Thursday, September 30, 2010

We are fair and balanced - a dissenting view on Jimi Hendrix's talents as a lyricist

Not too long ago, I wrote a blog post that contained the following introduction:

As a lyricist, Jimi Hendrix was with peer.

I went on to say:

His hippie 60's lyrical musings are not on a par with Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Simon, or others of that decade.

I was curious to see if anyone ranked Hendrix highly as a lyricist, and I found someone who not only praised his prowess, but also chose to discuss the song that I had implicitly derided. Matt Coleman, the floor is yours.

Let’s look at one of my favorite Hendrix compositions, “The Wind Cries Mary.” Supposedly, Hendrix wrote this song after he and his then girlfriend Kathy Etchingham had an argument over her cooking. Kathy, I am so very happy your cooking did not please Jimi. Kathy, whose middle name is Mary, stormed out of the house and Jimi was left with a decision, eat the unpleasant food or write the song. Just kidding of course. Maybe Jimi was just not very hungry....

Hendrix demonstrates a great adroitness for metaphor and sensitive repetition. I, obviously am partial to the court references, but, they work quite well in the song. “Somewhere a queen is weeping, Somewhere a king has no wife.” These two lines in the second verse are by far the best in the song. The words elevate the song to an ethereal level and help represent Hendrix’s situation mystically.

Read more here.

Now I just have to find someone who thinks that Eddie Van Halen is a good guitarist - whoops, I forgot that some people actually think he IS a good guitarist.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zune marketplace users (and others) hit by geotarding workarounds

I only personally know of two people who ever talk about the Zune - someone who goes to my church and works for Microsoft, and Steven Hodson, who writes the WinExtra blog (among other things). But the Zune apparently offers a whole range of services, including its own store (which you can visit at

Steven Hodson talks about the Zune in a recent post:

While most of the tech blogosphere either ignores or makes fun of Zune, and its marketplace as well as its streaming services, the fact is that it has been around for quite awhile and people like using it.

Well, at least in the U.S. it has, but that is about to change as different parts of the Zune ecosphere starts spreading beyond the U.S.

But wait a minute, you ask yourself. Isn't Hodson like Canadian and stuff? So how can he expertly talk about the Zune?

Very easily, as it turns out. Despite the best efforts of the Cabal TINC (an old Usenet joke), it is possible to get around any geographically based restriction (or geotarding). In Hodson's case, he just created a Microsoft account with a United States address, and he had access to all of the wonderful Zune stuff that we Americans take for granted.

But now that the Zune is officially offered in Canada, Hodson has a bit of a problem.

You see once Zune, and Xbox Live, are legally available in your country, and in my case it would be Canada, you are going to want to go into your profile and switch your setting to show your real country of origin – except you can’t.

I’m serious. There is no way possible for you to go to your Zune account, or your Xbox Live account and change your country.

Hodson then details all of the attempts he made to change his account to a Canadian account, and the frustrations that he's facing in his current US-Canada limbo.

And yes, Hodson admits that this is a problem of his own making. He was so eager to get Microsoft projects (in this case Zune and Xbox) that he gamed the system in order to get it.

And, Hodson admits, there IS a solution to his predicament.

You have to create a whole new Zune profile and Xbox Live account. This means new gamer tags and Zune tags. It means that all your achievements in Xbox Live are history. All your purchases – if you managed to make any – on Zune or Xbox are toast.

But wait – it gets even worse.

Because both your Zune profile and Xbox account are now tied in with your Windows Live ID (your Hotmail account) you will also have to kiss your email account good-bye.

I did some more reading, and learned that the Zune had actually been launched in Canada over two years ago WITHOUT an online store. In a May 7, 2008 article, the CBC explained some of the thorny issues at the time:

Microsoft Corp. is bringing the Zune, its answer to the iPod, to Canada, but the media player's initial launch will be hamstrung by the lack of an accompanying download store.

The company on Tuesday announced the Zune player will be available in stores here on June 13, making Canada the first country outside the United States to get the device. The online Zune marketplace, where device owners can purchase music and video content, however, won't be available on launch....

There are a number of factors that need to be sorted out before the online store can be made available here, said Elana Zur, product manager for Zune in Canada.

