Posts Tagged ‘pop culture’

Play that funky music

April 19, 2010

One of  the things  few people know about me, is that I like music. I like it a lot. I listen to pretty much anything. There are, some types I do not listen to, but generally speaking, my musical taste can be reliably described as eclectic.  My wife no longer gives me funny looks when she hears some bangra, or Chinese pop music, emanating from my computer.  The presets on my car stereo range from country to hip-hop.  There are very few times when the radio is not on in my car, and this is where I encounter one of my biggest peeves.

Like I said, I like MUSIC, not commercials, not radio personalities, not strange people who call those radio personalities and divulge stuff they really should keep secret…..very secret, just music. Unfortunatley, however, it often takes me a good ten minutes from when I get into my car and drive off to when I hear the first song played.  It’s a little bit ridiculous.

There is one station I listen to that claims commercial free music for an hour and change. The first time I heard this, I thought I had struck gold. I was like “yeah, this will definitely take me home”.  I reacted like this because I’m naive. I took them at their word. After all, this is radio, this is being broadcast to thousands of people. They would not  be so brazen (or like my mother-in-law would say “brass face”) to lie to all those people. It’s not like they’re politicians or something.  Imagine my surprise when after about two songs, I hear the DJ saying “thanks to the kind folks at …… for allowing us to bring you commercial free music ” Are you serious?  So just because it wasn’t an entire 30 seconds or it did not specify a product, you think that’s not an ad? An ad does not need 30 seconds to make its point and everybody knows those guys only sell coffee so you didn’t even need to mention the product.  Turns out all the boasting  about commercial free was just “crapuccino”.

In addition, to playing as little music as possible, it turns out that apparently “DJ school” today is all about  the personalities and only the personalities.  You don’t even need a distinctive voice anymore, as long as you can speak, you’re in. You listen to the radio these days, and I swear some stations have two DJs…one male, one female. They all sound alike, they all play the exact same songs, they all have the exact same lack of knowledge of music and performers. One thing they have going for them though, is that they all have the uncanny ability to locate some of the most inane and inconsequential information  the internet has to offer. This is where they really shine. Some of them even have assistants to do this for them, because, of course, they need to keep focused on pressing the button to play all the commercials. So basically, you can get free radio, but you “pay” for it by having to listen to tons of commercials and juvenile chatter, or you can not get commercials and “pay” a subscription for satellite radio ( you can’t escape the juvenile chatter though). It’s like we’re caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

When they’re not not playing music,  they’re trying to get all profound and have really insightful discussions about the day’s popular topics like, relationship issues, “how many of you slept with the stripper at your best friend’s bachelor party ?” Really tasteful stuff like that.  Then listeners use them as private investigators.  They get the DJ people to call the guy and get him to admit that he didn’t “really” sleep with the stripper (besides she kissed him, he didn’t kiss her….technically). All this is taking place while wifey (unbeknownst to Casanova) is listening in. Then she makes her presence known.We don’t get too much from here on in because there is a lot of “bleeping” taking place. It gets even better when DJ guy gets in the mix (and I am not referring to music because there isn’t too much of that taking place)  and getting all upset and everything.

All I want is to be able to turn on my radio and hear some music. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Apparently though, it’s a whole lot more than the radio stations are willing to offer.  Sigh………I guess I’ll have to be patient. I’m sure I’ll get some music……after the break.


Bad bad Badu

April 8, 2010

By now I suppose everybody on the planet has seen or heard about, what am I saying? ….has definitely seen the latest Erykah Badu video for her song Window Seat. For those of you trying to keep up the charade, let me help you out here. Basically, she takes a stroll through downtown Houston, her stroll mirroring the path JFK took on that fateful day. Every few steps, she “puts on” a piece of her birthday suit. The video ends with her in “full regalia” simulating being shot and blue blood issues from the wound forming the word “groupthink”. Deep fuh so…..

As expected in any situation with similar circumstances there has been a lot of fuss made over the video’s apparent lack of taste. Ms. Badu claims gross misinterpretration, some people say it was just plain gross. Ms. Badu says artistic expression, the Houston police say disorderly conduct…..$500.00. Since I can’t help being a little cynical sometimes, I must say she didn’t get a bad deal. $500 definitely could not buy all the prime time coverage (well there actually was no coverage in the true sense of the word, but you get my meaning) she’s had over the week or so. Whether that was the reason or not, this video and the publicity it garnered, certainly added to Ms. Badu’s bottom line (I mean that in a financial sense….really).

As tempting as it is though for me to jump on one bandwagon or the other, I am not going to. I can see both sides of the argument. I agree with the sentiment that the video represents the artistic expression of a music icon. Many people seem to hold this view. In fact, I was listening to one of those morning call in shows, and the number of people who called and were throwing around words like, art, artistic expression and message was staggering. Equally staggering, though, was the number of people who, when asked what the video was about, could only respond with words like…, artistic expression and message. I really can’t blame them though; it is often very hard to decipher artistic expression with any real level of conviction. Even Erykah herself can’t seem to explain what the whole thing was about.

For the cynics among us, and I do not count myself in that group, many people seem to think it was a thinly disguised (very thinly disguised) publicity stunt, simply geared toward selling more albums. I could see this perspective too. In fact, the album made it to #4 on Billboard 200, with 110,000 copies sold in the first week. It is very possible and even likely that the video helped with that. But when you consider the fact that her last album did even better in the first week (#2 and 124,000 copies) without the nudity,maybe she should have kept her clothes on. I’m just saying.

The video has even spawned discussions about the exploitation of women, with one radio DJ taking the interesting position that if the Badu video was not exploitation, then neither should videos of artists like Lil Wayne and Ludacris be considered exploitation of women. Hmmmm…you’re on your own there dude. As talented as those guys are (and nobody can dispute this), they do leave us wanting more in the whole respect for women category (my humble opinion). Mr. DJ…….methinks you should just play your music and let not your mind be troubled by things of this sort.

All in all, I do not see this impacting Erykah Badu in a negative way. By that same token it does not seem to have increased her popularity any (not that she needs it). I actually like the song. The video I will most likely never see again, because I do not have much use for music videos in general. It is sometimes fun to see how an artist interprets his/her music through videos, but if I never see another music video again, it’s no big deal. I do appreciate Erykah Badu’s creativity, but I also think a more responsible approach was called for. Creative genius does not somehow give you the right to impose that “creativity” on others. Of course the furor (if indeed there is one)will blow over, as the next “thing” takes hold of our attention. Erykah Badu in the meantime…….well I’m sure she will just turn the other cheek.

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