Category Archives: Music

Money Can’t Buy You Class, But It Can Buy You a Robot

Money may not be able to buy you class, but as that man-voiced woman on The Real Housewives of New York that used to be married to this guy proves, it can buy you a female robot to sing the hook you hired a different female robot to write for you. I have to be honest, it was only a few days ago that I was lamenting the lack of spoken word songs with Garage Band beats. Has it really been 12 years since that ‘Sunscreen Song’ dominated Top 40 radio and played our heart strings like the devil’s own golden fiddle?

To be honest, I can’t say I’m surprised that a person from The Real Housewives of New York was so accurately able to gauge our collective consciousness and give us exactly what we want. She is, after all, on a show that provides a much needed window into the petty arguments of women who are rich because they had sex with rich people.* Obviously toiling every day in that kind of creative atmosphere makes her a cultural bellwether.

And then there’s the music itself. Not only is her sassy-talking catchy, but it’s no-nonsense approach simultaneously refuses to take nonsense, while ignoring that nonsense and somehow slapping the idea of nonsense in the face. The song also has character. To be specific, it has an exact character, Countess Luann de Lesseps, the evil and maniacal matriarch of an etiquette dynasty in an upcoming Disney movie where the matron-saint of ‘being classy’ turns out to kidnap orphaned children and keep them locked away in a floating castle of sadness where they are conditioned to become her door-holding minions. Can’t you see her sing-talking ‘Money Can’t Buy You Class’ as she prances around her gilded mansion, ash from her freakishly long cigarette marking her slow-dancing path through the downstairs, as her sad-sack assistant who hasn’t yet discovered the secret of her bosses success, and in an ironic twist will discover the 101 children she can’t have and has always wanted, follows her every move.

*Wouldn’t a show called Real Housewives of Mobile be infinitely more entertaining? Just sayin…

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Why I Love Nickelback

Kroeger bows to no stranger!

I was proud to become a fan of the facebook page that sought to get more fans for a pickle than Nickelback. I wasn’t proud to join simply because I hate Nickelback. Sure I think they are terrible succubi that play an almost brilliantly homogenized form of one-note ear-poo, sure I think if suspected terrorists had been subjected to the torture of a night listening to nothing but the Nickel none of us would have ever heard of water-boarding, but I’d hate if there were no Nickelback. Without Chad Kroeger and the guys not named Chad Kroeger in the band, the world would be missing something.

I’m not worried about the world missing out on Nickelback’s stealing of the title of Douchiest Rock Band from Creed. I wouldn’t really care if Creed was accepted as the all-time douchiest band in the history of the universe and I’m sure there are some among you that believe they are. I wouldn’t even be able to form a logical argument as to why Nickelback is worse than Creed, it would be like a non-endocrinologist trying to compare two spleens. The reason I love Nickelback is because they know who they are. The fact that Chad Kroeger is actively reacting to a pickle outpacing his band’s popularity shows that the central concern of his band is popularity. They aren’t interested in music, they’re interested in nothing but appealing to whoever they can, and doing so at a higher rate than a classic deli sandwich accompaniment.

What I love about Nickelback is their honesty. I’d go as far as to say they might be the most honest band in America. While the Creeds and Three Doors Down try and compete on some sliding scale of musical suck, Nickelback knows they’re competing on no sonic stage, Nickelback knows their art exists outside the plane of expression, they know their music is comparable only to underdeveloped cucumbers mass-produced and vacuumed packed in a vinegar based brine. And that, my friends, is as refreshing as a kosher dill after a turkey club.

Ke$ha Advances the Whole of Music

The first time I tried to embed this video my browser crashed. The second time a fist-shaped ball of glitter punched me across the face from parts unknown. The third time I was hit in the head with a bottle of flavored vodka and woke up to find only a pair of chunky, plastic novelty sunglasses nearby as evidence of the attack. Eventually, after locking myself in a closet and papering the walls with torn-out pages from Moby Dick while lighting a number of unscented birthday candles, the only way to effectively ward off Ke$ha, the evil spritely Norse god who lives by eating the ears off children, I was able to post it and continue writing about one of the great musical advances of our time, Ke$ha’s seminal album Animal.

