There I was, working my way through Last FM’s rather excellent playlists (if you haven’t signed up yet, go and do it! The single best way to discover new music quickly. Apart from buying a HMV shop. On second thoughts, maybe not, given that HMV has a lot of generic, cookie-cutter, cloned “artists”. Best to stick with Last.fm).

I was feeling in a singer-songwriter type of mood, and listening to similar artists to Matt Nathanson. Preoccupied with something else on my computer, I left it running in the background, and quite good, but generic, music trickled through my consciousness. And then all of a sudden a song caught my attention. Jason Ferris’ “Listen to You”.

The surprising thing was the comment on the Last.fm artist information page….”Album available….”, “free….”, “download….”, “www.jasonferris.com….” What??? Seriously???

Yes, seriously. I heavily recommend visiting www.jasonferris.com now, and work your way to his music section. You’ll be able to download his entire album, at a very high quality, for free.

And it’s good. In fact, it’s more than good. It’s excellent.

EDIT: For those of you with a short attention span – download Jason’s full album, “All I Said” and Jason’s song “Whiteout” – thanks to Jason himself for the comment below, and the links!

Jason Ferris – Listen To You

There are songs that have an immediate impact – Springsteen’s “Radio Nowhere” springs to mind – that imprint themselves on your brain and psyche, and penetrate into your brain. They sprint, kicking and screaming, into your mind, and whirl around, shouting and screaming and crying, until they eventually collapse in a tired, crying heap, until finally trampled by the next adolescent that comes running in.

And then there are some songs that sneak into your brain. You hear them once or twice, but they don’t seem to have made any impact. You think, “Mmmm, that’s quite nice”, and click to the next song on your MP3 player. But what you don’t know is that they filter into your brain so very gradually, you don’t perceive it. But then, all of a sudden, you find that it’s the first song you play.

And the last song you play.

And you have it on repeat on a regular basis.

Here’s one.

Joe Purdy – The City

For the second time recently, a band/musician/clothing brand I really amn’t a big fan of manages to surprise me. Today, it’s everyone’s favourite shouty-whiney-angry band, Linkin Park, and the man with the least shouty-whiney-angry name ever, Chester Bennington.

Reading reviews for Linkin Park’s new album, things are not all rosy in the garden (or mosh pit). LP have moved away from their trademark shouty-whiney-angry music with shouting, rapping, scratching, and more guitars than letters in Chester’s name, and have moved into generic shouty-whiney-angry rock in order to keep up with all the other crap out there at the moment. Interesting move. Not too sure how good it’ll do the careers, boys.

However, in the rush to mediocrity, LP have accidentally released a song worthy of appearing on this site. “Shadow of the Day” is not going to be a huge hit. It’s going to be forgotten about within a week. But during that week, it’ll go round and round in my MP3 player. Nice, non-threatening, ballad-like rock. Thanks, Chester.

Linkin Park – Shadow Of The Day

Mass media would have you believe that peer-to-peer music-sharing is killing music. Napster (in it’s original form), eMule, Limewire – all are taking revenue from the artist, and limiting our choice in the long run. Bull. A practice that has existed for decades, is alive and well today, and is conducted by the record labels themselves, is killing music a lot faster than peer-to-peer ever will.

Pay-to-play is a phrase I hadn’t come across until a few months ago, and when discussing it with friends, I realised that not only was it a new concept to them, but they were genuinely shocked by the practice.

Did you ever wonder why so many hit songs sound the same? Why the latest Britney song sounds a lot like the new Christina one? Why the new 50 Cent song sounds like the old 50 Cent songs? Why Justin Timberlake seems to be releasing the same song again and again every few months?

Pay-to-play is the practice of a record company paying radio stations for the playing of specific songs. Disc jockeys were long ago removed from the decision-making process of the songs they can play – virtually all commercial radio airplay is now determined by program directors, constructing schedules of what and when to play. Often, not even the program directors have a say – further up the food chain, general managers, station owners or regional program directors make the calls.

And sitting in between the record companies & radio stations are independents, or indies – third party record promoters who “promote” songs to radio stations. Offering radio stations “promotion payments,” the independents get the songs that their clients, record companies, want on the playlists of radio stations. This is a legal form of “payola” – the illegal practice of payment or other inducement by record companies for the broadcast of recordings on music radio, in which the song is presented as being part of the normal day’s broadcast. Under US law, a radio station can play a specific song in exchange for money, but this must be disclosed on the air as being sponsored airtime, and that play of the song should not be counted as a “regular airplay.” So when is the last time your favourite radio station told you who paid for the song they just played? Let’s be honest – most disc jockeys want to maintain the illusion that they sift through stacks of records and pick out only the best ones for their listeners. Chances are, they don’t.

