Archive for the ‘MTV’ Category

thanksSOUNDTRACK: YES-90125 (1983).

90125We had a snow day Monday, and since we were all home, I thought it would be fun to bust out some old records.  As soon as the opening chords of “Owner of a Lonely Heart” crashed out, Sarah gave me a “What made you think of playing this?” look and then said “What made you think of playing this?”

And there is no answer.  I saw it and figured it would be fun to hear. And it was.

Now, as an olde Yes fan, I should probably not like this album.  My favorite Yes album is Relayer, so really I have no business liking this.  First, it has no really long songs, second, it’s totally poppy, and third, it tries so hard to create hit singles.  And yet, I loved it then, and I still enjoyed now.   What’s interesting about it is that even though it was rather state of the art at the time, it doesn’t sound dated now.  Probably because, for instance, the orchestral hit in “Owner” has been sampled so much, it still sounds contemporary.

And so side one (for so it was at the time) has three songs that were hit singles: “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” “It Can Happen,” and “Changes” (which is probably the most “Yes” sounding of the bunch).  Even “Hold On” while not a single, gets recognition for being on the popular side one of the disc.

Side two features another great hit song, “Leave It” (with vocal sampling galore).  Although I think by the end, the disc loses some steam, and “Hearts” is a bit of a drag.

I knew that Trevor Horn was involved with this disc.  But since there have been multiple members in Yes, including two Trevors (!), I’d never really kept it all straight.  So, Trevor Horn was responsible for The Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”) as well as The Art of Noise.  Their song “Close (to the Edit)” was a great video staple on MTV back in the 80s.  It features three gentlemen in suits and a very disturbing little girl smashing the hell out of musical instruments.  This song, which came out the same year as 90125 samples “Owner of a Lonely Heart” so the circle is complete.

Trevor Horn clearly had a big impact on the band and on 80s music in general, which is probably why the disc sounds so good all these years later.

[READ: February 27, 2009] Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country

I couldn’t recall the exact title of this book, so when I typed on Amazon.com “letters obama” I was surprised (although I shouldn’t have been) to see TWO books that fit this description already.  I suppose it makes sense that such compilations are being made (in fact, it seems that Obama could reignite the economy through merchandising of himself alone).  The second book isn’t due out till April, so I guess McSweeney’s have expediency on their side. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEEZER-Weezer (Red Album) (2008).

So hooked was I by the video for “Buddy Holly” that there was little chance of me ever disliking Weezer.  When Pinkerton came out, it quickly became one of my favorite records.  “Pink Triangle” is such a great song about unrequited love for a lesbian.  And of course, “El Scorcho” is a wonderfully off-kilter single.  Since then, Weezer have put out a bunch of albums, some with titles and some without.  This is their 3rd record called Weezer, but it’s the Red Album because its cover is red (duh).

I know that many people can’t stand Weezer (or at least couldn’t back the last time I bothered to check what the pop culture world was thinking…although I think they may be cool now).  They have an uncanny sense of pop melody even when their songs are weird or funny or even seemingly out of tune.  I think that’s why I like them so much, because their songs sometimes start out of tune and the ultimately wind up being super catchy.  I also like them because Rivers Cuomo went back to Harvard to get his degree in English (one wonders of course, why he chooses to write such pedestrian rhymes, but that’s another story altogether), and because he’s a geek in general.

No doubt you’ve heard at least one Weezer song, and you’d be living under a rock if you haven’t heard their new, ubiquitous single “Pork and Beans.”  And “Pork and Beans” is as good a place to start as any.  It’s got fairly heavy guitars, it’s catchy as all get out, it’s rather anti-authority, and parts of it don’t make any sense…that’s Weezer for you.

This record is pretty strong overall.  The first 5 songs are pretty standard Weezer.  There’s a really heavy start song, a sentimental song “Heart Songs” which name checks some of Rivers’ favorite songs growing up, and what has become my favorite song on the record: “The Greatest Man that Ever Lived.”  This is a long song (for Weezer) at nearly six minutes.  What’s cool about it is that every verse is done in a different style of music: there’s a metal verse, a choral verse, a spoken word verse etc.  And the chorus is simple and wonderful.  It could go on for twenty minutes and would still be great.

“Everybody Get Dangerous” is a weird song to me.  It doesn’t quite sound right. It’s still catchy, but I think maybe saying the word dangerous makes a chorus sound weird.  (How’s that for subjective?).  Or, which is more likely, the verses are the catchy part and the chorus is the off-kilter section.

The second half of the record strikes a few firsts, in that the other members of the band sing lead vocals on a few tracks.  Even though the songs are good (and when I heard “Automatic” on the radio the other day on WRXP, it sounded great by itself) there’s something off about them being on a Weezer record.  I think maybe I associate Rivers’ voice with their style so much that any other voice just makes things seems askew.  That said, the songs are good, they’re just not “Weezer.”

I have to get back to the lyrics though.  Rivers is more about harmony and melody, I know, but sometimes those lyrics are so simple as to be almost a joke in themselves.  Maybe that’s the point.  (And as an English major myself, I secretly believe it is the point).  After a few listens I stop cringing about the lyrics and I just start enjoying them.

The last song gives me some problems because it runs nearly seven minutes long.  Obviously not a problem in itself, but the last two or two and a half minutes are just the song fading out, which…come on.

[DIGRESSION] I think I’m probably the only person who gets bothered by songs that fade out too long or songs that I think should be a minute shorter than they are.  And I realized it’s because I have a limited time where I can listen to music carefully.  And so when I do, I don’t want it wasted with silence or fade outs or final choruses that repeat sixteen times. On the other hand, if I just have music on in the background (which is how most people listen to music) you will hardly notice those extra 45 seconds.  But when you’re in the car, and you know you’ll be at work in exactly 3 minutes, you don’t want 2 minutes of fade!

[READ: August 14, 2008] One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

My first real awareness of Solzhenitsyn actually comes from the Moxy Fruvous song “Johnny Saucep’n”:

Well he was just some Johnny Saucep’n when he walked into that kitchen.
And the chef picked up the order and put down his Solzhenitsyn (more…)

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