One of the most fascinating things about her first album is that it took seven years to make. That means she was fifteen when she started it, and that’s the truly brilliant thing about it. She poured all her early-teen ideas, the creative jumble most of us leave in journals or these days on YouTube, into an album she made as a young adult. And that, my friends, is brilliant. What better way to talk to an audience of fifteen year-old girls then to take everything you thought as a fifteen year-old girl and sing about it once you’re an aspirational twenty-two year-old?

I may not enjoy the lyrics of “Party at a Rich Dude’s House”, but that’s not because they’re bad, it’s because I’m a twenty-eight year-old man and partying at a rich dude’s house these days means “Party at an Old Dudes House”. Ke$ha is not singing for me, she’s singing for a million teenage girls who wait all year for the night the rich kid’s parents are out of town so they can unfinish his basement, fill the hedges with cigarette buts and soil every sofa in the house.

That’s why she advances music as a whole. Even if I can’t stand a single track on the entire album, Ke$ha would probably say I shouldn’t, she’d actually probably call me a Dinosaur then break another bottle of flavored vodka over my head. Ke$ha is living proof that the musical model of the future should be more albums from more artists on more labels for the increasingly specific audiences of tomorrow instead of the “make whatever is most accessible” model of the last fifty years.

The Quest for the Perfect Bar Entry Song Entry #002: BOOM!

I have to preface my second entry by setting up what kind of bar you have to enter to the following song. Ideally this track would accompany the entrance to either your neighborhood watering hole on Quizzo night, a sleepy pub around the corner where every stool’s spoken for or a pretentious popped-collar factory known for 4 oz beers and a generally insulting waitstaff . Now that you’ve got the right context contexted, here’s the jam I’m jawing about:

“Bombs Over Baghad” doesn’t only not take no for an answer, it slaps you with a diamond crusted pimp glove for even asking the question. It stuffs your ears with C4 and hotwires the fuse to your junk, which can’t help but tingle the first time Andre 3000 attacks the mic with the tenacity of a purposefully starved wolverine. And that’s what happens if you listen on your headphones from the safe confines of your home or office or in my case home office.

If “Bomb’s Over Baghdad” played anytime you entered one of the aforementioned establishments all of the following would happen close to simultaneously: a bartender would get punched by a fellow bartender, a row of champagne bottles would explode, all the lightbulbs would give off an additional three-hundred watts, a woman would find Jesus, Jesus would find his own personal Jesus, one table of patrons would devolve back into monkeys (freaking Jesus out), a couple would start having sex after which the woman would give instant birth to a baby Big Boi doppleganger, everything would turn to sped-up stop-motion, one person with brown eyes would suddenly have hazel eyes and across the world bombs full of glitter would explode in the sky above Baghdad.

I’m sure you can see now why it’s the second entry in my quest for the perfect bar entry song, and why I can never enter a bar to it.

The Ethos of Pitbull

I’d like to put forth an obvious and topical claim, a thesis that has been rattling around in my head since the dog day’s of summer, unformed until today’s reminder of the late Dr. King reminded me. It’s simple. I believe that Cuban rapper Pitbull is our generation’s Martin Luther King Jr (or at least our Rodolfo Gonzalez).

I’m not sure if you are one of the almost 95,000,000 people that have watched Pitbull’s seminal hit from last summer on YouTube “I Know You Want Me (Calle) Ocho”, but in case you’re not, allow me to refresh your memory:

See what I’m saying? Pitbull didn’t just create a booty-dropping, ass-shaking, butt-gyrating, pulse-pounding club-thumper of a hit song, he created as poignant a political statement as Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”. It’s all in the chorus. “1, 2, 3, 4, uno, dos, tres, quatro.” He’s not merely counting to four to give you a nice beat to squeeze a hiney* to, he’s bridging the language gap, welcoming us all to the beautiful, multi-cultural future that is a bi-lingual America, and he’s saying let’s all have fun doing it.

