Tag Archives: Music

What YMCA by the Village People can teach us

This is a classic song from the late ’70s, and it’s worth talking about for a few reasons.

First, the People of the Village prove that band members don’t need to dress the same, seeing how every other rock and punk band tries to stand out by putting on matching (a) black leather jackets and black guyliner, (b) spandex with long, permed blond locks, possibly paying homage to Heather Locklear or (c) ironic suits and ties worn with red Converse sneakers.

You don’t need to memorize the band members in the Village People because their outfits give you a handy shorthand. Plus it’s more interesting. Even KISS understands this and varied the crazy costumes and makeup enough so fans could dress as their favorite instead of throwing on a generic leather jacket and some mascara to be “you know, somebody from the Flaming Squirrels, maybe the  drummer.”

Variety is good, even when it comes to the hairstyles of boy bands, which should be banned by the Music Police.

Second, this song proves the power of third-party validation. That’s a fancy way of saying, “Hey, it’s great that every singer, actor and C-list celebrity talks smack about how great they are, yet their ethos is crazy weak when they do so, seeing how we look sideways at their sincerity and self-interest. What’s far more believable, and effective, is to praise somebody — or something — that doesn’t share your first and last name.”

Instead of singing a song where the Village People brag about how many boats they own, and how their singing is so great that we know there’s life on Mars because there are 17 different Village People superfan clubs in the southern hemisphere of that planet alone, they spend an entire song bragging on this unlikely place: your humble, local Y.

And they make it fun, and memorable. This video gave birth to a little YMCA dance of forming the letters people around the world know.

Well done, People of the Village.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist and scribbler of speeches. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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Why boy bands — and girl bands — will haunt us forever and ever

Why is there an endless supply of cheesy all-boy bands?

The thing is, there always has been, and always will be. Because they are meeting a market demand for a demographic that will never, ever go away: tweenagers. Specifically, tweenage girls.

Smart music moguls know this. They also are smart enough to realize that a bunch of 16 to 20-something boys are far, far more likely to hang around playing Call of Duty for 12 hours a day instead of sweating out dance moves while planning possible world tours.

They also know that a group of good-looking singers, male or female, is inherently more attractive than a single singer. There’s science to this. There’s also the fact that a solo artist means betting against them going to rehab, firing you as their manager, deciding to become a punk rock singer or otherwise turning into the Justin Bieber monster of today and losing all his fans.

But if you’ve got choreographers, songwriters and PR people on staff, then hey, you’ve got a machine, a license to print money, and all you need are some good-looking kids with some talent. And it’s actually not smart to bet everything on what you think is your most talented quartet of boys, because tastes in music are fickle for grownups, much less tweenage girls. If you’ve got a factory capable of cranking out boy bands, the best thing to do is keep on cranking them out, because soon enough, the boys will (a) get too old for your demographic or (b) your best singer will go solo and (c) the band will die.

We saw this with the ’90s with bands. But it’s just as true today. One Direction is a reality-show band put together by Simon Cowell’s machine.

And to be honest, girl bands are the same thing, aimed at the same demographic. Think it’s tweenage boys going to Spice Girl concerts or all these Japanese girl bands? Nope. It’s tweenage girls.

This makes perfect sense. Fans of action movies will show up at the megaplex and buy $9 popcorn whether the hero shooting zombies is a muscled tough guy or a hot-but-tough girl. Genre, not gender, determines audience.

When you get older, and hit college, you start to develop taste and would rather die than get caught listening to a NKOTB song. Instead of becoming popular by following the tweenage herd, you seek popularity by being a hipster who only listens to indie bands nobody’s heard of, bands you adore and then abandon at the first sign of success. THIS IS THE LAW.

So though I enjoy making fun of boy bands (and girl bands) as much as anyone, you have to admire how producers create and package these machines. It takes a village to raise a boy band, and to count all the profits before they implode. But by then, you’re on the next one.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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SELFIE by The Chainsmokers is timely and brilliant

Nothing is more trendy now than taking a selfie. Everybody’s doing it: teenagers, movie stars, rock stars, wannabe stars, your grandma, Ellen at the Oscars.

It’s a selfie pandemic.

This music video nails the whole selfie trend. Added bonus: the song rocks and the video is spot-on.

