Posted by AJ Harbison at 7:07 pm

My lovely wife and I went on a bowling date earlier this week to Strike OC, which is nice if a bit on the pricey side. We went after 9 pm, when there’s a special for unlimited bowling and shoes, drink specials, etc. It was interesting listening to the music that they were playing; I don’t know for sure but it sounded like “dance” remixes of pop and R&B music. I recognized two of the songs, Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” (which I only know because my mom’s into Glee) and Lady Gaga’s “Pokerface” (which I only know because I listened to a few of her songs after hearing about her for a while). Now, no offense to either of those artists, but these are not exactly the most substantial pop songs to begin with. They’re light, they’re catchy, they are what they are and they’re not meant to be musically complex or weighty. But the remixes we heard at the bowling alley were bare-bones versions of the already skinny pop songs: basically drums, bass, and voice. Anything that was musically interesting in the original song apart from the beat and the bass line–anything interesting in instrumentation or arrangement–was stripped out. I realize that you don’t go to a bowling alley or a club or anywhere they play this kind of music for the listening experience, and my wife suggested that perhaps the reason for the remixes was that in these situations it’s all about “feeling the beat.” But it seems a little strange that this kind of music, which isn’t complex to begin with, is stripped down to something that is little more than what you could create with a sequencing program, a library of loops and 30 seconds of picking and choosing.



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    Mark Harbison on 01.31.2010

    Two things spring to my mind:
    1) I think Eleanor’s right, in a bowling alley the music is largely muffled by the sounds of bowling anyway, so if there’s a beat going then that’s all that most people are likely to hear, and therefore probably all that they’re intended to hear.

    2) Based on that, all they need is a beat (“something that is little more than what you could create with a sequencing program, a library of loops and 30 seconds of picking and choosing”), but in order to make it more fun for people they wanted to put some kind of catchy pop song to it so that people could recognize it. They’re going purely for recognition and beat, there’s no reason why it has to be more than that.

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    ajharbison on 02.01.2010

    Thanks for your comment Mark! I’m not sure that the music is muffled by the sounds of bowling–it was playing pretty loudly–but perhaps if it was a more nuanced arrangement the nuances would be lost.

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    Idhrendur on 02.01.2010

    As I rediscover music that I used to hear all the time while working retail, I kind of wish retail places would do something of the sort. I’ve had a beef with several amazing songs that I thought were terrible because a poor sound system itself stripped out all the nuances that made the songs good. Songs by Beyoncé or Lada Gaga can survive that kind of transition reasonably well. Songs by Sting or Toto cannot.

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