Skip navigation.


Another YouTube Phenomenon: "What Do You Love About Music"

So I heard this quote last night, and it reminded me of gwen's thesis (or at the very least, her thesis proposal, which dealt with the difference between activist rock in the sixties and the lame stuff we're left with today):

"Rock isn't dangerous anymore. The revolutionaries have long since packed their bags and moved uptown, creating a void left to be filled with derivative, tired out music, faux-angst, and lip gloss. Hollywood has officially invaded rock, and Hollywood ain't dangerous."

Where did I hear this, you might wonder? C'mon, I'm in MS 190... where ELSE would I have heard it but YouTube?

Stuff from another class

I thought y'all would find this interesting. Ghostwriter are both taking (were both taking :) ) Sociology of Popular Music and our final project was probably more applicable to this particular Senior Seminar class, since we tackled the issue of authorship.

Along with a Pitzer student who's a singer, the three of us decided to perform three different versions of the same song - Jose Gonzalez's "Crosses". I don't know if you all are familiar with the song, but it's a pretty good slow acoustic number. Really folky. So Ghostwriter did a slow, keyboard-based soulful ballad. I did an uptempo, punk-ish version on my acoustic guitar, and the Pitzer student, who is Latin-American, sang it poppier and included a verse in Spanish. We were looking at how the song's meanings and style were altered in the mind of the audience when singers with different ethnic backgrounds sang it in a style more closely associated with their ethnicity. It was a great song to choose for that project also because Gonzalez is Swedish, born of Argentinian parents, playing a style that isn't really associated with either of those countries - at least in "Crosses".

Race, Media, and Regina Spektor

Lately I've been loving Regina Spektor's songs and music videos (I recommend "Fidelity," "Samson," "Us," and "On the Radio" for starters), but I noticed some controversy on YouTube surrounding her work, and I thought it might be worth mentioning here.

Regina Spektor's music video for "On the Radio"

As you'll see if you click on the link, the video shows Regina as a teacher in an elementary school music classroom. Sounds innocent enough, right? But if you dig through the 90+ comments that have been left on the page, you'll see that lots of people aren't too happy with the fact that Regina is white and all the schoolchildren are black. Some people called it "colonialist," implying that Regina sees herself as the "white woman who takes it upon herself to educate the black children." One person left the comment, "Sooooooo racist." Other people say that there should have been children of ALL races in the video (even though that strikes me as a little too "It's a Small World After All"... if that phrase can be used as an adjective... oh well, you get what I mean). I have to admit that it did strike me as a little odd at first, but I figured that Regina seems a little too sensitive and poetic to be a crazy colonialist. I really doubt that she intended for the video to cause any kind of controversy. Nevertheless, people have read it as problematic, which says a lot about how race is perceived in popular media.

To the left, to the left...

I was going to tag this on to my last blog but it was reaching that length at which 95 percent of the class takes one look and moves on to the next blog. So, I have deceivingly tricked you into reading my jazz in a separate blog. Clever huh?

Anyway, since our class seems to be very musically inclined I wanted to blog about a little gem in my life, my dear friend Rhapsody. I'm sure some of you are familiar with it but I am recent convert so bear with me.

After having to wipe my hard drive and bending over backwards trying to get the music from my ipod back onto my computer (which is a whole 'nother blog) I have been temporarily sidetracked from itunes and turned to Rhapsody for my listening pleasure.

Your Body is a Self-Perpetuating Groove Machine

Hey! Come see Robots in Disguise, featuring two fabulous members of our senior seminar class. They're playing at 10:00pm at SCC basement (Self-Interest Collective is playing at 8:30pm) on Saturday Dec 2nd (today). They're awesome and they will have CDs. and by CD's i mean FREE cd's!!! it's all about the free culture baby!!!!

here's a fun pic:


The Constable mentioned in his blog that he would like to hear the view of Lars Ulrich, the leader of METALLICA, regarding Napster and copyright infringement. What follows is Ulrich's statement, read to the U.S. Senate in 2000. I've obnoxiously copy-and-pasted the whole thing into this blog, but if you want to read it from the site, go HERE. Ulrich's statement is honest and heartfelt, but just a tad annoying because 1) Lessig and Vaidy both mentioned that there is no PROOF that downloading ever hurts the artists or even the industry and 2) If anything, downloading hurts the actual musician the LEAST out of everyone else (the distribution company, manager, etc.). They get a tiny fraction of the overall yield of their record sales; they make much more money off personal appearances and concerts. In a sense, the record companies are the ones that rip off a band's intellectual property.

Stones at Dodger's Stadium

SO last Wednesday I am sitting at my computer when a friend of mine who graduated and now works for an advertising firm in LA IM's me to ask what I am doing for the evening. "Oh nothing much," I respond, "probably going to do some homework."

"Damn" she says, "Because I have four tickets to the Rolling Stones concert that I got at work and no one to go with."

Talk about my lucky day. Needless to say I accepted the invitation with little hesitation and several hours later found myself sitting off the third baseline waiting to see the Stones in concert. I don't know how many of you have seen them live, but if you get a chance to go before you die, (or before they die would be more likely), GO! Despite the fact that all four of them are 60 plus years of age, they play and perform with more energy than a group of teenage boys on Adderall. It was a sight to see.

Mashed Potatoes and Beatles

The recently released Beatles album entitled Love has got me thinking... and blogging. Though I have yet to hear the entire album, Love is a mash-up of old Beatles songs which was created as the soundtrack for a Las Vegas stage show featuring Cirque du Soleil. The album was produced by the slicing and dicing of the Beatles catalog primarily from the years of 1963-1970 and features songs which mix elements of Penny Lane with Strawberry Fields Forever or one song that uses the guitar riff from Blackbirds as the introduction to Yesterday.

LOVE is an interesting example of the 21st century phenomenon of "mashing" because unlike most mash-ups, the record is comprised of Beatles music and Beatles music only and made with the explicit authorization of the group. But some fans are wondering if the manipulation and reconstruction of the Beatles' music is sacrilege?

Cut and Mix

Just when you thought you'd read enough about YouTube, here comes my latest blog entry! (I really hope no one has posted about this yet. I went back through the blog to double check, but if I missed something and this has been done already, sorry. But you should watch these videos again because they're cool.)

Anyway, in my Digital Art class we've been working with sound, basically cutting up sounds that we've found or made and mixing them into something new. On Thursday, the prof showed us a couple of YouTube videos by this Norwegian guy name Lasse Gjertsen, who does a similar thing but with sound and video (oooh). The two we watched were Amateur and Hyperactive.

Authorship in other cultures

Today in my Sociology of Popular Music class we began our unit on reggae and dancehall music by watching several video clips, including the documentary "Roots Rock Reggae" (1977). The video features performances, interviews of artists, and artists in the studio. However, unlike many documentaries, the name of the person speaking or performing is not captioned at all. Afterwards, one of the first questions asked was who were the musicians in the video. Though the professor knew a lot of the names, there were still a few left unknown. This, of course, led us to a discussion of authorship, particularly how notions of authorship may vary outside of a Western or U.S. context. In the U.S., because we're a very capitalist society, notions of authorship tend to be linked to ownership and copyrights (which I'm sure we'll get more into with "Free Culture"). These ideas are particularly relevant to music today, with the way that new technologies are changing the way we consume it.