Tuesday, November 30, 2010

new music tuesday

Shameless self-promotion:

Here's my (and several other Life & Arts desk writers') mini-review of the new Kanye West album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Spoiler alert: it's amazing, and if you don't have it already, you really should.

I also wrote a review of the new Robyn album, Body Talk Pt. 3. You can read that here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

time to set it off

Hey y'all, there's a new Girl Talk album!

Girl Talk is the musical equivalent of what I like to call iTunes Syndrome. This refers to a phenomenon in which, due to our ADHD lifestyle and technology that allows us to store months worth of music on an object the size of a postage stamp, we never listen to a song all the way through.

You know what I mean. You're driving around in your car with a friend, and by the time whatever you're listening to hits the 2-minute mark, you hit the 'NEXT' button.

Well, Girl Talk takes iTunes Syndrome to a whole new level. Gregg Gillis (the man behind the music) mashes up dozens of songs in one track to create a fast-paced, surprising, fun dance tune. The songs he chooses range from 1960s girl-group pop to gangsta rap, but the unifying factor is their popularity. Gillis is clearly a Top 40 enthusiast, a lover of pop culture.

Looking at what's popular is really interesting, especially if you think about it on a deeper level than just "Oh, there's Ke$ha again with another one of her party anthems! How annoying." Popularity has implications that extend further than merely 'what the kids are listening to these days.' Possessing the technology and the wealth of music knowledge that Gillis clearly does makes for something of a case study in society. What do we like? Why do we like it? What happens when we put two different things that we like together?

(Take, for example, Girl Talk's "Smash Your Head," in which he famously combines Biggie Smalls' "Juicy" and Elton John's "Tiny Dancer.")

If you're curious about what songs you're hearing when you listen to a Girl Talk album, someone has made a website that tells you exactly that:

He's put out five albums and two EPs. All of the albums are now available for free download on his record label's website.

Girl Talk also presents questions about how we think about intellectual property and copyrights. He samples songs without permission, which is basically a lawsuit waiting to happen, yet he's still making music. I think this suggests that people recognize his work as art in its own right, despite its complete dependence on others' art for its existence.

It's post-modern as hell, and I love it. Whether you're just dancing at a party (because Girl Talk is THE BEST party music - there's something for everyone) or recontextualizing the music you love, Girl Talk rocks.

Enjoy the new album, I know I will!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Songs That Kill Me

One winter break, I was visiting my boyfriend at his parents' house. He thinks this is one of the best love songs of all time (and I have to agree), so he put it on the stereo. We ended up slow-dancing in the kitchen. A really lovely moment that I always remember when I listen to this gem.

"If you should ever leave me - though life would still go on, believe me - the world could show nothing to me, so what good would living do me? God only knows what I'd be without you."

Such a beautiful song, there's really not much to say about it. There are few pieces of music that are just truly perfect, and I really think this is one of them.

Paul McCartney said "'God Only Knows' is one of the few songs that reduces me to tears every time I hear it. It's really just a love song, but it's brilliantly done. It shows the genius of Brian. "I've actually performed it with him and I'm afraid to say that during the sound check I broke down. It was just too much to stand there singing this song that does my head in and to stand there singing it with Brian."

This song has lots of really lovely harmonies just like "God Only Knows." I love how Paul has that sort of walking part at the end of each line in the verse. And that impassioned bridge section where John sings along just breaks my heart every time.

I really have a soft spot for early Beatles. This video has choked me up every time I've seen it, ever since I first watched the anthology in 8th grade.

I went through a phase a few months ago where I listened to this song like three times a day. The arrangement is just so wonderful. I think the lyrics really speak to truth, too. Carole King was a teenager when she wrote this song, and this is a very typical worry of a teenage girl. If I give myself to you now, will you still love me tomorrow?

Look! The first song on this list that's not from last century! I've been really into Mumford & Sons lately. All their songs are so epic! There is so much emotion in the lyrics and the way he sings them. You've gotta really reach down to the most painful parts of your intimate past to write music like this. "Tell me now where was my fault in loving you with my whole heart."

That's all for now, kids. I hope you like these songs, even though most of them are golden oldies. That's seriously what I listen to most of the time!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election 2010

Yay, America!

We now have ZERO black senators.

Oklahoma passed a law with 70% support outlawing Sharia law - Islamic law - something that is not a threat whatsoever here in OK, and only furthers Islamophobia while discouraging international business from taking place here. Wonderful!

Oh yeah, and my home state of Wisconsin replaced the wonderful, smart, progressive Russ Feingold with a man who believes sun spots cause global warming and doesn't believe the election was about "details."

I'm just tired. I've spent the past two days on the South Oval blowing a kazoo and talking about abortion. And now this.