Silk Sonic, Musical Paralysis & The Derivation Iteration

New Music Listening Notes 11/15/2021

I recently shared the fun new Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak video in my exclusive FB Group – The New Music Collective

The response to this post confirmed a few things for me. All generally speaking of course. That’s important to keep in mind.

I started the Collective a few years ago and it – like New Music World – is all about discovering new music and new artists. As it’s a small group and is at the mercy of the FB algorithm the weekly posts suffer from low engagement. The organic reach for FB groups is typically in the 1 to 5% range at best these days.

But even within that meager reach the difference is stark. When it’s something mainstream, engagement goes up exponentially.

Another stark reality is people tend to avoid and even shun the new, especially with anyone 35 an older. 

However, when I post something mainstream like the aforementioned Silk Sonic video it’s another story. Presto! Big engagement! It’s disheartening(sigh), especially given the amount of new “off the mainstream” artists that really need the share love.


The Social Science of Music & Aging

It’s now received wisdom that musical curiosity all but dies in most people by the age of 28. A recent poll conducted by Deezer reveals that over 65% of respondents only listen to music they already know. Those north of 30 years old are rarely musically curious. 

The most adventurous period – a listener with open ears –  has been measured to be real and present between the ages of 14-28. 

After that your formative musical imprints become the music you gravitate too. This is called music paralysis. I call this having ‘old ears’ where there is a tendency to notice what you don’t like about new music instead of having young ears – where everything can be at least interesting on the first listen.

Is musical paralysis bad for you? In truth, there is ZERO wrong with musical paralysis.  For me, if you still appreciate music for the art it is then spin whatever rocks your boat. Just keep spinning. 


Manifest Your Younger Self & Skip Often

On the other hand, if you manifest your musically curious younger self it’s a bonanza out there. For $10 a month you can be curious forever. Spin it all and skip often. How cool is that? 

Also, you don’t have to love the music to share the music and you don’t have to like everything. It’s one of the defining benefits of the streaming era. Skip often!

I hunt and curate music all the time and have a super simple criteria for sharing. 

Simply put, is it interesting?

That’s it. I may not even like it. It may never get spun more than once but I did the artist the one solid easy to give – I listened.


The Line Between Sacrilege, Homage & Derivation

Music that’s perceived to be derivative creates conflict for a lot of people. Usually with smart and deeply appreciative music lovers. 

The Bruno Mars thing did this and his new LP is 100% derivative. Greta Van Fleet will spark rage with many. 

I get it. It sounds like something from another time and it could be considered sacrilegious. 

But, I am the opposite of offended, especially if the derivation is from something I loved. Like Motown Soul or Led Zeppelin style rock. 

In my mind everything musical is derivative at its core. One of the miracles of art is that music is universal and equal temperament has been around a long time.

To paraphrase John Coltrane:  there are only twelve notes!

I have zero issue with art that repeats. 

Reimagined art and the retelling is always different for me and when a musical thread weaves back through time, it connects me with old emotions and draws the past into the present evocatively.

So here is the new Bruno Mars and Andersen Pak LP.

It is extremely derivative. One could also say, it’s the mainstream cannibalizing the growing underground retro soul movement. I hold zero opinion of it with small exception – beyond the LP being a ton of fun, every single producer, mix engineer, and musician on the LP are total pros in every regard.

This track has earned it’s way onto my popular Neo Soul & Maybe playlist. The playlist is joyfully derivative and is made up of mostly unfamiliar artists doing the retro soul thing all with recent releases. 

So be curious, it’s a great spin.

And as always, skip often!

Additional Study

The $1000 question: Does new music have to be 100% innovative and authentic to be considered good?

The $500 question: Why does derivative create conflict for some music lovers?


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