Monday, December 30, 2013

What will be Pandora's next move?

You may recall my June 25 post in which I quoted extensively from a Pink Floyd statement (well, a 75% Pink Floyd statement) regarding Pandora Music - including an allegation that Pandora supported "an 85% artist pay cut."

Pink Floyd's statement had an effect:

This criticism was a tipping point in a long battle over artist royalties, said Ted Kalo, executive director of the musicFIRST Coalition. "That thing caught fire like nothing ever has on royalty issues," Kalo said of Pink Floyd's criticism. "This was a massive artist backlash."

Perhaps Pink Floyd's decision to place its music on Pandora competitor Spotify also had an effect. For whatever reason, Pandora has backed off on its support of the so-called "Internet Radio Fairness Act."

But there are still questions of fairness.

When an artist's song is played on a terrestrial radio station, the writer or composer of that song (not necessarily the performer) is typically compensated through performance-rights organizations such as BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. The same is true if the song is played on satellite radio or Internet radio. However, terrestrial radio — that is, AM and FM — stations are exempt from paying performance royalties (i.e., royalties to the performer of the song), whereas satellite and Internet radio stations are not. And Internet radio stations pay higher rates than satellite and cable stations. The United States is one of the few industrialized countries that does not require terrestrial radio stations to pay performance royalties.

So while songwriters get a ton of money from terrestrial radio stations (which still dominate the music market), performers don't. This may please Randy Newman, but it wouldn't please Linda Ronstadt.

Among the ideas floating around is the proposal that terrestrial radio stations pay their "fair share" of performance royalties. Radio stations argue that performers benefit from the huge promotional capability of radio. Of course, Pandora tried that same argument, but failed.

With Pandora moving away from IRFA, some of the streaming service's most vocal opponents hope the company will unite with them around the issue of eliminating the AM/FM radio performance royalty exemption. For Pandora, it could mean a more level playing field, and for artists and labels, it could be a new source of royalty revenue....

Pandora did not respond to the question of whether it will lobby for terrestrial radio to pay performance royalties.

To be continued.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

How the Grinny stole Guitar Godhood - why I dislike Eddie Van Halen

I finally figured out why I dislike Eddie Van Halen - which, if you read this blog regularly, is no big secret.

For years, I've told myself that Van Halen's guitar playing isn't all that musical.

But I just figured out the REAL reason for my distaste.

It's that danged goofy grin that he has when he's playing. And he still had it, even in 2012:

[T]he black-and-white video for "Tattoo" steals a few moves from the classic Van Halen playbook, with Roth shimmying and shaking (while donning goggles, waving checkerboard flags and frequently changing his wardrobe) and Eddie Van Halen grinning while unleashing a flurry of his patented guitar licks.

And when you have that big goofy grin on your face, you can't (IMHO) be taken seriously as a rock god.

Don't believe that a big goofy grin can change one's estimation of a musician? Let's take a look at some alternate history.

It's Madison Square Garden, and Led Zeppelin is playing their anthem, "Stairway to Heaven." As is normal, the song has been building up. One John has been setting the atmospheric tone, the other John has been building up the percussion to a level of ferocity, Robert is now screaming, and Jimmy is playing an outstanding guitar solo - with a big goofy grin on his face.

Kinda takes the magic away, doesn't it?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

My latest Jim Bakker moment - what Queen's "'39" is REALLY about

I've long since disposed of most of the 7" singles that I collected over the years, but one of the singles that I used to own included the Queen song "'39." This was actually the B side of a single; the song was never a hit in its own right.

Queen is one of those bands - the Beatles and Blondie are others - that often changed directions on the course of an album, sometimes from song to song. (Queen's most famous example of this was in the album sequencing for "News of the World," in which "We Will Rock You" was immediately followed by "We Are the Champions" - a sequencing that was preserved in a hit single.)

The song "'39" is a folk song with ringing guitar, eerie vocal choruses and other eerie overtones, and lyrics that described, as only an Englishman could, the changes that occurred due to the beginning of the Second World War. Although I'll admit that I was puzzled by the references to volunteers coming home in 1939, since the evacuation of the Continent didn't take place until 1940.

Well, it turns out that my confusion was greater than I thought, because the song, written by Brian May, has nothing to do with World War II.

May has described the song as "my space science fiction love song." Robert Koehler, quoting from an unknown source, provides May's further thoughts on the song:

The song’s lyrics are a science fiction short story which concerns twenty volunteers who leave a dying Earth on a spaceship in search of new worlds to settle. They return to report success, 100 calendar years later, with only a single year passing from the volunteers’ perspective (due to time dilation). The lyrics imply that the song’s protagonist faces his child upon return to Earth....

Of course, back when I originally heard the song in the mid-1970s, I had no idea about May's interest in astrophysics - it would be decades before May would return to his studies and earn his Ph.D. in the subject.

Now someone's going to tell me that Roger Taylor, author of "I'm in Love with My Car," has been hired as a consultant to Ford...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The retirement of "The Other Guy" from music

Word from London is that an illustrious musical career has ended with the retirement of "The Other Guy" - a musical genius whose career is shrouded in anonymity.

Having begun his career in the mid 1960s as one half of the duo Peter and Gordon - although it was unclear whether TOG was Peter, or Gordon - The Other Guy moved to America after 1967 to start a musical group with singer/drummer Karen Carpenter. While in that group, he branched out to join a second musical duo, this time with Daryl Hall.

Returning to his native England at the end of the 1970s, The Other Guy became an important part of the country's "New Music Scene," simultaneously holding positions in Soft Cell, Wham!, and the Pet Shop Boys. Due to the magic of video and makeup, TOG achieved his greatest accomplishment by holding three positions in the popular band Culture Club.

This set the stage for the rest of TOG's career, as the digital revolution allowed him to hold down multiple positions in a variety of bands, including Oasis, Take That, Coldplay, and Gorillaz, while still maintaining his presence in Pet Shop Boys and in various other bands.

Tiring of the grind, TOG recently abandoned his professional recording career and entered a more lucrative profession, performing as a lounge singer in Cannes under the name John Baldwin.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Via .@martynware, I discover that my favorite Lene Lovich song wasn't a Lene Lovich song

Many, many decades ago, I was a disc jockey on Reed College's former radio station, the powerful 10-watt KRRC. One of the songs that I played was Lene Lovich's "The Night," a dramatic and mysterious piece that you could find in those punk/New Wave days.

Fast forward a few decades, and I'm poking around on Songfacts after (U.S.) Thanksgiving dinner, and I happen across an interview with Martyn Ware. Toward the end of the interview, he was discussing a British Electric Foundation release called "Dark." In response to a question about the album's title, Ware responded:

Well, the original idea was to do dark, electronic versions of previously happy pop songs, but the idea kind of evolved over time. It's not quite as focused as that. So some of the songs were originally dark, yeah, like "I Wanna Be Your Dog" just ended up being a reinterpretation in a different way. I was fascinated initially with the idea of recontextualizing lyrics into a different context. So the thing that inspired me and gave me the idea was originally a song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons called "The Night." I don't know if you know that song. Do you know it?

The Songfacts interviewer wasn't familiar with it, and neither was I - or so I thought. But since I had been listening to some Four Seasons recently - both "Beggin'" (a song that was recently remade by Madcon) and "Who Loves You" (which, as far as I know, hasn't been remade yet), I figured I'd seek the song out on Spotify. I found it on a collection of songs from the Four Seasons' time at Motown, and I was listening along to it, and then I heard the chorus...

...and realized that I had heard this song before.

Just with another, very different artist.

Hear them both on my recent two-song Spotify playlist:

Incidentally, Ware said that HIS remake of "The Night" didn't make the album. Now I'm curious.

And now I'm going to have to figure out how many bands have remade Four Seasons songs. "The Night" itself was also recorded by Pulp, among other bands.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The seventeenth minute of the "Girls" video - GoldieBlox's so-called "apology" - and its estimated revenue

As I just noted, GoldieBlox has pulled the "Girls" parody video (actually they just made it private), and replaced it with a video with different audio.

According to the New York Daily News, GoldieBlox "caved to the Beastie Boys."

I'm not so sure.