But while Zur and others were sorting out those factors, Canadians were figuring out how to get to the Zune Marketplace. Yes, they were. So Hodson isn't the only one who's having to deal with this right now.

Or perhaps I should correct myself, since Canadians don't have to deal with this yet. In its September 20 announcement, Microsoft named a bunch of countries that are getting access to the Zune Marketplace and related services. Canada wasn't in the list.

Zune Marketplace will extend services to several markets in Europe and beyond.

Zune Pass (U.K., France, Italy and Spain). The monthly music subscription service will be available for 9.99 euros /8.99 pounds per month for unlimited download and streaming access to the Zune music catalog and will be accessible on Windows-based PCs, Windows Phone 7 and Xbox LIVE. The offer in the U.S. will remain at $14.99 per month for unlimited downloads and streaming access, with the ability to keep 10 MP3s per month.

Music purchase (U.K., France, Italy, Spain and Germany). Expansion to these markets will enable consumers to purchase MP3s and listen on their Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 or any other device that supports MP3 format. Users will also be able to purchase music videos to enjoy on Windows-based PC, Windows Phone 7 and Zune on Xbox LIVE.

Video purchase (U.K., France, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). Consumers will now be able to purchase movies to download and watch anywhere — on the big screen in the living room with Xbox LIVE or their Windows-based PC as well as sync it to their Windows Phone 7 to enjoy on the go.

Movie rental (U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand). In addition to Zune video on Xbox LIVE, consumers in these countries will now be able to rent movies for viewing on their Windows-based PC or choose to sync the rental to their Windows Phone 7.

So if you live in Canada and want Zune stuff, you might as well keep on using that 90210 zip code.

Or buy an iPhone.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

About the Punch Brothers

I ran across this post by accident (I was doing an ego search and landed on a page that linked to Wendy Bredehoft's former website, which has now been taken over by others), but it definitely looked interesting, so I thought I'd share it here.

Punch Brothers, a band with a style that has been described as introducing bluegrass instrumentation and spontaneity in the structures of modern classical, will perform a free concert Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 8 p.m. in the University of Wyoming College of Arts and Sciences auditorium.

More here, or you can visit

Oh, and as for Wendy Bredehoft, I did some more searching, and it is obvious that the artistic talent that eluded me ended up with her.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh yeah, there was an appreciation event

As I previously noted, I was not at Oracle OpenWorld this year and, other than monitoring a few tweets, I didn't get the full picture of the Appreciation Event at Treasure Island.

In a sense, I didn't miss much, because one of the big attractions at the appreciation event was the ability to read your own tweets on a big screen. Hey, it was a techie crowd.

Oracle also covered the music itself:

On the main stage, Berlin opened with their hits from the 80s plus some modern-sounding new releases. Midway through their set, tiny Terri Nunn hopped onto a roadie's shoulders and took a tour of the audience, happily greeting fans and leading a sing-along.

"Can you believe this?" she asked the crowd. "What a company party ...!"

Berlin was followed by the Black Eyed Peas and Steve Miller, and apparently Miller and Terri Nunn performed a duet.

The alternate stage also had good music, including the English Beat, Montgomery Gentry, and Don Henley. However, apparently there was no Ranking Roger-Don Henley duet.

As I mentioned, I was monitoring tweets during part of the evening, and one of the tweets I saw was a tweet from Larry Wake:

Don Henley opening with 20 minute preso on The Eagles' cloud strategy. #oow10ti

I replied:

@larrywake but i heard that glenn frey was insisting on an ibm cloud solution #oow10ti #oow10

Meanwhile, Accenture is apparently without a celebrity endorser at the moment (or at least a human one), since they dropped the (human) endorser that they had. Obviously Oracle and Accenture are in different worlds when it comes to celebrity endorsements.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's May. It's Stockholm. And the traffic lights are turning blue.

As a lyricist, Jimi Hendrix was with peer. His hippie 60's lyrical musings are not on a par with Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Simon, or others of that decade.

But couple those lyrics with the musical performance, and you have something magical.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was in Stockholm, Sweden in May 1967 and gave a televised performance of "The Wind Cries Mary." In my opinion, it's their best song.

