Sunday, March 31, 2013

20 Questions With Juliana Hatfield

(March 31, 2012)

hello, richard. this is juliana. thanks for contributing to my new albummaking. i've put my answers below your questions:

-----Original Message-----
From: "Goodman, Richard"
Sent: Mar 31, 2012 5:57 PM
To: ""
Subject: 20 Questions

Thanks for offering the 20 Questions as a pledge option.   It’s a fun way for us to interact with you!  Below are my 20 Questions as well as my name/contact info in case you need to verify the purchase.  Forgive me if I ask something you already covered in your book, since I haven’t read it yet (It is on my “To Read” bookshelf, ahead of Steve Martin’s autobiography and his latest fiction book but behind Robert B. Parker’s final Spenser book). 

Also, I know you won’t be responding with dissertations, so I’ll keep the questions mostly fluffy with a couple more serious things thrown in but if I ask something too personal or you don’t feel like answering, I understand - just go ahead and plead the 5th.  Thanks for taking the time to do this!  I really appreciate your responses, whatever they may be.  Hope you are doing well and enjoying working on the new album.  Take care!

# 1- You’ve played several venues in Virginia.  For example, I’ve seen you perform at IOTA, the 9:30 Club, the Birchmere, Mary Washington College and RFK Stadium.  Do you have a favorite Virginia venue?

i always like to go to the IOTA. the guy who runs the place is a sweetheart and always makes us feel at home. and he always has really interesting/fun things to talk about. and the crowd is always super nice. and i like the smallness, the cozyness, of the space.

# 2- Mountains, plains or sea shores?

the sea! (i grew up steps away from the atlantic ocean)

# 3- Do you think you have an obligation to your fans to produce something they will like or do you think fans are obligated to follow an artist on whatever path they feel like following?

i feel like my number-one obligation is to be true to myself and to not fake anything; to be honest is paramount. if i am expressing myself authentically, some people will appreciate it, and will see themselves in the music. there will always be some people who don't like whatever i do, but i can't help that. it happens no matter what i do.

# 4- Something I always wonder about with musicians- does the music come first or the lyrics?  I understand that it might be different for each song but in general, which comes first?

it's kind of both but in different places--i am always working on words but also on bits of music-- but not together-- and when i start to sit down to compose songs, i can draw from both places--from all the random pieces of lyrical ideas and from all the random bits of music parts,,and i can start to bring them together. it's like putting puzzles together.

# 5- One of the things I like about your live shows is that you throw in some covers from an artist you like, such as a Neil Young or Buffalo Tom song or a snippet from Camper Van Beethoven.  I owe you an immense debt for introducing me to The Jayhawks.  Their “Smile” and “Tomorrow The Green Grass” albums are two of my all-time favorites.  What else could you recommend to me that is a bit upbeat?  (For reference, right now I’m listening to some old Lush albums, the new Black Keys and the new Ministry album and I think I want to pull out some old Supertramp, Dandy Warhols and Modest Mouse this weekend.)

i really like the new nada surf album, "the stars are indifferent to astronomy".

# 6- What was your favorite book that you read last year, for entertainment rather than educational reasons?

i liked "the colossus of new york" by colson whitehead. it's  a few years old.

# 7- So which is it- is it better to have loved and lost or to have never loved at all?

sometimes i wonder.

# 8- When you drink alcohol, what is your drink of choice?

whiskey or dry white wine or beer--nothing sweet or mixed.

# 9- If you got a sugar craving, what would likely be the sweet thing that tempted you?  (Similar to the way vegetarians have a temptation-trigger food, usually bacon for some reason.)

ice cream (and by the way, i've been a vegetarian forever and i never ever have meat cravings/temptations-i think meat is gross, period. that's why i am a vegetarian!)

# 10- Do you have some good friends you can rely on and talk to whenever you need some comfort?

there are people i could talk to, but i usually don't reach out to them when i should. i deal with a lot of stuff on my own. 

# 11- What do you do to relieve stress or depression?

mostly i just wait for it to pass. but exercise and sauna are temporarily good for stress. 

# 12- The zombie apocalypse is happening right now. What do you do? 

i'm really good at making myself invisible.

# 13- Not that I ever want you to stop performing and recording music, but if for some terrible reason you decide to do that, what would you miss most about it?  If I was lucky enough to be musically skilled, I think what I’d miss might perhaps be the fan reaction from a live show or the process of plucking an entirely original song from the ether of the universe, creating something new that had not existed prior to my efforts. 

writing and recording has always been more fulfilling to me than playing live in front of audiences. i'm a really shy and quiet person who likes to be alone so being out in front of people was always problematic, to say the least. i think i can always write and record so i could be content to do that for the rest of my life.

# 14- Your taste in movies seems to be eclectic, to say the least, which is something I commend.  How could I not be a fan of someone who watches not only Taken, Double Indemnity and Jennifer’s Body but also His Girl Friday, Jane Eyre and Morning Glory?  Who are your all-time favorite male and female actors/movie stars?

there's so many, it's hard to name favorites. modern actors i like are ewan mcgregor and patricia arquette- i would go to see anything they are in.

# 15- Only three of your songs can be saved from disappearing forever.  Which three would they be?

it's too hard to pick favorites! don't make me!

# 16- Does grammar and spelling matter in the age of texting and Facebook status updates and if so, why?

it should matter. it's the language. we need to know how to write it, how to communicate clearly enough to be understood. otherwise, society is breaking down. 

# 17- From what I’ve seen you post in various places, your skill as a painter seems to be steadily increasing.  How often do you work at it?  In other words do you paint all the time or just whenever the mood hits you?

i have been in a full-time post-graduate art school program this year . so i have been really working at it. 

# 18- In terms of painting and drawing, what artists or eras inspire you?  Do you consciously decide to try to do a Rothko-like piece, something Warhol-ic  or in the style of Manet or does it just come out on the page/canvas spontaneously?

i work intuitively and by that i mean that i do not consciously try to do anything that looks or feels like anyone else. it's the same with my music; i listen to my own inner creative urge; i try to express what is coming from inside of me. 

# 19- I’m about to go on a trip to Spain next week so I’m curious what foreign country you like the most and why.

i like sweden a lot. people seem healthy and beautiful (even the ugly people are beautiful). there's an easier pace over there; not a slowness but an appreciation of the rhythms of life. a quality of life thing that is hard to put into words; something you don't feel in this country.

# 20- Am I allowed to share your answers with my friends?



At first, I was pretty thrilled with the answers I got for my 20 questions pledge, considering I paid just $20, since was getting correspondence directly from Juliana and not an assistant or form letter.  Then she posted one of the replies she sent another pledger (see below) and I was a little less thrilled because his word count was much higher than mine and we all paid the same price.  It made me wonder “Did I ask stupid questions?” and “Did everyone get a lengthy response and I was an after- thought?”  Also, “Did I ask really stupid questions that she’ heard a million times?”  Then I thought about it again and figured the whole idea was to help Juliana raises funds to produce her album and I helped with that goal.  I should not feel bad that my letter wasn’t as interesting or worth sharing like someone else’s letter.  I should be happy that I got to see the extra info and that I helped her do something she wanted, which is to get the album made.  (But really, it’s because my questions were stupid, isn’t it?)

