Mixed Media

Is Music Really So Bad? Another Music Snob's Dissent

| Fri Jan. 18, 2008 6:52 PM EST

Daughtry is America

Yesterday, my Riff cohort Gary posted a diatribe against Americans' terrible taste in music. The commoners like their trash, for sure, and it's not restricted to music by any means: "Everybody Loves Raymond" lasted nine seasons, and I believe George W. Bush actually got a majority of the popular vote in 2004. It's tempting to curl up into the fetal position and whimper, "why, why, why," and it happens to the best of us: Idolator recently mocked a College Times writer for, ahem, "waking up to discover people have lousy taste," and he covered some of the same territory:

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Friends: Who Needs 'Em?

| Fri Jan. 18, 2008 5:03 PM EST

volleyball100.jpgNo friends? No problem! Researchers at the University of Chicago say you can make them yourself out of everyday household objects.

For evidence, they say, look no further than a crappy Tom Hanks movie:

"In the movie Castaway, Tom Hanks was isolated on an island and found the social desolation to be one of the most daunting challenges with which he had to deal," said Cacioppo, the Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in Psychology at the University of Chicago.
"He did so, in part, by anthropomorphizing a volleyball, Wilson, who became his friend and confidant while he was on the island." Although fictional, "Castaway depicts a deep truth about the irrepressibly social nature of Homo sapiens," Cacioppo said.


Presidential Campaigns Using Lots of Inappropriate Songs

| Fri Jan. 18, 2008 5:02 PM EST

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I posted on the night of the New Hampshire primaries that the Romney campaign headquarters hosted a performance of Stone Temple Pilots' "Crush," a song that features both some ironically appropriate lyrics and some uncomfortably weird ones. Turns out that using inappropriate songs is a bit of an epidemic in the presidential campaigns, reports the Washington Post. First, they point out two of Hillary Clinton's choices for tunes at campaign rallies: Tom Petty's "American Girl" and Bachman Turner Overdrive's "Takin' Care of Business," both of which have some uncomfortable lyrical ironies:

Friday Sighs, "Music News Day"

| Fri Jan. 18, 2008 4:45 PM EST

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  • Did someone say "unicorn"? Neko Case, T-Pain and MF Doom will provide the voices for characters in an upcoming Adult Swim cartoon called, er, "Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town Candy Fudge." Good title, but somehow I know it won't be nearly as good as the first season of Aqua Teen.
  • Speaking of adults, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore has provided the music (link possibly NSFW) for an adult film called "Extra Action (and Extra Hardcore)," out on DVD March 18th. Wocka waa, wocka wah waaaa? The video is being directed by Richard Kern who has also made some Sonic Youth videos, so that helps explain that, I guess.
  • Both Beyonce and Foo Fighters have promised to attend the Grammys, no matter whether it's a full-on ceremony with union writers penning the jokes or a guy tossing the awards out of the back of a truck. The Foos' manager, John Silva, extended support to striking writers but confirmed the band's commitment to the Grammy ceremony.
  • Some sad news: Lily Allen, who announced her pregnancy last month, has had a miscarriage. A representative for the singer asked for privacy for Allen and her partner, Chemical Brother Ed Simons. Messages of support are being posted at Allen's MySpace page.

Music Sales Confirm I'm a Music Snob

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 5:02 PM EST

josh-grobin-250x200.jpgNielson SoundScan's 2007 report on nationwide music sales forces me to ponder once again the following question: Do I have crappy taste in music, or does the rest of the country?

The most popular artists in this year's report make music that A) Hurts me to listen to, or B) I would prefer listening to crying babies for hours on end than have to endure. Here are some examples:

Dirty Karaoke in China

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 2:59 PM EST

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China plans to clean up its act.

No, not that act, silly. I'm talking about China's pre-Olympics plan to crack down on its karaoke parlors, which are apparently seething with sin:

While entertainment enterprises boost consumer spending and provide jobs and tax revenue, "some are unlicensed and in some, illegal activities such as sex, gambling and drugs are taking place," the Ministry of Culture said in an apparent reference to the many massage parlors that double as brothels.

