My own hometown newspaper, in 1980. It's funny how much hasn't changed: This basic idea--a syndicated UPI feature--is pretty similar to what AOL and Yahoo, etc. do with pop music right now, which is to treat it like a series of fun facts. Even more seemingly prescient of our current kerfluffle is the Tom Petty blurb, which details his label/legal squabbles before capping with the gawky sentence that makes up my post title, describing Damn the Torpedoes. Not similar to our current situation: riding for the Clash four years late. Also not similar to our current situation: newspapers. Might have to mess around in IU's newspaper archives to see if I can't find more of these. Full size. (via Speak in Tongues)
I never thought I'd ever want to read anything about Aaron Carter, but Chris Weingarten revisits the little guy's oeuvre over at Idolator, and then some (btw, the best Aaron Carter-related ethering since this, with bonus Horatio Sanz fake-mustache lolz). CW is absolutely killing it on the site's "Worst of the 00's" feature.
Pretty sure this has made a couple laps already, but it's very much worth a click if you've not read.
And because the song's now in my head:
Daryl Hall (born Hohl) first met John Oates at the Adelphi Ballroom in Philadelphia in 1967 while attending Temple University. Each was heading his own musical group at the time—Hall with The Temptones and Oates with The Masters. They were there for a band competition when gunfire rang out between two rival gangs, and in trying to escape, they ran to the same service elevator. Because of their similar musical tastes and close proximity inside the elevator, they quickly became acquainted. It would take them another two years to form a musical duo, and three years after that, they had signed to Atlantic Records and released their debut album.
Bonus fun fact: On that same elevator was an intrepid photog, with camera at the ready, who snapped this iconic picture of the two, exhausted and frightened, as they came face to face for the first time.
People say music as a set of industries is going down the tubes. This might be true. But corporations like Victoria's Secret dropping six-figures to use music as a brand-awareness mini-festival for chick-skivvies proves that music's still good for something. Like turning Dunn Meadow into Jake's Nightclub-cum-Glastonbury for an evening, complete with toilet-paper cannons, rain (luckily, no massive spitball fight), a crane-camera and two massive video monitors on either side. Here are our Jumbotronned Vicky Seeky Overlords, who introduced each act (I only came for GT, the last performer) by giggling, pointing at the crowd, and saying how cool IU is:
I've written my pink thong off about Girl Talk in the past, so I've only one thing to add here about last night's performance: He's really, really adamant about performatively defining himself now, more or less against the sort of confines that geeks like this want to put him inside. For about 15 minutes of his set, he took advantage of the 75,000-foot tall (est.) LCD screen behind him to broadcast, Leni Riefenstahl-as-Hipster-Runoff-style, the message that he is "Not A DJ." Other animations would ask "Are You A DJ?" before declaiming something on the order of "What I'm Doing Is Much Sweeter." Okay sure, good for him. Here's the "NOT":
I mentioned Jake's Nightclub above--for those non-Bloomingtonians out there, it's the club in town that regularly does this sort of thing (an actual pic) (or used to, at least). Hence: the possibility was surely there, what with the drizzling rain and all, for a full-on, thousand-strong slimy grindfest in the mud. Now that, I wouldn't be opposed to. And perhaps that's what actually happened at other places in the crowd. My section, though, was marred by that other demographic of Big Ten universities, tailor made for an underwear-sponsored party with "Knuck if You Buck" blasting at 100 db: Pre-partied douchebags, jamming the fuck out to the same music they'd hear when they grunt and paw at each other at Jake's, down the street. Perhaps predictably, a mini-West Side Story broke out in front of me, started by one exceedingly drunk dickhead who was raging after another ragingly inebriated asswipe. It kept going and going and going, gradually involving more Bro-Magnons from both camps, until one dude got the original dude in a headlock, and the headlocked dude's bro actually threw punches. Hard. Like, super hard. Right at his jaw, three times bam-bam-bam. To the strains of "Juicy/Tiny Dancer."
"Secrets of the Simpsons." Nothing shocking here, and pretty tabloidy more generally, but it does go a significant way toward explaining the surprise and disappointment I felt when reading Life in Hell for the first time, junior year of high school.
Dead: artists who have shuffled off this mortal coil. There was a significant spike in this category this summer with the passing of Michael Jackson. In general, though, NPR prefers its dead black musicians decades dead. Bonus points are awarded to performers present at the 1963 March on Washington, and to Bobby Short.