 Subject: Juliana Hatfield: Covers Album project update: a bit on "bed"

Hello from PledgeMusic, Juliana Hatfield posted a new update for Covers Album: a bit on "bed"

here is a transcript of one of the 20 questions and my answers—i thought some of you who are fans of “bed” might be interested (also fyi we are going to be dipping into “bed” at the june 27th show[s]):

1) I recently found myself in a conversation with someone who insisted that the illegal downloading of music only hurt the record companies. “The artists make most of their money from touring,” he argued. Please respond.

it’s not true in my case—-i don’t draw big crowds and so it’s actually really hard for me to make any money on tour unless i tour by myself, with no band and no more than a one-person crew ( a guy who does sound and tour manages—i thank god i found someone who can do both important jobs really well at the same time [saves money not having to pay two separate people to do the two jobs]). i have gone on the road with absolutely no crew (to maximize my earning potential) and i can tell you that it’s really not fun at all or healthy having to do everything by myself—all the driving, moving/loading equipment in and out, trying to get paid at the end of the night, getting directions and planning to get to each venue on time, booking hotels in each city, counting and setting up t-shirts/CDs (merch), doing interviews, patiently and gratefully and sometimes happily talking to and signing multiple things for all the fans who want it (this, sadly, regrettably, takes up precious time which i could alternatively be using to take care of all the other multiple things that endlessly and unfortunately need taking care of when you are the talent, the tour manager, the roadie, etc. etc), not to mention playing the gig without a band or anyone to back me up. etc., etc. i’m not complaining—-i’m just saying that your source is wrong/misinformed/ignorant/brainwashed. some people (madonna, radiohead, and many more lesser-known artists who are not me but who draw better than i do) make tons on the road but i don’t make much playing live, when you take into account all the expenses of bringing a band on the road (renting van/bus, tolls, parking, gas, airplane tickets, paying everyone decently, hotels, per diems, etc. etc. etc.). since i own most of my masters, post-atlantic records, and i am paid directly for any purchases of my music, i think my job/life would be easier if everyone who downloaded any of my music paid for it.. if they did, i could tour more—-i would have more money with which to go on the road properly and slightly comfortably—and if i were a bit more comfortable on the road i would be happier and healthier and i would play better and i would play/go on the road more often. but i do have to say that it is impossible to calculate how many people have been turned on to my music for the first time via illegal/unpaid download. it is good to win new fans but it does seem that not many new fans are coming out to my shows so i don’t know how much all the unpaid music is benefiting me.

2) “I Got No Idols.” What’s the story behind it? The first verse seems to respond to the media-hyped virginity brouhaha you found yourself in after the Interview interview (“you may think we all need that stuff/but I don’t think about it much”) while the second verse tackles false gods as well as how some ardent fans may perceive you (“but I’m a liar, that’s the truth/go home and think it through”).

it was existential. (‘become what you are", the title, was taken from nietszche, you know). i think i was trying to be tough, or to appear tough. to mask my fragility/weakness by claiming to not need anyone. and to not be impressed by anyone. but then acknowledging/admitting my weakness and fragility (when i do i have to leave the room/i’m scared of what i might do’—i might get weak in the knees, i might fall in love). i am trying to convince myself while trying to convince the listener—that i am a lone wolf. but not really believing it 100%, even as i am saying it). i don’t remember the specifics of what was going through my head. i think i was thinking of sonic youth and “kill yr. idols”, on one level trying/wanting to be ‘cool’ like them. i think you are right about the second verse. i wasn’t comfortable in the role of rock or pop star or objectifiable object and i thought it was all really stupid in a w ay and i never was any good at it because i could never believe the hype .

3) After Atlantic, you released an EP on Bar-None and then wound up on Zoe Records for quite a while. Were you under contract? Were they a series of one-off deals?

i think the bar none thing was a one-off license for a few years. and each of the zoe/rounder records was a several-year license, and after each term the ownership of the masters reverted back to me. i think there might have been a contract with zoe/rounder for a series of multi-year licenses rather than one contract for each album.

4) Why the title Bed?

there was no good reason for the title. i think i just liked the sound of it, and i was thinking that bed is so evocative of so many things. and i was kind of depressed and bed is where you lie for long periods of time without getting up/out when you are depressed and also bed is where a lot of the stuff that i reference in the songs—dreams, fantasies, retreat, sickness, recuperating, sex/love—happens. kind of dumb/simpleminded, i know.

5) Many of the Bed songs sound like you’re coming to terms (consciously or subconsciously) with leaving Atlantic. (For instance, in “Swan Song,” “you can’t fire me because I quit.”) Do you agree or disagree?

it was definitely my “i hate the music business” album, for sure. most people don’t get that about it. they think it’s all about some guy or guys (well i admit that ‘i want to want you’ and ‘sneaking around’ were about specific guys) and not a series of metaphors for hating the record company and the industry (and the public) who dropped me/failed me/bailed on me.

For these next 10 questions – whatever you would care to share about the songs (inspiration for them, a memory from the recording session, etc.).

6) “Down on Me.”

trying to make myself feel better about being written off—-trying to depersonalize it (“i think it is a fad so i don’t feel so bad anymore”) as a way to rationalize my falling out of favor as merely a trend and not having anything to do with me personally or with my deficiencies but never really believing it wasn’t simply my own failings , as an artist or performer or person or whatever. there’s so much hurt and bitterness --that i can’t disguise--in this song.

7) “I Want to Want You.”

that’s about a guy that i got involved with too quickly. i got scared and pulled away. it seemed so easy for him to want to be with me and to think that for us to be together was simple and sensible. but for me, being with someone is always problematic and overwhelmingly complicated, because of my deep-seated emotional problems (of which he was understandably not fully aware, that early in the game). he seemed, from my standpoint, to like me too much; too much for me to handle. he wanted to be my boyfriend. i wanted to want it as much as he wanted it—because there was no real reason not to. he was great, a really cool guy, a good guy. i felt really bad about it.

8) “Swan Song”

that’s the classic “you can’t fire me because i quit” scenario. i tell everyone that i begged atlantic records to let me out of my contract, to set me free, and i did—i did have that meeting with one of the big cheeses. but in the end what it amounts to is that they dropped me—they agreed to let me go --which means that they dropped me. i had read a book compiling real actual suicide notes and one of them said, simply, concisely: dear bill, i hate you. love, jane. (those weren’t the names--i can’t remember the names , but you get the point) . i thought that to use the names of jack and diane form the john cougar song would be funny—like, this is what happened to those two young lovers—they grew up and it all went to shit.

9) “Sneaking Around.” This is obviously about the relationship you write about in your memoir. I have no intention of going down that route, though, so… what led you to borrow the intro from “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”?

i am not sure which relationship you are referring to from the book? referencing the tom petty/stevie nicks thing was just out of the blue, spur of the moment dumbness/laziness. it gets me going sometimes to borrow a melody or bit from somewhere else—gets a song started when i am stuck.

