Categories
Miscellaneous

How Music Supervisors Make or Break a Movie

It’s undeniable that music and movies have a symbiotic relationship.

In my Introduction to Film class freshman year of college, we covered Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets,” and the famous bar fight scene set to The Marvelettes “Please Mr. Postman.”

I remember very clearly my professor leaning forward towards the projector, excitedly taking in the seven-minute affair, watching for his hundredth time like it was his first. The scene is incontestably perfect, the juxtaposition of the sweet and sugary anthem with the rough and tumble brawl, the kids who should be listening to this very song under school bleachers instead of starting useless scrimmages.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Music and Hidden Messages in “Columbo,”

There’s just something so appealing about “Columbo.” Maybe it’s Peter Falk’s rumpled brilliance portraying this character, from his coat to his hair, or the dog named “Dog,” or the inverted concept of a mystery story as a howcatchem instead of a whodunnit

Now, I have a long history with on-screen detectives. I love the unreliable narrarators, the scandal, the often sleazy environments. The first season of “True Detective,” has one of my all-time favorite characters in Rust Cohle. One of most-watched movies is “The Long Goodbye,” which features Elliot Gould’s amazing portrayal of the private eye Phillip Marlowe. My mom and I have watched nearly all twenty-five seasons of “Midsommer Murders,” religiously, with cozy blankets and cups of tea in hand. For me not to fall in love with “Columbo,” would be like a dog not wanting a bone. 

I was introduced to the show only a week ago, as a friend put on an episode for us to watch. Needless to say, I was instantly hooked.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Why Does Physical Music Live On in Gen Z? WKNC DJs Weigh In

When I was 16, my parents bought me my first record player (at my request). They couldn’t seem to wrap their heads around it.

“Nobody listens to records anymore,” they said. “You won’t even be able to find any.”

Six years later after I inherited my cousin’s expansive CD collection, they were similarly befuddled to learn that I did not intend to throw them away, but rather seek out a secondhand CD player.

“Nobody listens to CDs anymore,” they said. “You won’t even be able to find any.”

My parents’ assumptions, while (flagrantly) wrong, were interesting to me. Born in 1965 and 1971, respectively, my father and mother witnessed both the age of vinyl and CDs come and go. They resigned themselves to an unequivocally digital future.

People still buy vinyl and CDs, but most of them don’t look like my parents. They look like me: twenty-somethings with tote bags, scuffed Doc Martens and obscure band tees. The infamous and much-reviled Gen Z.

The Resurgence

According to a study by the Record Industry Association of America, vinyl sales rose by 29% in 2020, overtaking CDs and cassettes for the first time in decades. Between the years 2020 and 2021, sales saw a whopping 61% increase.

According to MRC Data’s midyear report for 2021, vinyl sales are only expected to keep growing, and one of the driving factors behind this is Gen Z.

While the 55+ age demographic historically takes the lead in vinyl purchases, 2021 data shows the 25-34 age demographic tying with 55+, with each composing 21% of all new sales. Younger demographics, like those 18-24, purchase 14%.

Photo by Elza Kurbanova on Unsplash

Though Gen Z has failed to take the lead in vinyl sales so far, they compose a significant margin of the market with plenty of room for growth.

While I could find a slew of statistics on Gen Z’s impact on vinyl sales, I was hard-pressed to find solid numbers on CDs.

One of the reasons for this, according to RIAA Research Director Matthew Bass, is that the RIAA can only track first sales. A lot of CDs are secondhand, and their passage from person-to-person has no traceable footprint. Therefore, while data on new CD sales demonstrates a decline, data on used CDs isn’t part of the equation.

So, What’s the Deal?

As I perused a vast selection of articles and thinkpieces, I came to realize something. Most, if not all, of what I read was written by people outside of the Gen Z demographic.

Their reasoning behind Gen Z’s affinity for physical music was purely speculation (one even said it was “y2k,” an abbreviation that still sends shivers down my spine), and therefore meant next to nothing to me. If I wanted to hear old men give me their opinions on my generation, I would just go to Facebook.

Photo by Karsten Winegeart on Unsplash

So, I reached an impasse. I certainly knew why I collected vinyl and CDs, but despite my conviction that I was one of The Music Listeners Ever, I needed a more comprehensive pool of data to draw from.

Luckily, I had a particularly large group of pathological music fanatics at my disposal, and they were more than happy to tell me their thoughts.

What’s so special about having physical copies of music?

In a world of subscription services and digital downloads, nobody truly “owns” anything. Rather, they pay monthly installments in order to prolong a temporary — and conditional — loan.

“Instead of monthly payments for as long as the site lasts,” said Chainsaw DJ Wizard of Gore, who collects both CDs and vinyl. “I can pay once for an album I love and listen to it over and over forever.”

