Ok, laugh if you must, but I’m secretly kind of excited about this, especially based on the reviews of the first production — which totally made both Broadway Idol-types AND stodgy old theater critics alike blanch in horror. YES. Fingers crossed it doesn’t make the leap to B’way as, like, a sad Rent knockoff?
xoxo michaela, who actually wrote part of an article comparing Green Day to Puccini a few years ago, but never did anything with it.
I also discovered the best jukebox ever at The Good Night in Austin, TX. Even better than the one at that Mexican joint in Chicago, right by Logan Square Theater, the night I subjected my pals to the greatest hits of Vicente Fernandez for like, over an hour. Anyway, highlights on The Good Night juke included Marlene Deitrich and Edith Piaf and Nick Cave and more soul than you can shake a stick at — plus some Spoon and Herb Alpert. Between that and the St. Germaine champagne cocktails, I almost moved in permanently. It was nice to be back in Austin, albeit briefly, especially as I got a nice dose of local music gossip and love, which was nice, too.
So, what’s the word on the streets, what are you up to, listening to, thrilled to death about for 2010? And I mean that sincerely, and not in a hack blogger comment gank kind of way.
Oh, and I suppose I don’t need to tell you that you can see the tumbleweeds rolling by over at NuIdolator, huh? Well, that’s pretty much what’s going on over there. Except when there’s a Susan Boyle post, oddly.
ps — I miss Vic Chesnutt and Rowland S. Howard too much already.
“… Those first few times, I have to admit it: Vic scared me. I was too young and too vanilla to get the ocean-deep context and river-rapid outpouring of symbolism and poetry in his songs. So all Vic was to me back then was a guy in a battered physical state with a thick, backwoods Georgia drawl and a surly demeanour. He was damn intimidating. …”
“… Chesnutt, 45, who lived in Athens, was partially paralyzed from a car crash when he was 18 and used a wheelchair. … The New York Times, citing a family spokesman, said Chesnutt overdosed on muscle relaxants earlier this week. He was reported Thursday to be in a coma.
With a Canadian label, Chesnutt often worked with musicians from north of the border and told the Banner-Herald that Canadians are stunned by his health care issues.
‘They do feel for me, but it’s something that blows their minds; there’s nowhere else in the world that I’d be facing the situation I’m in right now. They can not understand what kind of society would inflict that on their population. It’s terrifying … I’ve been nearly suicidal over it.’ …”
“I’m not too eloquent talking about these things. I was making payments, but I can’t anymore and I really have no idea what I’m going to do. It seems absurd they can charge this much. When I think about all this, it gets me so furious. I could die tomorrow because of other operations I need that I can’t afford. I could die any day now, but I don’t want to pay them another nickel.”
What passed the U.S. Senate last week is a joke, a love letter to insurance companies that wouldn’t have helped Vic one bit. The compromise bill might be even worse, if possible. But that’s to be expected.
Folks, the argument is simple: America views health care as a privilege. Canada (and most of the developed world) view it as human right.
You can spin the debate any way you wish, talk about everything from death panels to opt-ins, but it boils down to which side of the profits-versus-people line you place health care. In the United States, our foolish belief that The Market cures all has killed thousands. Period. Kind of embarrassing my home country applies the same philosophy to selling iPods and curing sickness.
RIP, Vic. Someday, maybe we’ll get it right.
So sad and so true.
As an aside: Athens, GA has taken so many hits this year: Randy Bewley, the killings of the Town and Gown players, Jon Guthrie, Jerry Fuchs, the burning of the Georgia Theatre, the deaths of UGA music professors Fred Mills and Kenneth Fischer, the horrible dog maulings of the Schweders…and now Vic Chesnutt! 2010 can’t be worse, right? RIGHT?!
It’s so facile for music pundits and tech triumphalists to look at bands like Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, or even indier types like Metric (only $3k promotional budget!) or Amanda Palmer (she has a blog!) and to say IF YOU DO IT THIS WAY THEN YOU WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. It’s all about the internetz, y’all! During my years in the business, I knew plenty of bands who did everything the “right way”: good web presence, great music, lots of touring, communicated with their fans, hired PR, gave away free tracks, stayed “indie”…all the things you are supposed to do. And they still ended up nowhere. One size fits all proclamations for success and insinuations that artists sit around and don’t do anything (and, yes, of course, plenty of them don’t do anything…and some of those bands have “made it!”) are just not realistic or honest in a day and age when nobody’s buying what you’re selling (e.g. CDs, digital downloads, merch, whatever). Kudos to this fella for calling out Dave Allen (whose essay disappointed me greatly, but not enough for me to get rid of Entertainment!).
“Stacy Ferguson, known to pop-music fans as Fergie, is Saraghina, the village prostitute who provides the boy Guido with a glimpse of forbidden pleasures. Nice for him. The rest of us watch Ms. Ferguson stomp and gyrate through a number called “Be Italian,” which, like so much else in “Nine,” resembles a spread in a Victoria’s Secret catalog, only less tasteful.”—
Oh, dear. You know, when I saw that Rob “I Ruined Chicago" Marshall was directing the movie version of Nine, with a ton of stunt casting, I died a little on the inside. The early trailers did nothing to assuage my angst — it looked rotten to the core.
Apparently, my worries were not unfounded — most notably, Marshall has apparently preserved the sick-making practice first seen in Chicago of jump cuts and camera motion from odd angles during dance numbers, according to this review.
Sadly, not even the promise of Fergie fiercely vamping it up makes me want to see this.
Follow-up to last week’s reporting on this from EJ.
I still maintain that in my experience “Exploring an overhaul” = “We bought this competitor to shut it down, but we’re going to pretend that we bought it so that its technology capabilities will augment our existing product offerings.”
I worry for Lala, because I love it so, and if anyone out there connected with this deal is listening, having the option to stream an album once for free has pretty much eliminated my need to um, procure things in a way I shouldn’t. Please don’t take that away from me.
"Dance In The Dark"* from Lady Gaga’s The Fame Monster has two additions to the tragic women icons to the pop music pantheon: Sylvia Plath and JonBenet Ramsey. Congratulations, please come over and join Marilyn, Princess Di and Judy at the candle in the wind. What do they talk about for eternity?
Also, “Telephone” > “Video Phone.” (I’m not even certain the latter is even a song.)
* Not to be confused with Bjork in Dancer In The Dark or Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.”
This was brought to my attention (thanks, Shannon!), and there’s really only one thing I can say to all the feminist bloggers bashing Swift: this is not a marketing construct. She really is that wholesome. And the girls who love her, the disparaged teenage girls? Many, many, many of them are that wholesome, too. Taylor Swift (tm) is not an attack on feminism; she’s not enforcing the patriarchy. Taylor Swift, age 19, writes pop songs that appeal to teenage girls. Because she is a teenage girl. Sure, there are marketeers that are cashing in on her image — but don’t try and decide what her future should hold, or what her art should achieve — just because it doesn’t mesh with your view of the world.
Reynolds ponders the Pitchfork top albums of the decade and wonders What It All Means: namely, why is the top-10 made up of albums almost exclusively from the first half of the decade? He points to that same old bugaboo, the “increasingly fragmented audience internet blah blah blah” and turns it into a discussion about overproduction:
It’s tempting to compare noughties music to a garden choked with weeds. Except it’s more like a flower bed choked with too many flowers, because so much of the output was good. The problem wasn’t just quantity, it was quantity x quality. Then there was the past too, available like never before, competing for our attention and affection
that turns into a musing relevance and consensus in popular music across several decades.
Now, the one thing I’ve seen discussed elsewhere w/r/t to this story is a big, glaring blindspot: Reynolds completely ignores the fact that singles were a big deal in the second half of the decade — but how can you possibly expect a proponent of albums to come up with that novel thought when analyzing a list of top … albums?
That being said, Reynolds is true to form here — like any good critic, he almost has you convinced that what he’s saying is so right on (especially the last line, it’s something I’ve been screaming for about three years or so)— until the nagging questions start bubbling up, that is.
Relevant reblog — did you see that article in the Times about the vinyl explosion (yeah, they’re finally getting to that one)? Guess what brand turntables are about the easiest to come across for your average wannabe audiophile shopping at hipster retail (Target, Urban Outfitters, Fred Flare, Insound, et. al.)? Crosley, naturally. Powel Crosley’s legacy lives on. They should bring back the little dog mascot. Adorable!
Actually, all I really wanted to say about him was what he achieved. Here’s the list:
Pioneered the idea of the “money back guarantee.”
Helped make radios affordable for the mass market.
Invented the second car radio and the first push-button radio.
Owned most powerful radio transmitter ever and a radio station to go along with it, WLW.
Created some of the earliest soap operas.
Founded a TV station, WLWT-TV.
Invented the Icyball, a non-electrical refrigerator.
Introduced the idea of shelves on the door of refrigerators with the Shelvador (as I was typing that, Shelvador Dali popped into my head).
Bought the Cincinnati Reds.
Renamed the stadium Crosley Stadium.
Held the first night baseball games, lit with electric lights.
Owned and built airplanes but never had a pilot’s license.
Was a renowned fisherman.
Owned several yachts with powerful engines.
Owned an island in Canada called Nikassi and another off South Carolina called Bull Island.
Owned houses in the Caribbean and Havana and a retreat in Indiana that is now called the Crosley Fish and Wildlife Area.
Crosley Motors, Inc. invented a small, affordable automobile.
Crosley Corporation manufactured the proximity fuze, which, after the atomic bomb and radar, was the most important product development during WWII.
Introduced the first car to have disc brakes.
Invented the first fax machine.
Was responsible for the first radio broadcast from an airplane.
Invented X-ervac, a device that supposedly stimulated blood flow in the scalp through massage and thus countered baldness.
Are you as surprised as I am that you hadn’t heard of him before? The only thing more surprising than all of Crosley’s achievements is the fact that I can’t find the pamphlet I was going to use to blog with. That dog in the picture up there is named Bonzo and he was Crosley’s answer to the RCA dog. There’s even a paper maiche Bonzo at the Smithsonian. He was so cute that his likeness was put on ashtrays, pincushions and candy, to name a few.
In our monopolistic world of online music, it seems bound to happen every time: just as another consumer-friendly strategy begins to take root, that strategy gets swallowed into oblivion through an acquisition. Such may be the confounding case of the little-known (except in circles such as ours, mind you) music retailer Lala, a company whose strategies and efforts I’ve long been a fan of personally. Apple, the New York Times reported on Friday, has agreed to purchase online music retailer Lala in what some analysts will see as a game-changing strategy on the part of Apple.
Lala was a company that originally started as a used CD swapping and resale opportunity, remaining somewhat under the consumer radar the past few years while consistently garnering dramatic attention from technology and music industry insiders. Though under-appreciated, Lala changed its focus and technology to produce a new identity for themselves.
But in 2007, the company engineered synergistic breakthroughs in personal digital music library storage and delivery, managing to create and implement a business model which could give previously unforeseen freedom to consumers amidst a climate of fear in the music industry.
Driven by their energetic and enthusiastic CEO, Bill Nguyen, Lala’s model for success couldn’t have been more simple or fair: charge people less money for DRM-free, high-quality MP3’s while allowing them to, at the same time, store and stream their complete digital music collections from any web-enabled device, smartphone or PC — digital music without borders.
As Lala’s technology strengthened and their business model began to take shape, they opened the technology even further, launching services at the end of 2008 allowing consumers to create streaming playlists like the one above (either from consumer’s individual collections or from Lala’s extensive library of music) which could be embedded on websites and social networks. Recent deals with Facebook and Google to deliver content easily to consumers instantly opened up new avenues of revenue which would, at a base level, drive up the company’s potential value in the marketplace.
