Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Music”

More guilty pleasures

Sometime during 1994 I bought one of my favourite albums of all time: Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins. Even today (boom-tish) that album sits proudly in my music collection and doesn’t sound dated. I can’t say the same for many other albums I own from the same time period. Superunknown from Soundgarden stands as a classic album, but I find it hard to listen to without having had the death of a pet weighing on my mind. I can only listen to Metallica’s Load if I promise myself I’ll put on one of their better albums straight after. Essentially, for me, the Pumpkins hit on music gold with that album.

I’ve commented before how I’ve essentially stopped being a fan of the Pumpkins, finding their offerings since Adore (which promised so much with the first single, and delivered so little with the remainder of the album) to be more filler than awesome. What I liked about the Pumpkins was not what the Pumpkins have been delivering since.

The 5 Worst Kinds of Album Every Music Fan Has Bought: Cracked.com

Your experiences may vary.

Which brings me to a discussion I was having recently on the Pumpkins album Zeitgeist. Despite buying the album, I’ve never bothered adding it to my digital library, because it only has one or two songs on it that hint at what I liked about the Smashing Pumpkins of old. A lot of fans and reviewers agree with me, with Corgan taking a potshot at fans for not even listening to the album (class act), further claiming the fans only wanted to hear the old music (probably). Anyway, the discussion had started because a couple of people were insisting the reason people didn’t like Zeitgeist was because it was too political or had political overtones.

Um, no.

While I’m not trying to imply that no-one was turned off of Zeitgeist due to the political overtones, it is clearly a long bow to draw to suggest that it was a factor, let alone a big factor, in listeners/fans disliking the album. So why would someone make this claim?

Well, simply, this is another example of people trying to justify their taste. Another guilty pleasure moment. I seem to be raising this point a lot (here on literature, here on genre vs literature, here on good vs popular, and here on guilty pleasures). It is perfectly okay for you to like what you like, there is absolutely no need to try and explain away someone else’s dislike for something you enjoy. Does it really matter if you like something everyone else hates? No. So why bother trying to put it down to political ideology or how terrorists did something…. 9/11….

Worthiness, guilty pleasures, justification: all of these things are actually stopping us from just enjoying stuff. I know I’m guilty of it, but I’m trying to get over myself. The great thing about the internet is that it is full of support groups for people who like stuff. So you don’t have to agree with everyone else on what music, books, movies, art, etc, you like. You can find your niche and create memes, gifs and video clips to bombard all your other friends with on Facebook.

My art is better

Things you can only do whilst drunk

This week everyone was so pleased to have another chance to stick the boot into Britney Spears after the release of a recording of her singing rather terribly, allowing us to compare it to the auto-tuned album version. Britney is one of the celebrities people love to hate (South Park parodied this beautifully), and this “proof” that she is undeserving of her success is just the ammunition needed.

Now I’m not exactly the sort of person that would normally try to defend a pop star, because that would require me to listen to some of said pop star’s music, which would count as self-induced torture. But some of the comments that have been made are so intellectually lazy that I’ve felt the need to say something.

The common theme of the comments is that Britney lacks any actual singing talent, that she got where she is by being pretty or that she was manufactured as a pop star, and is undeserving of her success. Which is all utter crap. Spears has been in the entertainment industry since she was referred to a New York talent agent at age 8. Then she got her break after beating out hundreds of other hopefuls to become a Mouseketeer (along with Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling). Spears’ move into the recording industry again required impressing people with her talent, and was noted for her vocal styling and ability.

The producer who recorded Britney’s crappy singing has already addressed the singing and auto-tune issue. I’m not a fan of auto-tune, but I understand its use. While the warming up suggestion could be true, I’d bet money that Spears hasn’t worked on her singing in a decade, thus between not being a teenager anymore, not singing regularly (dancing and singing is not something you can do easily night after night, so miming makes sense), and having had kids, her voice is probably nothing like it was. So it is perfectly understandable that Spears sounded terrible and needs auto-tuning, but that doesn’t mean she has never been able to sing, and as I’ve already pointed out that is a ridiculous claim/insult (see this analysis of her vocals for more).