According to various diverse sources, this was recorded at a Swedish TV show called "Popside." But according to this book, the band had other things to worry about - namely, the fact that Stockholm hotels didn't want people looking like them staying in the hotel.

And the wind screamed.

Monday, September 20, 2010

When O.P.M. Sounds Good - Langer, Winstanley, and Buckmaster overwhelm Madness and Elton

Back when I was in college radio, one of the deejays (I've forgotten his last name, but I believe his first name was Paul) would occasionally talk about O.P.M., or Over Produced Music. I don't know if I've really encountered over-produced music (outside of Jeff Lynne's post-ELO work), but I've certainly encountered some HEAVILY-produced songs in my day. Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" comes to mind here.

But then there are some bands that are consistently heavily produced, so that the heavy production becomes associated with the band itself. For example, I was recently listening to the Madness song "Primrose Hill."

If you listen to the song, the most distinctive element of the song, especially toward the end, is the horn arrangement.

Now let me distinguish between horn arrangements that include the band, and horn arrangements that include people outside the band. Chicago's horns were self-contained within the band. Oingo Boingo's horns were self-contained within the band. But when Fleetwood Mac played "Tusk," and Madness played "Primrose Hill," these were peopled who were added to the band.

Now "Tusk" was pretty much a one-off - there's no marching band on "Albatross" - but horns pop up elsewhere in Madness, such as the song "Keep Moving" (brief mention here). It turns out that Madness' producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, kinda sorta liked lots of horns. When discussing a Nitcaps album, this comment was offered.

Sire spent the money where it mattered: top-notch production from Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Madness) and the full-time assistance of the Uptown Horns. (Langer and Winstanley never met a horn they didn’t like.)

But if you want to talk about an artist whose entire sound was shaped by heavy production, take a listen to (most of) the early records of Elton John. That little piano player had a much broader sound on songs like "Your Song," "Levon," "Tiny Dancer," and others, courtesy of the orchestral arrangements of Paul Buckmaster. In fact, in a review of the Elton John self-titled album, John Mendelsohn said that the album succeeded DESPITE Buckmaster.

The major problem with Elton John [the album] is that one has to wade through so much damn fluff to get to Elton John. Here, by the sound of it, arranger Paul Buckmaster's rather pompous orchestra was spliced in as an afterthought to flesh out music that had sufficient muscle to begin with, their choirs and Moogs and strings threaten to obscure Elton's voice and piano, everywhere that they appear at least momentarily diverting the listener's attention therefrom.

Buckmaster's review was dated November 12, 1970. Just five days later, Elton John recorded an absolutely fantastic live album. Forget Buckmaster and everybody else - just three people - Elton on piano, Dee Murray on bass, and Nigel Olsson on drums - put on an incredible performance. The album, called either 17-11-70 or 11-17-70 depending upon what side of the pond you live on, shows the musical skills of the three-man band, especially the piano player. If you've never heard any of the album, take a listen to this version of "Get Back."

True story - after an incredible and exhausting run of several years, Elton burned out, retreated, occasionally retired, and worked to get his bearings. For a while, the over-the-top piano player seemed to have disappeared. (Luckily, he came back later.) In fact, when I first heard the Double song "The Captain of Her Heart," with its extremely simple piano solo, for some reason (Captain?) I thought it was a new Elton John song, and I thought to myself, "Boy, Elton's hit rock bottom now."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another test post - am I networked here too?

In the same way that I used NetworkedBlogs to publish to my Empoprise-BI business page on Facebook, I should now be using NetworkedBlogs to publish to my Empoprise-MU music page on Facebook.

Or not.

Moby for people who hate AT&T and Herman Melville

I just wrote two (count 'em) posts that were derived from a single video - a post in this Empoprise-MU music blog called People they fall apart, and a post in my Empoprise-BI business blog called People they come together. Both posts are based upon an AT&T Blackberry commercial that included both Herman Melville's Moby Dick and the Moby (Richard Melville Hall) song "We Are All Made of Stars."

But what if you don't like AT&T? (Some people don't.) And what if you don't like Herman Melville? (Some people don't.)

Well, here's an AT&T/Herman-free version of Moby's song. You have to click through to see it; embedding disabled by request, probably because it wasn't posted by a record label.

