MINDCOLON

Feb 13

why yes, I am to blame for this.

why yes, I am to blame for this.

(Source: ladygagaisnotthemessiah)

Nov 17

So The Room is getting old, what the new thing?

I’m leaning towards Body of Evidence. Though no one can live up to Tommy Wiseau, the acting’s about as bad, and the sex scenes - though between far more attractive people - are EVEN MORE AWKWARD. Madonna dripping hot candle wax onto Willem Dafoe’s chest, anyone? Plus, awesome defenestration twist ending.

One of the best scenes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duBFQkZYGbM

Play

Ask me anything!

Oct 20

“And I don’t use the word fierce very often, only when it needs to be used, like Nicki Minaj. She is fierce, oh and also she went to LaGuardia. REPRESENT. I buy every song she raps in and fast forward it to her part…” — Lourdes Leon on Nicki Minaj - too much concentrated amazing in one place.

Oct 02

Sep 24

Non-existent outrage - Sesame Street cancels Katy Perry -

Well, Katy Perry fans, you will not be seeing her duet with Elmo on Sesame Street.

Perry recorded a parody version of her song “Hot N Cold” and made a video with Elmo, but Sesame Workshop decided not to air the video on the show after its presence on YouTube sparked complaints from commenters who thought it was too risque — apparently, based on the visible YouTube comments, because it contains too much cleavage…

I made such a remark (something more insightful than “lol bewbs”, thank you very much) on the YouTube video myself, and initially it was clear the majority of us were joking… no doubt some were serious, but this might be a case of a perceived “moral panic” when there really is none.

And the truth is, there’s no grounds for talk of supposed “immorality”, either. There’s simply no way kids would perceive any sexual themes in such a costume (which really DOES resemble how an 8-year-old would play dress-up, after all), in the same way that they’d make nothing of the song’s original lyric “you PMS like a b****”. But they changed that, and I guess it’s just an extension of playing it safe that they’re changing the video too.

SUPER IRONY - my comment on the NPR website was originally rejected because I directly quoted a song with swearing! How offensive!!!!

Aug 26

'90s critical revisionism, and my take via Tori Amos, part 2: -

barthel:

richaod:

But speaking of revisionism: ’90s Tori Amos. I think you once labelled her lyrics “obviously embarrassing” in passing, and I didn’t respond then - but I consider her a truly visionary artist, as many people evidently did, or still do. Emblematically of her apparent whitewashing from history, Pitchfork originally ranked Little Earthquakes as the eighth-best album of the 1990s, but when they revised the list a few years later, it was left off entirely. So maybe the listmaking process is democratic, and the site’s staff/aesthetic changed, but surely good music is inherent?

I think it’s fair to say that dealing with uncomfortable emotions with brutal, unsentimental honesty, utterly devoid of self-pity, isn’t cheesy. Nor is externalising it exhibitionist if it resonates artistically. But it is difficult. Yet arguably no group of fans in all music have been as broadly, profoundly emotionally affected by an artist’s work as we “Toriphiles”; certain fans’ ongoing willingness to follow her on entire tours attests to that. So I’m not calling anyone out personally, and the quote was hardly intended as definitive, but to call Tori Amos “obviously embarrassing” feels a little insulting when many identify so strongly with her - not because I or anyone else is necessarily a victim in need of therapy, but because to us, she just about represents pure empathy in music. And it’s nowhere near a Celine Dion-esque critically reviled, “for the fans” situation - just where has all that goodwill gone?

If, whether or not it’s embarrassing music, we’re not really embarrassing as people, I’d also like to think musical taste, especially indie/”cool” status, doesn’t exist as a superiority complex. Not over other people, nor the aesthetics with which they may identify.

When helping me revise my pieces, Rachel will often say, “remember, other people don’t know what’s in your head.”  This is one of those times.  I say that about Tori lyrics with the greatest affection, because I used to be a huge Tori fan myself, right up through whatever that double live album thing was.  Live shows, meet-and-greets, the whole bit.  I just threw out my two boxes of cassette bootlegs when I moved to the west coast.  It’s like that.

