November 13, 2007
Music Review: Soulja Boy
As a professional pop culture commentator, I feel it's critical for me to keep on top of popular music. I need to know what regular people are listening to: what songs rock Joe Sixpack's iPod; which tunes John Q. Public bumps in his ride. What hot tracks Danny Dumbass blasts from his clock radio while cutting himself with a rusty pocketknife and huffing Lemon Pledge.
The best way to keep abreast of trends in popular music is to simply listen to the radio. Easy, right? NOT FOR ME! You see, the radio in my car has been broken for a long time. Last time my car radio worked, they were still playing CREED on the radio (a fact that's not unrelated to how my radio ended up in a non-functional state). Technically, I suppose it would be possible to listen to the radio outside of my automobile. In my house, for example. But, the thing is, I have a *TV* in my house. And I really can't bring myself to listen to radio when I could be watching TV. It's like drinking skim milk when you could be drinking Rich Chocolatey Ovaltine!
But, just yesterday, I got a new car-radio. AND I LISTENED TO IT!!! Seems like a lot of things have changed in pop music since the last time I listened. For instance: they used to play many different songs on the radio. Now they play only one.
Soulja Boy's hit single is a revolution in hiphop minimalism. In fact, there's so little to "Crank Dat", there's a 68% chance that the song doesn't actually exist. And yet, for a tune that probably doesn't exist, Crank Dat is EVERYWHERE: The internet, the radio, internet radio, radio internet myspace youtube internet radio. The song features repetitive lyrics which describe an even more repetitive dance. Also there's something about Superman, Robocop, and "Super-Soaking". Oh, and hoes. Can't forget the hoes. Here's a visual depiction of the song:
The dance involves hopping on one foot, then leaning forward on one foot. Then doing both of those things again. And again. It's sort of like the Hokey Pokey, but for kids who are too retarded to distinguish between their right and left feet.
Music sure has come a long way. And if Soulja Boy's "Crank Dat" is any indication, pop music has come so far, it has plunged through the brilliant and sublime, looping back around to something I can only describe as Slightly Organized Guttural Noise.
Well... Slightly Organized Guttural Noise with lots of references to hoes. Can't forget the hoes.
October 16, 2007
Review: Radiohead's "In Rainbows"
If you haven't heard, there's a band called Radiohead which has released a new album! I don't usually care that much about new music. I already own about six... *maybe* seven CDs -- and that's plenty for me. But everyone on the Blog-O-Sphere seems to be obsessed with these Radiohead guys. Plus the band is giving away their album for free!
Well, technically, they're not giving it away so much as selling it for however much listeners are willing to pay. Which, in my case, is precisely zero dollars. For my european readers, that's roughly equivalent to zero Euros.
Anyway, since everyone else on the inturrnut seems to live and die based on the quality of this new Radiohead album, "In Rainbows", I figured I would post my own review of some of the best tracks from the album. Because I'm nothing if not a shameless conformist.
15 Step: The album's opening track is vintage Radiohead. Spacey guitar work by Jonny Greenwood, vicious percussion by drummer Phil Selway. Lyrically, the song focuses on lead man Thom Yorke's addition to German scat-fetish pornography, and the 15 step program he completed to overcome said addiction. Though the lyrics don't refer specifically to sexual acts involving human excrement, you can really FEEL the fecal obsession when he sings "How come I end up where I started / all I want is for you to poop on me".
Reckoner: A stylistic departure for the band, "Reckoner" represents Radiohead's first venture into Rap-Rock, complete with guest vocals from Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. Musically, this track has everything you'd expect from a rap-rock composition: rapping, rocking... SUCKING. As such, it is completely unlistenable. However, since this IS Radiohead -- and everything they commit to tape is Pure Unadulterated Genius -- we must assume that this crass and irritating track was intended ironically. HAHAHA I GET THE JOKE I AM SO VERY HIP AND KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT WHEN PEOPLES ARE JOKING!
