This started as a self-indulgent, “no such thing as a bad idea” playlist. That’s probably obvious. Matthew said let’s have a lot of classical mixed with Japanese city pop. Sammie said let’s have Trans Europe Express three times in a row. Matthew said an entire Elvis Costello album. Sammie said a podcast episode. Matthew said the real 14th hour of this playlist is actually this YouTube video somewhere. And so on.
But then we asked ourselves, what does it mean, from a curative approach, to create a playlist that’s longer than most people are even awake on a given day?
Does it “chart” the course of a day? Does it rouse you from sleep, settle you into your workday, nudge you to take breaks, encourage you to cook dinner, lull you to sleep? Is it multiple listening sessions somehow mirroring Tim Rogers’s critical positions with the power of music? Is this, like Action Button Season One, apparently a long exploration of the concept of authenticity? Is this a humorously long playlist echo of Tim Rogers’s own lengthy style of writing, inspired by Tokimeki Memorial and the Action Button review of it, essentially a multiple business days–long spotify playlist version of this:
Let’s start with the bottom line: trash garbage shoulda been a TikTok.
One “chapter” of this playlist (or “disc”, to mirror Tim Rogers’s choice of terminology to mirror the medium of Final Fantasy VII‘s original physical release in 1997, which also appropriately thematically works for us making a 17-hour playlist of music which, released at a certain point in time, would also have been divided into multiple discs), is a remake of one of our early playlists: materia system. The “joke” would seem to be, yep, Tim Rogers likes Final Fantasy VII, just copy/paste a slightly tweaked version of an old playlist in here to pad this playlist up to 17 hours (although as Sammie pointed out while working on this, “I just don’t see how we can justify calling anything “padding” in our almost-a-full-day-long-playlist”). But revisiting one of our oldest playlists a few years later has prompted a few interesting things, such as:
- What would I do differently about this playlist today? The original thesis for this was work music for when you’re more so just in a mood to rewatch some old favorite movies, revisit old favorite games. And, ya know, Harry Potter just doesn’t feel like easy breezy nostalgia anymore. Someone saw to that.
- The “source material” for this playlist (Final Fantasy VII) (you already knew that) also had a Remake. Furthermore, its soundtrack was not originally on Spotify when I made the original pass at this playlist. If I simply swapped out the FF7 songs with versions from the FF7R soundtrack and kept everything else exactly as is, how do those subtle differences change the overall playlist? How does a playlist you’ve listened to dozens of times feel different when new versions of the same songs, all over the remake spectrum of pure faithful rerecording to fully revisited with consideration given to its own legacy, what does that ask of the rest of the playlist? In other words, what’s the difference between materia system remake and materia system (taylor’s version)?
- A few tracks on materia system simply aren’t on Spotify anymore! This isn’t the first time I’ve grappled with how we do this playlist curation project largely through a centralized platform on an increasingly accessible decreasingly useful internet, relying basically entirely on a platform “great” for the consumer but terrible for the consumed. Mix tapes existed before Spotify, of course, but without Spotify it’s difficult to envision trash garbage as it exists today (which, as a wordpress site on the aforementioned increasingly accessibly decreasingly useful internet, is to say: outdated, but). Do we simply replace the missing tracks with similar songs? Is that simple? When there’s no control over when something else in this playlist could get removed from Spotify for any reason one, two, seventeen years from now? Whatever action you take becomes some sort of commentary on our late-capitalist lack of control over our lives, or even on one’s role in maintaining the illusion.
As Tim Rogers would say (or at least did say about the decades of the idea of a remake of Final Fantasy VII), it’s a philosophical nightmare.
Tim Rogers worked at a Target in high school. This comes up from time to time in his video game criticism. It makes sense in context; he’s a hell of a storyteller. One half of trash garbage also, coincidentally, worked at a Target in high school. Are you ready to hear about Julien the electronics manager who showed up to work drunk and befriended the aforementioned half of trash garbage because they were the only other person there who listened to Aphex Twin?
When I was 16, I started working at Target and eventually was moved to the electronics desk because it became readily apparent to leadership that was the only time I actually did any work. I’m not going to deny this, my attitude towards working at Target persists in my attitude towards work to this day, which is basically like “in a capitalist system, a company’s job is to extract as much work from me as possible for as little pay as possible. My job as a worker in a capitalist system is to extract as much money as possible for as little work as possible.” I have 0 interest in performing labor to increase someone else’s wealth, but I have to survive, which is why I work in tech.
