Dave Segal, “The Stranger‘s resident weird-music specialist”, is dyspeptic about America’s Top Ten Singles:
… “Holy Grail” reeks of synergizing corporate stratagem. Are the skreets listenin’? Do Fortune 500 CEOs like hiphop? Do you want to make Shawn Carter even richer? Whatever the case, “Holy Grail” starts out like a maudlin ballad, Justin Timberlake viscerally emoting like something’s actually at stake (“This is where we reel in the sentimental schmaltz lovers”). Then the rapping bit starts, N-bombs drop, cautionary tales of fame stream out (“Here’s where my vastly poorer fans shed tears of sympathy for me”), Hammer, Tyson, and Cobain references commence (zzz), and then JT faux-croons the chorus to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (“This is where we snag ’90s-rock nostalgiacs”). Then Jay and J alternate between perfunctory rapping and heart-on-sleeve singing; the beat plods, the strings waft. Bet your snapback that this song is on Mayor Bloomberg’s iPod…
My own choice for Song of the Summer, below the fold because NSFW:
If I ever get out to Seattle again, I hope my trip will include a Mod Carousel performance.
You kids call that noise music?
This one by the Law Review Girls is good too.
Sitting here trying not to fixate on how much I’m dreading the upcoming trip to New York and listening to something completely innocuous in the background.
I think every category of music faces the so-called selling out dilema but does any other genre besides hip-hop have a corollary and/or converse celebratory reaction? For every person cringing at the corporatism, the alleged loss of artistic purity there is another hip-hopper celebrating, proclaiming ‘damn, that boy made it’. I contend, if one doesn’t understand why that is, he or she doesn’t understand a huge part of America.
And Jay certainly understands this and has touched on it in other songs.
“Motherfuckers say that I’m foolish I only talk about jewels
Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it
See I’m influenced by the ghetto you ruined
That same dude you gave nothing, I made something doing
What I do, through and through and
I give you the news with a twist, it’s just his ghetto point-of-view
The renegade, you been afraid
I penetrate pop culture, bring em a lot closer to the block where they
Pop toasters and they live with they Moms
Got dropped roadsters from botched robberies, niggas crouched over
Mami’s knocked up cause she wasn’t watched over
Knocked down by some clown when child support knocked
No he’s not around
Now how that sound to ya, jot it down
I bring it through the ghetto without riding round
Hiding down ducking strays from frustrated youths stuck in they ways
Just read a magazine that fucked up my day
How you rate music that thugs with nothing relate to it
I help them see they way through it, not you
Can’t step in my pants, can’t walk in my shoes
Bet everything you’re worth, you’ll lose your tie and your shirt”
-Jay Z “Renegage”
@NotMax: Sounds like Prez Prado! That flight is a haul! I’m sitting here watching the World Fishing Network and waiting for the sun!
@JordanRules: I like the other J.
Only in America
Land of opportunity, yeah
Would a classy girl like you fall for a poor boy like me
This made me laugh.
@raven: Ha! Universal and yet uniquely American theme, Jay Z touches on those too as do many, many others. You all put me on to a lot of good art on BJ, but I wasn’t really feeling that. It was fun though and I like fun.
Flash from the past, and the first 45 I ever bought. (Still have it.)
@NotMax: HA! RIght up there with Chewing Gum! This Aussie was just showing how to us a certain bait and ended with “Bob’s your uncle”! Nver heard that before.
One thing I do want to rescue, if still deep in a closet in the NY house, is a box of wire recordings (not that I any longer have anything to play them on, but you never know).
One of them includes a recording of this automotive classic made from a radio broadcast at the time.
@NotMax: Wow, that is cool.
Just mourning the stupidity of the Australian electorate for putting the fucking Liberals/Nationals coalition into power. Congratulations folks, for putting in Tony Abbott and his buddies, sure to afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable at a level to bring them into the august company of scumbags like Stephen Harper, George W. Bush, David Cameron, Ronnie Raygun, Margaret Thatcher, and all the rest. And now I have to watch Abbott’s smug shit-eating grin on TV for the next three years. Fuck me. Should have bought alcohol this afternoon.
