An Abbreviated Musical History of Me; or, How Brandy and Monica are Cooler than Cool
"All these years, you’ve gone through the day without email like this in your pocket… or stock updates like this in your pocket… or internet like this in your pocket… and you survived. The question is… How?" (Or, see it for yourself)
This is one of the Ads in Apple's iPhone campaign. The commercial parallels the simple artsy image of the company's products both visually with close-ups displaying the product's cool new capabilities and musically with a simple, catchy instrumental jingle.
The advertisement concludes with the brilliant affirmation that yes, you the viewer are evidently still alive since you are hearing this statement made; and, further, how did you accomplish not dying without our fancy device complete with internet and stock updates? It was a damned good question, and so I began to look at how I, in fact, did not perish despite not having the latest technological product.
I got my first Walkman late in my childhood. It was quite a while after the AM.FM radio/tape player device reached an affordable price. Most children my age had some portable means of music by this point in time.
One day cassettes entered my life and I became the proud owner of the Shoop/Whatta Man Salt-n-Peppa cassette single, as well as the I Swear All 4 One single.
By this time, those people that insist on buying the cutting-edge technological advancement as soon as it is released were long in possession of CDs, CD players and even the coveted Discman. Even some of my friends were getting familiar with these futuristic, shiny discs. The buzz was all about the clear, crisp sound the discs provided.
The social pressure for a self-conscious 12-year-old must have gotten too overwhelming to continue carrying around a bulky Walkman, for I finally packed it in the junk drawer.
Again, I was a technologically late bloomer for CDs. My family had just bought a CD player for the living room. My brother and I entered the future, formally, one fine day at the music store when we bought the CD single of the song that was blowing our little minds at the time: Brandy & Monica, The Boy is Mine. We pondered the implications of this product and the evolution of music as my father twisted in the copper coils and clipped them snugly under each appropriate switch. In what must have been our fascination with the new product's digitalness and the resultant ability of us to navigate through the song with ease, we decided that it would be pretty great if we went through the song, copying down the lyrics line-by-line; what followed is obvious- hours of practice in order to not only sing the song, but to actually act out the conflict of the music video, Brandy versus Monica. I think I was Brandy, but it's hard to remember. Those were crazy times.
It was not until I was making preparations to leave for Kiribati around one year ago that I finally got a Discman, and went portable. MP3 Players were quite plentiful, but I did not feel it was time. Kiribati lacked USB ports, hence I needed something that took batteries. I came up with a system, which ultimately amounted to a primitive MP3 player. By burning all of my MP3s onto MP3 CDs and cataloging each one by paper playlist I could bring my music with me. Although it took up an entire 50-CD wallet, I felt like I was taking a step into the future again, and I know the Kiribati people must have thought so as well.
I have a friend who uses a similar system, refusing to enter the world of MP3. He says he likes the setup, it makes him feel cool. I can't help but to agree. You heard it here first: bulkiness is the new compact.
A month ago I entered Apple's world of sleekness- I got an iPod. It is quite handy to hold your entire hard drive of music in the palm of your hand. As I wind around the touch pad and look down at the patented white ear bud cord hang across my body I can't help but both feeling a little cooler for owning it and looking a little trendier because of the accessory's sexiness.
As I futilely attempt to fill up the iPod's copious hard drive, I wonder if Apple has succeeded in filling a technological void in my life, as they suggested in the ad. I've lived without an iPod for all this time...and I survived. The question is... How?
I understand that this Ad possesses a bit of intended irony, but mostly it is pretentious. I survived with Brandy and Monica, and I didn't even need a lyrics website to prove the boy was mine. I cried with All 4 One when my so-called friends unwound the tape from its innards and it was rendered unplayable. I'm quite sure the world was a better place at a time when my friend would invite me over to listen to the new Warren G feat. Nate Dogg Regulators cassette single over and over. There was something special in the struggle to toggle with the fast forward and rewind buttons to find the beginning of the song that the winding motion of the iPod cannot fulfill.
Apple's products are shiny, artsy and stylish, but they can never achieve the same level of cool as its predecessors. Well, that is until something new renders it "obsolete."