Essentially, you don’t rise to the top of the heap without some modicum of talent, because there are lots of other hopefuls wanting that same shot at stardom. As for whether Spears’ resulting success is deserved is really subjective, depending upon how much you actually like the music she sings, and how you feel about the “hit factory” style of music creation.

This really shows just how lazy people are with their attacks on successful people. It is very satisfying to pretend that someone’s success is undeserved, that they were just lucky, or pretty, or shagged the right people, or whatever other excuse. Nothing makes you feel more superior than knowing you could have been just as successful, if only you’d been willing to shag that agent, or if you had bigger boobs. Meanwhile those we deem to be deserving artists, suffer in obscurity. But success takes more than being pretty, or lucky; it takes talent, perseverance, motivation, hard work, perseverance, and lots of hard work. For every successful artist (or any other field for that matter) there are hundreds of wannabes that fell at the first, second, third, fourth, or twentieth hurdle. Maybe they didn’t want to put in the vocal practice, maybe they didn’t make the right connections because they pissed people off, maybe they swapped the dream for a day job, maybe they never took their shot (watch Henry Rollins discuss taking his shot), or maybe the artist is too niche for whatever reason.

We all have that favourite band, singer, author, actor, painter, etc, that we feel is under-appreciated in their field. It is easy to wish that they had the success of the artists we see as unworthy. I doubt I have an artist in my music collection that has been as successful as Britney Spears, and I’d argue that most of them have more talent and write better songs. But the very reason I don’t enjoy Spears’ music is also the reason I love the music I do, which means that my favourite artists aren’t going to be as popular.

Which brings me to the argument I’ve raised before about worthiness (here on literature, here on genre vs literature, and here on good vs popular). It is perfectly okay for you to like what you like, there is no “guilty pleasure”. We should also stop pretending that our subjective taste is better than someone else’s. And as this latest furore about Britney shows, we should stop pretending that successful artists got where they are without talent, or hard work, or that their work is somehow inferior to something we prefer.

curious-male-fifty-shades-meme-good-writing

Music that lasts

I was recently having a discussion about Zeitgeist. No, not the concept of a spirit of the age or spirit of the time, I mean the 2007 album from the (not) Smashing Pumpkins. I’ve been a massive fan of the Smashing Pumpkins’ music since about 1994 (wow, 20 years!) but have to say that Zeitgeist was the last of their albums I bought and I don’t listen to it, Ava Adore (1998), nor Machina (2000). Essentially, I’m no longer a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins, I’m a fan of their early work only.

What amazes me is you can listen to Gish (1991), Siamese Dream (1993), Mellon Collie (1995), even their b-sides album Pieces Iscariot (1994), and they still hold up really well. With the exception of the song Untitled (from their retrospective Rotten Apples, 2001) and maybe Tarantula (from Zeitgeist), the Smashing Pumpkins haven’t released a song or album that compares to any of the material on those early albums. With the more recent material the songs sound unfinished. When old b-sides sound better than your new a-sides, you really have to question what you’re doing.

But this isn’t just about the Smashing Pumpkins, name a Rolling Stones song released in the last 30 years (i.e. everything post Dirty Work from 1983). Can’t, can you!? They’ve released 5 studio albums and countless – well you can count them, but who cares to – live and collection albums in that time. Fans everywhere dread this announcement at a Rolling Stones concert, “And here’s a song from our new album.”

There are a few factors at play here: the idea of talent and inspiration meeting, the idea that even great artists can’t continue at that elite level indefinitely, and the idea that some art is transitory whilst some is timeless. I’ll leave the first two points for another day, the latter point gives me an opportunity to insult pop music.

Some art, music, TV, movies, books, etc, rise through the charts, become hugely popular, and dominate the media. Then a few years later everyone is embarrassed to talk about those artists and art, digging a deep pit of denial to throw those pieces of crap where they will never be found again. I’ve discussed this before in my article on Good versus Popular, suggesting that popular music/art/things aren’t necessarily good and that time and perspective sort the wheat out from the chaff. Some of the music we enjoy is just because it is played everywhere we go. Some music just filled a hole in the age bracket or life journey, such as Limp Bizkit for all the angry teens, or Placebo with their dark depressing (teen) angst music. A decade on and you’d battle to find anyone who would admit to having bought a Limp Bizkit album, and when I recently relistened to those albums I wondered how I ever listened to that junk.

