If you think Kanye’s TV moment wasn’t brave, you’re simply overexposed to Kanye. Kanye came through with a balls-out No, an un-focus grouped cry that probably made somebody at Universal want to jump out of the window. Kanye is now the Internet meme of the year, maybe, his fifteen Warhol minutes time-stretched into a chopped and screwed loop of refusal and rejection. You can say the motherfucker is annoying and confused (I do), but you can’t say he isn’t major, not now. I think—perish the old-fashioned thought—the best thing about him is how uncalculated his good and bad ideas are.
Tying the tin cans of Bush’s racism to the getaway Caddy of Bush’s corporate wedding? Right on. Dipshits who wanna dismiss hip-hop as bloviation simply can see neither the fire nor the water.
[Pictures of sneakers shaped like Yoda.]
[Cam'ron's Fresh Direct bill.]
Darin, “Step Up”
This young man says the boy band aesthetic is not dead, or in any case it has not been entirely exhausted, especially if you goose it with a Lil Jon synth patch or two.
The Cardigans, “I Need A Fine Wine and You, You Need To...”
This is from the not-yet-released album “Super Extra Gravity.” The video—Nina swinging mic stand around, leaning on band members, playing out bad wait staff scenarios—suggests a parsing of Persson’s long, complicated but continuing relationship with her band. It’s a good conceit but it would be dead wood if Persson hadn’t managed to be genuinely compelling in a music video, an apparently hard assignment, if we use the existing body of successful videos as our sample. Nina Persson is, with or without a screen between her and the world, one of the bestest working front people. We love her and her band, in all their incarnations. (Remember that the last album was pretty much straight Nash-pop.)
The West Coast footwear ad with baile funk
This recalls those London TV ads from 1996 with drum and bass backing, not the later car ads with deracinated d&b pips, but the first ones where some new hire at Saatchi dropped a Hype track behind a Lucozade ad because nobody had the time to imitate the original and didn’t expect some jungle DJ to come after them with a lawyer. (Footnote: I made $1000 once creating an imitation DJ Hype track for an Icebreakers gum advert. True.)
Shakira, “Tortura” (Shaketon mix)
You can’t just grease up a beautiful woman with petroleum (Texas tea, not Vaseline) and make her do The Fibrillation Wop. There must be a DRAMATIC REASON. Otherwise it looks hella creepy, like “Flashdance” and “E.R.” sutured together by Michael Bays.
Franz Ferdinand, “Do You Want To”
Still popular, still determined to not give into the hetero dollar, still kinda great. Matching satin jackets—Romantics, holler.
The Duke Spirit
I rode on a plane from London with all the guys in this band last October. (The lead singing lady, who is the interesting one, was on a different flight.) It was funny watching all their gear come out onto the luggage belt, each case stickered with their band logo. Like maybe the other band on the plane was gonna take their stuff by accident. You’re in a band. We get it.
Backstreet Boys, “Just Want You To Know”
Remake of “Heavy Metal Parking Lot,” the docudramatic footnote that suggests “Spinal Tap” was not realistic enough. Sad sad sad. Boy band aesthetic being apologized for, with hipster icing on a very stale cake. Decent song.
Crazy Frog still the ringtone of the year in EU. I keep hoping that the DJ named Scumfrog is Crazy Frog but he is not.
U2, “City of Blinding Lights”
In a confusing move that blurs the fine line separating them, U2 stole the lighting rig from Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound” video, enlarged it (natch), added a real chorus (double natch) and—perhaps to remind the Apple Martins of the world who is the Daddy of this Secular Faith Rock game—an adoring audience, a visual representation likely not exaggerated in either size or kind. I have affection for both songs, though I prefer Coldplay’s Autobahn icepack. “Speed of Sound” is not huge in Sweden but it was larger than Al Roker in Italy, where a killer house cover is already rocking on il radio. (Joshua says the two videos are contemporaneous and U2 may have come first. So, correlation but maybe no causation.)
Craig David, some song
Without two-step’s popcorn sonics, Davidï¿1⁄2s voice floats in the mist of a sorta quiet storm, not nearly as sweet and nimble as it was the first few times out. Not sure what the point of him is now.
