About the only thing I look forward to during this, the least wonderful time of year, is DJ Earworm’s United State of Pop mashup. This year’s effort was excellent as always – despite my initial declaration that it was not his best work. I should really know better – he’s not called “Earworm” for nothing – for as has been the case each of the last three years, once this mashup settles into my brain, it becomes irresistible to me. Of course, relying on hooks from Swedish House Mafia and Capital Cities, along with the piano track from “Can’t Hold Us” makes it nigh impossible for me not to listen to this mashup compulsively.
What never ceases to amaze me is how completely DJ Earworm transforms the source material – it’s very different to me than something like Pop Danthology, which, while certainly impressive technically, sounds more like a medley of songs. DJ E combines lyrics, hooks and backbeats – and videos! – into something that stands on its own as an entirely new and cohesive creation (or at least that’s my view as a known philistine). I inevitably download the mashup to my iPod, despite already owning a good number of the originals – not because I want this remix, but because I want this new song DJ E has created.
I also like that he respects the genre while also poking some fun. This year’s version was pretty subtle – the various “whoa-oh-oh-oh” phrases plucked from a couple of different songs, reminding us of the sameness inherent in pop music – a genre that is by its very nature trendy and derivative. This same technique was rather more pronounced in his 2010 mashup, where he was able to grab lyrics from five (five!) different songs urging the listener to “put your hands up”; and in 2011, we got the “boom-boom-boom” refrain.
Some additional observations:
Robin Thicke has one of the most punchable faces ever.
Britney looks fucking great.
Lorde’s eye make-up is flawless – though I’m on the fence about her eyebrow game.
Speaking of eyebrow game, what’s up with Nellie’s?
Despite his association with this year’s rapiest song, Pharrell always makes it work – even with that ridiculous pork-pie hat.
Macklemore rocks a fur like nobody’s business. Same goes for Batman pajamas. God, he’s cute.
I just find Katy Perry very appealing as a performer. I know I’m not supposed to, but here we are… I mean, c’mon – the stilletto heel as spearhead? That’s pretty hilarious.
That trumpet hook from “Safe and Sound” is the hookiest fucking hook of all hooks.
With Swedish House Mafia running a very close second in the hooks category.
And here, just for some extra fun, is the charming video for “Safe and Sound.” Sebu Simonian, the hot bearded one, is freakin’ adorable and manages to cut quite a respectable rug – I especially love his Rockette routine at 1:12.
There’s that old saw that “youth is wasted on the young.” And, like any other embittered old, I could point to many examples of the truth of this statement. But, let’s face it – it’s ultimately untrue. Youth is best enjoyed by the young.
I remain kinda pissed that electronic music remains a niche category in the USofA – it gets such short shrift, in my opinion. Why? I don’t know – the music, while certainly adhering to the modern definition of pop (i.e. some good singable lyrics and an irresistible hook) is viewed as somehow sub-par. I suppose in some ways it’s related to the rampant (though happily evaporating) homophobia in the United States (i.e. listening to dance music is gay. And I’m not gonna even try and get started on the whole subject of “I think I was born in the wrong country because this music really speaks to me, like it does to everyone in Europe”).
And while I’m not one to read too much into pop music (the pop is, after all, short for “popular”), I know of many instances of electronic music that I find far more moving and affecting than any syrupy pop throw-away.
Anyway, my only point is that this song by Swedish House Mafia is not only really amazing to me, this concert video makes it even more so. These young kids are living it up, taking in a concert that will never be repeated and reveling in every moment of it. They are enjoying their youth and I love (and yes, envy) them for it. Keep it up, you young whippersnappers – it surely helps me hold onto that part of me that is still young and carefree.
There was a marvelous tribute to Marvin Hamlisch a couple of weeks ago on Live from Lincoln Center. A particular highlight for me was hearing Audra McDonald, Megan Hilty and Kelli O’Hara (!) singing “At the Ballet” (it’s at the 1:03 mark in the show, if you want to skip forward…)What a treat – not just watching this performance, but remembering again how astounding A Chorus Line is – the music, obviously… but also the dancing and the deceptive simplicity of the staging. A true masterpiece of American musical theater.
However, I also learned a rather fascinating tidbit about Mr. Hamlisch – his first hit song, composed at age 21, was “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows”! OK, OK, not exactly “The Way We Were” (so amazing) – but a pretty irresistible pop confection. Check out this performance by Lesley Gore (known lesbian – you go on with your bad self, Ms. Gore!) from Ski Party Weekend.