So what music (or art) lasts? Is it immediately obvious? What lasts isn’t easy to define, because I would never have picked Yellow Submarine to last in the same way that Get Back has. A kid’s song versus a satire of attitudes to immigration in the UK. Would we even listen to Yellow Submarine now if it hadn’t been a Beatles song or bland and inoffensive enough be played to us as kids in primary school? I digress. I think the answer to what will last is often, but not always, immediately obvious. And what lasts is rarely categorised by the prefix* pop.

Take for example everyone’s current objects of pop music derision: Justin Bieber (or Miley Cyrus, whichever you prefer to hate more). Bieber’s music is popular, he’s famous as a result, and I don’t think anyone would argue that his music will be forgotten in 5 years time and laughed at in 10, much like The Spice Girls. Remember them? Me neither. We** already know his music won’t last. And how about an example of something that will stand the test of time…. Wow, this is the part where I admit I’m a metal fan and haven’t listened to ‘commercial’ music in over a decade. I’d say Daft Punk’s most recent work will last, but they have been around for over a decade now, so hard to call them a new artist.

But I will give you another prediction, Pearl Jam will be my generation’s Rolling Stones. They will be still touring long after anyone has realised they still record new albums. And people will go to see them live because of those first few albums that everyone loved and still loves.

Essentially I think that lasting comes down to quality. I’m not talking about the recording studio, production values, or hair gel and dance routines. I’m talking about the quality that arises from talent and inspiration meeting. Bob Dylan’s songs had terrible production and his voice sounds like someone gargling gravel, whilst strangling a cat as their foot is fed into a wood chipper. Yet he had talent and inspiration, subsequently capturing the zeitgeist and lasting (see what I did there). But that music/art has to find a fanbase, whether immediately, or growing it over time as Led Zeppelin did. Now the only question remains: which is better, to last or to grab the headlines for 15 minutes?***

* Yeah, I know, not actually a prefix, more of a noun or adjective dependant upon the context.
** Having not ever heard any of Justin Bieber’s music and only accidentally heard part of a Miley Cyrus song at the gym, I can’t actually judge how good or bad their music is and how long it will last. I’m basing my judgement upon what has happened with previous pop stars.
*** The answer is easy: to last. If everyone forgets your 15 minutes did you even have those 15 minutes?

Song Dedications

Radio and Wedding DJs like to dedicate songs, but rarely do they get past the “This one goes out to all the ladies.” or “This one’s for all the lovers.” It seems odd to me that DJs don’t mix it up a bit and play some songs for more specific groups of people. For example:

This one is for everyone who loves kids.
Michael Jackson – Beat It – because Michael Jackson loved kids too.

This one is for anyone at home playing with rope.
Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart – because rope lovers identify with the Joy Division front man.

This one is for those who are having a good day.
Dimmu Borgir – Burn In Hell (Twisted Sister cover) – because a DJ is never having a good day.

This one is for everyone arguing on the comments of Youtube.
Jackson 5 – ABC – because clearly no one commenting there have learnt them.

This one is for everyone driving slow.
The Beatles – Can’t Buy Me Love – because you aren’t buying love on the street.

This one is for the Westboro Baptist Church.
AC/DC – Highway to Hell – because that is exactly where this church belongs.

This one is for all the politicians.
Guns ‘n’ Roses – Get in the Ring – seriously, one round, no holds barred, no tap outs.

Music I’m not ashamed to enjoy

You may remember that I previously wrote about a number of artists and songs that, despite their crappiness, I actually enjoyed. Well, it only seems fair that I talk about the music I enjoy and whose band t-shirt I would not be ashamed to wear in public. Let’s face it, it is too easy to write yet another article on the internet decrying which musicians suck. We already have science proving that pop music is becoming more generic and bland, I don’t really need to beat that dead horse more than a few times. Unless, of course, I get a particularly annoying song stuck in my head after accidentally wondering into a “hip” clothing store.

I’m going to have to limit my list to recent purchases, otherwise this list could become too awesome and might cause the internet to implode.

Kontrust

I discovered Kontrust completely by accident. Whilst searching for “cool ways to kill people with a spoon” on Youtube, I came across the song Hey DJ by this crossover act from Austria. If you don’t understand all of the lyrics in their songs, don’t worry, that just means you don’t know either Austrian, German, Polish or English. They have three albums out, but they really hit their stride with the second and third albums.

Krypteria – Get the hell outta my way

This German band have been around for quite a while and are part of the legion of female fronted metal acts in Europe. This is the only song of theirs that I like, the rest don’t really grab me like this one does.

Halestorm

There is nothing quite like a good rock act belting out some tunes. Lzzy is a great vocalist and I’m sure the other band members, including her brother, are very important to the music as well.

Amaranthe

I first came across this band because I like Kamelot. The latest Kamelot album and tour features Elize Ryd doing vocals that would normally be done by Simone Simons of Epica. She also filled in on vocals for Nightwish. All this was telling me I had to check out all the projects she was involved with because all the bands I liked were fans, so that meant I needed to be as well. Amaranthe has to be the only three lead vocalists band I know of, but it works very well for their pop-metal stylings.

Five Finger Death Punch

So far all the music I’ve listed have one thing in common: positive and fun music. All right, most of it is pretty heavy, although not by metal standards, but none could be mistaken for angry music. Yet I write action packed stories in which bad things happen to bad people. That means I need the occasional piece of angry music to get me in the mood to take aim at some of the crap people in the world and write a scene where they get shown how to resemble swiss cheese. Enter Five Finger Death Punch. I only have their American Capitalist album, which I was put onto by my friend. He’d put together a training video, prior to him winning his IFBB physique pro card, which included the above track – because weightlifters and bodybuilders can’t lift heavy stuff to pop music.

Mythtaken: Good versus Popular

popular-good-and-bad

Plenty of what’s popular isn’t good, and plenty of what’s good isn’t popular.

There is a school of thought and snobbery that says anything good is not popular and anything popular is not good. I regard this as a myth. I can’t remember any good stuff that wasn’t popular, because who is going to remember stuff that wasn’t popular and good? Well, it is a little more complicated than that.

Back when I was in high school the music scene changed. No longer were pop bands like New Kids On The Block acceptable on the radio, now it was Grunge and heavier, alternate styles of rock that ruled the airwaves. In 1991  Nirvana released the seminal Nevermind, Pearl Jam released Ten, Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger, and thus the reign of Seattle and Grunge music began. Add to that the release of Guns ‘n’ Roses last decent album, Use Your Illusion (1 and 2), and the cross-over metal album that forced the Grammys to include a new Hard Rock/Metal category, Metallica’s black album, and you can see that it was a good year to be a pimply teen music fan.

At the time you couldn’t talk about music without talking about Nirvana or Grunge. With the release of Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, the follow-up albums from Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and the influx of punk bands like Greenday and The Offspring, alternative music like Grunge was KING. Unless you looked at the charts.

The best-selling song of 1991?
Bryan Adams – (Everything I do) I Do It For You.

Best selling album of 1991?
In Australia, Daryl Braithwaite – Rise; in the USA, Maria Carey – The Human Dog Whistle.

Okay, so some easy listening pop music snuck through with some sales, but Nevermind and the single Smells Like Teen Spirit must have been top 10, right? Nope. Nirvana’s single didn’t make a dent in the charts until 1992, and even then it only cracked the top 50 in Australia (#46) and was #32 in the USA. Of course, rock and metal have never sold singles as much as albums, but Nevermind still only got to #17 in Australia and was beaten by frikin Garth Brooks and Michael Jackson in the USA.

Alright, maybe this is just a once off. The Beatles were huge, right? They combined good music with popularity. Well, in the UK, yes, but in the rest of the world, not so much.*

Before I end up beating you over the eyeballs with this example further, I’ll come to my point: popular has nothing to do with good. Sure, there are examples of good art also becoming popular. The examples I used were still very popular music acts whose influence will continue long after we’ve forgotten what a Bieber is.  But people were still more likely to own an album by Garth Brooks or Vanilla Ice than Smashing Pumpkins.

This is why I think that good art is often remembered more fondly after the fact than at the time. Good art stands the test of time, influences others and finds new audiences. Popular art is often shallow, or is transient, which means the audience has forgotten it when the next popular thing comes along.

To quote Neil Gaiman, make good art. Make good art and popularity will be someone remembering your work long after you’re gone.

