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Friday, June 29, 2007

Holy crap, I feel the power of Google images

Yesterday I experienced a surreal 9500% increase in hits to my blog. I felt like I was in some twilight zone where nothing made sense. I thought my tracking website was screwy, or someone was playing a trick on me.

Turns out, it was due to an image I posted a few days back of the Spice Girls. Somehow, it worked its way into the first row of search results in Google images, and as a result I got inundated with visitors. The same thing happened with my Fergie image. Both were giving me thousands of hits. None were actually interested in what I had to say, of course, they were just using me for my photos.

I'm not sure why Fergie pics are in such demand, but the Spice Girls interest makes sense since they announced they are re-uniting! It's been 10 years, which means it's about time for late '90s boy band and bubblegum pop nostalgia. I am all for this reunion, though I'm disappointed they are only playing three American cities.

Anyway, back to talking about me - Although the traffic increase was appreciated, it kind of sucks too, because I'll never get that many visitors again. No matter how well I publicize my page over the next several months, I will never again equal what happened yesterday.

Unless, that is, I post an even more popular picture... hmmm... Paris Hilton is loosely considered a "musician," isn't she? I'll have to think this over...

In the meantime, enjoy some mp3s that have been posted on a zillion other blogs recently:

MIA - Hit That

Girl Talk - LC and Lo

New Pornographers - My Rights Versus Yours

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

My dream festival lineup

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It’s festival season, and thinking about the big ones – Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza – got me pondering what my dream festival would be. So, if I could present a lineup of any artists I wanted, and I was magically given the power to reunite bands, this is what my festival would look like:

One note: This is meant to be an “of-the-moment” festival. In other words, I realize that in a few years no one will even remember who Humanwine & Busdriver are, but if I’m attending a festival now, in the summer of ’07, I want to see them.

Friday: Day of pop
The festival opens with my favorite current indie rock band, then a bunch of pop artists from now and the '80s. It would be sweet to see a reunited incarnation of Culture Club. (And Air Supply would be freakin' awesome.) I originally had Michael Jackson on this list, but his lip-synched and choreographed performances wouldn't fit the rock festival vibe so I replaced him with Prince, who would be a much better act for this kind of event. Using my all-controlling powers, I would insist that Prince play "Controversy," "Erotic City," and "D.M.S.R."

Friday schedule:
Tokyo Police Club
Architecture in Helsinki
Junior Senior
Air Supply
Reunited Culture Club

Friday late night:
Girl Talk

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Saturday: Big name hip hop/rock
Today is headlined by the Rolling Stones. I’m not a huge fan but I want to see them play live at least once. I need some quality hip hop, but I couldn’t decide between Kanye and Jay-Z, so I’ve decreed that they play together. And I’d kill to see Soul Coughing reunite just one time. The post-midnight shows would feature the Dresden Dolls, and world’s biggest party band, the Scissor Sisters.

Saturday schedule:
Reunited Soul Coughing
Reunited Fugees
Marilyn Manson
TV On the Radio
Kanye West/Jay-Z
Dave Matthews Band
Rolling Stones

Saturday late night:
Dresden Dolls
Scissor Sisters

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Sunday: Mishmash of chill/indie/critical favorites
Following the lead of Bonnaroo, I’d make Saturday the day of big names, and Sunday a more chill vibe with a lot of folkie types. I’ve been dying to see the New Pornographers and Ani DiFranco, and I couldn’t resist ending the festival with Radiohead, who have put on the two best concerts I’ve ever seen.

Sunday schedule:
Sophie B. Hawkins
Ani Difranco
Alison Krauss & Union Station
Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan
New Pornographers

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Who knew Fergie could sing??

The other day I heard this song by Fergie called Big Girls Don't Cry, and I was floored. I thought, wow, who knew she could sing? Why wasn't this song a bigger hit?! Then I found out it was just released, so it presumably will be a hit soon. That's good news.

It's funny because Fergie's first solo hit was London Bridge. After hearing that song, I honestly came to the conclusion it was the worst song I'd ever heard in my life. It was absolutely ridiculous. But then I heard single #2, Fergalicious, which was even worse! This means that one artist, Fergie, has managed to pull off the unbelievable feat of recording the TWO WORST SONGS in the history of recorded music! The odds against that are staggering, but this girl pulled it off.

