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“On Imagine Dragons and the Burgeoning Phenomenon of Objectively Meaningless Music (Which is Not to Say ‘Bad’ Music)”

Readers of this site know that I recently caked up that annoying rant about Bruno Mars in which I TRIED to prove objectively that his music (“Uptown Funk”) was bad, an endeavor which I probably failed at, anyway. In this, I’m not trying to show that the remainder of Imagine Dragons’ new album Evolve other than “Believer” (which might be the best song of the year) is bad (which it is). I’m trying to show that it doesn’t matter whether it is or not.
In fact, it’s almost as if the rest of the album never got recorded at all — upon its spawn, it incurred the sort of all-encompassing, volcanic lack of importance which hasn’t been seen in the world arguably since the film Dunston Checks in [1].
But am I reading this right, is that song “Take Me to Church” really not by Imagine Dragons? Now THAT’S eerie and possibly important. But we’ll get to that later.
What I was getting that is that I almost posted this Facebook comment that were I the Imagine Dragons manager I would strongly discourage them from recording entire albums at all, seeing as they, and the industry at large at this point, are predominantly singles-oriented. The music is not marked in style on an analog, spatial or instrumental level (meaning that rather this goop is pretty much made on a computer) [2]. It’s almost impossible, in other words, to imagine an Imagine Dragons “jam” giving birth to anything even remotely meaningful, either on the immediate or the eventual level.
Imagine Dragons songs are neat little piles, although, with striking consistency, neat little piles which don’t actually smell that bad (I’m talking about the singles “Radioactive” and “Believer,” here… and “Take Me to Church”.. sorry… self-hand-slap there). Also, though, with the overwhelmingly digital nature of the music — all the sound effects, the modulated drums, and such — the studio budget is rendered scant, so not that much money at all is wasted by recording an entire LP, especially in the scope of these Pandora radio mega-hits. The Dragons, even with these abysmal albums much like Milky Chance had (he** Milky Chance had one good CHORUS more so than he had one good song and not much else), can still go up for Grammys, obviously, since they don’t purely look at full-album credentials, and any realm of “critical acclaim,” even if it is as predictable as Rolling Stone’s year-end list (which did ignore the Dragons and rightly so, for the record), automatically gets reduced somehow to the exercise of reading, which fewer and fewer people do all the time these days.
I’m sure there’s something as stupid in our history as the fact that Imagine Dragons actually record full albums. I’m just trying to think of it. What about “grandfather clocks”? Like where did the “grandfather” come from for those? Oh, I know, the city of Las Vegas itself — a booming metropolis lodged firmly on land that isn’t even remotely farmable, whose entire entertainment industry is based on loud, annoying shiny machines which are also the corporate detritus of our oafish president currently in office. That must be the one.
Either way, as useless as Imagine Dragons albums are, it’s hard to imagine them, or their record company, ever coming to the conclusion that it would make far more sense to just release SONGS, rather than these absurdly overlong “sessions” (it’s overly easy to envision just one man manning this band, using Pro Tools). As stupid and nonsensical as so much of the music industry is, this concession would still entail in the quote-unquote “artist” the realization that he’s creating a brand of music that’s on a decreased level of sophistication from some of his heroes like The Beatles or The Who, heroes who might actually brandish something unconventional like a sitar in a song, or at least propagate an advancement in the recording of feedback, as The Who seminally did. It’s like Bukowski said, nobody ever completely loses their soul, they just pi** away 99% of it. Bukowski was a real charmer. But what I’m saying is that there’s still a sort of phantom appeal of an “album,” to these guys, to the record label, to unwitting consumers, whoever — the people turning the knobs and screws. It’s all subjective. It’s the illusion that their musical project is deep and multifarious enough that their songs actually INTERACT with each other and that as an artistic engine they muster enough synergy to lay claim to actual “concepts,” the types of things which would then glean “concept albums.” This is certainly ambitious stuff in our times and even we’re getting to the point where music itself, at large, is losing teeth and velocity as a very entity.
The current vinyl craze probably has much to do with this drag in progress. God, imagine listening to an album of these guys on vinyl. You should get a government stipend for doing that, or at least free slots for a month.
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[1] Whereas as we all know, movies are an ever-reliable source of cultural bathos which never runs dry.
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[2] But I mean come on, I think they have SOME shame, unlike Taylor Swift. At least they didn’t start out as wannabe country (country hardly being something prestigious to “want” to be and fail at, for that matter).

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