Aural Fixation

Aural Fixation:

Music Essays by
Dave Whitaker

Aural Fixation” is a music-themed column I wrote for from 2011-2013. They are no longer online there, but I have reformatted them here with additional videos, photos, and links. I have also used the title “Aural Fixation” for any essays I have written outside of both before and after that gig. Many of these essays are available through two anthologies released by Dave’s Music Database. Read about them here.

Today’s Music Doesn’t Suck. You’re Just Lazy.

Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and even some Millennials like to loudly proclaim how great their generation’s music is while lambasting the music of today. Are they right? Nope. (11/3/2023)

What Is Rock and Roll?

Self-appointed rock purists love to whine about what isn’t rock and roll. However, when pressed these whiners can’t generally offer a definition. So what is rock and roll? (10/27/2023)

Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Isn’t a Joke

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bashers relish in attacking the institution. But do they have a point? I break down six of the most common arguments and show why they don’t hold water. (2/10/2023)

National Recording Registry: Kenny Loggins’ “Footloose”

This is a piece I wrote about Kenny Loggins’ 1984 #1 hit “Footloose” at the request of the National Recording Registry. (1/31/2022)

Three Cheers for Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Edgy comedian and actor Denis Leary brings his talents to FX for a television show about a washed-up rocker trying to revive his career. Does it work? (7/17/2015)

The Five-Year Anniversary of Dave’s Music Database Blog

This is a brief look back at the origins of the Dave’s Music Database blog and where it has gone in the five years since it began. (2/22/2014)

Every Generation Got Its Own Moniker: Music in the iGeneration

With every generation comes new technology and new ways to consume music. How is the latest generation accessing and listening music? (8/31/2013)

Aural Fixation: More Essays from a Musical Obsessive

This second collection gathers those essays specifically written for from 2011 to 2013. You can read them by clicking on the links below or purchase the book Aural Fixation: More Essays from a Musical Obsessive, available here.

Why Radio Still Matters

Is radio really dead? The key to its survival is to embrace streaming, social media, and other means of establishing a global identity – all while maintaining a presence in your back yard. (6/28/2013)

The Death Knell Sounds Again: The History of Music Industry Whining

If the Chicken Little music industry pundits are to be believed, the sky is falling. A business which makes billions of dollars a year can’t stop whining about how illegal downloading, streaming, and Internet radio are sending them to the poor house. There’s one problem with their complaints – we’ve been hearing them since the beginning of recorded music history more than a century ago. (4/25/2013)

Anatomy of a Viral Smash: Bauuer’s “Harlem Shake”

So are you ready to gouge out your eyes and slice off your ears if forced to endure one more version of “Harlem Shake”? With 700 million views and counting, someone’s paying attention. The question is: What made it into such a viral smash? (3/18/2013)

Why the Grammys Matter

So your favorites didn’t win, huh? Get over it. Bashing the Grammys is too easy. Try recognizing them as markers of what is happening in the music industry, not on your iPod. Look at the last ten year's Album of the Year winners. What do they tell us? (2/18/2013)

What James Bond Can’t Teach You About British Music History

If you want lessons in womanizing, dressing to the nines, or ordering martinis, James Bond is your man. If, however, you’re looking for a review of British music history over the last 50 years, the world’s favorite secret agent has no idea what he’s doing. (1/30/2013)

Rock Memoirs Aren't All About the Rich and Famous

This fall several superstars added their autobiographies to the ever-increasing market of rock memoirs. However, there’s a lesser-told story deserving of an audience as well: the life of working-class musicians who travel by van instead of private jet, tour clubs instead of stadiums, and are staying in dives instead of suites. Here’s one of their tales. (12/2/2012)

Today's New Music Is All “Folked” Up

One of today’s biggest musical trends owes a debt to one of musics oldest traditions: buddies gathered on a front porch jamming with guitars, banjos, and mandolins. Some of today's most popular groups sound like they belong in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1920s, not on alternative radio of the 2010s. (11/13/2012)

Music in the '90s: When Alternative Became Mainstream

The genre once tied to college radio and indie record companies became mainstream in the '90s. Some of those icons of “alternative” are making comebacks – or never went away. Is this 2012 or 1996? (10/1/2012)

Generation X Wants Its MTV But It’s a Vevo World Now

Gen X’ers may still want their MTV, but the version they loved is as distant a memory as Valley Girl speak, parachute pants, and leg warmers. Wake up and smell the VEVO. (8/29/2012)

An Open Letter to Tom Cruise: How to Make a Movie Rock

Dear Tom Cruise: We know you are hurting from the failure of Rock of Ages. However, if you learn the lessons from the best rock-themed movies, you can still make a rock film for the ages. (7/25/2012)

Cock Roaches and Keith Richards: Why Do Some Bands Seem to Last Forever?

The Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Metallica and other rock groups have been around for decades. What are the keys to their longevity? (6/21/2012)

Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Dead? Again?

Actor Jack Black recently joined a long line of prognosticators shaking the death rattle for rock 'n' roll. However, Foo Fighter Dave Grohl says, "There will always be rock 'n' roll." If saltine crackers are any way of judging, I'm with Grohl on this. (5/31/2012)

Record Store Day: Spend Your Money on Music – It’s Better Than Therapy

"My advice is, don’t spend money on therapy. Spend it in a record store." - German film director Wim Wenders (18 April 2012)

When Politicians Hit Wrong Notes

From Reagan in the '80s to Limbaugh in 2012, Republicans have an uncanny knack for linking themselves to musicians who don’t support them. Just ask Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and John Mellencamp. (4/2/2012)

I Heard You Missed Us - We're Back!

The David Lee Roth-fronted Van Halen returns after a 28-year absence. Who else has made fans wait that long? Quite a few, it turns out. (3/5/2012)

Gleeks and Beliebers Rejoice: In Defense of Pop

Pop music makers like Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry may get the kiss off from critics, but really, what's the harm in getting your pop groove on to their style of music? (1/18/2012)

Making a List and Checking It Twice

It's that time of the year, again. Music fans are making their lists of what they hope to find wrapped in pretty paper at Christmas, and music publications are making their lists of what should be on those lists. Now, I have something to say about lists. (11/23/2011)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or Shame?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently announced its 15 nominees for its 2012 induction class. Once again, that means the blogosphere is abuzz with complaints about the Hall's irrelevancy. Are they legitimate? (11/1/2011)

Was Grunge the Last American Musical Revolution?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Nirvana's Nevermind and Pearl Jam's Ten. In revisiting the grunge genre which altered the musical landscape two decades ago, the question arises: was this our last musical revolution? (10/4/2011)

The Music Never Stopped

Music has the power to connect people, to heal, to bring one back to another place and time. In this phenomenal movie, it has the power to give a father another chance at a relationship with his long-lost son. (9/13/2011)

Rock and Roll 101: How to Handle a Dead Star

In the wake of Amy Winehouse's death, record industry types and music journalists dusted off their Rock 'n' Roll 101 handbooks, revisiting the chapter on how to report on a Young Rock Star's death. Has it been handled any differently this time around than in the past? (8/25/2011)

Are These the New Faces of Classic Rock?

Pick an established classic rock band which celebrated its heyday in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. The group stubbornly refuses to hang it up. They just need a new frontman. (7/27/2011)

Waxing Nostalgic: The Mantras of the Music Geek

Four music geeks reunite to reminisce over their college days in the late '80s. Bold mantras about what's wrong with today's music ensue. (6/20/2011)

Is Glee the New Elvis?

Glee has passed Elvis Presley for the most Hot 100 hits in history. Does this really put that two-year old show on the same level as the King of Rock 'n' Roll? Really? (5/24/2011)

Modern-Indie-College-Alternative Rock for Hipsters (MICAH for Short)

Here's your introduction to MICAH rock, my admittedly cheesy acronym for music that has, at one time or another, been defined as modern, indie, college, alternative, and hipster music. (4/18/2011)

No One Needs 21 Versions of “Purple Haze”

Prior to publishing “Aural Fixation” with, I published essays on my music blog. You can read them by clicking on the links below, but these essays written from 2009 to 2011 have also been compiled in the collection No One Needs 21 Versions of “Purple Haze”, available here.

The Art of the Album Cover

What makes for a great album cover? Check out this criteria as determined by the Tyrone-and-Dave rating system. (4/26/2011)

When the Rainmakers Came to Town

My first concert was in 1987, seeing the Rainmakers, who were a local Kansas City band. A quarter century later, I’m seeing them again. (4/7/2011)

The Art of List Making

I discuss my love of best-of lists and how it led to the publication of my first Dave’s Music Database book. (4/5/2011)

Last updated 11/3/2023.

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