The electronics desk was primarily run by, as previously mentioned, Julien. Julien had the stereotypical swept hair of the early 00s. (This was the early 00s.)
Julien and I worked together frequently, but always kind of regarded each other with a sense of caution. He seemed to me a bit like the guys that were (at the time) routinely picking on me in gym class, and I seemed to him like yet another one of the weird nerdy people that hung around the electronics booth constantly. This persisted until one night, we were closing the store together and talking about another coworker of ours, who was somewhat notorious for having very long and unkempt hair. Eventually I offhandedly made the remark, “I think he looks like a brunette Richard James.”
Julien, stopped dead in his tracks: “You listen to Aphex Twin?”
Me: “Yeah, I pretty much only listen to electronic music.”
Julien, with a look on his face I only remember as incredulous: “Me too, I had no idea anyone else here liked that kind of stuff.”
From that point on, Julien and I were thick as thieves. He was a good few years older than me (early/mid 20s I guess?) working on an art degree in Chicago. He’d show me his painting that he worked on and very frequently would let me know if he was coming into work drunk or hungover so I could cover for him, which at 16 was about the coolest thing to me ever.
The best part of those stories was that this was the same gentlemen that came to me one early summer morning and said “Sammie, you gotta help me. I’m still drunk and the manager is asking for this barcode number, and I’m too drunk to read the numbers on the tag”, so I read the numbers off to him while he recited them, one by one, into our walkie talkie.
He introduced me to a lot of sound collage and frequently showed me his work, which was primarily inspired by Russian literature. Then I left for college and never saw him again. Pretty anticlimatic, honestly.
The playlists we make aren’t “art”. If we share these playlists because we wish to share certain moods, headspaces, or simple joys that make the workday more enjoyable, it’s closer to, but is not, a review, specifically a Tim Rogers Action Button style review which wishes to share, with its whole heart, what there is to love about a thing. It’s closest to a hot mess coworker who you nonetheless have a soft spot for because you learned you like the same music. Beyond the bare minimum of presenting implicit endorsement of a thing on which to spend your time and attention, we’re not reviewing anything. Beyond a parasocial relationship helping working hours pass more tolerably, we’re not your coworker either.
Around this point, you may be thinking, there are definitely easier routes to comedy than writing thousands of words to explain a vaguely Tim Rogers–themed Spotify playlist in the style of Tim Rogers.
Another “disc” inside this playlist is the first playlist Sammie and Matthew made together, before either of us thought about doing this repeatedly on a regular basis and posting them somewhere for ~someone~. It was shitpostingly titled “Sammie and Matthew’s 24/7 Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beats to Study and Relax To”. The natural extension of such a shitpost is a blog. idk if blogs exist anymore.
This isn’t my observation, but rather something stuck in my head that I think I read on Twitter or maybe screenshot from Twitter onto Instagram and then shared on Discord (further to my point that it is 2022), but if you are old enough to remember a Flobots song titled “Handlebars”, there’s a lyric “I can make a living off a magazine”. There was a heyday before it was 2022 when it really felt like it was possible to make a living writing words on the internet, not really in a be-your-own-boss kinda way, but rather in a if-you-build-it-they-will-come-and-they-will-kill-Goliath-it-is-unclear-in-this-metaphor-if-David-is-a-metaphor-for-a-collective-this-is-before-we-were-really-thinking-about-the-labor-issues-of-it-all-we-weren’t-even-really-thinking-about-the-sidehustle-we-just-thought-we-saw-the-future kinda way. There was a “side business” I did with a friend for approximately eight years, a respectable amount of people read it, it was called Bad Books Good Times. You may have heard about it. You may have read something we published one time and forgot about it. It’s statistically not improbable. When we were 21 and realized enough people were reading it where if we bought the domain and got our own ad revenue, it would pay for itself and then we would profit. We were 21 and realized, depending on how you paraphrased the situation, we could make money writing dick jokes on the internet. It feels impossible now, but ad revenue on the internet? Oh boy. When the first Fifty Shades of Grey movie came out in February 2015, we got so much traffic on our blog that we made $300 in ad revenue in a single month. Not “make a living off a magazine” money, but I was certainly not upset about “replace my laptop every few years when the old one has fallen apart one too many times” money. I don’t mean to be egotistical, but February 2015 may have been the last time anyone ever made money writing a blog. The internet just does not work like that anymore, between the death of the sidebar ad and the mutation of the attention economy. It’s laughable now. Telling this anecdote, I’m not complaining about how I’m not an influencer and still making money off the internet so much as I feel like I’m trying to tell an important story about a rolodex.
