Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More Confessions of a Blogger

I'd like to say that I enjoy "Alone" by Heart in an ironic sense, but the fact is I just like it. Step off, Celine.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The National: Music for a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape?

Maybe that's over-stating it a bit. But by chance, my ipod in shuffle mode led me to a discovery this morning. I was on my way to work on Presidents' Day (don't ask), and couldn't help but feel weirded out... almost no cars on the street, few people on the sidewalks, absolutely no one waiting for the elevator in our usually packed lobby at work. I realized that The National is the perfect music for wandering a spookily empty city first thing in the morning.

Moody, mopey, whatever, it's not like they try to hide it. Anyway, they're brilliant with layering instruments and constructing interesting rhythms. I've seen them live twice - once when they opened for Arcade Fire - and these Cincinatti boys know how to put on a mesmerizing show. You don't need to know any of the songs in advance to enjoy it; it's that kind of good. They also must have somewhat of a sense of humor, with lyrics like, "They're gonna send us to prison for jerks..."

I'll admit, I know their most recent album,
Boxer, much better than 2005's Alligator. Both are great though. Here are a few of my favorites.

Squalor Victoria
Green Gloves
Fake Empire

I could (and I will!) write another whole post about songs that make a great soundtrack for various activities/moods. It's kind of a hobby. Soon...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

..Together we can take it to the end of the line...

As a general rule, I don't love the abuse of karaoke for let's-bring-everyone-down ballads... but there are definitely exceptions. The most significant case in point - you all know where I'm going with this - is Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I don't know why we all know the words, but few things can unite a packed bar as surprisingly as the opening sounds of that melancholy piano.

Last Thursday, some friends and I busted out this standard at T.G. Whitney's karaoke night. The audience reacted as hoped, and by the chorus, we didn't even need our microphones anymore.

It's hard to say which is my favorite part:

-The sudden swelling into "...And I need you
now, tonight..."

-The excuse to scream at the top of your lungs, "We're living in a powder keg and GIVING OFF SPARKS!!"

-The lyrics "Every now and then I know there's no one in the universe as magical and wondrous as you," so ballsy in their ridonculousness

-The way they throw in an extra little falsetto "turn around, bright eyes," sung ever so lightly, before the swirling wind sounds bring it to a close...

Oh, who am I kidding, I can't choose a favorite!

My first memories of this song involve the annual D.A.R.E. rally at our middle school. Every year, the 8th graders put on this melodramatic little skit about a teenager who ruins her life with drugs, while Bonnie Tyler inexplicably played in the background. God knows how many years this same skit had been used, considering that the song pre-dated most of us entering preschool.
Taking the message to the literal extreme, students would dress up as different drugs, i.e. a sandwich board with the word "Marijuana" or "LSD" on it, and of course, sunglasses. Each drug would hug the wayward teen, and then all of her new drug friends joined hands and circled around her (could I make this up?). The coolest kids got to play the drugs. God, where would we be without D.A.R.E. rallies?
The point of this tangent: it took about a year for that song to leave our skulls, and then it would be time for the next rally. Turn around.....

Listen at your own risk!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Modern Definition for Shame

I wanted to share this conversation. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Me: Someone on the kickball message board was trying to organize a bar gathering tomorrow, and my friend was like, I might be able to stop by after this Matchbox 20 concert.
Me: and 3 of us simultaneously reacted- "Matchbox 20???"
Anonymous Friend: hahaha
Me: she was like, defending herself, that she got tricked and didn't know what concert
Me: apparently Alanis is opening?
Me: MSG even. amazing
AF: they're SUCH a guilty pleasure. like i'm not embarrassed by my love of bubblegum pop, but THEY make me all shy to admit
Me: it's like Benedict Arnold = Traitor. Matchbox 20 = I listen to whatever the radio DJ tells me to
Me: i still like "Long Day"
Me: but i would rather die than go to that show
Me: except maybe to see Alanis
AF: i liked Mad Season a lot
AF: the album
AF: Beautiful Girl, Bed of Lies...it's good!
AF: shh
Me: haha

It's true. I owned Yourself or Someone Like You. I saw them in concert twice. I can't exactly pinpoint when Matchbox 20 fandom became shameful; it just did. I guess I didn't officially give up until the advancement of Rob Thomas' solo career. There's generic VH-1 Top 20 Countdown fodder, and then there's that, a whole new level of forgettable, contrived, pop-rock.
1997 Kim will always think fondly of you. But I feel I must bid you adieu.

Listening to: STP - "Vasoline"

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Half-Assed Grammy Rundown

In need of some background noise while doing household tasks and avoiding the cold, I caught the Grammy Awards last night. All 14 hours of it. For real, though, that telecast just kept going! I know it's been a while since I watched, but since when do they have to give out every possible lifetime achievement award in a single night? Do the Grammy people know something we don't... is the planet going down soon and they had to get the awards out in a last dash?

OK, despite some odd moments (Kanye, I'm looking at you), the practically ridiculous length of the show, and the fact that I don't even believe in music awards because I don't see a valid way to judge something as subjective as music (about the same way I feel about comedy awards, by the way)... some good did come from this show.

1. Being a nerd for good piano, I absolutely loved the Herbie Hancock/Lang Lang peformance of "Rhapsody in Blue" with full orchestra. That piece always blows me away, but watching it happen up close, brought together by so many people at the top of their musical game, left me smiling and impressed.

2. Vince Gill's acceptance speech. He was presented his Best Country Album award by Ringo Starr, to which he commented, "I just got an award from a Beatle.... Kanye, that happen to you yet?" The audience responded well, and a reaction shot showed Kanye laughing, but we'll see if something unfortunate should befall Mr. Gill in the near future. Joking or not, it was nice to see someone take Kanye down a peg.

3. Tina turner. Effing 68 and still working it out, singing/dancing to "Proud Mary" with Beyoncé and a lot of other people on that stage less than half her age. If I can still move like that at 68, I will consider myself a success.

Also worth mentioning I suppose, Amy Winehouse won a bunch of stuff. She slurred something about her incarcerated lover into her Record of the Year acceptance speech - yes, she used the word incarcerated. Sigh. What a fine, fine role model for young girls everywhere who hope to be scary and strung out by the age of 24! She does have some catchy-ass songs though, doesn't she?

Listening to: Arcade Fire - "The Well and the Lighthouse"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Chiffons - "He's So Fine"

In 1963, five girls from the Bronx hit #1 with "He's So Fine."

This is the song that instantly makes my mom 17 again. When it starts, she has the same, "Oh, I
love this song!" reaction that I might have when an Arcade Fire song comes on. Yes, I did just compare The Chiffons to Arcade Fire, apparently.

It's hard to beat lyrics like these:

He's so fine (oh yeah)
Gotta be mine (oh yeah)
Sooner or later (oh yeah)
I hope it's not later (oh yeah)

Some sentiments are just timeless I guess.