Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yankovic, the director

Last night I posted a couple of videos, including Weird Al Yankovic's video for "Amish Paradise," which also happened to be directed by Yankovic. In addition to parodying Coolio's video, director Yankovic inserted other touches into the video, including an entire segment that was videotaped backwards as a visual reference to the datedness of Amish customs.

Ebay (Ebay?) explains the genesis of two of the bits in the video:

In one section, Yankovic is shown walking through a field while everything around him moves backwards. This was accomplished by having Yankovic "phonetically memorize the chorus of the song backwards, then sing it to a backwards music track while walking backwards across a field being crisscrossed by live farm animals," and then play the clip in reverse. The inspiration for this scene was a backwards scene performed in the movie "Top Secret!," a movie which has served as an inspiration for several of Yankovic's jokes.

The video shows many aspects of regular Amish life, such as churning butter and raising a barn. However, when the barn is raised, the frame falls towards Yankovic, who is standing where a gap in the frame is. He has acknowledged that this gag is a Buster Keaton "ripoff/homage"

Oh, and since I already posted Yankovic's video parody of "Gangsta's Paradise," I might as well show the original.

By the way, the singer on Coolio's song is L.V.

But "Amish Paradise" is not Yankovic's only video credit. lists several:

"Christmas at Ground Zero," 1986
"Babalu Music!," 1991
"Bedrock Anthem," 1993
"Headline News," 1994
"Amish Paradise," 1996
"Gump," 1996
"Spy Hard," 1996
"It's All about the Benjamins," 1999
"The Saga Begins," 1999
"Bob," 2003

And Yankovic doesn't only direct for himself:

Jeff Foxworthy, "Redneck Stomp," 1994
Jeff Foxworthy, "Party All Night," 1996
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, "Wail," 1997
(With others) Hanson, "The River," 1998
The Black Crowes, "Only a Fool," 1999
Ben Folds, "Rockin' the Suburbs," 2001

And for the record, Yankovic did not direct the movie "UHF."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Urban movie music, and a parody

I couldn't find a video version of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's parody of Eminem's "Lose Yourself."

So here's the original.

I'll grant that even a synthetica lover like me thinks the instrumentals are a bit cheesy on the chorus, but it's still compelling movie music, comparable to "Gangsta's Paradise."

And I did find the parody of that.

The greatest bands you've never heard of

While my musical knowledge isn't as deep as the musical knowledge of others, I have heard of a lot of bands of which others aren't aware. I'm not sure why people haven't heard of some of these bands:

Cosby, Will, Cash, and Young. This band, one of the first supergroups, consisted of comedian Bill Cosby, columnist George Will, country singer Johnny Cash, and Canadian Neil Young. However, the band fell apart when Cosby, Will, and Cash decided that Young was just too weird. The others continued to have success, although Cosby had to battle a serious addiction to Jello pudding.

Carp. The success of the Beatles and the Monkees led to a slew of other bands formed in their wake, but Carp had an unusual twist - the "John" and "Paul" roles were played by females. While criticized by many (then-art student David Byrne thought the whole exercise ridiculous), Carp did put out some quality music, both slow songs such as "Cat and Bumblebee" and harder songs such as "River Dolphin."

Deck Boys Carp wasn't the only manufactured band out there. There was a wealth of southern California bands devoted to surfing and/or cars - the Beach Boys were just the most popular of a slew of bands in those genres. But what of the younger set whose parents wouldn't let them own a surfboard, and who were too young for a car? Enter Don Kirshner, who was between gigs with the Monkees and the Archies and who decided that swimming pools and bicycles were the ticket to stardom with the younger set. Unlike the Beach Boys before them and the Beastie Boys after them, the Deck Boys truly were boys. Kirshner didn't want to monkey around with the Beach Boys' successful formula, so he started with the pool songs first and branched into bicycle songs later. "Floating Safari, "Swimming USA" (Kirshner avoided a lawsuit on that one), and "Be True To Your Bike" did respectably well, although the Deck Boys are best remembered for their subsequent novelty album "Pet Sounds," in which all of the lead vocals are sung by the members' dogs (and gerbil).

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jonathan Mann, "Torture Memos - Waterboarding"

Now there have been all sorts of "found object" songs. Some were inspired by Brian Eno and David Byrne's "My Life in the Bush of Ghosts" (in the early 1980s, some Reed College students issued a "New Music Sampler" cassette that had at least a couple of examples of the "marry radio to music" format), while others merely took written material and incorporated it into the song (the Wings song "The Broadcast" from Back to the Egg is an example of this).

Jonathan Mann fell into the latter category.

On this morning's "Handel on the News" segment, Bill Handel and his crew played an excerpt from this song:

my Fox Chicago explained the genesis of the song:

In January, singer/songwriter Jonathan Mann challenged himself to write a song and upload a video for it every single day. For his 109th song, Mann got lyrical assistance from former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo: "Torture Memos: Waterboarding" sets the content of a recently released CIA memo on waterboarding detainees to music.

The Vimeo video on this page explains Mann's Rock Cookie Bottom" project. And if you want to buy the song, click the "Buy Me $1" button here.

Tori Amos and 360 deals

In this blog, I've talked at various times about 360 deals. Turns out Tori Amos has the clout to reject them:

Amos is fully aware of her own strength as an artist. When she sat down with Universal Music Group chairman Doug Morris to discuss her Universal Republic deal, her longevity and devoted fan base gave her considerable clout. Amos, who has her own publishing and merchandising companies, was firm about not wanting a so-called 360 agreement, or multiple-rights deal, in which recording artists share not just revenue from album sales but concert, merchandise and other earnings with their label in exchange for more comprehensive career support.

"Tell me the upside of a 360 deal unless it's about $100 million?" she asks rhetorically. "I have to give half of it in tax, and a huge percent to my attorney, and then that's all I've got? And someone else owns songs I haven't even written yet?"

More here.

