modern disappointment.

A place to file your complaints. Submissions welcome.

Retail & Psychological Warfare: The Subtle Ludovico Technique of the In-Store Soundtrack.


By Travis Peanutbrittle

Have you ever had to listen to Ke$ha while at work? The repeated message forms a sickening code within your frontal lobes. Stocking fruit at six a.m. ain’t glamorous; doing it while some brat yells at you that “we’re gonna die young” is a lot worse. Pop music in the workplace is psychological warfare.

Twentieth-century America, with all its treacherous and fraudulent affluence, broadcasts its tragically myopic representations of “fun” into my disillusioned 21st century mind with undying repetition.

The amount of sexual innuendo and of general terms that are no doubt being used in reference to sexual activity is alarming… alarming for the imbalance it creates for the listener.

But it needs to be asked: Why do we need such constant provocation and such constant sexual indication through pop music? Is it serving a necessary social function? If not, then it is an impediment. We don’t need it.

Grocery cartIt’s not like our customers need a constant reminder to engage in the mating ritual. They’re shopping for food. So why does every single fucking song dwell on this matter?  I copied these lyrics down, as I heard them from our sound system:

  • Fergie singing “Rock that body, come on, come on rock that body.” (sung in an unnatural little girl’s voice)
  • “If you want my body and you think I’m sexy,” by Rod Stewart. Ugh.
  • George Michael musically alleging, “I don’t belong to you/you don’t belong to me.”
  • “I’m addicted to you/Don’t you know that you’re toxic/and I love what you do to me,” by Britney Spears.
  • Whiney Houston wailing, “I’m every woman… anything you want done baby… ”  followed by orgasmic screaming.
  • Madonna singing basically anything from her oeuvre,  “Get into the groove boy you’ve got to prove your love to me… now I know you’re mine”  or “Tell me love isn’t true/it’s just something that we do”
  • “Like a sex machine… shake your money-maker… can we hit it and quit it?” by James Brown

Why are songs on the playlist so disproportionately concerned with sexual imagery, and completely lack a social conscience? I know. The question sounds ridiculous, because we are already so conditioned to think that this urgent hedonism is the most natural subject to cover with pop music. Like it’s all been a garden of paradise ever since Bo Diddley wiggled his frame on national television. It’s about feeling good, right? Apparently, that means feeling good about bad decisions, like abusing alcohol, avoiding commitment and always giving in to promiscuous sexual opportunities.

I understand that most of this music was never intended to be used for social engineering, but nevertheless that is its function here and now. So much of it probably was artfully crafted by self-employed songsmiths who really wanted to express themselves. Thanks to the digitization of media, however, these hits from the past forty years are repeated ad nauseum. Whether it’s blues, rock, funk, soul, r&b, rap or the more recent regression, club music, the theme is always the same: “I’m either fucking or I wish I was. And I want to sing about it.”

Here we get into the dance club music, which is like a fecal distillation of all previous music. Whiff these nuggets:

  • Rihanna whining, “Shine bright like a diamond… Don’t be afraid to wear your crown/you’re a king you’re a queen inside and out.” These lyrics keep the automatons running on their delusions of grandeur. Crowleyanity to bedazzle the troglodytes. So American.
  • “It’s a beautiful night/lookin for something dumb to do/ooh baby/think I wanna marry you.” Well, great idea, Bruno Mars. More anti-relationship propaganda. V.I. Lenin said that if you destroy the family you destroy society. Forget about subliminal messages. This poison is right on the surface of these psyop masterpieces.
  • “I be looking around all indecisive/trying to find a girl that these shoes go nice with,” the inane lyrical fodder from a musician called Iyaz. Flippant thought processes concerning relationships. No thoughts beyond the impending evening.

All mentions of attraction are limited to the physical. Beyond that, these artists apparently have nothing to draw upon. They can’t think of how to describe their significant other as being a special person. Whatever attempt they make is childish and seems purposefully immature: “I don’t know if this makes much sense, but you’re my hallelujah.”

Honestly, these predatory narrators with their haughty pomposity couldn’t even exist in the real world. But I have to listen to real human voices pretending to be them. Such hubris doesn’t last long in nature, but these are recordings, and recordings are immortal.

The intended victims of this warfare are the customers. We, the employees, are innocent victims of sonic friendly fire. Certainly, much of the consternation I’m feeling here is a result of the over-exposure I’ve had. I’m there five days a week, whereas the customers stop by for an hour a week at most. Some retired white customer may find it quite “charming” to hear Parliament as he shops, but a few hours of funk music can be exhausting. Enough cat-calls, please. I don’t want to be turned out. And I don’t want to join your “love train,” and if I told you why we can’t “be friends,” I might get written up. When we are all listening to the music. We are all receiving it.

TsiolkovskyEarHornThe habit of disapproving what you are hearing leads to a deep sense of cognitive dissonance. The dissonance is between your menial labor and the more “free-spirited” lifestyles being bragged about over the sound system. It sets in, and sticks you with an imbalanced logos throughout the day.
It is a narrative that has no real examples in your surroundings. You get so used to having thoughts that are totally divorced from your actions, and this is akin to learned helplessness. When words have no reality, they lose their meaning. Music is an inescapable command to join in, to share the sentiment, the lifestyle being preached with verse and beat. When you can’t do this, your mind becomes disengaged. When you don’t want to do it, because the scene sounds sickening, you get annoyed. These stupid songs gain an unnaturally dominant voice in your environment.

The trend toward absolute retardation has accelerated at a rate that surprises even this misanthrope. In the genre of stupid club music, the song-forms have become so streamlined, that it’s like they’re all shitted out from the exact same robot. Back in the day of Ace of Base, you thought there were at least a handful of different robots; there was some semblance of variety between artists. Today, all pretensions of variety have been wiped away and these bullshit childish rhymes all sound exactly the fucking same, but with a different vocalist. They all have a four-chord progression. The fourth chord in the progression always returns to the first chord, becoming a never-ending sonic infinity symbol. If you’re lucky there might be a key change for the chorus, but don’t get greedy. The music is never inventive enough to provoke actual thoughts at all. Instead, it reinforces thoughtless acts.

I’ve got scientific research to back me up on this. A research team in Spain found that over the last fifty years, the diversity of chords and melodies has continuously decreased. (

All of the bad decisions being promoted in these songs would, were they enacted, result in maintaining of a very low standard of living for the foolish music fan. Hey, go for it, philistines. Don’t think about where the Judas Goat is headed. Just keep following his ass as you stumble from a bad work review to another noxious bar where they over-charge you for low grade alcohol.

It is not a question of moral value I am concerned with. All art and music can be about any subject, as long as it’s done well. Instead, I am concerned with the quality of living prompted by these songs, and the health/contentment of the lifestyles being promoted by them. I assert that these songs exist as a means, whether deliberate or not, to condition the population into adopting an unhealthy, unsustainable lifestyle. They are produced and broadcasted to dissolve civilization.

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