My July with Tidal

I became an expert at packing jewel cases back in the years we were moving to Italy, NYC, and other apartments in between. The trick to packing an extensive CD collection is: don’t be greedy, use a medium box. A box of CDs is heavier than one jewel case in my hand seemed to suggest. There was such satisfaction finding just the right box to accommodate those tightly packed, uniform cases. So much neater than the messy Tetris of cramming other haphazard possessions into square boxes.

Stacking massive numbers of jewel cases is no longer a big issue in our household. These days music organization means juggling our many subscriptions to streaming music services.

Our household has tried an awful lot of them: Rdio (now defunct), Spotify, GooglePlay, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora, YouTube Music, Tidal. I’m often unsure which service to access when I’m craving a particular song. Is my favorite K-Pop tune on Spotify? Maybe, but Apple Music is sure to have it. I miss being subscribed to Deezer, their “Flow” feature always knew what I wanted to listen to before I did, and their catalog of French music was fantastic.

This summer with the advent of JAY-Z’s 4:44, we decided to give Tidal a second chance, and we resubscribed. The first thing we noticed were catalog holes for beloved K-Pop hits and Euro favorites. The second thing we noticed was how awesome the music sounded. Tidal HiFi on my good headphones or stereo system provides a better sound experience than any other service we’ve tried.

My dream is to find The One music service that becomes home base. One app, one subscription. Despite its delicious HiFi, Tidal has a long way to go before it could become The One.

I want two things from a streaming music service: 1. play the specific song, album, or artist I want to hear (and I’m eclectic!); 2. help me figure out what I want to hear when I’m feeling open to suggestions.

When I signed up for the Tidal account, Tidal gave me a multiple choice test. Which of their chosen artists did I like? A couple, but most of my personal favorites didn’t make the list. And when I browsed by genre, the only way to view tracks and albums was by latest release date. The message was clear: what’s trendy and new is what I’m supposed to consume.

Tidal is trying to train me to be one of the cool kids.

And you know what? In the sea of Tidal Rising and Tidal created playlists, I find the occasional interesting new artist. Here’s my find of the week (link from Spotify, which shines at social and sharing):

Some of the trendy new stuff pushed at me is pretty good. Does that make me one of the cool kids, now, Tidal? Maybe. The more I hang with Tidal, the more I miss my Deezer summer of 2016, when the important thing was what I liked, not what made me trendy.

My hubby and I have wandered the world in search of a place to call home. We’ll meander from one subscription music service to the next, searching for the same. Thank goodness it’s easier to subscribe to two different music services than to live in two different places.

My experience with Tidal this summer has showed that it’s comforting being surrounded by music I love, but it’s also tons of fun going outside my comfort zone to try new things. Musical life is happiest when I’m free to do both. I wonder which service will be the next to improve the algorithm balancing familiar and new. Can’t wait to subscribe.

Why Moana Didn’t Make Me Cry

I cry at movies. On our first movie date, I startled my future husband with a teary breakdown in the theater that has gone on to become family legend.

We were watching Toy Story 2.

In my defense, movies entertain by causing us to experience a whole range of alternating emotions: joyful, fearful, happy, sad.

It’s summer vacation, time to catch up on the laughs and tears we’ve missed over the past year. We started our summer movie binge with last summer’s Disney hit, Moana. The movie was visually stunning: amazing graphics, mythic symbolic imagery. Reminiscent of Aladdin, Disney used the demigod, Maui (instead of the Genie), to poke fun at its in-house conventions.

But Moana didn’t make me cry. Not one single tear, not a sniffle from the lady who had to hide her tears from the six-year-old sitting beside her during Frozen. My emotional engagement with Moana was the minimal possible to hold my interest in the story. And, after several listens to the Moana soundtrack, only one song sticks with me:

This song embodies the classic Disney trope, the protagonist who has a dream, and the movie portrayed Moana’s dream well. She was a reverse Little Mermaid: girl on land longs to explore the ocean, instead of girl in the ocean longs to explore the land.

But a character’s dream is not the whole story. In the course of following that dream, the protagonist  forms a deep, personal connection with someone he or she truly loves.

Moana had the dream. But she never made the personal connection.

In the Little Mermaid, Ariel has a passion for life on land, but doesn’t sell out kin and kingdom for legs until she falls in love with a human prince. Street rat, Aladdin, wants to be somebody, but only impersonates a Prince to rescue Princess Jasmine. Though Frozen seemed to eschew Disney formula romance, it’s actually the most touching love story of the three: the love between two sisters. The possibility that Elsa would fail to save Anna ripped my heart in two.

Threatening the personal connection between the protagonist and the character they love is what brings an audience to the edge of its seats. It’s what makes me cry. It’s what Moana was missing.

Moana did an awesome job using imagery to depict the mythic tale of a heroine adventuring at sea. But the character fell flat. We were given mere sketches of how Moana felt about her place in the community she left behind. Only the most tenuous student-mentor connection was formed on her journey. There was never any question where her ultimate loyalty would lie.

It’s the perfect movie to watch if you ever run out of tissues.