Nude: This track is a nasty slice of smoov, sexy R&B. You likely wouldn't think of vocalist Thom Yorke as a Love Machine. If their seminal work "Kid A" proved nothing else, it's that Radiohead HATES machines, and the people who use them. Even so, I challenge female listeners not to get a little moist when Yorke croons "Bitch, I wanna get you nude." And when he sings "Girl, swing the booty in my direction"... well, even the most hetero guys around might consider switching teams. No doubt, this is one of the finest booty shakin' club jamz of the year!
Videotape: The album's final track is a relaxing lite-jazz affair. This is new territory for the band, but they take to it with their usual creativity and skill. With musical assistance from lite-jazz heros Kenny G and John Tesh (on Alto Sax and Synth-Bass, respectively), this song is a refreshing palate-clenser. It's the perfect track to listen to after a hard day trying to convince your hipster friends that you're considerably cooler than you actually are.
No matter what kind of music you listen to, you will find something to love on Radiohead's newest release. Just be sure to read lots of reviews of "In Rainbows" on the inter-web before downloading the album. Without reading a few dozen accounts of how brilliant the album is, you might mistakenly conclude that it is nothing but boring alt-rock from a band that is 8-10 years past any legitimate claim to cultural relevance.
August 01, 2007
Awesome Song Titles
I enjoy popular music.
By "popular", of course, I mean obscure. And by "music" I mean German fetish pornography.
But I do like to keep on top of the popular music scene! And the best way to do this is to check the list of Most Downloaded Songs on the iTunes Music Store. Today, I found two particularly intriguing tracks. "Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" by Fall Out Boy and "Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin)" by T-Pain feat. Yung Joc. These songs are freaking AWESOME!!! I haven't downloaded them, obviously. I didn't even get around to listening to the preview. BUT... I love the song titles. Any pop group that can't be bothered to run their album's tracklist through a spellchecker -- you can't help but respect their utter indifference to correct spelling and syntax.
And, if you enjoy these songs as much as I do, you'll love these new tracks that are certain to be huge hits in weeks to come!
"Gett wif Deez Bittshez" by Da Crunck Onz
"IMSewDeepRest" by Generic Shitty Emo Band
"I Blang 4 Jebus" by Ca$h Moneh Christianz
"j#0*fh #ar)948" by F34f9 S249fj awaowef098w3wefwefaweoifh
July 18, 2007
Hey Hey You You: A Pop Controversy
Ooh, there's a controversy brewing in PopTown!
It seems that Canadian post-teen pop sensation Avril Lavigne has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar. THE POP MUSIC LYRIC SWIPING COOKIE JAR!!!
Members of The Rubinoos, an obscure 70s rock band, claim that Lavigne ripped off their (only) hit song "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" on recent single "Girlfriend". Needless to say, they've called their lawyers. Though it's not clear if Avril actually broke the law, there certainly are similarities.
Yeah, well. I guess you could call that a STRONG similarity. Not one to be accused of stealing something that was like totally her idea and stuff, Avril fired back. In a blog-style response on her website, Avril denied any meaningful similarities to the Rubinoos song. She does have a point. Whereas the Rubinoos song is a delightful slice of American proto-powerpop, Avril's song is a forgettable specimen of bubblegum brat-punk. But, ultimately, the whole issue comes down to four little words:
"hey hey you you"
Come to think of it, that's only two words. Echoed. This particular pop invocation is hardly new to popular music. Avril herself points out that the Rolling Stones used it in their classic anthem "Get Off of My Cloud". When Mick Jagger sang "hey hey you you get off of my cloud", he spoke for a whole generation of large lipped rockers who were no longer willing to share their hard-earned frozen clusters of water vapor droplets with random interlopers.
Since this song preceded both Lavigne and The Rubinoos, one might conclude that -- rather than the former ripping off the latter -- both artists simply copped the Stones.
Not so fast. The Rolling Stones weren't the first ones to tap the awesome power of Hey Hey You You. Some pop historians believe that Mick Jagger stole the chorus of "Get Off of My Cloud" from none other than "Jazz Singer" Al Jolson.