NB: Sorry for not including other countries’ album charts, more can be found here.
Some other blogs on the same topic: http://americantaitai.com/2012/11/02/good-vs-popular/

http://scottberkun.com/2009/being-popular-vs-being-good/

NB: This article is referring to Survivorship Bias, which is a form of sampling bias, and can be a form of logical fallacy.

* I wasn’t aware when I wrote this article of the actions of the US record label Capitol Records. It appears they did their best to make sure The Beatles weren’t popular in the US. I’d like to say I’m surprised by the things done by The Beatles’ own US record company, but tales of this sort seem to be all too common.

Terrible music I enjoy

Not all music can be as awesome as AC/DC or Steel Panther, some of it has to suck like Nickelback and *inset generic pop star name here*. The problem is that amongst all of that suck there is the occasional gem that rises above its mediocre origins and digs deep into my skull like a Ceti-Aal. So here is some of the music that is on my iPod despite how bad it is.

Katrina and the Waves – Walking on Sunshine
This saccharine peppy pop song revels in its bouncy good-times vibe: how can you not enjoy it? Little known fact: Nine Inch Nails were created to counter the peppiness of this song. During my aspiring musician days (also known as my terrible poetry phase) I was actually trying to develop a cover version of this song that took all the peppy pop and blend it with my favourite dark-angst driven rock music. This would have been the music equivalent of dividing by zero.

Dragonforce – the entire Sonic Firestorm album
At some point you have to turn off Dragonforce to remove the copious build up of cheese from your ears. The insanely fast riffs, the power metal vocals, the lyrics inspired by too many fantasy novels, the video game inspired guitar sounds, all add up to something everyone should be embarrassed to listen to. Still rocks.

The Beatles – most of their career
She loves you…. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah… Need I say more? The Beatles are awesome, but you really have to cringe when you step back to look at some of the banal pop music they produced. Not to mention their drug phase which produced such gems as I Am The Walrus and Dude, Where’s My LSD? My favourite Beatle moment was the guitar duel between Clapton and Harrison over Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. Now you’d battle to find two great musicians who wouldn’t just resort to a threesome.

Dream Evil – The Book of Heavy Metal
It is a good thing these guys don’t take themselves seriously, because otherwise the joke would be all on them. They absolutely rock, are made up of fantastic musicians from metal bands across Europe, and are doing the “we love metal” fandom with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Creed – Higher
A bunch of God botherers form a band and produce pretentious pop-rock albums swamped with FM-radio friendly rock-ballads. They should suck. Actually, they do. But in among the trash is this little gem. Now if only a decent band would cover it.

Bon Jovi – Wanted: Dead or Alive
The highest praise that can be heaped upon Bon Jovi is that they wrote a couple of songs that didn’t suck. Sam and Dean even cranked out a rendition of Wanted: Dead or Alive. The main thing is that the Northern Kings did a cover of this song so you don’t have to listen to Bon Jovi to enjoy this song.

Poison – Unskinny Bop and Nothing But a Good Time
If there was an iconic example of everything wrong with hair metal of the 80s, it was Poison. Before there were metrosexuals, there were hair metal-ers wearing eye-liner, lip gloss and getting their hair permed so that they could jump around on stage in crotch stuffed spandex pants. At least they knew how to party.

MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This
A guy I used to know was in a band that did a cover of this song. Before I heard them do their cover I couldn’t stand this song. After hearing it, I now don’t cringe when I see Hammer-time jokes on the internet.

Only if you feel the need for more aural abuse:

International Day of Slayer

SLAYER

Metal fans of the world unite! Today – June 6th – is every metal fan’s public holiday. Ok, the public holiday is still in the works, and this post is a little late, but it is at least a day when all metal fans can proudly proclaim their faith in all things heavy. To represent all that is metal, the band Slayer have been adopted as the international symbol of metal music.

Who is Slayer

Slayer is a band from California. Their music has come to epitomise speed metal music in the latter half of the 20th century. Their 1986 album, “Reign in Blood” is one of the single most influential metal albums of all time, typified by the modern classic “Angel of Death”. Playing “Reign In Blood” has been positively correlated with reductions in the local infestations of hippies, fundamentalist religious groups and other non-savoury people.