Warning: there’s a bad word or two in here, if that sort of thing puts you in therapy.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller (FREEDOM, ALASKA) that won some award. Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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CAMERA ONE by the Josh Joplin Group

The great thing about the Series of Tubes is this: say you hear a song on the radio, or lived back in the day when MTV played, I don’t know, music videos instead of stupid reality shows involving overtanned dipsticks and C-list reality shot “celebrities” who are only famous because they’re the son, daughter or step-daughter of a B-list celebrity.

The only way to hear that song again, or see the video, was to (a) glue yourself to the radio, night and day, (b) hit the record store and hope the clerk behind the counter can figure out the song, artist and album from you saying “You know, the video where the singer smashes a guitar on stage” or (c) camping out in front of the Glowing Tube until a coked-up VJ decides to play that video again.

For music loving people, the good old days were not so good. There was a reason hipsters lived at record stores: that’s how you found gems like CAMERA ONE by the Josh Joplin Group.

Today is a better day for anyone who loves music. I’ve had this song on my laptop forever. But is there a video? Ten seconds of messing around on youtube and bam, here it is.

Listen to the lyrics of this thing. The song is great, and the video is interesting — yet the lyrics are what stick with me, even though I’ve listened to this song forever. It doesn’t get old.

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013).

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Music video madness: HURRICANE by MS MR

Most of the time, it takes a bit for a song to grow on you. Listen to it once on the radio and yeah, that’s alright. Second time, it’s good. Third time, you’re into it.

I liked this song — and this video — instantly. First time. And I have nothing to really dissect or pick on, which is nice.

Well done, MS MR.

Lyrics:

Didn’t know what this would be
But I knew I didn’t see
What you thought
You saw in me

I jumped the gun
So sure you’d split and run
Ready for the worst
Before the damage was done

The storm never came
Or it never was
Didn’t know getting lost in the blue
It meant I wound up losing you

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
Can’t disguise
Nights like this
I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart
Hurricane

What’s wrong with me
Why not understand and see
I never saw
What you saw in me

Keep my eyes open
My lips sealed
My heart closed
And my ears peeled

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
Can’t disguise
Nights like this I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart
Hurricane

Make ash and leave the dust behind
Lady diamond in the sky
Wild light
Glowing bright
To guide me
When I fall
I fall on tragedy

Welcome to the inner workings of my mind
So dark and foul I can’t disguise
Can’t disguise
Nights like this I become afraid
Of the darkness in my heart
Hurricane

 

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

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HANDLEBARS by Flobots deserves some kind of award

I’ll happily write about a music video if the lyrics are interesting, if the song is great — or the music video tells a story.

Gentle readers, we have hit the trifecta.

These lyrics are interesting, the song is great and the video tells a powerful story.

THE SONG

Thought it was Cake, by the voice and the horns. But no, it’s some band called FlobotsNot the best name. Makes me think of an android version of Flo from the Geico commercials, and I don’t want rock bands selling me insurance. HOWEVER: the name is irrelevant if the lyrics are interesting and the video rocks.

The band Flobots actually has nothing to do with Flo or robots. Discuss.

The band Flobots actually has nothing to do with Flo or robots. Discuss.

THE VIDEO

The usual music video features (1) the band lip-syncing and pretending to play instruments in three different locations with six different costume changes, (2) the lead singer mouthing the words while trying to look cool in sunglasses and slo-mo or (3) all kinds of backup dancers going crazy behind the lead singer.

Instead, we’ve got a music video that doesn’t feature the band AT ALL.

This video tells an actual story, with a beginning, a middle and end. There are setups and payoffs, private stakes and public stakes.

I could geek out about it in a story sense. If professors can base college courses on Star Trek, or Madonna’s cheesy videos, then somebody could use this video do to a flipping dissertation.

Also, the style is great. Reminds me of all the stuff from the Animatrix, which was 9.942 bazillion times better than THE MATRIX: RELOADED and THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS — or whatever the second and third stupid parts of that trilogy were called.

Would I see THE MATRIX again? Sure, anytime. Brilliant movie. Could you shower me with enough purple euros to watch the two sequels again? No. Purple euros would have to join forces with alcohols.

Bottom line: the technical term for this music video is “awesomesauce.”

THE LYRICS

The words are worthy and don’t need a lot of red penning, either to interpret or poke fun. These lyrics abide.

If you’re any kind of writer, or student of the English language, you can take these apart and smile at how they work. Enjoy.