The indies go straight to the general managers or owners and make deals – typically guaranteeing a station in a medium-sized market approximately $75,000 to $100,000 annually in “promotional support” – the above-mentioned payment that makes the indie the first person its programmers will talk to about adding new singles. Once an indie has “claimed” a station, they let the record companies know that the indie will invoice them every time the station adds a song to its playlist. And the money involved is terrifying – in the United States, there are more than 10,000 commercial radio stations. Approximately 1,000 of the largest are the ones that create hits and sell records, due to their huge listenership. Each of those adds about three new songs to its playlist each week, and the indies get paid for every one: $1,000 on average for an “add” at a Top 40 or rock station, but as high as $6,000 or $8,000 in some circumstance.

Now, add in the fact that songs need to be hits very quickly in order to make a record companies investment back.If they’re not, it’s goodbye next single release, and more often that not, goodbye artist.The record company can’t afford to wait anymore for an artist to mature or develop. So the hits are produced in cookie-cutter fashion, and money is thrown to the indie to have it played on the radio stations, exposing the song to a wide audience, resulting in sales, which recoups the money the record company paid out in the first place.

The next time you wonder why all the songs sound the same, think about this. And the next time someone complains about peer-to-peer killing music, think about the fact that the above cycle guarantees that artists can only afford to think about producing a hit quickly, and so must concentrate on derivation of their peers & selves. How very, very sad.

Go read the article “Pay for play”, by Eric Boehlert.

Well, it’s time to admit it to a wider audience. I adore Shakira. Not the English-language versions of her music, but the older Spanish-language originals. Written, performed, and produced a couple of years before most of her cross-over work, and including a lot of great work that I believe will never see the light of day in English (and we’ll all be poorer for this….), I thoroughly enjoy dropping a few songs by Shakira onto my MP3 player on a regular basis.

So, imagine my surprise to find this little gem on television when I was travelling in South America this year. And not only that, but to return to find the original release was on a 2004 album. No, I don’t understand why a 2004 song has just made it’s way onto television, seemingly appearing on another (new?) album. But with a song this damn catchy, excuse me if I don’t complain…

PS I’ve heard the English language version of this song, and have to admit to much, much preferring the Spanish version….

Shakira – Las De La Intuicion

Timbaland. I’ll admit to still trying to figure out this man. Undoubtably one of the most talented producers in the world, given the sheer amount of collaborations he’s worked on, and the catchiness of many of his tunes. And yet…and yet…the man is still to find his feet as a “serious artist”, and as a creator of hits in his own right.

His new album seems catchy. But does catchy equate to a hit? Actually, yes, given the large volume of catchy crap gaining airplay. However, look what I’ve found – a Timbaland collaboration. Under his own name. That’s catchy. And not crap.

Not crap at all.

Timbaland featuring One Republic – Apologize

And so I’ll kick off the official launch of Get Your Melancholy On with a complete and utter misnomer – two songs that have no melancholy whatsoever. Hey, it’s my site,so I’ll post what I like.

I’m posting the two songs – Bruce Springsteen’s Radio Nowhere and Matchbox Twenty’s How Far We’ve Come – at the same time as I believe they have a very common thread. If you’re familiar with either artists work, you may be very surprised by the new releases. Springsteen’s folk and rock ‘n’ roll leanings, and Matchbox Twenty’s adult-oriented arena rock are both pushed gently to the side, and replaced, on this occasion at least, with spikier, faster, more upbeat, and rather good melodies, and big singalong choruses.

While the remainder of Springsteen’s new album is very much like his older work (and in a very good way – go buy it!), and Matchbox Twenty’s new album is a best of retrospective (and good stuff if you’re a little angry at the world), I was very surprised by the new singles….and Bruce, Rob, if you’re reading this (hahahahahahahaha how I make myself laugh….), let’s have more of the same.

Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere

Matchbox Twenty – How Far We’ve Come

So, finally, we’re back….

Apologies for the long (long) delay, but due to other commitments, I haven’t been able to put the time into the content as much as I’d like. However, time for things to change….

So, how many changes can you see? The domain name? Check. The website header image? Check. The “About” page with more detail on the site? Check. But there’s more underneath the surface….

I’ve separated out my personal blog from www.getyourmelancholyon.com , as I want to make a stab a running a proper MP3 & music blog – therefore, more MP3s, more music reviews, more music articles, and more efforts to get you, the audience involved.

So, let’s get started. It’s time to get your melancholy on.