This year the International Day of Slayer takes on greater significance due to the death of Slayer’s guitarist, Jeff Hanneman.

How to Celebrate

  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your car.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in your home.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast at your place of employment.
  • Listen to Slayer at full blast in any public place you prefer.

DO NOT use headphones! This year find a way to make the music of Slayer even louder, in honour of Jeff. The objective of this day is for everyone within earshot to understand that it is the International Day of Slayer. International holidays aren’t just about celebrating; they’re about forcing it upon non-participants.

Taking that participation to a problematic level

  • Stage a “Slay-out.” Don’t go to work. Listen to Slayer.
  • Have a huge block party that clogs up a street in your neighbourhood. Blast Slayer albums all evening. Get police cruisers and helicopters on the scene. Finish with a full-scale riot.
  • Spray paint Slayer logos on churches, synagogues, or cemeteries.
  • Play Slayer covers with your own band (since 99% of your riffs are stolen from Slayer anyway).
  • Kill the neighbour’s dog and blame it on Slayer.

But, I hear you ask, what if I’m a metal fan and don’t like Slayer? Well there are many options:

  • You could admit yourself to hospital, as you are clearly ill.
  • You could take this opportunity to grow to like Slayer.
  • You could listen to all of your favourite metal albums whilst watching a Slayer video.
  • You could admit that you aren’t really a metal fan and kill yourself in shame or hang out with Justin Beiber fans (same thing really).

Jeff-Hanneman-Slayer-RIP

 

Things you can’t do with an accordion

White, Nerdy and Awesome.

White, Nerdy and Awesome.

Look cool

Pick up chicks

Conduct physics experiments

Teach a dog to fetch

Play Highway to Hell by AC/DC without sounding like you hate AC/DC

Play music

The evolution of concerts

Last night I went to see the best band to come out of Canada: The Tea Party. They rocked!

I’ve been a fan since about 1994 and have seen them just about every time they have toured Australia, even managed to see Jeff Martin’s solo concerts on several occasions. Perth is like a second home to The Tea Party, Jeff Martin’s son was actually born in Perth. Jeff, Jeff and Stuart are a great example of what three fantastic musicians can achieve. Did I mention that they rock?

But something was driven home to me last night. When I started going to concerts it was all about seeing the band live. Then digital cameras came in and the response was to confiscate them before you were allowed into the venue. Now it seems that you don’t come to see a band play live, you come to film the concert on your smartphone to upload onto YouTube. Call me a purist but crappy video, and even worse sound recordings, is just not as fun as rocking out to one of your favourite bands (or artists).

Snape is an awesome guitarist – still killed Dumbledore

12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music

I had to share this list with everyone, mainly because it says a lot about quality being arbitrary.

  • 1. Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

    Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

  • 2. Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

    Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

  • 3. Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

    Ke$ha's “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

  • 4. Flo Rida’s “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”

    Flo Rida's “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles' “Hey Jude”

  • 5. The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

    The Black Eyed Peas' “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

  • 6. Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

    Celine Dion's “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

  • 7. Same with Shania Twain’s “Come On Over”

    Same with Shania Twain's “Come On Over”

  • 8. Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

    Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

  • 9. Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

    Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

  • 10. People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus’ album “Some Gave All…” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

    People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus' album “Some Gave All...” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

  • 11. The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

    The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

  • 12. This guy exists.

    This guy exists. That is all.

12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music

I had to share this list with everyone, mainly because it says a lot about quality being arbitrary.

  • 1. Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

    Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

  • 2. Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

    Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

  • 3. Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

    Ke$ha's “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

  • 4. Flo Rida’s “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”

    Flo Rida's “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles' “Hey Jude”

  • 5. The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

    The Black Eyed Peas' “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

  • 6. Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

    Celine Dion's “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

  • 7. Same with Shania Twain’s “Come On Over”

    Same with Shania Twain's “Come On Over”

  • 8. Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

    Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

  • 9. Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

    Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

  • 10. People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus’ album “Some Gave All…” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

    People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus' album “Some Gave All...” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

  • 11. The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

    The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

  • 12. This guy exists.

    This guy exists. That is all.

