27 October 2006
WHAT YOU HATIN' FOR RIFF MARKET REMIX
If You Dress As the Internet For Halloween, Don't Forget to Wear Your Anti-Intellectual Discontent
Download: Gwen Stefani: Wind It Up
So now I'm defending her--what? Really? As you know, I'm not crazy about this chick, Stefani, so not crazy about her that my line about how "Hollaback Girl" had about as much club potential as a kid with a milk moustache made it onto the high-profile Hollaback Girl wiki entry on some told-you-so prove-you-wrong shit. Granted I'm sure a lot of the current Gwen hate is in the tradition of the internet more concerned about being first, not being right-- but as far as that's concerned, I beat all you assholes by at least two years. Inside my head, more than two years ago, were jokes about Linda Perry that I simply refused to type because I was afraid your brains would explode, pacemakers near microwaves, dogs in a bathtub made of explosions.
Is this "Wind It Up" song in the Top 200 songs of 2006? Hardly. But it's easily in the Top 500, maybe Top 450. I have enjoyed watching people pretend to know a thing about pop music by saying that Gwen is biting Fergie biting Gwen, and if you're one of those people, leave me a comment with your name and address and I'll send you a free photo of M.C. Escher giving himself a handjob. Believe it or not, more people than Fergie and Gwen have done the whole sing-rap sorta thing. People like M.I.A.. People like Nelly. Those are the only two people. But there's a whole history of this stuff you can't ignore.
Much has been made of the yodeling. I wonder how many of these people know who Jewel is. I suggest picking up her book of poetry Knight In Shining Armor and studying up.
But how about the mindnumbingly awesome, Decemberists-approved idea Gwen/Pharrell are putting out here, albeit somewhat blatantly, i.e. a pop song that a character from The Sound of Music might think would count for a pop song in 2006...?
"She's crazy, right?"
Even the way Pharrell treats her voice, it goes from the yodel sample to Gwen pretty seamlessly, i.e. The Goatherd IS the Goatherd. This isn't appropriation so much as character-acting, with some extreme dissonance/distaste in so far as it's not necessarily spelled out like that for the bloggers, no context, plus like the weird fish-out-of-water observations w/r/t this Goatherd's clubland coup: "But the girls want to know why boys like us so much." They like you because you're goatherders!
Goatherds, btw, are some slimy motherfuckers. Poeti-historically if I remember right, GHs are the most lecherous of the herders, junk all over the place, which is why to be called a goatherder was serious business in the world of the Alexandrian diss. It's like being called a vlogger. So there's some take-back-the-hoe dress-up involved in this song too, a la dressing like a slut for Halloween. Now I'm going too far. Ariel Levy wants my head on a pike. Maybe it's not my fault, the song's shifty sexual politics, etc. But there's something compelling formally at least to the idea of a (historically, culturally) misplaced goatherder, seemingly this quote unliberated wind-up doll, totally throwing other girls with this slave-is-master routine.
But sticking to sonics-as-storytelling. It'll get sweat down to specific sets of affectations, musical gestures, vocabularies, etc., but I think things could get sophisticated without losing their oomph. A pop song as conceived by Ernest circa Ernest Goes to Camp. A pop song as conceived by the "gay spider" from Arachnophobia. A pop song conceived by the "gay spider" from the set of Wild Wild West.
Top 425 of 2006.
24 October 2006
SALON.COM LIKES MY IDEAS BUT NOT MY HOT HOT JOKEY DEMEANOR
CLASSIC CASE OF DON'T PLAY THAT
Download: Zazen Boys: "Riff Man"
Download: Jonathan Richman: "She Doesn't Laugh At My Jokes"
I know all my "story"-type posts start with something horrific happening to my iPod, such as getting stolen or simply not riffing as hard as it should be. At a certain point I'll be able to take for granted that you'll be able take it for granted, the whole iPod ---> story thing, but for now guess what Blogmerica my 30gig broke and I've been hearing a lot of things that aren't sweet iPod-driven riffs. Among them: commercials that use music that sounds eerily like famous music; black people comedies that use black people music that sounds eerily like famous black people music.
This builds off something I said in the LCD post, which is that more bands should give up on the whole "we make great original songs" thing and start writing songs that sorta sound like famous songs without actually being said famous songs. There are a lot of ad agencies out there who are throwing billions of dollars into developing more Terry Tate office linebacker-type spots (e.g. Vijay Singh Trojan condom "singh-ing" telegram aka "hole in one", thank me later, Arnold), and they're forgetting to keep some cash on the side for famous music licensing fees. Thank me later, Wolf Parade.
Remember that band Jet? They may not know how to write good songs but they definitely know how to write songs that sound like good songs. For instance: "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?" Apple snatched it up for the iPod spot years ago, got the "Lust For Life" riff at probably a twentieth the price, and plus when everybody found out the actual name of the song, which sorta sounds like "Are You Gonna Go My Way?", it's like Jet got double credit. To say nothing of the whole Jet/New York "Jets" similarity, which has only worked in this band's favor.
Speaking of Lenny Kravitz, Victoria's Secret has a commercial right now that loops this guitar riff that sounds pretty much exactly like Guess Who's "American Woman." While the riff plays, you see that area of a woman where her underwear is, and the woman is sorta like shaking. It's a pretty mean cut, with the inference being: Obviously these underwears are being worn by American women, and obviously Victoria's "secret" is that she likes the original "American Woman" more than the Kravitz cover. I disagree with her but at least I see where she's coming from.
And I know a while ago on Comedy Central I saw this weird spot for, shit, something, and the music sounded exactly like the cover of Alien Ant Farm's cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." Just a slight alteration, same rhythm but fewer notes. The spot, if I remember, was also very similar to the suburb shenanigans motif of the AAF video, which could also be a new market, for who or what I don't know though.
I've also been watching a lot of black comedy television at the gym, since the iPod's down. And whatever show it is with Damon Wayans in this weird fatherhood type role (weird for me because this guy will always be Homey D. Clown to me), all the scene change music uses that water-plink synth of early naught Neptunes productions. It's really cheap-sounding, very MIDI, but the space is there, and the vibe is obvious, and the episode I saw had this R&B remix version for scene change when things got steamy.
Not that I want to turn this into like an intellectual property discussion too quickly, sweating down songs to progressions or artists to specific sounds even, who owns what, what owns whom, etc. But I just imagine Lenny Kravitz watching TV in his apartment. The toilet's just been fixed; no more problems with the exploding. No more toilet water destroying his apartment. He's watching TV, and he sees the Victoria's Secret commercial, and his feet are bare, on the ground, totally dry, this is a really new sensation for him. The Victoria's Secret women are shaking the parts of the body with the underwear, and he's digging the song, digging the Secret. And for a second, like one second tops, he thinks everything's going to be OK. Then: explosion.