Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dear Lady Gaga, I Am Really Pulling For You (Has Hell Frozen Over?)

Lady Gaga's album ArtPop is going to be released in November and I have a confession to make. I am going to really be pulling for her. Why would such a statement by me be such a big deal? Well, back in 2010 I hated Lady Gaga with the passion of a thousand suns. What was it that I hated? I guess it was the fact that every song she released on that first album was a number one hit. Perhaps it was the fact that she totally upstaged my favorite band at Lollapalooza. Perhaps it was my absolute intolerance towards her shock music display. I felt that nobody listened to the music because they were more intrigued as to how much she planned to shock you, instead of the quality of her music. I am a big guy when it comes to the music. Most people will say that I never said this, but in my heart of hearts I know that I did say this to people: Just wait until her second album, just you wait. This continually happens in music. Artists can never be new again. They will always be old at some point. They can reboot, reinvent, and reignite, but they can never recreate themselves completely. I said further that the shock part of her act would only work if her music continued to evolve, grow, or at the very actually good. With a hell of a lot of hype, her second album was released. She was accused of copying Madonna, but the songs when released never really got the buzz of before. Yet, something funny happened along the way. I actually liked one of her songs, Born This Way. Now it did not turn me into a little monster, but I enjoyed the song, which I felt was better than Madonna. It said to the listener that if I am weird, hey, I was born this way. This is another reason I hope to like this album. I am a sucker for good, new music. I am not ashamed to admit when I am wrong, which is quite often. Bring me good, new music and I will shut the hell up. Now, fast forward to the present as Lady Gaga releases her first single on the same day as Katy Perry. Perhaps, that is another reason I am pulling for Lady Gaga. I hate Katy Perry. Well, I guess it was time to hate somebody new because my friends are beginning to tire of my complaints about EDM. Yet, the reviews came out and they said that the new song was mediocre. Welcome to the backlash, Miss Gaga. They said the song was completely out of touch with today's music. Yet, I do know that she did not want to release this, but instead was forced because it had been leaked. I am hoping the rest of the album is great and this song was just an outlier. I am also hoping it is great because I want that douchebag Perez Hilton to shut the fuck up. I hate people like him who ride the coattails of artists and seem to think that they are on equal footing. Perez Hilton has contributed nothing to our society. His blog is unentertaining, boring, and very 2005. Hey Perez, why don't you go back to school and learn a trade instead of being the world's gigantic tool. Yet, I have been over this terrain before. The only way to get your critics and naysayers to shut the fuck up is to consistently make good music. In the end, this is probably the primary reason why I am now rooting for Lady Gaga and her new album. I want her to make all these know-it-all but actually know nothing critics shut the fuck up for once in their miserable lives.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

E=MC5: Kick Out The Theories Motherfucker

I have always had these strange theories about music, bands, albums, songs, singers. Today, I thought I would lay out for you some of these observations.
  • Most artists put all these great songs on their first album because they probably don't know whey they will get the chance again. I had the crazy idea that an artist should hold back 1-2 songs that they know to be good. This song will be saved until they need it possibly during a sophomore slump album. The record company would say: Quick! Lady Gaga's Born This Way is slumping! Let's put Pokerface on there! Imagine that Pokerface had not been released yet. My theory is that an artist's first songs are usually their best because they have generally spent years trying to come up with them, while a second album or third album merely covers a few years, if that
  • A band's second or third album would probably be just as groundbreaking or popular, if the band in question was new. I have always felt that The Strokes second album would have been just as seminal a force as Is This It if they had been given the benefit of the newness factor. Second album's are generally extensions of the first album anyway, but the second album is always the killer for pleasing anyone. It is many times called the First Album Part 2, but if in subsequent albums, the band does not do that, people then get pissed. Bands are in a no win situation. If they like The Strokes make a Room on Fire, then people say this is nice but I heard it before. If they like Weezer make a Pinkerton, then people say this is nice but I really liked the Blue Album better. Many bands do not go the Pinkerton direction until the 3rd or 4th album, then find out they probably should make the same thing over and over if they want to make any money. Fans hate change. Some critics hate change. The real bands. Those that really last are the ones that give those groups a big middle finger and do whatever they want. Yet, people never account for the fact that an artist is brand new. I think what happens is that people overload on something brand new so much that they are sick of it after awhile. Lady Gaga is a prime example of that phenomenon. After that first wave, how successful your career is will ultimately depend upon how hard the artist works at making good albums. Strong music always can cancel out the fact an artist is old hat to a lot of people. Take for example successful reboots by U2 and Kings of Leon.
  • Bands that break up should never put out an album of original material after reuniting. I was get an empty feeling when listening to this music. These groups should only do live shows, not try to recreate the music. They could recreate a shining replica of one of their classic albums, but what happened is 20 years have passed. Time has a way of fucking with how people even hear new music. The other part of it is that every song the listener will seek out the former magic that these groups can no longer attain. I have never seen a reunited older band make a buzzworthy album. I cannot even explain this phenomenon, but it like they completely forgot how to make good hooks, good lyrics. The Stones are prime culprits of this fact. Mick's lyrics from Big Bang Theory are borderline moronic. So when I hear that an old band is making an album of original material, I don't get too excited. Expectations become too high, the disappoint that these guys are no longer younger sets in, and it probably just sucks anyway. That is the other thing here. Maybe the music just ain't as good as it used to be. Music needs a time and a place. This time and place is always very pertinent to the experience of listening.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Does EDM Stand for Early Demise?