10) “Backseat.”

feeling sad, trying to comfort myself, feeling like my life was out of my control, car/driving metaphors but also literally thinking of the blake babies tour in which ‘the perfect prescription’ was in heavy rotation, listening to it at night in the van, also generally how music/moving car/touring is/was a comfort

11) “Live It Up.”

this is the newly-hardened and -cynical me warning all up and coming young artists to watch out for the sharks and vultures (‘enjoy it now’ -type of thing -‘because it won’t last; they will stop caring about you’ and paying attention to you)

12) “You Are the Camera.” (This is one of my favorite songs of yours, by the way.)

contemplating identity personally and professionally—discomfort with being an objectified (female/sexual) object, confusion about my own identity and also about what the entertainment industry and the public wanted from me, etc. (sorry i don’t have more musical or recording comments)(or i could say that since we had to do this record really quick/cheap, i ended up using all of my few vocal takes all at once; i would sing a song 3 or 4 times and then to save time i would throw them all on a song without going through the trouble of comping them or having to listen down to all and choose the best one or the best bits…so you can hear in at least one place that two of the vocal are singing slightly different words (the reading the diary part) because i wasn’t sure about the words here- i couldn’t decide which i liked better, so on one vocal take i sang one version and on another i sang another version and they both ended up together.

13) “Running Out.”

sad again, trying to comfort myself (sometimes when i say “you” in a song i mean “me” but i like to alternate between “you” and “me” so that people don’t think i am totally self-absorbed. sometimes, though, of course, “you” means “you”. oh, and also, i get so sick of people saying “i’m a survivor” or “she’s/he’s a survivor” like only certain people have a claim to that distinction—as if to imply that some people haven’t suffered enough as much as others --but i think that everyone suffers in his/her own way, and that everyone has a hard time sometimes, and that it isn’t always obvious who is having a hard time, and so everyone should be treated kindly and compassionately, in theory. “promises are nothing”--i might have been thinking of/referring to the record company there, among other things/entities/people

14) “Bad Day.”

i see myself as a saboteur of relationships. also my brother and i had been held up at gunpoint behind fort apache studios one afternoon and that made itself into the song. (the gun part). it was the first and only time i’d been mugged. there were about five kids—teenagers—and they pointed the gun at my brother’s head. we calmly gave them our wallets and then they ran away. i felt so grateful to them for having not shot us (or my dog, who was with me and off-leash and running around). somehow this became part of a larger bad day idea and also i guess i drew a line from the the muggers back to a bad boyfriend, maybe, and in doing so was able to empathize w/the bad boyfriend by understanding that we are all damaged somehow by something—by things in our pasts/childhoods/past lives—-so we are not to blame for all of our damaging relationship behaviors.

15) “Let’s Blow It All.”

this is a made-up story about a band getting signed w/the knowledge of how it will end. -taking their money and spending it on good stuff , knowing that there will be no more money or glory coming--knowing that the record company doesn’t care about the band personally—and the band somehow empowering themselves this way. by not getting attached (to the attention or the necessarily short-lived glory, or something)

16) God’s Foot. If Atlantic decided to release those sessions in total – would you be okay with it? (If nothing else, it seems like it would be a perfect fit with Rhino’s Handmade series.)

i guess so.

17) How did you discover Pledge Music?

a friend told me about it.—a friend who knows the guys who run it. he set up a phone call meeting with them so i could ask questions and see what it was all about, since i hadn’t really researched it. during the short phone call they totally sold me on the idea and i was in.

18) What one question would you ask you that few, if any, interviewers ever have?

i can’t think of anything.

19) From your side of the fence, as an artist, how has the music industry most changed in the past 15 years? (Pre-Napster to now, basically.)

people used to be wary about selling out—in my scene it was important to have integrity and to not sell out. now that seems like an antiquated idea,—now the goal is to sell out—sellouts are admired.

Cloud Wars

(By Hayley Tsukayama, Washington Post, May 1, 2012)
With the announcement of Google Drive last Tuesday, the world of cloud storage got much more crowded. But which cloud service is right for you? Here's a breakdown of the top features of five of the leading cloud services. Next week, we'll look at some of the privacy and security concerns people are having about the Cloud.

Google Drive: Google Drive, released Wednesday, is essentially a souped-up Google Docs - it has the same collaboration and sharing features of Google Docs, but also makes it possible to store music, video and other files. Music has to be downloaded first before it can be opened; video does not. Users can also create documents and spreadsheets as well as upload photos. The service is also great for collaborating on work, since users can store living documents on their desktop computers, comment in real time and view past revisions. Google also supports a wide range of file formats, so you can open things in Drive even if you don't have, say, Adobe Illustrator, on your computer. If you need to work offline, however, you may want to give it a pass. Google will give you 5GB for free with the option to upgrade. You can get 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month, if you feel you need more room.
Dropbox: The leading service for file storage, Dropbox recently spruced up its service and added one great feature for sharing: public links. Anyone can share a Dropbox file with a public link, and the site will display photo galleries or other files in the browser.  The mobile apps are also great for those who like to have their content on the go. While you can't access documents if you're not online, Dropbox offers integration with Evernote and Kindle - meaning that you can store stuff there if you know you'll need it offline later. The downside of Dropbox?  No file creation. This is a pure cloud locker, and whatever you store - a document, a photo, etc. - has to be downloaded to be edited. Dropbox is ideal for people who have a lot of documents to share, but not perfect for collaborators. Users can have up to 2GB of storage for free, 50 GB for $9.99 per month or 100 GB for $19.99 per month. Businesses can also get a terabyte of data, using the company's enterprise plan, which starts at $795 per year.

iCloud: Apple's offering for the Cloud is meant for one kind of person: the Apple user. The company's iCloud browser service syncs a user's calendar, contacts and mail, as well as any documents made on any of its iWork apps across all their Apple devices. In some ways, Apple's approach to content creation in the cloud is the anti-Google - you can do all your work offline, but can't edit anything online. The best part about iCloud, though, is in the features you can't see. The service will sync your music and videos across all your Apple devices, and even match your other songs - for an additional fee. That means that if you download an app or take a picture with your iPhone, you'll be able to access it on your iPad or Mac later. Apple offers users 5GB of online storage for free, with the option to upgrade to 10 GB for $20 per year, 20 GB for $40 per  year or 50 GB for $100 per year.

Amazon Cloud Drive: Amazon's cloud drive is another pure storage locker - no content creation or collaboration features are built into this service. But Amazon has the unique advantage of letting users store whatever music they purchased through the Web site right on their cloud drive. If you're an Amazon user and just want to access your files from any browser, the cloud drive is the simplest option. But if you want any other bells or whistles, such as the ability to share or edit, you're better off with another service. Amazon offers users 5GB for free or a variety of other storage options for an annual fee of $1/GB.
SkyDrive: Microsoft's SkyDrive grants users access to Web versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, setting it apart from other services. While you can make documents, presentations and spreadsheets in Google Drive, those who are a bit set in their ways could feel a little more comfortable using the familiar menus. Sharing is easy on SkyDrive - users can e-mail documents from the service or share them on Facebook or Twitter through a single menu. The service also offers collaborative editing, though without a slick commenting system.  The desktop folder for SkyDrive works with PC or Mac, as well as for iPhone and iPad. New users can get 7 GB for free,  20GB for $10 per year, 50 GB for $25 per year or 100 GB for $50 per year.