Jolson's classic "Hey Hey You You (Wan' Me to Shine yo Shoes fo' you Massa?)" has been largely forgotten due to Political Correctness -- but Mick Jagger is an unapologetic fan of Al Jolson. Always has been. Could Jagger have "borrowed" this line from Jolson?
No. Not possible. If pop historians pulled their heads out of their $20,000 stereo systems for five minutes, they would realize that "Hey Hey You You" predates even Al Jolson. BY SEVERAL CENTURIES.
The first documented use of this pop invocation can be found circa 915 AD, in the Gregorian chant "Heu Heu, Tu Tu, Abi a meis Testibus". The literal translation of this latin chant would be "Alas Alas, You You, Depart from my Testicles". However, for our purposes, the modernized translation of "Hey Hey, You You, Get Off of my Nuts" will work just fine.
Avril, Jagger, whoever the fuck was in The Rubinoos -- they were all inspired by an antiquated religious chant. Who says religion is stupid and worthless?
Special thanks to Circa Eyes from the Latin Hotline for Latin Translation support. Also please note that the original caption of the Al Jolson pic above was "I'm like the beta version of Lenny Kravitz."
June 19, 2007
Know Your Units
There's a rapper called Young Buck. He's a member of G-Unit, a sort of Anarchafeminist Hip hop collective. Well, he was a member. Now he's started his own unit. A New Unit. The inturrnet is all a flutter about this fairly shitty rapper and his amazing New Unit. With the inclusion of Young Buck's newly spawned Unit, there are quite a lot of Units out there. It's so hard to keep track of them all! In order to make it easier, I offer the following.
April 21, 2007
This is Why I'm WHAT?
July 20, 2006
According to doctors and scientists, vigorous physical exercise is critical for good health.
I'm not so sure.
Doctors and scientists are great when I need "Male Enhancement" pills or when I'm experiencing a painful urethral discharge. But when it comes to health, most Americans prefer to listen to their gut. Their blubbery, distended gut. And, like most Americans, I don't trust anyone who claims to know better than me. ABOUT ANYTHING. Since my own areas of expertise are limited to mid-80s synthpop and how long to cook a microwave burrito (37 seconds), I find myself distrustful of any fitness expert who argues in favor of exercise.
What do I trust? I trust TV commercials. And, if Nike and Gatorade campaigns are any indication, commercials and doctors agree that exercise is good. Running, for instance, is beneficial because it provides an opportunity to wear Nike shoes, sportswear and accessories. Also, when you run really hard you get so thirsty that Gatorade might actually taste good. Awesome!
Really, the only downside to physical exercise is that it's extremely painful and boring. Fortunately, Apple's iTunes Music Store has teamed up with Nike to make exercise fun! Well, not "fun" in the sense that you are going to enjoy it. More like "fun" in the sense that there will be moments during exercise when you won't be thinking about how much you hate it. Introducing Sport Music, a collection of iTunes music mixes designed by Nike specifically for runners.
Let's take a closer look at these motivational playlists:
The Treadmill Training mix is designed for people who enjoy moving their legs, but hate fresh air and the feeling of actually going somewhere. Shut-ins of this sort may enjoy remixed tracks by the Jackson 5 and classic 80s jams by Berlin and The Fixx. Nike also offers a mix called "Increase your Speed 1" -- ideal for runners who are often chased by other, faster runners. With knives. Songs by The Wallflowers and All American Rejects encourage athletes to push their pace, if for no other reason than to end the run sooner (thereby decreasing the amount of crap music they are obliged to suffer through). Finally, the Crystal Method contributes a 45 minute techno mix that's perfect for distance runners and for casual drug abusers who like to get fucked up during their lunch break.
Truly, Nike's Sport Music offers something for everyone. Well, everyone but ME. I prefer to create my own running mixes. You want to know my secret recipe for jogging motivation? On my mixes, i ONLY use songs by the band Journey.
