Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Another NPR WTF moment

On the way in to work this morning I heard a discussion on the radio of some similarities between the movie Avatar and the popular song Tik Tok by Kesha. It was an interesting discussion of the two works as consisting mostly of a "mashup" of various pop cultural references and genres, etc. I don't know whether that's true, but what did strike me was a comment about the song. The reporter says "This is not a good song in my opinion but it sounds enough like a good pop song so that you can't quite tell the difference".

It reminds me of an illustration Raymond Smullyan once used to illustrate the verification principle. He writes about a concert pianist who used to note that the difference between European and American critics was that European critics would write things like "he played too slowly during this part of the piece", etc., while American critics would write things like, "he didn't play with enough moonshine". (Sorry, don't have a reference handy.) What in the world could it be for a song to sound like a good song but fail to be a good song for reasons that one cannot perceive?

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