Remember when MTV Played Music?

Happy New Year to all my readers who are on a Gregorian Calendar.  Why we celebrate the Earth completing a rotation around the sun seems a bit beneath my scope, but I digress.

Think back to the last time you saw a bona fide music video on MTV.  How old were you? Who was president? What age had you celebrated on your most recent birthday?  It would seem that a once groundbreaking, amazing TV channel has now become a mass-market hash-slinger that produces slop for the intellectually deficient.  One look at the fact that MTV aired THREE different versions of a reality show called “Teen Mom” should be proof enough of the plebeian dullards to whom MTV now caters.

Further evidence of MTV’s love of marketability at the expense of quality is the fact that it named Miley Cyrus one of its best artists of 2013.  I wouldn’t even put Miley Cyrus in my list of top thousand performers of all-time.  But, she’s the flavor of the month and MTV sells ads.  Do the math.  Oh, and I’m sure Miley Cyrus would be famous even without daddy’s help.

MTV used to be the place where new artists were clamoring to showcase their talent.  MTV was to musicians what “The Tonight Show” was to stand-up comics.  (YouTube has since dethroned both of those, however.) MTV is how I was introduced to artists like The Smashing Pumpkins, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Metallica, and incalculable others.  MTV had shows like “Yo! MTV Raps” “Total Request Live”, “MTV Jamz” and, my personal favorite “Unplugged.”  I’ll never forget an episode of “Unplugged” featuring Alice in Chains performing where you could tell Layne Staley was so high on Heroin that he could barely sit up and yet he still managed to belt out every song perfectly.  “Unplugged” allowed a look at legendary artists like Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and Pearl Jam playing acoustic versions of their work.  I would not have taken it for granted at the time had I known that the whole music scene was going to end up right in the dumper.

Also, don’t forget the VJs who would “host” each block of music videos and give you interesting tidbits about the videos.  I can remember learning about the artistic technique “trompe l’oiel” or “tricking the eye” from Ananda Lewis when she introduced the video for the Metallica song “The Memory Remains” which was new at the time.  Kurt Loder and Tabitha Soren presenting insider industry facts on MTV news were also staples of the channel.

MTV had experimental shows like “Beavis and Butthead” who really rewrote the rule book about what an “adult” cartoon should be and was interspersed with their commentary on various music videos of the time and a soupcon of pop culture skewering. MTV’s “Oddities”, “Daria” and “Aeon Flux” were also very intelligent, cerebral shows that catered to people who actually read books once in a while and turned to MTV as an alternative to the mainstream media.  Indeed, MTV has now become a shill and mascot for mainstream media which shows how far it has fallen.


Christmas 2013-Song Choice

Gotta go with the barking dogs singing “Jingle Bells.”

Happy Christmas.

Post-Mortem “The Sound of Music”

If you’ve been waiting for my reaction to the Carrie Underwood version of “The Sound of Music”  please forgive my tardiness.  I know this is late but, to paraphrase Cher, I can’t turn back time.  Now, to business.

I know that I will probably draw a lot of fire from the purists and blue hairs out their for saying this, but those people don’t/can’t read blogs anyway so I think I’m safe when I say that Carrie Underwood outdid Julie Andrews.  There. . .it’s out there, I said it.

I will capitulate that Carrie Underwood meeting with an acting coach couldn’t hurt but, inasmuch as she was acting in a production where the music should have been the star, she certainly ensured that was the case.  Her voice talent singing those classic songs was and is unparalleled.  With all due respect to Julie Andrews, she got served. Carrie Underwood’s performance reminded me of that scene in the movie “Drumline” wherein the rival band drummer starts to play on his opponent’s drums. End of story.

Perhaps I’m biased since I love Carrie Underwood so much.  Yeah, you’re right.  But the same is true of people who argue so vehemently about Julie Andrews being the greatest and that her performance was beyond reproach and then begin spewing vitriol at Carrie Underwood for reprising the role.  Those people get so angry because they feared that what happened was going to happen.  They were afraid Carrie Underwood would outperform Julie Andrews.