Back in the 50s we used to have, in the basement, 2 – count ’em, 2 – wire recorders and also a machine that would cut audio onto blank discs. Made many a disc of stuff from the radio, which were used at parties and have scattered to the winds over the years.
I’m appreciative of the public’s insistence on still wanting different kinds of music. The Corporate Dream is to get rid of genres and the artists thereof, and handle just one “artist” who sells a zillion records. And… repeat.
The same song, pounding on a human ear, forever…
Another hideous thing the internet happily disrupted.
First time I encountered “Bob’s your uncle!” was in Scrooge, the Alastair Sim film (1951) of “A Christmas Carol.”
Some songs deserve burial in an unmarked plot.
Used to frequent a local bar ( the only one less than a 10 mile drive), wherein this was played on the jukebox by the patrons roughly every nine minutes – all night long, every night.
@NotMax: Ah, man! At least there was the chance of imbibing.
My experience with such was driving cross country when this was at its peak.
Alcohol won’t do it, I plan on being flash frozen for the next 9 years.
I predict the most insufferable Australian government in history.
Anne Laurie: I LOVE that Mod Carousel/Sydni and the girls parody.
It’s a tonic to the Robin Thicke video.
Showed both to my sister and we had a great laugh together.
Have to say, though, the RThicke song is catchy. I thought it was old Marvin Gaye at first.
“Radioactive” was apparently produced to be the background music for the promos for every dystopian science-fiction action-adventure series on TV, and about 60% of the cop shows.
9 years? You don’t seriously think they’ll manage a run that long do you? At least not with Tony the sanctimonious prick in charge. Insufferable doesn’t begin to describe it. My wife commented tonight that she’d prefer John Howard to Abbott, and I agree. It’s like with Stephen Harper in Canada right now: I never thought anyone could possibly make me start to miss Brian Mulroney, but he’s managed it. My only positive takeaway from the evening is that at least Adam Bandt & the Greens held on to Melbourne.
@NotMax: I just cam from the Farmer’s Market and everybody knew that phrase.
A late-runner for song of the summer: What does the fox say?
The news just had a segment about Sarah Silverman who just lost her beloved pet. Here’s the obit she wrote about her Duck. link
Tissues are required. So many of us have recently lost pets and it sucks, but our hearts will open to allow another pet into our lives.
What a day! Had a major wonderful experience, flew to Townsville ( very virgin flyer) what a way to travel. Saw & hugged my daughter, meet her new man, handsome & nice, lovely dinner. Back to appt. & mad monk is PM. Bugger, poop & shit.(pardon the language.)
We shall now get a delayed recession. Can’t have all thos countries running with ‘austerity’ with out us. Our rich bastards must have missed out on stealing heaps from the poors, or at least making their lives miserable.
Incase you were wondering not happy with the result, but not really surprised either…… Sigh……………
My choice for song of the summer is Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” For one thing, it’s not a dumb song about partying or sexually assaulting women. For another, it’s something totally different for the dance genre right now. The first part of the song is acoustic guitar, not whizzy synth effects. It also establishes the melody before it goes into straight up dance territory.
Another good one that went nowhere is “The Underdog” by Wallpaper. Very chill song with a big push to sing along. It’s a little cliche in its lyrics but the song is catchy and well-performed.
And Fiona Apple technically just released “Hot Knife” as a single. That song was so good I called it one of the best songs of 2012 just from the album release.
And if we’re just talking performance, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better vocal performance than Lea Salonga singing “I’m Still Hurting” from The Last 5 Years in rehearsal for one of her summer concerts.
I’m sorry for your loss.