Normally when party A apologizes to party B, party A says they're sorry, and doesn't dredge up old issues with party B.

But take a look at GoldieBlox's letter to "Adam and Mike". The following is sprinkled through the "apology."

When we made our parody version of your song, ‘Girls’, we did it with the best of intentions. We wanted to take a song we weren’t too proud of, and transform it into a powerful anthem for girls....

Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves....

We want you to know that when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late, great Adam Yauch had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours....

[W]e are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under threat from your legal team.

Some people would claim that I've quoted selective portions of the letter. Actually, the "selective" portions are the majority of the letter.

While the letter begins with the statement "we don't want to fight with you," GoldieBlox carries on the fight. We took your sexist song and made it into something worthwhile, but then your lawyers threatened us, and how were we supposed to know Adam Yauch's position on using Beastie Boys songs for commercial gain? We have the right to post this video, but we've withdrawn it, and now you'd better promise not to sue us.

Some apology.

Oh, and there's one more thing that Todd Wasserman calculated. For the period of time that the original video was on YouTube, Google ads were displaying next to and within the viral video - and GoldieBlox was earning money from those ads.

Before the company pulled the first version of the ad, it had racked up 9 million views. While it's hard to say what the value is of such a viral video, a back-of-the-envelope calculation based on ad revenues from the song Gangnam Style (about $1.7 million for 1 billion views) reveals that the figure is around $156,000.

Assuming a similar arrangement (with Google getting about half the ad dollars), GoldieBlox should make about $78,000 in ad revenues from the viral ad.

Even if Wasserman's estimate is high, that's not the only revenue that GoldieBlox received. Let's say that the GoldieBlox people, all big Beastie Boys fans, HAD respected Yauch's dying wish and had NOT created the video. Yes, the video would have received some views because of the Rube Goldberg stuff, but it probably wouldn't have received 9 million views.

I have no way of knowing how many product sales resulted from those 9 million views - the so-called "like economy" doesn't necessarily translate to real dollars. But GoldieBlox certainly got a bump in sales.

And, of course, there are those sales that will occur BECAUSE the video was "suppressed." Assuming that GoldieBlox and the various parties (the Beastie Boys and the various record and production companies) can come to an agreement, the next task for everyone involved will be to track down all remaining copies of the video and slap a DMCA warning on them. GoldieBlox will claim that the Beastie Boys are doing this. The Beastie Boys will claim that the record company is doing this. And interest will heighten in the product that is being suppressed.

I don't understand why girls would want to grow up and become engineers. It's obvious that it's much better to be a viral marketer.

GoldieBlox - Mission accomplished? Video with "Girls" parody now private, replaced by new video

A new wrinkle in the GoldieBlox story, that I learned about from Dan McDermott:

GoldieBlox does the right thing: Pulls ad w/ Beastie Boys song, replaces audio

The original viral YouTube video is now marked Private...

McDermott believes that this is a case of GoldieBlox doing the right thing. (Note that in McDermott's opinion, use of parodies to sell a commercial product is not a good thing.)

But now I'm beginning to wonder.

In one of my posts from yesterday, I quoted from a Felix Salmon piece about GoldieBlox's request for declaratory relief.

Given the speed with which the GoldieBlox complaint appeared, indeed, it’s reasonable to assume that they had it in their back pocket all along, ready to whip out the minute anybody from the Beastie Boys, or their record label, so much as inquired about what was going on. The strategy here is to maximize ill-will: don’t ask permission, make no attempt to negotiate in good faith, antagonize the other party as much as possible.

And now, just a few days after GoldieBlox asserts its right to use "Girls" in a parody withdraws the parody video from public view?

Paraphrasing Salmon - given the speed with which the revised GoldieBlox video appeared, indeed, it's reasonable to assume that they had it in their back pocket all along, ready to whip out the minute anybody from the press, the blogosphere, or the likers/commenters, so much as inquired how GoldieBlox could do something so negative as sue the Beastie Boys. The strategy here is to maximize good-will: after the 15 minutes are up, play nice and pretend that the whole thing never happened.

Perhaps that's a cynical view, but there are two questions that remain unanswered:

First, why did GoldieBlox decide to withdraw the original video? I doubt that it was done for legal reasons. Perhaps it was a public relations move to appear nice. Or perhaps GoldieBlox had gotten all of the mileage that it could get from the original video.

Second, when was the "new" soundtrack actually assembled? Did GoldieBlox audio engineers rush through the weekend to come up with this new soundtrack? Or had there been two versions of the video all along?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Beastie Boys and copyright infringement? "Say What"?

In its coverage of the GoldiBlox-Beastie Boys dustup (see my two previous posts on the topic), the Hollywood Reporter made a point of noting that the Beastie Boys themselves have been on the other side of copyright disputes.

One of the reasons why the [GoldiBlox] video has captured the cultural imagination is its choice of music from the Beastie Boys, who it must be noted are still defending a copyright lawsuit alleging illegal sampling on the album Paul's Boutique.

The Hollywood Reporter then linked to its own September article on a recent lawsuit. While several claims of copyright infringement from TufAmerica (regarding songs by Trouble Funk) have been thrown out, two claims still remain to be litigated.

Just to illustrate how detailed copyright decisions can be, here's the Reporter's account of one of those samples.

There's a one-second sample of the Trouble Funk song, "Say What," that is used on the Beastie Boys' "Shadrach," and even though it's just a second, the judge notes, "This is not simply a phrase in the song, but rather the title phrase of the song." In other words, it's qualitatively significant.

Of course this still hasn't made it to an actual trial.

You gotta fight for the right to be transformative

Watch this.

What's that, Brooklyn Dolly Llama? You're saying that this is an obvious rip-off of the Beastie Boys?

But wait a minute. Weird Frankie over here is saying that this song is a direct commentary on, and rejection of, the original song.

Did you say it's for commercial use, Brooklyn Dolly Llama?

Well, the company that created the video above, Goldieblox, is going to get this settled, one way or the other, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Goldieblox is now going to a California federal court to get declaratory relief that the video is not a copyright infringement.

In my layman's understanding, Goldieblox is engaging in a pre-emptive strike, before the Beastie Boys sue Goldieblox (although it's unclear whether the Beastie Boys actually were going to SUE Goldieblox).

Once it gets to court, the case should be cut and dry, right? Well, in a piece entitled Goldieblox and the Three MCs, Andy Baio notes that it may not be all that cut and dry.

Courts frequently reverse decisions on appeal, only to have appeals overturned by higher courts....If even judges can't agree on fair use, what chance do the rest of us have of understanding it?

One thing that struck me when reading Baio's piece is his use of the word "transformative," especially in regard to Leslie Nielsen's movie advertisement and 2 Live Crew's song. This relates to the first of four factors to be evaluated when "fair use" is claimed. These four factors are briefly listed on (which, in a delicious irony, is not itself protected by copyright):

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
2. The nature of the copyrighted work
3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

(This fourth factor has an interesting ramification. What if a parody - say, Goldieblox's parody of "Girls" - is so effective that music buyers decided that the Beastie Boys' original is sexist, odious, and not worthy of purchase?)

Both the Nielsen and the 2 Live Crew cases, and many, many others, were also discussed by Stanford University on a page that listed a number of fair use cases, accompanied by the final court determination. Two examples, one of which includes, "novel" attempt to use the t-word:

Fair use. A person running for political office used 15 seconds of his opponent’s campaign song in a political ad. Important factors: A small portion of the song was used and the purpose was for purposes of political debate....

Not a fair use. A defendant in a music file sharing case could not claim a fair use defense since he had failed to provide evidence that his copying of music files involved any transformative use (an essential element in proving fair use).

In the course of writing this post, I had occasion to revisit a post that I had written in 2004 about the JibJab-Woody Guthrie thingie - a post that primarily consists of quotes from other publications.

Hey, I had only been blogging for less than a year at that time....

P.S. For more information, see the Beastie Boys message board thread on this topic. The "boys" are so old, the URL includes "bbs." For a slightly more modern presentation, see Goldieblox's Facebook page. Oh, and if you search the WHOIS database at, you'll find that "" (no "e") is registered to someone other than Goldieblox.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Another "miscommunication" regarding underage attendance at a venue - but this one wasn't corrected in time

Stop me if you think you've heard this one before.