Only problem is, most artists don't have the clout of Tori Amos, so if you want a major label deal, you'll have to cave.

Assuming you want a major label deal.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The RIAA cleans up, or establishes a principle, or something

Read this New York Times article for the facts of the case. In essence, the RIAA accused Michelle and Robert Santangelo, who were aged 20 and 16 at the time and are the children of Patricia Santangelo, of illegally downloading about 1,000 songs, including "MMMBop" and "Beat It." After four years of litigation (originally against the mother, subsequently against her kids), the RIAA and the Santangelo family have reached a settlement in which the Santangelo family will pay dearly.

To the tune of $7,000.


Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the R.I.A.A. [was asked] how much had been spent to win the $7,000 settlement, and whether it was a victory, she said, “We don’t break out costs per case, and it’s not a question of it being ‘worth it’ or a ‘victory.’ ”

She said the lawsuit had succeeded in showing that breaking the law has consequences and in steering music fans toward legal online services “that fairly compensate musicians and labels.”

Of course, some musicians may wonder whether they're being fairly compensated. Perhaps Ms. Duckworth can detail how much of the $7,000 will go to the artists and songwriters. It should be illuminating.

Even MTV does some geotarding

I was checking MTV's website to see what videos they had for Madness. I was hoping for a video version of one of their later, more thoughtful songs, such as "Yesterday's Men," but was disappointed. And when I went to watch the video for a very un-thoughtful song, "One Step Beyond,", I was disappointed even more.


Then again, considering Madness' rather interesting recording history on both sides of the Atlantic, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Everything new becomes old

I just wrote an Empoprise-BI business blog post on people who evangelize for your business, and the portion of the post on KMET relied extensive on a post from Dave. But when he lamented the disappearance of free-form rock from the radio dial, Dave said the following:

For certain, the one-two punch of disco and "new wave" music in the late '70s and early '80s helped to push SoCal radio dials towards KIIS or KROQ, but think about this... how many "classic disco" or "classic new wave" format stations are around today? That's what I thought.

Dave didn't think hard enough.

As early as the 1990s, if not earlier, both "classic disco" and "classic new wave" formats were starting to appear, if not on fully-programmed radio stations, then certainly on portions of the radio programming. To name two examples, "Disco Saturday Night" and "Flashback Lunch" certainly epitomized the classic disco and classic new wave formats that were very popular.

And, of course, our listening habits have extended well beyond terrestrial radio. In the process of researching my Richard Blade wedding music post, I was alerted to the fact that Blade now hosts a show on Sirius XM radio. Here's what Blade says about his show:

I host a daily show on First Wave, Sirius channel 22, XM channel 44. It's an 80s station (how did you guess?) that features all your favorite music including D Mode, The Smiths, The Cure, Peter Murphy, New Order, Moz, INXS, TFF, Pet Shop Boys, Siouxsie, The Clash and so many others. It is, of course, commercial free.

But you're not really going to see this come into style until the oldies stations get a little less old. You see, the oldies stations shift their programming as the years go by to better address their listening demographics. It used to be tha oldies stations would play music from the 1950's and 1960's, but it appears that the 1950's stuff is being dropped and they're now playing 1960's and 1970's songs. So the classic disco is already there, and the classic new wave is sure to follow.

In a few years, get set for classic grunge.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Why your favorite music site is deplorable

In the course of writing this blog, I've talked about the relations of various corporations with the people responsible for writing and performing the music. Helienne Lindvall clearly does not come down on the side of the corporations. Here's a sampling of what she said in a recent article:

At least the Pirate Bay were blatantly open about the fact that they had no intention of compensating artists (though they weren't quite as open about the money they are making off the back of their business....

Many new internet music ventures, being an example, build their businesses on providing unlicensed (which means they don't pay the artist) music with the view of selling their company for a hefty sum as soon as they have built up a big enough following. CBS bought for $280m and set out to get licences for the music on the site. None of that money went to the artists whose music built the company....

Google/YouTube forces anyone who even attempts to make a licensing deal with them to sign Non Disclosure Agreements, preventing them from divulging how paltry the deals on offer are....

More here, including Lindvall's "Fair Trade" proposal.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

On Pete Ham

The Music's Over features Badfinger's Pete Ham on the 39th anniversary of his death on April 23, 1975. You probably know how this story ended: the early ’70s the band were caught up in a legal nightmare with their former management that left the members broke. It all became too much for Pete Ham who hanged himself in his garage on April 23, 1975 at the age of 27.

More here.

And in my old mrontemp blog, I previously linked to this account of Ham's band:

The story of Badfinger is one of the saddest and most unfair tales in rock and roll. Other artists may have struggled, been ripped off, suffered needless pain, and gone unrecognized for their talents, but rarely did one artist (or group) have to withstand all of this at the same time.

But why do we still talk about Badfinger? Not only because of the two suicides in the band, but primarily because of the music.

Another view on wedding music

I've spoken about wedding music previously, albeit briefly (solely in the context of one of my favorite hymns, "Now the Green Blade Riseth"). However, if you're planning the music for a wedding, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. To get guidance on this, you can refer to one of the experts on the topic - Richard Blade. And yes, I realize that half of you (the older half) are going, "RICHARD BLADE?!?" Meanwhile, the other half of you (the younger half) are going, "Who's Richard Blade?"

Blade is most famous for his 18 years of work as a disc jockey on Los Angeles radio station KROQ, and since he started there in the 1980s and was connected to a number of bands that gained prominence in the 1980s (he appears in the Depeche Mode movie "101" and was interviewed at the time of the Wherehouse Records signing), Blade is at this time generally regarded as an oldies deejay. (And again the older people are shaking their head at the idea that Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, and U2 are now considered oldies bands.)

But Blade, in common with many people who are or were involved in radio, has a number of projects going on at any one moment. His website mentions many of the things he's done, and the things he still does today. And one of the things that he will do is arrange music for your wedding ceremony.