I warm up with "Open Arms", set my pace with "Separate Ways" and then hit the road HARD with a little "Don't Stop Believin'". Sometimes I cool down with "Oh Sherrie", even though that's not technically a Journey song (it's a Steve Perry solo joint). Of course, this all-Journey running mix only lasts about 15 minutes. Who can listen to more than 15 minutes of Journey at a time? Not me! Even so, 15 minutes of exercise every three months is more than enough to maintain good heath and a sexy, toned physique.
At least, that's what my gut tells me.
July 15, 2006
Bringing Sexy Back
Have you heard? Justin Timberlake is bringing Sexy Back!
He seems pretty determined, doesn't he? Of course, some of you may be wondering precisely why Justin decided to bring back the Sexy. Did Sexy go somewhere? Has Sexy been conspicuously absent? YOU BET IT HAS. In recent years, sexiness levels have experienced massive declines across the board. This ominous trend has been noted in many scientific journals, as well as in Al Gore's upcoming documentary, "An Inconvenient and Totally Unsexy Truth." If you don't believe me, check out this very colorful and scientifically accurate graph:
Everywhere I look, I find myself wondering: what happened to the Sexy? Music videos used to feature scantily clad bimbos shaking their anatomical correctness directly at the camera. Not anymore. Now, music videos are all about earnest young men staring meaningfully off camera while they sing about how sad they are. There's nothing sexy about MOPING. Unless you're in Dashboard Confessional or you're that guy from The Cure.
Also, consider TV. In the 90s we had Friends and Melrose Place, programs that featured attractive young people sleeping with each other and sometimes smacking each other in the face. That's sexy! Now we're in 2006 and the actors from those shows are still on TV. Marcia Cross is on Desperate Housewives and Matthew Perry will star in an upcoming NBC Drama. What's the difference? They're older now, not as attractive and not as sexy as they used to be. NOT NEARLY AS SEXY!
If left unchecked, this Sexy recession could have disastrous consequences. We're already seeing declining birth rates in Europe and Japan. Even in the US, people aren't creating enough new people. Well, WHITE people aren't... according to this pasty white person, who probably ought to know.
If white people can't get their SEXY on, the entire Fox News on-air staff might fall into a despair that could only end in mass suicide. Not that this would be a bad thing, per se -- but I'd feel sorry for the poor immigrant janitors who'd be forced to clean up the resulting mess.
Fortunately, it will never come to that. Justin Timberlake is on the case, bringing Sexy back for everyone. Even for puffy middle aged fascists! I have no doubt J-Timb will succeed in his effort to restore the Sexy, I just wonder how he intends to do it. Obviously, his first step was to release the song "SexyBack", currently 47th on Billboard's Pop 100. It's an appealing morsel of club funk, certain to keep the dancefloors twitching for the rest of the summer. But surely there's more to come -- I'm pretty sure one song isn't going to end a global sexy crisis! Perhaps Justin has a plan to fortify our drinking water with his own ultrasexy pheromones. Maybe he's invented holographic pants that make our asses look firmer and more desirable. Who knows, Timberlake might even have invented a new genre of pornography that will stimulate humanity for decades to come!
No matter how he decides to bring Sexy back, I'm rooting for Justin all the way! Just so long as I don't have to listen to his music.
June 13, 2006
iTunes Goes Gay
Did you know that June is Gay Pride Month?
Honestly, I'm a bit surprised. Wouldn't May have been a better month to celebrate Gay Pride? Not only does May rhyme with gay, but the month is often referred to as "merry", which is a synonym of gay. It's not important, though. For me, every month is Gay Pride Month! Also, I consider every month to be Black History Month, Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month and Legume Appreciation Month. Lentils are just too delicious not to appreciate all year long!
