Sunday, June 26

From bands to podcasts, the cultural offerings online are endless. How can we find the good things? | Music

Tthere is too much of everything here. I spoke to Alan McGee last week about a movie about his life, in which he is played by the guy who played Spud in Trainspotting. Is very good. When asked about the current state of music, the man who discovered Oasis and has worked with Primal Scream, Jesus and Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine, among others, shrugged helplessly. He said that now it is almost impossible to have an impact because there is simply too much music.

In the Oasis documentary Supersonic, Noel Gallagher says he thinks of his massive 1996 Knebworth concerts as the last hurray of the pre-digital age. “The last great gathering of people before the birth of the Internet,” he says. “It is not a coincidence that things like that no longer happen.” Seen through this prism – and obviously not referring to the pandemic here. the footage of hordes of excited gamblers huddling their way to the concert is quite elegiac; I hadn’t seen so much innocence in them, or maybe in all of us, before. We did not know what was to come.

I’m still not sure what was coming would turn out all bad. When I was talking about that quote on the radio, our sound engineer said he had been to Knebworth. His review was as follows: “It was good, but there were too many people.” That practical problem aside, if megagigs like that don’t happen now, because it’s impossible for any act to reach critical mass among the thousands of acts out there, so be it. It can’t be terrible that there are so many.

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Gallagher says we should be concerned that bands like Oasis, raised on municipal farms, no longer do so. Perhaps that is true, despite the fact that the digital age has democratized all the mischief in the sense that the means of production, and indeed transmission, are much cheaper and more accessible. This market saturation has the unfortunate consequence that gangs cannot earn a living.

For the consumer, meanwhile, it is puzzling. Where do you start exactly? The same goes for podcasts. Many of them have the best audio I’ve ever heard, and that’s with half a century of listening and almost 30 years of streaming under my belt. But with thousands and thousands to choose from, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff? Each of the brilliants that I come across makes me think that there are 10 others just as good that I will never find. How do you decide what to listen to?

I just googled that same question and was directed to a full list of lists. There are 45 best Good Housekeeping podcasts; The Independent is 15 and is 50, but that’s from 2019. Moving on, there’s a strange variety of numbers: Elle picks 68 to listen to; Wired recommends 43 and Esquire 69. Enough. Can anyone send me a Top 10 of the best [insert number] podcast charts, I’ll go with the top three and finish. My rarely still and usually hysterical fomo is in overdrive.

The same goes for the availability of data on more or less everything. Unless you are presenting the most absurd of propositions, there will be some seemingly plausible data to back it up. I remember hearing Tony Blair say how sick he is of this. The example you gave, which may have been hypothetical, concerned crime figures. Counselors told him that crime increased during a recession because people needed to steal to live. Then when we came out of the recession, the advisers said that crime was increasing because some households were doing better and there was more to steal.

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We have evolved to be smart enough to create massive amounts of options in all fields, but I, for one, have yet to evolve enough to know how best to make the necessary decisions.

Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer, and columnist for The Guardian.

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