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Just Another Music Monday
I wish it was 250 million years in the future, cause that's our extinction day.
Attempting to define vaporwave is sort of humiliating: like most Web-based phenomena, it deploys an idiosyncratic grammar that remains mostly inscrutable to anyone who has recently gone outside. The visuals tend to involve 3-D graphics, screen savers, dolphins, dead malls, VHS tapes, corporate training videos, bad graphic design, and Greco-Roman statues... If you’ve ever wandered around a flea market and felt a peculiar pang after coming across, say, an inkjet printer from 2008, an old cable box, or an unopened Sony MiniDisc player, you know what I mean…
I’m sure they know what you mean, Amanda. However, this might be the best definition of vaporwave I’ve seen so far. Wikipedia’s comparatively flaccid effort opens with:
“Hauntology?” Gtfoh. Derrida crops up in Lopatin’s thinking too though:
“The plan was to become a librarian and do music at the same time. I thought that would be a perfect life,” he said. “I’d read Derrida’s ‘Archive Fever’—talk about pretentious!—and I was, like, ‘This is sick.’”
This is simply false, no one has ever read Derrida.1 But aside from the flagrant lies it’s a good profile. As a fellow suburban Boston latchkey kid of the 80’s this quote hit pretty hard:
“Being a latchkey kid, my memories were of commercials I saw between programs. It’s not a point of pride—when people say, ‘Your music is nostalgic,’ I’m, like, ‘Are you fucking out of your mind? You think I like this shit? It’s garbage.’ But it’s the stuff of my life, whether I like it or not.” He paused. “It’s the way my brain is. I’m sensitive to ephemera. Maybe I was surrounded by people. But I can only remember the commercials.”
If you ever meet Daniel Lopatin, do me a favor and say: “It’s fun to find out what makes an ocean wave wave.” I guarantee he’ll reply “My name is Karen. My name is Karen.”
More Music Monday: The Washington Post’s Popular Music Critic Chris Richards wrote a brief history-of slash apologia-for emo, connecting the dots from Rites of Spring to Olivia Rodrigo. I’m not sure you can call Rodrigo “emo” in a way that matters but I respect the attempt. The new Petey album “USA” came out Friday, and it’s real good. The new Doja Cat is out too, and is it possible that “Paint the Town Red” has only been around since August? I feel like it’s been in eighty percent of all Tiktoks for sixteen years. Pitchfork’s Jeremy D. Larson gave The Replacements’ reissued “Tim (Let It Bleed Edition)” a 10. And Music Intern Sam calls the new Chappell Roan “an extremely good album.”2
Let’s segue from music to discourse with Joseph Cox: “The End of Privacy is a Taylor Swift Fan TikTok Account Armed with Facial Recognition Tech.” I’m not sure why the Taylor Swift connection matters except that everything Swifties do online is terrifying. They’re apparently learning about football now for what I’m sure are very normal reasons.
…microcheating could be lying about your relationship status, liking a provocative photo on social media, giving your phone number to someone you are attracted to, taking off your wedding ring when you are out, flirting with a person you meet at a bar, or keeping in constant communication with an old flame.
The good news is “Mammals’ Time on Earth Is Half Over.” Only two hundred fifty million years until we’re all roasted by geology’s hottest take: the unsurvivable megacontinent Discoursea.
If you want to be hailed as a genius innovator, you don’t actually need next-level brilliance. You just need access to enough money to keep rebuying until you succeed.
And speaking of infinite rebuys, Elizabeth Weil profiled antigravitational entrepreneur Sam Altman, who has failed all the way up to CEO of OpenAI, at the pinnacle of tech’s most narcissistic new fad.
[Altman] knows people are scared of AI, and he thinks we should be scared. So he feels a moral responsibility to show up and answer questions. “It would be super-unreasonable not to,” he said. He believes we need to work together, as a species, to decide what AI should and should not do.
Oh, fuck off. The more I hear people selling AI encouraging everyone to be scared of AI, the more certain I am that it’s nothing to worry about. A few months ago the same people were all shilling crypto. Altman started his career thinking that layering a pink polo on top of a green polo was a good look for the Apple WWDC stage, and his judgement hasn’t improved.
At Yerba Buena, the moderator pressed Altman: How did he plan to assign values to his AI?
One idea, Altman said, would be to gather up “as much of humanity as we can” and come to a global consensus. You know: Decide together that “these are the value systems to put in, these are the limits of what the system should never do.”
Fuck all the way off. This is the guy calling the shots at the biggest and supposedly best AI company. Amazon just put four billion dollars into an OpenAI splinter company called Anthropic, run by another cult of effective altruists. (Still! Post-SBF!) Should we be afraid of these nitwits? Let’s go all the way back to Daniel Lopatin, who’s been messing with AI in his recent work:
Lopatin finds most of the hand-wringing about A.I. to be silly. “It’s over, we’re all gonna die, the machines are coming to get us,” he said, laughing. “That’s really boring. What’s more interesting for me is seeing how A.I. fails.”
I think this is right. AI images were fascinating in the Deep Dream eyeballs everywhere era. The “better” AI gets, the blander its output becomes, and the more obvious and unacceptable its errors. We’ve already seen peak AI, and the only interesting use of it will continue to be in generating novel failure modes for human artists to explore.
And Finally: Tabs Senior Contributing Editor and Intern Emeritus Bijan Stephen got laid off. He seems pretty chill about it but if you’re hiring in the fields of blogging, reporting, podcasting, streaming, video game writing, or anything related to any of those: now’s your chance.
Today’s Song: Do we need another song? There are enough songs already. Just scroll up! But before you do, hit this button to join the Internet’s most active Burn Notice fan community, the Today in Tabs discord:
Do not @ me.
Update, post-listen: I agree.