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Studio time. What is the recipe for greatness?
When I listen to a song, I play it over and over again and break it down part-by-part to try and get the absolute most out of what i’m listening to. It’s important to me that when i purchase a record, i know that the artist has really put their heart and soul into it and have tried to produce something of substance.
When an artist enters the studio with ideas for how they want their record to sound, it’s their opportunity to be creative and inject as much of that creativity into the music. Some artists take months, or even years in the studio and do way too much to their music and the end result turns out to be unlistenable pretentious garbage, (cue this man)
while others go into the studio and do the same but produce outstanding works of art with the end result of absolute genius. Queen was famous for using the studio as a platform to inject as much creativity as possible into their music. Take the song Bohemian Rhapsody from the record A Night at the Opera and try to dissect the infamous “opera” section of the song. Hundreds of vocal overdubs to create probably the most over the top track ever produced, but in conclusion resulted in a masterpiece.
Then there are artists who go in the studio and record an album in a week or two. Many artists that take this approach are artists who have done the long recording process in the past and are looking to strip their songs down to the bare bones and record something quick and dirty, maybe rediscover their roots.
Nirvana’s In Utero record is a great example of this. It was the approach of doing the exact opposite of what they did for their Nevermind record and recording and mixing it in 2 weeks. Some i’m sure will argue this, but the end result was genius. I can listen to this record, dissect it and turn it off knowing that Nirvana accomplished what they set out to do in such a short time and it translated perfectly. Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief record was mostly recorded over a span of two weeks. Though the album did produce some decent tunes like 2+2=5 and There There, it became regrettably obvious that Radiohead was a band that needed to spend a lot more time in the studio to produce great material.
Then there is Green Day. I don’t understand what they actually do in the studio. From what i read for their American Idiot record, they were in the studio for months recording and writing it. If you can bare it, (which many of you can because it apparently sold a ridiculous amount of records) listen to that record and tell me how long you actually think it took to produce that piece of shit. Like ANY Green Day record before and after American Idiot, the songs generally consist of 4 chords, godawful lyrics that read like they were written by high school students, and a singer that sounds like that clown from the movie Billy Madison.
For some reason this record is praised by critics and fans as a groundbreaking record. So groundbreaking in fact that someone has developed it into a play that just recently had its debut.
What is the recipe for greatness? Do you put in months and months of recording with the incredible end result of something like Queen’s A Night at the Opera? or do you strip down the music and take a few weeks to produce the same incredible result like Nirvana’s In Utero?
Either way you could end up with a record sounding Green Day…so who knows?