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Other DJs shared a similar sentiment. DJ Bodhi, a vinyl collector, loves the “sheer mystique” of being able to hold music.

“There’s something unique about ownership in the digital world,” they said. “In many ways, it’s the last guard for so much music history.”

“In our modern era, everything feels too digitized,” said DJ Cosmonaut, a fan of vinyl and cassettes. “For me, the one thing that got me hooked on [vinyl] was being able to look at the music I was playing. I wasn’t just streaming it; I was holding the album itself in my hands.”

Photo by Enzo Tommasi on Unsplash

Others, such as DJ Hexane, find CDs to be a more convenient option as technological interfaces become increasingly streamlined and device-dependent.

“I have an older stereo system, so I don’t have an AUX imput or Bluetooth connection for streaming with my phone,” they said. “Plus, many phones these days are removing AUX inputs, and dongles break very easily. I enjoy being able to use my stereo system in my car with CDs.”

Apollo, who also collects CDs, had a similar perspective.

“I like CDs because it’s way easier to pick a CD out and have it play than mess around with my phone while driving,” they said, adding #safedriver.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Some vinyl, said DJ Cowball, former WKNC GM, can be an investment. “A Weezer record I don’t really play anymore goes for over $100 on Discogs,” she said. “I might sell it sometime.”

Many DJs purchase CDs and vinyl in order to express their support for their favorite artists.

“Spotify is notorious for underpaying artists,” said Wordgirl, who enjoys both CDs and vinyl. “I feel like it doesn’t help the the artists I love to simply stream their music.”

CDs remain a significant source of income for musicians. Though many people discount their earning potential, they’re immensely more profitable than downloads or streams. Vinyl are similarly vital, outselling CDs by 6 million units according to 2023 data.

Conversely, artists make between $0.003-$0.005 per stream on Spotify.

Final Thoughts

While purchasing and listening to music on vinyl and CDs is generally more expensive, time-consuming and complicated (As DJ Mithrax admits, it’s certainly not preferable) than using a streaming service, these qualities are precisely what make the practice so important.

“It’s a more intentional process,” said DJ gotosleep. “Which makes the listening experience more substantial.”

Photo by CARTIST on Unsplash

And I agree. There’s something intrinstically (perhaps even metaphysically) rewarding about seeking out, acquiring and spinning physical music. The process and the experience become divorced from the endless convenience and mindlessness of the digital sphere.

“There’s a ritual aspect to it,” said Johnny Ghost. “It’s a tactile experience.”

“I love CDs,” said DK Tullykinesis. “I love the colors, the boxes. I love when they have little pamphlets with them. I love seeing them keep spinning for a little while once I press ‘stop’ and take them out of the player.”

In a world aching for nostalgia, physical music stratches that proverbial itch. It signals to a time forever simpler and forever more romantic than the present. For Gen Z, that yearning for the past will likely never fade. We will forever be drawn to the tactile and physical as the world arround us becomes less man and more machine.

Categories
Miscellaneous Playlists

Reel-to-Reel Presents: “Animal House”

The Best 7 Years of Your Life

So, 7 years of college down the drain…what now? Might as well join The Peace Corps.

Big, bawdy, raunchy, ribald, and surprisingly heartfelt, 1978’s “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” or simply just “Animal House” brings us back to the deceptively simple year of 1962.

Categories
Miscellaneous Playlists

Reel-to-Reel Presents: “Grosse Pointe Blank”

High stakes, high stress, high-powered rifles and…high school? 

That’s the life of American assassin Martin Q. Blank.

Face it, returning to the hallowed halls of our respective high schools is a nauseating thought for most of us. 

And in that respect, he’s no different from the rest of us. 

Categories
Miscellaneous Short Stories

Transgenerational Inheritance (feat. Limp Bizkit): A Personal Essay

In the days after my cousin died, things were chaotic. We gutted her apartment, tossing the groceries that had been left to rot on her countertops — she’d had them delivered, but never made it home to put them away — and sorting through boxes and boxes of glittery soaps, salves, tinctures and ointments.

My extended family, worn out both from the flight down here from New York and the drive down to Myrtle Beach to claim my cousin’s body, had us trash most of it.

Over the course of two days, the dumpster filled with more and more of my cousin’s things: garbage bags packed almost to splitting with sunglasses, costume jewelry and random, unused items from television ads that had long gathered dust.

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

My youngest brother uncovered a custom hookah shaped like a badazzled machine gun, and lamented as our mother (“hell no! absolutely not!”) refused to let him keep it. My other brother found a lockbox filled with “miscellaneous pills and powders,” which he quickly resealed. The key (with a fob reading “Italian Girls Have More Fun”) remained jammed inexorably into the keyhole.

