Sony, 30 years of headphone music and psychoaccoustic tomfoolery in Wham!’s Everything She Wants

Josh Marshall notes that Sony is retiring the Walkman and what a revolution that product represents. I couldn’t agree more.

Just now I was listening to Everything She Wants by Wham! (1984) and for the first time picked up on its use of psychoaccoustic trickery.

In the chorus that begins at 5m24s, you’ll hear a few angry exhortations to “Work!” mixed behind a synthetic hand clap in the left channel. It’s so subtle most people may not notice it even though they may be hearing – and thus, feeling – it.

It’s a clever technique and one that has become commonplace in contemporary music as pop producers mix for headphones. Thanks, in part, to the success of the Walkman.