BuzzFeed seeks counsel of “A Professional Musician”

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BuzzFeed asked Owen Pallett to talk to them about music. It didn’t go great.

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Impose Automaton | June 4, 2014

Owen Pallet/Domino Records

"Professional Musician" Owen Pallet

Between their normal daily posts about why the ’90s were the best and why Beyonce is our lord and savior, BuzzFeed published “A Professional Musician Explains What Makes a Hit”, which—if you couldn’t guess from the vague headline—is “Professional Musician” Owen Pallett sharing his many thoughts on pop music.

In the article Pallett runs through a number of recent radio hits, including Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love”, Haim’s “If I Could Change Your Mind”, and DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What”, and explains what he, as “A Professional Musician” likes about the technical aspects of each song. Pallet waxes on about why he likes certain choruses or vocal breaks and explains the feelings associated with certain chord progressions and production techniques.

While the article promises to “break it down for you,” the little blurbs are rushed, unfocused, and really only give him enough space to rattle off a few of his thoughts on each track. The problem is that, in an attempt to be both a listicle and brief enough to catch the split-second attention span of the average BuzzFeed reader, Pallett has only a few sentences to talk about ideas that he’s already devoted entire articles to.

So while Pallet has shown that he’s more than capable of writing great pieces about pop-music from a theory perspective (including one article that convinced me to give “Get Lucky” a second listen), this is not one of them. At the end of the day, a two sentence summary of the circle of fifths is probably not enough explanation for “Non-Professional Musicians”. All that being said, he definitely has some insightful things to say; like describing Usher’s “Good Kisser” as “Usher winning the lazy-delivery Olympics, backing vocals stacked tall like pancakes.” It was enough for a chuckle, and his explanation of his own music was certainly interesting. The question, however, is whether BuzzFeed is the place for him to say it, which we probably won’t know for sure until BuzzFeed makes a “Where Should Owen Pallett Register His Thoughts on Pop Culture?” quiz.

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