Indeed, I think that Carrie Underwood was even suppressing the power of her voice for the performance.  We know the power that her voice has and we have all heard it.  She could have easily blown those poor kids off the stage but that was not what it was about.  That is why she beat out Julie Andrews.  She beat out Julie Andrews because, in the original, Julie Andrews was singing her heart out while Carrie wasn’t going at full power and she still accomplished the same thing.  That’s talent, that’s greatness.

Finally, Carrie Underwood was doing it LIVE.  That’s right, she didn’t have the benefit of multiple takes.

The ensemble was also amazing.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the woman who played The Mother Abbess and her singing voice.  One could tell that she had Ella Fitzgerald range.  She has one hell of a set of lungs on her.

Suge Knight Stopped by Police

I’m sure we all know who Suge Knight is.  He’s the guy that brought us Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Death Row Records, you know, back when rap was GOOD.

Well, the fine folks at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) saw fit to harass Mr. Knight because he matched the description of a suspect in an assault.  In other words, the LAPD literally stopped Suge knight because he’s a Black man.

I find it ironic that Suge Knight made his bones through being a vehicle for gangsta rap and so much of gangsta rap started as a protest against the police and their systematic harassment of Blacks. NWA’s “Fuck tha Police” comes to mind as does Tupac saying “Fuck the Marin County Sheriff’s Department” in his song “Still Ballin’ “.

I am sick and tired of hearing that racism is over in America.  It’s not, and the fact that Suge Knight was pulled over is proof.  I hesitate to call Suge Knight “innocent” given his checkered past, but, in this case, his only crime was being the wrong color.  Suge Knight is considering suing the City of Los Angeles and I hope he chooses to do so on general principle alone.  At the very least, I hope he exercises his right to file a complaint against the officers who harassed him.

I’m not interested in hearing what a hard job being a cop is, or what horrible things they have to do and see, blah blah blah. Let me get the violin out.  Cops know what they are getting into.  In my opinion, anyone who is a police officer is either too stupid to get a real job, or a closet psychopath that gets off on carrying a gun around.  Further, I don’t want to hear about how they were “following standard police procedure” or whatever the police catchphrase is in times like this.  Didn’t the Nazis on trial at Nuremberg claim that they were “just following orders” also?

Moreover, as a White person, I’ll never know firsthand what Black people have to deal with on a daily basis.  I do know that several of my Black friends have gone through this, however.  I also have several Black in-laws on my wife’s side who have all mentioned dealing with this at one time or another.  I find it repugnant that, in 2013, my loved ones still have to put up with being pulled over based on no other factor than skin color.

So, to the members of “LA’s Finest” who pulled over Mr. Knight, congratulations on being so intellectually deficient that you couldn’t tell the difference between a suspect in an assault case and a well-known media mogul.  Next time, before applying your oppressive tactics,  you might want to look at some more qualifiers than simply skin color.

In Defense of Carrie Underwood

No one, NO ONE in this age of auto tune garbage and talking head, electronic mental defectives like Katy Perry, Kanye West,  Adam Levine has the right to criticize Carrie Underwood.  NO ONE.

That is why I was so shocked to read that Carrie Underwood is getting hate tweets from idiots on Twitter.  I would like to say thank you to those community college, likely obese, socially inept, probable owners of a noticeable and grotesque skin condition for showing that any village idiot can use Twitter.

We know Carrie Underwood is not Julie Andrews.  Thank you for pointing that out.  Carrie Underwood is not Julie Andrews-SHE’S BETTER.  The proof is that Julie Andrews’s role in the sound of music is a stretch for Carrie Underwood whereas Julie Andrews was typecast in it.  Moreover, was Julie Andrews prepared to do it live in front of 90 million viewers?  Didn’t think so.

When has Julie Andrews gone on tour and sold out EVERY TOUR DATE? Never.