Expendables 3

'Expendables 3' Cast Rolls Into Cannes In Tanks
(By Nekesa Mumbi Moody, Associated Press, 18 May 2014)
Who needs a red carpet?  The megawatt cast of "Expendables 3" made a spectacular debut at Cannes on Sunday, rolling down the famous Croisette in tanks as a throng of onlookers and media jostled for a better view of its cargo: Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson, Harrison Ford, Antonio Banderas, and Jason Statham. And that was just part one of the entourage.  Banderas was hardly exaggerating in the subsequent press conference when he called it the "hall of fame" of action heroes.  "The chance to work with all these guys is very very rare," said Stallone, the film's original star and creator, sitting between Schwarzenegger and Gibson. 
Since the first "Expendables" in 2010, the cast has ballooned to seemingly include almost every star that's flexed a muscle on film: The third edition includes younger stars such as Kellan Lutz and Ronda Rousey (the only woman in the cast), as well as Wesley Snipes and Kelsey Grammer.  Ford called joining the cast "a lot of fun," and that was clear from the camaraderie at the press conference (which needed two rows of seats to fit everyone).  There were plenty of compliments: Schwarzenegger called Stallone one of his "great inspirations, while Stallone gushed about the former California governor's great mind; Banderas said he was honored, as a Spaniard, to be included.  The cast also cracked jokes at the expense of each other, and themselves: Age was a natural target, given the advanced age of most of it's top-billed stars.  "I think Lincoln was in the White House when we first met," quipped Stallone, 67, about Ford, 71. 
Later, when asked when the stars when know when it was time to retire, Stallone said: "When you're ass falls off, it's time to retire," before adding: "We're children with arthritis! We're young forever!"  Though much of the cast are senior citizens, Stallone, is hoping to reach a younger generation with the next film with a PG-13 rating instead of the R-rating of the others to expand its reach.  Stallone also said the franchise would return to its action roots; the second one delved "too far" into the comic realm, he said.  "I realized we should get back into dramatic. When the action starts, I don't like to do joke action," Stallone said. "I feel like we finally got it right on the third one - kind of like a marriage."

'The Expendables 3': What The Critics Are Saying
(By Ian Servantes, Hollywood Reporter, 15 August 2014)

The Expendables 3, with a cast so big it can only fit on a billboard, hits theaters Friday. Kelsey Grammer, Wesley Snipes, Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas and Harrison Ford are just a few of the new faces (read: muscles) to join Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Terry Crews and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the franchise's third installment, directed by Patrick Hughes.  In addition to potential franchise fatigue, a pristine copy of the movie leaked on the Internet earlier this month, and the film opened to a muted $875,000 Thursday night from more than 2,200 locations. The Lionsgate and Millennium Film is expected to take in $20 million to $25 million for the weekend — a series low.

Read what top critics are saying about The Expendables 3:

The Hollywood Reporter's film critic Justin Lowe says in his review, "Although The Expendables 3 remains faithful to the series' B-movie roots, what becomes increasingly clear is that the issue of franchise fatigue isn't so much attributable to the initially inspired template that put highly recognizable, aging action stars back in the game as it is to increasingly formulaic plotlines. With no higher purpose than generating cash and allowing for a few shared laughs among old buddies on repetitive assignments to take out tyrannical despots and nefarious arms dealers, The Expendables lack the dimensionality of enduring screen characters, despite the iconic roles many of these actors have played in other films."

He continues, "The biggest misstep involves sidelining the original cast members while Ross (Stallone) convenes a new group of Expendables, which consumes an unwarranted amount of plot with commensurate payoff. None of the newcomers has the experience or credentials of the film's real stars, which are the factors that make their performances so effectively economical and ironically amusing."

Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan says, "With some of their members looking old enough to apply for joint membership in the RED (Retired Extremely Dangerous) action franchise, Expendables 3 has tried to make a virtue of necessity and construct a film about younger types muscling their sclerotic compatriots out of a job. That may sound interesting, but it's really not. ... In addition to a great deal of bloodless (which is kind of a relief) PG-13 action, Expendables 3 has a surfeit of the kind of tedious macho dialogue these films are known for. When Drummer (Ford) returns to action and tells the gang, 'I haven't had so much fun in years,' it's not likely the audience will be in full agreement."

Boston Globe's Tom Russo was one of the few critics with kind words and says The Expendables 3 "gets the franchise back on track. ... Rather than trying to pique our interest by being the slightest bit selective, Stallone takes the view that more really is more. ... It's a preposterously overstuffed strategy that, go figure, not only works, but even cures a thing or two that ailed the previous movies. They were decent guilty pleasures, but didn't offer much in the way of story. Flat, lunkheaded banter between Barney Ross (Stallone) and sidekick Lee Christmas (Statham) was passed off as humor. Here, there's a more compelling narrative, as well as some legitimate comic relief thanks to Banderas, Snipes, and — so that's what he's doing here! — Kelsey Grammer."

The New York Times' Nicolas Rapold offers a short and sweet takedown of the movie and says the director "pours these gunfire barrages, explosions and a few leaping stunts into rambling set pieces, as if turning an action hose on and off. A little pizazz comes from Banderas as a gabby Spanish killer and from Snipes as a loose cannon, reconfirming his potent screen presence. ... It's all a bit like a classic-rick tribute concert, or playing with all your action figures at once, or maybe Cannonball Run, with the strained buddy-buddy back-and-forth. It's also a leisurely action movie that feels as though it's spread pretty thin across its more-is-better cast."

Chicago Tribune's Michael Phillips references the reported $90 million budget and says, "It looks more like $30 million. I think the audiences respond to the general air of cheapness in this franchise; it's part of the fun, the tinny, macho ridiculousness of it. He continues, "The climatic and semi-endless assault features tanks, helicopters, motorcycle stunts only a digital effects specialist could love and some terrible staging and editing. Even so, the movie's less a failure than a shrug, and it's pleasant in a numbing way to see everybody again, killing, killing, killing."