But, because I also keep an open mind, and I love to see people redeem themselves (i.e., I hated Mariah Carey for over a decade but when she came back with the exceptional We Belong Together I was thrilled), I am excited about this new Fergie single. Maybe she's finally putting the My Humps era behind her for good...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Johnny Rotten was on Judge Judy?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Do we, or do we not have to take our clothes off?

I'm not sure, because the music keeps giving me conflicting messages.

Of course there's Jermaine Stewart's 1985 hit, "We Don't Have to Take our Clothes Off," which just might be the most perfect pop song of that decade. Really, it's one of my favorite songs of all-time. Even though it's a bit silly ("I'm not a piece of meat, stimulate my brain!") the melody and the beat are just so catchy, I could never get sick of it. Jermaine was also praised for sending a positive message to the kids by encouraging them to keep their trousers on...

But recently Gym Class Heroes came out with "Clothes Off!," which samples the Stewart song but flips it on its head, guest vocalist Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy singing, "We have to take our clothes off/ We have to party all night."

Now along come the wonderful Kids on TV, with their remake of the Stewart original, giving the song a childish innocence with pretty harmonies. And once again I'm being told we DON'T have to take our clothes off.

And then I find another cover of the song by some girl group called Clea. They made a video for it. And the video features a bunch of guys with no clothes, and a girl singing the song naked in a bathtub!

I cant figure it out. On or off... WHICH IS IT?

Irony of ironies: Jermaine Stewart died of AIDS in 1997. Now I'm even more confused...

MP3: Kids on Tv - We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off

YouTube: Jermaine Stewart

YouTube: Gym Class Heroes (no video, just audio)

YouTube: Clea

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ten years ago, when Puffy and Hanson ruled

Ten years ago this week, the top 5 songs in the country were as follows:

1. I'll Be Missing You, Puff Daddy featuring Faith Evans and 112
2. MMMBop, Hanson
3. Say You'll Be There, Spice Girls
4. Return of the Mack, Mark Morrison
5. Hypnotize, Notorious B.I.G.

What a great list in retrospect! Puffy and Biggie were all over the TV, with Biggie having just been killed and Puffy gaining popularity for his tribute anthem. Some rock fans hated I'll Be Missing You, thinking somehow that The Police were too big to sample (?), but come on, I'll Be Missing You is a classic. If you can't give him props for that song, you're just not being impartial. Puffy's performance of the song with Sting at the MTV Awards later that year was one of the most classic award show performances in history.

The Mark Morrison song annoyed me at the time, because of its title. Nobody knew who Mark Morrison was - this was his first hit. Yet, it's his "return"? How can you say you're returning if you were never here in the first place? I felt the same way about the Backstreet Boys' "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)." But, Return of the Mack is still a great R&B/dance song, and I love the fact that during the time it was popular, Mark was in jail in England. That's gangsta.

And then there's Hanson and the Spice Girls. I'll lump them together because that's what people do, even though astute observers know the comparison between them was absurd, given that Hanson wrote all their own songs, played their own instruments, and, um, had talent. MMMBop is an all-time classic, Say You'll Be There? Not so much.

This countdown, for better or worse, probably sums up the late '90s better than any other.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ike Reilly, wiseass extraordinaire

Point State Park, Pittsburgh: June 12, 2007

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Five years ago this week I started an internship at Little Big Man, and was introduced to a ton of new artists that were represented by the company. One of them was Ike Reilly, a wiseass singer-songwriter with a distinctive voice and a talent for writing clever words. His 2001 album Salesmen and Racists took a prominent spot in my CD collection for some time.

I haven't seen or heard much from Ike recently until tonight, when The Ike Reilly Assassination played the 3 Rivers Arts Festival. Their performance was refreshing, no frills, straight-ahead rock n roll... loud drums, snappy choruses, and quick, effective guitar solos. Reilly only played one song I recognized from Salesmen but it was a good one - "Hip Hop Thighs #17," one of his best wordplays. Take a seat, Jason Mraz.