A few of you may remember a story that I shared last April about the Alberta Rose Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Initially, the venue was going to charge adults $15 to attend a particular show, while people under 21 would be charged $17. A friend of mine - who is a musician and the father of an under-21 musician - was not pleased with this pricing policy. A few days later, my friend posted the following:

There was apparently some miscommunication between the agent and the venue. The price is now the same for minors and adults alike.

Ah, "miscommunication." It can happen. I've worked in large businesses and small businesses alike, and there can certainly be all sorts of miscommunication. And in the music bookings industry, where you have artists and agents and promoters and venue owners and venue managers and venue employees, the opportunity for "miscommunication" can mushroom.

My friend's story had a happy ending - the pricing snafu was resolved well before the event took place.

The story that I'm about to share isn't quite that happy.

I had previously mentioned that Phildel is touring North America, and had a performance date in Los Angeles at the Hotel Cafe. I was unable to attend, but reports are that the performance went very well, and that everyone had a good time.

When Phildel planned this trip, she also planned a second date in Los Angeles, for the night after her Hotel Cafe performance. This second date, at a different place, was specifically intended to be open to those under 21. Since Phildel is like English and stuff, she doesn't exactly play El-Lay every week, so I'm certain that this was a big event for her fans - especially her under 21 fans.

On her official Facebook page, Phildel described what happened:

We had an utter catastrophe of a night tonight and I've spent most of this evening in tears. We booked our show specifically for under 21s at The Standard for tonight and instead - most of you who were under 21 were turned away by venue staff that were unaware of the agreement we had with the venue management for our all ages show. I and my team were assured by the venue management that this show was specifically designed for all ages. We weren't even alerted to the fact that guestlist audience were being turned away by door staff until we happened to walk past the door and see two girls being turned away - it took for me to breakdown in tears before the venue allowed our remaining under 21 guests in - but by then, I know they had already turned away most of you. Honestly, I'm just so incredibly heartbroken and distressed by what's happened here. I know many of you will have driven for hours to get to this show. We created this show specifically for our under 21 fans. And I'm utterly appalled by how this huge mistake could've been allowed to happen. I promise to make it up to you all who were turned away, in any way that I can...again, I'm so, incredibly sorry and upset over this. To the very few of you who managed to get into the show tonight - thank you so much for coming, I'm glad we could at least perform to you Xxxxxxxxxx

She's trying to make it up to her under-21 fans - read the thread for details - but it's obviously disappointing nonetheless.

I checked SPIN Standard's Facebook page and saw no official reaction.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Four songs on a #spotify playlist (sequel to my 2008 post)

I've done a little bit of marketing of the Empoprise-MU music blog outside of Blogger. There's a Facebook page, a Google+ page, and...well, that's about it.

Geek Dimensions has a slightly more aggressive marketing strategy. The website lists a number of services where Geek Dimensions has a presence, and there are some services that aren't even listed on the website. For example, Steven Hodson recently mentioned (just to his Facebook friends, so no link) that he has a Rdio playlist for Geek Dimensions.

A Rdio playlist...for something that isn't even directly related to music.

Meanwhile, I've had this music blog for several years now, and how many playlists have I created?

A grand total of one - my 60+ song playlist that was linked to my Oracle OpenWorld Unconference presentation on biometrics. I included songs such as "Wrapped Around Your Finger," "Eyes Without a Face," "Police and Thieves," and so forth.

But I'll let you in on a little secret. I've been creating "Empoprise-MU" Spotify playlists for the last several months now. It's just that I never got around to sharing any of them on...well, on Empoprise-MU, which would seem to be the logical place to share an Empoprise-MU playlist.

Well, I'm going to rectify that now, and share a Spotify playlist with you that includes a few of the songs that I've mentioned in recent posts.

Since many of you probably aren't on Spotify, I'll share a picture of the playlist so you can see what songs are on it.

For my blind users, the songs on the playlist are the following:

Angel Jasmine, "So Free" (see this post)
Flash and the Pan, "Lights in the Night" (see this post)
ILL Mitch, "Hux" (see this post)
Phildel, "Moonsea" (see this post)

For Spotify users, the playlist can be accessed via And this may also give you access to dozens upon dozens of "Empoprise-MU" playlists that I've created for my personal listening pleasure.

So I hope you enjoy the fact that I'm actually using A MUSIC SERVICE in conjunction with Empoprise-MU. It's about time. (Whoops, wrong blog.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

So perhaps Phildel may stay at your house

Over two years ago, I blogged about Airbnb in my Empoprise-BI business blog. If you haven't heard of this service, it allows people to temporarily rent their houses to others.

My 2011 blog post concerned a rental gone awry, because one of Airbnb's houseguests trashed the place where they were staying. This is a potential concern of anyone who rents a place via Airbnb - or, for that matter, anyone who rents a place via any method for any length of time. You want to check out your potential renters, and Airbnb lets you do just that. For example, here is a profile of one of Airbnb's renters (you'll note that I'm not referring to this person as a "customer," for reasons outlined in my 2011 post).

Hey, I'm Phildel!

I'm a friendly and polite, non-smoking, 28 year old born and raised in London, but now happily living in the rolling valleys of the Chilterns, Buckinghamshire. I create music (some of which you might have heard on tv), I film music videos and work creatively for Warner Chappell Music Publishing as one of their artists. I live with my boyfriend, Chris Young (who works in IT) and our two cats. We love walking, peaceful holidays and being creative.

Yes, she loves being creative. If you don't recognize the name, I've blogged about Phildel before, most recently here. A lot has happened since I blogged about Phildel last - she released her album The Disappearance of the Girl, she came to North America for a tour that went awry when she couldn't get a U.S. work permit, and then she straightened all that out and is headed back here again (she'll be in Los Angeles in a few days, but I'll be working on a project and unable to attend).

And if you ever get a request from Phildel to rent your place, rest assured that she is a well-recommended houseguest:

Phildel and her boyfriend were two very sweet and interesting guests as well as being tidy and clean. We have enjoyed their company as far as our busy schedule let us so and do highly recommend them to come back anytime they want ;) and also to all the other hosts out there!

October 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Flash and the Pan, "Lights in the Night"

It's been several years since I mentioned Flash and the Pan in the Empoprise-MU music blog.

This Australian band that started in my teenage years has been mentioned several times in the past, including a September 25, 2008 mention of Grace Jones' cover of "Walking in the Rain," an August 25, 2009 failed attempt to find the band on Akoo, a March 16, 2010 "tymshft" discussion about bands who resisted online song-only releases, and a March 24, 2010 mention of the original version of "Walking in the Rain."

As you can probably tell, I like the song "Walking in the Rain," and in the past I'd describe it as my favorite Flash and the Pan song.

But the title track from the band's second album is growing on me. This video includes visuals from Ann Mari Nerman (WASP-Queen).

P.S. If you were a member of the Empoprises Public Community on Google+, you would have known some of this already.

Remember the Annie Leibovitz-Miley Cyrus brouhaha over a revealing Cyrus picture?

I was searching for information on Disney's use of public domain items (here's a list of over 30 public domain items that Disney has used for its copyrighted material) when I ran across this story from 2008.

2008 - it seems so long ago.

Annie Leibovitz (right), the celebrity photographer, has been accused of "manipulating" a 15-year-old actress into posing semi-naked for Vanity Fair magazine.

Miley Cyrus (left), star of the Disney Channel show Hannah Montana, was pictured apparently topless, with only a satin bedsheet protecting her modesty.

Initially, she said she was happy with the shot, declaring it "really artsy". But she has had a change of heart when the picture was placed in the public domain.

Now I suspect that The Week was using "public domain" for a different meaning - I don't see either Leibovitz or Vanity Fair intentionally surrendering their copyright privileges.

Of course, with Cyrus' nude popularity, Disney probably regrets that they didn't try to obtain the copyright to the picture.

Meanwhile, Contact Music has noted the supposed change in Cyrus' attitude over the years.

