The needle finds its home in one of the grooves, round and round it goes. The first notes of “thank u, next” fill the room from a Bluetooth turntable.
Listening to music on records seems like a concept from a lifetime ago; but in the past decade or so, vinyl records have found its home in popular culture once again. It’s not only because items such as bell bottoms or choker necklaces are becoming the hot new trend, but rather because of how the actual music sounds coming from a record and all the aspects that accompany having a physical record.
“Everything is recycled eventually, so everything is coming back around,” Sydney Mollica, recent University of Tennessee, Knoxville graduate, said. “We are reclaiming vinyl, they are being remastered and now being sold in bulk. Older people are getting rid of them, and now the younger people are collecting.”
Growing up, Mollica’s father’s records filled their home, but she didn’t actually hear a record until the seventh grade. Her father bought a new turntable to replace his broken one. She now has a collection of 147 records, after receiving her father’s collection as a Christmas present a few years ago.
According to Statista, an online statistics portal, a study published by British Broadcasting Corporation said 41 percent of people in the United Kingdom who own vinyl records do not use them. Some stated that they only use them for room decorations.
As the renewed fascination with records continues to grow, so is the need for record stores. New stores are opening in various cities throughout the United States, and Knoxville, Tennessee is no different.
As customers inspect the cover art of the sleeve, they hear a record playing faintly in the background. While walking through one of the many record stores found throughout the city, the repetitive sound of record covers hit against each other one after another.
Sales of vinyl LPs have been on the rise since 2009. In 2018 alone, 16.8 million vinyl LPs sold in the United States. By contrast, overall album sales have been on the decline since 2007, according to Statista.
“I think a part of it [records in popular culture today] is wanting to listen to an album as the artist intends for it to be listened to,” Delaney Whitt, Wild Honey Records employee, said. “Also, there’s a fascination with being able to hold a physical artifact of music versus just a streaming site.”
The evolution of music has seen records give way to tapes, then to CDs, which in turn gave way to digital music and has now experienced a resurgence with the return of records. However, today’s records are different from the original LPs.
“If I pulled one of those [an old record] out and play it, it would immediately have a different sound than that of a brand new record that just came out,” Whitt said. “A part of that crackling sound is static, dust and it might be little scratches and nicks that the vinyl has accumulated throughout the years.”
However, crackles indicate character in a vinyl.
“If you bought a new record, unopened, theoretically it shouldn’t have that sound [crackle] and as you listen to it, it will gain it over time,” Whitt said. “The crackling is a sign of a well-played, well-loved record.”
After running its course through the record, the needle comes out of the final groove. The last crackle is heard while the ending notes of “thank u, next” fade. The room is silent once again.
Edited by Maddie Torres and Ciera Noe
Featured image by Pixabay, Pexels.com