The following is a list of some of the most popular wedding songs that I play at ceremonies and receptions. I’ve broken down each section of a traditional wedding, in order, from the ceremony to the reception. And please remember, these are past requests - it's what you want played that's important. After all, it's your
wedding day!

And, for the record, I did not find a single song by Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, or U2 in that entire list. Here's a sample from just one of the categories:

Processional & Bridal music: Played during the time the family, wedding party, and the bride walk down the aisle.

Bridal Chorus (Here Comes The Bride) from "Lohengrin" (Wagner)
Trumpet Voluntary in D (The Prince of Denmark's March) (Clarke or Purcell)
Canon in D (Pachelbel)
The Four Seasons (Handel)
Water Music (Handel)
What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)
I Can't Help Falling In Love (Elvis Presley)
When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge)
In My Life (The Beatles)
March From Lohengrin (Wagner)

Well, we didn't have a deejay at our wedding, but if you're so inclined to have one, and if the Poorman doesn't meet your needs, there's always Richard Blade.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Well, you didn't think that they were gonna buy Eminem's catalog, did you?

I am not in the music industry, so in most cases the ownership of a particular music catalog doesn't really register in my brain. The exceptions have been celebrity cases, such as when Paul McCartney bought the music catalog of Buddy Holly, which inspired his then-friend Michael Jackson to buy the music catalog of John Lennon & Paul McCartney.

Well, I ran across this music catalog sale in the New York Times:

The estates of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II have sold the rights to the legendary duo’s songs and musicals — including “South Pacific,” “The Sound of Music” and “Oklahoma!”

And who bought the catalog, you may ask? Imagem Music Group, an investment arm of a huge Netherlands-based pension fund, the company announced on Tuesday.

A pension fund? For songs that are decades old? Well, the songs are still popular.

Imagem was committed to maintaining high artistic standards for both future productions and the commercial licensing of specific songs, which include “My Favorite Things,” “Some Enchanted Evening” and standards from other Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals like “Carousel” and “The King and I.”...

AndrĂ© de Raaff, the chief executive of Imagem, said in an interview that he believed that musical theater classics like Rodgers and Hammerstein songs were “a very solid investment” for pension money.

You have to admit that Rodgers and Hammerstein songs are a much more stable investment than, say, oil.

More here, including the identity of the cat who almost bought the catalog himself.

Dubstar website and Facebook group?

I was listening to my randomly selected tracks, and Dubstar's "Stars" came up. A wonderful song that I admired song before I realized who performed the song, and that the lead singer ended up becoming a Client.

So as the melodies wafted about me, I started searching around and found

Huh? I thought that Sarah Blackwood had left Dubstar long ago.

The site merely consisted of a link to a Facebook group, which turned out to be a fan group.

So I nosed around and found out that the website had been registered by one Steve Hilliard.

And, after some further nosing about, I found this:

We have news, but it's sad news...
Friday, November 28, 2008 at 12:21am
It looks as though the reunion will now not be happening.

I am incredibly sorry to have to tell you all this. Sarah has now decided (at the 11th hour) to not do anything with dubstar and to concentrate on Client.

So now Steve and Chris find themselves sitting on 20 brand new finished recordings.

For those of you who aren't aware, Sarah posted a statement over on the Client forum, but it got such a negative response from fans that they have now taken it down.

Chris and Steve will NEVER work with Sarah again. They are currently figuring out how to move forward through all of this.

I am sorry to have gotten all of your hopes up.

None of this would have been made public if people had not been committed in the first place.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Depeche Mode in Hollywood - what could go wrong?

My MeeHive account is paying its first dividends, since it helped me to find this Los Angeles Times article:

Authorities plan to shut Hollywood Boulevard near its storied intersection with Vine Street on Thursday for a free concert by the electro-pop band Depeche Mode.

Parts of the 8 p.m. event will be videotaped for airing later that night on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show.

View Larger Map

Ah, Depeche Mode in Hollywood with thousands in attendance. Brings back memories. Slicing Up Eyeballs remembers:

Almost 20 years after sparking a near-riot when 20,000 fans showed up for an in-store appearance, Depeche Mode once again is venturing out onto the streets of Los Angeles....

Slicing links to a forum thread with a number of personal stories from people who went to the Wherehouse that evening, many years ago. Here's Franklin Avenue's summary:

In 1990, Depeche Mode had just released their "Violator" CD... and decided to make an in-store appearance at The Wherehouse music store in the Beverly Connection. About 15,000 people showed up -- some camping outside the La Cienega store for days.

By the time the band showed up, chaos erupted.

Both the Slicing post and the Franklin Avenue post include a YouTube video of the contemporary news coverage.

Franklin Avenue adds some observations:

Check out these news reports from the time... and how strangely out of touch these anchors sound. Odd that everyone keeps referring to the "hot new band from London," when Depeche Mode had been selling records in America for a decade by that point (and had even already performed its famous Rose Bowl show two years earlier).

And here's part two:

View Larger Map

To my knowledge, Zev Yaroslavsky has no comment on the Kimmel event.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Record Store Day follow-up

I mentioned Record Store Day in a post in my Inland Empire blog, but I personally didn't participate so I missed much of what went on. I did, however, read about the aftermath on a national level.

From New York:

The exclusives I was trying to snag sold out long before I even got to East Village institution Other Music. Fair enough, early bird gets the Beck/Sonic Youth split 7". Yet there was still a line just to shop in the store! ... DJ sets by Grizzly Bear, The Pains Of Being Pure Of Heart, and The Raveonettes ultimately soundtracked my shopping experience, which was was worth the wait.

From Chicago:

Billy [Corgan] went shopping at his favorite record store, Vintage Vinyl in Evanston, IL. He didn't know it was Record Store Day, though! Just a coincidence. Billy Corgan doesn't need a holiday to support indie record stores.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Re-creating a great moment in L A radio

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I'll tell you want I want, what I really really want

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I'll tell you want I want, what I really really want

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I'll tell you want I want, what I really really want

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I'll tell you want I want, what I really really want

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I'll tell you want I want, what I really really want

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I'll tell you want I want, what I really really want

So tell me what you want, what you really really want
I'll tell you want I want, what I really really want

Ad nauseum.

For more information.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Jango and "payola" - lost revenue will break my bones, but names will never hurt me

Follow-up to this March 9 post in my Empoprise-BI business blog, which included the following:

When we choose the words that we use to describe something, we know very well that the words we choose often affect how we look at the item being described.

Let's take the word "payola," used to describe a 1950s practice in which radio stations would be paid to play particular songs.

My March 9 post didn't discuss music per se (it concentrated on "pay per post" blogging), but this Guardian item did:

Payola – the illegal practice of paying or in any other way bribing a radio station to play your song – has existed since the advent of pop music. In the 1960s, Alan Freed was the first person convicted of payola and the book Hit Men described in detail how the practice was rife in the 70s and 80s....[A]s recently as 2005-06, three of the major labels were indicted and settled out of court for pay-for-play practices....

Now webcaster Jango has come up with an ingenious way of legitimising these bribes, by declaring publicly that they've been paid to play songs. For as little as $30, a band can buy 1,000 plays on the music-streaming service, slotted in between established artists (who don't pay for their slots, I assume). The artists themselves choose what other music they'd like to be played next to.

More here. As far as I'm concerned, disclosure is disclosure, and for those purists who condemn Jango's process, I submit that it's just another avenue for unsigned bands to flex their own power as opposed to the power of the major labels.

If Jango artists are to be criticized for buying airplay, should the major labels be criticized for buying commercials on radio stations? Yes, I know that radio stations publicly maintain that their programming decisions are separate from their advertising decisions, but those ads obviously help the major labels to obtain mindshare at the stations. And even if the radio stations don't change their programming, they can't necessarily control the sounds that are heard during the 15, 30, or 60 second sports. With sufficient money, you can buy up enough airtime for your artist to be heard more than any other artist on the station - granted it won't be counted in the station's official charts, but it will register in the listener's heads.

So how is that different from Jango?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Brat Pack Sings - "Smile" (an old song)

Oh all of the Brat Packers, probably the person with the most intruiging resume is Robert Downey Jr. And he has moved in a new direction:

This fall [2004], the actor strikes out in a new direction with the release of The Futurist, his debut album as a singer/songwriter, on the Sony Classical label. Working in collaboration with producers Jonathan Elias and Mark Hudson in a style he calls .highbrow pop with jazz and classical influences,. Downey has written eight powerful, deeply felt new songs for The Futurist, which also includes two striking covers . Charlie Chaplin.s .Smile,. featuring jazz bassist Charlie Haden, and the Yes classic .Your Move,. with Yes.s Jon Anderson joining him on the vocal.

But this isn't something new for Downey:

Downey began playing music and writing songs when he was a struggling actor in New York some 20 years ago, with influences as diverse as Harry Nilsson and Steely Dan, and The Police and U2. After years of encouragement from friends and colleagues, the actor decided to go into the studio and build his first album (for which he also designed the cover) largely on original tunes that have been around for several years as well new songs he recently wrote.

Matt Collar reviewed the album:

Having sang in various film and TV projects, it was often rumored that Downey wanted to make a move to the music business. Well, the rumors were true and the results are largely laudable. Vocally, Downey has a unique sound that falls somewhere between the melancholy twang of Bruce Hornsby and the soulful grit of Joe Cocker — think Bruce Springsteen doing a cabaret night....Downey's ear tends toward the languid and his lyrics, while heartfelt, are obtuse and often seem to dance around deep issues without revealing much.

To date, Downey has not recorded a follow-up.

Regarding the cover version of "Smile," here are some details:

'Smile' was the theme music for Chaplin last silent picture 'Modern Times' in 1936. It became officially 'Smile' when John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons added lyrics to Chaplin's composition in 1954. Nat 'King' Cole recorded the song and it became a hit!

Here's the 1936 version:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A respected tenure at the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Perhaps it's fitting that this article ran in the New York Times:

On Thursday night Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted his next-to-last program as the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. And the most tangible manifestation of his galvanizing 17-year tenure with the orchestra may be the place the program was performed: Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s home since 2003.

In the Thursday performance, Salonen's own Violin Concerto was premiered:

Mr. Salonen, with his vast experience as a conductor, is so skilled at orchestration that every piece he writes, including this concerto, has a brilliant surface and wondrous sound. In the late 1990s he had a sort of California epiphany, realizing that without his modernist mentors looking over his shoulder, he could write the way he wanted to.

Perhaps all the modernist mentors were safely far away in New York? More here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Michael Jackson auction cancelled

Normally in the Empoprise-MU music blog, I try to stick to music issues rather than non-music issues involving musicians. But this Michael Jackson story caught my eye.

Perhaps you heard about the planned auction of Michael Jackson effects? Well, it's been cancelled:

Mr. Jackson hired Julien’s Auctions last year to sell the contents of Neverland Valley Ranch, his former estate northwest of Los Angeles, and the company put together an auction of more than 1,000 items. But last month Mr. Jackson’s company, MJJ Productions, sued to prevent the auction, saying that he had not been given an opportunity to review the items in advance.

Litigation was avoided, and the auction will not take place. But apparently a lot of people are saying "Michael who?"

Mr. Julien had expected a large turnout for the auction, and said that his company invested $2 million to prepare it.

But when the doors opened for the exhibition Tuesday morning, only a few dozen fans and passers-by were on hand.

More here (New York Times).

No talking, just...Byrne?

Stereogum carried this tidbit about the planned David Byrne album about Imelda Marcos:

Byrne wrote the project with Fatboy Slim and promises every song will have a different vocalist. Among them: Santigold, Roisin Murphy, Sharon Jones, Alice Russell, and Tori Amos.

Hmm...a different singer for each song? Sounds like a project done several years ago by a band called The Heads. Perhaps Byrne has heard of them.