So what's changed in four (sic) years? Despite mega-hit after mega-hit, Cyrus appears to be more than happy to fall into the laziest of routines - the MTV Video Music Awards being the notable example. It's like Lady Gaga but without any of intrigue or excitement, and mostly without the songs.

And, as I noted in a September post in my tymshft blog, it's not an original idea either.

Monday, October 28, 2013

German English Spanish Pre-Batboy Voodoo Roseanne (are not random words)

This little clip has everything.

To start with, this is a German dub of a U.S. film, "True Stories." The dialogue is German, but the song has been preserved in its original English/Spanish (with German subtitles).

For those who are not familiar with the story, this clip shows scenes of a celebration of Texas' 150th anniversary - specifically, a talent show in which some of the talent segments, and all of the performers, are based upon stories found in the Weekly World News. You'll see clips of David Byrne and John Goodman, decked out in their cowboy hats. Goodman is about to sing, and drinks something before he goes on stage.

Meanwhile, Pops Staples is doing his voodoo/santeria stuff in an effort to help John Goodman find love.

For those of you who think that voodoo/santeria is a good thing, remember that after this movie, Goodman found love...with Roseanne Barr.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Know Your Meme Deadpool - #illmitch

I went to the Know Your Meme website to research the Hitler Nutella meme, which was not listed. I then began poking around the website, and discovered that it has a "deadpool" of memes. Unlike Wikipedia, which removes similar entries entirely, Know Your Meme just shuttles them over to the deadpool, presumably for people to scoff at.

So I was curious - what was the very last entry in the Know Your Meme deadpool?

At the time that I checked, it was this one.

The entry is preceded by a deadpool warning:

This entry has been rejected due to incompleteness or lack of notability.
To dispute this DEADPOOL flagging, please provide suggestions for how this entry can be improved, or request editorship to help maintain this entry.

The meme description consisted of the following story:

Ill Mitch, born in Soviet Russia, came to America with an insatiable appetite to rap, box, and ride skateboard. His addictive rhymes and deep lyrics (“I have two sides – one happy, one anger”) earned him billions of fans across the world.
He has also released a number of videos to connect with his fans:

After reading this, I felt like I had reached the end of the Internet. Or had I? I knew what I had to do next. I linked to the relevant Know Your Meme entry, and added this description:

As of right now, this is the very last entry in the "Deadpool" section of Know Your Meme.

You know what that means - time to popularize it.

As I often say, I am not trendy.

I started by going to ILL Mitch's YouTube channel. I chose the 21st video in the series, posted back in March 2009. Why? Because it's about science, subject of a September 24 mini-rant by Larry Rosenthal (actually a mini-sigh) regarding those who confuse science and technology. And, of course, I also shared it on Google+ with an #illmitch hashtag.

So, based upon the Know Your Meme entry and that video, I concluded that ILL Mitch had been someone who had been active several years ago, but who had disappeared.

As Jim Bakker would say, I was wrong.

While on Spotify, I found an ILL Mitch album with a 2013 release, entitled "Kblack." If you don't have access to Spotify, you can find information on this particular album at The album is not a rap album, but is instead a synthetica/found objects album. As you may realize, such an album is right up my alley. There's even a song - Orange Black - that reminds me of my second favorite artist Doctor Orange in more ways than one.

Unfortunately, I was unable to discover whether "Ill Mitch" is a real ex-Russian, a performance artist, or a creation of Jimmy Kimmel. The website registration is private.

But even if my efforts don't serve to resurrect the notoriety of ILL Mitch, perhaps I'll be able to bug a Know Your Meme editor or two. which reminds me - why doesn't ILL Mitch have a Wikipedia page? (Apologies in advance to Mitch McGary, whose unfortunate name placement next to the abbreviation for the University of Illinois is probably going to result in his unwanted fame as a Russian rapper.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Surprise - I found a Patrice Wilson song that DOESN'T suck

While Patrice Wilson is presumably laughing all the way to the bank, he probably doesn't want to show his face in certain places. The new Alison Gold song adds to Wilson's notoriety - and, in case you didn't know, Rebecca Black has gone to some lengths to distance herself from her musical association with Patrice Wilson.

So, based upon the evidence, we are forced to conclude that Wilson is a really bad songwriter.

However, he has been involved with other tween artists. For example, listen to this song by Angel Jasmine, a song that Wilson co-wrote.

Now if you watch the video, you see some elements of Wilson's formula (tween singer, tween friends, cool tween stuff).

But there is one important difference.


Now I'm sure that people can pick the song apart (lucky jeans?), but this song actually flows pretty well, without some of the bad rhyming found in Wilson's more famous songs. And thankfully, no creepy Patrice Wilson appearance in the video either.

And yes, the vocals are overproduced, but isn't that the case for much more famous artists nowadays? And, for the record, the YouTube video page includes this comment:

Marlaine A 8 months ago

how sad that majority of the rates and comments are influenced by how one feels towards the producer, and not the artist. heard this girl sing in person quite a few times, and must say that her voice is pretty awesome. she's also beautiful, very smart and talented. the first time i heard this song (while my sister was playing it on her ipod), i knew right away that it's her singing it. wished i had the copyright to post some of her videos so i can prove all dislikers wrong :-(

If you're interesting, "So Free" is available on both CD Baby and iTunes.

Suspended animation - Radio Disney's outdated biography of Miley Cyrus

I was wondering if Alison Gold's new song "Chinese Food" was trending on Radio Disney - it seems ideally suited for that station's audience. Even if the Radio Disney audience enjoys the song, however, it seems that it takes a while for Radio Disney to reflect this.

But I was surprised to see who WAS listed on the Radio Disney website as featured artists.

Yes, even today, Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana are still on the Radio Disney website. Although it appears that the site hasn't gotten around to any recent updates on Miley.

In this case, perhaps a bit of update tardiness is probably a blessing.

A music factory and Chinese food - and no, this is not the second time that we've heard this

I, quite literally, #blamedrew for my exposure to the "I Like Chinese Food" video that's making the rounds these days, often in the form of "the same person who brought you Rebecca Black's 'Friday' has now created THIS!"

You will note that I am not embedding Alison Gold's video itself in this post, for a simple reason - the chorus is catchy, like a virus. And I do not want to be responsible for causing you to sing these lyrics endlessly in your head:

I love Chinese food
You know that's it's true
I love fried rice
I love noodles
I love chow mein chow me-me-me-mein

The person who brought you Rebecca Black and Alison Gold is one Patrice Wilson, and he (like any great musical artist, including Led Zeppelin and Nirvana) has a sure-fire formula:

While it looks like it took him a year of staggering around, pleading with the world to keep him relevant with their collective hate, he finally realized that the only way to generate the same buzz as "Friday" was to do the exact same music video again. No exaggeration there -- the two songs and videos are almost identical. They both open on a calendar, they both have rap interludes in the exact same section, they both promise a vague version of "fun" and "a good time" over and over and they both spend an inordinate amount of time pointing at objects and announcing what they are.

Patrice Wilson knew what he was doing and intentionally followed a formula that he stumbled upon with Rebecca Black to ensure that everyone despised his next music video, because that was the only way he could guarantee that it would be watched by millions and millions of people. Just think about that for a second. Fame is still desirable, even when it comes in the form of truckloads of letters from people inviting you to fall in a fire.

As unhealthy and sad as that sounds, it gets worse.

If Patrice Wilson wanted to situate himself in the focal point of the world's loathing, that would be fine. We genuinely like having something to hate, so if someone wants to fill that role, then there's really no harm. Except Patrice Wilson isn't the star of the "It's Thanksgiving" music video, even if he wishes he could be. No, the star is 12-year-old Nicole Westbrook...

Uh, wait a minute. I thought her name was Alison Gold, and I thought the song was called "Chinese Food," not "It's Thanksgiving." What gives?

You see, "Chinese Food" is not Patrice Wilson's second foray into bad teen music videos. It's at least his third - the quotes above are from a post that was written back in November 2012. I had never heard of Nicole Westbrook until now, although Michelle Jaworski apparently has, and has placed Gold's work on a timeline with Black's and Westbrook's.

At this point, little is known about Gold. Last I checked, her Twitter account had no posts. Oh well, the kids use Snapchat anyway...