@WereBear: Been working with a guy who thinks he likes country music. Don’t quite have the heart to tell him, “That ain’t it.” 8 hrs a day of some the most mind numbing, soul sucking tripe** known to man. The SAME mind numbing, soul sucking tripe hour after hour after hour, day after day after day after day…..
I would put a bullet thru my brain if alcohol didn’t work so well.
** every now and again they screw up and play a Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, or George Jones, but never a Hank Williams.
After four years with satellite radio, I have zero conception of what the kids are listening to.
Occasionally, a “Gangnam Style” or a “Call Me Maybe” generates enough people-talking-about-it buzz to get me to look it up on Youtube. And I think “Wow, this is terrible”.
@OzarkHillbilly: Yep. Just as good art lifts us up, bad art sucks out our will to live.
@Thlayli: Don’t forget the filtering effect of time. To look back at what gets played as “the ’70’s” is usually pretty good stuff. When I was listening at the time it was 90% complete and utter crap.
Sturgeon’s Law in action :)
@WereBear: I agree, I hated disco at the time but there is some good stuff out there! I also hated Hall and Oates but I can’t stop watching Live From Daryl’s House.
How many decades will it take to filter every last vestige of Journey from the playlists? I am now deathly afraid of elevators and they are the reason!
@raven: I kinda liked Hall & Oates; then found out they started as blues artists; explains it.
“Disco” had a lot of permutations at the time. I still love Earth, Wind & Fire, who were simply considered a “dance band.”
Ugh, don’t ruin Bruno for me by associating him with that pervert MJ. MJ is one of the few artists that I can’t separate his work from his disgusting life. And he made some great songs so it is a real shame.
I like the Law Review Girls. Thanks.
@WereBear: Had not heard of Theodore Sturgeon. Interesting guy. Ta.
The stuff that filters up to the top of the pop charts tends to be pablum. Every once in a while something makes it there through merit, but most of it is corporate stuff pushed by corporate studios to maximize corporate profits.
What you need is the segment on Sirius XM’s “Outlaw” Channel (60) hosted by Mojo Nixon
I kind of felt for Michael Jackson; you could see the humanity along with the weirdness. Although all that plastic surgery made him look like an air crash survivor.
Would never, never, never leave him alone with a boy kid, though.
Fraser was 8 years, Howard was 10 years.
With Murdoch’s backing I can’t see the LNP losing the next two elections.
After all, probably 5-10% of the voting population are influenced by Murdoch news titles. That’s enough to provide landslide wins.
For the time being Murdoch has veto power over any future Labor government. They are going to either have to do a deal with him, which won’t work, or wait for him to die.
My big worry is by that time, Abbott and co will have so destroyed the union movement that Labor will no longer have the financial base with which to fight an election. What happens to democracy then I don’t know.
There is some great country music still being made. They just call it “bluegrass” and “Americana.”
This has been an especially good year for young female country artists. Even though She Who Must Not Be Named has sucked all the air out of the room in terms of mainstream attention, Ashley Monroe, Kacey Musgraves, Pistol Annies, Della Mae, and Natalie Maines have all made very good records, and I have outsized expectations for the new Sarah Jarosz album that’s due out on 9/24.
On the male side, well, there’s still Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle.
I like him already.
I can’t feel any sympathy for someone who behaved like that with children. They are the defenseless ones not MJ.
Sometimes it takes a while for the good music released within a given year to get filtered out from all the commercialized crap, regardless of genre.
Take 1969, one of the greatest years in modern music. This is the same year that saw Abbey Road (which was panned by critics on release), Led Zeppelin’s first and second album (also panned), The Who’s Tommy, Dylan’s Nashville Skylines, Johnny Cash’s Live at San Quentin, three separate CCR releases (from a band that released only seven albums), Cloud Nine from The Temptations, Bowie’s Man of Words/Man of Music, Cohen’s From A Room, Santana’s first studio album… the list goes on and on. Oh, and Woodstock.
But the most requested song of 1969 was this piece of poptastic bubble-gum shit.
