VERY NOISE by Igorrr is definitely weird, but is it any good?

Anyone today can make music, then jack into the Matrix and upload their creation–along with a video–for the world to see.

If they can find it.

I scoured YouTube and found this thing, so let’s take a peek before we talk smack.

First, I have to say the music is fine. Don’t hate it, don’t love it, but perfectly listenable. Nothing super strange or unique about it.

The video is what interests me, because they obviously (a) had a decent CGI budget and (b) put some real thought into a storyline that’s (c) pretty funny and effective.

Who doesn’t like monster movies, and a bit of Godzilla-like smashing of a metropolis or three?

And who won’t enjoy an unlikely hero, in this case a motorcycle-riding old man, riding in to fight the monster even though it’s suicidal?

My only quibble with this video is a longer fight would have been enjoyable. Also expected, which is probably why they subverted that by having the Ancient Biker Anti-Hero kill the monster in this unusual and non-heroic way.

VERDICT

Hey, this is art, and it is both interesting and different. Give us moar.

ALL THE STARS is the perfect song for a perfect movie

black panther, all the stars, sza, kendrick lamar, chadwick boseman

Usually, I will do one of three things with a music video: (a) find an obscure and bizarre treasure to share, (b) dissect something terrible, or (c) decipher the lyrics to an amazing song.

Today, I’m listening to ALL THE STARS on repeat, and there’s a good chance this may be a weeklong tribute to Chadwick Boseman, because the man was amazing. Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Black Panther–the man could play anybody. Boundless talent and a bottomless heart. He visited kids in cancer wards for years and never let on that he was sick himself. Not once.

Wakanda forever, damn it.

Who actually made the first music video OF ALL TIME?

You may ask yourself, “Is that really a hard question?” And you may tell yourself, “The first was VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR, everybody knows MTV played that when it went live right after the Civil War, because Abraham Lincoln sent a telegram requesting it.”

Except all of that is wrong.

Some say the first real music videos were made in this place called Oz, a mystical land where every animal is poisonous. And there is good evidence for this, with Australian TV news staffer Russell Mulcahy shooting videos for local bands like AC/DC back in the ’70s, years before MTV went live.

So here’s a good contender:

However, there’s another video released around the same time–1975–that is a far better song, a song that’s massively famous and universally beloved. We’re talking BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY by Queen, and I could die happy if we settle on this epic as the First Music Video Ever.

Case closed.

Queen also had the first music video banned by MTV, which gives them 150,000,000 rebellious rock points, so let’s go with Queen.

Except that’s not really the first music video, not even close, because Bob Dylan was doing black-and-white music videos while inventing memes long before neckbeard edgelords were spending all their time learning the Adobe Creative Suite to make it to the front page of reddit with their HQ gifs. How do you pronounce gifs, with a G like it’s spelled or J like we’re talking peanut butter? I know the answer. Come closer and I’ll whisper it to you: “Gif is officially pronounced HOWEVER THE HELL YOU LIKE, because this is the dumbest controversy ever and I do not care one itty bitty bit.”

Here’s Bob Dylan doing his thing ten years earlier than Queen.

Okay then, we have a winner. Right?

Maybe.

Not really.

It all depends on what your definition of musical video is, and how far you want to (a) stretch it and (b) go back in time and technology. Wikipedia lists all sorts of musical short films in the 1920s, along with musical shorts / teasers that ran before the film you paid a full nickel to watch. There were Soundies in the WWII years with short dance sequences set to music and stuff happening with jazz and funky things going on in France with alien jukebox video technology (actually not really making that up, go check it out).

I mean, you could go crazy going down this rabbit hole, which I will not do, because who will pay for my therapy?

HOWEVER: What we all should agree on is that VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR is not really the first music video. At all.

It’s just the first one that MTV played.

Top Four amazing musicians who PLAYED EVERY FREAKING INSTRUMENT on their album

There are a number of Rock Gods who have (1) accomplished this feat while (2) producing an album that is timeless and beautiful and makes you forget that 2020 is a hellscape.

I want to highlight my favorite four, and yes, there are others, who may possibly be your favorite, and we can have a knife fight about the One True Emperor of Every Instrument in the comment section or behind the alley at the Quikmart, where it smells like menthol cigarettes, cheap beer, and desperation.

Here are my four.

Number Four: Butterfly Boucher

She wrote and performed one of the best songs ever, with an entire album that doesn’t include a single bad song, and when I say her name people are like, “Huh?”

Come on. She should be crazy famous. ANOTHER WHITE DASH is perfect.