Monday, October 14, 2013

My oh my...a 2003 post

I've been marking my ten-year blogging anniversary by reprinting some of my favorite blog posts from the past ten years. I've written in a variety of blogs over the decade, and one of my first blogs was called "KOER Synthetica Radio Transcripts." These were supposedly written transcripts of broadcasts from my own personal radio station, based (as are all of my fake activities) in Guasti, California.

The transcripts preserved various commercials, playlists, and other items from this supposed station - and in one case, on November 24, 2003, the transcripts documented an important musical collaboration.

[KOER Synthetica Radio Transcripts]
(dramatic music)

A KOER important exclusive

Before I play the following song, I'd like to thank all the people who have been working behind the scenes to make this possible: Eddie, Will, Lisa, Jun, Robert, Daniel, Alan, John, Paul, George, Ringo, Carrie, Christine, Carnie, Wendy, April, May, June, Peter, Paul, Andrew, Nate, David, Kevin, Gene, Wesley, and of course Fred.

Considering the origins of this song, it's even more topical when you consider the events that have taken place over the last few days.

First, a bit of history.

- - -

On a January day in 1984, Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne was walking down Broadway in Manhattan when he was approached by a group of teenagers. The teenagers were chatting with each other when they noticed Byrne. David, well-known in New York, was not surprised when the youths suddenly hushed, stared in his direction, and ran toward him. However, Byrne was surprised by what happened next.

"Excuse me," asked a girl with a green mohawk. "Are you David Byrne?"

In a friendly manner, David replied, "Yes."

"Wow," said mohawk-girl in awe. "I remember when you were in the Talking Heads."

"Yeah," murmured a boy in agreement.

"Actually, I'm still in the Talking Heads," replied Byrne. "I'm writing some songs right now."

"I remember your show," said the boy. "You guys were really cool."

With a hint of irritation, Byrne turned toward the boy. "We're still busy, working on new things."

"Yeah, but not like Michael Jackson," said mohawk-girl.

Another girl nodded. "Michael Jackson's doing some really trendy stuff. But you guys were good in your day."

"Thank you, I guess," replied David as the group walked away.

David continued to his favorite diner and ran into his good friend Laurie Anderson. Still shaking his head, he described the encounter to her in detail.

"Michael Jackson?" said Anderson in amazement. "What a hack."

"Well, that's what they said," replied Byrne as he shook his head. "I can't believe that they think he's all that creative, though."

"Jackson's been getting a free ride," said Anderson. "He hasn't had to face anyone with real creativity."

"But he does sell a lot of records," mused Byrne. "Success is hotter than creativity any day."

"Maybe," thought Anderson as she sent her vegetarian bacon back to the cook. "But what if several creative people took him on? Thriller Schmiller."

Byrne sat in thought. "We'd need some help."

- - -

Laurie Anderson and David Byrne tried their best. After three months of work, they had recorded seven songs for a planned album called My Oh My, Look How Creative We Are. However, their attempts to assemble an all-star cast proved fruitless, and the seven tracks in fact documented seven rejections from leading music industry names. Here is one of those rejections, set to music by Byrne and Anderson, entitled "Laurie Calls Peter."

BYRNE (spoken) Do you have the number?
ANDERSON (spoken) Yes. I have the number.
BYRNE (sings) Then you'd better do some dialing.
(telephone dialing)
VOICE (spoken) Bloody hell, who is this?
ANDERSON (spoken) Hello. This is Laurie.
VOICE (spoken) It's three a m.
ANDERSON (spoken) It is earlier here. We have a different time.
BYRNE (sings) Time for shouting, time for smiling.
ANDERSON (spoken) Am I speaking to Peter Gabriel?
VOICE (spoken) Not any more. (Hangs up phone.)
BYRNE (sings) He's not a morning person.
ANDERSON (spoken) I guess that you are right.
BYRNE (sings) He's not a morning person.
ANDERSON (spoken) And neither was Elton John.
BYRNE (sings) So I don't know what I will do.
ANDERSON (spoken) You don't know what you will do.
BYRNE (sings) I dont' know what I will do.
ANDERSON (spoken) But you know it will be true.
BYRNE (spoken) What?
ANDERSON (spoken) True.

This exclusive presentation of the Byrne/Anderson/Gabriel song "Laurie Calls Peter" was brought to you by KOER.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tonight's trivia question

When Dweezil Zappa played on a cover of the song "Smoke on the Water" - a song that covered a Swiss incident involving his father's band - who was the lead singer on the cover version?

Answer here. It was a recording released in 1997.

I'm listening to the entire album on Spotify right now, by the way. I had never heard it before.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Behind the scenes at Empoprises - that Miley Cyrus post in tymshft was supposed to be a Madonna post in Empoprise-MU

Most of you have probably never visited the deluxe Empoprises headquarters at 1 Empire Way Suite 2525 in Guasti, California. But this post gives you a rare peek inside our spacious offices. Yeah, just what you always wanted.

Several years ago, I conceived a story of a young guy, circa 1992, who showed up at a Madonna concert in the early 1990s. You'll recall that this was the time when Madonna had her Erotica CD and her sex book and all that. In the story concept, the young guy had seats at the front row of the concert, and in the middle of the show, started shouting for Madonna to take her clothes off. This guy had heard that Madonna would get naked, and he wanted to get his money's worth.

While I conceived the story, I never got around to writing it. I really couldn't think of a good forum to place the story as I conceived it. In addition, by the time I conceived the story, Madonna had already advanced through several additional phases of her career, and I didn't think that anyone would care about a story about the old Madonna.

Meanwhile the musical world kept on changing - or, more accurately, the musical world kept on not changing. New female musicians emerged to shock and outrage us - Pink, Lady Gaga, whoever.

The most recent scandalous musician, of course, is Miley Cyrus, who within the course of one week, stuck her butt toward a guy on MTV and released a nude video.

Haven't we seen this before, I thought - and then my story idea took shape. Instead of having a young guy getting in trouble at a 1992 Madonna concert, why not have the guy's SON getting in trouble at a 2013 Miley Cyrus concert, for the exact same reason?

I even had a venue for the story - my tymshft blog, which revels in the observations of so-called "new" things that are just like old things. Although there's admittedly a difference between the Miley-Madonna comparison and the cloud computing-CompuServe comparison.

Anyway, the story is here if you'd like to read it. I promise that there are no pictures.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Is Lana Del Rey the new Bob Dylan? (And will you still be hungry after reading this post?)

Is Lana Del Rey the new Bob Dylan? It's a question that should be addressed, because there are definite similarities between the two.

Let's start with the names. There is no "Del Rey," just as there is no "Dylan." Ms. Grant and Mr. Zimmerman renamed themselves early in their lives, in preparation for their musical careers.

In addition, there's a current criticism of Del Rey that was also a common criticism of Dylan in the early stages of his career. Both of them are/were heavily criticized for their inability to sing.

There are certainly other parallels between the two, although Lana hasn't had enough time to systematically offend critical portions of her audience yet. Her Newport, her Nashville Skyline, and her Slow Train Coming have yet to occur.

I am forced to admit, however, that my opinion is not universal. There are those who claim that Lana and Bob are very different. See if you can guess who provided the following comments on Lana Del Rey:

Lana can be called a great songwriter, but not a great performer. There’s a big difference. The claims therefore of Del Rey's musical influence, are far greater than the actual influence.

Socially speaking, this occurs because Lana is one of those rare few, what I call, “bandwagon artists.” There’s a difference between actually liking an artist and being a bandwagoner. [Bandwagoners] jump onto and claim reverence to certain artists because so many others do; because it’s trendy to do so; because it’s uncool NOT to like them. Whether you actually like them or not becomes irrelevant.

In this scenario, people “like” what they “learn” to like from others. The social psychological term for this is called social proof. To be [a part] of the in-group, people become motivated to embrace the fanaticism that surrounds other bandwagon fan's claims of transcendent influence and greatness. This phenomenon then snowballs over time rendering the claims of this profound “influence” to be mathematically inflated and logically overrated.

The answer to my question? No one provided those comments on Lana Del Rey. Tom Leu, however, did provide extremely similar comments in an item entitled Is Bob Dylan overrated?

