Bob Katz recently announced that the Loudness War has been won. But is he right ?
Well, based on recent releases by a slew of UK female artists – maybe !
The YouTube video above of Lily Allen’s new single “Hard Out Here” sounds great and measures a respectable DR9 on the TT Meter, following the same trend as two of the year’s biggest hits, “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky“.
(Plus the satisfyingly rude and on-point video and lyrics for “Hard Out Here” are especially pleasing if you share my reservations about “Blurred Lines”…)
And Lily’s not alone.
Jessie J‘s new album measures DR9 overall, Pixie Lott’s 2011 “Young Foolish Happy” was un-squashed by modern standards and the YouTube preview of her new single measures DR9 – and all of these artists have the heavily compressed, slightly distorted “dense” sound that’s fashionable these days, proving there’s absolutely no need to excessively crush music to achieve a “signature sound”, in any genre.
Outside of mainstream pop there are even more great-sounding dynamic releases by UK female artists – Allison Goldfrapp’s lovely “Tales Of Us“, both Norah Jones’ and PJ Harvey’s last albums, everything Kate Bush and Laura Marling have ever done…
Now all we need is for Adele and Ellie Goulding to get the message, and it’ll be virtually a clean sweep of dynamic UK female artists !
So, am I really saying that all these artists have actively requested more dynamic releases for their albums ?
Probably not. Maybe – who knows ?
But who cares !?
Whether it’s the artists, or their management, or their mastering engineers – it’s a Good Thing.
(Although I’ve read on several occasions that women are more sensitive to the distortion that’s typical of Loudness War “casulaities”, so maybe there really is a trend here…)
And am I really saying that DR8 is dynamic enough ?
No – but it’s a step in the right direction.
DR8 is the absolute minimum, in my opinion – at DR8 and above, music really does stand a fighting chance of sounding decent. Would these releases sound even better with even more dynamics ? Probably – and hopefully the recent changes to iTunes Radio will help things move even more in that direction.
But for now, the fact is that there are more and more releases in 2013 that are stepping away from the ridiculously narrow-dynamic, distorted sound of the beginning of the decade, back towards the magic “sweet spot” where balanced, controlled dynamics give the best possible sound on the widest range of systems.
You go, girls !
Please add your suggestions of great-sounding, dynamic tracks in the comments – from any artist or genre : )