Shot in the Back of the Head (Moby)

Both Stereogum and Pitchfork are showing a new Moby video, "Shot in the Back of the Head." Stereogum:

[The video features] an elliptical, somber storyline about a man in love with a disembodied head and the disembodied head who loves him. There are no words, so you'll need to pay attention to the stark, squiggly black and white imagery. It's very unlike Moby's more recent work, which is to say, it's not annoying.

Moby said more in a journal post:

the first single(if you can call an instrumental with no vocals that we're giving away for free a 'single')is called 'shot in the back of the head', and i'm happy to announce that david lynch has done the video for it. i sent him the music and said, 'please do whatever you want'. so he sat down and drew some animation that is very dark and beautiful. david lynch is my favorite film director, and i'm really happy to have him as the first video director on 'wait for me'.

So why is Moby talking about a "first single"? He also announced a new album, "wait for me," that will be released on June 30.

Will Billy Corgan - I mean Smashing Pumpkins - win the authenticity war?

Stereogum reproduces a post from Billy Corgan regarding the future of his one-man band, Smashing Pumpkins (see my previous post). This is (part of) what he said:

I'm going to step right into the heat of the matter now and address the infamous 'why?' question. The why being 'why' I have chosen to continue on under the Smashing Pumpkins banner considering I am the only remaining original member? The simple answer is that when I decided to write and record again under the name The Smashing Pumpkins in 2005, I committed myself 100 pct. 100pct of my mind-body-soul to come back and make the band really be great again, and I feel in tune to SP in a way I haven't felt in tune probably since 1995 or 1996. As they say in No Limit Poker, I'm 'all in'. I'm not going to back out of the challenge in front of me now. I'm absolutely exhilarated by what I see and feel the future to be for SP. There is a difference in how I think and approach a body of work for the Pumpkins then say I would as a solo artist or under any other name. Being the near lone songwriter for the Pumpkins has always made me want to put all the diverse harmonic fragments in my mind together, and it has been an incredible musical journey so far to keep trying to match up to the size of that idea. I truly am not focused on where I've been now as much as where I am going, and I haven't felt that way for a very long time.

More here, although it should be noted that Stereogum may have been expressing its editorial opinion of the move when they published a picture of Corgan with noted musician Tila Tequila.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Isn't That Special?

Most of the Specials (i.e., everyone except Jerry Dammers) reunited on Jools Holland.

The Daily Swarm has posted the applicable YouTube videos.

What they didn't clarify about Vevo

Peter Kafka's MediaMemo carried this story:

It’s official: The world’s largest video site and the world’s biggest music company are joining up.

Google’s YouTube (GOOG) and Vivendi’s Universal Music Group (V) will be launching a new site, dubbed Vevo, which will highlight UMG’s videos.

More here, including the original press release, which said, in part:

In addition to VEVO, YouTube has renewed and extended its successful partnership with UMG that allows users to continue creating and watching user-generated videos containing UMG sound recordings and Universal Music Publishing Group’s compositions on YouTube through various territories around the world.

That item, buried in the press release, is the only hint that the agreement will apply outside of the United States.

But will it apply in Britain and Germany? The BusinessWeek article doesn't clarify this issue, nor does Peter Kafka's follow-up.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Never gonna let you down? Don't bet on it (YouTube, the PRS, and a certain Rick Astley song)

This blog has previously covered the disputes between YouTube and various organizations in Britain and Germany.

I last discussed the British situation on March 10, when I briefly referenced the dispute between YouTube and the Performing Rights Society in Britain. Here's what Patrick Walker of YouTube said on March 9:

Our previous licence from PRS for Music has expired, and we've been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us. There are two obstacles in these negotiations: prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency. We value the creativity of musicians and songwriters and have worked hard with rights-holders to generate significant online revenue for them and to respect copyright. But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our licence than before. The costs are simply prohibitive for us - under PRS's proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback.

Now before you pooh-pooh Google's (YouTube's) arguments here, you have to realize that Google has to maintain a viable revenue model, and that it would be irresponsible for them to bankrupt the entire company to sustain musicians and songwriters.

And how much does this cost Google, do you ask? Well, I'm going to tell you.

I'd be willing to bet that many people in the United States might not be familiar with the name Pete Waterman, but his site describes a literal empire of talent that is assembled under his wing. Take a look at the discography at the site, and you will see that Waterman's name has been linked with a number of huge hits on both sides of the Atlantic, ranging from Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Parts 1 and 2" to hits from 21st century artists such as Kylie Minogue and Geri Halliwell.

Now among that string of hits you'll find a little ditty by a singer named Rick Astley called "Never Gonna Give You Up." Perhaps you've heard of it. BMI has certainly heard of it, because the song is in the BMI catalogue. And Peter Alan Waterman is one of the co-writers of the song, along with Matt Aitken and Mike Stock.

Well, that song has been played a few times on YouTube lately. Try 30 million times as of July 1, 2008. And when you're a songwriter and your song is played 30 million times, you can expect a big payday - even under the old contract under which YouTube was operating at the time.

Steven Perez links to a Gizmodo post that details exactly how much the Waterman Empire collected in songwriter royalties from this massive viral windfall.

"There was I sitting at Christmas thinking, 'I must have made a few bob this year with the old Rickrolling'," he said.

"I rang my publisher and they said 'You'll be all right', until I saw the royalty statement. £11.

That's right. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, viral events in history has resulted in an ELEVEN POUND windfall for the songwriter.

Actually, the co-songwriter. If one person, rather than three, had written the song, then that songwriter would have received a whopping THIRTY-THREE POUNDS.

Granted that Waterman doesn't need the money, but if a huge viral hit is worth less than 50 bucks, then how are the less popular British songwriters supposed to make a living from YouTube?

I'll grant that I'm only hearing half the story, but suddenly the PRS request for an increase in the royalty rate seems reasonable.