So perhaps those parallels are pretty deep and bear some consideration. (And her version is closer than Axl's.)

Alex Klinger has considered this issue (although I disagree with his claim that "not many people talk about" Dylan's embellished biography). But Klinger does offer a relevant comment on the issue of authenticity that has dogged both artists:

You are turning away from something you naturally really liked because it might not be entirely authentic. Do you know how many awesome mexican restaurants are not entirely authentic? EVERY SINGLE ONE IN AMERICA.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This Charming Charlie - via .@shawnz

Perhaps younger people don't realize it, but the world of Charlie Brown is a world of horrors. In later years, the focus of the strip shifted to Snoopy, but in its early years, the Peanuts comic strip focused on Charlie Brown, the blockhead who can't do anything right.

The world of Charlie Brown has been set to music from at least two sources - the people who created the stage play "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," and the people who conceived the long-running series of television shows featuring the Peanuts characters. However, while both of these sets of music have been memorable, they don't really capture the essence of the life of Charlie Brown.

If Peanuts author Charles Schulz had just waited a couple of decades, the life of Charlie Brown would have received the appropriate muse.

This was initially realized by Dave Flores in 1986. A popular British band was visiting San Francisco, and Flores' poster for the appearance consisted of Charlie Brown, laying on the ground, repeating the word "Why?" over and over.

Some time later, this inspired graphic designer Lauren LoPrete, who created a Tumblr blog matching the Peanuts comic strip with the lyrics of this 1980s British band. The name of this blog is This Charming Charlie. Here's a sample entry:

Brilliant. And if you don't like it, what difference does it make?

(H/T Shawn Rossi)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Take one down, pass it around, stow it in the seat pocket in front of you (does .@avaberee know who Jim Bakker is?)

My latest "I was wrong" moment.

On Monday (California time), I posted Why I will never be a roadie for .@avaberee (watch out for the roos???) After some introductory stuff, the post got down to its premise:

Now Avaberee has not consulted me about their tour arrangements, but I'm guessing that there's a pretty good chance that they'll be driving from their hometown of Brisbane down to Melbourne for this final date.

And when discussing the length of the drive, I wrote:

Let's put it this way - if they decide to sing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" on the way down, they'll have to sing it many, many times.

Well, several hours ago, Avaberee posted this picture on their Facebook page. As you can see, it's a picture of an airplane wing, taken from an airplane.

Hopefully the kangaroos didn't storm the Melbourne runway.

Again, if you have driven or flown to Melbourne, the show is Saturday. Tickets are available here.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why I will never be a roadie for .@avaberee (watch out for the roos???)

Somehow I never got around to mentioning this in the Empoprise-MU music blog proper, but I've been listening to Avaberee a lot lately. Avaberee is a female trio from Brisbane, Australia that I originally discovered via their a capella cover of a Justin Timberlake song.

They've also composed their own songs, some of which can be found on their YouTube page, their Facebook page, and on various other sources (they have a few songs on Spotify). And based on these successes, they are now on tour. (Because they're in the Southern Hemisphere, it's a winter tour.)

Now I have never been to Australia, but I do understand that (using words associated with another part of the world) it's a big country. Back when I was working on my MBA (before the members of Avaberee were born), I discovered that Australia's freeway system (at the time) was not as well developed as the United States. So if you're driving between Australia's major cities, it can take a long time. And I'm not even thinking about Perth, which is on the opposite side of the country from the other major cities.

Avaberee's tour has taken them to most of the major cities in the eastern part of Australia, including their hometown of Brisbane, Sydney, and Canberra. From their Facebook page, it appears that they are driving between these cities, rather than taking a plane. (They're still a young band, so they're not getting large enough crowds to justify a private plane.)

The band just finished its Canberra date this past weekend, and in a week, they'll be playing their last tour date - in Melbourne. Now Avaberee has not consulted me about their tour arrangements, but I'm guessing that there's a pretty good chance that they'll be driving from their hometown of Brisbane down to Melbourne for this final date.

If that's what they're doing, how long of a drive will it be?

Somewhere between 18 and 19 1/2 hours, depending upon the route.

View Larger Map

Let's put it this way - if they decide to sing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" on the way down, they'll have to sing it many, many times. (Twenty-eight, to be exact. No, not twenty-eight verses. Twenty-eight complete renditions of the entire song, or 2,800 verses.)

Of course, Google Maps can't tell you everything about a particular trip. To find out more, you need to contact real people, such as those who contribute to TripAdvisor. Although the thread that I found about the Brisbane to Melbourne drive dates from 2008, it's presumably still applicable today. One contributor noted the difference between the inland route and the coastal route.

I have done the drive twice now, last time was a few years ago. Our first time, we went through Sydney to catch up with some friends, so stopped overnight there and then the next day up along the Pacific Hwy. This was a long drive with too many stops and reasonably heavy traffic. On our second attempt, we took others advice and went the fastest and most direct route, via the Newell Hwy. I am trying to recall where we stopped overnight, I think it was Parkes. We had two drivers, so the driving load was shared but it is still a long time in the car....around 20-22 hours of driving time. The Newell is a lot quicker than other routes but be warned, it is long, flat and very boring.

We have something similar in California for travelers from Los Angeles to San Francisco. You can take the scenic but long U.S. Route 101, or you can take the inland, boring Interstate 5. But even if you're driving on the 101, you won't be spending TWENTY OR MORE HOURS driving up the coast.

Oh, and there are other hazards that you don't necessarily encounter in California. The contributor continued:

Road kill is a real eye opener as well, so be very careful driving this road at dawn or dusk times especially. WE actually clipped a kangaroo about 7am, one bright, sunny morning....very close call.

Yes, you read that right - you can hit KANGAROOS on the inland route. While highways in the United States have a number of hazards, kangaroos are not among them.

Another contributor reiterated the point:

When you consider the petrol cost, and accomodation cost it really is not worth it.

However, if you must do it then the easiest way is inland via the Newell HIghway, and as already mentioned it is long and boring. There are a lot of trucks that pass this way and a lot of road kill.

And another:

This is the road train route between Melbourne and Brisbane and they go that way for a reason. Just be aware that your travel will have to be during daylight hours once you get out west as the roos are a real problem. So leave after sun up and be at your destination well before the sun sets.

So this is why I will never volunteer to be a roadie for Avaberee. I mean, it sounds glamorous, and the women are fantastic singers and performers, but if their car hits a kangaroo, they're not going to be the ones to clean things up. No, they'd get the Yankee roadie to do it. And since they speak Australian, it would probably take me a while to figure out that they're asking me to remove a kangaroo carcass from the hood of the car. They'd be saying "bonnet" and "windscreen" and "bitumen" and stuff like that.

But I'll be "barracking for" Avaberee on the final date of their tour, and should you happen to be in Melbourne next weekend, they're at The Workers Club on Saturday the 17th.

Provided that the kangaroos let them pass.

It was my understanding that there would be no math

A pressing question - how long does it take to sing the song "A Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall"?

Wolfram Alpha doesn't know. (What good is it, in that case?)

So I had to turn to Yahoo for the answer.

well at a rate a 105 words per minute and a tempo of 150, you should finish the song in a aproximitaly 38 minutes and 34 seconds

For simplicity of computation, let's round it to 45 minutes to account for tiredness.

So, in a three hour period, you could sing the song four times.

And in a twenty-one hour period, you could sing the song twenty-eight times.

Of course, I have assumed sobriety in these calculations. If the singers were actually imbibing while singing, the rate of song completion would decline dramatically over time.

Now you may be wondering why I am wondering how many times one could sing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" in a twenty-one hour period.

For the answer, stay tuned for a future post in the Empoprise-MU music blog. The post is scheduled to appear on Monday morning - well, Monday morning in the western United States. If you're somewhere else, it may appear on Monday afternoon, Monday evening, or perhaps even on Tuesday.