So while I do think Tori Amos lyrics are obviously embarrassing - they’re overwrought and meaningless and badly in need of editing - I’m not sure quite where that impulse comes from, nor do I intend it to imply that Tori’s music is worthless or embarrassing.  (I did a post some years ago about how to produce a good Tori Amos album, FWIW.)  I still like it, I think.  I mean, my explanation for why she’s lost so much respect is essentially that she kept making music, and that music kinda sucked, but I know others disagree.  I think the biggest problem with post-Pele Tori is that she just started pandering to her fans, and given the kind of grating ideas her fans have about her (fairies and religion and vaginas and etc.), I don’t think that was very good for her artistically.  But do I just think that because I myself am embarrassed about having liked Tori Amos so much?  Is all of it embarrassing, or is none of it embarrassing?  It’s almost impossible for me to say, having been so wrapped up in it.  I can say that my actions as a Tori fan were somewhat objectively embarrassing, and no, I’m not going to get more into it than that.  For me, I just listened to so much Tori that I started being too aware of her tics and stopped being able to differentiate.  It was a problem of volume, and lack of variation.

Anyway, all that said, musical taste is nothing if not a superiority complex!  It’s just democratic in that everyone thinks their musical taste is the best, so it all kinda works out in the end.

On a personal level, point taken. I guess was assuming that quip about her lyrics was a broader indictment of her sentiments/sincerity in general… but I’m convinced at least someone feels that way.

In response to lex: okay, so I was two when Little Earthquakes came out, but I’m sure all those Rolling Stone and Q covers amounted to something! Maybe the negative reviewers don’t even care enough to have published their pieces online. Hmm.

from the choirgirl hotel may also be my favourite album of hers - coming out around the same time as the likes of Homogenic, OK Computer, Ray of Light, Mezzanine etc., it holds up at least as well, and it’s certainly more accessible than Boys for Pele.

Fundamentally, I have nothing against the championing of records like Kid A or Grace (which I always thought of as a male Little Earthquakes) - merely that she’s not even up for consideration as part of that canon. In the present environment, if someone like Joanna Newsom - who’s considerably more off with the fairies, full of vocal tics and incapable of self-editing than Tori ever was - can be a critical darling, what stands in the way of a Tori Amos reevaluation? If it’s not “cool”, I have no idea.

'90s critical revisionism, and my take via Tori Amos: -

The “top videos of the 90s” list that’s up at Pitchfork right now is interesting in that it’s not the usual decade-retrospective staff list voted on by all the writers - which implies an expression of critical consensus - but the singular creation of Scott Plagenhoef, and he uses the opportunity to advance a particular critical argument of the 90s as a precursor to the new sincerity of today’s indie culture. I like this, but it also reminded me of the piece I wrote for Idolator called “On Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’ and 90s Revisionism.” Though Scott uses the word “irony” in the intro, it appears nowhere else in the piece, despite being such a strong presence in the contemporaneous critical discussion of that decade. And that seems problematic to me…

Funny, maybe I’m just behind the times, but my impression was always that indie defined itself by that Stephin Merritt “catharsis in art is always embarrassing” quote - unless tempered with a dash of self-aware embarrassment a la Pinkerton/Morrissey… or if it’s more musically expansive, it falls on the somewhat arbitrarily determined side of “cool” (Springsteen, Arcade Fire yes; U2, Muse, most metal no).

But speaking of revisionism: ’90s Tori Amos. I think you once labelled her lyrics "obviously embarrassing" in passing, and I didn’t respond then - but I consider her a truly visionary artist, as many people evidently did, or still do. Emblematically of her apparent whitewashing from history, Pitchfork originally ranked Little Earthquakes as the eighth-best album of the 1990s, but when they revised the list a few years later, it was left off entirely. So maybe the listmaking process is democratic, and the site’s staff/aesthetic changed, but surely good music is inherent?

I suspect that of all the acclaimed artists of that decade, she’s been dealt the roughest hand in retrospect, for a variety of reasons. Though thank god the “yes, she also has a vagina” Kate Bush comparisons have largely worn off, instead of claiming Kate’s “genius” mantle as she may or may not deserve, she’s been lumped in unfairly with the Lilith Fair crowd “off with the fairies”/group therapy stereotypes. The divisive quality of her recent output certainly can’t account for the diminished esteem - hell, you can’t shut people up about Weezer, and they only had two great albums.

Failing a wide-scale reevaluation of her work, I’d at least like to know why this is… Not to speak for any of her detractors, but part of me suspects it’s part of the continuing lazy, sexist dismissals of “weird” female musicians, combined with that indie sense of cool, which Bjork’s attained whilst being at least as supposedly weird and/or lyrically inscrutable. And Courtney Love may have it worse for being both more outspoken and more visibly in decline, but Hole are still admired, and hey, at least the establishment pays attention when she puts out new records!