You might even say that Pitbull is more than a great unifier and sewer of not yet connected patches of our national cultural quilt, you might say he’s an educator. For years scientists have been discussing music’s ability to teach children new languages. There’s even a study that says you can teach a Monkey braille with a heavy bass line. And one of Eastern Europe’s most famous educator’s been on television for years preaching the educational benefits of song.

You know, if you watch Pitbull’s video then this one, you’ll  probably realize there’s a lot of amazing similarities between these two forger’s of young minds and shapers of tomorrow.

*I think it’s ridiculous that spell check doesn’t recognize the word hiney. My Grandma, if she were violent or used a computer, would do something violent to a computer.

The Quest for the Perfect Bar Entry Song Entry #001: Finally

The question of what song would play every time you enter a bar is the happy hour topic equivalent of fast food in that the conversation only comes to an end when people get tired of discussing it,  not when they run out of things to say.  It’s not that it’s some kind of broad, ambivalent, meaning-of-life question, but more that answers tend to grow and evolve and change over time as we do.

It’s with this unending question in mind that I am adding a weekly addition to this blog. Every week I’ll pick a new song to play every time I enter a bar in the parallel fantasy universe where whatever is happening stops right before I enter and switches to a pre-selected ear-busting ass-kicking accompaniment. (I’ll also try and explain why).

I was tempted for my first entry to go with something cool, maybe classic or indie rock, something timeless and smart, something that would tell the world a little about who Jeff Gonick is. But instead, because I’m not entirely full of shit, I’ve decided to use the answer I’ve given more times than any other:

Why would I want The Final Countdown to shadow my arrival time and again? There’s lots of reasons, it has an epic opening that simultaneously mixes fear and excitement like only a good horror movie can, there’s the opening riffs that go perfect with an entrance that includes a breakaway jumpsuit that reveals a tuxedo beneath, and there’s the fact that it offers a promise of something great at some point in the night that imbues the entrant with intrigue, to name a few.

All that aside, the proof is in the rock-pudding. Go ahead, wait till the video loads, scroll to the middle, turn your headphones or speakers way up and press play, then tell me you can’t see the whole bar high-fiving each other until their palms are swollen and demand the icey side of a cold drink. Exactly.

50 Cent is Going to Break the Bank

Now that I don’t have a job I start each day the same inspired way, with a heaping bowl of Golden Grahams and a solid block of music videos on MTV Jams (occasionally I mix in some MTV2 0r Cinnamon Toast Crunch to avoid getting stale). It’s my 27 year-old version of Good Morning America and I think if you jump back and forth between the two you’ll start to realize they aren’t that different.

With that in mind, I’m worried about 50 Cent and our nation’s ability to rebound economically. People have known for years, at least the smart ones, that the American economy is closely tied to 50 Cent’s own financial stability. This Nobel Prize winning idea, first presented by Paul Krugman in Geneva, is called the Curtis Jackson Mutual Dependency Theory. It shows that when 50 is rolling mad deep, making it rain on hoes and tipping waiters with loose blood diamonds, our country as a whole prospers. When 50 disappears for a while, like in say 2008-09, our shit hits the proverbial fan. That’s why I first saw he was back, I breathed a long, hearty, sigh of relief. Until I listened to his new track:

“Have a baby by me baby, be a millionaire.” It’s completely irresponsible. If verbal promises and agreements hold up in court, which they do, 50 Cent has just promised every woman he ever impregnates at least $1,000,000. Using a modest estimate of the number of girls 50 lays down per day, he’ll be broke in three weeks, which  means my chances of getting a job at some point in the future are slim. Effing 50 Cent.