P.S. The title of the post really has nothing to do with music. I took it from here.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Lowrider Band is at CAN'T SAY IT with another band

If you visit the web site of the Lowrider Band, you can find this story:

Since 1969, members of Lowrider Band have compiled a tapestry of quintessential songs and live performances so musically infectious that its moniker traces from Los Angeles to Mexico City and from London to Copenhagen. And the genius of this Southern California troupe is captured in the musical medley of Hispanic, African-American, Asian and mainstream cultures, resulting in monster compositions such as “Slippin into Darkness,” “Low Rider,” “9 to 5 (Ordinary Man),” “All Day Music” and many other chart-toppers.

Comprising four prolific, multi-platinum singer-songwriters, Howard Scott (guitar), Harold Brown (drums), Lee Oskar (harmonica) and B.B. Dickerson (bass), this dynamic team of accomplished musicians is guilty of dishing up many of the greatest tunes to permeate airwaves since the dawn of radio: “The Cisco Kid,” “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” “Spill the Wine” and “The World is a Ghetto” are a few more mega-hits from the band’s exhaustive discography....

Lowrider Band and staff are thrilled to announce that band members Howard Scott, Harold Brown, Lee Oskar and B.B. Dickerson have been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for 2010!

If you visit the website of the band called War, you can find this story:

The year was 1969, and these 'kids' had the nerve to carry the name WAR at a time when peace was the slogan in an anti-Vietnam America. "Our mission was to spread a message of brotherhood and harmony," states one of WAR's founding members, singer/keyboardist Lonnie Jordan. "Our instruments and voices became our weapons of choice and the songs our ammunition. We spoke out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes, and turf wars, as we embraced all people with hope and the spirit of brotherhood. It's just as apropos today"

And a little later on, the War web page includes this mention:

In 1979, B.B. Dickerson departed during recording sessions for WAR’s next album.

But the War website includes no mention of Scott, Brown, or Oskar. And the Lowrider Band website includes no mention of Jordan, nor does it mention the band called War.

John at Rock Roots explains the story:

It seems in` 1996 the band desired a change in management. In their attempt to separate from Jerry Goldstein they found themselves unable to retain the name War due to the fact it was a trademark owned by Goldstein and Far Out Productions. Consequently, the band adopted the name The Low Rider Band, which of course was a reference to one of their biggest hits. All except keyboardist Lonnie Jordan who opted to remain with Goldstein and put together a whole new band calling itself War.

And John clearly has an opinion on the matter:

Given that The Low Rider Band contains all the surviving members of the group that made all of the artistic and commercial achievements of War, while the present band named War contains only Lonnie Jordan and a bunch of other guys, I felt that to write about War required that I reference The Low Rider Band because with Scott, Dickerson, Oskar and Brown as members, The Low Rider Band essentially is War. The present band named War is pretty much just Lonnie Jordan's War tribute band.

Why can't we be friends?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Warr on Kraftwerk

If you've never visited Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews, you should. The presence of the word "record" indicates that the site is focused toward older releases, although they review newer items also. But the site is truly marked by Wilson & Alroy's high standards.

Very high standards.

Extremely high standards.

I'll give you an example. I personally think it's a travesty that Depeche Mode are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but I think it an even worse tragedy that Kraftwerk has not been so honored. Wilson does not share my views on Kraftwerk, as is evident from his review of Devo's second full-length album, Duty Now for the Future. Note: Wilson hated that particular album.

I don't think the damage Kraftwerk did to our culture has been adequately assessed. Their mid-70s robotic, primitive synth instrumentals made a huge impression on music cognoscenti, essentially undoing all that Stevie Wonder had done to make synthesizers musically expressive. The Kraftwerk influence basically ruins Devo's sophomore effort, which is loaded with repetitive, mechanical keyboard lines...

For a taste of a later review, here's Wilson's review of a Drake album.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

As long as you love me - the Edward Snowden/Justin Bieber's "Wild Kidz" mashup

Earlier today, I issued a challenge:

Mash up Edward Snowden and the Wild Kidz (Justin Bieber's bucket-peeing, Clinton-hating gang).

If you haven't kept up with the news, or if you read this long after the events in question were forgotten, Edward Snowden is the serious former NSA agent who revealed secrets of (possibly un-Constitutional) spying by the US government before fleeing the country; he is currently in the international section of a Moscow airport. Justin Bieber is a young singer, who hangs with a gang of people who call themselves the "Wild Kidz."

So here's my mashup. If others contribute, their contributions will be found here.

It was a bright, sunny morning at Simón Bolívar International Airport. Despite its distance from Caracas, a crowd of tens of thousands had arrived at the airport to meet the historic flight from Havana.

To many of the Venezuelans at the airport, the arrival of the flight was a source of national pride, and a true indicator of the fact that Venezuela was its own nation, capable of making its own decisions, and not subject to the whims of its rich foreign neighbors.

To many of the U.S.-based press at the airport, the arrival of the flight was a meal ticket. News networks, blogging empires, and newspapers all wanted to be present to record this flight, and the arrival of its famous passenger.

Rather than proceeding to the gate, the plane stopped in the middle of the runway. A podium had been set up on the runway; within a few minutes, President Maduro would make a speech from that podium, welcoming the distinguished guest to the country. The podium was surrounded by some metal chairs, a few tables, and a trash can. None of the dignitaries had yet arrived; the only person by the podium was a border control officer, responsible for performing a (ceremonial) inspection of the arriving passenger's papers.

In Tattoo-like fashion, the crowd began yelling, "The plane! The plane!" Sure enough, an airplane landed on the runway, and taxied toward the podium, stopping 50 meters away.

The door opened, and a man appeared at the door, blinking into the sunlight. The man, who was instantly recognizable to the crowd at the airport, blinked in the sunlight, then started to walk down the steps.

But he was not alone.

Anderson Cooper, in a studio in Atlanta, Georgia, couldn't believe his eyes. "Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that the person behind Edward Snowden is Julian Assange, the famous head of Wikileaks. We had believed that he was still holed up in the Ecuador embassy in London, but it appears that he was on this plane, and is now deplaning in Venezuela."

Similar chatter was heard on the other networks, and in the crowd. The British secret agents who had infiltrated the crowd were dumbfounded.

With all of the attention directed at Snowden and Assange, no one noticed the other four men who disembarked from the plane, and no one noticed the fact that all six men were wearing identical hoodies and jeans.

Near the podium, the six began a conversation that only the entire world could hear.

"DUUUUUDE! We made it!"

"Party in the Caribbean, dude!"

"Uh, just a minute." Edward Snowden, who was either the face of whistle-blowing of the face of treason, depending upon your point of view, currently had a pained look on his face. He stood there for a second, and then walked toward the trash can. As the world watched, Snowden unzipped his pants and relieved himself.

The other five laughed uncontrollably.

"DUDE!" said Assange. "You're peeing!"

One of the other guys yelled a question. "Who are we?" he asked.

The other five responded, "We're the Leaky Kidz!"

Some of the network cameras had already picked up the "Leaky Kidz" emblem on the back of the six mens' hoodies.

As everyone laughed, Julian walked up to the podium, which was adorned with a picture of Venezuelan President Maduro - the man who would provide asylum to Snowden, and the man who would provide Assange himself with safe passage to Ecuador.

Assange threw his Red Bull at the picture. "F@@k Maduro!" he yelled.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Pandora is self-interested

If someone loudly claims that they're looking out for your interests, there's a good chance that they're actually looking out for their own interests.

Remember when poor Pandora was about to die because of the terrible machinations of evil corporate radio? Back in 2008, many people (including myself) wrote to Congress after Pandora issued a call to action:

September 26, 2008

Listeners we need your help... NOW!

After a yearlong negotiation, Pandora, artists and record companies are finally optimistic about reaching an agreement on royalties that would save Pandora and Internet radio. But just as we've gotten close, large traditional broadcast radio companies have launched a covert lobbying campaign to sabotage our progress.

Yesterday, Congressman Jay Inslee, and several co-sponsors, introduced legislation to give us the extra time we need but the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), which represents radio broadcasters such as Clear Channel, has begun intensively pressuring lawmakers to kill the bill. We have just a day or two to keep this from collapsing.

This is a blatant attempt by large radio companies to suffocate the webcasting industry that is just beginning to offer an alternative to their monopoly of the airwaves.

Frankly, I never did bother to find out if the bill passed both Houses, but Pandora has not collapsed so I guess everything worked out OK.