Reilly's band was excellent and added solid harmonies to "Duty Free" and "When Irish Eyes are Burning," and the keys were the star of several songs, including "8 More Days Till the 4th of July." I wasn't planning to stay for the whole show - I figured I'd catch a half hour or so and then head home - but once the show started, I couldn't leave my seat, which is about the best thing I can say about a show like this.

Saturday, June 9, 2007


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Tonight I stumbled onto a VH1 broadcast entitled "The 40 Most Softsational Soft Rock Songs." This is my nirvana. A few years back I burned 4 mix CDs in a series I called "Soft Rock That Doesn't Suck." I'm grudgingly starting to admit that it might be my favorite genre of all-time.


This countdown spotlighted several songs that I hadn't heard in years, which I immediately downloaded for what will soon become Vol. 5 of my Soft Rock series:

Juice Newton, Angel Of the Morning
Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson, Tonight I Celebrate My Love
Journey, Open Arms
Barry Manilow, Mandy

Journey are the kings of soft rock. Steve Perry might be the best male vocalist ever. That's right. Fuck you, Pavarotti.

As for VH1's talking heads, they continue to decline in quality with each new show the network produces. The best of the batch this time were a comedian I'd never heard of called Lisa Arch, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone, former MTV VJ Dave Holmes.

Here's the full list:

40. Bertie Higgins - "Key Largo"
39. David Soul - "Don’t Give Up On Us"
38. Peter Frampton - "Baby, I Love Your Way"
37. Leo Sayer - "When I Need You "
36. 10cc - "I’m Not in Love"
35. Extreme - "More Than Words"
34. Dan Hill - "Sometimes When We Touch"
33. Cat Stevens - "Peace Train"
32. Kenny Loggins - "This is It"
31. Richard Marx - "Hold On To The Nights"
30. Andrew Gold - "Lonely Boy"
29. Debby Boone - "You Light Up My Life"
28. America - "Horse With No Name"
27. Lionel Richie - "Hello"
26. Harry Chapin - "Cat's In The Cradle"
25. Anne Murray - "You Needed Me"
24. Phil Collins - "One More Night"
23. REO Speedwagon - "I Can't Fight This Feeling"
22. Roberta Flack & Peabo Bryson - "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love"
21. Orleans - "Still the One"
20. Captain & Tennille - "Do That To Me One More Time"
19. Michael Bolton - "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You"
18. Toto - "Rosanna"
17. Juice Newton - "Angel Of The Morning"
16. Bread - "Baby I’m - A Want You"
15. Journey - "Open Arms"
14. Seals & Crofts - "Summer Breeze"
13. Carpenters - "Superstar"
12. Starland Vocal Band - "Afternoon Delight"
11. Olivia Newton-John - "I Honestly Love You"
10. Chuck Mangione - "Feels So Good"
09. Hall and Oates - "One On One"
08. The Doobie Brothers - "What A Fool Believes"
07. Kansas - "Dust In The Wind"
06. Air Supply - "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All"
05. Chicago - "If You Leave Me Now"
04. Barry Manilow - "Mandy"
03. Rupert Holmes - "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"
02. Styx - "Babe"
01. Christopher Cross - "Sailing"

I'm not crazy about all the '70s schlock on there. There are so many omissions (hello, The Lady in Red?) that I may be forced to do my own list sometime soon...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Uh-huh, uh-huh, yo, guys - Smoosh make me happy

I've been looking forward to this year's Lollapalooza all summer... can't wait to see Tokyo Police Club, TV On the Radio, Amy Winehouse, Silverchair, etc. But I was psyched recently when Smoosh was added to the lineup.

Smoosh is a band comprised of two teenage sisters from Seattle. They make silly happy pop music. Yet, somehow, they've connected with the hipster crowd, playing SXSW and other events they should have no business playing.

The most obvious band to compare Smoosh to would be Hanson, but that's not really accurate because Hanson were making legitimately cutting-edge pop with big-name co-writers and producers, while Smoosh just make silly songs that are almost more appropriate for kids.