Old: musicians of advanced years. Crusty soul-belters on the comeback trail, gray-bearded jazzers, Motown legends, defunct rap groups.
Retro: musicians, young or old, performing in styles two or more decades out of fashion. Sixties soul revivalists; old school rappers who "[stick] with the puns, jokes and silly one-upsmanship that once defined hip-hop ...Thank goodness"; Lenny Kravitz.
Foreign: black folks who live in far-flung places. And/or the children of Bob Marley."
Jody Rosen, "The DORF Matrix: Towards a Theory of NPR's Taste in Black Music" The best-yet takedown of the musical tastes of white progressives. In Bloomington, it's called Lotus Fest.
Simon Reynolds, "One Nation Under a Moog"
A concise survey/leadup to the forthcoming BBC doc Synth Britannia, which sounds awesome, and not just for the title alone. Reynolds also makes note that Pink Floyd's "On the Run" is something of a precursor to synthpop (using an EMS)--at least putting synths on a really big stage. I'd always considered it an interstitial between "Breathe" and "Time", but listening to it all by itself is something different altogether:
So, what's on this mix, you ask? Well, that's a good question. I tried to take a shot of its underside, but kept getting shots of my iPhone. Damn reflective plastic. Let's just say that it looks as if a small creature might have been ice-skating on it at some point (investigation ongoing). Popping it in, I was able to access about 1/2 of the songs, before the clicking and ejecting and general technological refusal started. Here's what I got (no doubt you'll notice a theme).
1. Zombies "I Want Her She Wants Me"
2. Lilys "Will My Lord Be Gardening"
3. Beach Boys "Little Bird"
4. Super Furry Animals "Fire in My Heart"
5. Wire "Fragile"
6. Looper "These Things" (Ed note: awwwwww)
7. Sparklehorse "Gold Day"
8. Yo La Tengo "You Can Have It All"
9. R.E.M. "Crazy"
10. The Kinks "Little Miss Queen of Darkness"
11-22. Lost to the sands of time :(
Can't get at the last half, but I and you should both get the point. Judging by the selections and my knowledge of my own preferences, I can date this to late 2003/early 2004. I can also say that this is (duh) a Moony-Eyed Mix for A Girl. The girl shall remain nameless, of course, and I honestly can't remember if I ever even gave this to her, or if I wimped out and just burned a copy for myself (hence the "working title"). It is a little over-zealous at certain points, no? The SFA song?
Here are two other ones with titles I don't remember making up (sorta Robert Pollardian of me, I suppose), that I'm looking forward to jamming in the forthcoming days:
"Without the help of a single digital download, The Beatles have broken multiple chart records around the world following the 9-9-09 CD release of their digitally re-mastered catalog. In the major music markets of North America, Japan and the UK, consumers purchased more than 2.25 million copies of The Beatles' re-mastered albums during the first five days of release."All well and good, and not surprising in the least, right? But the title of this post is "Who Says CD Sales Are Dead?", though. Is that really the angle on this story? Or should it be "Who Says the Beatles Are Dead?" (No "Paul is Dead" jokes here.) Doesn't that first sentence, excerpted above, prove the point? The Beatles, in this latest aural iteration, are only available on CD, so doesn't it simply stand to reason that their CD sales would be super-high, given that their popularity hasn't really waned at all over the last 40 years? Shit, I bet they'd sell in the low six-digits on vinyl, if EMI were crazy enough to re-release in that format.
Then they come out with an album like Embryonic, which contains nothing even remotely close to "Fight Test" or "Waiting for a Superman," or even "She Don't Use Jelly." The first single is "Convinced of the Hex," the refrain of which addresses "the distance between us," and "I believe in nothing," and the groove of which suggests Silver Apples, neither of which necessarily lend themselves to confetti guns and large-scale singalongs. Are the Lips making an active attempt to kill off the rest of their late-blooming fans that At War with the Mystics didn't? Are they at the end of their Warner contract and just cranking out 70 minutes of dark psychedelia to break off from their label and Pull A Radiohead?