I Don’t Care For Cold Chisel

Sometimes I’ll be watching the news or listening to the radio and I will be reminded that I am on the fringe of society. It isn’t just the education, nor the largish brain, nor my desire to have standards, no it is the fact that apparently I’m un-Australian. You see, I don’t like Cold Chisel. To dislike Cold Chisel is un-Australian.

As a result I feel a little like Peter Griffin does about The Godfather.

Australians like to heap superlatives upon Cold Chisel and other “hard rock” bands. They like to hear them on the radio because it reminds them of the time they got drunk in that pub before drinking became illegal. Sorry, not illegal, the driving home afterwards part was what became illegal. Cold Chisel have come out of retirement to tour again, something that made all of the news channels. Why? It is a chance for Aussies to get in touch with their inner bogan.

For non-Aussies, a bogan is what you get when you cross flannelette shirts with mullets and cigarettes. Deep down there is a bogan inside every Australian just trying to get out.

Bogan

My inner bogan allows me to wear tracksuit pants around the house and feel unashamed to listen to AC/DC whilst playing air-guitar. Fortunately my inner bogan stops short of Cold Chisel fandom. That’s right, my inner bogan has class.

We have different terms for bogans all over the world: white trash, redneck, guido, hoser, skid, chav, ned, jejemon, scanger, ah beng, raggare, naco, dres, Paris Hilton; but we recognise the traits. Suffice to say, we all need to keep our inner bogan in check. If we don’t then the terrorists have won.

How to interpret online music reviews

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One of the coolest things about the interwebz is the ability to find TV shows, movies, books/authors, bands/music, or people to argue with. I live a few hundred kilometres from the most isolated city in the world, which means that there isn’t a cinema, there aren’t many international touring acts that come through town, and author book signings are somewhat rare. Since Al Gore invented the internet we are all able to be connected and find things we like through the magic that is The Internet.

“This, Jen, is the internet.”

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Of course with an abundance of new stuff comes an abundance of indecision’s. How do you tell which books are worth reading, which movies are worth watching and which bands are worth listening too? The obvious answer would be to consult reviews.

Music reviews are often troubling, they use industry jargon that not everyone understands, especially not the people using the jargon. So I have quickly summarised the commonly used phrases and interpreted them.

Solid album: every song sounds the same.

Standout tracks: the only decent songs.
The album grows on you: hated this album the first time I listened to it and after having to listen to it several times to complete the review have found I can tolerate it.
Intricate melodies: pretentious wank.
Outstanding musicianship: lots of solos.
Impressive guitar work: endless guitar masturbation.
Concept album: lots of pretentious filler.
Soulful lyrics: girlfriend/boyfriend just left the singer.
Soulful melodies: all band members/artist depressed.
Heartfelt emotion: band members/artist suicidal.
Best album of the year: only new album I have.
The best release from this artist/band: it’s about time they put out something decent.
Epic: too long.
Pop sensibilities: commercial radio fodder.
Proponents of (insert name) style: I hate this sort of music.
Founders of (insert name) style: the guys that everyone else copied.
Challenging: annoying.
Diverse styles/sounds: imitates everything popular at the moment.
Critically acclaimed: only pretentious and annoying people will like it.
Commercially successful: listen to it on the radio instead.
Uplifting: saccharine.
Back with a vengeance: last album was terrible.
Offers up some great tracks: band/artist only wrote one song then packed in filler.
Career defining: surprisingly good album.
On heavy rotation: has a huge marketing budget to waste.
Staple of radio playlists: inoffensive.
Politically charged lyrics: think they are better than everyone else.
Confrontational: annoying.
Distinguishes itself: will fade into obscurity in a month.
Stamped their mark: all the vapid DJ’s like it.
Most important album/artist of the year: utter crap that is inexplicably selling well.
Taken (insert country) by storm: some DJ overseas thinks that it’s good.
Radio friendly: bland.

Hope that clears things up a bit. At some future date I will attempt to cover the common book review jargon.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

Internet Pirate, Yar!

I can remember back to when computers were nothing more than green text on a black background and made terrific boat anchors. Then suddenly they exploded, usually from a spilt drink or frustration in the 10 minutes it took for anything to load. Just as I was leaving high school the interwebz was suddenly all around us and promised to deliver us information, e-commerce, media and porn. This coincided with computers becoming faster, hard-drives becoming bigger and teenagers becoming hornier.

