The Weekday Ramble is a daily dose of sports, music, culture, and more from Rambling On founder Erik Ritland. For more information check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
Monday January 26, 2015
An appreciation of Adventure Time and concept albums.
Adventure Time is the best show on television. There. I said it.
Sure, it’s on Cartoon Network. It is, or at least was initially, seen as a “kid’s show.” The first four seasons were pretty silly, but even then their irreverence and creativity was unparalleled. You could never guess what was coming. Every ending would leave me jaw dropped and thinking, “what the fuck?”
The show has only gotten better since it started getting more serious towards the end of season four. Its post-apocalyptic backstory is getting more and more intriguing. Its lessons are getting deeper and deeper. Its philosophical undertones are becoming more and more complex.
For example in the last episode, Astral Plane, lead character Finn has an out of body experience. He comes across a series of sad, lonely characters and begins questioning the nature of loneliness and creativity. After witnessing the birth of a celestial being he concludes that birth is the greatest high point of existence.
But then another question arises: if birth is life’s highest achievement, is the rest life afterward just a huge let down? He ends up meeting Glob, who has always been assumed to be the Adventure Time version of God. Glob is trying to save his planet from a comet that is heading towards it. Finn asks his question:
If just being born is the greatest act of creation, then what are you supposed to do after that? Isn’t everything that comes next sort of a disappointment? Slowly entropy-ing until we deflate into a pile of mush?
Glob vaguely answers that “it’s not enough to have created something amazing.” He then heads towards the comet himself, diverting it and saving his people but dying in the process. Not only is this philosophically deep, it’s also an obvious allusion to Jesus as God giving his life for his people.
What other TV show goes to any of these depths? And Adventure Time does it without any of unnecessary sex, violence, and vulgarity of “adult” shows. Its mystique, and popularity, will outlast any of its contemporary competition.
Journey doesn't make concept albums, but whatever.
I’ve listened to bands like Journey since I was a kid. My older brothers took them seriously and passed that on to me. I’ve never understood taking them “ironically” (silly little hipsters). I liked bands like Journey then, and now, because they play good music. Bombastic, sure, but that’s because they were trying. It’s not a sin to try you know. I feel like artists today are so busy trying to seem like they’re not trying that what they create feels like, well, they aren’t trying.
Concept albums are now mostly seen as pretentious and bland (ironically, mostly by people who are pretentious and bland). They’re seen as too arts-y by the same people who only listen to music that they feel has “artistic merit.” Truly creative minds tackling the limitless possibilities of the concept album would be a fine elixir to the stale contemporary music scene.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.