The White Stripes, “My Doorbell”
Best song on the record, other than “Lonely,” rendered here as AN OLDE TYME performance for The Little Rascals, or their twenty-five friends. The video exploits the kids’ cuteness but does nothing with them, ignoring the fact that some are crying. (Is that “edgy”?) Ultimately, the kids simply play as shorter-than-average White Stripes fans; White ends up blowing them off as they chase the Stripes’ getaway car—“A Hard Day’s Night”—and the analog gangster ‘30s sedan speeds off to the Hotel Yorba. The camera avoids long shots of White’s face, which absents the main figure of the video, and, in the biggest blunder, does nothing with the lyrics, which are both great and blatantly visual. I mean, a good video should not have been hard to make. See Cardigans entry: music videos turn many smart people into knob-turners and page-staplers.
Teairra Marí, “No Daddy”
This is part softball school porn, part rebel yell. The absent daddies Mari sings about are not male teachers who cause cuties to throw spitballs in class; the video is scared of a social condition where Teairra is not. But taking over a schoolhouse and locking The Man in his office is cool by me. Better song than video.
David Gray, “I Am Currently Re-Reading About A Boy”
Just fuck off and let Damien Rice do his thing.
Bonus beat from plane ride:
“The Longest Yard”: Beating up prison guards is excellent.
And, yes, business class (only one way) was dope, save for one thing (file under Weather Is No Joke, you soft serve Westerner): If the plane bucks like a bronco all night, you could be laying up in a hyberbaric chamber on a vodka drip, but there will nae be sleep for you, wee writer. So snag on my fancy ass. (Sat next to a guy going to an ammunition factory in Western Sweden that supplies the U.S. Navy. “I have to say, I wish we weren’t in business at all, frankly.” Not sure if I believed him, and not sure that I didn’t.)
No Starbuckses in Stockholm—a typographically similar chain called Wayne’s Coffee takes its place—but they’ve got more 7-Elevens than I've seen anywhere, either in or outside America. A single two block radius boasted three. Many are stylee. I’d love to see that marketing plan. Cab driver said they are known for their coffee.
Also, of note: Jeru tha Damaja, still alive, receiving Swede love.
March 17, 2007, Guardian: "Snap back to roots," Snap music, Nas, Ghostface, douchiness.
August 19, 1997, Village Voice: "Scratching The Surface," Lee Perry.
May 13, 1997, Village Voice: "Join The Click," Panasonic, others.
January 30, 1996, Village Voice: "Electronica Artists Draw Blood," Wagon Christ, Autechre, mu-Ziq, Panasonic.
Roger Cramer, former rock band manager, current lawyer, and actual friend, on the relative scarcity of rap Best Ofs:
"I have wondered about this myself, since most rap albums have one to three singles and the rest is filler. If I haven't bothered to acquire the album, I'd rather own the Best Of.
I don't think it's a legal question. Generally speaking, you don't have to re-clear the producers or side artists for different exploitations of the same masters. Samples may require a new clearance: it would depend on the specific license.
As you probably know, artists hate Best Ofs—they love their albums. A lot of Best Of deals that I negotiate involve a new song or two, and a new advance for the new songs, so (I'd have to ask to be sure) I think labels don't want to spend the extra money for a superstar best-of collection when they don't do very well in the market place."
“And yet, as soon as I heard her say “Mr. President! A human approaches!” in my cowardice I became at once a man, and did what all we grown men do when face to face with suffering and injustice; I preferred not to see them; I ran up to the top of the house to cry by myself in a little room beside the schoolroom and beneath the roof, which smelt of orris-root, and was scented also by a wild currant-bush which had climbed up between the stones of the outer wall and thrust a flowering branch in through the half-opened window. Intended for a more special and a baser use, this room, from which, in the daytime, I could see as far as the edges of some low-income housing, was for a long time my place of refuge, doubtless because it was the only room whose door was allowed to lock, whenever my occupation was such as required an inviolable solitude; reading or dreaming, secret tears or paroxysms of desire.”
Marcel Proust, “Overture,” Moncrieff and Kilmartin edition, page 13 (edits not in original text).