YouTuber and musical theater enthusiast Sal Rocha is our latest CD Junkie. The 25-year-old Chicagoland resident has been collecting CDs for 10 years and currently has well over 200 discs. On his popular YouTube channel, Rocha regularly posts reactions to songs, albums, and music videos. He will even review an artist’s entire discography.
Rocha’s specialty is pop divas. He worked his way through the entire Cher catalog and lately he’s been reviewing Whitney Houston classics. In this exclusive interview, Rocha talks about his most prized CDs, shares his thoughts on the CD revival, and more!
360°Sound: I imagine that by the time you got to an age where you were listening to a lot of music, physical media was no longer the primary means that most people experience music. How were you exposed to CDs and what attracted you to them?
Sal Rocha: As I was born in 1996, CDs have always been present in my life. I would say when I was around the age of 16 in 2012 is when I got more into collecting CDs and listening to music more frequently. Around this time Spotify was just taking off, and considering I didn’t have a job, it wasn’t really available to me.
I was more inclined to get a CD whether it be retail price or second hand and rip it onto my computer and listen that way. I still do this quite frequently because it gives you more options to organize and customize your music, unlike streaming services. Also, there’s the factor of bonus tracks, B-sides, and more that have never made their way onto streaming services. Having your own collection of CDs puts yourself in control and I love that.
There’s been discussion about a potential CD revival. A recent article in Pitchfork on the subject mentioned that teens and young adults will post their CDs on TikTok. Do you find that kids who grew up in the streaming era are gravitating to CDs? Why do you think that is?
I find the idea of a “CD revival” funny because CDs have never gone away. They’re still widely available. I understand that sales aren’t as high as they used to be, but they’re still all around us. However, I do think for some time the younger generation didn’t get to experience the joy of getting to own one of their favorite albums physically. I think people are learning to do whatever they can to support an artist that they love and doing that means buying their music, not just streaming it.
What do you like about the CD format?
CDs are easily the best way to listen to music digitally. They can be packaged in a variety of ways, whether it be plastic casing or a digibook. And, let’s face it, they are the perfect size, whereas cassettes are a little too small for my taste, and vinyl (though my heart belongs to it) can take up a massive amount of space.
Who are some of your all-time favorite artists?
Wow! There are so many. Celine Dion, Cher, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, Paula Abdul, Reba McEntire, Sarah Brightman and so many more!
You do a lot of album reaction videos on your YouTube channel. Your videos have received well over a million views in total. Tell us a little about the music-related content you create on YouTube and what the experience has been like.
Back in 2019 in conjunction with Madonna’s album release of Madame X, a Youtuber by the name of Ajayll started doing reactions to her entire discography. I wasn’t subscribed to her at the time. However, YouTube’s algorithm kept suggesting her videos to me and I ended up loving every single one of them. Ajayll usually reacts to artists who are current so having her react to a legend like Madonna was incredible. It got me thinking about doing the same thing but with female legends of pop music and pop stars who never got enough credit.
So, in November of 2019, I did my first ever reaction video to Celine Dion’s new album Courage. As I’m sure you can imagine, when covid hit, I had a lot of free time. So, from then on, I’ve been doing album discography reaction journeys starting with Kelly Clarkson and I’m currently doing Whitney Houston. It’s been so fun getting to bring some of this music that’s been neglected back into the spotlight.
What are some of your most prized discs in your collection and what makes them so special?
I do own quite a few signed CDs. I think my favorites would be the ones I have signed by Kristen Chenoweth and Deborah Cox. Mostly, because they were signed in person and it was an honor to meet them!
What CDs are at the top of your want list?
I actually don’t have anything specific. But If I did have the money one day, I would like to be sure that I own every album that has a bonus track from another country. That way I know for sure I have the complete version of the album.
Here’s a video of Rocha showing off his CD collection: