Archive for September, 2010

Chartbreaker 9-27-10

Posted in Chartbreaker on September 28, 2010 by Niveous

Hello there to all who stumble across Audioshards. I have  a lot of new posts planned over the next few days. There will be a review of Songfight’s Curefight, the newest edition of As the Tune Spins and more on my odyssey to get back in musical shape. But for now, here’s another look at the wacky world of the Billboard Hot 100 

94. “Turn On The Radio” by Reba McEntire 

Her first single was “I Don’t Wanna Be a One Night Stand” back in 1976. It’s 2010 and she’s far from a one hit wonder. “Turn On The Radio” debuts on the hot 100 this week. It’s the 91st single of her career. Between her and George Strait, I am blown away by the longevity of the careers of country artists. Can you envision some current pop artists having such huge careers? 91 singles worth of Ke$ha? 20+ years of Beiber songs? 

83. “We No Speak Americano” by Yolanda Be Cool & D-Cup 

I heard this song a few weeks back as it had climbed to the top of the charts in the UK and said to my girlfriend, “That’s one of those songs that’s a big hit in the UK and will never be a hit in the States”. I stand corrected. It’s a strange little dance track, built around an Italian song from the 1950. It’s quite the unconventional club tune and I didn’t see it becoming a smash here but I probably shouldn’t have bet against a song that has hit number one in over 10 different countries. I still don’t really get it. 

75. “Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons 

The music of Mumford and Sons falls under the category of “indie folk” which, despite enjoying this song greatly, makes me a little surprised to see it on the Billboard Charts and rising. According to the wonders of wikipedia, the indie folk genre includes Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens, Cat Power, Iron & Wine, Bishop Allen (whom I also greatly enjoy) and others. The 5 artists (I know Bishop Allen is a band) that I just listed have a combined zero songs in their Billboard Chart history. They have lots of albums on the album charts but no singles hit. There could be a plethora of reasons for this (see last week’s rant) but Indie Folk isn’t a genre that gets much love on the charts. Congrats to Mumford & Sons for breaking out. 

65. “A Year Without Rain” by Selena Gomez and the Scene 

Ouch. It seems all the lustre of a shiny new track from the Wizards of Waverly Place girl has died down in a big way and the song plummeted 30 spots. 

51. “Half of my Heart” by John Mayer 

A queer little thing happened with this song during its run on the charts, which seems to be quickly coming to a close. Somewhere down the line, it lost its “featuring” tag. The song features vocals from Taylor Swift. With all the recent hoopla around T-Swizzle with the new album release and the barefoot, Kanye-blasting VMA performance, one would think that John Mayer’s record company would want to push the fact that she’s on this song to its fullest extent. Instead, her name has slowly vanished from the marquee and the song, well, it faltered after its debut at #25 and never got any higher. 

42- “Hey Soul Sister” by Train, 47- “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum 

At first, I couldn’t see the appeal in this song. Maybe it was some leftover Train hate from back in the day when their big song rhymed “room to grow” with “does Tae-Bo”. But after a while, the song grew on me and now I’m rooting it on for its landmark week. If the song can avoid dropping below #50 next week, it will have been on the Billboard charts for 52 weeks. An entire year. Only one other song on the charts right now can claim that- “Need You Now”, which is going into its 58th week on the charts which lands it in the top 10 longest running songs in the Hot 100’s history. Jason Mraz has the record as “I’m Yours”‘ chart run was a mindboggling 76 weeks. 

37- “Radioactive” by Kings of Leon 

It’s funny what a little revisionist history can do. In listening to the radio, I’ve heard this song touted as the big return of Kings of Leon. And yes, this is their first big hit since their colossal success with “Use Somebody” back in 2008. Here’s the thing, it’s not as if they didn’t release singles between point A & point B. They did. Three of them to be exact. There was “Revelry” which went Gold in Australia but couldn’t crack the charts here. There was “Notion” which was a #1 on the Alternative Rock charts but only made it to #99 on the Hot 100. And then there was “Crawl” which fared the least well of the 2009 singles. But if you mention that the new song doesn’t sound like a big return after a year’s absence and doesn’t get that extra little push from fans who go “Hey, Kings of Leon are back” when in fact, they never really left. 

27. “The Catalyst” by Linkin Park, 21. “The Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine 

Putting out a new album does wonders for a band on the Billboard charts. Take Linkin Park and their new album “A Thousand Suns”. The album came out on 9/14 and this chart is the first chart to feel the aftershocks. And it was quite a big one as the Catalyst shot up from #73 to #27. That was a surprising leap but not the biggest of the week. That goes to “Dog Days Are Over” which took off like a rocket from #93 to #21. Part of both of these songs success can be given to their VMA performances. But I think there’s something more here. Both these songs are anthems about overcoming the bad times in life. I think people need that right now. 

Neon Trees' "Animal" has crawled up the charts for 16 weeks. It's up to #22.

 

17- “California Gurls” by Katy Perry 

Allow me to take a moment to discuss Katy Perry and the recent Sesame Street drama. I feel bad for her because she was legitimately excited to have her song on Sesame Street and now it won’t because some people made some negative comments about how revealing her outfit was. Now, here’s the thing- Sesame Street (according to the wonders of wikipedia) has a 4 person wardrobe team. Are you telling me that none of the 4 people thought putting big breasted Katy Perry in the tinkerbell dress in a scene where she was going to run after Elmo may cause a slight problem? Someone there screwed up. Plus, it’s Katy Perry. They should have known what kind of attention they were going to get. Have they not seen the California Gurls video? Maybe this is a brilliant ploy by the CTW. This is the most publicity Sesame Street has gotten since they trashed Big Bird’s nest in a hurricane. 

10. “Like a G6” by Far East Movement f/ the Cataracts & Dev 

Top ten! This song is the perfect formula for a club banger. Take a pair of Bay Area DJ’s and give them a song to work with. That song was “Booty bounce” by Dev. They took one of the verses and made it into a chorus with a killer hook and surrounded it with a great beat. Now they just needed a chorus. Add in Far East Movement, an asian quartet who have been quietly making waves on the club scene since 2003 and ta-da, one big hit. What’s up next? FM is going to tour with Lady Gaga! 

3. “Only Girl (in the World)” by Rihanna 

I was beginning to wonder what was going on. I know Rihanna is still making big hits. In fact, her song with Eminem is still lingering at #2. But here’s the thing, her last two singles have not done so well. “Rockstar 101” despite a performance on American Idol and guitar work from Slash of Guns & Roses/Velvet Revolver fame was only able to peak at #64. While her song “Te Amo” was a solid hit in Europe but for some reason wasn’t released in the states. But she’s got a new album on the way called Loud. The song debuted last week at #75. I was wondering if it was going to meander in the bottom 50 like “Rockstar 101” did. Clearly, it did not. 

Wow, this week has been all about blowing away my misconceptions…

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10 Shards: My favorite Cure songs

Posted in 10 Shards with tags , , on September 23, 2010 by Niveous

This week the musicians of Songfight are going to have CureFight, where the bands are going to do covers of their favorite Cure songs. In honor of the event, I figured I’d list 10 of my favorite Cure songs. They have been a very important band in my musical life. The first CD I ever bought was The Cure’s “Mixed Up” which I think was a great starting point. I’ve been a fan since my first listen and here are 10 of my favorites from their amazing 34 year career.

1. “Boys Don’t Cry”

No better way to set the tone for the entire career of the Cure then with a song like “Boys Don’t Cry”. The lyrics are simple and yet so pointed. “I tried to laugh about it, cover it all up with lies. I tried to laugh about it, hiding the tears in my eyes because boys don’t cry”. And the song is just so well done. It’s over 3 decades old and still stands up very well.

2. “Close To Me” 

This song is just built so well. Robert Smith may be plodding through lyrics like “I wish I stayed asleep today” but the groove in this song is so infectious. The version with the brass section is the best. Sometimes when you get such a powerful dichotomy between the lyrics and the music, it can be jarring but this is one of the few instances where it all comes together perfectly.