Bruce Willis Out, Harrison Ford In: Willis Left 'Expendables 3' Over $1 Million-a-Day Fee Demand
(By Kim Masters , Hollywood Reporter, 07 August 2013)

A source says the actor was offered $3 million for four days of work shooting in Bulgaria but said he would drop out if he didn't get $4 million.  Sylvester Stallone let the world know Tuesday that Bruce Willis was out of the upcoming The Expendables 3 for being "greedy and lazy," and it seems that laziness was not the primary issue.  Stallone raised eyebrows in Hollywood by tweeting "WILLIS OUT . . . HARRISON FORD IN!!!! GREAT NEWS!!!!! Been waiting years for this!!!!," then following up with a second tweet reading "GREEDY AND LAZY . . . A SURE FORMULA FOR CAREER FAILURE."  A source with knowledge of the situation says the fallout was over a specific money demand. Willis was offered $3 million for four days of consecutive work on location in Bulgaria for the film. "He said he'd drop out unless he got $4 million," this source close to the production says. "A million dollars a day. Stallone and everybody else involved said no."
Stallone then quickly reached out to Ford, who was game to join the Expendables cast.  The insider adds, "I think [Willis] was pretty surprised he was replaced in 72 hours by Harrison Ford -- a better actor, a much nicer person and a more interesting direction for the film."  Willis' reps at CAA declined comment.  Willis most recently appeared in Red 2, which has grossed a disappointing $80 million worldwide. Before that, February's A Good Day to Die Hard grossed $305 million. He also had an extended cameo in March's G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which grossed $372 million. 
The next installment of The Expendables, with a budget of more than $90 million, is set for release next August by Millennium Films. In addition to Stallone and Ford, the cast includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke and Wesley Snipes.

Mel Gibson, Antonio Banderas Set For 'Expendables 3,' According To Stallone
(By Christopher Rosen, The Huffington Post, 09 August 2013)
Mel Gibson and Antonio Banderas have joined the cast of "Expendables 3," this according to a representative for star Sylvester Stallone. Both Gibson and Banderas was first rumored for the project earlier this year, following tweets from Stallone himself:  “Antonio B. ...?  Could be.” (12:41 PM - 3 May 2013) and “Mad Max vs Barney Ross...... (11:53 PM - 15 Jul 2013).”  Gibson will reportedly star as the villain in "The Expendables 3." As for Banderas, there's no word yet on his "Expendables 3" part. According to his representatives, the 52-year-old has an offer for the project but has not officially signed on just yet.
Regardless, Stallone is already looking forward to appearing with Banderas again; the pair shared the screen in 1995's ‘Assassins.’  "He is a consummate actor and a gentleman," Stallone said of Banderas in a statement to HuffPost Entertainment. (Banderas is represented by manager Manny Nunez.)  Gibson and Banderas would join Stallone and Harrison Ford in the cast of "The Expendables 3." Ford replaced Bruce Willis on the call sheet this week, after reportedly demanding $1 million per day in salary to appear in the series' third film. (Willis' representatives had no comment on that report, which originated in THR.) Stallone, meanwhile, called Willis "greedy and lazy" on his Twitter account.  "Expendables 3" is set for release sometime in 2014.

If We Were Making 'The Expendables 3,' Here's Who We'd Cast
(By Chuck Walton,, 16 August 2012)

Here's the thing about The Expendables franchise. If you're going to go big, go really big. For example, let's look at the cast tagged in the first Expendables – "Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Couture, Austin, Crews, Rourke, Willis." Of those names, the ones action junkies really care about are "Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Willis." Couture, Austin, Crews, Rourke? Being an MMA, wrestling, ex-NFL or Academy Award-nominated/cult film favorite is all fine and cool, but it doesn't truly define a long-standing action genre icon...although definitely, they're able to fill out the fringes on the poster.
Flash forward to The Expendables 2. Two years and $100 plus million later, we have a new stellar line-up on the marquee – "Stallone, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Norris, Crews, Couture, Hemsworth, Van Damme, Willis, Schwarzenegger." The cast is more solid this time, but here's who really matters – "Stallone, Li, Lundgren, Norris, Van Damme, Willis, Schwarzenegger." Go ahead and take aim, but nowadays Statham doesn't really make the A-list cut. He's had too many subpar actioners (Killer Elite, Blitz, In the Name of the King, The Mechanic, etc.) on his shooting schedule. So basically, we've gone from five badass action idols in one movie to seven in the sequel. That's awesome. But note to Sly and producer Avi Lerner (the men behind the men) - feel free to shoot even higher for the next outing. Lots of wish list guys may have balked in the past. But if Expendables 2 hits like we think it might (outrageous? absurd? sweet!), there'll be more coin in the till to corral the hold-outs.

Here's our advice to the makers of The Expendables 3, and it's a simple 3-step.

1) Ditch the non-action movie stars in the secondary roles. Couture, Crews, Hemsworth, and Statham (due to his output of insignificant action flicks).  Replace with any of the following (if you, the filmmakers, love the Statham bunch and can't stand to lose them, maybe they can be in another movie off on another mission) …these guys are more solid - Tony Jaa, Michael Biehn, Chris Hemsworth, and The Raid: Redemption's Iko Uwais (plus Harrison Ford and/or Clint Eastwood in cameo appearances as the head guys back at control doling out assignments). Basic rule of thumb: No co-stars who are known more as athletes (Howie Long and Brian Bosworth included); no co-stars whose egos are bigger than their action stripes (Vin Diesel included); and no co-stars under 35 who can't carry a minimum weight of 215 pounds of muscle (Liam Hemsworth, out; Chris Hemsworth, in).
2) Split the teams. We love JCVD being the baddie in Expendables 2, but he needs more A-list action talent behind him on the dark side. And there's plenty of awesome firepower yet to be utilized for good and bad. For the good guy team as new headliners alongside Sly and company, we suggest Kurt Russell, all of the guys mentioned above as secondary lieutenants, plus fellows such as Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Carl Weathers, Chow Yun-Fat, Keanu Reeves or Matt Damon if they're willing to suit up, and Linda Hamilton or Rene Russo (see point 3). On the bad boy team, we recommend as the two head villains the sorely-missing super bad boy Steven Seagal (with pony tail and lots of gym time to prep) and of course the one and only Mel Gibson (this will be a perfect career comeback where he can go down in appropriately crazy, cartoonish, over-the-top fashion). More folks for baddie consideration: Wesley Snipes, Vin Diesel (here, it makes sense), Sigourney Weaver and Roddy Piper. While we're at it, maybe have Jet Li change sides, too.

3) Add legitimate female brawn.  We don't need damsels in distress. And we don't need models or actresses who look like models day-playing as action heroines, unless they're Kate Beckinsale. Throw Linda Hamilton in with the good guys, Sigourney Weaver in with the bad guys, have them go mano a mano, and voila, you've got a must-see action match-up. Meanwhile, intercut with cool one on one battles between Snake Plissken and Mad Max, Rambo and Blade, the Terminator and Gino from Out for Justice, and so on and so forth.

National Funk Congress Deadlocked On Get Up/Get Down Issue

(The Onion, 27 October 1999)

CHOCOLATE CITY—After months of ceaseless debate, including last week's record 76-hour filibuster slap-bass solo from Senate Rubber Band Minority Leader Bootsy Collins (D-OH), the National Funk Congress is no closer to resolving its deadlock over the controversial "get up/get down" issue, insiders reported Monday.  "Get up-uh, get on up! Get up-uh, get on up!" shouted Getuplican Party supporters on the steps of the Capitol as the debate, as well as a massive 14-piece instrumental jam, raged within. The pro-up-getting demonstrators' chants were nearly drowned out by those of a nearby group of jungle-boogie Downocrats, who called upon all citizens to "Get down, get down!"  The bitter "get up/get down" battle, which has polarized the nation's funk community, is part of a long-running battle between the two factions, rooted in more than 35 years of conflict over the direction in which the American people should shake it.