We didn’t throw away everything. While my living cousins made off with designer bags, photographs and a glass-blown pineapple-shaped bong (“for sentimental value,” one cousin stressed), I found myself gravitating towards stranger things. Bric-a-brac, tchotchkes and glorified trash.

A box of rave kandi. A bottle of orange liquer shaped like a dachshund. An old ID from the community college she’d dropped out of in 2006.

Scanned kandi

After we emptied her apartment, everyone went back home. My grandparents and great aunt flew back to New York. One of my cousin’s long-time friends came and collected her bereaved yorkie. I went and took my board-op test to become a DJ. They had the memorial service up in New York and everyone got stoned (or so I heard.) So it goes.

Somewhere along all of this (it all feels nonlinear to me, like skipping through a movie in 10-second incremends), I ended up with a bag of CDs.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

“Here, do you want these?” My mother held them out like one does a dirty diaper, pinching the bag (it was one of those plastic sleeves people keep duvet covers in) by the corner so the CDs puddled in the bottom. They were loose and probably scratched to all hell; probably unusable, really; probably trash.

I took them anyways, stuffing the bag under my bed to rot.

Over two years later (specifically, March 30, 2024), I decided to finally work my way through them. Here’s what I learned:

Laying Out the Particulars of My Inheritance

Parsing through my cousin’s CD collection was like cracking open a time capsule from the early 2000s. As I sat on my bedroom floor and fed disc after disc into my cheap CD player, I felt like I was talking to her — and my adolescent self — again.

“God, you really liked Ludacris, didn’t you?” I said to someone who wasn’t there. Not physically, at least.

It was a 21st century seance, a transgenerational ceremony conducted via polycarbonate. I was channeling my cousin’s spirit, and rather than imploring her to answer my burning questions (“What is life like after death?” “Did you understand what was happening?” “Are you at peace?”), I silently judged her drippingly-2010’s music taste.

Like me, she’d constructed most of her young life around music. I could trace her progression of style, the alt rock and grunge of the 90s and early 2000s giving way to the hip-hop renaissance of the 2010s.

I laid out tall stacks of custom CDs with titles like “Summer 2006,” “Hot Sh–” and “My Mix” lettered in girlish sharpie. I imagined how old she had been when she wrote them, whether or not she’d had her nails done and if her wrists were heavy with gaudy beaded bracelets.

Scanned CDs

In a time before iPods and bluetooth and — heavens forbid — Spotify, burning CDs was a sacred practice. Music was corporeal, and one’s affinity for the stuff became something physical — piles of CDs, stacks of vinyl, etc — that demanded real estate. By comparison, my preferred method of music consumption (streaming) seemed compressed.

In my adolescence, I myself burned songs onto discs — pirating the tracks online, then meticulously ordering them by “vibe” — and eventually did the same on my first iPod. But those were all long gone, sublimated into a single app on a phone I often misplaced.

Sitting cross-legged with a plethora of discs fanned out before me, I picked out several names: System of a Down (one of my top artists of 2023), Nirvana (also one of my top artists), Kittie, Korn, Slipknot and an obscene amount of Limp Bizkit.

Cover for “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” by Limp Bizkit

I’ll be honest: I’m not all that familiar with Limp Bizkit’s discography. I’m more familiar with Fred Durst, who I’ve mentally elevated to the status of a sort of mythical folklore hero (or antihero?). Anyways, I decided to put on “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” and was utterly shocked by how awesomely stupid it was. It’s great.

I could imagine my cousin, a teenager or perhaps in her early twenties, speeding down the highway in her little blue SUV and cranking the radio up to full blast, singing along to Fred f–ing Durst and reveling in the invincibility of youth and the heat of a seemingly endless southern summer.

I’m a renegade riot gettin’ out of control
I’m a keepin’ it alive and continue to be
Flyin’ like an eagle to my destiny
So can you feel me? (hell yeah)
Can you feel me? (hell yeah)
Can you feel me? (hell yeah)

“Livin’ it Up” – Limp Bizkit

Transgenerational theory posits rules for the ways in which rrituals, practices, behaviors and philosophies move down generational lines.

Think transgenerational trauma: agony passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter over three lifetimes. Her mother was my mother’s aunt, second eldest of seven first-generation Italian immigrants. Evidently, not a fan of Fred Durst or Serj Tankian or any of the other yelling men my cousin liked to listen to.

And while the CD collection made its way into my hands (unceremoniously, I might add) intergenerationally (i.e., it was literally passed down), the physical discs themselves weren’t the only thing I was given. There was something else in transference, something intangible. A transgenerational impulse.

Photo by K. Mitch Hodge on Unsplash

Energy, maybe. A parasocial connection to a teenager I’d never met who grew up to be an adult I loved and lost, a teenager who probably wasn’t much different (if anything, less emo) than my own teenage self. A teenager who meticulously curated mixes for each season, each new year, each new release.

