Mixed Media

Christmas Carols Get 8-bit Makeover

| Fri Dec. 19, 2008 5:32 PM EST

mojo-8bitsofxmas.gifWhile most music genres race forward, absorbing new sonic technologies like a giant music-box Borg, the 8-bit phenomenon clings proudly to the past—specifically, the restrictive palette of classic computer and video game consoles. Even artists like Beck have seen the appeal of their buzzy, blippy tones; witness the 8-bit remix of "Hell Yes", renamed "Ghettochip Malfunction":

If you liked that, get ready for a very bleepy Christmas.

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Analysis Shows White Dudes Dominated Billboard Charts in 2008

| Thu Dec. 18, 2008 4:01 PM EST

mojo-photo-laweeklychart.jpgBoy, am I glad I didn't have to do the Excel work to come up with these charts. A dogged reporter named Randall Roberts at the LA Weekly has delved into the Billboard Top 10 album and singles charts for every week this year, tallied up demographic data about the artists, and made some dandy little diagrams with the results. It turns out that Americans really like white guys. Whites outnumbered blacks on the charts by 63 to 36 per cent (with Latinos grabbing the leftover 1%), while men outnumbered women on the charts by nearly a 5-to-2 ratio. High five, bros! As far as musical genre goes, R&B/hip-hop dominated the singles charts, while pop/rock commanded the album charts, so, combined, they're just about equal, with country way behind. Other odd statistical revelations include the fact that the South was the region that produced the most Top 10 hitmakers by far (attributable to an "unlikely Southern coalition" of country and R&B) and Rihanna singlehandedly helped her native Barbados to the Top 7 list of foreign countries represented on our charts. Okay, Barbados, you get a high-five too.

Top Ten Awesome Bush Shoe-Toss Animated GIFs

| Tue Dec. 16, 2008 4:39 PM EST

mojo-photo-bushshoe.jpgSometimes the internet might seem like a vast wasteland of empty-headed blogs (ahem!), pornography, and pop-up ads, but then something like this happens, and it renews one's faith in having this series of tubes hooked up to our idea trucks. Or whatever. Journalist Muntather al Zaidi not only expressed Iraqi frustrations at still-President Bush with his famous footwear lob, but also inspired legions of Photoshoppers to create their own chuckle-riffic versions of the event and provide them on their internets for all to see. My ten favorite, via Boing Boing, HuffPo, Wired, and Urlesque after the jump.

The Best Singles of 2008

| Tue Dec. 16, 2008 11:42 AM EST

mojo-photo-bestof2008singles.jpg

What a bonkers year for singles. The undisputed heavyweight champion song of the year, with the magical combo of hipster cred and unexpected popular appeal, is, inarguably, copyright 2007, so any replacement #1 will necessarily feel kind of anticlimactic. I suppose it's stretching it to include MGMT as well, but everybody else is, so I'm going to look the other way. It's a mess. To be honest, I finally settled on 20 great songs and then scrambled the order until it looked right. What emerged on top was at first a surprise, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense: it's a convention-smashing ode to staking a claim on your future, no matter what the haters say.

Johnny Marr Quashes Smiths Reunion Rumor

| Mon Dec. 15, 2008 4:07 PM EST

mojo-photo-oldsmiths.jpgOr, "William, It Was Really Nothing." Ahem. Reports emerged late last week that The Smiths were possibly maybe "on the verge" of a reunion, after lead singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr "settled their differences." The UK Telegraph was reporting that "industry sources believe that a comeback could be imminent." While just about every other band who ever broke up has already reunited, long-suffering Smiths fans likely didn't get their hopes up (mostly because Smiths fans don't really have any hopes to get up) and our abject cynicism and unfettered pessimism was proven right once again, as Marr has forcefully denied the rumors of a reunion to NME:

Marr issued a statement to NME.COM saying that rumours floating around that the band were reuniting were "untrue". He declared: "The stories circulating about a Smiths reunion are, as usual, untrue." Marr added he was committed to his current band The Cribs. "I'm currently very excited about writing and recording with The Cribs for a new album to be released next summer and we're playing shows in February, so going back in time isn't in my plans," he said.