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars
I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Look at me, look at me
Hands in the air like its good to be
Alive and I’m a famous rapper
Even when the paths are all crookedy
I can show you how to dosey doe
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
I can tie a knot in a cherry stem
I can tell you about Leif Ericson
I know all the words to “De Colores”
And “I’m proud to be an American”
Me and my friends saw a platypus
Me and my friends made a comic book
And guess how long it took
I can do anything that I want ’cause look

I can keep rhythm with no metronome
No metronome
No metronome
I can see your face on the telephone
On the telephone
On the telephone

Look at me, look at me
Just called to say that its good to be
Alive in such a small world
I’m all curled up with a book to read
I can make money open up a thrift store
I can make a living off a magazine
I can design an engine
64 miles to the gallon on gasoline
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computer survive aquatic
Conditions I know how to run the business
And I can make you wanna buy a product
Movers shakers and producers
Me and my friends understand the future
I see the strings that control the systems
I can do anything with no resistance ’cause

I can lead a nation with a microphone
With a microphone
With a microphone
And I can split the atoms of a molecule
Of a molecule
Of a molecule

Look at me, look at me
Driving and I won’t stop
And it feels so good to be alive and on top
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can handout a million vaccinations
Or let em all die from exasperation
Have ‘em all healed from their lacerations
Or have em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don’t like them
I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command because

I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite
By satellite
And I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope

And I can end the planet in a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust
In a holocaust

I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars
I can ride my bike with no handlebars
No handlebars
No handlebars

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

 

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Skid Row, classic hair band from the ’80s

The ’80s were a bizarre mix of ’70s hair and ’50s politics.

HOWEVER: The decade that gave us George Bush the First, Ollie North and  Dan Quayle also gave us the most epic Hair Bands of all time, with grown men growing their hair insanely long, dying it blonde, teasing it up to defy gravity, putting on mascara and squeezing into spandex pants, because hey, that proves how tough and edgy you are.

One of the lesser-known Hair Bands is the irrepressible Skid Row, which had a lead singer with (a) the required feathered blond hair, (b) a raspy rock voice and (c) the best rockstar name ever: Sebastian Bach.

Here are two of Skid Row’s greatest hits. Did they have more than two decent songs? I have no idea. But I actually like these heavy metal ballads. Sebastian the Bach even tries to tell stories with the lyrics, which is a vast improvement upon the usual Justin Bieber / Britney Spears bubblegum pop lyrics along the lines of “Baby baby uh-huh-UH!” — and yes, somebody songwriter got paid to write that.

18 AND LIFE

I REMEMBER YOU

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

Insane music video + lyrics – EXCELLENT HORSE-LIKE LADY

The Red Pen of Doom shoots up Train’s DRIVE BY

ICE, ICE BABY as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

Music Video Deathmatch: Lady Gaga vs Justin Bieber

SUGAR WE’RE GOING DOWN by Fall Out Boy

ELECTRIC AVENUE, as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

Music Video Monday: Florence + The Machine

THE KILL by 30 Seconds to Mars

TAKE ON ME by A-Ha

ENTER THE NINJA by Die Antwoord

COUNTDOWN by Beyonce and some genius student in a snuggie

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

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I’M ON FIRE by Bruce Springsteen

Music videos typically feature a rock band (a) in concert, (b) playing their instruments in some kind of industrial warehouse or (c) smoking cigarettes and wearing tight jeans as they stroll through the streets of London or whatever.

Such music videos are not creative. THEY BORE ME.

Pop music videos aren’t much better. Oh, look, it’s the bubblegum blonde singer dancing while lip-syncing, and she’s got a bunch of backup dancers trying not to dance way, way better than the singer!

Bruce the Springsteen showed us how it’s done, way back when, with this little music video.

Simple song. Simple lyrics. The camera isn’t flying all over the place. And it tells a story that’s deeper and more interesting than “Baby, baby, I want to be your baby.”

Bruce, I salute you.