My favorite song of theirs is "Rad," an actual rap song that is so ridiculously stupid that it's brilliant. "Everyone, are you feeling bad today? Cause maybe you should be a little happier!" You have to love youth and naivete. See ya, everyone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Make yourself happy, then kill yourself

A week or so ago, I was lamenting the fact that there hadn't been any good albums released this year. If I was to choose an Album of the Year, it probably would've been Fall Out Boy's Infinity on High, by default. But now, I have two excellent candidates.

Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion is a glorious ball of fun, with some of the poppiest songs and energetic falsetto I've heard in a while. This actually came out a couple months ago but I just got around to obtaining it. I highly recommend three of the crazy happy tracks: Lollipop, Grace Kelly, and Big Girl (You are Beautiful), plus two of the slower ones: Any Other World and Happy Ending.

This album now goes on my list of happiest pop albums of all time, with:
D-D-Don't Don't Stop the Beat, Junior Senior
Middle of Nowhere, Hanson
In Case We Die, Architecture in Helsinki
She Like Electric, Smoosh

In stark contrast is the lyrically depressing but musically interesting Eat Me, Drink Me by Marilyn Manson. It's his most accessible album ever. One of the tracks is pure dance-rock. The others are still dark and creepy but the guitars are catchy. Heart-Shaped Glasses and Putting Holes in Happiness are stellar. I've always been a big fan of Manson, because I love anything that subverts the mainstream. Wait a second - *checks title of blog...* Well, it's true, although I enjoy the mainstream, I also enjoy anything that challenges the status quo. I was on the fence about attending his Manson's upcoming concert in Cleveland, but now I'm sold.

YouTube videos:
Mika, Lollipop (live)

Marilyn Manson, Heart Shaped Glasses (music video, short version)

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The long, lost voice of Steelheart

I've been a YouTube fanatic for a couple of years, and I still keep discovering hidden treasures. I just found this bitchin' clip of Steelheart performing their one and only hit, "I'll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes)," from 1991. It's one of the best power ballads of all-time. What made it amazing were the vocals of Michael Matijevic. This guy was on a completely different plane than everyone else. Only Mariah Carey could possibly rival him for overall vocal range.

It's odd that nothing's been heard from Michael for the past 15 years. I read that he tried out for Velvet Revolver, but the band went with Weiland instead, those bitches.

Here's the link. If you're not familiar with the song, make sure you watch the whole way through. And hide any glass objects like vases or mirrors.

Friday, June 1, 2007

My dirty little secret - I don't do mix tapes

As my last entry waxed romantic on the joys of the mix tape (or at least described someone who does), I should come clean: I've never been a mix tape guy.

I've got plenty of old cassettes lying around the house, containing hundreds of songs that I taped off the radio in the '90s, but I don't consider those true mix tapes, as I did not record those with a specific track listing or mood in mind; I just taped whatever was on the radio.

I could never be a mix tape guy, because sometimes I'm JUST NOT IN THE MOOD for a song that comes on, and I need the ability to skip immediately to the next track. Mix tapes require a level of patience that I shall never possess.

Despite that, I thought it would be fun, as Rob Sheffield does in his book, to analyze one of my old quasi-mix tapes, featuring songs I taped off the radio, circa 1991. I dare say this is a stellar cassette.

Side A:
Good Vibrations, Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch
Broken Arrow, Rod Stewart
The Promise of a New Day, Paula Abdul
Fading Like a Flower (dance version), Roxette
I Can't Wait Another Minute, Hi Five
Love On a Rooftop, Desmond Child
Crazy, Seal

Side B:
Emotions, Mariah Carey
Do Anything, Natural Selection
I Can't Wait, Nu Shooz
Red Red Wine (with rap), UB40
Running Back to You, Vanessa Williams
The Power, Snap

This is one of the few tapes I have that I really can listen to all the way through because it has a lot of happy dance songs, with no filler. "Good Vibrations" is a classic. "Love on a Rooftop" is a little-known song I've always loved - until I just found it on YouTube and realized that it actually sucks. Oh well. Ditto for "Do Anything," except that song still holds up for me.

Obscure YouTube links:
Good Vibrations - Marky Mark
Do Anything - Natural Selection
Love On a Rooftop - Desmond Child
The Promise Of a New Day - Paula Abdul