It’s been a while, but what better reason to come back but to make a post complaining about something petty?
As my CD collection grows, I’m finding that I’m becoming increasingly annoyed with the inclusion of “hidden” tracks on albums – you know, after several minutes of recorded silence another song suddenly starts playing. It’s supposed to be a bonus, a welcome surprise, one presumes. Well, yes, in that more often than not additional tracks are welcome, but also very much no.
I’m not sure where it all began – I vaguely remember Weird Al Yankovic crediting Nirvana, and the album Nevermind, for starting the practice, and that’s a reliable enough source for me, so I’ll blame Nirvana for it all. (Even though the copy of Nevermind that I had never had a hidden bonus track).
It’s not even a surprise anymore. I very rarely use a CD player to play discs now (a: because I don’t actually have one, and b: because I upload all CD’s to WMP as soon as I get them – it makes accessing and listening to them much easier, and the discs then remain in mint condition). This means that as soon as the tracks come up, and the last one shows a running time in excess of 20 minutes, it’s almost a given that a great deal of that running time is going to be silence (there are some exceptions, of course…)
The reality is that it only takes a quick click of the mouse to forward to the actual song, which is no great effort or inconvenience to do; but it annoys me for other reasons. For one, I sometimes like the hidden tracks much more than the track that plays before it, and it would be kinda nice to have a separate track to click on and listen to immediately without having to skip through what I don’t want to listen to.
Secondly, these bonus tracks rarely have their titles (or lyrics) noted on the CD packaging. Yes, ok I can google these things just for my own satisfaction, but that doesn’t stop it from irking me. By the same token, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of a stats geek, and I like my stats to be accurate! I visit my last.fm profile almost daily, and while having two (sometimes more) songs under one track title doesn’t affect the grand scheme of things, it still annoys me that each individual song doesn’t have relevant and accurate statistics. Not only that, occasionally this happens on albums with various contributing artists, which I find even more annoying as then only one artist and song gets the cred.
The thing is that ultimately I get that the annoyance and inconvenience is minor, bordering on irrelevant, but I still have to wonder…why? And by that I mean why even do it, why include an untitled track on an album after several minutes of silence? There doesn’t seem to be any real purpose to it, and if a song is worth putting on a release, isn’t it also worth giving it full and individual accreditation? At first the gimmick was a little effective, I’m sure. In the early ’90’s there were a couple of times I left a CD in my stereo after listening to it several times already only to discover one of these ‘secret’ songs, but the novelty has most assuredly worn off. Now I want my songs fully credited and titled, as well as easy to access and listen to, dammit!
Even if one felt a very great need to include a bonus, unlisted track, why couldn’t it be an individual track instead of being tacked on to the end of another one? If an artist so desired putting several minutes of silence on a music CD, do they have to try and make us listen to it while we’re trying to listen to said music? Let me skip it to the next song just like any other track I might not like so much! Maybe there’s some kind of artistic statement I’m missing here?