Thursday, November 29, 2012

"This is How We Do It" enters the cultural lexicon

Almost two decades ago, Montell Jordan released a song called "This is How We Do It." The phrase has entered our cultural lexicon, as evidenced by two recent examples.

I attended a training seminar last month in which B.J. Lownie presented to fellow proposal professionals. His presentation title? "This is How We Do It."

This week, the blog MyBrownBaby published a post about detangling, washing, and conditioning black girl hair. The post subtitle? "This is How We Do It."

Friday, November 23, 2012

Why Paula Abdul is the greatest artist of the 20th century

I set myself a task that seemed nearly impossible.

I was trying to find a song in the key of D minor with a female singer that was probably released in the 1980s.

Oftentimes I can find a song just by searching for a particular lyric.

Unfortunately, for this particular song I could only remember one snatch of the chorus: "Cross my heart, hope to die." Inasmuch as there are tons of songs that happen to include that particular lyric, it appeared to be a hopeless task.

But I kept on plugging away at it, and finally discovered that the song that I was looking for was called "Blowing Kisses in the Wind," by Paula Abdul.

This reminded me of another song that I've been listening to on over the years, "Crazy Cool."

I remember "Straight Up" and "Rush Rush" from Abdul's pop heyday, but for some reason I didn't discover "Crazy Cool" until years later. And I never associated "Blowing Kisses in the Wind" with her.

Part of the explanation is that "Blowing Kisses in the Wind" was released in 1991, as a later single from Spellbound (which also included "Rush Rush"), while "Crazy Cool" came out several years after that, in 1995. This was some time after Abdul hit it big in 1989 with "Straight Up."

Peter Lord worked with Abdul on her 1991 and 1995 albums, and gave an interview about his work with Abdul (and others). Excerpts:

"Rush, Rush" actually began as a dare or a joke with my Family Stand bandmate, Sandra St. Victor. Babyface was one of the top songwriters/producers at that time, and I told her I could write one of his type of hit ballads in my sleep (no disrespect). I ran to the piano and playfully played the first chords that would begin "Rush, Rush" and sang "You're the whisper of a summer breeze... You're the the kiss that puts my soul at ease..." I then looked at her and said, "Wait a minute, that's not bad!"...

"Blowing Kisses In The Wind" is actually one of my favorite songs I've ever written. It really should be covered again I think. The right country artist could give it a wonderful vibe. Are you listening Allison Cross, Taylor Swift?

Of course, for Taylor Swift the song would require a rewrite to become "No Longer Blowing Kisses In The Wind"....

It's kind of odd, because Paula Abdul doesn't necessarily have the most stellar reputation as a musician. But she was responsible for some pretty good songs.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Is it better for the artist if a music fanatic streams rather than buys?

I was listening to a song on Spotify, and I was curious how much the particular artist would make from my streaming.

As it turns out, this very topic was discussed by The Next Web and other publications a few months ago. The answer? For Spotify, less than a cent per stream.

The Next Web and others characterized this as a terrible state of affairs.

But is it? Not always.

The song that I was listening to on Spotify was the Wolfsheim song "I Don't Love You Anymore." I do not own this particular song, but I purchased the Wolfsheim song "Once in a Lifetime" from Amazon a few months ago, paying about a dollar for it. A portion of that dollar went to Wolfsheim (and presumably they had to split it in half). I have listened to "Once in a Lifetime" numerous times since on my phone and on my computer, and Wolfsheim will never get another penny from me for that song.

But for "I Don't Love You Anymore," I am not paying anything - but Spotify is. Of course, I have to listen to Flo from Progressive every once in a while, but after I hear some more Wolfsheim I feel better.

I happen to like the song "I Don't Love You Anymore," so I'm listening to it a lot. Here are my statistics for the song; most if not all of the 2012 plays which are from plays on Spotify.

As you can see, if Wolfsheim gets around a penny per play, they've made a lot more from my streams of the song than they would have made if I had bought it in the first place.

Food for thought.

P.S. If you're not signed up with Spotify, you can probably find the Wolfsheim song on YouTube, although YouTube didn't pay a lot in 2009, and they still apparently pay less than Spotify.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Was it a beautiful day?

I find that I often associate particular songs with particular places.

On July 25, 2000, I was visiting family friends in Switzerland. Although the family friends spoke English, the television usually did not. My command of the German language was mediocre, and my command of the French language at the time was non-existent. (Today, despite working for a French-owned company for over three years, it's not much better.) In fact, I recall that I was paying attention to the Italian language items because they were at least somewhat similar to Spanish, a language frequently heard in southern California. (And no, I didn't try to decipher Romansh - or Klingon.)

Despite the language barrier, I was able to deduce that something had gone horribly wrong in the airplane world. A Concorde, which until then had been one of the safest airplanes ever, had crashed:

The Air France jet, bound for New York, crashed into a Relais Bleu hotel in the town of Gonesse, 10 miles north of Paris just before 1700 local time (1500 GMT).

It is understood the aircraft, which had taken off from Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport just two minutes earlier, plummeted to the ground after one of the left-hand engines caught fire on take-off.

Some time later, after I had returned to the United States, I was listening to U2's new song. (Ironically, I had been listening to the Passengers album a lot while I was in Switzerland.) U2's new album took a turn away from the experimentation of the past decade, and returned somewhat to the band's earlier sound, with ringing guitars and earnestly sung choruses.

Actually, I wasn't listening to U2's new song - I was watching it. For, you see, U2 had released a video.

The most eye-catching part of that video was when U2 was performing on an airport runway, with planes flying overhead. And guess where that was filmed?

Scenes from CDG airport have been seen on album covers and in movies. The band U2 filmed the video for their song "Beautiful Day" at the airport just after the Concorde crash occurred. The Concorde was Air France Flight 4590 that was headed for New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The flight crashed in Gonesse, France on July 25, 2000. All passengers and crew as well as four people on the ground were killed.

Because the verses of the song were so melancholy, the staging of the video at that very airport seemed in some way appropriate.

But while I associate that song with the airport at which the video was filmed, David Churchill has a different association. Initially he also associated the song with Charles de Gaulle Airport:

In June 2001, my wife and I were lucky enough to have a four-day weekend in Paris, France. It was a magical trip that was great on almost every level....Upon my return, I managed to maintain those good feelings, at least once a day, by listening to U2's "Beautiful Day" off their All That You Can't Leave Behind album.

Churchill would play the song at work every day. As he put it, "I must have driven my work colleagues nuts." Apparently he didn't have headphones.

He continued this routine for a few months, until one day he arrived at work a little late after a subway ride. He got to his desk and started playing his favorite song when one of his co-workers approached him.

"Did you hear about the airplane that crashed into the World Trade Centre?"

Churchill, who had been on the subway, hadn't heard about that plane, or about the second one. After that, the song took on a new meaning for Churchill.

On that morning, the meaning of U2's "Beautiful Day" was changed for me. From that day forward, it was no longer just a romantic song used to bring back happy memories of a wonderful trip, but now it was a sad, mournful, grief-filled song that became the soundtrack of that awful day...

Incidentally, ten years after U2 had filmed their video, I myself landed at Charles de Gaulle airport. Without incident.