Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Something in the air

I am occasionally fascinated by the music selections played in a variety of commercial establishments. Typically it's provided by companies that specialize in curating such compilations and handling the licensing fees. We hear these mixes in retail stores, restaurant chains, airplanes...

At least we've moved beyond the aesthetic that is generally referred to as 'elevator music' (when is the last time you heard music in an elevator anyway?) At least some risks are being taken, relatively speaking, as more or less specific demographics are targeted. But it's still a rather mixed bag. Often the selections are banal. Sometimes they're horrendous. In fairness, occasionally they're brilliant - I discovered Emm Gryner in a retail store, for example. At certain times, however, they're absolutely mystifying.

I was arriving at the gym the other day, and stopped in my tracks when I recognized Organ's 'Memorize the city' playing over the sound system. Organ are a Canadian band who briefly made a splash three years back with their moody debut album Grab That Gun. I heard they performed on an episode of The L Word, but those of us who were hanging on for a second album were disappointed to learn late in 2006 that Organ had called it quits.

Not exactly the prime scenario to become a go-to track for a sports club, particularly when other selections that hour included Nickelback and Jessica Simpson. I'm intrigued to know how it got there. I suppose the pragmatic answer is plain: Organ's management and publishing made their music available cheaply, so it was attractive to the music services who are looking to keep their costs low, and Organ's music is accessible enough that a programmer figured it would work.

It feels like I'm being teased. Pull out this great, obscure indie rock track from a few years back, and then go right back to the formulaic, marshmallow music that had prompted me to lower my expectations long ago. If 'Memorize the city' made it through, why are we plagued with the rest of the dreck? Someone in there has taste and access to good, interesting music, so keep it coming. No one wanted to hear Lindsey Lohan sing 'I want to come first' (I mean really...) when it was released; certainly no one wants to hear it now. Organ, you will be missed.