I have been over this again and again on why I hate EDM or electronic dance music so much. There are many reasons I find this kind of music to be less than ideal in a world filled with music. I am going to list below the easy reasons for the hatred of this music. These are all reasons that I have heard before and they do have validity in some ways, but they are not my main reasons for hating EDM.
  • EDM fans just want to get high, wear bright clothing, touch each other, and pretty act totally weird. It is true that fans of this music subscribe to many of these hobbies, while not really paying attention to anything else at all. They are today's hippies. Yet, there is a lot of other music throughout the years that was rock and roll where people got blitzed out of their mind. I can't fault anyone for being weird because who am I to judge based on my track record.
  • Some dj's have said that all some other dj's do is press play. Yes, this may be true, but I bet a lot of work goes into creating the ability to just press play. The other aspect to this comes in the fact that most dj's do really get into the performance side of it. I have seen some rock performers not move either, but do we criticize them as much. The other part of this is that I have seen a dj performance behind the scenes and know you don't just press play because the dj will want to improvise, change, mash, remix based on the crowd.
  • The guys who love EDM are pretty much a bunch of major tools. I find this to be pretty true. They willingly wear pink tanktops, feminine backpacks, let their girlfriends decide everything, and seem to be just uncool. The girls are generally no better unless dressing like a slut who should be hooking on the corner is considered a hip thing to do. Yet, I cannot knock a genre of music simply because I think the guys are douchebags and the girls are sluts.
So if those are reasons not to hate EDM, then what are the reasons to hate this music.
  • The fans are not serious music fans. As soon as someone criticizes EDM, their fans are quick to throw out reasons why it so fantastic, but the problem is that these fans cannot really articulate any distinction between good EDM and bad EDM. They throw out numbers upon numbers about the shows, but they never really offer up any aesthetic reason why the music is so good.  I do not think they even care either. Many of these fans really could not tell you why Skrillex is noticeably better than Deadmau5 or Calvin Harris. A person that I know who is a diehard EDM fan did not even know who Daft Punk was when I asked if she had heard the new album. Perhaps, she was too young to know that EDM began after many of these DJ's saw Daft Punk in 2007. I think the analogy to be made would be all style and no substance. These are more about the spectacle and less about the art created. Fans will call them emcees of a huge party, but to me, the serious music fan, I want an artist, and not a ringmaster for a bunch of high hippies wearing neon.
  • The second part of this equation emerges in the artists themselves. They have not developed whatsoever in the past couple of years. First, they were just copying Daft Punk anyway, but these idiots continue to create music that was just pasted together using Ableton on their laptop. Why is this an issue? The music gets really fucking boring. I am reminded of when the Grateful Dead pretty much stopped making anything resembling original music. Should we just call these tours EDM-Head tours where getting high is more of a priority. Never mind the fact that artists like Skrillex in my opinion make tracks that sound like he was throwing everything but the kitchen sink into it, but decided not to try to provide any structure whatsoever. Someone finally does challenge you like Daft Punk to ramp your game, you whine like little babies. Yet, a major obstacle for these djs is the fact that it is hard to be original when your entire identity is wrapped up in something you basically copied. The other obstacle is that many of these dj's have one dimensional music skills. They write or play any music, which is a major obstacle. People seem to forget that Daft Punk were actually a rock band originally touring with Phoenix. They evolved. If EDM artists do not evolve; they will be extinct along with the dinosaurs. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ten Bullet Points Summing Up Just About Every Review on The Strokes

  • Reviewers cannot separate one album from the history of the band.
  • Apparently, everyone wants to go back to 2001. Man, I did not realize how fucking awesome 2001 was. Jesus, now I want to go back.
  •  You can only make albums of music that made you successful in the first place. You are not allowed to make an album completely different unless you are an elitist snob into the electronic garbage Radiohead spits out. Make it the same, but not exactly the same, but kind of different, but if you go too different, then we will get you for that too.
  •  Do not ever make a solo album because reviewers will compare your new album to that.
  •  As a musician, you are not allowed to have influences, but all these reviews mention is what…their own influences of what the album sounds like…(A-ha, Technotronic, Tom Waits). 
  •  Make up your fuckin’ mind reviewers: Are the Strokes bored and lazy? Or are they working really hard to look bored and lazy? What does it matter? How can you tell if a band is working too hard or being bored? Am I just that obtuse when it comes to listening to an album one time?
  •  One trend about music reviewers: They will talk shit about everything (Muse, Mumford got 4 out of 10 in Spin). People don’t read the blogs of reviewers that say nice things. 
  • Whether it makes people feel cooler or whether they are just joining the crowd, but it is hip and cool to hate on the Strokes. Also, these moronic douchebags try to turn their reviews into high art and poetic criticism by talking about the Strokes on a cultural scale that should only be written about in a college classroom. Sometimes an album is just a fucking album.
  •  The Strokes are not new, and are mainstream. They arrived in 2001. Places like Pitchfork hate them. Anything that comes out of their mouths is always going to be looked upon as unoriginal.
  •  The Strokes don’t give a fuck. They already saved rock once. They can do whatever the fuck they want.