So, why the sale? The feel-good marketing strategies and open border policies of Lala haven’t really had time to demonstrate their projected growth and scalability because, unlike Apple, nobody except those in-the-know have been aware of Lala or the technology behind their brand. When a name like Apple jumps into the mix, people quickly take notice because, after all, it’s a brand people have grown to trust.
But on the other side of things, there are Lala’s extensive music licensing agreements with both major and independent music labels which would likely dissolve as a result of this deal — licensing agreements which are non-transferrable in the sale of the company.
There’s also a school of thought that Apple is buying much more than the brand of Lala — they’re buying the technology that Lala’s developers built in order to extend their reach into the next generation of PC and smartphone streaming technology.
The fear I have for consumers is the death of that incredibly-alluring deal that you might have been lucky enough to discover from time to time when you clicked on one of those friendly-little Lala players you’ve started to see: “Add this song to your collection for 6 cents”. It’s too early to tell what Apple or Lala have in mind yet because, clearly, nobody’s talking yet and there’s no crystal ball that would have even predicted this acquisition on the part of Apple.
Perhaps, in the end, the message Apple will see itself delivering to consumers is that the cost of doing business outweighs the best intentions of the little guy. If that is case, and I hope it isn’t, we’ll have to wait a little longer for a company to come along and rewrite history. For now, I hope we can all discover the long-term upside for music consumers in this very important acquisition for Apple.
Lady Gaga vs. Klaus Nomi in a cage match — who’d win? Best response so far has been from commenter lemur68:
She would deploy her Titty Sparklers to try and melt his plastic body, but he would use German Power to deflect it back on to her and then she would catch on fire and also melt. The end.
Though, because this is a forum almost completely full of straight men, it never occurs that Nomi and the Gags probably just compare notes, say some catty shit to each other, and then go eat some of Klaus’ pastries.
“A Nov. 26 article in the District edition of Local Living incorrectly said a Public Enemy song declared 9/11 a joke. The song refers to 911, the emergency phone number.”—Got this classic correction via Kyle Ryan. Way to go, WaPo!
Usually I don’t give a crap about press releases, but when you get one stating that Peaches will be made an honorary member of the Harvard Lampoon, well. I mean, you can’t just ignore that one, can you?
The members of the Lampoon staff are huge admirers of her career, and will celebrate with her on December 7th at their Annual Canadian Synthpunk/Glam Rock Awards Dinner. The event will kick off with a public karaoke party on the steps of the Castle followed with a private induction ceremony inside the Castle to follow.
xoxo, michaela, who saw the kind of mindboggling sight of John Hodgman and Franklin Bruno chatting at the Mountain Goats show last night and was pretty sure that somewhere an angel was getting its wings, or something like that.
IOW, the latest piece in Slate from Jody Rosen, one of those music journalists who does the profession very proud. I’ll admit a bit of personal bias since he and I have had chances to briefly chat over the years, most often at the EMP Pop Conference each April, and he’s never been less than friendly and thoughtful. His quality as a writer, however, is beyond any sort of bias, it’s simply so solid — after all, as he memorably detailed here, it’s so good a fair chunk of it was ripped off lock, stock and barrel by one rather enterprising publication that apparently had trouble with certain concepts regarding originality.