However, I wouldn't have even known there was a Gay Awareness Month if it wasn't for the iTunes Music Store. When I fired up iTunes today, I noticed that the iTMS is featuring a Gay Pride playlist in celebration of the holiday. Rock on! Though I am not an actual gay, I have always considered myself an aficionado of gay music. I'm the only heterosexual I know who owns Erasure's Greatest Hits, plus a handful of Pet Shop Boys CDs.
Indeed! For this reason, I consider myself fully qualified to evaluate the quality of this Gay Pride playlist. To facilitate this review, I'm bringing back an old friend: Pink Joey in a Cowboy Hat.
You may remember this colorful character from my Brokeback Mountain review. Also, you may have seen him down at the gay rodeo, where he sells bootleg Cher DVDs in the parking lot.
Anyway, for any of you who are new to iTunes Essentials playlists, here's how they work. Each playlist consists of 75 songs, broken down into three 25 song groups: The Basics, Next Steps and Deep Cuts. In this case, The Basics are intended for newbie gays and for those who are just a little gay-curious. This is a playlist for listeners who have only just begun to dangle their toes in the Waters of Gayness. As such, it contains few surprises. The Weather Girls "It's Raining Men" is an obvious classic, as is The Village People's "Y.M.C.A." Rounding out the playlist are remixed tracks by Cher and Bette Midler, alongside the obligatory Brokeback Mountain Theme disco mix. This playlist is sufficiently gay, I suppose... but there are too many filler tracks. Madonna's "Hung Up" and Rihanna's current hit single "SOS" are danceable pop songs, but they do they really inspire feelings of Gay Proudness? Tracks by Kelly Clarkson and The Pussycat Dolls seem like afterthoughts, and the inclusion of Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy" is equally offensive to gay and straight listeners. Even so, The Basics section of this playlist is serviceable. I'll give it three Pink Joeys in a Cowboy Hat.
For listeners who have already embraced The Basics of Gay Pride listening, iTunes offers Next Steps. This is a playlist for those who are no longer content to merely dangle their toes in the Waters of Gayness -- they're ready to jump right in! The signature track of this playlist is "Dear Mr. President", a collaboration between P!nk and the Indigo Girls. When a butch R&B pop star gets together with two even butcher alterna-folkies, the result is positively Pride-tastic! Furthermore, as a heterosexual male, the mental image of a three-way make-out session between P!nk and the Indigo Girls may actually be enough to turn me gay. At least temporarily, like that one time at Boy Scout Camp. The rest of the Next Steps playlist is a diverse mix of classic disco ("I Feel Love", Donna Summer), europop (Erasure/Pet Shop Boys) and -- of course -- Madonna. I'll award this playlist five and a half Pink Joeys.
Finally, iTMS presents Deep Cuts. As a card carrying music geek AND keen supporter of Gay Pride, I expect this playlist to take it TO THE NEXT LEVEL (of gayness). Upon first glance, it looks solid. Liza (with a Z) Minnelli finally makes an appearance, as does Judy (with a D) Garland. The inclusion of Bette Midler, Queen, and RuPaul not only promotes Gay Pride, but also serves to confirm lazy stereotypes of modern homosexual music preferences. And I'm all about lazy stereotypes! However, I expect more from a playlist called Deep Cuts. Ultimately, this playlist cuts no deeper than your average adolescent goth chick. First of all, what's up with the lame mid-90s dancepop? Haddaway's "What is Love" and Amber's "Just Like That" are hardly cutting edge club rockers -- unless every gay bar in the world got sucked into a timewarp back to 1994. Also, the Janet Jackson and Mary J. Blige tracks aren't gay enough. Not nearly enough! Finally, including "All Things (Just Keep Getting Better)" -- the theme song from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy -- is sort of like putting The Cosby Show theme on a Black History Month compilation. LAME! I'm only giving it 2 Pink Joeys.
Overall, I'm disappointed with iTunes' Gay Pride playlists. Sure, they're gay... but they could be much gayer. Where's Morrissey? Where's Le Tigre? Where's the Army of Lovers?