Oh, and as noted above, I learned about the Waterman story from Steven Perez. Yes, the "DAMN YOU STEVEN PEREZ" guy.

Now the Green Blade Riseth

There are numbers that are significant to many of us - 3, 7, 27 - and there are numbers that are significant to only a few of us.

One of the numbers that is significant to me is 441.

That is the number of a hymn in the 1964 edition (long since superseded) of the Methodist hymnal in the United States. The hymn, "Now the Green Blade Riseth," originally appeared in The Oxford Book of Carols, and is a perfect hymn for the Easter season. As I previously noted, I actually convinced the organist (not Methodist) to play it before my wedding. Yes, I like this hymn. And, rather than reproducing the modern lyrics, I'm going to take this opportunity to reproduce the old-style lyrics, as they were printed in 1964. Getteth off my lawn.

The first verse:

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

While the first verse can be interpreted in a myriad of ways, subsequent verses clarify the interpretation. Here are the second and third verses:

In the grave they laid him, Love whom men had slain,
Thinking that never he would wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Forth he came at Easter, like the risen grain,
He that for three days in the grave had lain;
Quick from the dead my risen Lord is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that springeth green.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Good Friday video

I searched around and found this on Tangle.

This is a music video I created for a Good Friday church service based on the old song "It Is Finished" by Petra. I took most of the images and videos from different "The Bible on video" sources. I hope you enjoy it.

But since Petra is notoriously uncool, and this video will probably be skipped by many, I've also included a Johnny Cash video.

Embedding disabled by request

You'll notice some of the scenes in that last chorus. Some of them were not filmed for the video, but were filmed much earlier:

The face of Jesus appears; first, in a portrait and later in footage taken from Gospel Road, a movie on the life of Christ that Cash produced with his own finances in the 1970s. The graphic crucifixion scene is interspliced with concert footage and cheering prison crowds in order to poignantly emphasize that all of humanity carries the responsibility of Christ's death.

Have a Good Friday.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Brat Pack Sings - "Oh, Daddy"

No, Patrick Swayze isn't the only Brat Packer who has musical talent.

And just to show you how dedicated I am to continuing this series, I even held my nose and went to TMZ to research this story. While I didn't find a lot of detail there, continuing research led me to the history of the Fulton Street Jazz Band in Sacramento, California.

The Fulton Street Jazz Band was organized in the early seventies by pianist Bob Ringwald. Originally the band was an informal group that met once a week at a Sacramento pizza parlor to learn and play Dixieland tunes. The name of the thoroughfare the pizza parlor was located on was, of course, Fulton Avenue.

The Fulton Street Jazz Band became more formalized in 1974 to play in the first Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, and is one of three bands to have played every Sacramento Jubilee since then.

When Ringwald moved to Los Angeles in 1979, Dean Nelson, the band's cornetist, took over leadership of the group and remained at the helm until late 2005. A few years ago, Ringwald returned to the Sacramento area. Late in 1998, he returned to the band as the pianist and in 2005 has taken over the leadership of the band, when Dean retired from the group.

Around the time that the Fulton Street Jazz Band "became more formalized," they recorded an album. The singer was a six-year old who got the job via connections.

I Wanna Be Loved By You, Molly Sings

Molly Ringwald recorded her first record album "I Wanna Be Loved By You, Molly Sings", at the age of six, in January and February of 1974 with Bob Ringwald's Fulton Street Jazz Band.

"I Wanna Be Loved By You"
"Sister Kate"
"A Bird in a Gilded Cage"
"He's So Unusual"
"Oh, Daddy"
"There'll Be a Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight"
"Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out"
"I'll Do Anything For You"
"The World's Jazz Crazy"
"Get Out and Get Under The Moon"
"Cake Walkin' Babies From Home"

A few decades later, in September 2007, Cam Miller described the follow-up:

The leader is the band's principal vocalist though for this recording, Bob's actress daughter Molly Ringwald, who was singing at Sacramento Jazz Jubilees when she was a youngster, takes a turn at the vocal mic too....

The Bobs, Sakoi, the trumpeter and Ringwald, the vocalist, turn in a fine performance of "Blue Turning Gray Over You," the other Bob, Williams, lays down a nice intro for a spirited take of "Once In a While." With a second trombonist, Jim Maihack the FSJB provides a lush background for Molly R. who also handles the lyrics on "Oh Daddy."

Amid the well worn standards like "Something For Annie" and "Save It Pretty Mama," the Fultons rescue "Old Bones" and the instrumental, "One Foot In The Gutter" from the world of obscurity with Ringwald at the vocal mic on the former song.

Read the rest of Miller's review here.

And the TMZ article? It mentioned a Molly Ringwald date in November 2008 at the redwhite+bluezz jazz club in Pasadena, California - although TMZ didn't think that the "living legend" tag applied to Ringwald.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The end of Jessica Simpson's country career?

I've covered Jessica Simpson's country career in the past. And Jessica's country career itself may also be in the past:

Jessica Simpson's dreams of becoming a country music star appear to be over now that her country music label has dropped her. Although her country CD, 'Do You Know,' debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country charts, Simpson was unable to sell enough records, so the Sony Nashville label sent Simpson packing, her rep confirmed to

Monday, April 6, 2009

Her Majesty shall sic her corgis on you - the finer points of copyright law

Last week, President Obama presented Queen Elizabeth with a gift - an Apple iPod loaded with some music.

That caught the Electronic Frontier Foundation's attention:

Traditionally, it has been the job of the "first sale" doctrine to enable gift giving -- that's the provision of copyright law that entitles the owner of a CD, book, or other copyrighted work, to give it away (or resell it, for that matter), notwithstanding the copyright owner's exclusive right of distribution.

In the digital era, however, first sale has been under siege, with copyright owners (and even the Copyright Office) arguing that it has no place in a world where "ownership" has been replaced by "licenses" and hand-to-hand exchanges have been replaced by computer-mediated exchanges that necessarily make copies.

So what does this have to do with Barack and Elizabeth?