3. “If Only Tonight We Can Sleep”

The Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me album may be best known for “Just Like Heaven” but the album includes a hidden gem in the form of “If Only Tonight…”. In a time where the band was creating bouncy new wave bits like the wonderful “Hey You” and “Why Can’t I Be You”, this song was ominous harbinger of things to come. Dark and beautiful.

4. “Untitled”

Disintegration is the best Cure album bar none. 12 songs and every one is full of amazing soundscapes. Robert Smith’s voice has never sounded more haunting. You can’t find a dance-y new wave song on here, instead the album went Darkwave with brilliant results. My favorite song being the faux-accordion laden “Untitled”. With lyrics like “hopelessly adrift in the eyes of the ghost again”, this song was a great inspiration to my own morose lyric writing.

Disintegration

...is the best album ever" - Kyle Broflovski

5. “Lullaby”

“Love Song” may have been the big hit coming out of Disintegration but that song does very little for me because it’s such a straightforward love song. It is rather generic, it just happens to be done extremely well. When it comes to singles from that album, my favorite is the chilling “Lullaby” where Robert Smith’s voice is reduced to a raspy whisper while Porl Thompson plays staccato guitars verses and a simple tasty guitar riff over the chorus. It creates such a cold atmosphere in the song, along with the faux strings. 

6. “To Wish Impossible Things”

Wish is a great album. Some parts of it harkened back to a more poppy new wave sound with songs like “Friday I’m in Love” and “High” but they could still create lush soundscapes. Whereas “Disintegration” used faux-strings, this song had Kate Wilkinson’s amazing viola work intertwined with the same kind of guitar work that made “Lullaby” such a good song. Add in Boris Williams’ percussion and one of Robert Smith’s most compelling vocal performances and you get an amazing Cure song (a sadly often overlooked song).

7. “Burn”

The Crow is one of my favorite movies of all time and one of the things that makes the movie so good is the soundtrack. Nine Inch Nails, Jesus & Mary Chain, Rage Against the Machine, Medicine and others all add great songs to the compilation. The Cure song is the lead-off track and sets a mood for the entire album. This may have been a Cure lineup without Porl Thompson but they were a band growing and finding new and fascinating was to create their sound. There are so many little touches sprinkled all over this song that make it such fun to listen to.

8. “The 13th”

When the Cure brings in a horn section, interesting things happen. This may have been the toughest time in the band’s history as it was basically Robert Smith and Perry Bamonte holding everything together but they were still able to make some good tunes. Granted, Wild Mood Swings, lacked some of the amazing dark tone of their previous albums but it was still a fairly good album and this song with its quirky transvestite murder video was the standout.

9. “The End of the World”

I’m not going to be fake and say that I love every Cure album. This is very little that I like on the Bloodflowers album and coming into the self titled album, I thought the Cure was ready to fade out of the spotlight. But then there was “The End of the World”. For those looking for Disintegration, part 2, they weren’t going to find it but they got a song full of charm and was a lot more relevant in the timeframe. This wasn’t bitter and dark, but this was a band that been through all that and could find joy, even at the end of the world.

10. Us or Them

Evolution can scare people. This song was a scary evolution for the Cure. This was the Cure bringing something that was almost metal. It’s dark and its got Robert Smith growling and screaming. I almost expect to hear something like this coming out of A Perfect Circle, especially with the powerhouse Jason Cooper drumwork. When I hear this song, it tells me that the Cure have a hidden range that they can bring and makes me intrigued to hear what their future recordings will be like and if this will resurface. It did briefly on 4:13 dream with the closing track “It’s Over” (to a lesser degree. Are they gonna be able to rock that hard again without Perry Bamonte?)

Chartbreaker 9-22-10

Posted in Chartbreaker with tags , on September 22, 2010 by Niveous

Here I am again with another look at the wacky world of the Billboard charts. I truthfully don’t understand how they work. It’s supposedly built upon a mix of physical sales, digital sales and radio airplay. But I don’t know sometimes. The one thing that irks me about how Billboard works is the chart separations. Beyond the hot 100, there are smaller charts such as Rock, R&B and Country. Let’s say you have a song that’s #1 on the Rock charts, one would think it would be a big hit on Hot 100. No, because those charts are based on airplay while the top 100 is based on airplay and sales and the question I have is- is there an even balance between the criteria? Looking even deeper, they don’t check the same amount of radio stations for each genre.

