16 August 2013

Too cool to goof

I've mentioned the documentary It Might Get Loud before. Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White in a room, with their guitars, talking to each other about their music. Couldn't be simpler, couldn't be deeper. It's so amazing that this is a deleted scene:

14 August 2013

Stuck in neutral

I've just tried giving up caffeine and spent most of the last 2 weeks sleeping or just too dopey to get anything done. I thought that you were supposed to adapt long before 2 weeks. Bleah. I'm going to give up this insane plan and start mainlining go juice again.

Next project: Figure out how to use Winamp instead of iTunes, get my iPod synced, and then start getting some new music. It's all part of my master plan to get my life back, one step at a time.

30 July 2013

Doing it for love

Christina Perri is amazing. Her official videos have many multiple millions of hits. Her life changed completely over three minutes, when her song "Jar of Hearts" was heard on "So You Think You Can Dance". She has a haunting quality and also very good luck. Her demo ended up in the hands of a choreographer who felt it. We all have the good fortune that Perri is not a one-hit wonder, since her subsequent releases have also had the magic.

One thing that her original songs have in common is being Big-S Serious. Could she be like that day to day? I was delighted to find this video of her jamming with a friend, covering "Georgia on my Mind". Her pure joy in making music shines out of this video. Unfortunately, she's blocked embedding, so click through the photo.

CP Smiles

After that, listen to her other songs. Buy them. Buy the album. We admire dedicated starving artists, but I feel better knowing that artists who touch me have a decent living out of it, so they can keep making the art I love.

19 July 2013

Friday Beat

Clearly, the Easybeats made it to Friday by getting a little stoned.

15 July 2013

A woman needs to be told ...

Advance disclaimer: I am not LDS (Mormon). That said, ...

There are always a lot (megalot) of lipsynch videos of big hit songs on YouTube. Most of them point you over to buy the original song, the people that make them have a lot of fun, and everyone wins.

I've run into one remarkable group of One Direction "What Makes You Beautiful" lipsynchs that just makes me smile stupidly.

LDS church president recently Monson told his church that "a woman needs to be told she's beautiful" and the men of Mormonism took him seriously. There are countless videos from different LDS boys youth groups made as gifts to the girls in their congregation. (Ward? I should look that up. Okay, yes, "ward" = local congregation.) Technically, I suppose I could count them if I put some time aside, but pfui. Search for "one direction" or "makes you beautiful" along with "LDS", "ward", or "stake" and you'll see what I mean.

Here are a couple of fun examples:

It's a good thing I like this song a lot, because after rummaging around for two fun examples, I have an Dune-sandworm-sized earworm of it.

I could gripe some about pressure for traditional gender roles and all; the song could have more about non-appearance beauty. That's an important discussion—for another day. Today, I'm going to hum along with One Direction and the Mormon lads giving a loving message to the girls and women in their lives. (Give them bread, but give them roses, too.) Now I'm trying to think of a song that groups of young women could put on to tell young men that they're okay the way they are. Are there any reassuring songs for male persons?

11 July 2013

Whose song is it?

I watch singing contests. I go for shows like The Voice and The Sing Off because I think they reward good singing more than histrionic runs. Singers who are out for votes sing songs that they expect the audience to be familiar with, which means a lot of standards and current pop hits.

(I hate runs more and more, particularly when I hear someone talking about them as if they are mandatory. I think that the singer has to earn the runs by solidly acquainting the listener with the melody first. I also think that their vocal performance has to support the story of the song, not just stunt. I'm a stick in the mud.)

Anyway, back to the contests. What that means is that I hear a lot of popular songs in a contest before I ever hear the original version. It's very interesting to pass through versions of a song in reverse order like that. Some covers are obviously bad. They have "cut-rate imitation" stamped on them. There is not one bit of magic that might have made the original rise to popularity. I put pretty much all the Adele and Katy Perry covers in that pile. Some covers are obviously meant to present a known song in a novel genre. I put many strange versions of "Baby baby baby oh" in that pile.

I think that country music has a different take on covers than Pop music. In Country, the songwriters are usually known. There are star writers as well as star performers. Songs relatively often have more than one popular and successful version, and people know that, and it's all good. Many songs are written before anyone knows who's going to sing it, so the song is written with its own feet to stand on. I can hear that in the contest shows, two versions of the same song that both sound completely authentic.

Some covers that I hear are so spot on the song, so compelling, that for me listening in reverse order makes the original sounds like the pale or odd imitation. An easy example is Whitney Houston's cover of "I Will Always Love You". Full props to Dolly Parton's song and performance, but Whitney pwned.

I'd like to share two examples from Pentatonix, who won the last season of The Sing Off a capella singing contest. This first performance is of "Dog Days Are Over" from the contest and, to me, they completely took ownership of the song.

I should never have sought out the original of that, because it was such a let down. Pentatonix also has an amazing version of "Somebody That I Used To Know".


The Gotye version is good, but it sounds like the imitation to me. I will probably never hear a version of either of those without measuring it against the Pentatonix version.

08 July 2013

Mass Effect Motif

There is a lot to be said about the soundtrack of games. I've been playing the Mass Effect series a lot lately, doing many run-throughs to play with different versions of Shepard. There are three games in the series and your actions and interactions ripple forward from one to the next.

I ran into an article on the music of Mass Effect 3 by Kirk Hamilton on Kotaku that put something in focus that had been floating just under the surface of consciousness. The first game, Mass Effect, had menu screen theme music that just goes into your brain and stays there. For most people, it is "the Mass Effect theme".


For Mass Effect 2, the composer decided to go in a darker direction, to fit the story. The Mass Effect 3 composer also adjusted the tone of the soundtrack to fit the story, but he used the Mass Effect theme when Shepard was having an emotional interaction. He also found a way to slip the theme in under radar to have a powerful, but sneaky, effect on players. I'll leave it to Kirk Hamilton to illustrate and explain.

The ME3 soundtrack overall is great, in my opinion. Click through the poster for a playlist of the whole thing.