Number Three: Nine Inch Nails

Trent Reznor is amazing. Instead of one of the music videos from his first album, check out the behind-the-scenes story of how he made it. Love it.

Number Two: Smashing Pumpkins

Billy Corgan could play a rubber band strung up on a box of Coa-Coa Puffs he pulled out of the recycling bin–and you would listen to the damn thing.

Number One: Foo Fighters

Really, it should’ve been Foo Fighter, singular, because it was just Dave Grohl messing around by himself, sans the rest of Nirvana, except he created one of the best albums ever and he’s still at it. (Note: Yes, Kurt Cobain was born in my little town of Montesano, and yes, Nirvana fans still show up from around the world to hang out in Monte and Aberdeen–thank you for coming as you are and spending some money in our beautiful little county.)

EVERLONG is my favorite song from Dave’s album and while his hair is impressively crazy in this video, the song cannot be improved.

 

 

Why KNIGHTS OF CYDONIA by Muse is total madness that still works

If you pitched this, it wouldn’t fly. “Yo, let’s spend six times our budget on a music video mini-movie that’s like a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western, except we’ll throw in a lot of Mad Max stuff and cyberpunk along with a dash of SECRET CRAY-CRAY SAUCE.”

Watch, then let’s chat.

Sure, this is weird, and ambitious, but I think they pull it off. There’s a hero, and a rough story that keeps your interest, and when it the story doesn’t quite work, you’re watching for the next moment of cray-cray. Motorcycles? Check. Laser guns? Yep. Robots? ABSOLUTELY.

It reminds me of KUNG FURY, which takes a kung fu cop, Miami Vice-vibes, time travel, Vikings with dinosaurs, and Hitler, throws all that in a blender and turns it into a short film that’s absolutely classic. Instead of upsetting you by jumping the shark, and ruining your suspension of disbelief, videos like this and movies like KUNG FURY start out by jumping the shark while that shark jumps a bigger shark before being swallowed by a space worm that gets chopped in half by a robot samurai.

VERDICT

How did I not know about this song and video before? I LOVE IT.

CARDIGAN by Taylor Swift and the evolution–or stagnation–of music

cardigan taylor swift

Some artists never change. They find their groove, or a niche that PAYS THE BILLS, and ride that pony until it falls over and dies of exhaustion ten miles west of the nearest gas station.

This can be a Good Thing, with certain bands and singers having a signature sound and the ability to produce album after album of consistent music. And it can be a Horrible Thing, with countless one-hit wonders still touring county fairs when they should be collecting a pension.

The opposite strategy is high risk, high reward. If you’re cranking out No. 1 hits, and making 8.4 bazillion dollars on tour, why change a thing?

There are bands and singers who’ve used constant change as a strategy, like Madonna hiring a hot new producer and taking on their style. Not a true evolution, that.

An opposite approach seems to work better. Mega-producer Rick Rubin is famous for long walks on the beach and philosophical talks, and he doesn’t have a signature sound that he stamps on artists. The man has produced everybody from the Beastie Boys to AC/DC to the Dixie Chicks (the list is ginormous). Rubin is more of a coach and mentor, somebody who lets musicians question themselves, stretch out, and grow into something different.

Which is why we’re talking about Taylor Swift and her new album, FOLKLORE.

Is she adopting a style, like Madonna putting on a British accent, or embracing something truly new?

Check out this single, CARDIGAN, and we’ll talk smack.

Whether you’re a giant fan (what are they called, Swifties? I HAVE NO IDEA) or a sneering hater, you have to admit this is good.

Different, refreshing, unexpected.

Taylor’s original evolution, from country to pop, was not a surprise. Every artist alive tries to move from a specialized niche to the biggest possible stage.

Personally, I am not a country fan, but I loved her early stuff. The lyrics told stories and the music was infectious. LOVE STORY and YOU BELONG WITH ME are perfect and timeless.

Didn’t like her pop albums as much, though when she slowed down, there were some good burners. OUT OF STYLE is great.

What she’s doing here is stripped down indie music. Instead of a wall of sound, we get stretches of silence.

I’m impressed. There wasn’t any hype train before she dropped FOLKLORE, and it really feels like she spent a few months in quarantine plinking on her piano and writing lyrics for this.

VERDICT

A happy surprise. Well done, Taylor the Swift — give us more like this. Or go visit Rick Rubin at his beach house and go wild with a metal album next.

GET UP by the Bingo Players is pure weirdness, but in a good way

It’s not hard to find weird music videos, mostly because (a) you can’t throw a rock on YouTube without smacking five different music vids and (b) musicians tend to play it really, really safe or truly let their freak flag fly. There’s no in-between.