But the person who did post it, perry8999, provided some helpful information.

("Stars" in order of appearance):
0:10 Moby
0:27 Kato Kaelin
0:44 Verne Troyer
0:51 Corey Feldman
0:59 Todd Bridges & Gary Coleman
1:13 J.C. Chasez
1:17 Dave Navarro
1:25 Sean Bean
1:31 Dominique Swain
1:52 Ron Jeremy
1:57 Thora Birch
2:04 Tommy Lee
2:10 Molly Sims
2:19 Angelyne
2:27 The Toxic Avenger
3:13 Robert Evans

At the time of the video release, MTV posted an article, the meaning of the video, and the celebrities involved. Sadly, one of the two celebrities named below is no longer with us.

All the locations are classic, iconic Hollywood venues: Hollywood Boulevard, seedy strip clubs, bars, tattoo parlors, and, of course, Kinko's. "Places," Moby said, "where normally you'd have debauchery and degeneracy and hedonism happening, but there's a banal side to it. My hope is, through showing the banal side of degenerate Hollywood, there's a sense of humanity to it as well, and we reveal endearing qualities in these iconic figures."

And what better way to illustrate that than with a "Diff'rent Strokes" reunion? "To see Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges together is a fantasy that we've had for a long time," Moby said. "I hope the rest of the world appreciates it just as much as we did. Sitting in Del Taco, watching the two of them sing lyrics to one of my songs, it was really special."

After Gary Coleman's death, Coleman's appearance in this video (and others) was cited as the number one of ten reasons Gary Coleman was cool.

P.S. For those who get confused, it was Corey HAIM who passed away earlier this year, not Corey FELDMAN.

People they fall apart

I'm watching the Bears-Cowboys game right now, and I just saw a commercial that made me put the game on mute (the hated Cowboys are losing anyway, pleasing this Redskins fan), search for the commercial on YouTube, find it, and share it with you.

Now technically I could have put this in my Empoprise-BI business blog and taken one of several angles with it. I could have talked about television, and how companies need to make commercials that are so good that people will put up with bad programs just to see the commercials. I could have talked about the product itself, and how AT&T is emphasizing that they can offer multiple types of phones - perhaps I could have gone into the multi-tasking angle also. Or I could have talked about mashups, the connections between Herman and Richard. Or I could have taken the social media angle, and noted how multiple information sources can be brought together to serve a single purpose.

But instead, I put this in my Empoprise-MU music blog because the music's so cool. And because it has nothing to do with Oracle. (OK, Larry has a yacht...)


[9/19 12:25 PM - MORE ON THE SONG.]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An artful appearance (or how to get pointers for your next job)

I just confirmed via IMDB something that I had read elsewhere regarding a certain person who shared billing with the Beatles.

No, not Tony Sheridan or Billy Preston.

Davy Jones.

Well, technically Jones didn't share billing, since his appearance on episode 17.19 of the Ed Sullivan show was uncredited. You see, Ed Sullivan's show was first and foremost a variety show, and when the Beatles first appeared on the show, they were just one of several acts. For those who have never seen a true variety show before, check out David Bassler's description of that particular episode. In addition to the Beatles:

Dutch comic magician Fred Kaps performs card tricks and a salt shaker stunt, the cast of the Broadway musical "Oliver" performs several numbers and Frank Gorshin does his impression of an imagined committee meeting of the U.S. Senate with its members all famous movie actors. British singer Tessie O'Shea performs three songs, including her hit, "Two-Ton Tessie from Tennessee", the comic team of Mitzi McCall and Charley Brill perform a comic sketch concerning the travails of a Hollywood producer trying to find the right woman for a part in a major motion picture and the comic acrobat team of Wells and the Four Fays perform a number of tumbling stunts.

No, you didn't see Jones' name in that description, but he was there - as part of the cast of "Oliver" (Jones played the Artful Dodger).

And you know what happened next. After his appearance on Sullivan, Jones was signed to Colpix a solo artist. A few months after the "David Jones" album was released without charting, Jones secured the TV job which would bring him a member of the Monkees, a show heavily based upon another of the guests on that February 1964 Ed Sullivan show.