Anyway, the piece on Tanguay he posted yesterday was originally presented at this year’s EMP, and as with all the presentations I’ve seen him do there over time, he exhibits a perfect balance of qualities as historical researcher, contextual and cultural informer and entertaining writer, presenting the thrill of the current pop he loves equally in a context that frees the thrill of a hundred years ago from being trapped in sepiatone — and never without acknowledging and elaborating on those differences in societal standards and expectations from then to now either. A brief snippet of the piece:
To call Tanguay a “rock star” is anachronistic but appropriate. She was not just the pre-eminent song-and-dance woman of the vaudeville era. (One of her many nicknames was “The Girl Who Made Vaudeville Famous.”) She was the first American popular musician to achieve mass-media celebrity, with a cadre of publicists trumpeting her on- and offstage successes and outrages, and an oeuvre best summed up by the slogan that appeared frequently on theatrical marquees: “Eva Tanguay, performing songs about herself.” She was the first singer to mount nationwide solo headlining tours, drawing record-breaking crowds and shattering box-office tallies from Broadway to Butte. Newspaper accounts describe scenes of fan frenzy that foreshadowed Frank Sinatra at the Paramount Theatre and Beatlemania. At the height of her stardom, Tanguay commanded an unheard of salary, $3,500 per week, out-earning the likes of Al Jolson, Harry Houdini, and Enrico Caruso.
There’s a wonderful postscript to the whole thing that appeared today in which he learned about a connection between Tanguay and Britney Spears via the former’s one actual recorded song and signature piece, “I Don’t Care.” It’s almost a gift out of the skies for his preexisting argument — but more importantly, it’s just a reminder of how pop continues and changes simultaneously.
Oh, and while I’m thinking about it — if you write (or otherwise opine) about music, and you get to hear an advance track before the rest of us, the article linked above is a perfect example of the proper way to go about being an overexcited, blathering fanboy/girl about it. Thank you. [ETA: I’d also like to mention, for perhaps no one in the audience but myself, that Peter’s writing is rather a toned-down version of the Macho City newsletters. Or is it vice versa?]
Ok, I know I pick on NPR Music a lot — probably more than I should, really. But I nearly threw something at the wall listening to this segment about the new Spoon track, “Written in Reverse”. Since when did reporters for trusted media outlets become as intolerably inarticulate as dormroom-mouthbreather-albumleak bloggers? Oh wait, don’t answer that.
I’ve had a chance to meet Tim Quirk of Too Much Joy a couple of times via the EMP Pop Conference, where he’s consistently been one of the sharper presenters thanks to his grasp of how the industry has changed over time from his perspective as both a bandmember and as a high level worker at Rhapsody. Also, he’s incredibly funny. Thus no surprise that this discussion of digital music royalties — with an astounding opening graphic that says it all — is both instructive and blackly entertaining. A quote:
The business affairs guy (who I am calling “the business affairs guy” rather than naming because he did me a favor by finally getting the digital royalties added to my statement, and I am grateful for that and don’t want this to sound like I’m attacking him personally, even though it’s about to seem like I am) said that it was complicated connecting Warner’s digital royalty payments to their existing accounting mechanisms, and that since my band was unrecouped they had “to take care of R.E.M. and the Red Hot Chili Peppers first.”
That kind of pissed me off. On the one hand, yeah, my band’s unrecouped and is unlikely ever to reach the point where Warner actually has to cut us a royalty check. On the other hand, though, they are contractually obligated to report what revenue they receive in our name, and, having helped build a database that tracks how much Rhapsody owes whom for what music gets played, I’m well aware of what is and isn’t complicated about doing so. It’s not something you have to build over and over again for each artist. It’s something you build once. It takes a while, and it can be expensive, and sometimes you make honest mistakes, but it’s not rocket science. Hell, it’s not even algebra! It’s just simple math.
After yesterday’s entry, as noted below, HRO completes the one-two punch. And sure this is increasingly inside baseball, but given that Maura was never shy of her love of baseball on old Idolator, it seems appropriate.
This almost isn’t really news — Pete Doherty mucks things up? Really?!? — but it’s pretty amusing (entertaining? telling?) to read the Spiegel story in juxtaposition with the one from NME.
It totally makes me want to use the cheap blogger comment ploy: What do you think? Was Doherty trying to make a political statement, or did he really have no clue what he was doing? Or, as ever, was he just being an unpredictable, nonsensical loose cannon whose activities defy speculation and interpretation?
Is this even a real thing? Do its practitioners even now that they are practitioners of Chillwave? What in the heck is the Chillwave Sound? Does one simply need to dual-wield a bong and Garageband to chill their waves?
