The Better Late Than Never Hoot: The Inquirer Recognizes the 8-Bit Scene.

The Philadelphia Inquirer is, shall we say, not known for its coverage of youth culture. Thus, Samantha Melamed’s feature on 8-bit or chiptune music from Wednesday, March 17 is very refreshing.

Melamed reports from the monthly 8static party held at Studio 34, a yoga/events space on Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia. She talks to a number of chiptune music-makers, and offers the quite excellent insight that the Internet allowed the rapid spread of chiptune ideas and technologies around the world, from Southeast Asia to northern Europe to, well, West Philly. And she gets a good quote from a musician named Bucky Todd about the attraction the genre holds: “‘People who grew up with these systems have nostalgia for the sound,’ he says.”

The article actually speaks to a common language that a certain age group holds; for those who fought Legend of Zelda through to its conclusion, or remember taking down Mike Tyson in Punch-Out!, specific sounds and a certain visual aesthetic are burned on the mind.

So why did it take the Inquirer so long? The New York Times is reliably a minimum of three months late on their trend stories. So what does it say about the Inquirer that the Times took note of the phenomenon, in, oh, what was it—five years ago.

A hoot for Melamed for getting a story about an interesting subculture into the Inky. but a howl for the Inky for generally ignoring what the kids today—oh, actually, a bunch of them are in their late twenties and early thirties? My how quickly they grow!—are actually doing in the city that it purports to cover.

– Nick Gilewicz

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