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Atari Flashback 8 — what's not to love?

But retro Moog and Korg don't deserve quasi-mythic significance

Basically an Atari 2600 without annoyances
Basically an Atari 2600 without annoyances

Dear Hipster: What were the best and worst parts of 2017? What are we most looking forward to, from a hipster perspective, of course, in 2018? — Andrew

Despite a rising trend in declaring every year “The Worst Year Ever” as soon as it draws to a close, I think 2017 had plenty of bright spots. From where I’m standing atop Mt. Hipster, looking out at all the hipness before me, I’ll venture that the best (i.e. most hipster) part of 2017 was the vast selection of vintage-themed entertainment available to hipster and non-hipster alike.

Stranger Things 2 gave the world another peek into its romanticized version of the 1980s. The new Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy movies didn’t exactly go back to the ’80s, but they wrapped themselves in more layers of satin-hued primary colors than an episode of He-Man wrestling a Lamborghini Countach for the last can of Tab.

The simplistic, plasticky synth tones that first started cropping up in obscure hip-hop and electronic tracks have become ubiquitous in mainstream pop music. Twenty-seventeen also brought us the Atari Flashback 8, which is basically an Atari 2600 except without any of the things that made vintage home video gaming consoles super annoying. What’s not to love?

Yet the blade cuts both ways, and this hipster nostalgia for all things retro is also the worst part of this last, and many other, years. Reproducing retro Moog and Korg tones on an iMac doesn’t exactly push music forward. Worse, today’s retro entertainment sanitizes the past, because nostalgia (from the Greek for “return to pain”) necessarily involves remembering things as better than they were. We like to take the things that were totally shitty, like cookie-cutter synth tracks from terrible pop songs, and imbue them with quasi-mythic significance just because they happened a while ago. All humans bear some guilt for this, and it’s always a little sad.

Looking forward, I hope 2018 will be a year without band revivals. Please stop replacing the absent member with a younger version and going on tour with watered-down versions of the old favorites.

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Basically an Atari 2600 without annoyances
Basically an Atari 2600 without annoyances

Dear Hipster: What were the best and worst parts of 2017? What are we most looking forward to, from a hipster perspective, of course, in 2018? — Andrew

Despite a rising trend in declaring every year “The Worst Year Ever” as soon as it draws to a close, I think 2017 had plenty of bright spots. From where I’m standing atop Mt. Hipster, looking out at all the hipness before me, I’ll venture that the best (i.e. most hipster) part of 2017 was the vast selection of vintage-themed entertainment available to hipster and non-hipster alike.

Stranger Things 2 gave the world another peek into its romanticized version of the 1980s. The new Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy movies didn’t exactly go back to the ’80s, but they wrapped themselves in more layers of satin-hued primary colors than an episode of He-Man wrestling a Lamborghini Countach for the last can of Tab.

The simplistic, plasticky synth tones that first started cropping up in obscure hip-hop and electronic tracks have become ubiquitous in mainstream pop music. Twenty-seventeen also brought us the Atari Flashback 8, which is basically an Atari 2600 except without any of the things that made vintage home video gaming consoles super annoying. What’s not to love?

Yet the blade cuts both ways, and this hipster nostalgia for all things retro is also the worst part of this last, and many other, years. Reproducing retro Moog and Korg tones on an iMac doesn’t exactly push music forward. Worse, today’s retro entertainment sanitizes the past, because nostalgia (from the Greek for “return to pain”) necessarily involves remembering things as better than they were. We like to take the things that were totally shitty, like cookie-cutter synth tracks from terrible pop songs, and imbue them with quasi-mythic significance just because they happened a while ago. All humans bear some guilt for this, and it’s always a little sad.

Looking forward, I hope 2018 will be a year without band revivals. Please stop replacing the absent member with a younger version and going on tour with watered-down versions of the old favorites.

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Folk music needs to make a big comeback, to deal with the current political climate. And no more K-Pop boy bands, please.

Jan. 3, 2018

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