There’s a supermarket in the small city where I live that consistently plays (and I say this with no hyperbole) the most objectively bad music ever forced upon any public, anywhere. Every time I go there, I hear a new “worst” song I’ve ever heard, and I think there’s (at the very least) value in all popular music.
I shouldn’t be surprised, considering how much bad music/muzak is foisted upon people’s ears while they receive it passively in the process of getting in and getting out of a retail store. It’s cheaper than hiring musicians to play for your customers, and comes as no surprise in an era when even radio DJ’s are forced by station owners to play songs pre-selected for them and spend more time doing engagement on social media than actually being a DJ.
Fortunately, the internet has stepped in and provided a soothing analeptic that also suggests a happy medium once existed: original musak (splitting the difference between music and muzak) for shopping centers. Imagine Brian Eno’s Music for Airports if airports actually played the album*. YouTuber Fardemark (my new favorite account of the week) has been trafficking obscure recordings which were never meant for the commercial market yet did more to capture a “moment” in American consumer history than anything.
These tunes were recorded for the purpose of being ephemeral aural wallpaper, but they’re actually nicer than 98% of what you would hear on some store’s Spotify playlist in 2022. I would 100% recommend them over algorithmically curated pop music, but then again I would also recommend stores just hire musicians to play live if they want music so badly. But then again, I’m not the one paying to keep the store open.
*Maybe some do; I don’t know.