Dudes, it has been far too long since I’ve posted anything on this site. A quick look back tells me that it’s been almost 11 months! The past year has been a busy one. But yours truly is never too busy for some good tunez, and I’ve had some awesome music on my radar, some old some new, which I will share with you.
First up is the fantastically named Kurt Vile (nope, it’s not a pseudonym), and I love everything about the aesthetic of this video including Mr. Vile’s all-white ensemble.
Every once in a while I run into someone who claims not to like the Beatles.
This is absolute horseshit. The only possible reason not to like the Beatles is because you are a misanthropic malcontent, or a generally crappy person.
The Beatles weren’t around for long, compared to other bands (Rolling Stones, I am looking in your direction) but they produced such a prolific and varied body of work, that even if you don’t enjoy, say, their early pop period you can still be a fan of their later experimental psychedelic stuff.
Or the White Album. I once knew someone who argued that the White Album sucked. But this person had, admittedly, never really taken the time to listen to it. The main thrust of their argument was that they didn’t like the Beatles because they are “too popular”. Shitting on a band because they’re “too mainstream” or “too popular” or whatever is the same thing to me as liking a band for those very same reasons. If you like a certain type of music just because everyone else does, you’re a lemming. By the same token, if you don’t like music simply because everyone else does, you may think that you’re being subversive, but isn’t it really just the flip side of the same coin?
There may be parts of the White Album that you can take or leave, depending on your tastes. But you can’t argue that it contains some absolute gems. ‘Back in the USSR’ was the Beatles doing the Beach Boys, only better. ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ is a delightful, happy little tune. ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ is just gorgeous. ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’ is a slightly aggressive, oddly sexual song, while ‘I’m So Tired’ is a tribute to sleep-deprived obsession. ‘Rocky Raccoon’ is probably my favorite tune on the entire album, just for the absurd pleasure of singing along with such lines as “Rocky burst in and grinning a grin / He said Danny boy this is a showdown!” It sounds like a little kid’s song, but the content is anything but.
And that’s just the first side of this double album. I’m also partial to ‘Sexy Sadie’, ‘Helter Skelter’, and ‘Honey Pie’: “Honey Pie, you are making me crazy / I’m in love but I’m lazy / So won’t you please come home”.
Whichever way you slice it, the White Album has something for everyone.
And so, to those people out there who claim not to like the Beatles simply because they are “too popular”, this tune from Rubber Soul is one for you:
Think for yourself. Don’t embrace something just because everyone else is, and by the same token don’t reject it simply to be a contrarian. Figure out what you genuinely like and dislike, and then proclaim it and defend it to your heart’s content.
I know what you may be thinking: “But Spencer, if you’re telling me that I suck if I don’t like the Beatles, isn’t that the same narrow-minded attitude you’re asking me to rise above?” Sure, fair point. And hey, don’t take my word for it. If you dislike the Beatles for a legit reason, hit me up in the comments and tell me why I’m full of it.
It should be no surprise to anyone reading this that I love the ’80s. And one of the things that I love most about that decade is the cheesy, over-the-top, heavy metal rock ballads. It seems that every ’80s metal band worth their glitter spandex put out at least one of these gems (and of course, there were some repeat offenders — Bon Jovi, I’m looking in your direction). Below, I have gathered together some classic examples from this genre. I’ve assembled them into a handy playlist so that you, too, can rock out. Bonus points if you serenade your lady (or man) friend with an overblown rendition of one of these ballads. “If I could fly high I would give you the skyyyy/Don’t you make that mistake, what does it taaaaake…”
It also goes without saying that music videos from this era were just complete and utter solid gold, filled with so many utterly amazing 80s cliches (big hair, spandex, overwrought guitar solos, modulation) that it makes my head explode with joy. I mean, look, I know that the 80s were no different from any other decade in that people still had problems, lost money, got divorced, got fired, had general angstiness, etc…but honestly, how could things possibly be that bad when you looked like this?