In a 2010 inteview, Jones discussed his impressions of that night, and his time as a 16 year old in New York:

I sang with [Judy Garland] at Carnegie Hall and that was cool. It was all about the time that I was on the Ed Sullivan Show in ’64 – the night the Beatles were on. I did a song from Oliver. That was when I first thought, ‘Ah! Music! It’s good, all these girls! I think I’ll have a piece of that (fame), actually!’ That’s why I got into what I got into.

...Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones was all part of that click and it was like, ‘Goodness gracious, me!’ Years later, David shows up on the lot at Columbia Pictures, he’s in a TV series and his mum there. And he’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness gracious!’

But, as Jones notes, it's been a long time since the Beatles and the Monkees and the Partridge Family and the rest were teen idols.

He (Cassidy) sings, ‘I think I love me, what am so I afraid of?’ Tony Orlando sings, ‘Knock three times on the ceiling if you hear me fall”. Peter Noone singings, ‘Mrs. Brown, you have a lovely walker’. Roberta Flack sings, ‘The first time I ever forgot your face.’ And Willie Nelson’s on the throne again. All this stuff is, like, ridiculous. Ringo Starr sings, ‘I get a little help from Depends.’ It gets crazy. Paul Simon sings, ’50 ways to lose your liver’ and Abba is singing ‘Denture Queen’.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Differences in song sequencing between the audio and video versions of "Thriller"

I've already abused Steven Hodson for this, even though it wasn't his fault.

Hodson recently wrote a post about Microsoft employees celebrating the release of Windows Phone 7. Perhaps you saw my response in my Empoprise-BI business blog entitled "Play at work." You see, the Microsoft employees were in a celebratory mood, and some of them even re-enacted the dance from the video of Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

Ever since then, I haven't been able to get the song out of my head.

However, my preferred version of the song is the one that appeared on the record, not the re-sequenced one that appeared on the video. Let me explain the differences.

The version that hit the charts followed a traditional verse-chorus-verse-structure, and then closed with the rap by Vincent Price. The song builds toward this ending rap, with an interjected vocal interlude by Jackson, then the close of Price's rap, which concludes with a horrible (as in horror) laugh.

The video, of course, is arranged a little differently.

In this case, the song had to be re-arranged to fit the story and the dance routine. Because of this, the verses are placed toward the beginning of the performance of the song, with the chorus excluded. Price's rap, which was the ending highlight of the audio song, was instead moved (with Jackson's interlude) to an earlier portion of the video. For the video, the highlight is reserved for the chorus, which is withheld toward the end of the song and serves as the musical background for the famous dance sequence. The VERY last part of the song - Price's laugh - is reserved for the very ending of the video.

One other note about the video version - because of the length of the video, and because of some of the story material (especially the movie-like horror scenes), Jackson's song isn't the only music in the video. Elmer Bernstein "scary music" sequences are also incorporated.

All in all, two different versions of the song, serving two different purposes. But I still like the non-video version better.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lene Lovich, "The Night"

After one of my online friends shared Lene Lovich's Wikipedia biography on FriendFeed, I was moved to find a version of the one Lene Lovich song I remember - "The Night."

Friday, September 10, 2010

No dark sarcasm in the college

But my recent parody of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall Part II" is not my favorite parody.

I was in college when "The Wall" was released, and that happened to be the same time that Slim Whitman was becoming a viral sensation.

One of my college roommates combined the two by singing the line "We don't need no thought control," and then going up an octave.

Unfortunately, he didn't yodel.

No dark sarcasm in the office

One of my co-workers is on the office's team building committee, and sent out an e-mail about our office barbecue. The e-mail included the following statement:

The corn on the cob is supposed to be served with the chicken if you are not having chicken, please do not take the corn :)

I couldn't leave well enough alone:

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any corn! How can you have any corn if you don't eat your meat?

Trololo, orchestrally (Jack Senzig's dream of an Edward Anatolevich Hill arrangement)

Perhaps you've heard the Edward Anatolevich Hill song "I am very glad, because I'm finally back home." I wrote about the song a few months back, after both Keith Andrew (of the Tall Ships) and Josh Haley (of the Medium-Sized Ffundercats) both mentioned the song. If you don't recall the song, here's a reminder:

The song, commonly called the "Trololo" song, is actually part of a musical tradition called "vokaliz." And apparently something about that song appealed to Jack Senzig, who posted a request as a comment to my earlier post.