It’s a head scratcher. The Hot 100 is basically a mix between the Hot 100 airplay chart, the Hot singles chart and the Hot digital chart. But how are they balanced? Is it 33% each? What if a song has great airplay but doesn’t get a physical single? Or is a song that has a lot of digital sales but falls in a genre that doesn’t have as man radio stations checked by Billboard (i,e.  jazz which only gets 14 stations reviewed in comparison to country which gets 126 stations reviewed). Then there’s the whole digital sales bit. Ever compare Billboard’s Digital Songs chart to the iTunes chart? There are some definite differences. Where are they compiling their results from? And what about other changes in the way we listen to music- things like YouTube, Slacker, Pandora…..

Enough venting. It’s still fun to look at the Billboard charts as a bit of the picture, even if it isn’t the whole picture.

92- “Introducing Me” by Nick Jonas

It was bound to happen that one of the songs from Disney’s Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam was going to end up on the charts. I am a little surprised to see it was this one. I saw the movie with my kids and the songs were mildly entertaining. This one on the other hand was basically a big rip off of Jason Mraz done over a set of extremely hokey lyrics as Nick Jonas attempts to woo an actress who will spend the rest of her being told “You should play Angelina Jolie’s daughter“. The song does get some charm as it increases its pace but in comparison to songs like “It’s On” and “Fire”, I’m surprised this is the one that charted.

84- “Dumb Love” by Sean Kingston

“Come Go With Me” by the Del Vikings is a song that has proven to be a classic. The Beach Boys covered it quite well in the 80’s. It even survived being sung on Saved By The Bell. But Sean Kingston turning it into “Dumb Love”, that may be the final straw. And what is it with Sean Kingston’s old r&b revision kick. “Beautiful Girls” was based on a  “Stand by Me” sample. This would be a terrible trend if he were to continue it.

78- “Check It Out” by will.i.am & Nicki Minaj, 93- “The Dog Days are Over” by Florence + The Machine

It’s the post VMAs chart and a few songs got a lift out of being performed on the show. My favorite performance of the night, the amazingly sung “Dog Days Are Over”, got Florence Welch her first hit in the US. My least favorite performance, the pre-show performance by Nicki Minaj and a very very oddly dressed will.i.am, earned them a #78 debut. I’ll give them kudos for a great choices of sample (“Check it Out” is based on “Video Killed The Radio Star” by the Buggles a.k.a. the first song played on MTV) but other than that, is it a great song. It’s just another Nicki Minaj song and the over exposure is getting a bit much for me.

68- “Free” by the Zac Brown Band, 72- “As She’s Walking Away” by the Zac Brown Band f/ Alan Jackson

As a New Yorker, I knew nothing of the Zac Brown Band prior to watching the Billboard charts. And I’m pretty sure if I asked a bunch of my friends who Zac Brown was, they would probably give me some sort of wisecrack about getting the guy from Saved by the Bell’s last name wrong (wow, two SBTB references today). But Zac Brown is slowly becoming quite the powerhouse on the charts. Free is now in its 17th week on the charts, after peaking at #34. Their new song is climb up the charts as well. They’ve got a couple of platinum singles under his belt too. They may not be a household name but I can really see them becoming much more well known (outside of the world of Country) as they slowly compile a stack of hits.