Senate Rubber Band Minority Leader Bootsy Collins (D-OH).

"The time has come to face facts: To move forward, we've got to get on up, and stay on the scene, like a sex machine," said Brick House Majority Leader James Brown (G-GA), one of getting on up's most vocal supporters. "Say it loud: Only when we have gotten up offa that thing will we, as a nation, finally get back on the good foot."  Upon learning of Brown's remarks, Downocratic leaders openly questioned his commitment to getting up. Said Robert "Kool" Bell, a top-ranking Brick House Downocrat: "It is a well-known fact that Brown has, on many past occasions, urged his supporters to get down with they bad selves. In response to his inconsistent voting record and history of waffling on this crucial issue, we will not rest until every American, as is their birthright, has gotten down."  "You got to get down," Bell added. "Hyuh!"
The disagreement, which has paralyzed all efforts of the National Funk Congress to get it together and get funky for one and all, has reached crisis proportions, experts say.  "Until our country's funky leaders can resolve this deadlock, U.S. funk leadership, and the booties of all Americans, will remain immobilized," said Gregory Tate, domestic motorbooty-affairs reporter for The Washington Funkenquarterly. "Unless a compromise can be reached soon, the entire nation's thang could be in serious jeopardy."

"Our leaders' refusal to budge, let alone move it from front to back, has crippled the move-your-body politic," said current U.S. Mothership Ambassador George Clinton, one of the most outspoken critics of the deadlock. "These legislators must keep it real and understand that no matter what party policy may dictate, they cannot fake the funk. What the partisan people in the House need to realize is this: If they ain't gon' get along, the time has come for them to take they dead ass home."  But despite such pleas for bipartisan compromise, the two parties remain at odds. This week, a Getuplican high-treble scratch-guitar initiative called for all Downocrats to "give it up and turn it loose," sparking an angry war of words on the Senate dance floor. In response, the Downocratic members of the Grooves & Booties Subcommittee drafted a bass-heavy resolution demanding that the initiative be voted "down, down, all the way down."
The Getuplican-Downocratic rift has been further complicated by confusing rhetoric from both sides. A call from Parliamentary leaders to "get up for the down stroke" was interpreted by members of both parties as a statement of support. Equally unclear was a statement made earlier this week by Funky Chinatown Big Boss-Elect Carl Douglas, who baffled observers with the assertion that Funky Chinamen were "chopping men up and chopping men down."  For all the confusion and divisiveness, there are signs of hope. A bipartisan coalition of funky drummers is gaining strength, urging Downocrats and Getuplicans to find common ground by "getting together, on the one." Also on the rise is a small grass-roots campaign calling upon party people not to get up or down, but simply to get it on.

Whether any of these fledgling reform movements will have a genuine impact on the entrenched groove machine is uncertain. One thing, however, is not: A growing number of citizens are fed up with the nation's current leadership for putting party politics before the need of the people to turn this mother out.  "Big government has lost sight of the fact that we should not be divided along Getuplican and Downocratic lines, but should be one nation under a groove, getting down—or up—just for the funk of it," said Clinton at a recent Mothership rally calling for an end to the deadlock. "The point is not that we must get up or down, but rather that, working together, we've got to get over."

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Year In Music: 2012

Last year when I made my compilation discs, someone referred to them as a nice pop mix. At first, this statement offended me a little bit. I mean, I’m a serious curator of music, right? I’m pushing everyone’s boundaries and making them appreciate edgy, innovative sounds that they aren’t normally exposed to. In fact, in the past I have deliberately left out some of the songs that might be too harsh for normal audiences or ones that have lyrics that get too graphic. In my immediate defensive reaction, I considered going to the other extreme and letting it all come out this year, including every song I liked, whether it was palatable to the mainstream or not. Then during a conversation last night, a thought that had been floating around in my head for a while finally solidified during a conversation about the music that was playing. I actually DO like pop music more than any other type. I appreciate melodies and hooks and “hum-ability”. I’m okay with being a pop music person. It’s a bit ironic that the two songs that played during this admission were by New Order and Lords Of Acid. If these are always my types of choices, then it is a “can’t lose” situation because both are great.

I think what bothered me about the original comment was that I took it to mean that my selections sounded like all the other stuff out there at the moment, which is not the case. I would be quite happy though if the stuff I was enamored with was what mainstream audiences liked. I heap scorn on people who like bands just because they are unlistenable. If you listen to a song just because of its“meaning” then that means there are no hooks in it. If you like something just because other people don’t or because they haven’t heard of it yet, then you don’t like music- you like feeling superior. For instance, I’ve gone back and listened to the earlier Black Keys albums. They sucked. They didn’t start getting listenable until they hooked up with Danger Mouse, then they became monsterously good. That’s not to say they weren’t talented to begin with, just that I wouldn’t ever play one of those earlier albums a second time. Nothing on them caught my fancy because there were no memorable songs. They may play their instruments really well but they couldn’t write a hook to save their life.

So I admit it. I like pop music. I want songs that lodge themselves in my brain for days. I realize though that my definition of pop music is probably a bit different than other people’s. I’m happy about that though because it means I can share some things that you aren’t already sick of hearing. Below are my favorite songs that I listened to last year. I realize three discs may be a bit overwhelming but when I first came up with my list of what I really wanted to include, it filled two CDs plus four more songs that couldn’t fit. When trying to decide what to cut, the things that I thought were the most expendable were also the shortest so I would have had to cut ten songs out to get to two CDs so I went the other route. I added more songs to fill up a third disc. I’ve divided up the selections in to three roughly similar groups.

Some of them are obviously pop songs, which is why I put them on the “Pop” disc (Disc 3). These are the radio hits you already know or are by bands that are mostly mainstream artists. “Snap” (Disc 1), are the alternative pop things, what I wish would get on the radio but never does, despite being interesting and a respite from Auto Tune. “Crackle” (Disc 2) are the things that are more adventurous either in terms of their sound or their lyrics. In previous years, I might have left them off but this year, to fill three discs I’m leaving them on my tracklist. Plus, maybe I’m still smarting a tiny bit from the “pop mix” comment and have a little something to prove. Regardless of why they made the cut, the songs are good and have a melody, even if it is hidden under lots of distorted guitars or ethereal vocals. Below is a list of what is on each CD along with some comments about the particular track. Following that is my list of favorite albums for the year as well as the albums I found most disappointing. Let me know what you think of this year’s choices!

Year In Music 2012 (Disc 1- Snap)

Imperial Teen Out From Inside
Imperial Teen Overtaken

Imperial Teen’s album Feel The Sound was my favorite album of the year. I bought it on a whim as a $5 download simply because I’d heard about the band years ago and thought that I should finally give them a listen. And listen I did, some 15 or 20 times this year. I couldn’t decide what songs I like best and wanted to put on my monthly mix CD so I kept listening. I finally narrowed it down to 6 or 7 that I listened to the most and eventually picked five. I feel a little bad that I only put 3 of them on these discs. The whole album is a nice blend of 60’s pop and 90’s indie pop, sort of like what it would sound like if Tommy James And The Shondells hooked up with Wilco and did an album together.