If he'd simply purchased a "greatest hits" CD of show tunes and given it to the Queen, the first sale doctrine would have taken care of it. But because digital technology is involved here, suddenly it's a legal quagmire.

Are we getting into minutiae here? The Open Rights Group weighed in:

[N]obody in their right minds takes this sort of copyright infringement seriously. Except of course lawyers who construct 9,000 word legal contracts for iTunes, and rights holders, who resist legal change as a sort of bargaining chip to extract other concessions, like online enforcement, or levies on tapes, CDs or hard drives.

And the fact that Barack and Elizabeth are citizens of two different countries complicates matters.

We asked our legal experts for a quick opinion as to whether the Queen and Obama were infringing copyright. It’s very unclear. Did Obama buy her a CD, and transfer the songs? In the UK, that would be a infringement, but not in the US.

Does the US iTunes Store allow you to buy songs in the US and give them to a UK user? Probably not, but you have to wade through the 9,000 word contract to find out.

OK, now let's throw this into the mix - what if the Queen decides to RE-gift the iPod to one of her grandsons?

(H/T the Guardian.)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

More on figure skating music

I've previously talked about figure skating music, but here are links to a couple of the companies that specialize in assembling music for figure skating routines.

Professionally edited figure skating music using state of the art equipment creates a seamless skating program so that you can blow away the competition. Our 100% digital editing process eliminates pops, clicks and audio tape stretch which gives you perfect music every time. We can amplify, pan, cross fade and change the pitch or tempo of your program to fit your needs. Our figure skating clients include US national competitors, Austrian National champion, US Adult National champion, regional and sectional medalists. Quick, one week turn-around for custom edited skating programs and two day turn-around for precut figure skating programs reduces your down-time due to lack of music.

My observations of many figure skaters have led me to believe that their coaches are absolutely masterful in picking the right figure skating music for them but are using archaic methods to assemble the cuts. Other figure skaters and coaches are starting to dabble in digital mixes on their computers as there are many easy to use programs available but "easy to use" does not guarantee "easy good results". It really takes a knowledgable musician with a good ear and technical expertise to produce a good quality product. I went to a very prestigous local competition recently and I was amazed at the terrible music mixes being used by higher level figure skaters. I saw dresses that probably required mom & dad to take out a second mortgage on the house but the music was mixed on a 30-year-old cassette tape recorder and put on a 29 cent cassette. Senior figure skating programs are choreographed down to the smallest detail. Isn't the figure skating music a detail too?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Time shifts and music appreciation

On January 1, 2008, I wrote a post in my mrontemp blog entitled Hashtagging Challenges When Events Occur at Different Times in Different Locations. The post described the difficulties that occurred when Philip Hodgen and I were both tweeting about that day's Rose Parade, and our tweets were flowing into the same Twitter stream. Usually that wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that I was watching the event on television, toward the beginning of the parade route, and Hodgen was on the streets in Pasadena, toward the end of the parade route. As I noted in my post:

If people had missed our earlier tweets that specified our relative locations along the parade route, people looking at the feed could have reached some erroneous conclusions - for example, that the Salvation Army band was marching next to women in coconut bras. Or that people were suddenly getting tired. Or (if you take all of our tweets into consideration) that many of the entries appeared in the parade twice.

The post actually gave me a bit of notoriety - it was cited in the Twitter Fan Wiki - but I have still continued to muse on the misunderstandings that can occur due to time shifts.

For example, let's say that you just arrived on this planet from another part of the universe, and the first thing that you encountered was this Empoprise-MU blog. As you read the blog, you would see two references to a song called "Life Isn't Easy in Germany" - one from December 2008, and one from April 2009. If you were to look at those two posts, as well as the repeated references to the song in my old ontarioemperor FriendFeed account, you would reach the conclusion that the And One song was one of the most popular songs of 2008.

You would be wrong - the song was released in 1993. It's just that it took me 15 years to get around to hearing it.

I could cite tons of examples from my non-trendy life - for example, the fact that I was familiar with Wings' repertoire before I was familiar with that of the Beatles. Or I could tell on the person (who shall remain nameless) who did not realize that the song "Pretty Woman" was originally recorded DECADES before the Julia Roberts-Richard Gere movie.

That's the funny thing about recorded music. Music can be recorded at one point, then appreciated by others years or decades later. Artists such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Moby can be inspired by things that were, in some cases, recorded before they were born. And you have entire industries based upon oldies music, such as radio stations that play hits from particular decades. Scary thought - at some point, the 1990s will be considered fodder for oldies stations. Wanna listen to Nirvana between Geritol ads?

But one thing is for certain: this time shift only goes in one direction. We can stand here in 2009 and listen to songs from 1999, or 1989, or 1979, or 1959. But we can't go the other way and listen to songs from 2019, or 2029, or 2039, or 2059.

Well, with one exception.

Life isn't easy in Germany - YouTube geotarding continues

The New York Times reports:

YouTube has stopped showing music videos in Germany as a dispute over royalty payments in Europe spread.

On Tuesday night, YouTube, a unit of Google, began blocking music videos in Germany after as the expiration of its 17-month contract with GEMA, an agency representing songwriters, composers and music publishers. YouTube took a similar move three weeks ago in Britain after a contract expired there.

You'll recall that I already talked about the YouTube issues in Britain. So what's happened in Germany?

Negotiations on a new pact broke down after GEMA sought to raise the fee to 1 euro cent (1.3 U.S. cents) per video and asked Google for a detailed list of which music videos had been viewed.

YouTube, the largest video streaming Web site in the world, has 13 million unique users in Germany, a spokesman, Henning Dorstewitz, said. Each user watches at least one music video a month on average, so the new cost would add up to payments of more than $1.6 million annually. He called the costs demanded by GEMA “prohibitive.”

By way of comparison:

The British group is seeking 0.22 of a cent per streamed video from YouTube, far less than what the German group is requesting.