I pop in a disc without a name — it’s hazy green on the front — and watch it spin, and instead of frenzied guitar and drums, I hear a delicate strumming and familiar, dreamlike voice.

I don’t miss you
I don’t wish you harm
And I forgive you
And I don’t wish you away
Away
Away

“Soothe” – Smashing Pumpkins

It’s “Soothe,” a demo tape by Smashing Pumpkins. I’ve never heard it before, but for a moment, I can imagine I’m my cousin: young, alive, lounging before a CD player. For a moment, two dimensions in time: mine here and hers there, run parallel.

Categories
Miscellaneous

Review: WKNC Shack-a-thon Back Wall Topster

From March 24th to 29th, there was the Shack. On the Shack, there was a Topster. The Shack is now gone, but the Topster lives on in my heart. Today, I will attempt to assess the quality of this Shack Topster, despite having only heard like half of them.

Categories
Miscellaneous

“Lair of the White Worm”: Movie Review

Who doesn’t love phallic, campy, vampire flicks? I thought I’d seen the best and the worst of the vampire film genre, but it looks like the caverns of lore and art are endless because “Lair of the White Worm” is an absolute treat to view. 

This horror-comedy from Britain’s Ken Russell stars Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Catherine Oxenberg and Peter Capaldi. All of these actors are fantastic in their over-zealous enactments of their characters. You can see a sneak peak of their performances in the trailer on YouTube

Hugh Grant’s portrayal of a young rich inheritor is classic and always goes down well. It seems he found his niche of playing rich a**holes really early on in his career. Donohoe’s pagan worship is hilarious and gross at the same time with the phallic instruments that are attached to her character’s pelvis. Also, you can never go wrong with multiple blonde heroines needing to be saved by a strapping Scottish lad portrayed by Peter Capaldi. 

This being a British flick, there were probably a ton of humorous ins I missed being a silly American, but it didn’t matter. The best parts of the film were the strange horror bits that Russell included. 

The bizarre hellscapes stemming from hallucinatory fever dreams, the constant phallic and gore imagery, and the wonderfully foreboding atmospheric music all combined and created a true vampiric masterpiece. It rises from the backlogs of film watchlists again and again, never to grow old or die. This film will be loved in some fashion by those fantasizing about Hugh Grant, or those in love with strange spurts of viscous green liquid on the faces of this cast. Gore fans have their moments of pleasure, as do comedy fans. 

“The Lair of the White Worm” encapsulates the campy horror-comedy genre perfectly. I cannot wait to watch this film again in a few years with a renewed appreciation for it. If you can, check this film out. I’m sure it’s to die for.

Categories
Miscellaneous Playlists

Reel-to-Reel Presents: “Almost Famous”

“Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don’t fall for it.”

– Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous” (Crowe, 2000)

There are very few words in the English language to express just how important “Almost Famous” is to me; in the immortal words of Bad Company, “it’s all part of my rock and roll fantasy.” 

To a little girl who grew up on her dad’s rock albums, there was nothing more whimsical than the idea of being whisked away by a band. But I never wanted to be Penny Lane; I always wanted to be William Miller or, even better, Lester Bangs. 

Categories
Miscellaneous

ALL OF MY INJURIES — Upcoming NC State Student Photo Exhibit

This Saturday, March 23rd, NC State junior Rory Sullivan will be holding his first solo photography exhibition. The show is titled “All of My Injuries” and will take place from 5:30 to 8:00 P.M. at 1310 Hillsborough Street. Zines and photo prints will be available at the exhibition, as well as free yerba mate for the first group of attendees. The exhibition is a culmination of his present works, with a primary focus on “the ideas of emotional injury represented in physical form as well as the sort of vulnerability that comes along with it” as stated by Sullivan.

Photograph by Rory Sullivan

As well as personal projects, Sullivan has previously photographed and filmed within the North Carolina rap scene, and has worked with artists such as Newman and TiaCorine. He has also previously done work within Platform, NC State’s student-run fashion magazine and has several photoshoots in past editions of the magazine credited to him. Included in this are some photographs included in the exhibit that convey the ideology that the show will be presenting through Sullivan’s artistic works.

Photograph by Rory Sullivan

The growth and emphasis upon student art and exhibitions at NC State has been a wonderful event to witness as a student here myself, and presently I can only hope for this upwards trajectory to continue. Despite our standing as a STEM-focused school, the student body has proven time and again to be incredibly creative and innovative within the arts, and I feel it is important to celebrate this when it often feels like the scientific advancements produced by students and alumni seem to stifle artistic achievements. Creative freedom and the expression of human vulnerability are reflections of the basic desires of adolescence and should be embraced with open arms.

Photograph by Rory Sullivan

-Leksie Fetrow