams and Denim Jeans a proper listen, and actually, its pretty good. I must admit, when the song 'ADD SUV' (the one with Pharell guesting on it) surfaced, I was really disappointed and sort of mentally wrote off the rest of the album without even bothering to listen to it. I remember back in 2005 when I first heard ‘Pop the Glock’, how in-your-face and forward thinking it seemed. I immediately broke my loose-rule for life of only buying music in a physical format as it was only available for download at the time and I simply had to have it ASAP. 'ADD SUV', like most of the other tracks on Sex dreams... is certainly not going to elicit that reaction, but that doesn't mean that it is doesn't have its own merits if you give it a chance.

Although 'ADD SUV' didn't grab me, in truth that wasn't the reason that I then decided point blank the rest of the album was not worth my time, which is a strange decision, given how much I loved the first couple of singles she released. The major factor was, I unwittingly got caught up in a strange phenomenon of modern music consumption; that of internet ownership of a performer.

Music fans have always been some of the most tribal pockets of society in their affections, but the internet has magnified that to a worrying degree. Uffie was one of the first artists to base her whole career around riding a wave of interest on myspace and blogs from the musical underground. Sure, people like Sandi Thom and Lily Allen have done the same in the mainstream, but Uffie was a pioneer of doing it in the realm of the hariy-handed masturbators who become titans when they see internet forums on which to express themselves. So, whether they loved or hated her, those who frequented said forums acted as if she was, in some surreal way, their property to comment on as they saw fit. With the clamour that had built up in the long gap between the first singles Uffie released and her debut album, it would have been practically impossible for her to satisfy everyone with the release; but the fact that she dared to change to a more pop-oriented direction for the album made an avalanche of criticism as inevitable as it was unreasonable.

The internet has opened up the musical landscape in fantastic ways, but it has also dehumanised and commoditised music and the artists who make it. The effect of internet messageboards or anywhere else where people can express themselves without any face-to-face interaction seems to be bringing out the worst in some people; eschewing reasonable argument for personal abuse.
The effects of the internet 'backlash' can be so strong that it can even affect, albeit unconsciously, people like myself who make a real effort not to engage in it. It was with some surprise, and embarrassment then, that when I took the time to listen to Sex Dreams…and actually quite liked it, I realised the trap I had fallen into. If you have made the same mistake and feel the urge to make amends, I suggest you read the excellent two part interview Uffie did for DrownedinSound recently, and watch the video for ‘Difficult’.

UFFIE - Difficult from Uffie on Vimeo.

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