55- “Hollywood” by Michael Buble

The Buble is back. In Canada, he’s a god. Here in the States, we are slowly catching on. Buble realizes this and is playing it up in a big way. His album “Crazy Love” is being re-released thus giving more people a chance to get on the bandwagon. And what about his already loyal followers. They get a couple of new tunes thrown their way, including “Hollywood”. He may be singing “Hollywood is Dead” but it won’t be long before they come calling for Mr. Buble who is slowly becoming a hit in the US as well. (We can be a little slow with these things sometimes…)

45- “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame f/ Roscoe Dash & Wale

I wish you all could have seen my reaction when going through the charts and seeing this debut by Waka Flocka Flame. My reaction was “What the hell is a Waka Flocka Flame?”  Well, besides having one of the most ridiculous stage names that I have ever heard, he’s the former protegé of Gucci Mane. And now he’s only a couple of spots away from having a bigger hit than Gucci ever did. Gucci’s biggest hit on the top 100 was only a #36 hit last year. It would also be interesting because the two no longer speak. Mane fired Flame’s mom as his manager and now in a twist of fate, Flame is the one with the hit record while Gucci’s last two singles failed to make it to the hot 100.

35- “A Year Without Rain” by Selena Gomez and the Scene

There was no doubt in my mind that this song was going to chart big.  The Disney Princess has got a slew of people backing her up and making her shine. On her album (to which this is the title track), she’s got songs written by Katy Perry, Kevin Rudolf, Fefe Dobson, Toby Gad, Antonina Armato, Matt Squire, RedOne and others. What she doesn’t have is any songs written by Selena Gomez.

Did I mention that "Like a G6" is in the top 20 this week?

30- “Hot Tottie” by Usher & Jay-Z

As much as I like Jay-Z, I don’t know about this one. For one thing, it rhymes hot toddy with kemosabe. Really? Next, who still drinks hot toddys? That is such an old school drink. But I have to admit the Polow da Don beat is pretty good (very reminiscent of Swizz Beatz’ work on “On To The Next One”) and Jay-Z is as good as ever. But there is something a bit chesy about this song. Usher’s verses are weak as newborn children.

9- “Club Can’t Handle Me” by Flo Rida f/ David Guetta, 6- “DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again” by Usher

Last weekend, the girlfriend and I went to a wedding. The whole affair was very traditional with a very long full Catholic mass. But then came the reception. A very very loud emcee walked out and began doing the introductions for the wedding party and what song does the DJ play? Usher. The wedding party did all the hokey dances and stuff that we have come to expect but what came next, I did not see coming. The emcee directed us to the seats where the bride & groom were to be seated. The area was on a lazy susan. It began to turn and presented the happy couple in front of a huge video screen, as a smoke machine billowed and what music played? Flo Rida. I never though of either of these songs as wedding songs. I stand corrected.

3- “Just The Way You Are” by Bruno Mars

Where do I begin? Do I talk about the video for this song where Bruno croons about loving a person just the way they are. So, who gets chosen for this video? They go for Nathalie Kelly. They had to go for the girl who is super model pretty? Sigh.Or do I talk about Bruno Mars’ recent problem with the law as he was arrested in Vegas for doing coke in a bathroom stall. When the police busted him, he said he had never done anything like that before. So, he’s trying to say that for the first time he was ever going to do cocaine, he chose a public restroom stall in Las Vegas? Does that add up to you? Oh well. Maybe this will all lead to a Bruno Mars/ Amy Winehouse collaboration?

How I Fought The Block

Posted in Gatecrasher with tags , , on September 20, 2010 by Niveous

The other day I wrote about the music block I was having. A few people passed on ideas on how to deal with it. I ended up deciding to deal with it head-on. Sunday, I sat down with my guitar & tried to make a new song. At first, it was my same old block. I watched the WWE PPV & the Fred movie. I was avoiding playing. It took me a while but I shook off that hesitant feeling & just played. I chose some odd new chords & made a song called “Woebegone”. I had a melody, a chorus & a verse (all about dealing with the block) then I got tired & went to sleep. The story could’ve ended there. But tonight, Jill (my gf) & I had nothing to do so we decided to go to Sidewalk’s Open Stage again. In wild abandon, I decided to play the song. I wrote 2 more verses & went for it, without having ever played it. I figured if I continue to hesitate, I’ll never get started again. Was it a perfect performance? Heck no (pretty good for a first time though) but it made me wanna play more. Hooray for progress.