I think it’s fair to say that dealing with uncomfortable emotions with brutal, unsentimental honesty, utterly devoid of self-pity, isn’t cheesy. Nor is externalising it exhibitionist if it resonates artistically. But it is difficult. Yet arguably no group of fans in all music have been as broadly, profoundly emotionally affected by an artist’s work as we “Toriphiles”; certain fans’ ongoing willingness to follow her on entire tours attests to that. So I’m not calling anyone out personally, and the quote was hardly intended as definitive, but to call Tori Amos “obviously embarrassing” feels a little insulting when many identify so strongly with her - not because I or anyone else is necessarily a victim in need of therapy, but because to us, she just about represents pure empathy in music. And it’s nowhere near a Celine Dion-esque critically reviled, “for the fans” situation - just where has all that goodwill gone?

If, whether or not it’s embarrassing music, we’re not really embarrassing as people, I’d also like to think musical taste, especially indie/”cool” status, doesn’t exist as a superiority complex. Not over other people, nor the aesthetics with which they may identify.

end rant. I really hope I don’t sound like I’m accusing anyone of anything. Related: I need to reread Carl Wilson’s examination of Let’s Talk About Love.

Aug 25

Why are people shocked that producers have signature sounds? -

maura:

Today a video that sets out to “prove” that Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and Miley Cyrus’ “Permanent December” are “the same song” made the rounds, and as you can imagine, it got a lot of pickup from people who like getting all OMG [INSERT LOATHED ARTIST HERE] IS SUCH A RIPOFF SUCK ARTIST. What I don’t get is why the rhetoric surrounding the video has turned into a matter of artistic intent of the three singers, instead of a look at the similarities behind the scenes. To wit:

“Tik Tok” is credited to Kesha “Ke$ha” Sebert, Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, and Benjamin “Benny Blanco” Levin.

“Calfornia Gurls” is credited to Katy “Ugh” Perry, Bonnie “Hey Guys I Was In ‘The Long Tail’” McKee, Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus, Max Martin, and Dr. Luke.

“Permanent December” is credited to Miley Cyrus, John Shanks, and Claude Kelly. Kelly co-wrote Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” with Max and Luke, Britney Spears’ “Circus” with Luke and Benny, Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” with Luke and Jessica Cornish, and Adam Lambert’s “For Your Entertainment” with Dr. Luke. Obviously I’m not privy to how exactly those credits break down, but you do see a pattern here. Shanks has writing credits on, among other songs, Hilary Duff’s “Come Clean” (with Kara DioGuardi!!), a bunch of songs from Ashlee Simpson’s Autobiography, and some of the non-singles from Kelly Clarkson’s Breakaway.*

So, to sum up: People who worked together have aesthetics that have rubbed off on one another. I mean, ugh, I know it’s the Internet, and OMG CONTROVERSY is the name of the pageview-goosing game. And it’s not like there are Dr. Luke fangirls clogging up ONTD and big-upping their hero and his protégés and collaborators 24/7. But Jesus, people. If you want to bitch about songs on the radio sounding the same, maybe scratch the surface as far as Wikipedia and figure out why?

(via bwall05)

In my experience, no non-music nerd/critic has EVER looked up a pop songwriting credit. Not people who are big enough fans to see the live show, nor the rockists who use “but she doesn’t write her own songs!… does she?” as a criticism they’re never quite sure is true. How the likes of ’80s Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley can sound exactly the same seems to be a mystery with no answer.

With that said, having always felt Max Martin/Dr. Luke were the definition of hacks, I laughed very hard the first time I heard California Gurls… and yet I can’t complain that they’d effectively just made Tik Tok listenable.

[video]

Aug 24

...and Ann Powers, also on Teenage Dream. -

"Whatever person exists beneath Perry’s wigs and costumes is irrelevant to her music. Her process of self-creation is the purpose and sum of her art.

It’s enough to millions of listeners — especially young women — because this kind of constructed self has been a feminine reality since long before Peggy Olson started hawking Pond’s cold cream. “Put your hands on me in my skintight jeans,” Perry murmurs to a paramour in the title track, but it’s the clothing that matters more than the chance to get naked.”

Ann Powers, who I also dearly love, with a considerably more positive (but equally well-written) take. On the other hand, she did like Ke$ha’s ‘Animal’. Great, now I may actually have to swallow my Max Martin/Dr. Luke gag reflex and make up my own mind.