I made my peace with the Oscars live last night (and archived here). What a ceremony.
So today, naturally, I’m going to talk about Japanese pop/rock music. Who isn’t?
Babymetal is one of the more unusual music acts I’ve been introduced to from Japan. They’re a heavy metal trio that sing like pop stars. As in, amazing heavy metal arrangements (distortion, thrashing guitars, and mile a minute bass) with pristine pop vocals. It’s a trip.
Since I can’t even find enough albums I actually like from 2013 to recognize, songs will have to do as a representation of the year in music. The albums that would have been on a list are M.I.A.’s Matangi, the Hands on a Hardbody Broadway cast recording, and Janelle Monae’s The Electric Lady. That’s it.
The Best Songs of 2013 includes original songs, covers, and even an incredible rehearsal performance. Stage works are included here, as well, since I did not see nearly enough shows in 2013 to recognize the best.
Merry Christmas to everyone who celebrates. For everyone else, I hope your day is wonderful.
Christian or not, anytime is a good time to spread the good word of Cthulhu. One day, the Ancient Ones will rise again and we might as well all prepare now. There’s a wonderful playlist of Lovecraftian Carols on YouTube that, sadly, is not embeddable on this most festive of dark, nightmarish days.
With all of the questionable pop songs that have been released since I’ve started writing about media, I don’t know why “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams, and T.I. gets me so frustrated. It’s probably a combination of cultural and political zeitgeist driven by the news media, entertainment criticism, and conventions I attend. This song came out when my rage level about this kind of arguably predatory behavior really boiled over.
But I’ve had no desire to discuss it myself. I have a million thoughts but haven’t really found an angle I want to discuss. The people who like the song dismiss the complaints and the people who hate the song already know why.
Then someone linked me to What Rhymes With Hug Me? and it said everything I wanted to about the song.
Here’s the only important topic of discussion from last night’s VMAs. Her name is Mary Lambert and this was her breakout moment.
If you’ve heard the wonderful song “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, you already know who Mary Lambert is. She wrote the chorus of that song in under two hours and recorded it. She’s a singer/songwriter and poet from Seattle
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis went onstage last night to perform “Same Love” live. When Lambert sang the first chorus, there was this brief moment of silence in the crowded Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It’s almost as if the audience didn’t expect the lovely young woman in the gold gown to be part of the performance.
Earlier this year, I named Fiona Apple’s song “Hot Knife” one of the best songs of 2012. I never expected it to go further than that. It felt a little too off-beat to be a single. Then I remembered we were talking about Fiona Apple.
Her new music video is “Hot Knife” and it’s captivating. The song–a series of stacked vocals over a timpani and occasional piano riff–is quite lovely. It’s a simple metaphor about loving someone spun to new dimensions with layered in new interpolations that alter the meaning.
The title says it all. Patti LuPone, who originated the role of Norma Desmond in the world premiere production, sings “With One Look” in London for the first time in 20 years. The role was promised to her on Broadway and was shockingly given to Glenn Close instead without warning or negotiation. The score fits LuPone like a glove and the song sounds stunning. A true artist makes moments like this while using the sheet music.
And let me take the chance to thank Patti LuPone for allowing this video to go online for the world to see. It was made private early last week with the promise it would return after her last show in London today. It’s a wonderful record of a brilliant performing doing what she does best. People can learn from what LuPone does in this performance.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that a trio of drag queens are now some of the sharpest musicians around, YouTube or not. Willam, Detox, and Vicky Vox broke out last year with their scathing parody of Chick-Fil-A’s anti-LGBT policies in “Chow Down (At Chick-Fil-A).” Then they went for pure laughs with the considerably more NSFW “Boy Is a Bottom,” a parody of “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keyes.
Their third single is their best yet. It’s a darkly humorous tribute to black market silicone injections set to Robyn’s amazing song “Dancing On My Own.” “Silicone” is also a succinct and effective take down of critics who spoke out against Detox for discussing all of her plastic surgery on RuPaul’s Drag Race this season. The arrangement really shows off Detox’s style and the group’s strong harmonies. I, for one, can’t wait for the Willam, Detox, and Vicky Vox album.