The Battle of the Block

Posted in Gatecrasher, Music with tags , , on September 17, 2010 by Niveous

The other night my girlfriend and I traveled out to the Sidewalk Cafe to listen to the wonders of The Open Stage. We listened for a couple of hours and somewhere during the night, Jill (the aforementioned & quite wonderful gf) said that she would love to see me play up there. Now, I have played at Sidewalk before, having done a set with my band XTRG last year. Still, this struck an odd chord with me. I was confronted with this thought…what would you play? Then came the realization that this year, I haven’t done a lot as a musician. I have very successfully done a ton of stuff on the periphery. I ran Nur Ein 5, judged SpinTunes 1 and having been blogging about music here at Audioshards. But when it comes to the making of music, I wrote Zinkline’s “Little Cuts” album and now I’m working on “Gatecrasher” and that’s about it.

I haven't been playing music alot...

So, what is holding me back?

I’ve been trying to figure out the answer to this question for about 2 years now. I have had this mental block. I don’t know if it’s a fear of failure, if it is just some aspect of my depression (depression makes it hard for me to focus especially on things I enjoy) or if its something else.  I am happy with all the periphery stuff that I’ve done. I’m in the midst of a huge secret project for Songfight (that I’ve been working on all year). Audioshards has been wonderful and I am happy to be a part of both the Songfight and Spintunes communities. I just need to figure out why I am not making music. It’s not a question of finding time or having the energy, etc. This is a real mental thing. It’s like a writer’s block.

I ask you, those who have stumbled across Audioshards, what drives you to making music? Have you ever had a block where you wanted to make music (or art, writing…) but something inside you was stopping you? What did you do?

Chartbreaker 9-15-10

Posted in Chartbreaker with tags , on September 16, 2010 by Niveous

95. “The Breath You Take” by George Strait

George Strait’s first single, “Unwound”, was released in April of 1981. It’s now 2010 and this is his 91st single. I may not be big into the country music but I have to applaud such a career. I haven’t heard this particular tune but I have read some reviews that make it sound like the most depressing song you can think of….times twelve.

87- “Toot It and Boot It” by YG

The one night stand. There have been many songs about the act. There have been some true classics like Prince singing about picking up a girl in a hotel lobby (“Darling Nikki) and the Shirelles asking about the morning after (“Will You Love Me Tomorrow”). But none of them have had the class and grandeur of YG’s “Toot It and Boot It”. Toot it? Really? REALLY?

80- “Waka Waka” by Shakira f/ Freshlyground

July 11, 2010. On that date, Spain defeated the Netherlands to win the World Cup. It’s September now and Shakira’s World Cup theme song is still lingering on the charts. In fact, it moved up from 83 to 80 this week. I shake my head at this fact. We don’t see K’naan’s other World Cup theme (“Wavin’ Flag”) on the charts anymore. What is it about this song? The funny thing is that in over a dozen countries this song was a #1 hit. Here in the US, it peaked at 38 and yet, it’s still on the charts… Billboard is an odd place sometimes.

63. “B.M.F.” by Rick Ross f/ Styles P

I think Rick Ross needs to rethink his choices of role models. He took  his stage name from a drug trafficker. And in this song, his chorus name drops Big Meech and Larry Hoover, who are the leaders of the Black Mafia Family and Gangster Disciples respectively. Yet at the same time, isn’t he the guy who showed up at the VMAs riding a Hoveround elderly mobility vehicle? Do you see the odd dichotomy here?

53. “Impossible” by Shontelle

Okay folks, usually in these Chartbreaker posts, I talk about odd quirks to the charts, weird facts and stuff like that. This time, I’m just going to state my opinion on a certain song. I can’t stand this song in the slightest. This is its 20th week on the Billboard top 100. The rule is if you’re under #50 and being on the charts more than 20 weeks- off the charts you go. Next week, I will be so very happy to see if go. And why can’t I stand this song. It’s simple really. I can’t stand hearing this chorus where the word Impossible seems to have 8 syllables or more. “Im-poss-i-ble-e-uh-e-uh-ull”

41. “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer” by Billy Currington

I don’t just check out the Billboard charts, I also check the charts for the UK & Canada. The charts are very different. For instance in the UK, you’ll find a ton of dance music like Swedish House Mafia, Inna, Magnetic Man, and Aggro Santos. Here, we have a ton of country. I wonder if there’s someone out there in the UK who looks at the US chart with the same kind of wonder. Do they see songs like “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer” and shake their head. “What is this…this southern gentleman is singing about how he cannot do things that other men do, but he’s rather skilled at becoming inebriated.”