Does the world need another Horrorcore, Bloghouse, or Ghettotech on its hands? Haven’t we already watched house/dance/acid house/trance/post-house/prog-house/prog-dance/omg music dissect itself into oblivion for the past couple of decades?
We seem to be on the edge of a paradigm shift. Orchestras are struggling to stay alive, rock has been relegated to the underground, jazz has stopped evolving and become a dead art, the music industry itself has been subsumed by corporate culture and composers are at their wit’s end trying to find something that’s hip but still appeals to an audience mired in a 19th-century sensibility.
For more than half a century we’ve seen incredible advances in sound technology but very little if any advance in the quality of music. In this case the paradigm shift may not be a shift but a dead stop. Is it that people just don’t want to hear anything new? Or is it that composers and musicians have simply swallowed the pomo line that nothing else new can be done, which ironically is really just the “old, old story.”
Certainly music itself is not dead. We’ll continue to hear something approximating it blaring in shopping malls, fast food stops, clothing stores and wherever else it will mesmerize the consumer into excitedly pulling out their credit card or debit card or whatever might be coming.
There’s no question that in music, like politics, the bigger the audience gets the more the “message” has to be watered down. Muzak’s been around for a long time now but maybe people just can’t tell the difference anymore. Maybe even the composers and songwriters can’t tell the difference either. Especially when it’s paying for a beach house in Malibu and a condo in New York.
Of course, we could all just listen to all of our old albums, CD’s and mp3’s. In fact, nowadays that’s where the industry makes most of its money. We could also just watch old movies and old TV shows. There are a lot of them now. Why bother making any new ones? Why bother doing anything new at all? Why bother having any change or progress at all as long as we’ve got “growth”? I’m just wondering if this is in fact the new paradigm. I’m just wondering if in fact the new music is just the old music again. And, if that in fact it would actually just be the end of music.
Did any of you see Kill Your Idols? I appreciate Branca’s contributions to music as much as anyone, but the guy has a wildly inflated sense of self-importance. This is not him mourning the death of music, as it were, but mourning the death of his own stature as an innovator. Wah.
This has been bugging me for a few days: Can anyone explain why the words “Russian roulette is not the same without a gun” are bleeped out whenever Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” video airs on MTV (MTV Hits, that is) — but the network seemingly has no problem airing the video for Rihanna’s “Russian Roulette” unaltered? Am I missing something?
Dewey eats Truman! SOTC is happy to announce that starting Monday, November 30, we’ll be running the remaining 30 entries in F2K: The 50 Worst Songs of the ’00s, a profoundly hostile symposium/firing squad presented by former Idolator overlord Maura Johnston and noted chicken-wing enthusiast Christopher R. Weingarten. (Follow Chris on Twitter at @1000timesyes, now in the homestretch of his 1,000 Records Reviewed in 2009 fugue.) Begun last month but rudely interrupted 20 terrible tunes in by Idolator's rather unfortunate regime change, F2K rides again: If only to insure that Say Anything is not further impugned, we have commissioned Chris’ and Maura’s services. They will commence counting down (up?) from #30 to #1 starting Monday, one post a day, with, like, “Bonus Fridays” and whatnot to wrap this sucker up before Christmas.
“An ABC spokesman said the Walt Disney network “did receive a number of complaints” about the show, but did not elaborate. ABC said it received approximately 1,500 complaints. One person familiar with the situation said ABC gets more complaints from viewers over broadcasts of “Dancing with the Stars.”—
This is such a non-story, the Ad Age blogger can’t even muster the energy to really look into why the show’s ratings were up 2 million from last year — its largest audience since 2002. Clearly, everyone wanted to see what Lady Gaga and Rihanna were going to wear, right?
Let the recommendations, complaints and debates begin … NOW. (BTW, this is obviously the get-your-visa-now list for the smaller foreign acts — though, please note the lack of blog hype acts — at least as far as I can see.) Also, is that a Sixteen Deluxe reunion I spy? IT IS.