Yikes... these guys might actually be TOO GAY for Gay Pride Month. Perhaps we should make July "Really Gay Pride Month", just so the Army doesn't feel left out?
March 18, 2006
Music Review: Bright Eyes
When the Bright Eyes released a critically acclaimed double album in 2005, I didn't bother listening to it. As usual, I was content to make fun of Bright Eyes (and everyone who listens to them) without any direct experience of their music. Really, it's easier that way.
But a strange thing happened today when I went to the gym. Normally, when I'm working out, I listen to a ClearChannel top 40 pop station. Though the music is bad and the DJs are lame, the badness and lameness are constant. It never gets any better, but at least it never gets any worse. Also, turning on the pop station usually prevents the other assholes at the gym from changing it to the local Christian Contemporary station. This, in turn, prevents me from having to FUCKING KILL THEM.
However, on this fateful day, the radio tuner on the weight room boombox seemed to be broken! I could only get one station on it, and they were playing some Soft Sounds of the 70's shit that I had no intention of listening to. So, my only alternatives were silence (which I hate) or listening to a CD. I didn't bring any CDs with me, but there was one disc that someone had left next to the CD player. Yes... it was the aforementioned Bright Eyes double album, "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning/Digital Ash in a Digital Urn". Though silence was a tempting option, I figured I'd pop in the Bright Eyes disc (if for no other reason than to annoy other weight room patrons).
I expected to HATE this album. But when I actually took the time to listen to it, I was totally surprised: The music of Bright Eyes is every bit as dull and pretentious as I assumed it was!
Seriously, where did you think I was going with this?
Bright Eyes sucks. First of all, it is not a band - it's one creepy guy named Connor. Which is a girl's name.
The first disc, "It's Morning, I'm a Douche" is bad poetry sung over tedious acoustic guitar strumming. The second disc, "Digital Ass From a Digital Douche" is more bad poetry, sung over synthesizers. Usually, synthesizers make music better, but in this case they didn't help.
As bad as this album was, I learned something important by listening to it. From now on, when I have a preconceived notion about a certain kind of music or film - or even an entire race of other people - I need not confirm my prejudices through first-hand experience. It's a waste of time. All of my opinions about everything are right, all the time, even when I have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about.
Bright Eyes gets no Joeys. But my own infallible opinions get eight Joeys. Eight smug, self-satisfied Joeys. (They look exactly like the regular ones.)
December 12, 2005
Music (Video) Review: Shakira, "Don't Bother"
Act 1: It's Shakira in bed... with a half naked man! Well, he LOOKS like a man... but is he really? Shakira suspects otherwise. In order to test her suspicions, Shakira gets on top of the young man, caresses him, whispers in his ear - she even bites him a few times! Yet, despite Shakira's lurid gyrations, the young man remains totally unresponsive.
Act 2: Rather annoyed, Shakira drives the young man's expensive automobile to a scrapyard. This does not bode well for the automobile.
(interlude): Shakira in the shower. She alternates between sitting on the shower floor (looking miserable) and making out with the half naked gentleman from Act 1 (looking somewhat less miserable). In both scenarios, Shakira remains fully clothed. Is her lack of nudity a gesture toward modesty or merely an attempt to conserve laundry detergent?
Act 3: After confessing her strange desire to move to a communist country (WTF?), Shakira pulls a lever on some heavy machinery. The result: Half naked man's expensive automobile is inserted into an automobile crushing machine!
As the crushing machine does its business, we cut back to the half naked man - who suddenly experiences a series of excruciating full-body spasms! As the car is demolished, the man writhes in pain - because this is no man at all: It is the well-toned anthropomorphic manifestation of the SOUL of an expensive automobile. Either that, or some guy who really likes his car.
Denouement (It's French. Look it up.): Having destroyed the car - and, apparently, the man - Shakira walks triumphantly into the dawn of a suburban neighborhood. Once again, a spurned woman finds empowerment through the senseless destruction of an ex-boyfriend's personal property.
Somewhere out there, Kelly Clarkson is smiling.