"Revealing, frightening, funny and unsettling - John Seabrook's account of the men and women who create the songs that poke at our ears all day really is terrific." (Roddy Doyle)
"This is a fascinating tale about an amazing phenomenon: how hits get made. John Seabrook combines a love of music and an appreciation for personalities to take us on a starry journey from Stockholm and London to New York and Orlando showing how creativity gets discovered, polished, and packaged. His book is a triumph of great writing and reporting, and the lessons reverberate far beyond the world of music." (Walter Isaacson, author of 'The Innovators' and 'Steve Jobs')
"In The Song Machine, John Seabrook tells of a cutthroat and fascinating industry, where readers discover the gifted musical maestros who orchestrate hit after hit but rarely get their name in print. The narrative shows not just how technology has upended the music business but of how - despite prattle about "the long tail" - just one per cent of artists generate 80 per cent of the industry's profits. This is a story with as many surprises as Game of Thrones." (Ken Auletta, author of 'Googled: The End of The World as We Know It')
"Beneath the surface of today's pop music lies an industrial process as rigorous and bizarre as the one perfected by McDonald's. Seabrook shows what it takes to make a hit in a book that's beautifully written, revelatory, funny, and full of almost unbelievable details." (Eric Schlosser, author of 'Fast Food Nation' and 'Command and Control')
"Anyone who wants to understand how the clash of cultures has shaped what we listen to should read this important book. John Seabrook has a marvelous ear for language - and perfect pitch when it comes to music journalism." (Bob Spitz, author of 'The Beatles: The Biography')
One night in the early 1990s, a young Swedish music producer put a demo tape into the cassette deck of his Nissan Micra to listen to on his drive home. Before he got there, Denniz PoP knew he wasn't interested in producing the band, a bunch of unknowns called Ace of Base. But when he tried to remove the tape, it wouldn't come out, and no amount of mashing the Eject button would dislodge it. After two weeks of listening to the song on repeat, suddenly Denniz saw a way to make the tune work. That demo became 'All That She Wants' and its success led to Ace of Base's record becoming one of the best-selling debut albums ever.
From Tin Pan Alley and Motown to Rihanna and Taylor Swift, manufactured music has existed since the record industry began. But 'All That She Wants' heralded the arrival of a new type of hitmaker, the faceless teams behind the music who painstakingly craft tunes to tweak the brain's delight in melody, rhythm and repetition.
Travelling from New York to Los Angeles, Stockholm to Korea, John Seabrook visits the labs that build these hits, where teams assemble hook, bridge and chorus to infuriatingly catchy effect. If you've ever found yourself humming a chart hit you didn't even know you knew, this book will change the way you listen to music.
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