At some point during product launches – “reveals”, the marketing types like to call them – the audience will be treated to a product video, perhaps even a pre-flighting of a TV advertisement. So, with my Rapt Attention mode engaged as Lexus IS350 launch proceedings drew to a close, an image popped out of the rapidly changing clutter on the screen: an image of a vinyl disc on a turntable.
On closer inspection of the ad, courtesy of YouTube, it turns out that actually two turntables are featured. One is white, the other black.
The advertising message (I think): you don’t have to conform.
Before somebody drags up the subject, subliminal advertising – hidden messages or images flickering into our consciousness to brainwash us into buying, say, more Hello Kitty jewellery than we need – has been thoroughly debunked. And frankly, I don’t think my Lexus experience indicates an attempt to convert the world back to long players, with or without concealed satanic messages.
The thing is, like never before, vinyl is cool. As we reported earlier, new vinyl has gone back on sale at the country’s biggest music chain, Musica. At the same time, the stockpile of old stuff – good stuff, at any rate – may be shrinking, but there’s still plenty of it.
This isn’t all about nostalgia, either. Today’s top-class vinyl replay chain is as likely to use cutting-edge tech as any other brand of audio fanaticism – er, I mean audio enthusiasm. From mass market to high end, factories churn out new turntables and accessories. You can see one of the very latest – due here in spring, we’re told – in the teaser pic above. Clearly, you don’t have to stick to black or white.
At the same time, more retro-oriented enthusiasts keep vintage machines chugging away. The reason; as everyone knows, a Porsche Cayenne may be a car for the new millennium, but a Porsche 356 is so flipping cool.
Hollywood, never slow to latch on to a good thing, occasionally finds intriguing ways of reinforcing the belief that vinyl still matters. Whereas I can’t recall having ever sat through a movie whose plot turned on an iTunes download, let alone on an iPod, I recently watched an episode of CSI in which vinyl played a central part. Titled “It Was A Very Good Year” (after the Sinatra song), it used flashbacks to Rat Pack-era Las Vegas and, neatly blending retro and new tech, it actually featured a song-ID app like Shazam to identify a snatch of music from shards of vinyl that had to be reconstituted – rather like recombining bits of digital data. Perhaps the Law has a thing for vinyl: Suits’ Harvey Spector does, for sure. And in a recent episode of The Mentalist, Patrick Jane found a clue in listening to vinyl at a murder scene.
In noting the CSI episode with evident satisfaction when it originally aired, an anonymous poster to Audioasylum.com wrote, “… some think vinyl has no interest in mainstream; it’s just a small niche not worth any interest in general. Only classic audiophiles, Boomers and hipsters care.” Well, actually, it is just a small niche. And basically, we are all classic audiophiles, Boomers and hipsters. That’s not so bad. It makes things kinda cosy.