Drugs? Sex? And to think that at karaoke parlors here in the States we're all jazzed about our friends' hilarious drunk rendition of "Wonderwall."

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Coachella Countdown: Three Months, Ten Days

| Thu Jan. 17, 2008 2:41 PM EST

mojo-photo-coachellakiss.jpgWhat am I going to wear?! The LA Times' Buzz Bands blog (say that three times fast) has a quick update on this year's lineup for the big festival, and insists that it will not include a reunited My Bloody Valentine. But, but, but, the fake flyer said they would be there!! The post does contain the most serious-looking list yet of bands "expected" to appear at the festival, some of which have confirmed on their own websites or tour info sites, and some of which would probably be hanging around anyway so why not put them on the bill. There's also the matter of the post's odd title: "Coachella roster slowly takes shape (and getting misshapen)"; is that a hint of a Pulp reunion? Anyone?

The official announcement is expected as early as this Friday (meep! meeep!) but click the good old "continues inside" button for the Times' "expected" list, rearranged by me in order of headliner-y-ness:

New (-ish) Music: Studio - Yearbook 1

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 7:12 PM EST

mojo-photo-studioyearbook.jpgA lot of music requires the listener to be patient, give it time, let it sink in, listen to the whole album beginning to end before judging. On Swedish duo Studio's Yearbook 1, it's possible to pinpoint the actual moment you have to wait for: exactly 1 minute and 39 seconds into track 1, "No Comply," the awkward piano chords and strained vocals give way to a chiming guitar arpeggio, and the effect is like rounding a bend to see a vertigo-inducing vista. That sense of unexpected majesty never goes away on this collection of the band's vinyl releases.

Banksy Wall Gets $400,000 Bid, Remains Terrible

| Wed Jan. 16, 2008 3:40 PM EST

Banksy in LondonIn the latest twist in the career of British "art prankster" Banksy, a wall on which he painted another one of his one-note eye-rollers has brought £208,100 at auction, or around $400,000. The wall, on the side of a building on Portobello Road in London, will have to be removed to be enjoyed at home by the buyer, and the cost of removal is not included in the price. The artwork depicts a stereotypical artist, with bow-tie and paint palette, putting the finishing touches with a brush on a sloppy "Banksy" tag that has clearly been spray-painted. Har, har: it sure pokes fun at all those people who take art seriously!

Tuesday's Snoozy Music News Day

| Tue Jan. 15, 2008 3:36 PM EST

News Jan 15

  • Surprising no-one, record label EMI announced that it would cut up to 2,000 jobs in an attempt to cut costs. Trouble with EMI's roster of artists continues to foment: Coldplay and Robbie Williams may leave the label, and The Verve may be "withholding" their next album "until they receive assurances about marketing and the company's financial health." Well how about Richard Ashcroft give us assurances he's going to eat something?
  • Bjork Attacks, Part Deux: Apparently the Icelandic singer had just arrived at Auckland International Airport in New Zealand, and went after a photographer when he ignored her request to stop taking pictures. As the photographer put it, "she grabbed the back of my black skivvy and tore it down the back. As she did this, she fell over." The best part of this story is "skivvy": most stories are saying "T-shirt" but the New York Times insists "sweatshirt." I say: female domestic servant.
  • Ever wonder how 50 Cent and Timbaland got so buff? No? Me neither, but now they've actually been named as part of an Albany, New York-based steroid investigation. The report indicates the musicians, along with Wyclef Jean and Mary J. Blige, received performance-enhancing drugs from a pharmacy in Orlando. Well, jeez: those microphones are heavy.
  • Barack Obama gets two, ahem, "important" endorsements from the world of rock music: Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, who says he's been an Obama supporter "from day one," and Win Butler of the Arcade Fire who says Obama is "the first candidate in my lifetime to strip some of this bullshit away." Wait, aren't you from Canada?