Welcome. You made it.
You made it to the home of a podcast like no other…The Smell of Music. Albeit, we’re still a ways off from actual launch, but it’s all coming together nicely. TSOM is the brainchild of myself, a guy named Sam, another named Cray, and some dude named Blake and is the natural result of an online space that is way too devoted to the pursuit of greatness, failing to even remember imperfection. At the end of every year, you’ll read countless blogs and listen to hours of podcasts of snooty hosts imposing their opinion of what is good and what resembles the pinnacle of achievement in music. Here, we’re not particularly interested in that conversation. We’re more interested in the vacancy that exists where people talk about how terrible music is or can be. It’s not that we can’t lend something to the conversation around good music. We just find that something that everyone is doing is, well, a bit boring and uninteresting.
That’s not to say these spaces aren’t hugely successful and put together some incredible recordings. They’re entertaining. We just don’t feel that we can lend anything else to that conversation except, “Yeah, I agree. That’s a good record. Oh, and that one too.”
Finding music, however, that is bad or seeking out recordings that will test us in the question, “Is this the worst thing you’ve ever heard?” is a bit more compelling to us. Instead of getting ourselves on the mailing lists of all the hot labels and going from festival to festival looking for the hottest new talent, we’re in the dollar bin, the understock. We’re rescuing an unmarked CD from the parking lot of the YMCA that we found without a case, play-side down, scratched to hell. Instead of seeking out message boards or sites where people talk about new records and what’s #trending, we’re putting ourselves in musical spaces that are bound to produce something bad like, for example, searching through an old Los Del Rio album that doesn’t include “Macarena” or deliberately listening to string quartet renditions of bands we hate. If you’re looking for ghosts, start at the haunted house. Go the places where shit exists. Live in the dollar bin. That’s where we’ll be.
And we’re not looking for recordings that everyone once loved and is now having this moment of hindsight. We’re not interested in rating Justin Bieber records or throwing shade at Nickelback. I’m not convinced there isn’t really some level of talent there. It might not be something that I particularly enjoy, but let’s not let jealousy of success soil our opinions of the music. We’re just not the target market. There’s a distinct difference. Where is the music with absolutely no target market? Or, maybe even, the music that had a target, but missed it horribly.
When we discovered that there was virtually no one on the entire internet hosting an ongoing discussion about the worst music ever made, initially, we thought, “Damn, this might be the best idea ever!” But the creative mind sometimes tends to conversely believe that, well, if no one’s done it yet, this could be the worst idea ever.
To help answer this question, I asked my father a simple question. He’s a orchestra conductor and educator and I asked him, “Who is the worst composer that you’ve ever heard?” He sighed heavily and waited a moment. Then, he returned, “Well, I don’t know. Because bad composers don’t endure.”
This led to a revelation of sorts for me. People have a difficult time answering the question of what the worst music they’ve ever heard because, simply, bad artistry doesn’t last. You’re not a failing composer for long because you’ll find another trade. In modern times, it translates to they don’t give four-album deals to horrible musicians. At least, not smart record labels. That made the purpose here more complicated. Perhaps, there is an element of discovery to The Smell of Music. If something was good at one time, but then depreciated quickly, it exits the public space. At the point that it exits, we forget about it or, even, don’t even realize it existed in the first place. We might not know it sucks because we didn’t even know it existed.
We want to know every time an athlete made a record because they were rich, bored, and always wanted to sing. We want to know of every terrible collaboration between a country superstar and a talentless rapper. If an oilman goes into the studio to record a rap record, we want the earliest demo. If a cartoon character is releasing a record, we want to know. If William Hung is making a comeback, TSOM will be there.
And, let’s be real here, we’re not doing this to ridicule poor defenseless musicians, aspiring or otherwise. The purpose is to go deeper into the annals and intestines of pop music history. To reward those that didn’t quite make it and not just as a single episode, but every episode. The dialogue around good music can be a little, uh, tiresome. Pretentious. We’re aiming lower. Not just low…but the lowest.
I’m here to tell you that, if you’ve ever spent time in a legit music store, there’s unending oceans of music that didn’t make the grade for whatever reason. Within, there is music that is good, bad, and unfortunate. We’re looking for the latter.
We’ll be launching mid-Summer. That gives you plenty of time to prepare your ears.
We love you. And we know that’s a little creepy. Stay up.