37. “Smile” by Uncle Kracker

Earlier, I spot about the 20 week rule. Well, this song fell off the charts a few weeks ago because of that rule. The thing is the song was still climbing around on the other charts. It was this huge adult contemporary and country hit. So, Uncle Kracker’s record company made a plea. “The song is a big hit! It needs to be back on the charts!” So, Billboard relented and let the song return  to the charts. It has sat here stagnant for weeks. It hasn’t seen hide nor hair of the top 30. Decision well made.

22. “OMG” by Usher f/ will.i.am

The other day I talked about the VMAs but I forgot to mention my issue with the Usher performance. He sang “OMG” but somehow it became “Oh My Gosh”. Gosh? Really? They felt the need to tell Usher to change the lyric to Gosh? An hour later, Kanye West came on and sang “This is a toast for the assholes, this is a toast for the douchebags” but Usher couldn’t say “Oh my God”. I think people are okay with him singing “Oh my God”. The song was a #1 hit (twice). Yahoo’s style site is called omg! Hell, if people had such a problem with the phrase, it wouldn’t have a cute abbreviation.

21. “Like a G6” by Far East Movement f/ the Cataracts & Dev

Up 20 spots this week. 🙂

15. “Ridin’ Solo” by Jason Derulo

This song is proof that Jason Derulo is smarter than Richard Ashcroft. Richard Ashcroft & the Verve did the song “Bittersweet Symphony”. They had to give part of the rights to the song to the Rolling Stones because it sounds just like the orchaestral version of “The Last Time”. So, “Ridin’ Solo” was based on the Verve song. When I hear this song, I immediately think of the Verve song. So why doesn’t Derulo have to pay Jagger and Richards? He seems to have changed it just enough. It’s kind of like back in the day when World Championship Wrestling would want to use popular songs for their wrestlers but couldn’t, so they just used very very similiar songs. It would be “Smells Like Teen Spirit” but instead of duh-nuh da-duh-nuh duh-nuh da-duh-nuh. It would be duh-nuh da-duh-nuh duh-nuh da-duh-nee.  That’s how you do it.

This guy makes the hits.

1. “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry

Last year was dominated by the Black Eyed Peas, who held the number one spot from mid April all the way until Mid October. This year is the year of Dr. Luke. It’s crazy to give that accolade to a writer/ producer but the numbers don’t lie. We are 38 weeks into the year. 16 of those weeks, including this one, has had a #1 hit that has been touched by Dr. Luke. If you look at the Billboard chart this week, he’s had his hand in #1, 3, 8, 10, 12, 86 and 93. Impressive.

10 Shards: All about the VMAs

Posted in 10 Shards with tags , , on September 13, 2010 by Niveous

Last night was the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. If you ever saw my old blog, 10kdays, then you know that I am very big on music videos. MTV hasn’t had many music videos on lately (except for weekday mornings) but I was feeling nostalgic and decided to watch the festivities. Here are ten thoughts about the 2010 VMAs:

1. Video of the Year

Let me start at the top with the big win for Lady Gaga. For what its worth, the video deserved the win. But let’s look at the competition. Most people have no clue about the video for Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” and I feel like it was just put on the ballot to make MTV look like it has a shred of relevance. Then there’s the Eminem “Not Afraid” video. It’s a good song but it’s not a great video. Same thing with the “Airplanes” video from B.o.B. & Hayley Williams. These are only a step above the generic performance video thanks to flying Eminem and some colored lights. There was not a lot of music video creativity on display. This year’s field was thin in the biggest category in comparison to other years.