Carrie’s voice range is right up there with Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.  Yeah, I said it. And I defy anyone to disprove me.  Can you say the same for Julie Andrews? Not with a straight face you can’t.

I don’t mean to turn this into a Julie Andrews hate fest.  I happen to like the woman.  However, I just do not think that people are thinking clearly and are letting their sentimentality cloud their judgment when they compare Carrie Underwood to Julie Andrews.

It’s a sad day in this country when someone with the best God-given talent I have heard come out of the music scene today gets criticized and, yet, no one seems to mind that Jennifer Lopez only sings about going into a club and dancing in every piece of electronic excrement she releases.

If you love an inch but compare it to a foot, the inch will come up short every time.  No matter how much you love the inch. It will never be a foot.  I let you figure out who the inch is and who the foot is in this equation.  If you can’t figure it out, you’re probably one of the mindless plebs who hate on Carrie Underwood.

On Norah Jones. . .Not Literally

One of my most loyal readers asked me to comment on Norah Jones.  I have to admit, if she hadn’t I never would have had occasion to hear her music.

I will be the first to admit that Jazz is not my scene.  Indeed, I think that the Jazz of Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald is long gone.  What not passes for Jazz is sort of a pretentious throwback to better times.

Listening to Norah Jones, she really was an echo of an era I thought was over.  Is she up to Ella Fitzgerald status?  No, but then again, few are.  What I like most about Norah Jones’s music is that it is her doing it.  I can sense her passion in all of her work and her essence comes through.  It is not a product to be sold, it is an expression of emotion which is what real Jazz started out as. Kenny G, one of my personal favorites, is like this as well, although he’s purely instrumental whereas Norah does it with the voice.

Sadly, I don’t think that Norah Jones will earn a spot on my iPod just because her music is just not my taste. It is nothing personal, I acknowledge that she has talent, but, her stuff is not for me.  I feel about her the way I feel about soccer.  I have seen it, I acknowledge that others may like it, I even accept that it has a place in the world-I just can’t get into it.

I will however endorse Norah Jones.  If you are a fan of mellow sounds, strong female vocals, and very slow easy listening music, then give Norah Jones a listen.  She’s too mellow for this guy, though.

Carrie vs. Katy or Talent vs. Marketability

I cannot stand Katy Perry.  I really can’t.  Her weird, artificial, cartoonish voice that sounds like some electronic Cher impression is off-putting and that “Hear Me Roar” song she does is the worst piece of shit I have ever heard.  Wait, no.  The worst piece of shit I have ever heard is Bob Dylan’s song, um, actually anything by Bob Dylan can be described in such a way.

Recalling the aforementioned Katy Perry song, it is popular because it catchy.  It gets stuck in people’s heads.  It has an easy tune and the lyrics are easily retained by even those with the most limited cognitive capabilities (which, I’m pretty sure covers most of Katy Perry’s hardcore fans) can retain.  Congratulations, Katy; your songs are popular in the same way commercial jingles are popular.   Not because they’re musically or artistically special-because they’re catchy.  You know, gonorrhea and the flu are catchy as well, but I’d prefer to avoid those things as well.

Enter Carrie Underwood.  One of the most flawless natural talents I have ever heard.  I hated American Idol but, for some reason, I tuned in to it during the Summer of 2004 out of sheer chance.  I am a huge believer in fate and destiny and, I do not think it is a coincidence that I was able to see Carrie Underwood on American Idol on an evening when I would normally have been working.  I was hooked then and have been ever since.

Therefore, I challenge anyone listen to that horrible Katy Perry song “Hear Me Roar” and then listen to Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl”.  I’m not even going to build it up.  Just listen as Carrie strains her voice to hit notes that Katy could only dream of hitting without electronic intervention.  The songs will speak for themselves and you will see what real talent is and that Carrie Underwood is something special whom people will be talking about in 50 years whereas Katy Perry will have long since faded into obscurity.

Next: Norah Jones!