This is pretty much exactly like every ride I take on Muni! And I totally have that same outfit! Which I wear on Muni! And I would totally give my eyeteeth for that ‘do…
Granted, I’m still eagerly awaiting DJEarworm’s 2012 mash-up – but this one by Robin Skouteris is pretty darn great. Of course, the fact that it relies quite heavily on “Die Young” by Ke$ha is a boon – it’s super-catchy. I think Miss $ha actually gets short shrift ($hort $hrift?)- she produces some of the hookiest (and hookeriest) pop tunes around these days. Anyway, enjoy PopLove 2012.
The thing about nostalgia is that we forget about all the bad things that were going on in the good ol’ days. The ’70s and ’80s, for all their delights, also included the onset of AIDS, Reagan setting the table for the economic destruction this country is still trying to recover from and a decided lack of Netflix streaming.
But, man oh man – the music. I mean, Sylvester. SYLVESTER! Just so great – as much so today as then. Though a sad reminder of the entire generation of gay men who died – many of them just as talented and extraordinary as Sylvester.
Typically, I’m not a fan of remaking songs that were already perfect. But if anyone is going to do a Sylvester song, Jimmy Somerville is the only logical choice. I’d forgotten not only how much I love his singing but also how freakin’ adorable he is, shakin’ his little booty.
Nina Simone – her musical legacy speaks for itself frankly. I heard Jennifer Hudson singing her own cover of Feelin’ Good last night on the TV. She was pretty darn great – but Miss Simone’s version sends chills down my spine.
And, as if her music alone wasn’t enough, there’s this:
Simone had a reputation in the music industry for her volatility. In 1995, she shot and wounded her neighbor’s son with a pneumatic pistol after his laughter disturbed her concentration. She also fired a gun at a record company executive whom she accused of stealing royalties.
OK, OK – this was likely the result of her diagnosed bipolar disorder and what sounds like a rather… um… challenging personality. But seriously – all she wanted was some peace and fuckin’ quiet and the money she was owed. I think we can all identify with that – and if someone occasionally gets shot, well, some times shit gets a little real.
And as wonderful as Feelin’ Good is, check out Who Knows Where the Time Goes? N.B.: Do NOT under any circumstances listen to this if you have recently been dumped or suffered the death of a family member, dear friend or beloved companion animal. You will bawl your eyes out. And by “recently,” I mean “ever.”
I fell in love with this song pretty much immediately upon acquiring The Sensual World lo those more than 20 years ago. Of course, it wasn’t until at least a decade later that I learned it had been featured in She’s Having a Baby, a John Hughes film I’d never seen. And I thought to myself, “Well, he is an effective filmmaker. Why wouldn’t he use such a beautiful song?” Imagine my surprise another ten years later when I learned that Kate Bush had actually written the song not only specifically for this movie, but for this particular scene which had already been filmed.
Anyway, it hardly matters. It’s a beautiful song. The clip from the movie is marvelous, as is Ms Bush’s music video. Happy Father’s Day to one and all.
Not sure why this song popped into my head today – but pop it did. And I’ve decided I need to incorporate it into my life in one of two ways… Either this needs to be played every Monday morning as I enter my building and continue as I ride the elevator up to my office, sit down in my cube, start up my computer and log in to Facebook respond to the many highly-important emails I’ve received.
The second option would be to keep this song in reserve and have it played on my last day in the office when I retire, as I head out of the building one final time. Though since I’ll likely be making that trip in a pine box, maybe I’ll stick with option 1…
I know I’ve already posted this repeatedly on the Facebook. But I just remain so impressed. Not only at how cleverly DJ Earworm has mashed up both the songs and the videos, but I get a rather droll subtext on the tropes that seem to show up in just about every popular song in a given period of time.
OK, I realize I’m probably posting too much from musicals – but mon dieu! How can anyone resist this number? I DON’T KNOW! Even if you hate the music (i.e. if you are insane), just look at the tugboat scene. This is all real! They had a helicopter flying over and around that tugboat while Babs sang her heart out in NY Harbor! And it is flawless.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise, but my first order of business after winning the lottery is to have a custom-made bias-cut orange dress and fur hat and muff designed just for me so I can re-enact this scene. And yes, I’ll be buying a tugboat and painting it turquoise (duh).
Also, I’m hoping that I can re-use that orange dress – make the hem a little higher, add a big white hat, turn the original skirt into a layered shawl – just like Babs did in On A Clear Day (it is the same dress, right?). Seriously – it’s the same dress, isn’t it? WHO CARES? It is fantastic! Also waste not, want not.
If there is one second in this performance that is not sublime, I have yet to see it. I mean, really – Ethel Merman! Donald O’Connor! Dan Dailey! Johnnie Ray! MITZI GAYNOR! Obviously as a francophile, I have a bit of weakness for Miss Gaynor’s performance – and the high-kicking in heels just amazes me. Every time I watch this, I can’t believe it actually exists because it is perfect. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that this quintessentially American song was composed by Irving Berlin, a Russian Jewish immigrant. USA! USA!