So the English and Germans presumably can't enjoy this:

The Brat Pack Sings - "She's Like the Wind"

I have to make a confession - when I conceived this "The Brat Pack Sings" series, I wasn't thinking about Frank Sinatra at all. I was sitting and watching a movie. Now I'm not really a movie person, but I have been watching more movies as of late. And one Saturday evening, I finally got around to watching "Dirty Dancing" for the first time. This movie, which stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, includes a number of songs taken from the movie's story setting of the summer of 1963. But in a pivotal scene, a much more modern song appears.

After the movie was over, I turned to my daughter and asked her a trivia question. (I torture her by asking her questions about songs that were released before she was born.) I turned to her and asked, "Who do you think sang that 'She's Like the Wind' song that appeared toward the end of the movie?"

She didn't know this, but you may know that Patrick Swayze himself sang that song - and, in my opinion, did a credible job of it. However, Amazon reviewer Jerry McCulley disagrees:

Mickey and Sylvia once again argued that "Love Is Strange"--if not quite as strained as Swayze's own attempt at balladry, "She's Like the Wind."

McCulley thought more highly of the other newer songs, from artists such as Eric Carman and Bill Medley/Jennifer Warnes.

However, BMI thought highly of the songwriting, giving the song an award. The songwriters? Stacy Widelitz and...Patrick Swayze. And, according to Wikipedia, it wasn't originally written for Dirty Dancing:

Swayze and Stacy Widelitz co-wrote the song in 1984, originally for the soundtrack of Grandview, U.S.A.. It was not, however, used in that film. During production of Dirty Dancing in 1986, Swayze played the demo for the producers and director. They loved it and passed it on to Jimmy Ienner, the soundtrack's executive producer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Follow-up on the Empoprise-MU April Fool's post

No, despite what I said in the post Allan Williams prepares to conquer the world...again, Allan Williams is not managing a new group called the Endies.

Incidentally, a bit more about Allan Williams: I didn't realize that a musical had been written about him.

Many regard Allan Williams, the self-proclaimed ‘man who gave the Beatles away’, as rock’s ultimate loser, the small-time coffee-bar owner who missed out on millions. The Man Who Gave The Beatles Away, a new musical by Irish playwright Ronan Wilmot, running at the New Theatre in Dublin from October to December 2002, shows, very affectionately, that he wasn’t the man for the job and was better suited to running slightly shady clubs in his beloved Liverpool. The play features both a young and an old Allan Williams (Darren McHugh and Pearse Butler, respectively) and when the younger man asks the other, "Was it worth it?", he responds, "You bet."

One odd thing about the musical:

Three of [Pearse] Butler’s sons are in the band - Kevin (John Lennon), Daragh (George Harrison) and Damien (Tommy Moore, Norman Chapman and Pete Best - presumably Beatle drummers before Ringo Starr were interchangeable!).

Which brings me to some sad news. While I was trying to come up with ideas for the April Fool's post, I ended up reading a bit about Tommy Moore. Sadly, he died in 1981, but his post-Beatles life wasn't consumed by bitterness. Andalucia:

he moved to the Belle Vale area of Liverpool and i would see lots of him. He was never bitter about leaving the band. he had all the albums and would tell me tales about them.He took me to my first Beatles convention and got me really hooked.Sadly Tommy died in September 1981. Only 11 people came to his funeral. Bob wooler was there and spoke highly of Tommy.

And, according to a post in this thread from Bill Harry (THE Bill Harry?), Norman Chapman has also passed away:

Norman said that he did not regret being 'called up' for his national service. On his return he became a teacher in the south of England and used to fascinate his students with tales of his brief spell with the Silver Beatles. He continued playing drums and was a member of a trio when he died in 1995 at the age of 58.

Pete Best is still living, still playing, and has his own website.

I could not find an official website for Allan Williams, but I did find this video of Williams with another band. The Shouts. A Beatles tribute band.

Allan Williams prepares to conquer the world...again

OK, this is an interesting way to start off a month, but I'll admit to a bit of curiosity about this one.

Anyone who has examined (or lived through) the history of the Beatles will have heard the story of Allan Williams, known as "the man who gave the Beatles away" (or, as John Lennon put it, "the man who couldn't give the Beatles away." After a payment dispute with the band, he gave Brian Epstein his blessing to manage the group...and things took off.

Well, Williams hopes that lightning can strike a second time. In a calculating move that would make Simon Cowell blush, Williams has assembled a group of Liverpool musicians, some with the requisite art school background, and has even given them their name - the Endies (a play on the word "indie").

Williams has apparently learned from the past, and has not only urged the Endies to "mak schau," but also to come up with the quick quip. Here's a quote from bass player Ian Marshall:

Mr. Williams treats us just like the other band, and has given us meals from the Jacaranda. Unfortunately, the meals are 40 years old, from back when he owned the place.

Obviously the Endies don't play beat music, but those who have heard the music are enthusiastic. Bob Wooler Jr., son of the late Bob Wooler, about what he's heard:

It's not sticky pop, but it will certainly make you pop. It's heavy on the guitar, and they'll make the birds leave the bar.

Short of that description, there's not much known about the Endies' music. But all of that will be changed tonight, when at 9:00 pm Liverpool time, the Endies will play their first gig, fittingly enough in the Jacaranda Club, which still stands in Liverpool.

Even without a note being heard, the Endies are stirring up a lot of debate:

I heard Chris in a previous band, and he is the BEST. DRUMMER. EVER. -Sheila 69970

This is just some job by EMI to flag the last dollar out of the catalog. -x00x 2973

Why do you say that about EMI? EMI has no interest in this band, and probably would never sign them coz their a c--- u-. -Gregory 35624

You know nothing about Endies. Ian, Chris, Jim, and Richie are all talented musicians - I've seen all of them in various clubs - and they'll blow away whatever Gregory listens to. Still got yer Spice Girls CDs, Gregory? -Martha 12

Perhaps we'll hear more about this tomorrow.