I sure would like to get my hands on an orchestral score of this piece. Anyone with ideas look me up on joinchoir YouTube channel.

I visited the joinchoir channel, and I think I've discovered Senzig's intentions for such an orchestral score.

I am looking for repertoire for the 2010-2011 choir year. I especially want to have the kids perform pieces from Anime, video games and songs written for specific online communities. Compose your own, write your own lyrics or suggest a song that already exists. Songs that utilize technology are especially interesting to me. Vote for the suggestions you like. No promises.

This repertoire will be performed by the Gifford Children's Choir at Gifford Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin (their blog is here, and their school mascot is Clifford the Gator).

So I began wondering if any such score for "Trololo" existed. I returned to the post of Justin Erik Hallador Smith:

[Hill] is best known for his interpretations of the songs of the Soviet composer, Arkadii Ostrovskii....The song he is interpreting, "I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home," is an Ostrovskii composition....

Hot dog, I thought to myself; if we're talking about a famous Soviet composer, then it should be relatively easy to find a score. Unfortunately, the wonders of alphabetic nuances got to me, because the main results of a search for "Arkadii Ostrovskii" led back to...famous singer Edward Anatolevich Hill.

But after doing some additional probing, I found out a little more about the song. It turns out that Hill was not singing the original version:

But what makes the clip more of an oddity than the typical '70s video is the fact that, despite bearing the complicated title "I Am Very Happy Because I Am Finally Coming Home," the song has no lyrics. Instead, Khil hums, laughs, and belts out the melody in a long stream of la la la's -- a performance that has earned him the nickname "Mr. Trololo."...

The song, with its distinctive cowboy-style syncopation, was written in 1966 by popular Soviet composer Arkady Ostrovsky. It wasn't always wordless. In the original version, the lyrics told the story of a man, Johnny, riding his horse across the American prairie to his sweetheart Mary, who knits socks as she awaits his return.

But Khil and Ostrovsky eventually decided that the suggestive lyrics were too "naughty" to pass Soviet censors and opted instead for the wordless version. Today, the singer says he can no longer remember the lyrics that once might have caused such a stir.

More importantly, the text gave me an alternate spelling for the composer's name, which led me to a Wikipedia entry for the composer (who died in 1967) and to a memorial Russian...with music samples.

A lot of music samples.

But if you go to Вокализ Эдуард Хиль you can find Hill's version of the song (labeled "Vocalise" on this page). Right above that, incidentally (see Вокализ Муслим Магомаев), you can find a version of the song by another singer (Muslum Magomayev - see this page for a link to a YouTube video of the latter's version).

Unfortunately, all of this additonal knowledge did not lead me any closer to the musical score that Jack Senzig (joinchoir) so desires. So if you're a retired Soviet musician who performed on TV or in the movies in the 1960s or 1970s, and you happen to have the score of this song lying around in your dacha, could you please send it to Senzig? The people of Wisconsin will thank you for it.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Berlin's Terri Nunn likes corporate events

As I've said before, even the biggest musicians don't always have concerts that are open to anyone who is willing to pay the Ticketmaster fees. Sometimes musicians play at corporate events, in which only people attending the function in question can attend. Over the years, I have attended concerts by such names as John Fogerty, the Gin Blossoms, the Psychedelic Furs, and Seal. Well, actually I didn't attend the Fogerty concert, and I skipped the Psychedelic Furs set, but I did see the others.

While we like to think that our musical heroes are pure and wonderful and reject the trappings of the corporate state, there is one clear advantage to performing at a corporate event.

You get paid.

Actually, there are other benefits, as Terri Nunn notes in an Oracle interview.

Blog Staff: This will be the third time you've performed at OpenWorld. What are your memories of the previous show?

Terri Nunn: The last time I performed at OpenWorld was one of the highlights of my life. The amazing Oracle people gave us the unbelievable opportunity to play with ELTON JOHN! I don't care where my career has gone or will go; that night will be a standout forever. The crowd seemed in a daze and it's no wonder. How often will you ever get to see Elton John and--even more incredibly--see him at a company party?