Considering your musical promiscuousness post-Smiths, I'm sure The Cribs totally believe you.

The Best Albums of 2008

| Mon Dec. 15, 2008 11:08 AM EST

mojo-photo-bestof2008artists.jpg

The word of 2008 may be "hope," but the uniting theme of the year's best albums is more like "anxiety." This year, TV on the Radio and Portishead looked ahead with trepidation, while M83 and Hercules and Love Affair found solace in excavating the past, and Kanye, Beach House and Lil Wayne gazed inward at their own troubled souls. However, bubbling under is a celebratory, genre-hopping eclecticism from Santogold, The Very Best, Vampire Weekend and Flying Lotus, a nascent vision of a new world. Maybe there's hope after all?

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Some Writerly Advice

| Fri Dec. 12, 2008 7:37 PM EST

First I saw this silly article about women foregoing bikini waxes.

Then I read a WSJ article on laid-off execs growing beards.

Pubic hair. Beards.

I never wrote one word about the biggest story of my early journalism years: Monica Lewinsky. The controversy itself was so unworthy and the topic so beyond covered, I decided I'd hold off until and unless I had something worth saying about that topic. I never did, so I let that big story go without my 'expertise'. So here's my advice to writers trying to get in on Obama's win and the economy's losses: If you don't have something worthwhile to say, it's ok to say nothing. Really. A decent idea, or a story more in your line, will come along.

I will give the hair stories this though: Both the men and the women in these pieces feel like "real" men and women letting their hair go natural. What's up with that?

Torture Playlist: Trent Reznor Responds

| Fri Dec. 12, 2008 4:04 PM EST

mojo-photo-reznor2.jpgBack in February, we posted a "Torture Playlist" featuring songs that the American military had used to, um, "enhance" interrogations, including tracks by Eminem, Drowning Pool, Metallica, and Rage Against the Machine. As Jesse Finfrock covered here on Wednesday, musicians have joined forces with a human rights organization to put a stop to the use of music as torture. Now, Stereogum points out that another artist has joined the voices of protest: Trent Reznor, whose music as Nine Inch Nails was used to torture Chicago military contractor Donald Vance. Yesterday, Reznor posted an outraged message at his official website entitled "Regarding NIN music used at Guantanamo Bay for torture":

Tim McGraw Considering Run for Tennessee Governor?

| Fri Dec. 12, 2008 3:35 PM EST

mojo-photo-governormcgraw.jpgFrom The New Republic (via Vulture) comes this news that could restore the faith of Democrats appalled by the antics of a certain Illinois governor: Tim McGraw to the rescue!

Word in Nashville has it that Tim McGraw is seriously considering a run at the governor's mansion in 2010. He's been floating the idea for a few years now, but with the recent thrashing of lawyer Bob Tuke by Lamar Alexander in last month's senate race, Tennessee Dems have been casting about desperately for a high-profile Democrat not named Harold Ford to take on Bill Frist, who is almost certainly going to run.

While Vulture hopes that his run is "more successful than his attempt at 'funny SNL host,'" I'd say he just has to avoid, say, cussing out Toby Keith on a tapped line for not playing ball on his Country Music Awards pay-for-play scheme, and he'll be fine. The New Republic also reminds us that Governor McGraw means First Lady Faith Hill! Hey, how funny would it be to post one of their videos after the jump?

Q&A: Mercury Rev

| Fri Dec. 12, 2008 2:15 PM EST

mojo-photo-mercuryrev.jpgWhat do you do if you're making experimental films in Buffalo and you need a cool soundtrack? Well, you grab some friends and start making music, and eventually you become Mercury Rev, a band whose combination of psychedelic experimentation and melodic purity have made them longtime critical favorites. While the combo has had a famously rotating lineup, the current core group of singer Jonathan Donahue, guitarist Sean "Grasshopper" Mackowiak and drummer/keyboardist Jeff Mercel has been intact since 1998's Deserter's Songs. The band released two albums in September: Snowflake Midnight and a free-to-download bonus album of instrumentals called Strange Attractor. They're currently in the midst of a US tour, and I managed to catch Mercel on the phone before a sound check in Chicago.