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Noots Letter: In With The New 🌱
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New Year, New Nootsletter! I hope 2022 has been off to the brightest of starts.
I write this newsletter because, more than anything, I love new things! New music, new socks, new people, New York City, each day’s new and different sun (yes this is the quote I put in the “About Me” section of my Facebook profile in 2011, no I’m not like other girls). In all this quest for newness, it’s so easy to fall for the allure of new things, as if you are the first to “discover” them.
One of the first videos I saw this month was from Daniel Wall, who questioned the authenticity behind GAYLE’s massive rise to fame a few months ago. GAYLE, an extremely talented 17 year-old, seemingly came up with her viral hit "abcdefu" on the spot after someone commented asking her to write a breakup song with the letters of the alphabet. In Daniel’s video, however, he reveals that commenter was actually an Atlantic Records executive… and GAYLE was already signed to Atlantic Records at the time. It all sounds relatively fishy, but also pretty genius, and commendations must be paid to Daniel’s sleuthing and Atlantic’s marketing team.
"Industry Plant" has become a favorite insult of commenters on TikTok, especially after the debacle of the infamously decimated trio Tramp Stamps. This Vox piece about the backlash notes the odd dissonance between supporting new independent artists (who aspire to get signed) vs. the artists who already have already gotten signed and/or have been working in the industry for years and/or are just trying out new (sometimes bad) publicity ploys. “The industry”, they write, “isn’t the enemy, it’s the endgame.”
I recently found a very dramatic diary entry I wrote back in 2017 when I learned that the lead singer of my favorite indie band was the daughter of celebrities, noting that she was “much less special to me now” but also that I was “much more jealous of her now.” She’s not alone—many huge musicians are the offspring of wealth, as detailed in this hilarious "Rich Kids of Indie Pop" Substack post. Once again highlighting this beauty:
As quick as we are to praise the newest rising star, we (myself included) are just as quick to discard them for whatever advantageous connections they may have. But to label someone as a plant disregards any talent they legitimately possess, as well as the years of experience many have probably accrued to get there.
Of course, one reason it’s so easy to breeze over, slander, or completely forget about new musicians is because there has never before been a greater surplus of them. In "Is Old Music Killing New Music?", Ted Gioia analyzes the ways the industry is set up to favor longevity over virality, remarking, “Never before in history have new tracks attained hit status while generating so little cultural impact.”
It’s impossible for me to write this and not acknowledge that it’s been a heated couple of weeks for old musicians vs. new streaming platforms. And for good reason (15 years later and I’m still having nightmares about Fear Factor)! But there’s no simple answer. Despite facing significant losses, well-known artists have the freedom to protest in these extreme ways; less established individuals who make a fraction of a cent per stream don’t have that ability (read “The Missed Opportunity of the Spotify Boycott”). While Young’s stance is obviously admirable and necessary, many questions remain: why haven’t major artists used this influence in the past to wager greater compensation for artists? Why is someone who made some homophobic remarks during the AIDS crisis now seen as the hero of combatting medical misinformation? And what ethical streaming platform alternatives, if any, exist for Young and Mitchell?
Regardless of how GAYLE’s story began, I hope for her sake she has a lengthy career that pays off (literally). In a virtual world where everything is shared publicly, and everything public is shared with the intent to be discovered, it’s naive to think any single choice is a casual accident. Of course, as audience members, we all want to believe in authenticity. We all want the started-from-the-bottom-now-you’re-here story. We all want the American Dream, the one where you teach yourself how to play your ex-boyfriend’s guitar, then blow up after winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert, and then star in a biopic about Dolly Parton. Or maybe that’s just me idk. But ultimately, GAYLE is incredibly talented—that should be enough.
TLDR: My final take on this is that plants are great. In fact, they are so great that on the first day of the new year, I bought this one and she’s settling in quite well! Get off the internet and go get a plant :)
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botanical - Green & leafy-inspired tracks for watering your soil and vibing with your philodendrons.
fake breakup !!!!! - I haven’t even gone through a breakup recently, I swear, but it’s fun and completely normal to sometimes collect the saddest songs you’ve ever heard about being alone.
22:22 - The one you’ve all been waiting for! Welcome to the hottest tracks of 2022 so far. It’s been one month and we’re already up to 100+ lol. Smash! That! Like!
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Amber Mark, Three Dimensions Deep: Mark’s first album in 5 years is an expansive delight. Her absolutely velvet voice leads listeners on a journey of introspection and outer space. It’ll leave you saying “Who am I, really?” and also “Who wants to kiss?”
Jana Horn, Optimism: There’s something particularly striking about this very simple, stripped-down debut album by Horn. The lack of refinement allows for a rare level of intimacy, as if these are all voice note demos or pages from a diary.
FKA twigs, Caprisongs: FKA twigs is entering her well-deserved popstar era. Featuring collaborations with Daniel Caesar, The Weeknd, and Jorja Smith, this album provides a wide variety of styles, from her signature soprano sob songs to (tears in the) club bangers. Just be careful if you watch the above video, as it may cause you to drop your phone like I did, because it’s ToOoOo HOtTtTtT!
Pinegrove, 11:11: Because Liking Pinegrove is the only personality trait that unites my exes, and because of the, you know, whole #MeToo allegations, I often avoid them. But GOD there’s something so delicious about the way lead vocalist Evan Stephens Hall imbues every vowel with so much meaning. If you had an emo phase in middle school and also identify as folk-leaning and over-thinking, this strikes a chord and for some reason I’m crying now.