I feel a little pang of displacement every time we decide a playlist is ready to “go live” and then I roll over to WordPress. All we want is to share, but all we can do is make content. And we’re making content badly. Was a website the right way to do this? Should this have been a more modern approach, like a newsletter? How long are newsletters possibly going to be in vogue though? Should this have been more modern yet, should we have researched a creative approach for curating vibes on TikTok? Is this pivot-to-video stamping on a human face forever? It’s hard to imagine a bottom line outside of capitalism, to imagine a Point free of constantly keeping up with how the attention economy works at an exact moment in time, when asking yourself what is the balance between an enjoyable and a viable project?
Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing explains that it’s not possible to just escape the attention economy, there must be an alternative. For Odell, this has been more time in nature, hiking, learning about identifying flowers and birds. Odell explicitly states that the point of her book is not that you have to get off the internet and go be in nature, just that nature was an alternative that was effective for her. I’m growing tomatoes, snap peas, cucumbers, shishito peppers, strawberries, and lettuce this year. You know that feeling in Stardew Valley where it’s raining and you don’t have to water your crops? Can you imagine how good that feeling is in real life?
It sure would be nice if the Democrats had some tomato plants outside instead of just yelling about how it’s raining, metaphorically speaking.
if you’ve been scrolling for the actual, no gimmicks explanation of what this playlist is, when you would want to listen to it, etc, that is here, no jokes
19-hour tim rogers review of tokimeki memorial 2 is kind of a work music playlist, not really for the most focused of work, but maybe a day where you go back and forth between working, doing the dishes while waiting on an email, taking a break to cook lunch, kind of a lowkey wednesday where if someone asked you how work was you might just say “it was fine”
the first disc is mostly city pop, with occasional diversions for classical music or jazz or… Prince. the second disc i’m not sure how to categorize beyond a godspeed you black emperor song, fast car, a classical to jazz to funk block, then trans-europe express three times in a row. the third disc is more pop and rock, including an intermission that’s 20-odd minutes straight of Doom E1M1 covers. the fourth disc is some jazz that eventually slows down into classical that eventually slows down into a podcast about semiotics. somewhere between disc 3 and 4 is an entire Elvis Costello album, i’m not actually sure where one disc ends and another begins. disc 5 is the first playlist Sammie and Matthew made together, a proto-trash garbage playlist, which was originally titled “Sammie and Matthew’s 24/7 Lo-Fi Hip Hop Beats to Study and Relax To” and is pretty much what you would expect from that.
disc 6 is fun. disc 6 in the spotify playlist is the aforementioned Materia System Remake – an updated/remade version of materia system with a similar philosophy to how Final Fantasy VII Remake is an update/remake of Final Fantasy VII, as well as drawing upon Tim Rogers’ analysis of Remake in ways that, honestly, are intentional fallacy up its ass. what matters is that it’s a strings-focused work music playlist. alternatively, because there was a single song from Final Fantasy VII Remake that would have been perfect for this playlist but is not on Spotify, there is also a YouTube alternate version of disc 6. it’s a wacky journey with alternate songs, some songs from the OG materia system that are no longer on spotify but are still available on youtube, some other tweaks for the resulting changes in flow as a result of that, and a MuLtImEdIa experience with some goddamn let’s play clips that, imo, feel sufficiently backgroundy and work music-esque.
disc 7 is another podcast.
disc 0 and/or 8 is the bit of Action Button Reviews The Last of Us where Tim Rogers attempted to write the story of The Last of Us in the style of Cormac McCarthy. You can play this disc wherever you see fit in your experience with 19-hour tim rogers review of tokimeki memorial 2. Timestamped below:
but what’s the way i’m supposed to listen to this?
buddy, nothing is real! you aren’t supposed to do anything! drop the needle in the middle of this playlist, skip the podcasts, only listen to the spotify and youtube materia system remake discs, fall asleep to the classical-into-podcast section if you like to fall asleep to classical music and/or people talking on the radio* (*or whatever), play the psuedo-tim rogers audiobook adaptation of the last of us over a classical music section. whatever floats your boat that evokes the same feeling from this playlist as the feeling you get of watching tim rogers love Tokimeki Memorial:
the only thing you are not allowed to do is put this playlist on shuffle. that’s the only wrong option.