Kendrick Lamar: Much Ado About Nothing

Oh, Kendrick, Kendrick, Kendrick. Well, apparently you threw down the gauntlet on hip-hop on a verse that was leaked and now will not be released. In case you missed it, here is what Kendrick Lamar did last week that has everyone going absolutely fucking nuts.

But it's his extended verse on "Control (HOF)," a Big Sean track that didn't make it onto Sean's upcoming "Hall of Fame" due to licensing issues, that had Twitter gasping for air Monday night. Lamar appears with Sean and elusive rap demi-god Jay Electronica, but they're not spared from his venom. 

After memorably half-mocking Funkmaster Flex for dropping so many bomb sounds on songs he debuts, calling himself the King of New York (Lamar's from Compton, California), once again ripping molly's current place in rap and shouting out John Lennon Paul McCartney and Bob Marley, the 26-year-old sets up the real meat of the verse

By putting everyone on notice, Lamar solidifies his place as not only one of rap's most gifted lyricists, but positions himself as a defender of the culture, inspiring his peers to put in more effort into their work. By doing so on a song that includes two of the rappers he's ripping, Lamar also once again reminds his fellow artists and fans that while he has plenty of emotional, "conscious" tracks, he's also here for the competition.

Let's  get something very straight here...this uproar about how he has elevated hip-hop to another level, thrown down the gauntlet, shown artistic courage, shown his genius, is all pretty much bullshit. I am going to tear down everyone's arguments piece by piece because I just don't get the reaction out there in the blogosphere.
  • This is not Jay-Z vs. Nas. That beef got really nasty and very personal, but Kendrick says his lyrics in such a way that he didn't want to really offend anyone. I liken it to the phrase, now so and so, I love them to death, but...All he does is name drop a bunch of guys and basically say he would like to have their fans. Another analogy would be Lebron saying that he really respects Derrick Rose and even spends time with him off the court, but he will still try to kill him on the court. He doesn't get specific at all about these rappers and that is the problem. All he basically is saying: all you other good rappers, I would like your fans, but if I don't get them we can still hang out.
  • Oh, my! He dissed guys on the same song who rapped on it too. Uhh, how do you know that Big Sean wasn't in on this from the start? He leaked the track, then basically pulled it afterward most likely. This verse as a news story seems almost too calculated, too pre-planned, too good to be true. Big Sean is trying to sell a new record. Don't you think that entered anyone's mind at some point? The other weird thing was that everyone really didn't get too pissed or angry about it. The East Coast West Coast wars caused people to die. This caused people to create memes. The real rappers simply made jokes about it. I made the comment that this verse was an outtake from YOLO by The Lonely Island, which Diddy rapped on.
  • The critics and writers of hip-hop made way too big of a deal about this. Once again, they talk about rap lyrics in this high-minded, artistic, esoteric way that I just don't buy. They seem to articulate this in a way that it is the equivalent of Martin Luther nailing the 99 Theses to the church's door. That is the stupidest bullshit I ever heard. These critics are analyzing the lyrics in a profound, philosophical way that you don't see in any other art form because rap's art form is words. One of my takeaways from that is this verse was not groundbreaking as you think because one of the things about rappers is most barely finish high school. If rap is so high minded as these critics want you to think then why do so many drop out of high school or start at age 17 like Kendrick. They are talking about him as if he is a fucking Beat poet seeing his generation of rappers destroyed by madness.
  • Another piece of the puzzle that makes Lamar a complete moron is the fact that he calls himself the King of New York. First, this is not true because Jay-Z is still the king. Second, he is from Compton. This makes no sense. You cannot take seriously a statement like this from a rapper who is a protege of Dr. Dre. I think the rule is that you have to be actually from a particular city in order to be the king. I don't know, but it sounds stupid none the less.
  • Finally, is hip-hop dead? The question becomes quite relevant when you see that EDM is really the king right now. The truth is that the genre has become quite stale with the new artists Kendrick included not creating any buzz except for that of their lyrical genius. I blame this more on their over reliance on lyrics only with very little creative focus being spent on the actual music. There are no hooks to some of these songs. Lil Wayne has samples that sound exactly the same song after song after song. It is sad that this obvious, easy, lazy way to garner attention to the genre is being held up even higher than Kanye West's Yeezus. Kanye took hip-hop and threw it on it's ear by simply saying: hey rappers, your way of doing things is boring, listen to this. Kendrick Lamar is not saving hip-hop, Kanye is.