June 3, 2005

Musicians need to stop putting “hidden tracks” on CDs

They really do. And here’s why:
1. Hidden tracks hark back to the days before LCD displays. These days, people can see how long each track is. If they are playing the CD on the computer, or as sound files, then they can see a full track listing. How curious that the last song is 13 minutes long… the hidden track is not really hidden, making it… a track.
2. An increasing number of people are converting their CD collections to MP3s, so that they can benefit from the portability and convenience offered. Hidden tracks force them to either waste (admittedly expendable) megabytes of storage space on silence or rip to WAV, open the file up in a wave editor, and chop it up into two separate files.
3. When listening to a CD in the car, who wants to sit through eight minutes of silence? No-one, that’s who. It’s easier to skip back to the first track than to fast-forward to the start of the “hidden” track, so that’s what you do. Not only do you miss the “hidden” track (despite knowing that it is there), but your attention is also diverted from driving while you are hammering that button. One day someone will have an accident while skipping tracks, and if they live in the USA they may attempt to sue the producer of the CD. Maybe. I’m just tossing the notion in there.
4. It’s not big.
5. It’s not clever.
I’m going back into retirement now. For how long, I really don’t know. Toodles!


13 thoughts on “Musicians need to stop putting “hidden tracks” on CDs

  1. I couldn’t agree more. I have followed this very train of thought several times lately, while listening to music on my iPod. Who is going to sit with earphones in playing nothing for 8 minutes? No-one, that’s who. It’s profoundly irritating. And really quite arrogant, I think.

    Karen on June 3, 2005
  2. Plus, it puts you off if you’re having sex to the CD. You won’t notice the music has stopped, but you’ll be terrified when it starts up again really loudly with trumpets. Hidden tracks always begin with magnificent brass sections. Always.

  3. Putting hidden tracks on CDS?
    I don’t know, why don’t they just install a robotic leg on every CD that kicks the fans in the head every time they try and play the disc?
    Or something?

  4. Can somebody please put the looming horn gag out of its misery before I am forced to take action.
    Where’s Sevitz when you need him?

  5. It’s all these bands and musicians who want CDs to be like records who are to blame. Hence all this music (particularly electronica) recorded with ‘atmospheric’ clicks and scratches. Hey, if I want clicks and scratches, I’ll get a record and cover the surface with a fine layer of gravel, thank you very much.
    But I agree, hidden tracks are even worse, particularly when you’re just settling into the eight minutes or so of silence and suddenly the hidden track creeps up on you with a huge booming start that makes you leap out of your skin.
    It also spoils the art of creating pauses between tracks. Since you asked (which you didn’t), my favourite of all favourite albums for gaps between tracks is the Pixies’ Doolittle. The pauses really are quite superbly timed. I should get out more too.

  6. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were decent tracks to start with but I have not yet heard a hidden bonus track which couldn’t have done with remaining hidden.

  7. Also, it puts a big eight minute gap of silence into parties when the disc/track is part of the rotation.

  8. Sevitz, was off watching lots of TV, movies, drinking and eating, on his first full weekend back in Londoninum for a month. Sevitz with be back in Sleaze mode shortly.
    The thing is, who has sex to albums that have hidden tracks? I can’t think of many albums with a hidden track that are good shagging albums. Then again I can’t recall last time I shagged to music (why does that sound like choreographed shagging) and I did used to like shagging to Radiohead (no I don’t know why either).
    I never quite saw the point of a hidden track ever regardless of the time or technology employed, although Pete is right that with digital music the point is now diminished beyond irritating and moving into the hunt people down and flay them with rusty bamboo strips (yeah I know bamboo is wood, move on).
    Imagine if you were at a classical concert (hell any live gig), and after the end the band just sat there for 7.43 minutes and then suddenly started playing again.
    Aside from using the word ‘Toodles’, great post. Don’t retire Pete. We love you Pete. Not as much as we love Karen (she’s cuter than you) but we love you all the same.

  9. I think the only time anything like that happened to me was when a young lady friend and I were shockingly stirred from slumber by the hidden track at the end of Kula Shaker’s ‘K’, which, while it doesn’t kick off with a brass section as such could be the sound of a brass section being put through some sort of industrial processing machine.

  10. Midnite Vultures by Beck has a rather odd hidden track, which sounds like a song played at 20 times normal speed – it sounds like the bastard offspring of a drumkit and a drill. I remember once putting “Debra” on the jukebox at UWSU, having completely forgotten that it was the last track on the album, and as such everyone in the Union would have to put up with seven minutes of silence followed by the cacophony just described.
    Ah, memories.

    Pete on June 6, 2005
  11. PARP!
    Especially when they start with a big brass band thing.

    Pete on June 7, 2005
  12. I always like the hidden tracks on NIN’s broken. There’s 99 tracks on the CD, the LP is the first 6, and the hidden tracks are the last two- the rest are just empty.
    Makes it havoc for playing at parties. Not that you’d play broken at parties…

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