School Of Seven Bells- Babelonia
Tycho- Hours
Yuna- Live Your Life

All three of these are quiet, hypnotic songs that kind of float along and merge into each other. I like that they are a nice counterpoint to beat heavy songs that are dominating the airwaves. I don’t expect to hear from any of these artists ever again but these songs were worth a listen this year.

The xx- Last Christmas (Live)

Yes, this is a cover of “that” song. It was the best thing that The xx did last year. Their album was so minimalist that it didn’t even register on my brain; I was immensely disappointed by it. I couldn’t tell if they couldn’t come up with any good songs or they were being deliberately contrary, a la MGMT, but I hated the album either way and I gave it plenty of opportunity to grow on me. It never did but at least this song, which is not on the album, confirms that the band is still capable of something interesting.

Jack Johnson- Upside Down

I finally broke down and bought this song after a couple years of denying that I liked a Jack Johnson song. It was from the soundtrack to the Curious George movie. A nice laid back jam. Basically just vocal and an acoustic guitar delivered with massive charm. I also bought a couple other things too so maybe next year there will be a second JJ song. What’s next? Mumford And Sons? (Ah, no- that’s not very likely. They rub my nerves the wrong way. Give me Phillip Phillips “Home” instead, any day.)

Paul McCartney- It's So Easy

From the Buddy Holly tribute Rave On. It started as a nice retro-rocker until the end when McCartney goes spastic and freestyles insanely all over the place. Several good things on the album but this one was the most … unusual.

Uffie- Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans

A pleasant pop album with several good songs. It sounds like a mix of Kim Wilde and Kesha.

Parov Stelar- Booty Swing (Original)

I was listening to a commercial and liked the song that was playing during it. I did a quick Shazam of it and found out who it was by. After digging deeper, I found out there is a whole sub-genre of music like this called electro-swing. It sounds like flapper music from the 1920’s with production styles from current club music. I got a couple other similar things too until I eventually got tired of how much of it was blending into one big glob that sounded the same but this will give you an idea of what electro-swing sounds like. To give you another idea of what the genre sounds like, listen to the current remake of “Istanbul” by Milan And Phoenix.

Kylie Minogue- Timebomb

It’s Kylie. I always have to have one of hers on my list. This is not one of her greatest songs but I thought I would share it since it is a fun one-off and not on any album so you wouldn’t hear it otherwise. And she is awesome in the video for it. Even on her mediocre songs, of which there are not many, the art direction and wardrobe on the videos is amazing.

David Byrne& amp; St. Vincent- Who
David Byrne& amp; St. Vincent- Lazarus

A very innovative album that sounds nothing like the Talking Heads (unfortunately) and a lot like St. Vincent (fortunately). It’s nice to hear big band instrumentation in pop music once again, even if it is just in this one album. Ironically, I was just listening to Hold On by Ian Gomm (you would know it if you heard it) and noticed a prominent saxaphone and then moved to another 1979 song, Nicolette Larson’s Lotta Love (literally one of my 50 favorite songs of all time) and heard more sax. It appears that 1978’s Baker Street by Gerry Rafferty with the well-known sax solo kicked off a mini-trend. (Quick shout out to Clarence Clemons who did his part to spread the joy of sax.) Maybe David Byrne & Annie Clark (St. Vincent) can bring back big band sounds the way Baker Street kicked off sax appreciation. The Byrne/Clark collaboration seems like it is deliberately trying to be off-beat but it is works despite being able to see the seams on the monster. They put the puzzle pieces together in an enjoyable way.

The Rolling Stones- Rain Fall Down
Civil Twilight- Fire Escape
Of Monsters And Men- Mountain Sound
Metric- Youth Without Youth
Sleeper Agent- Get It Daddy
Hacienda- Savage

Here are several great singles from bands that might not do anything else in the future. Their current albums are mostly blah. Not bad, but just blah. Nothing that you’d listen to again, aside from these songs. I obviously don’t include the Rolling Stones in this group, although I could. I heard this song on video clip show when I was in Spain and was surprised to realize it was by The Stones. I thought it was a new song but it was actually about ten years old and sounded nothing like what the Stones normally sound like. I liked the feel of it and commend them for doing something different. It apparently wasn’t that successful though, considering I’d never heard the song before. Metric and Of Monsters and Men have gotten some favorable press and will put out more albums. OMAM had a solid album but Metric has never lived up to their hype and acclaim. They are capable of being good but several albums in have still not delivered anything close to a masterpiece.

The Ting Tings- Soul Killing

When I first heard this song, I thought it was such a shame that this annoying noise was going on in the background. Was it a rocking horse, a creaking bedspring, a random noise? It doesn’t stop either-it merges into the song and becomes an integral part of it. The first few times I heard the noise I wished it was gone because I really liked the song otherwise but nope, it keeps playing through the whole song. The next few times I listened to it, I tolerated the noise. After the twentieth or thirtieth time I listened to it, the noise had been so ingrained in my head as part of the song, I came to relish how such an annoying noise became familiar and welcome. Maybe it is Stockholm Syndrome but I love the song now, just as it is.

Year In Music 2012 (Disc 2- Crackle)

Friends- Friend Crush

A friend of mine used to be in a band called Perpetual Crush that played a couple shows in the area. Two years ago I was looking at YouTube to see if they ever but they closest match I could find was this song played by a band from New York in what appeared to be a living room or the world’s tiniest club. (Kind of like King Street Blues, where I watched my friend’s band play.) It was a hypnotic sound though. Imagine my surprise when a year later, I hear that song on the radio.

M83- Midnight City
Mark Ronson- Bout To Get Ugly

I have to shake my head when I listen to this. I can see why it never hit the radio- it is too gonzo which is why I love it. This is the closest I got to listening to rap this year- it’s just not interesting to me right now. Ronson’s first and third albums are fun and challenging, like this song. (The second is vaguely boring.)

The Rolling Stones- Look What The Cat Dragged In
Van Halen- Big River

Dinosaurs like The Stones and Van Halen should have gotten airplay with these songs but radio is too narrow-cast to give them a shot right now.

Julian Plenti- Skyscraper

I wasted money buying this- it’s got three decent songs but it was by the singer from Interpol, which I love, so I had to give it a shot. From what I understand a lot of it came from pre-Interpol material so maybe Paul Banks’ follow-up will be better. (I hope so because I already bought it although I haven’t listened to it yet.)

Crystal Castles- Insulin
Crystal Castles- Sad Eyes

I adore Crystal Castles so it was odd that at first I hated their third album. After multiple listens though I decided it was because it wasn’t as good as their first two. Taken on its own, it is pretty good compared to other things, like Mumford And Sons (Yeah, I’m picking on them a little.) Here’s the two best tracks from it. Make your own judgment.

