Asking Alexandria: 'Record Label Industry Is Like Government, Except Worse'

Meanwhile, a journalist explains how "music industry is literally brainwashing you to like bad pop songs."

Ultimate Guitar

Discussing the new Asking Alexandria album, which is "not far!" in the overall making process, singer Danny Worsnop noted that the label industry is partially to blame.

"Political reasons," he told PCM regarding the slow progress. "Not like, the government, they had nothing to do with it, although the record label industry is very often like the government, except worse."

During the rest of the chat, Danny confirmed three fresh tunes, singing six lines of vocals so far, and a much faster work pace of guitarist Ben Bruce, who had reportedly written 11 new tracks. "It's gonna just fall out as it goes," he said.

Going down the label-bashing track Mr. Worsnop put us on, an interesting piece has surfaced online, explaining how "music industry is literally brainwashing you to like bad pop songs."

Published on Mic, the article was written by Tom Barnes, and kicks off by saying, "Last summer it was 'Blurred Lines.' This summer it's 'Fancy.' Every year, there's a new song that we all hate until we don't anymore. And it turns out that's because we were brainwashed to like them.

"Research suggests that repeated exposure is a much more surefire way of getting the general public to like a song than writing one that suits their taste. Based on an fMRI study in 2011, we now know that the emotional centers of the brain - including the reward centers - are more active when people hear songs they've been played before. In fact, those brain areas are more active even than when people hear unfamiliar songs that are far better fits with their musical taste," the article reads.

"This happens more often than you might think. After a couple dozen unintentional listens, many of us may find ourselves changing our initial opinions about a song - eventually admitting that, really, Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' isn't as awful as it sounds. PBS' Idea Channel's Mike Rugnetta explains, it's akin to a musical 'Stockholm syndrome,' a term used originally by criminologist Nils Bejerot to describe a phenomenon in which victims of kidnapping may begin to sympathize with their captors over time."

Further explaining the matter, the journalist continued, "Most people assume that they hear a song everywhere because it's popular. That's not the case - a song is popular because it's played everywhere. It is technically illegal for major labels to pay radio stations directly to play certain songs, but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

"The phenomenon is called 'payola' (an amalgam of the words pay and Victrola), and it was rampant in the 1960s up through the '80s, during which period the music industry was literally run by the mob. It still happens today, even though it isn't as blatant. Labels pay independent promoters to 'incentivize' radio stations to play their music, or create program caps to make sure a song gets enough plays to have its effect. There's real neuroscience behind the strategy: If you hear something enough, you'll start to like it."

Saying that the mentioned syndrome is equally present in other cultural avenues, Barnes noted, "Other scientific factors matter just as much, though. The context in which you hear a song is often just as important as the qualities of the song itself in communicating meaning, and the more times it's forced upon us the more opportunities we have to make positive associations.

"If someone hears Ariana Grande's smash hit 'Problem' every time they're out with their friends, they will likely start to associate it with good times and good feelings regardless of the song's actual lyrics. Songs that the industry foists upon us constantly, then, have a far better shot at becoming popular than ones without the machine behind them."

In conclusion, he added, "Ultimately, we have way less of an idea of why we like the things we do. Numerous social and cognitive factors make it very easy for the pop music industry to gather an audience for artists they decide are worth promoting, and once we've been initiated to those artists, there's no turning back. The industry knows that well, and they manipulate it constantly. But even amidst all that science and big business maneuvering, there's one truth: If you play a really bad song too much, people will still figure it out for themselves."

YouTube preview picture

23 comments sorted by best / new / date

    If they need to explain anything, maybe it should be what they're actually asking Alexandria
    I have ba question to ask: Who is Alexandria?
    I've heard in the past that it's based of alexander the great but they put alexandria and "asking" was just added in to make it more interesting
    "Going down the label-bashing track Mr. Worsnop put us on, an interesting piece has surfaced online, explaining how "music industry is literally brainwashing you to like bad pop songs."" Oh, you mean like Asking Alexandria?
    Majoriy of this article is referring to something Tom Barnes wrote in a separate article. Don't get me wrong, I don't really listen to AA, but music labels are pretty controlling. They're in it for the big bucks and they'll do anything to get the mouthbreathers thinking that pop music is good.
    No one can force people to like anything. If you think its possible, maybe you're the mouth breather. Some people just don't care about actual complexity in music. They don't really need to. People's tastes differ, and if you can't accept that, you are an incredibly confused person.
    Actually, it's quite easy to get an idiot to do what you want. Try that on a mass scale and ...
    "LOOK AT ME BEING EDGY, I SAY THE GOVERNMENT TOTALLY SUCKS, WE'RE BRAINWASHED"Oh wow you're so cool Danny, what site did you get those opinions from? Come back when you're at least trying to be original. Oh wait..
    I have never felt that the record industry wants you to like shitty music...they want to milk what everyone is listening to until it rolls over and dies when all the money has been made...Everything on mainstream radio is the fault of the consumer
    this is exactly why you should wait until your at least 25 to have this kind of career. if you reach this at a young age it messes with your mind.