It’s the time of year for saving money!
It’s amazing in this day and age that I still encounter people who’ve never heard of Rickrolling. You could describe the concept as a new-school prank or a meme that is somewhat of an act of intellectual hostility where someone injects the music of 1980s pop icon, Rick Astley, (specifically the video of “Never Gonna Give You Up”) into other videos, media, or even as a link in online text. The phenomenon started on chat boards in 2007 but has spread to become a viral event ranging from other musicians to online content creators to TV news anchors and even major league baseball teams.
A powerful example of using Rickrolling as a protest was executed by The Foo Fighters against The Westboro Baptist Church (you know the right-wing, religious freaks that in the name of Jesus Christ yell “God Hates Fags” at a funeral of someone who died of AIDS or who say “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” at the funeral of fallen Marine Matthew Snyder) while on the road a few years back. This is a very potent statement as how the power of music can change the dialogue in a needed way.
For years I have spoken about the importance of the growing number of regional audiophile shows, from AXPONA, to Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, to Capital Audio Fest, to THE Show, to TAVES in Toronto, to The California Audio Show in San Francisco, and others. With the failure of so many traditional brick and mortar audiophile salons, these shows are the best way for so many of the most dedicated audiophiles to get access to large volumes of high-performance audio systems and audiophile gear. But these shows can also be home to some awkward and/or absurd behavior. Audiophiles tend to be older than the median. With a nearly 100 percent male demographic, they tend to listen to some very played out music that is designed to highlight the performance of audio gear as opposed to present artful music in a meaningful way. Audiophiles assemble their systems in ways that can be messy and that often disregards the cost and complexity of the gear being played, thus making the hobby look pretty whacky to outsiders.
What if somebody were to Rickroll audiophiles to make a point about the changes needed to the hobby relevant? Would the joke go over audiophiles’ heads? Here is what I am suggesting… (and this is perfect for Schiit Audio, who has just the type of sense of humor that this would make sense for) imagine playing completely clichéd music in your audio show demo room for a day. I am talking about Steely Dan Aja, The Eagles Hotel California, Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, Dire Straits Brothers in Arms, Fleetwood Mac Rumors, Jennifer Warnes’ Famous Blue Raincoat, anything Chesky Records, Tubular Bells, or, best yet, Jazz at The Pawnshop.
While Rickrolling tends to be a video experience, if you were to put a high-performance video monitor between audiophile speakers at a show, someone might have a stroke, so using video wouldn’t work.
But what might work is using a media streamer like an Aurender, Lumin, Mark Levinson, Naim, or even a computer such as an Apple Macbook Pro or an iPad, then abruptly interject Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” at the chorus right in the middle of the audiophile demo. It would be a train wreck, but you’d have to keep a straight face and keep talking about the “upper midrange bloom” in Astley’s voice and how taught the bass sounded around 80 Hz.
Would people get the joke/message? Some might, but it would be important not to break character. The point of the exercise is to highlight the importance of playing fantastic music over clichéd music. The idea is to highlight that the music is the star in any audiophile system before the equipment. The goal would be to illustrate the need to set up audiophile systems for real-world people in real-world environments so that the hobby continues past the Baby Boomer generation.
Audiophile cables are to be carefully organized – not put on display on the floor featuring mini sawhorses. Electronics are to be neatly rack mounted or organized as to run cool and look cool, but not be placed on the floor where children and animals could be hurt in a real-world home. Speakers can be a focal point of a room, but not placed in such a way that the room has no other purpose, as non-audiophiles don’t decorate their living environments that way.
The audiophile hobby needs new blood – we all know this and preach it all the time here at AudiophileReview.com. Will Rickrolling them (in effect shaming them) at a trade show make a difference? I don’t know, but for those, like you, who now know the concept, it could be funny or even impactful for a day or so. Maybe at the next audiophile show, we will hear more awesome music from systems that look like they belong in real-world, music-lover’s homes? If that happened, our Rickrolling experiment would be a success.
wow, yet another article about the impending doom of this hobby, and how to prevent it; when this hobby is, always has been, and always will be a lunatic-fringe pursuit. 🙄
Don’t know if that’s an encouraging example. Look at most “lunatic fringe” groups – or cults; sooner or later they all die off.
1st off, cults that die off are ones that typically cause harm. i don’t see that here. 2nd, sooner or later everything dies off…
“Would people get the joke/message?” Nope. For the few non-audiophiles who get lost and wander into the venue, you will have confirmed their fears that audiophilia is a cult. For committed audiophiles, you’ll become the scapegoat for whatever failures they believe the hobby has committed. I can envision eventually having to explain the joke, and that’s a sign it wasn’t a good joke after all.
Lead the way to a better path by offering constructive examples.
I’d love to see innovative ways to conceal electronics in plain sight. [Too many furniture solutions are disconnected from emerging technologies and/or best sound design.] Or, perhaps I could be convinced to modify a closet or built-in cabinet if I saw solutions that incorporated components I could imagine owning.
I’m not so sure that “real performances vs. reproductions” have lost the impact they had a century ago. A more contemporary example would be illustrating a continuum of solutions from simply awful (but absurdly popular) to eerily perfect reproduction using affordable home solutions. We hear too many philosophical debates and see too little proof of achievable results.
I understand your “Rickrolling” joke. It’s just hard to laugh when there’s too much pain involved.
The problem with your audiophile music demo example is that, #1 most of that music is recorded really well and #2 most of them are also universally well-known by many who are looking to make some connection between the demo equipment and their system back home. I know how Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms sounds in my room as it has been one of my demo pieces since its release. For me and others, it is my “Jimi Hendrix demo” that you and Ken used to take from one demo room to the next. You chose it for a different reason, from what I recall, but the point is still valid. Are those recordings an “audiophile demo cliche”? Maybe for some but still relevant for many. It sure beats obscure Classical titles that I am supposed to know.
your comments about what you bring to shows, is a good topic. when i go to audio shows, i typically have zappa’s “one size fits all”, lovett’s “pontiac”, dylan’s “billy the kid”, nusrat fateh ali khan/michael brooks’ “night song”, vishwa mohan bhatt,/jerry douglas’ “bourbon & rosewater”, jerry douglas/russ barenberg/edgar meyer’s “skip, hop & wobble”; xtc’s “skylarking, taj mahal, “the real thing”, taj mahal/toumani diabate “kulanjan”… no, i don’t play everything in every room. but i’m intimately familiar w/all this music, and depending on the system and/or who else is in the room, i have a variety of stuff to highlight what i like in music and in its reproduction.
what one likes to hear is personal, and the better rooms let people play what they have brought with them…
This is a bit too elaborate and too detailed, just to rickroll someone lol.