If you were feeling down, wouldn’t you be able to look in the mirror and immediately be cheered up by the super rad apparition staring back at you? Of course you would!
So here are my picks for top ’80s power ballads. Take the time to re-watch these videos – I promise it’ll put a smile on your face. And let me know your faves!
Somebody said “Time to move on” to me today and it immediately made me think of one of my favorite songs of all time:
The thing that I love about this song is that whenever I hear it, it conjures up a crystal clear image for me. Right from the opening bars, I see a car traveling along a highway in the very early light of dawn. The highway traverses open fields and farmlands. The car’s passengers are on the way to the airport. This reminds me of being a little kid and leaving very early, sometimes while it was still dark, to get on a plane and travel somewhere far away. Even as a small child I loved those moments in time — the excitement and the adventure of an impending, unknown voyage.
I must admit that until I saw them up on the Grammys stage with classical pianist Lang Lang last Sunday night, I had completely forgotten about Metallica.
Or maybe I had just blocked them out since I find Lars Ulrich to be one of the most annoying people on earth. I think it was the whole Napster situation. I understand that it sucks for artists, who have worked really hard to put a product out there, when people are downloading their stuff for free. For the record, I would like to mention that I pay for all of my music. Not everyone does, and that’s cool — for me it’s just a matter of principle. Besides, I’m a fucking adult now. I don’t have the time to be dicking around with illegal downloads.
Having said all that, I do think Lars was just too serious about the whole thing. Dude needs to lighten up. It’s not that his argument didn’t make sense, it was just his way of going about it that rubbed me the wrong way. But then, I don’t like it when anyone is overly militant in their views. I’m a lover not a fighter, y’all. Why can’t we all just get along?
Anyway, music politics notwithstanding, Metallica is one of the hugest metal acts of all time, and in fact one of the most commercially successful bands in rock & roll history (they’ve sold over 110 million albums worldwide). They didn’t get to where they are by sucking. Sure, it’s metal for the masses, but it’s good stuff.
You guys, I despair. I despair at what Madonna has done to her face:
Madonna at the 2014 Grammys
This is not a knock on Madonna in general. Even though she’s not my favorite artist of all time, there’s much to admire about this lady. She was an absolute trendsetter and a ground breaker at the the start of her career. Madonna paved the way for many a female pop star, from Britney to Lady Gaga to Katy Perry. And let’s face it, she is (or, was) better than all of them. Her moves were great, her look was fantastic, and her attitude was fucking awesome. I’m talking way early on – the ‘struggling artist in early ’80s New York’ era, the ‘Like a Virgin’ era…back when Madonna was young, and confident, and snarky, and superior, and all of that was okay because had the goods to back it up. That Madonna excelled at pushing boundaries and being way ahead of the curve, armed only with a cheeky, unapologetic, in-your-face demeanor.
Nowadays, the most in-your-face thing about her is what’s going on with her face. And that’s the thing – this Madonna, who seems so desperate to hold onto her youth (for why else would she be doing this?), does not seem unapologetic at all. It seems like she’s forgotten who she is – a woman who rose to the upper echelons of the music industry on the basis of stringent hard work and an incredible amount of chutzpah (I mean let’s face, it, she doesn’t have the greatest voice of all time). She had that ineffable quality — that ‘It’ factor — to a degree that makes other female artists who have come after her pale in comparison.
My favorite Madonna tracks continue to be the ones from her early career, and particularly from 1986’s True Blue. This record contained not only gems such as ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, ‘Live to Tell’, and ‘La Isla Bonita’, but also what is surely one of pop music’s poppiest songs of all time, ‘True Blue’. This track is the ultimate in bubblegum brilliance, deceptive in its simplicity (much like the Archies 1969 hit ‘Sugar Sugar’). And I absolutely adore the video – pure, campy fun (and featuring Debi Mazar!) Enjoy: