Wednesday, June 27, 2012

UPDATE AND THANKS!

Hey guys!

So yeah, NEVER thought ANYONE would read any of the shit I wrote, so I never took it too seriously.  But after seeing the attention that it's gotten over the past few months I have to say THANK YOU!  I knew there were people on this planet that had the same views as me, and I'm gracious you all stopped by.

If you're wondering where I've been, I've been workin', and haven't had a whole lotta time to do this (which I never thought I would actually need).  This whole thing started as extra credit for a class and I just thought it would sit there with no views.  But it has since grown into something larger than I ever would have expected.  When people stop getting here from googling "carly rae jepsen sucks" and start googling "why pop music sucks blog", I guess I should start taking this a little more seriously.

I've started looking into different songs to review and have a few ideas, but go ahead and comment with new songs at any time.  Now, don't expect too many updates too often.  I can talk all day every day about how every song on the radio is the same four chords and the same "boots and cats" drum beat, but I'm tellin' ya, it'd probably get boring, and I don't want to bore you.  So, give me songs that you think are exceptionally bad.

And I'll just rap this up with another thank you and some more music that I'm feelin' recently.  If you like hip-hop, you'll love these guys: Badbadnotgood


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe; Social Networking Discussion



So, a little background info: Jepsen is a 26 year old singer-songwriter from British Columbia who placed third on a season of Canadian Idol.  After that, she was signed to Fontana and MapleMusic and released her album "Tug of War".  Now, in Canada, (which is a great idea in my opinion) they have a bill passed where radios are required to play a certain amount of local music.  Who else lives in Canada that matters in the music business? You guessed it! JUSTIN BIEBER!!!!! AHHH!!! Anyway, yeah he heard her song "Call Me Maybe" in Canada and was like "yo gur, come ova to my label".  And that's why we hear the song today.
*before I even start though, the guy in this video has the douchiest tattoo

So, we'll start with the lyrics:


I threw a wish in the well, -what?
Don't ask me, I'll never tell 
I looked to you as it fell,  
and now you're in my way
I trade my soul for a wish, -so much wishing yet it has nothing to do with the song...
pennies and dimes for a kiss -this sounds slightly illegal...
I wasn't looking for this, 
but now you're in my way

Your stare was holdin', 
Ripped jeans, skin was showin'  
Hot night, wind was blowin'  
Where you think you're going, baby?

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me, maybe?
It's hard to look right, at you baby, but here's my number, so call me, maybe?
Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me, maybe?
And all the other boys, try to chase me, but here's my number, so call me, maybe?

You took your time with the call, 
 I took no time with the fall  
You gave me nothing at all,  
but still, you're in my way -call mi stipud but me no undstant dis intire verce...
I beg, and borrow and steal  
At first sight and it's real  
I didn't know I would feel it,  
but it's in my way
 
Some of these lyrics don't really make any sense to me, but that's cool, I'm sure I'm just not intelligent enough to understand her insanely deep lyrics.  But it's weird that one would put such cryptic lyrics next to "this is crazy, but here's my number".  


So how about the instrumentals in this song?

Well the intro sure is long and complicated: a simulated cello and violin pizzicato (string plucking) of 8th noted G's (the root of the I chord by the way) for 2 measures on a slight phaser setting.  
Then, Carly starts to sing, technically starting the verse.   Well the thing is, this intro doesn't go away.  It continues with a slight change in a few bass notes.  You could literally sing the entire song to a continuous G.  QUE DA BAGPIPES ME LADDIES!!

(fig. 1)

 




So what happens if you add the sung melody over this insane instrumental? 
(fig. 2)
 





Nothing interesting here... not even the lyrics.


Maybe the interesting part is in the chorus?

There you go! While it's not interesting in the... I don't know... "Fire Bird Suite" sense; it's ridiculously more interesting than the verse.

Here's why:

While it still never leaves that constant G you get a few filler chords in there which is always good.  They put in a healthy I-ii-iiv-V progression in between Carly's lyrics, making a cliche question and answer thing.  It may not be the most creative execution of filler chords but hey, at least they added a little somthin'.

Now what I'm furious about is that in the second half of the chorus, a guitar riff shows up.  BUT YOU CAN'T HEAR IT!  It's like the producers were like "hey that guitar riff you came up with is really cool Billy, but uh... we think it'll take away from the horrid simplicity of the song, so we're actually gonna turn you down and Carly up so that the only times people can actually hear it is during Carly's slight pauses."
I can tell something interesting and possibly awesome is happening back there but I can only make out bits and pieces of it because this overpowers it:
(fig. 3)

*side note, it's like she's making up for all the eighth notes she sang in the verses with a butt load of syncopation in the chorus.



Now for some reviews of the song by some fans of her's found right here on the interwebs!

































 Man I never get tired of little children yelling at each other on the internet...

Anyway some real reviews:

The song is clean and pretty harmless, but the overall message of "waiting (and waiting) on a guy to call" might not be the best for young girls. ~Commonsense.org

Okay okay, this time for real:

The best word for Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen's US pop breakthrough is "refreshing." "Call Me Maybe" is a fluffy pop gem depicting what happens when love strikes at first sight. It's giddy, catchy, and instantly memorable with clever lyrics. Canadians rightfully sent this song to #1 on the Canadian Hot 100. Now the US pop music industry is taking note. ~ About.com

........Okay never mind.. so the reviews are good.  BUT (I'm not going to list them all here) if you Google "call me maybe review" and sift through the countless crap that aren't reviews, you'll notice that they all say something like: 
"It's a good song for teens". 
"Its better than having your kids listen to 'S&M' by Rihanna!".  
"You know what this song reminds me of? 'Party in the USA' by Miley Cyrus, which is why it's a good song!".

These reviews are all tailored towards parents who want to know what their kids are listening to.  So how are these "children's songs" making it to No. 1? Are there that many kids on this planet? 

Well a quick Google search says that 24% of the US is under 18... which actually, taking radio numbers and social networking sites into consideration, may make sense.


So if you're bored enough to read my blog you may be bored enough to comment about this:  Do you think these social networking sites that are such a huge part of our lives but are mostly inhabited and used most often by teens and tweens (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, maybe Myspace if anyone still uses it) creating the downfall of popular music?  As long as we have these sites, will teens choose what is popular just by "tweeting" a song?  This is how Justin Bieber, literally one of the biggest stars in the music industry right now whether we like it our not, got famous.  How is it any different for anyone else?

And talkin' about comments, I'd really like to get some reader interaction. I noticed I got a couple views last post and some comments would let me know how I'm doing as a new blogger :)


Anyway, like last week I'm going to post a song that I think needs some more recognition than it actually got.
I discovered Tune-Yards a year or two ago and loved them instantly.  Back then they didn't have any kind of reputation, but they just play Coachella this past weekend.  Why I'm posting this though is because I was watching them live on the internets and the chat box was full of "who is this", "they aren't very good", and other stuff like that.  Well they deserve to be known in my opinion, so here's "My Country" from their second album:



Friday, April 13, 2012

The Wanted: Glad You Came

Hey, what's up guys?

We're gonna start this thing off with a song that I've been force fed pretty recently from the great land of England.

THE WANTED: GLAD YOU CAME

Some basic info if you are unfamiliar:
They are a boy band formed in 09' through a mass audition in the UK.  They had 3 songs chart over there and have now decided to grace us Americans with their presence.

Members: Max George, Nathan Sykes, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness (I call him Frodo), and Tom Parker (I call him Harry Potter).

The song has three composers: Steve Mac, Wayne Hector, and Ed Drewett.  (I like to imagine one guy getting his d**k sucked by another guy who's simultaneously getting his d**k sucked by the last guy how just pushes a button on Protools)

The song debuted on the Billboard Charts at No. 3 ABOVE Adele, which I didn't even think was possible with her amazing success recently.

Here are some lyrics:
You cast a spell on me, spell on me.
You hit me like the sky fell on me, fell on me.
And I decided you look well on me, well on me. 
So let's go somewhere no-one else can see, you and me
Turn the lights out now
Now I'll take you by the hand
Hand you another drink
Drink it if you can
Can you spend a little time,
Time is slipping away,
Away from us so stay,
Stay with me I can make,
Make you glad you came
The sun goes down
The stars come out
And all that counts
Is here and now
My universe will never be the same
I'm glad you came
I'm glad you came


 So shall we look at these?  The storyline is pretty simple: these five separate guys either taking five separate men/women into rooms and "making them glad they came" or all five making the same man/woman "glad they came".  The language gets a little messy since five people are singing.  Now, of course anyone would deny any kind of sexual innuendos going on around here, but I feel like it's just too obvious to ignore.  Everyone knows what they are saying, boy band or not.

Not enough to say the song sucks though, lets go deeper. (;D)

There is a IV-I(6/4)-VI-V chord progression in the intro and outro.  This kind of progression is extremely common and repetitive, but that isn't even the worst part.  During the the rest of the song (verses AND the choruses) all you get as a driving chord progression aren't even chords.  They are single notes.  A constant two measures of a repeated back and forth of the root of the VI chord to the root of the VI. (fig. 1)


 The drum beat doesn't make it any better either, with just a quarter kick in the 2nd part of the verse, it "spices it up" in the first chorus with one of the most used drum beats ever created:
(fig. 2)


Now lets talk about the melody of this song.

Part one of the verse is Sykes straddling the root note of the dominate chord. Going up and down for effect. (imagine playing an A chord and just singing an A over and over again)

The next part is Parker doing the same, just limiting himself to only going down to the 3rd with a straight eighth note driven rhythm. (same thing just imagine singing a bunch of A's then every once in a while going down to an F#)

Other than the intro where George solos, the chorus (literally a descending *pentatonic scale) is sung by everyone at once. One would assume everyone is singing a harmony on the melody, but in the recording, everyone but McGuinness' voice (from the looks of the music video) is lowered. So much so, it made the chorus sound monophonic.

Here's what that looks like in action:

(fig. 3)
SUUPPPEERR simple right?


The verse is then sung by Kaneswaren (part 1), then Sykes comes back for a second hit of mediocrity.

*A pentatonic scale is basically the training wheels of composing.  It's a normal 8 note scale with the tritones and minor seconds removed, making every note harmonic with every other note in the scale.  This simple rule is why your music teacher in elementary school was able to give everyone a xylophone in class.  All he/she had to do was take all of the tritones and minor seconds out.  You can find a pentatonic scale represented on the piano by the black keys.  Find a piano, and just randomly slam your hand on all white keys.  Unpleasant right?  Now do the same with the black keys.  Not so bad?   This is how your elementary school music teacher avoided blowing their brains out.


Now one could say: "Yeah well so what?? it's not about the music, it's about how talented they are and how well they can sing!"

Yeah, that's what everyone is thinking:
 (fig. 4)
 

































































I'd keep going but you get it.
These are random comments from a random video of a live performance I found on YouTube.  Yeah, they are full of deep musical insight.  People don't like them because they are good, they like them because they're "soooo sexy with a little swagger".  I personally love how in all these comments there's only one about the music, and it's about a backup musician.

Should I keep going? OKAY!!

Here are some reviews of the songs:

"It is light, frothy, and (the video is) filled with token women, but boy bands have never made their success on artistic pretension. "Glad You Came" is a cheerful, uptempo tune that is easy to dance with, and it is little more than that."~ About.com
"It’s a tumor on a war crime on a dead puppy of a song."~ HolyMoly.com

Moar you say??
(fig. 5)

Here's some DubStep: the most hated genre of music right now for how "simplistic" it is.








(fig. 6)

Here's "Friday" by Rebecca Black: the most hated song to date.







Refer above to compare.


Anyway, in conclusion, basically you are filling your head with three minutes of a descending pentatonic scale over 2 repeated notes.  And there are three guys making a killing off of it.  Congrats guys, kudos for fooling millions of people in thinking you made actual music.



Now I think it would be cool to finish off every week with a song that really deserves recognition for it's brilliance but isn't getting any.  For my first one I want to start strong with a man named Owen Pallett and his song off his 2006 album "He Poos Clouds" called "Many Lives -> 49mp"

He usually composes entire symphonies for his albums, but for live performances he does EVERYTHING HIMSELF using a loop pedal.  One composer, one musician, real talent.