Later in the interview, Nunn also expressed her excitement at performing with the Black Eyed Peas.

I won't be able to make the concert this year, but I'm wondering - do you play the song "Sex" at a corporate event? (And do you play it at THIS corporate event?)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eminem, Rihanna, and the soap opera that won't quit

Soap operas are criticized as completely uncool daytime shows watched by aging housewives, but the truth is that soap operas are everywhere. Sometimes they're labeled as such, if you recall the success of nighttime shows such as Dallas and Dynasty in the 1980s. But sometimes things aren't called soap operas, even though they are. If you consider a soap opera as a continuing storyline with overly dramatic overtones, then professional wrestling certainly qualifies.

And so does rap music.

Because the personalities in rap music are so strong, and because the rhymes are often autobiographical, you can consider rap music to be a soap opera of sorts, with some beats (rather than organs) in the musical background. This person's been arrested, this person's been shot, these two people have reconciled - the story weaves on and on, played by your local urban contemporary radio station several times a day.

Of course, there's a question as to whether the autobiographical storylines in rap songs are truly autobiographical, or whether they're exaggerated for effect. I don't know any of the rappers personally - for all I know Calvin Broadus is a practicing Mormon who doesn't touch gin & juice or smoke anything. But whether the stories are true or not, they certainly seem to be true, and therefore qualify as dramatic (or "overly dramatic" depending upon how you look at things).

And at times they can be unsettling.

Eminem is, in my view, an unquestionably talented individual, a talented rapper, and to all appearances a troubled soul. His lyrics are gritty, violent, and full of alternating bravado and self-doubt, often with a little twist (or a big twist) in the end.

Take his current song, "Love the Way You Lie." If you read the lyrics as Directlyrics rendered them, you see these conflicted lyrics of a man in a love-hate relationship. Finally, the lyrics conclude as follows (with expletive deleted):

I'm tired of the games
I just want her back
I know I'm a liar
If she ever tries to [expletive deleted] leave again
I'mma tie her to the bed
And set the house on fire

But the part that got to me about the song wasn't what Eminem said. Throughout the song, a female singer has been repeating a particular chorus, and after Eminem raps about tying a woman to a bed and setting fire to a house, the chorus comes up one more time:

Just gonna stand there
And watch me burn
But that's alright
Because I like
The way it hurts
Just gonna stand there
And hear me cry
But that's alright
Because I love
The way you lie

And as you're absorbing the fact that the "watch me burn" lyric is apparently to be taken literally, you begin to think about who is singing that lyric.


You see, while Eminem has been publicly playing out his soap opera about his family, Rihanna has been playing out a soap opera of her own. Perhaps she wasn't tied to a bed or set on fire, but we do know that she was on the receiving end of abuse.

The whole thing makes Perez Hilton uncomfortable:

We still hate its message and the lyrics, but we love the song and we love the video too!

Oh yeah, the video:

Sadly - and I personally WON'T blame Eminem and Rihanna if this happens - there are probably some people who, rather than viewing the video as a cautionary tale, will instead decide to emulate it.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gimme Some Truth - the Rutles rumor "Dirk is deaf"

During the aforementioned time that I was at Reed College, my future roommate Bill Ansell had a radio show (before I did, actually). One day he spent a good deal of one of his shows playing Rutles tracks. We threw things at the radio station.

Despite this expression of opinion, I actually like the Rutles and its complete send-up of the Beatles, Beatlemania, and Beatlemaniamania. (Of course, George Harrison liked it too.) But I recently discovered that the jokes didn't end when Lorne Michaels and Eric Idle left the scene.

It turns out that the "Archaelogy" section of the Rutles' website includes the page New Rutles Rumor: Dirk Is Deaf. Inasmuch as Eric Idle - I mean Dirk McQuickly - didn't participate in Archaelogy, the issue had to be addressed. And it was, in a brilliant parody of all of the rumors that circulated about Paul McCartney in late 1969. An excerpt:

And, on the cover of the Shabby Road album, Dirk is crossing the road barefooted. He would obviously had not done this had he been able to hear people warning him that the asphalt would be hot and it would burn his feet.

See the rest here.