From 78s manufactured until the late 1950s from shellac, to LP records that debuted in 1948 pressed from PVC, and the compact disc released in 1982 that was injection-molded using polycarbonate, plastics traditionally played a key role in disseminating all manner of music, and thence culture, globally. And while vinyl records have been making a comeback of sorts of late, music has for all intents and purpose transitioned to a digital product, much to the detriment of album cover artwork.
Plastic has also played its part in music culture, be it band and artist names, track names, lyrics and, indeed, costumes and props. Here, we’d like to pay homage to the best—and worst—in our all-time Plastic Emmy/Razzie awards.
Best song title: “Plastic Factory” by Captain Beefheart. An all-time classic from the late multi-instrumentalist born Don Van Vliet. I never got the connection with phosphorus, but apparently the Captain didn’t like working there judging from the lyrics: Phos’phrous chimney burnin’, modern-men’s a-learnin’, Time and space a-turnin’, Motor’s engine churnin’, fac’trys no place for me boss man let me be. Special mention here for Icelandic electronic band Gus Gus and its 1998 song, “Polyesterday.”