ETA: My favorite West Virginian (sorry, Cole, it’s not about you, it’s about me) made one of the best records of her career this year.
I don’t think the kidz have a conception of what they are listening to either. Really.
Getting access to music is so damn easy these days that the kidz do not need to define themselves by the type of music they listen to, i.e. you do not have a clique of kidz listening to heavy metal, disco, rap, alternative, etc. because the alternative kid and the rap kid just download their playlists; they don’t need to friends to like minded friends to help them scour music stores or read zines to figure out what’s cutting edge or who sold out or who is keeping it real.
A lot of the social definition music gave cliques in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s just isn’t there anymore.
As far as popular enough for me to notice category, I was in Budapest at a club last year and the DJ started playing American pop songs, like “Call me Maybe” and some Katie Perry stuff, etc. and the Hungarian girls, who didn’t know English were singing along to the lyrics and dancing to the songs.
That’s some amazing global reach, in my opinion.
Old Dan and Little Ann
My wife and I still watch SNL after all these years even though it sucks 95% of the time. 99% of the time I am wondering who the fuck the musical guest is and why they are so horrible. Not to mention if the host is not on for the 3rd or more time I don’t know who he/she is either. lol….
Yes there certainly is, but you won’t find it on commercial radio. For that I have to listen to KDHX which is a great station. Unfortunately, their signal does not carry out to here.
Speaking of Sarah Jarosz, Krugman posted a couple of her videos Thursday. Good stuff.
As to the male musicians, I have a soft spot in my heart for Tom Russell. “Rider on an Orphan Train” breaks my heart every time I hear it. I thought that whole album (The Man from God Knows Where) was great.
I feel like I’ve been reading that same article, written by different music critics, for 30 years now.
@NotMax: Damn kids, get off my lawn! *shakes cane*
8-year-old me loved that song.
ETA: And Wilson Pickett did a pretty goodcover of it.
@burnspbesq: I guess I had too many links in my reply to you….
Yes, but you won’t find it on commercial radio and I can’t get my favorite public radio station (KDHX) out here so the only time I can listen to the good stuff is when I am at home.
@raven: I loved Hall and Oates but I enjoy Live From Darryl’s House a lot.
these days, I don’t really listen much to what the kids do. But I often find great music before they do or introduce them to overseas stuff. Mostly, I’m all about–> /get offa my lawn.
Okay, trivia time.
What was the first British single to climb to #1 on the U.S. Billboard chart?
Song of the summer? Silent Treatment, or The Maw Maw Song. The duet with Pink and that Fun guy is a close second/third.
“Bob’s your uncle,” goodness gracious, haven’t heard that one since God was a boy.
And now its workgloves, blisters, assholes and elbows – a glorious day in the Buckeye and an entire universe of shit to do outside.
I think there are a number of apps that stream radio stations from anywhere in the country, if you have a smartphone.
J R in WV
Hey NotMax, why do you dread going to NYC? Or are you going to Albany, which would be to dread.
I like NYC, at least in a dose below weeks – my wife used to go to NYC for several months to negotiate contracts, and I would go up for a couple of weeks, we’d go out to dinner, jazz clubs, blues clubs, theater shows, museums, and shopping (not buying, generally) at crazy art galleries and antique shops.
Books stores with miles of shelving! Books shops that just do mysteries, or SciFi, or technical texts. Thai food to die for, Oyster bars with whole menus of different localities of oysters, Italian food, Japanese food, more museums than you can shake a stick at, and the room was paid for by the negotiating parties!
That was a long time ago, now that we’re retired we don’t go as often, but I still like NYC.
Google accepted your challenge and came up with Stranger on the Shore, by Mr. Acker Blik.
A smartphone? Me? I’m a hillbilly!!! I don’t even have an MP3 player and my truck doesn’t have a CD player (nor electric windows). My wife on the other hand, has all the latest technological innovations and gadgets. Everywhere she goes they have brown outs.
Proof that opposites attract.
