Whose Hype Machine Is It Anyway?

Sep 24th, 2008 // 5 Comments

Today sees a good, intense salvo from Ronan Fitzgerald, the Irish techno DJ and critic recently relocated to London (and, yes, a friend), about the nature of hype. As in, how anyone who complains about it is pretty much kidding themselves: “Hype is not created by some shadowed Illuminati behind the castle walls. Hype in the post-Internet age is you, me, and everybody else. We are the hype. People attacking hype are just more hype. Hype seems to have become a cheap way of referring to information overload.”

The post is specifically about dance music, as is Ronan’s wont; I suspect he’s talking even more specifically about Resident Advisor’s 2.0 (out of 5) review of SIS’s “Trompeta”–a track Fitzgerald has blogged enthusiastically about–which concerns itself largely with the record’s hype cycle. (There are lots of span classes in the post but no actual links.) Yet read the following paragraph and tell me he isn’t talking about rock or hip-hop or every other music Web folks tend to check for:

This reactive reviewing seems to lend itself to world weariness too easily. People are pretending they’re so in the scene that they hear others talking about a big hit record everywhere they go, when actually all this tells you is they probably spend all day on the Internet! I should know! If people could say “I’m sick of HEARING this record” that’d be interesting, but it seems they’re more sick of hearing about it.

Obviously, “scene” is important in hip-hop or indie/alt-rock especially, as well as in dance music, but it’s the internet part that’s that matters here. The small pond takes on the aspects of a universe was never unique to the Web, as anyone who’s ever identified themselves as part of a not-online subculture will happily explain. But the instant-expert rate is higher now, and so is the burnout rate, and while I realize I go on about this almost every week I slip into my guest chair, these are both good things to guard against even if you’re not being paid to share your thoughts about music online or elsewhere. “Hype” won’t kill us all, but it may just make us sillier–and right now, it’s safe to say that’s the last thing anyone needs.

Please [House Is a Feeling]

  1. Audif Jackson Winters III

    I remember having this feeling when I was into dance music about five years ago, and tracks were (derisively) referred to as “anthems” a month after they leaked.

    In the meantime, your average clubgoer (a tiny subset of the general population) maybe heard said track a couple times in six months of clubbing.

  2. Lax Danja House

    Irish people tend to speak more sense than other people. I occasionally devote entire paragraphs in reviews to discussing the hype or reception of an album even though I know I shouldn’t!

  3. chaircrusher

    That track really is a DJ tool, and a brilliant one. Sitting in my studio listening to it I had to turn it off after 90 seconds of skipping through it. It only really makes sense on the dance floor. It’s dumb and purely visceral.

    I think the pooh-pooing it got from RA came as much from jealousy as anything else. In dance music, someone is always coming up with a blindingly obvious, oversimplified, dumb track that blows up because it’s functionally effective in a big room. Since everyone (no doubt, including the RA boffin) is a producer, they’re just pissed they didn’t think of it first.

    It’s the rare track — ‘Strings of Life’ comes to mind — that has that overblown, big room emotional manipulativeness, and still rises above to be a classic track, as wonderful the first time you hear it as the last time.

    Safe to say ‘Trompeta’ is not one of those records.

  4. Anonymous

    I really have a different definition of DJ Tool to both you and the RA reviewer.

    A DJ tool to me is like….one of those old UR records that may only be 3/4 mins long, a record intended for mixing over/under.

    A DJ tool is not, ever, a track that makes an entire dancefloor move on its own. This is a really wrong definition of the term to me.


    This is Ronan btw…thanks for the link Matos!

    BTW do you really think Strings of Life still sounds as amazing as the first time you heard it? I definitely don’t, and if you want to be rockist about Derrick May records then I should add I always preferred “Beyond the Dance (Cult Mix)” anyway!

    Possibly cos I wasn’t there when Strings of Life was released…

  5. T'Challa

    @HIAF: When played “correctly” (as a DJ I think you know what I’m talking about), “Strings” is just as powerful as ever–especially since it’s a closer to a ‘song’ than a ‘track’ (and def not a ‘tool’) and can’t just be mixed in. A good record is still a good record. But I’m not going to argue with you about “Beyond The Dance,” although 99% of May’s output still pales in comparison with “Drama,” the tune he did with Carl Craig back in the day. Now THAT’s a tune that still gives me goosebumps…

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