HALLELUJAH by Kate McKinnon, who is just killing it

I’m not alone in adoring Kate McKinnon’s impression of Hillary Clinton during the campaign, though Alec Baldwin’s job as Trump got more attention.

This song, though, hit me hard. Who knew she could play piano and sing? (If you don’t know the song, it’s by Leonard Cohen, who just died.)

Capping it off? Her lines after the song is over, when you can she’s choked up. Appropriate for our times.

Though she does a great Clinton (below), she also does spot-on impressions of Justin Bieber, Ellen DeGeneres and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

So she can act and sing. If she could dance, McKinnon would be a triple threat.

Yeah, she can dance.

Kate the McKinnon, please keep on doing what you do and we won’t give up.

Why MELANIANADE is peak SNL and brilliant comedy

Music has never been more competitive. A good music video adds another layer of difficulty–and when you add comedy–the hardest thing of all–then it’s no wonder that truly funny music videos are rare.

Your typical parody video looks cheap and takes easy shots at the artist who made it. Weird Al Yancovic has been the king of parody videos for precisely the opposite reason: he knows poking fun of the singer or band will only go so far, so he takes a song and twists it to make fun of something entirely different, like when he used American Pie to rip on Star Wars.

Comedy is hard because it speaks to painful truths. Cheap, easy laughs aren’t deep. The deeper the pain, the more truth gets revealed.

This video works because the cast of SNL clearly put a lot of time and effort into it. They committed, absolutely, and didn’t hold back.

James Corden did something similar with his Lemonjames video. Take a look:

Corden is making fun of himself, and his industry, more than he’s taking shots at Beyoncé.

The quality of both these videos, in how well they’re shot and edited, may seem like an irrelevant point for comedians. Why waste so much time and effort making the lighting, costumes and settings so perfect.?

Except it’s not a waste of time. Chances are, most people have seen the original video. A cheap knock-off that’s badly shot and uses thrown-together sets and locations will keep dragging you out of it. Instead of noticing the jokes, you’ll get distracting with how amateurish things look compared to the real video–and these days, music videos are expensive affairs, often shot by moonlighting Hollywood professionals. So the bar is high.

These two videos leap over that bar of quality, letting you focus entirely on the comedy.

Well done, SNL and James the Corden–give us more, more, more.

SALSA TEQUILA is a classic parody turned accidental hit

Norwegian comic Anders Nilsen isn’t a world-class musician. He tells jokes.

And I bet you my house he didn’t set out to make this a hit song in Europe (or to have it blow up Reddit in 2016). This is a parody, a little joke he wanted to do. My favorite line: “Antonio Banderas.”

It reminds me of the Italian singer/comic who made an entire song of what English singing sounds like to non-English speakers. I did a post about this song a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, but here’s the video itself, because it’s epically entertaining. How did he get so many extras to play along?

Then there’s this video, made by two brothers by their brother who’s getting married, that’s a dead-on parody of ’80s pop.

Back to Norwegian comics: the brothers who did WHAT DID THE FOX SAY? are so good at parody music videos, they do them all the time now.

So what is it about these music videos that make them so fun?

I believe the secret sauce is authenticity.

When you’re a musician trying to pay the bills, you dream about a hit single. You push hard for it. You’re serious, focused and driven. This is your life, your dream.

A comedian or amateur just playing around is doing it for fun. The success or failure of your parody song won’t affect whether you make the mortgage payment next month. There’s far less pressure.

That lack of pressure lets people take bold risks like this–and perhaps more importantly, to be loose and relaxed. To have fun.

That’s the overwhelming sense I get from parody music videos that’s often lacking in Genuine Music Videos By Serious Musicians, who often forget the fun while aiming at high art. Or by rockers, rappers and pop stars trying too hard to show off how edgy and cool they are.

Trying too hard is never cool or fun.

So props to the comedians, amateurs and others out there making parody music videos simply because they can. You’re adding something real to the art of music videos, which will only get more and more important as text gets replaced on the Interwebs by video, video–and, for variety, more video. Text is so 1994.

Top 5 reasons why GO 4 IT by Corey Feldman is so bad, it circles back to good

corey feldman dancing and singing

corey feldman dancing and singing

Corey Feldman’s live performance on the TODAY show was supposed to be a big opening for his new album, Angelic to the Core, and yes, that is punny.

You may remember Corey from his career as a child actor: The Goonies, Gremlins, Stand By Me, The Lost Boys and five zillion other movies and TV shows.

But now, he’s going to be remembered for this performance on live national television.

Let’s take apart this music video and get into why it’s so unintentionally entertaining–and what Corey should do next.

Reason No. 5: The Angels

There are two real choices in the big, famous music scene: a real band where everybody contributes–or a famous singer with a rotating cast of backup musicians and dancers.

Corey at least is trying to give his backup musicians a theme and identity. It’s just not quite right, as if he watched some Robert Palmer and decided to run with that theme, except all they had at the Party Store were some angel wings and sexy nurse costumes.

Continue reading “Top 5 reasons why GO 4 IT by Corey Feldman is so bad, it circles back to good”

The five greatest cover songs of all time

As a fan of music, and music videos, I applaud the decision by MTV to start a new channel that actually plays music videos instead of reality TV shows about teen moms, Snooki, random people forced to be roommates in different cities for no reason season after season, Rob Kardashian’s second cousin–or whatever other nonsense they’re making reality shows about today.

Music is universally good, and music videos are an art form that should be shared and enjoyed by all.