@J R in WV
Lived there, been there, done that, escaped there. Not my bag.
Let’s leave it at that.
But you took to the Internet, obviously.
Will see your Mr. Acker Bilk and raise you Telstar by the Tornados.
Besides, I am afraid of smartphones. I have the sneaking suspicion that they are all smarter than me.
They probably are. But you can do like me and come here every day to make yourself feel better about your intelligence.
Hey, nobodies perfect.
Heh. Got my laugh for the day!
And just to prove it, I can’t tell the difference between “nobodies” and “nobody’s”.
Their, their, it’s ok.
It is an axiom of rock music that (almost) every bad band has at least one good song. I’m definitely not a Journey fan, but I always liked “Who’s Crying Now.” Probably because of the guitar.
@OzarkHillbilly: Pandora, on the Internet, will serve that function for you. I like it a lot, and it’s only $36 a year for no commercials.
Wikipedia, which is never ever wrong, has Acker Bilk beating the Tornados to #1 by a few months.
Villago Delenda Est
Created by the soulless corporatist thing that was Don Kirschner because the fucking Monkees dared, DARED to assert that they were in fact artists and wanted some artistic freedom and wanted to play their own instruments and Don Kirschner said “fuck this live action shit, I’m going to make it animated with nothing but faceless studio musicians so I don’t have to put up with actual human beings getting in the way of my own vision, so there, Davy, Mike, Peter, and Mickey, you twits!”
Villago Delenda Est
“I”m Henry the Eighth I Am”?
Heh. I have to admit that when I clicked thru on Sly’s link, I found myself singing along with it, and yeah, Sugar Sugar really is that bad. I guess 11 is an impressionable age.
I forgive you your childish infatuation with “Who’s Crying Now”. ;-)
Thanx, I’ll check it out.
The Moar You Know
@WereBear: Rhapsody > Pandora. I don’t know why Pandora gets all the press, probably because Rhapsody doesn’t have a free service. They are about three times the price, but they have every work by every artist I’ve ever heard of save for one exception: Kalashnikov, a metal band from Portugal who are very, very good. But that’s OK as I have their only album anyhow.
And I keep finding just great stuff on Rhapsody. It’s just about the only media provider who I feel is providing me product that is worth what I’m paying for it.
The game is rigged. Still, I don’t know why anyone listens to contemporary pop music. Nobody’s had an original thought in 15 years.
@The Moar You Know: I will check that out… though I only paid for Pandora, for the first time, last week. So they gots my loyalty for a year. :)
@The Moar You Know:
MOG > both.
@Comrade Mary: Heh. I love songs that either arose from conversations from kids or from lost bets. In this case, could be both. Definitely needs moar attention.
A Humble Lurker
Hm…suddenly it occurs to me…people will do so much when they have no money. Are the more degenerate segments of hip-hop and rap just a modern minstrel show that the participants don’t even know they’re in? That’s a sad idea.
MC Simon Milligan
Janelle Monae dropped something new this summer. I don’t think there will ever be ‘to much’ lesbian themed sci-fi R&B.
@MC Simon Milligan: Was channeling a little ‘Cosmic Thing’ for a moment or two.
Where do you find such works?
@A Humble Lurker:
You’re not the first one to have that notion. See Spike Lee’s Bamboozled.
Another Holocene Human
Really? Who the fuck cares? All the greatest music ever written is being uploaded to Youtube by helpful people while the Digital Millenium Copyright Act cries in the corner along with the Ghosts of Greedy Music Executives Past.
Shit that goes direct to being pumped in outdoors at mall/mixed used developments ext in-parcels is not music, it’s mind control to get you to buy an extra app at Applebees.
I had Beethoven’s 9th going half-blast at work last night, confused the heck out of a coworker who wasn’t hip to dynamic changes. I love the last two minutes of the chorale.