Hey little girl is your daddy home
Did he go and leave you all alone
I got a bad desire
O
h-oh-oh, I’m on fire

Tell me now baby is he good to you
Can he do to you the things I don’t do
I can take you higher
Oh-oh-oh, I’m On Fire I’m on fire

Sometimes it’s like someone took a knife baby
Edgy and dull and cut a six-inch valley
Through the middle of my soul

At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet
And a freight train running through the
Middle of my head
Only you can cool my desire
Oh-oh-oh, I’m on fire

Related posts: Music Video Monday’s Greatest Hits

Insane music video + lyrics – EXCELLENT HORSE-LIKE LADY

The Red Pen of Doom shoots up Train’s DRIVE BY

ICE, ICE BABY as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

Music Video Deathmatch: Lady Gaga vs Justin Bieber

SUGAR WE’RE GOING DOWN by Fall Out Boy

ELECTRIC AVENUE, as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

Music Video Monday: Florence + The Machine

THE KILL by 30 Seconds to Mars

TAKE ON ME by A-Ha

ENTER THE NINJA by Die Antwoord

COUNTDOWN by Beyonce and some genius student in a snuggie

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

6 Comments

Filed under 2 Music Video Monday

SIMPLE SONG by The Shins

 

Now, the usual music video features (a) some kind of singer or rock band (b) singing and rocking, and possibly trying to (c) dance, though if they can’t dance, the can (d) look tough or (e) let their backup dancers go crazy while the singers and rockers look tough. The toughest part is whether to film in an empty warehouse or on top of a roof.

For pop singers and boy bands, it’s even simpler: they have to sing WHILE dancing, and it doesn’t really matter where.

Music videos that tell a story, like some kind of moving picture, with a script and such, are rare. Because that sort of thing is work, you see, and the rock bands who try  usually shoot for “artsy” and merely slam hard into “the Wall of Pretentious.”

This isn’t quite art, and it doesn’t quite make sense, but it is interesting and different and ambitious. I salute the Shins for aiming high instead of setting up their drums and amps in the parking lot of a vacant K-mart, just to be ironic.

For you musical types, here are the lyrics for you to dissect and decipher:

Well, this is just a simple song,
To say what you done.
I told you ’bout all those fears,
And away they did run.
You sure must be strong,
And you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun.

When I was just nine-years-old,
I swear that I dreamt,
Your face on a football field,
And a kiss that I kept,
Under my vest.
Apart from everything,
But the heart in my chest.

Chorus:
I know that things can really get rough,
When you go it alone,
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough,
And play like a stone.
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives so critical,
As this little home.

My life in an upturned boat,
Marooned on a cliff.
You brought me a great big flood,
And you gave me a lift.
Girl, what a gift.
When you tell me with your tongue,
And your breath was in my lungs,
And we float up through the rift.

Chorus:
I know that things can really get rough,
When you go it alone.
Don’t go thinking you gotta be tough,
And play like a stone.
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives so critical,
As this little home.

Well, this would be a simple song,
To say what you done.
I told you ’bout all those fears,
And away they did run.
You sure must be strong,
When you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun.

Remember walking a mile to your house,
Aglow in the dark?
I made a fumbling play for your heart,
And the act struck a spark.
You wore a charm on the chain that I stole,
Especial for you.
Love’s such a delicate thing that we do,
With nothing to prove,
Which I never knew.

 

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WILD HORSES by The Sundays

The Sundays are one of those sleeper bands, the kind who don’t have one or two big hits buried in a sea of mediocre songs, but smack that musical fastball into the outfield EVERY FLIPPING TIME.

Here they’re doing a cover of some song by Mick the Jagger or whoever. I’ve learned that Jagger and the Stones that Roll are four guys from Britain who, despite being older than Yoda, still run around the world, holding rock concerts and such where they actually play their own instruments and sing, the fuddy duddies, rather than lip-sync to backing tracks recorded in the studio and auto-tuned so horrifically that T-Pain vows to never again have his voice digitally altered one tiny itty bit.

Also: the lead singer of The Sundays has the voice of an angel and the face of a supermodel.  That never hurts.

Related: Music Video Monday’s greatest hits

Insane music video + lyrics – EXCELLENT HORSE-LIKE LADY

The Red Pen of Doom shoots up Train’s DRIVE BY

ICE, ICE BABY as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

Music Video Deathmatch: Lady Gaga vs Justin Bieber

SUGAR WE’RE GOING DOWN by Fall Out Boy

ELECTRIC AVENUE, as interpreted by the Red Pen of Doom

Music Video Monday: Florence + The Machine

THE KILL by 30 Seconds to Mars

TAKE ON ME by A-Ha

ENTER THE NINJA by Die Antwoord

COUNTDOWN by Beyonce and some genius student in a snuggie

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Guy - Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Guy – Photo by Suhyoon Cho

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that was a finalist for some award.

Google+

4 Comments

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