This post is also a bit of counter-programming now that the author of FIFTY SHADES OF GREY is putting out yet another sequel to a book that should never have been written (here’s my review/epic takedown of that literary monstrosity: The Red Pen of Doom impales FIFTY SHADES OF GREY). To celebrate music videos, here are the five greatest cover songs of all time, with the original artist versus their imposter in a battle royale.

Also: I have been crazy busy, which is a post for another day, but yes, I’m still breathing and will try to post more. Have missed it.

The Man Who Sold the World – original by David Bowie, cover by Nirvana

Twist and Shout – original by The Top Notes, cover by some band from Liverpool

I Will Always Love You – original by Dolly Parton (with special bonus, Burt Reynolds and his mustache!), cover by Whitney Houston (special bonus: Kevin Costner as a tough guy with zero mustache at all)

Nothing Compares to U – original by The Family (really, Prince), cover by Sinead O’Connor (because Prince said so)

Hurt – original by Nine Inch Nails vs cover by Johnny Cash

Or you could just have Ariana Grande cover everything by everybody.

What do you think? Vote in the poll or post a witty comment explaining how I’m musically wrong about everything musical.

2016 craziness leads to brilliant and funny music videos

Now, this fake Japanese commercial for Trump is spot-on and hilarious. But the seriousness and inevitably silliness of a campaign that started out with 20+ candidates and now has our first reality TV star as a nominee, well, you’re going to get more than one video from that.

Here’s Obama singing Rihanna’s WORK.

And here’s brother Bernie belting out POWER by Kanye.

Hillary and Barack team up for TIMBER by Pitbull.

It takes skill to create these videos. I think they work because of the high contrast between the highest politicians in the land and low-brow pop songs. The more banal the pop song, and the harder it is to figure out the lyrics (love Rihanna, but nobody understands what she’s singing in WORK), the more funny the video is.

The original Serious Footage Turned Into Song, though, is still the best: Brian Williams absolutely nails RAPPER’S DELIGHT.

DANCE OFF by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis opens with … Idris Elba!

Does it get any better than Idris Elba?

No. No, it does not.

This is another solid music video by Macklemore, who’s smart for (a) giving Ryan Lewis co-billing, (b) constantly trying new things with music videos and (c) now experimenting with a different kind of tour.

Instead of doing the smart thing in terms of economics, which is to tour giant cities playing in giant arenas to maximize profits, Macklemore’s latest tour is completely local, with gigs in tiny venues around his home state of Washington.

He’s coming to my little county, to Olympia, Spokane, all over.

And tickets are cheap ($21 or so) instead of the usual $100+ for a big name like Macklemore.

This is pure fan service, in the best way possible.

There aren’t many international music stars who’d chose to make less money by playing to small crowds in small towns.

Thank you, Macklemore—though the concerts in my backyard are sold out (they all sold out, statewide), I know my friends and neighbors are excited that you’re doing this.

Student makes insanely great 007-style musical opener for THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

007 intro to empire strikes back

Star Wars – Episode V “The Empire Strikes Back” Homage (Title Sequence) from KROFL on Vimeo.

This is a special kind of music video: a blockbuster title sequence song, made famous by the James Bond movies, though you see them with other big-budget monsters.

Except this one was created by college student Kurt Rauffer, who should immediately pack a suitcase, get on a metal tube filled with explosives and fly to Hollywood, where they’ll give him stacks of green paper to work this magic for IRON MAN 4: ROBERT DOWNEY, JR. CHEWS ALL THE SCENERY.

The music is a piece Radiohead recorded for a Bond movie (but wasn’t used), so yeah, it’s perfect.

More perfect: the tone and graphics are spot-on. Couldn’t improve upon this if we tried.

Well played, Kurt the Rauffer, if that’s your real name. Give is moar moar MOAR.

Jimmy with the Good Hair

lemon james

James Corden didn’t forget the funny here. He fully committed: great cinematography, great writing and pacing. The whole package.

That’s the secret to comedy: you have to close your eyes and step off the top of a ten-story building. A little hop off the curb doesn’t do it. Comedy works through extremes.

Stephen Colbert did something similar with his Stephenade bit.

Now, Colbert is a genius, among the best in the world at monologues and interviews. Love him. But this was mildly amusing compared to Corden’s masterpiece.

Why?

Colbert did a sort of SNL-skit version of the idea: let’s take a baseball bat and smash things in slow motion. It was a quick, one-trick thing, and just like a SNL skit, taking it longer wouldn’t work.

Corden went big. You can tell they put time and effort into it. You or I could’ve grabbed a bat and smashed things like Colbert.

Jimmy Fallon fully committed, too, with his frame-by-frame version of Too Much Time on My Hands by Styx.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

Here’s the original. I hit play on both and with only a little fiddling with pause & restart, they matched up exactly.

These two late-night comics prove that the music video isn’t dead–and that comedy doesn’t have to involve f-bombs and gross-out jokes.

SO WHAT’CHA WANT by the Beastie Boys is even better with muppets

The real question isn’t whether adding muppets improves this song. The question is why muppets make it insanely great.

Here’s my theory: contrast always works, and using muppets maximizes the contrast and irony.

This is why every other pop song by a diva has a guest rapper, the gruffer the better. And, shockingly, a lot of gruff rappers feature smooth singers to handle the chorus and even things out. It works both ways.

The muppet verions of classic rock songs never get old because you couldn’t find images that are less hard core and unthreatening. Nobody is afraid of muppets. Teletubbies, now, are trippy if not creepy.