In its July issue, Wired magazine takes note of a disturbing trend: The apparent unwillingness among young, music-loving cool types to let the cassette tape die a complete and much-deserved death.
Noting that 2010 saw both the last new car ship with a tape player and the end of production for Sony's Walkman (note to youth: It was like an iPod, except way shittier), the magazine scratches its head at recent tape-only releases from indie-rockers like the Mountain Goats and electronic musicians like Matthewdavid.
"Cassettes are about to be cool again," we're told.
Not if we have anything to say about it.
Perhaps some of you whippersnappers are confused by the recent resurgence of vinyl into thinking that all dead formats will have their day in the zombie spotlight. They won't.
Cassettes are not vinyl. They don't have pretty labels and large art. They do not spin elegantly. Cassettes come unspooled, leave sprawling plasticky messes of sticky ribbon behind, perish in summer heat, and wear completely out. (You try killing off your treasured tape of Thriller at the vulnerable age of 7 and see how it makes you feel.)
Cassettes also do not sound good. Lacking the crisp clarity of a CD or the punchy warmth of vinyl, music on cassette sounds flat and dull. It's like playing music through your computer speakers, except it sounds that way all the time.
Admittedly, cassettes are the original format of the mixtape, which has considerable romantic value. And ghetto blasters will always be cool. But there are lots of ways to make a mixtape these days without the hassle of using actual cassettes. Don't want to make an iTunes or Rdio playlist? Why not try this crazy new technology called a recordable CD? And if you want to put giant speakers on your shoulders, check out the iPod Ghetto Blaster, or TDK's new boom box.
Perhaps the best reason not to let cassettes come back: Do you actually own a tape player? Outside of your car? Yeah, we didn't think so -- because no one does. (Hell, do you even own a dedicated CD player anymore?)
Don't worry, kiddies. You're not missing anything with cassette tapes -- except a chance to look like nostalgic hayseeds to those who've lived longer than you. Tapes are dead -- or at least mostly dead. Let's bury them for good.