And that is when media piracy really took off.

Sure Napster popularised it a few years later and the music industry starting jumping up and down about it later again, but someone had forgotten to tell these people that the game had changed. I didn’t have to buy the entire Primus CD for the two songs I was actually going to listen to, now I could have a copy of those two songs on my computer, either downloaded from friends or copied off the CD.

I think we were all waiting for the music industry to catch up. At some point we were expecting all of our favourite songs to be available online for sale. But our computers were growing, so it wasn’t just music, we wanted our TV and movies as well. Why couldn’t we just grab a copy off the internet when we wanted? Where was the store that sold this stuff? And would they sell Debbie Does Dallas?

Well, sensing the growing change in consumer behaviour, the desire for an online store to sell entertainment, the music industry, movie industry and other media decided to band together and sue kids for millions of dollars each.

Brilliant! Rather than sell people stuff lets sue them! What a marketing and sales master stroke.

Instead of responding to consumer demands, the industries concerned decided they didn’t want to play. They thought that would be the end of that. Of course in a free market economy you have to expect the market to dictate terms, not anyone else. Piracy became embedded.

Now of course it isn’t the media industry’s fault that their products were being pirated, it was them damn pesky kids with their computas and iGizmos and and theys gots no respects for da rulz……… The e-generation were blamed for the down-turn in music sales and for massive losses to the music and movie industry. I like the assumption that every download must equal a lost sale, talk about a non-sequitur.

None of these arguments, discussion or history are really relevant though. I’m going to coin a new term SCREEN-GAZING which is the e-version of navel-gazing, because all of this piracy discussion is essentially nothing more than screen-gazing. Lets have a look at the real data that needs to be discussed.

The survey interviewed 1,700 music consumers age 13-60 and found that music is important to social networkers: 39% have embedded music in their personal profiles.
70% said they embed music to show off their taste; half said music is a good way to reflect personality.
Some other survey findings:

  • Some 53% of people actively surf social networking sites to find music.
  • 30% said they went on to buy or download music that they had discovered on a social network site (for MySpace, the proportion is 36%).
  • On popular sites the numbers of people who use sites to find music increase – for MySpace and Bebo, 75% and 72%, respectively, and 66% for YouTube.
  • 46% say they wish it were easier to purchase music they had discovered on social networking sites – for example via a “buy now” button on the site.
  • The number of those saying they illegally download music tracks has increased, from 40% in 2005 and 36% in 2006 to 43% in 2007.
  • Only 33% cited the risk of being prosecuted as a deterrent against illegal downloading, compared with 42% in 2006.
  • Nearly one in five respondents – 18% – claimed an intention to download more unauthorized tracks, up from 8% in 2006.
  • After a dramatic 40% increase in the number of legal downloaders between 2005 and 2006, only 16% growth occurred in the number of legal downloaders from 2006 to 2007.
  • 22% of legal downloaders admitted that they had not paid for a track in the last six months.
  • 84% agreed that digital downloads of older music should be cheaper; 48% said they would be prepared to pay more for newly released music.

So basically iTunes had been on the map for 4 years by the time this survey was performed, downloading had been around for a decade. Big congratulations to the industry for making those inroads into making music accessible. Almost half of the kids would like easier access to music to buy, and most thought it was too expensive.

Another survey shows that downloads of media were decreasing. So clearly the impact of actually selling media to people that they want was a good thing for lowering pirating. Just the industry hasn’t reached enough of the market yet.

How do you dissuade people from illegal downloads? The traditional approach for punishing pirates would be imprisonment, pilloring, flogging, enslavement, branding, keel hauling, and/or hanging. Given how well that worked in ridding the world of pirates maybe we should consider other methods.

Someone was really bright and had a look at what parental guidance did to downloading.

Who would have thought that parenting had a role in being a law abiding citizen?

What does all of this mean? Well pretty much media – be that ebooks, movies, music, TV shows – need to be easily accessible and priced appropriately. There also needs to be some responsibility taken by everyone to make sure that people expect to pay for media. This can’t be draconian, it has to be encouraged, and part of that encouragement comes from the ease of access and prices that people can afford. And now I hold my breath. Wake me after I pass out waiting for a solution rather than another blame game.

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