These things I am not sure of. I am sure that "Hex," and a good 40-45 minutes of Embryonic, are the best things that the Flaming Lips have done since Bulletin--and even more impressively, nothing like they've done before. It's like when they were shooting Christmas on Mars, they accidentally found a time/space portal, and were able to transport themselves to an alternate Flaming Lips universe, in which they could experiment with sounds that would make them come across like Can, and then they made this album. You can't blame some dudes for getting sick of being widely pigeonholed for a sound/style they've only been really focusing on for about 1/3 of their career, and wanting to take their outfit in a new/old/new again direction. Whatever happened, good for them though, right? You just want these guys to always be around, in some form.
Oh, and the live part--they're still figuring it out, but it's cool to see the Lips look like a crack indie-psych rock band, as they do below. The sort of band they could have easily been (but thankfully they were the band they were, though it's good they're this band when they're old):
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Flaming Lips - Convinced of the Hex|
It is appropriate that the zoo was born in the age of cocaine. The essence of successful zoo radio was speed and rapid-fire creativity, creating a nonstop on-air party. Even when DJs were talking, Top 40 hits were playing in the background. Zoo DJs, often fueled by that decade's iconic powder, pushed morning radio from peppy to manic. "We'd be out all night partying, then go straight to the studio at dawn, cut up some lines and start brainstorming skits based on news clippings from the early edition," remembers a veteran of Shannon and Wheeler's zoo. "It was a blast, but you had to be fast and you had to perform. Sometimes we'd sketch out a four-hour show in 30 minutes on no sleep."
Another part of zoo culture, also reflecting the ethos of the era, was the DJ as high-flying and hard-partying local celebrity. Promotional events featuring morning zoo teams grew extravagant as the '80s progressed. Bloated salaries and gilded perks fed egos. By the early '80s, it was common for morning DJs to appear at station events in full-stretch limousines.
The zoo revolution that transformed morning radio in the 1980s is key to understanding Beck's present-day shtick. Many of the audio and visual tropes Beck employs today -- the Muppet voices, the outrageous statements, the props, the stunts, the fawning and giggling supporting cast -- can be traced to the zoo and post-zoo radio culture that sustained him professionally for years.
"You can see the influence in everything Beck does," says zoo pioneer Scott Shannon, now boss jock at New York's WPLJ and the official voice of "The Sean Hannity Show." "The timing, the voices, the inflections, the whole approach -- so much of it is from the old Top 40 morning style."
Brian Wilson, one of Shannon's original inspirations for the zoo idea, likewise notes Beck's successful adaptation and carry-over from 1980s morning radio. "His performance in talk radio and television is full of hangover of basic Top 40 elements, formats and principles," says Wilson, now a libertarian talk show host. "The sound drops, the effects, the 'wackiness' -- he's doing the same thing, only minus the music."
"The first time I heard him do talk radio, I knew he was updating what Limbaugh did when he brought Top 40 tricks into talk," says Barry Kaye, who competed against Beck in Corpus and Houston in the '80s. "Everything he does is basically a morning show. He was always great at it."
An extended excerpt from Alexander Zaitchik's masterful three-part profile of Glenn Beck, over at Salon. Personally, I had no idea Beck came from "zoo-crew" radio, yet as indicated above, he's brought the tropes of that genre so thoroughly into his role as Fox News' enfant terrible.
Zaitchik cites the "ratings wars" between stations in Beck's adopted hometown of Corpus Christi, during which networks would stage incredible stunts to boost their listenerships, as another fundamental point in Beck's "evolution" as a public personality. Which explains Fox News' entire strategy now, from tea-partiers to birthers on down--it's stunt news, built only to draw attention to itself and gain the network validity through participatory viewership.
But looking at the whole thing from a "zoo crew" perspective makes me wonder about the motives of the viewers. Are they really simply psychotic citizenry, as the left wants to make them out to be, or is the truth more nuanced? Are they doing with politics and Fox what so many on-air personalities have done with regional show-biz and radio? Are people with Obama-as-Hitler signs, inter alia, not so much trying to make political points as they are vying to be the "wackiest" viewer, the one guaranteed to get on the air of their favorite station?
(The "ratings war" angle also clears up for me Fox's strange penchant to cite viewership statistics when questioned about the validity of their reporting, or the quality of their news bureau in general. I always thought it was rather juvenile and beside-the-point, but now at least I know from where it emanates.)
(All of this remains exceedingly depressing, of course.)