Jake Robinson’s Stereo in a Forest

Posted on January 18, 2013


Hello and welcome to “Stereo in a Forest”, my new regular column revolving predominantly around music.

A friend asked me this week “How can any one person really judge music?” And the very simple answer is “You can’t.” Each person has their own subjective tastes that are as equally as valid as the next person’s. So if there’s not really any “bad” music, why should you read something which will attempt to argue that there are in fact pieces of popular music more worthy of your attention?

Well I believe in a few key elements that, for me at least, make popular music a fantastic forum for discussion.

The aesthetic or aural beauty of music. Fairly obvious but put simply, great music sounds amazing. From Beethoven to Miles Davis to the Beatles; it’s the fantastic combination of chords, melody, rhythm and whatever else that sync up wondrously.

Great music offers an artistic statement. Whether this is Lady Gaga’s phantasmagoria of costumes and bonkers visual imagery, political statements in the lyrics of Bob Dylan or the delirious mash ups of Girl Talk. It’s saying: this is what I do, this is the music I make.


Great artists are intent on pushing the boundaries and creating something which has never been heard before. Some aspects of the Top40 are intent on limiting their creative output to a bare minimum and distilling a musical formula for the sole purpose of commercial gains. This does not mean there isn’t some great music in the pop charts, and the line between popular success and failure is notoriously fickle, but just that there’s a hell of lot of money-grubbing audio sludge.

And finally, popular music is often the soundtrack to our lives; in a few short minutes, it can encapsulate perfectly a time, place and feeling. While this can be a subjective experience, certain music can be held up as symbolically important of both the changes in the popular music front, as well as in culture at large.

Anyway, join us next week as we count down the Best Song’s of 2012.