This video is the good kind of weird. Watch, then let’s chat about why.

Okay, so that’s definitely something I hadn’t seen before: a music video where the heroes are a gang of ducks, getting revenge on an actual gang for their misdeeds.

And yeah, there are seventeen ways this video could’ve gone wrong. But I think it works.

They set things up properly by showing the human gang doing bad things, both to other humans and to the ducks, and the ducks starting to go into action, building up suspense. Then they paid all that off with a nice variety of surprising montage of Duck Vigilante Justice with a good sense of variety and surprise, escalating to a climax. I particularly liked the duck driver–a nice touch.

VERDICT

Yes, this video is definitely weird, but the risks paid off. Well done, Bingo Players.

1944 is a song that will make you cry

The great thing about the Series of Tubes is you stumble upon random treasures, like this cover of 1944 by Elina Ivaschenko.

Beautiful, right?

Obviously, her coach’s reaction help makes this video great. You can see and feel the joy as her singer nails this.

What hit me was the universality of music. Most of these lyrics are not in English and it doesn’t matter, because the emotion comes through, strong and clear.

I’ve seen research by ACTUAL SCIENTISTS that music has near-magical powers when it comes to generating human emotions. You can pinpoint the exact notes and chords that generate joy, sadness, and other emotions.

Here are the lyrics:

When strangers are coming
They come to your house
They kill you all
and say
We’re not guilty
not guilty
Where is your mind?
Humanity cries
You think you are gods
But everyone dies
Don’t swallow my soul
Our souls
Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım
Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım
We could build a future
Where people are free
to live and love
The happiest time
Where is your heart?
Humanity rise
You think you are gods
But everyone dies
Don’t swallow my soul
Our souls
Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım
Yaşlığıma toyalmadım
Men bu yerde yaşalmadım

There’s real pain and history behind the song, which is about Stalin’s deportation of the Crimea Tarters.

The original song is by Jamala, a Eurovision winner from Ukraine.

So this is one of the rare covers which improves the original. Kind of like how Meg Myers took RUNNING UP THAT HILL and transformed it into a rocket ship full of beautiful noise.

Here’s the original song for comparison.

VERDICT

11/10 for making me tear up.

MOTIVATION by Normani is the tip of her talent iceberg

I first saw and heard Normani in LOVE LIES, which is one of the greatest music videos ever. Seriously. I’ve played it 6.2 gazillion times and am still not sick of it. Khalid and Normani nail this thing. If you haven’t seen it, check this thing out. Such a slow burn.

Then I kept hearing her on other tracks, like DANCING WITH A STRANGER with Sam Smith–just perfect.

Here’s the first song I’ve seen from her that’s completely hers. Check it out.

Impressive, right?

Most people are lucky to have nurtured one talent to a world-class level. Singing or dancing. Not both.

I think she’s got heaps of talent in singing and dancing. She reminds me a lot of Ariane Grande years ago, before she went supernova, and people knew her mostly for spot-on impressions of Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Shakira or whoever. Wait for the middle of this video where she does Christina Aguilera singing THE WHEELS ON THE BUS, which is crazysauce. I would totally buy an album of her doing covers like this.

VERDICT

I believe, deep in my soul, that Normani is going to take over and dominate the airwaves. Give us moar moar MOAR.

Why PHYSICAL by Dua Lipa is such good fun

Dua Lipa is one of the rare singers who continually tries new things in music videos, and songs. Those risks tend to pay off. I can’t remember the last song or video where I skipped it.

I only heard PHYSICAL on the radio and found the video because a dancer did a tribute that I swore was the actual official video.

And this song itself is a tribune to the original 1980s LET’S GET PHYSICAL by Olivia Newton John.

First, let’s check out Dua Lipa’s video before we talk smack.

Good, right? It’s paying homage without being a direct ripoff of Oliva Newton John.

What I like is Dua Lipa clearly cares about dance. They aren’t part of the background, making her look good — she’s dancing right with them, in this one and every video I’ve seen her do. Impressive.

The pioneer of legwarmer videos

Now here’s the original, which is still funny, but hasn’t aged that well.

This was a big deal when it came out. Huge.

Now it looks pretty cheesy, like those Crystal Light National Aerobics Championships, which is amazing and worth being studied in Contemporary History 376: What Were They Smoking in the 1980s?

VERDICT

The more I see and hear of Dua Lipa, the more I like her stuff.

Great job–please keep taking risks and trying new things with these videos. Give us moar moar MOAR.