While you are correct, and any parents who left their children alone with him were incredibly stupid, I tried not to hate on him too much – he never had a prayer of growing up into a normal adult. I blame a lot of that on his father – for example, when the Jackson Five were touring (I don’t remember how old he would have been at the time) his father let a bunch of fans into the hotel room he was sharing with one of his brothers so they could gawk at the boys while they slept.
Regardless of how or why it came to be, though, he was clearly a danger to children. I wouldn’t leave one of my dogs with someone I couldn’t trust. A parent leaving a child with him is beyond my understanding.
Ms. Monae justifies modern popular music as well as any one artist can. Can’t wait for Tuesday when her new LP drops.
Lots of new music is awesome, from any genre you can name. I’ve long since given up on radio, TV, etc to tell me where to find it, though. Spotify and the like open so many doors to new great material, never mind websites devoted to certain genres, etc.
Or hell, just hit up Itunes/Amazon, look up a favorite album, then go down the rabbit hole of “people who purchased this also purchased…” Never know when you’ll strike gold that way.
Another Holocene Human
@A Humble Lurker: Seeing parallel between gangster rap (modern minstrel show sold to white adolescents with cash, participants laughing all the way to the bank but how much did it cost them that they don’t realize) and the pig ignorant rube GOP voters who’ve bought into white nationalist populism and don’t realize they’re the butt of the joke, or more to the point, look at all the wingnut welfare token people who stridently declare how ur-GOP they are and ur-Christian and all that while they cash those easy checks….
Money and honor have a certain incompatibility, perhaps. True honor, integrity, not having your ass kissed, honorS, that which comes from others. In a small group honor is everything because the group could expel you and you could die, in a large group honor is being the big cheese because there are always enough with enough fear of loss of status to attach themselves to anyone who seems important and powerful enough. It all comes down to that primal fear.
Selling records, making paper, it’s all enormously affirming in a place that’s buried too deep to really question it all, plus that kind of life attracts narcissists who have skewed internal incentive systems anyway so they don’t have a conscience about how their actions may be adversely affecting others, while those that aren’t that way are temporarily blinded by all the “we love you, keep it up” signals they’re getting. It’s like a drug, and we see those whose star has faded desperate to get that back.
Another Holocene Human
@Crza: I’m hoping for a 30 minute scifi music video film experience-bending ramble a la Kanye last year but from the mind of Monae, now THAT would be mind-blowing.
I think her stuff is too deep for me. I saw that whole android auction video and she just throws it all up there and doesn’t explain so I feel like I missed most of what I should have been seeing. I guess I like simple narratives and there is one in there but there was so much more, probably would take like a month of college English seminars to unpack.
Anyway, she can dance.
Another Holocene Human
@Steeplejack: Like that Eagles Journey of the Wizard song. Everything else on the album was soft stewed shit. It was a Nickelback experience, really just all one song that mushes together in forgetableness. I couldn’t say that the first time I heard it, though, because I was fond of the poor kid who was into it, and boy was he into it fierce.
MC Simon Milligan
@Another Holocene Human: The liner notes on ArchAndroid help a lot. Kind of a Sun Ra meets Ziggy Stardust via Fritz Lang as re-imagined by Octavia Butler thing.
Tara the Antisocial Social Worker
I like the Mod Carousel parody of that crappy song, but this one is even better, and it replaces the annoying earworm with one that I enjoy.
Drive-By Truckers, anyone?
Just when you think Canada and Australia are a fraction more enlightened than the US, they vote in right-wing turds like Harper, Howard and now Abbott. At least the national starting point of the damage and destruction is somewhat progressive.
Australia, get used to RomneySouth.
You mean like this? John Henry
What’s that Journey song where he’s doing Sam Cooke? “Ev-er-y ev-er-y
day-e-ay”………………………..that’s kinda cool.
That’s about it for them, though.
@OzarkHillbilly: I remember a country radio station in Missouri advertising “No Twangy Oldies!” I didn’t listen much after that.
BTW, KDHX can be streamed on the internets-thing.