2. Breakthrough Video

Why is this category treated like crap? Look at some of the past winners: “Losing My Religion” (REM), “Tonight, Tonight” by Smashing Pumpkins, “Virtual Insanity” by Jamiroquai, “All is Full of Love” by Bjork,  “Fell in Love with a Girl” by the White Stripes, “The Scientist” by Coldplay. This category has always been a great place for awarding creativity. Now, I may not be enthralled by the Black Keys’ “Tighten Up” video, it’s cute, but they deserved to get some recognition for winning this award. They got nothing.

3. The Video Vanguard Award.

This hasn’t been given out since 2006 and last night was no different. This night was so focused on the spectacle that the music videos took a giant step back. Couldn’t MTV have forgone the drab Linkin Park performance of “The Catalyst” and taken a minute to give some kudos to someone like Samuel Bayer, Devo or Michel Gondry?

4- Hayley Williams

EW may have called this a bore (yet they loved the Linkin Park) but I enjoyed her performance at the VMAs. It was a medley of B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ on You”, B.o.B.’s “Airplanes” and Paramore’s “The Only Exception”. There was a great moment in the medley to transition between the last two songs. They dropped out the music and allowed Williams a brief moment of a capella, which was great in the midst of a world of autotune and lipsynch. In fact, I should also give some respect too…

5. Florence and the Machine

90% of the crowd had no bloody clue who Florence Welch was. She hasn’t got a huge following in the US. She’s had a few top ten hits in the UK but that MTV VMA crowd was probably scratching their head when she came out and started performing on a spinning lazy susan. But she left with a lot of new fans because she showed that she has a tremendous voice.

6. Kayne & Taylor

The subplot of the whole show was the aftermath of last year’s show. Sadly, they didn’t just do a collaboration. I was looking forward to more Taylor rap (“I knit sweaters, yo!”). Both came out and did their own song related to the incident. Taylor did well by playing barefoot, slathering on the minor chords and taking small jabs at Kayne (“32 years old and still growing up”). The song came off a bit like a rape survivor forgiving the rapist for being mentally ill, but it was enjoyable. Kanye West’s song was basically “Sorry, I’m a douchebag.” It was a fun little song because sing-alongs with curses are often fun (see: Mumford & Sons- “Little Lion Man” or Cee-Lo Green- “Fuck You”). The thing that killed me about Kanye’s performance was his li’l Trigger Finger Drum Machine which he played like an 11-year-old just learning what tricks it can do. He basically killed Pusha-T’s part by going “Oooh, look at what I can do with this button”.

deadmau5

He makes the party.

7. Deadmau5

I enjoyed after the DJ with the large alien Mickey Mouse head spinning throughout the show. but they kept doing this weird thing where performances would end and they would seamlessly cut to someone performing with Deadmau5.  It was very jarring to have Florence + The Machine finish only to have Travie McCoy spontaneously break into a rendition of “Billionaire”.

8.  Twitter

It was interesting to see how much MTV pushed the whole twitter aspect of the event, repeatedly reporting on which parts of the event had earned the most tweets. I must say that inspired me to see what people were saying on Twitter as the show went on and it was quite amusing at times. People love hearing other people’s reactions to things. It’s why you’re reading my blog. It’s why we have watercooler talks. Twitter was full of that last night.

9. Chelsea Handler

Russell Brand is a hilarious standup comedian. He was a terrible MTV VMA host. Much the same here. I don’t know what it is about the job but it’s set up for failure. Maybe they should go back to the Miami No Host VMA style. Or not. Those sucked as well. There has to be a solution.

10. The Professional Awards

The most heinous crime of the night in my eyes was the professional awards. These were the awards for direction, choreography, sfx, art direction, editing, and cinematography. They put them on the show. They even got True Blood cast members to present them. The problem was, they announced the winning videos BUT didn’t say who did the work! For instance, Bad Romance won for best director but they never named the director. WTF!

Congrats to Francis Lawrence who won Best Direction for Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. He’s a great music video director, having done videos for Britney Spears, P.O.D., Aerosmith, Janet Jackson, P!nk, Justin Timberlake and others (as well as the movie “Constantine” which I enjoy). This was his first win.