Stumped for a last-minute holiday present? One of these music collections just might do the trick
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 19, 2012
A few last minute gift ideas, featuring 2012 boxsets and from The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Grateful Dead, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Heart, Strange Euphoria, Bob Dylan, The English Beat, Elvis Presley, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Los Lobos and Taj Mahal.
by Deirdre Kaye
Posted In: Music Commentary
at 11:33 AM | Permalink
What "Pop music" has become … and why it makes for a delicious snack
You know what I like? Pop music. Some of you may be judging me right now and, for that, I’m judging you in return. There is absolutely no legitimate reason to dislike Pop.Of course, I get it. Most Pop music isn’t the well-written, deeper-than-the-ocean type stuff, but rather easy to understand and anchored by a catchy hook. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. Music isn’t supposed to be unattainable — we’re usually drawn to music because we can relate to it. Pop just expresses our emotions and situations in more simple terms than other genres.Some of you are probably starting to get nitpicky about my use of “Pop” as a genre. To a certain extent, Pop isn’t a genre at all. Historically, Pop was just short for popular, meaning it runs the gamut on genres. Listen to the current NOW That's What I Call Music collection (we’re up to about 4067 volumes, I believe) and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not full of ground-breaking musical experimentation or earth-shatteringly powerful lyricism, but every one of those songs has a damn good hook. Beyoncé wouldn’t classify herself as Pop. She’d call herself Hip Hop or R&B. “Run the World (Girls)” was certainly popular, though. Alex Clare’s “Too Close” is full of drums and synth awesomeness, lying somewhere between Rock and Electronic and yet it’s all over Top 40. Taylor Swift was, at one point, a Country artist. Now, with a little less accent and a lot less acoustic guitar, she’s lasting longer on Billboard’s Top 40 than the Country charts. The structures of their music may be very different, but they all end up on the same station.Pop has very much become its own genre. It’s the genre for all the likable and relatable music from all the other genres. Think of it as the exact opposite of “The Island of Misfit Toys.” Pop is The Genre of the Overplayed. They’re overplayed for a reason, though. Some of those songs are pretty close to genius. The best recent example is “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Class Heroes (and Adam Levine). The idea is simple: Boy loves Girl … a lot. But throughout the entire song, they pull from the same stereo heart metaphor. Whether he’s referring to the trials and tribulations of a relationship via a comparison to an old-school boombox that requires tons of D batteries or the simple idea of a heart beating, like speakers, with every note, they carry the thought all the way through. In my book, that’s pretty impressive.Speaking of Adam Levine, I like “Moves like Jagger,” too. You know what Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, sang about quite a bit? Dancing. You know what “Moves like Jagger” is about? Dancing … sort of. You know what it makes me want to do? Dance. Pop songs are nothing if not danceable. Even the slow ones! If they don’t make you wish for that cute guy across the room to come and sweep you off your feet and twirl you around the room, they’re doing something wrong.Yes. Sometimes Pop can be annoying. A majority of Pop music is made by people with “outside voices.” They always sound like they’re yelling. Often they’re squeaky, too. One Direction is super excited about what makes me beautiful. For someone who adds an unsure “maybe” to the end of her pick-up line, Carly Rae Jepsen's voice is far from a timid whisper. But, I still really like that song.The easiest explanation I can give is this: It’s catchy and easy and sometimes we’re all a little simpleminded.Carly Rae and Taylor Swift may not write the kind of music that would inspire people to become “Band-Aids” or make William Miller, Greil Marcus or Lester Bangs commit their lives to writing about music. They do, however, write songs that are fun to listen to when you’re on the way to see a more substantive show. After a long hard day of deep-thinking and problem solving, what’s wrong with a little light-hearted entertainment?So, for the sake of dancers, the simple-minded, the commuters and the road trippers: Long live Pop!
by Mike Breen
Posted In: Music History
at 10:31 AM | Permalink
The 1984 Grammys and Hip Hop, plus Brian Jones' should've-been 70th birthday
On this day in 1984, Michael Jackson swept the 26th annual Grammy Awards, winning eight trophies, for everything from Record and Album of the Year ("Beat It" and Thriller) to Best Recording for Children (timeless children's classic, the E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial soundtrack). No doubt because of Jackson's presence, the telecast remains the most watched in history; Whitney Houston's death this year almost helped the Grammys break that record, but it still came up about four million viewers short of the 43.8 million who watched in 1984.But there were other winners that night. Rounding out the "Big 4" categories: Sting won "Song of the Year" for writing The Police's "Every Breath You Take" and the coveted Best New Artist award went to Culture Club (which had scored three Top 10 singles off of its debut album in the U.S., the first band since The Beatles to do so). Elsewhere, former Cincinnati Bengals defensive lineman Mike Reid won Best Country Song for writing "Stranger in My House" for Ronnie Milsap and the crappy movie Flashdance was all the rage, winning Irene Cara "Best Vocal Performance, Female" for "Flashdance (What A Feeling)" and Giorgio Moroder "Best Instrumental Composition" for "Love Theme from Flashdance", while the soundtrack won the awkwardly titled "Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special." Best R&B Instrumental Performance went to Jazz legend Herbie Hancock's "Rockit," the first popular single to feature DJ scratching (by pioneering turntablist, GrandMixer D. St.) and the first time "Hip Hop" was accepted by the Grammy committee. It would be five years before the awards added a "Rap" category, though that year (1989), most nominees (including winners DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince) boycotted the ceremony because it was one of the awards not given out during the telecast. Here's Hancock, his band and D. St. doing "Rockit" live:Click the jump for Born This Day featuring Rolling Stones co-founder Brian Jones.
Music Tonight: We usually (always) give suggestions for live music to check out in this space, but today, we're telling you to go to the movies. But there's still quite a "live music" component. For one night only, the never-before-seen concert flick Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas is being screened at movie theaters across the country. The film features footage from a July, 1978, concert in Fort Worth, Texas, during the band's tour for Some Girls (which featured hits like "Shattered," "Miss You" and "Beast of Burden"). The movie screens locally at the Deerfield Towne Center theater and the Springdale Showcase Cinemas at 7:30 p.m. tonight. The special screening also includes a recent 20-minute interview with Mick Jagger about the concert and era. The film will be released on DVD on Nov. 21. Below is a trailer for the film and rehearsal footage from the band's appearance later in ’78 on Saturday Night Live, performing Some Girls track "Respectable."
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 24, 2011
So far, this October’s planned concert honoring the late Michael Jackson seems like a tribute to the behind-the-scenes turmoil of Jackson’s life rather than the impact of his music. Jackson’s mother said earlier this year that the concert will be held in Wales (for some reason), two weeks after Jackson’s doctor goes on trial for involuntary manslaughter.
0 Comments · Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The first African-American President of the United States of America is cyber-facing off with the first extraterrestrial Pop diva (Lady Gaga) in a race to see who can be the first living person to break 10 million friends on Facebook. President Obama immediately stopped work on the BP oil spill, economic rebuilding and fighting two wars and hired Ashton Kutcher as his Facebook czar.
0 Comments · Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Reuters reported that Pink Floyd has succeeded in stopping its label, EMI, from unpackaging its albums and selling individual songs as downloads or ringtones. There goes our plan to hold the record for the world's longest ringtone, sides 1 and 2 of 'Ummagumma.'
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 17, 2010
After blessing a Vatican MySpace site that featured a list of apparently Pope-endorsed songs that included ones by 2Pac and Fleet Foxes, the Vatican newspaper/Web site The Holy See recently released another list of “good/Godly” Pop songs.
Michael Jackson music doc humanizes a misunderstood performer
0 Comments · Friday, October 30, 2009
The cynics among us will decry 'This Is It' as a money grab, the latest step in the exploitation of dead superstars to enrich the coffers of this or that financial entity (studios, record companies, family estates, etc.). Instead, the film proves once and for all that Wacko Jacko was one of us, but one who also happened to be an almost pure personification of musical expression. Grade: B.
0 Comments · Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Leslie Hindman Auctioneers recently auctioned off Elvis Presley collectibles featuring clothes and "sweat-stained scarves," as well as a clump of what is alleged to be The King's actual hair. The dark locks are believed to be from when Elvis received his crewcut upon entering the Army in 1958. The clippings sold for a meager $18,300.