Tumblr loves musical underdogs
Popular blogging site provides gateway to fame for dark, unique bands
These days, Facebook and Twitter get all the glory when it comes to social networking, but let’s be honest: Facebook is for pictures of family reunions and new babies, and Twitter is for celebrity gossip and Internet fights. The most innovative and underrated social media site of the day is blogging website Tumblr.
General public opinion of Tumblr might be negative, and while it’s true that Tumblr serves as a haven for scores of neglected, angst-ridden teens and young adults with nowhere else to turn, it also functions as an international network for music sharing within a community hungry for a better interactive medium.
For emotionally-heightened Tumblr users, music can express intensely negative feelings not so easily revealed to friends and family. Bands like Pennsylvania-based Balance and Composure may not be very well-known in the popular music circuit, but they hold a weighty presence on Tumblr dashboards across the world because they write and produce cathartic music which helps the downtrodden release grief and desperation in a healthy manner.
Searching for “balance and composure” on their Tumblr site brings up countless references to the band’s song “Tiny Raindrop,” off their 2013 album “The Things We Think We’re Missing.” This track exhibits, with its potent lyrics and soft instrumentation, how difficult relationships of all varieties can be. Lead singer Jon Simmons sings about a mistake made and a relationship broken; he feels interminably guilty, wondering if his lover should “come close” or “stay far.”
Another hugely popular track coming off the group’s 2011 album “Separation” is titled “I Tore You Apart in My Head” and has a similarly dark feel. The opening vocals are extremely similar to those of A Day to Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon, and the instrumentation has more layers than “Raindrop.” This track accurately speaks to the emotional disarray following a breakup.
Though these songs are relatable to almost everyone, Balance and Composure’s degree of emotional immersion in their music is heightened — and Tumblr users herald this immersion as an escape from reality and a validation of their strong feelings. As bloggers help such artists develop a following, word-of-mouth recommendations spread their music like wildfire.
The open-minded nature of most Tumblr users when interacting with unusual sounds is another advantage of the site — particularly exemplified by La Dispute. The style of music the band has single-handedly created is a highly unique mixture of screamo, poetry slam and hard rock — but has still been readily accepted by Tumblr users.
“King Park,” from the band’s 2011 album “Wildlife,” is the best representation of La Dispute’s particular narrative and spoken-word vocal style. The narrator tells the tale of a drive-by shooting in which a young boy was unintentionally killed. Taking an unconventional approach, the narrator reveals he wasn’t present at the time of the shooting, but “travel[s] backwards through time and space” wanting to “reconstruct the scene in fragments of memories.”
While the instrumentation is relatively melodic and dependent upon the intensity of the narrative, the music is forced into the background by Jordan Dreyer’s voice. It’s almost impossible to characterize. In moments of high anger or sadness, he simply screams or yells, while other times he speaks somewhat melodically — though never fully singing. The pitches don’t move rapidly, but rise and fall according to the intensity of the action.
Such abnormal vocal style could be negatively received by listeners, despite the fantastically moving content and instrumentals — but the Tumblr network provides a host of music-lovers who can support the group along with their affinity for the style.
Not only is the Tumblr community ripe for darker type of music, but it is also open to innovative new styles and trends the larger world may not be quite ready to accept. For this, Tumblr is more than a social network. It is an Internet phenomenon which provides an alternate avenue for budding underdog artists and bands to introduce their material to the world.