Ministry- 99 Percenters
Ministry- Git Up Get Out 'N Vote

Minsitry is a band I like a whole lot but they have been hit or miss since the 1990’s. Their sound is mostly back to where it should after years in the wilderness of sludge be but their lyrics are still a bit too political for me. I mean that in the sense that they are ham-fisted, not that I agree/disagree with the ideas they espouse. Take these two songs for instance. I love the intensity and sound but the lyrics are a bit trite- “Get up, get out and vote”? Is this a public service message or an industrial metal album? This is also the type of song I’ve left off discs in the past because the mainstream appeal may be a bit limited.

Pete Yorn- The Chase

For this album, Yorn enlisted Frank Black as his producer. That is a genius idea but the execution of it just made me wish for another Pixies album or at least a Frank Black album. Several songs sounded decent… almost like I was listening to a middling Frank Black album. This track is the most “Black-ish”.

The Hives- Tick Tick Boom

You have to applaud The Hives. They always sound like themselves and no one else. They are unique in their predictability and the way the manage to make great songs from the same template they were using a dozen years ago.

Audioslave- Like A Stone

Yeah, this song is super-old but I finally broke down and got it this year. $5 for this song would be a bit much but for the whole album it was a bargain because is quite good. I was very surprised by its excellence and this song in particular still holds my attention. That guitar solo and the phrasing of the chorus. Wonderful!

Local H- Mayonnaise & Malaise
Local H- Sports Bar

This is my new favorite “bar band”. They used to be famous for about 15 minutes, when “Bound For The Floor” came out but now they are forgotten but they still put out excellent meat and potatoes rock.

Linkin Park- Burn It Down

I liked this song. What can I say?

Black Keys- Gold On The Ceiling
Black Keys- Sister

Stellar songs. Beyond fantastic. I’m worried they will mess with the formula and revert back to boring bluesy-roots rock they had been doing. Until then though, I’ll keep listening- with fingers crossed.

Rodrigo Y Gabriela- Diablo Rojo
Jimmy Cliff- One More (Alternate Version)

My taste does range beyond the U.S. boundary which is why these two tracks are here. When I first heard the Jimmy Cliff song, I knew it would go on my playlist. The only question was whether it would be this version or the slightly slower one that is also on the album. I opted for the more ska sounding one.

Year In Music 2012 (Disc 3- Pop)

Imperial Teen- All The Same
Pink- Blow Me (One Last Kiss)

Yes, you’ve heard this song a million times. That’s why it is on this disc-the hits one. A good song is a good song. What I like, and also dislike, about Pink is that each new song makes the previous hit disposable. This one is perfect and there is no need to ever listen to Raise Your Glass again because this song has the same sound but is done even better. (Pink also does a slow song after a fast hit song so my point applies to each type- the slow songs replace the previous slow song and the fast ones replace the previous fast hit.)

Icona Pop- I Love It

I thought this song was totally over but apparently it wasn’t actually released in the U.S. until 2013. So this is not a golden oldie.

The Ting Tings- Hands

I include this song here in case you are a Ting Tings fan because this song was left off the release of their U.S. album. They had recorded a whole album at one point, which had songs like this on it, but then scrapped it because they thought it didn’t sound good enough. If this song here is any indication, they were mistaken. It could have been a hit in any country. I think they put it on their European album as a bonus cut and I’m sharing it with you.

Roxette- She's Got Nothing On But The Radio

Yep, they are back and they sound just like they always have. Consider them a comfort food band.

Imagine Dragons- It's Time
Cee Lo Green- (You're So Square)...I Don't Care
Rolling Stones- Doom And Gloom
Rupert Holmes- Him
Prince- Rock And Roll Love Affair

Here’s a bunch of one-off songs that are from high profile performers. The Stones put a new song on their umpteenth greatest hits collection, Cee Lo was also on the Buddy Holly tribute along with Paul McCartney, Prince put out a song that got played every hour on the hour for a whole day on radio stations across the country and then disappeared. Imagine Dragons had their first hit and Rupert Holmes, um, had one more hit the year after Escape (The Pina Colada Song), which is from 1979, the year I’m currently fixated on right now and which is why I got a Rupert Holmes greatest hits album. (Maybe next year I’ll do a Best Of The Year: 1979 flashback disc.) I just find this song interesting and it is very counter-intuitive if someone trying to write a hit song.

No Doubt- Push And Shove
Uffie- Hong Kong Garden
Paul Mauriat- Love Is Blue
Amy Winehouse- Our Day Will Come
America- Sailing To Philadelphia
The Fixx- Beautiful Friction
KT Tunstall- Fade Like A Shadow
1776- When You Go
LadyHawke- Black White & Blue

All these bands were trying to write hits but none of them sound the same. This just goes to show that pop music is very versatile and that’s why I love it. Pop music can be anything. It is the faux ska of No Doubt’s latest, blandest album, the synthesized instrumentals of Paul Mauriat, the 80’s referencing pastiches of Ladyhawke, the prog pop of The Fixx, the folk pop of KT Tunstall and America, the retro soul of Amy Winehouse, the upbeat indie sound of new band 1776, it is all different and it is all pop. If this is what my niche is, I’m very happy with it because it is a diverse genre, not a narrow one, and it is my pleasure to share it with you. That’s what makes pop popular.

Beach Boys- That's Why God Made The Radio
Jay-Z & Alicia Keys- Empire State Of Mind

Let’s end this year with two example of pop excellence. One is by a band that has been around for six decades and can still squeeze out a pop gem in 2012. This shows that quality is timeless. The other song is a team-up by two people from different genres. Alicia Keys is an R&B singer that is mostly known for dramatic ballads. Jay-Z, as you may have heard, is a rapper. Usually rap and R&B hybrids are awkward but this one sounds beautiful, even if Jay-Z does rip off his title and topic from Billy Joel. This song shows that there is always something new to try, that it has not all been done before. Music always rewards you if are willing to give new things a chance. Enjoy!

My Favorite Albums Of 2012

Release Year
Imperial Teen
Feel The Sound
David Byrne & St. Vincent
Love This Giant
Local H
Ham Fisted
Jimmy Cliff
Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles (III)
Imperial Teen
What Is Not To Love
Various Artists
Electro Swing Revolution: Vol. 2
Herb Alpert
What Now My Love
Ting Tings, The
Welcome To Nowheresville
Mark Ronson
Here Comes The Fuzz
Sex Dreams And Denim Jeans
Brian Setzer Orchestra
Dig That Crazy Christmas
Charm School
Hives, The
Black And White Album
No End In Sight (Best Of)
Beach Boys
That's Why God Made The Radio
Various Artists
Rave On Buddy Holly
Muppets, The
The Muppets Soundtrack
Edie Brickell
Edie Brickell
The Fixx
Beautiful Friction
Paul Mauriat
Best Of Paul Mauriat
Pete Yorn

My Most Disappointing Albums Of 2012

Album Title
Release Year
David Stewart & Barbara Gaskin
How To Destroy Angels
How To Destroy Angels
No Doubt
Push And Shove
Sounds, The
Something To Die For
Gerry Beckley
Van Go Gan
Arcade Fire
Neon Bible
The xx
Not Your Kind Of People
Panic Of Girls
Van Halen
Different Kind Of Truth, A
Tom Tom Club
Downtown Rockers