Except that there are now new allegations of evil company machinations - and this time Pandora is being cast in the black hat. The surviving members of Pink Floyd wrote an editorial:

Great music can inspire deep emotions, and businesses have long sought to harness this power in order to make money. Nothing wrong with that – everyone deserves to make a living – but too often it leads to less than scrupulous behavior. The latest example is how Pandora is pushing for a special law in Congress to slash musicians' royalties – and the tactics they are using to trick artists into supporting this unfair cut in pay....

Last year, we joined over 130 other bands and artists to oppose Pandora's campaign to cut the royalties paid for digital radio spins. Widespread artist opposition stopped them last year, so this year Pandora is trying to enlist artists support for their next attempt at passing this unfair legislation.

Musicians around the country are getting emails from Pandora – even directly from the company's charismatic founder Tim Westergren – asking them to "be part of a conversation" about the music business and sign a simple "letter of support" for Internet radio.

Sounds good. Who wouldn't want to be "part of a conversation"? Who doesn't support Internet radio? What scrooge would refuse to sign such a positive, pro-music statement?

Of course, this letter doesn't say anything about an 85% artist pay cut. That would probably turn off most musicians who might consider signing on.

And it's not just Pink Floyd that is displeased with Pandora. David Lowery (of Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker fame) has compared his royalty statements from various sources. The figures that Lowery provided for comparison include $1,522 from terrestrial AM/FM radio, $181 from Sirius XM...and less than $17 from Pandora. Lowery is not pleased:

Soon you will be hearing from Pandora how they need Congress to change the way royalties are calculated so that they can pay much much less to songwriters and performers. For you civilians webcasting rates are “compulsory” rates. They are set by the government (crazy, right?). Further since they are compulsory royalties, artists can not “opt out” of a service like Pandora even if they think Pandora doesn’t pay them enough. The majority of songwriters have their rates set by the government, too, in the form of the ASCAP and BMI rate courts–a single judge gets to decide the fate of songwriters (technically not a “compulsory” but may as well be). This is already a government mandated subsidy from songwriters and artists to Silicon Valley. Pandora wants to make it even worse. (Yet another reason the government needs to get out of the business of setting webcasting rates and let the market sort it out.)

Another artist, Blake Morgan, noted that both musicians and music companies were united against Pandora' efforts:

"You know when you've done something when music labels and artists are hand in hand agreeing on something," Morgan told HuffPost.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

On Slim Whitman, 192x? - 2013

I saw several concerts during my years in Portland, Oregon, including concerts by Devo, Jan & Dean, Willie & Kris, and Gregor Samsa. But my favorite concert (sorry, Josh Rosen) was probably the Slim Whitman concert that I saw.

This was during Whitman's infomercial-fueled (and Johnny Carson-fueled) resurgence in popularity, when his name became known to those of us who weren't around during his first bit of popularity in the 1950s. When he appeared in Portland, Slim appeared along with his son Byron, and there was a bit of comedy regarding Byron's attractiveness to the ladies. (Well, Byron was younger than Slim.)

Afterwards, Slim stayed and signed autographs, because that's what you're supposed to do.

A class act in every way.

Slim passed away - for real this time - earlier today. He will be missed, but he will be remembered.

And yes, I still think that Brian Eno is his son, but that theory is for another time.

And no, he never did cover Pink Floyd.

And no, he never formed a supergroup with Martin Gore and Ralph Tomaselli.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Now we have Dr. Merle Haggard and Dr. Buck Owens

In my business blog, I recently posted a list of several people who have received honorary degrees from the University of Southern California, including Dr. Steven Ballmer.

Well, California State University Bakersfield just awarded two honorary degrees.

Cal State Bakersfield presented the Oildale-bred singer-songwriter [Haggard] with the university’s highest honor Friday at commencement ceremonies for the School of Arts and Humanities. Joining him posthumously was his equally famous contemporary, Buck Owens, who was represented by his eldest son.

However much of an education Haggard's songs have provided to us, apparently the lure of education was not great for Haggard himself. Even today.

Then, while the audience was distracted by the imminent recitation of the graduates’ names, Haggard slipped out the back, just as he had done so many times before, so many years ago.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The piece that I never submitted to MungBeing Magazine

When Mark Givens announced that the theme for issue 50 of MungBeing Magazine was "Names," I drafted a couple of written pieces having to do with names, and then promptly forgot about them and never submitted them. When issue 50 was actually released, I had even forgotten about the items on which I had worked.

Until Saturday, when I ran across an email to myself dated May 2.

I really need to check my empoprises gmail account more often. (And I had even starred the thing.)

Well, I need to use everything up at some point, so I figured that I'd post one of the items here. (I never really worked on the second item, and all that I have there is some material that someone else wrote about the name letter effect. You can read that material at

So, without further ado, here is "Styx and Stones."

Wait, I take that back - here's one further ado. Whenever I write something for MungBeing, I try to make some type of reference to every other piece that I have contributed to MungBeing. This explains, for example, the reference to Martin Van Buren.

OK, NOW without further ado...

If you were to run into Smiley on the street – and he was often on the street – you would just think of him as a ne’er-do-well who blurted out opinions – the shorter the better. But those who knew him better realized that he had, back in the day, been a marketing genius who was responsible for shaping much of the popular culture of the Western world.

He received his nickname “Smiley” when he spent several years in London in the early 1960s – a city where, like all other cities, he had a knack for being in the right place at the right time.

One night he was sitting in a small club and began talking to the bass player in the club’s band.

“What’s your band’s name?” asked Smiley.

“The Cliftons,” responded the bassist without real conviction. He was concentrating on the girls who were sitting a few tables away.

“And what’s YOUR name?” asked Smiley, not noticing that the bassist was distracted.

“Perks” was the response.

“That’s a stupid name,” said Smiley, who walked out. Perks then moved to the table with the girls, but Smiley’s comment obviously remained lodged in his mind.

Several years later, Smiley had drifted back to the United States and found himself at a parish hall in suburban Chicago, listening to another small band argue over its name. The band had just signed to the small label Wooden Nickel Records, and had decided that the current name, TW4, just wouldn’t cut it for successful recording artists like themselves.

One of the band members piped up. “Hey, why don’t we call ourselves Schlock?”

Smiley, unbidden, piped up from his chair. “That’s a stupid name!” he yelled.

The band members reluctantly agreed and sat in thought until another tossed in a suggestion. “Martin Van Buren?”

“Nah,” said Smiley, piping up again. “They’ll think that the lead singer is named Martin Van Buren. Too confusing.”

“I know! I know!” said another band member. “Mister Roboto!”

Smiley stared at him, shaking his head.

The first band member, angered by the interjections of this stranger, spoke up anyway. “How about Desperation Squad?”

“Now that’s the most idiotic name I’ve heard yet!” shouted Smiley. “Your band is dead in the water! I’m going back over the river and getting as far away from you as possible!”

Smiley was surprised a few years later when the band became extremely famous.

Monday, June 10, 2013

On Enya's "Covers" album

We always forget that the public image of a person is just a small aspect of the entire person.

Until this past weekend, I thought of Enya as some ethereal person who took nice quiet bubble baths while reading some of Tolkien's lesser-known works. This image was suggested by her music, and what was known about her, including her single name. Heck, I normally don't know what her real name is.

So when I found her "Covers" album on Spotify last weekend, the choice of titles seemed intriguing. "Big Balls" by AC/DC? "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" by Joan Jett (and others)? As I looked at the titles, I thought to myself - how is Enya going to do those songs in her Irish syntho-folk style?

Well, this may be a spoiler if you haven't heard the songs yet, but the answer is - she doesn't. She covers these songs in the original style, which is a bit - unsettling.

And I don't know if was being intentionally ironic or not when she covered Devo's "Beautiful World." I found an interview by Enya about the album, and here's what the Irishwoman said when asked about that song:

Well, I guess I've always been a spudgirl, so I knew that I had to include that one in my album.

Well, this has caused me to re-evaluate everything that I ever knew about Enya. If you want to have your mind literally blown, be sure to read the interview yourself.

And if you're not on Spotify and would like to hear the cover-loving Enya, her version of "Smoke on the Water" can be found here.