You’re at a party, tossing drinks back, pretending you know how to dance, and suddenly, the aux is passed to you. A pit grows in your stomach.
“Play something good,” your friend shouts over the speakers, but you can’t quite make out the words. The anxiety starts to works its way up. Your head gets a little foggy. Time slows down to a trickle, and then you begin feel alone, so alone, abandoned in the middle of a vast sea to be violently eaten by the jaws of criticism if you play the wrong thing.
Well, rest easy warriors of summer, because The Knockturnal is launching you a lifeboat with its “Summer Bops,” a weekly column dedicated to saving your ass whenever you need to impress that cute barista with the rare vinyl collection, or need that perfect song to complete that perfect party playlist you stayed up till 4am curating.
Avoiding categorization is a fight for any artist in any field. Nowadays, things––before they can become great and unique things––are classified into rigid groups, largely because there are so many damn things out there to begin with. It makes sense to classify, rate, and arrange when a surplus arises, but naturally, there are unfortunate detriments when this is taken too far.
Look at music. A musician’s genre can be decided by a snarky, hyphen-happy reviewer, or even the almighty Spotify who uses “lo-fi” in every other playlist name. These are not friendly transactions, and for someone trying to do something different, it kind of sucks that their chance to rise above genre can be quickly extinguished by the negligent nature of music business and criticism.
I’m certainly guilt too, which is why I am not going to reduce this week’s featured track, “Choirs” by Ashe, into any “quick and easy” genre it might lean into, like psychedelic indie-rock or [insert sunny, bright adjective] electronica. In the chorus, Ashe makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be another “blonde on the shelf,” so in order to honor that wish fully and honestly, I will say no more and allow you––the reader, the listener, the critic––decide what you think of her.
Artwork via author