Thursday, December 31, 2009
On Guitar Hero (vol. 1), this was the boss song, a record whose guitar pyrotechnics melted away all but the most nimble-fingered of glorified air guitarists. The drumming and the vocals shred, too, but it's the guitars that are important here, as Guitar Hero (and, subsequently, Rock Band) is one of the two most musically influential innovations of this past decade.
Sure, some musicians bemoan the fact that millions are picking up a video-game controller instead of a "real" guitar, but of those millions, thousands have subsequently picked up a "real" guitar and started learning how to play the "real" thing and even started their own bands. I know personally of at least five such cases. Plus, there's the fact that Toys 'R' Us and Wal-Mart sold (and in some stores sold out) more "real" guitars these past three years than they've ever sold in all the umpteen years combined. Anything that gets an instrument in the hands of someone wanting to learn how to play, no matter what they're learning how to play or what inspired them in the first place, is a good thing. Musical literacy can only lead to a greater nation, a greater world, as it develops the mind.
As far as the track itself (nevermind the influence): it's value doesn't only come from the band's virtuosity, but it also comes from the strong melody that emerges from the uber-tapping and double-kick barrage. It's not quite the equivalent of Van Halen's "Jump," but in this new musical world, it's close enough.
Rush-recorded and rush-released after the 9/11 attacks, Jackson's song was criticized because, basically, it didn't seem too angry. It also didn't implicate the Powers That Were in any wrongdoing, nor did it ask many deep questions. It didn't question the nature of the events, and it sounded maudlin.
Well, most of those criticisms were accurate, but none of those should have denegrated the song. Jackson's song didn't criticize, but it didn't need to. What Jackson offered was a song of empathy. It's sentimental, but that sentiment seems appropriate to the mournful situation. One doesn't go to a funeral and start attacking and villifying any one person or the cause of death: one offers a sympathetic soldier--analysis can come later. Jackson had this song on the radio--not at his behest, either--in two months, and the nation was still in mourning. The deeper questions could--and did--come later.
The song grows complex towards the end, though. Jackson offers what seems to be a glaring contradiction, asking the audience if they turned off the violent television program and then asking them if they went and bought a gun. He doesn't seem to be hewing to the Republican/conservative party line here, though (as that contradiction might seem to denote), for his last question--and ultimate answer--"the greatest is love"--sure seems to be asking his audience to show kindness not only to each other, but to all others. That bit of philosophy is about as liberal and open-minded a thought as I've ever heard from a Nashville record, and that deserves mention.
The mandolin's sad and sweet, too. Just like the entire song.
· Alien Ant Farm
· The Almighty Defenders
· John Anderson
· Andrew W.K.
· The Answer
· The Asteroids Galaxy
· Baby Bash
· Backyard Babies
· Bat for Lashes
· Be Your Own Pet
· Billy Boy on Poison
· Diane Birch
· Black Label Society
· Amanda Blank
· Mary J. Blige
· Blitzen Trapper
· BLK JKS
· Booker T.
· Brendan Benson
· Broadcast Radio
· The Brides of Destruction
· Bun B
· The Cardigans
· Manu Chao
· Charm City Devils
· Choir of Non-Believers
· Guy Clark
· Cocktail Slippers
· Ry Cooder
· Elvis Costello
· Samantha Crain
· Rodney Crowell
· Current Swell
· Daddy Yankee
· Dan Auerbach
· Dark Meat
· The Dark Romantics
· The Dead 60s
· The Dead Weather
· The Decemberists
· Deer Tick
· The Deftones
· James Luther Dickinson
· The Dirty Sweet
· Dr. John
· Drums & Tuba
· Electric Owls
· Eliza Jane
· The Films
· Liam Finn
· Five Horse Johnson
· The Flatlanders
· Flossy & the Unicorns
· Folk Uke
· The Fratellis
· Ace Frehley
· Andy Friedman
· Fruit Bats
· Gentleman Jesse
· Jimmie Dale Gilmore
· Al Green
· Green Day
· Heaven & Hell
· Hakan Hellstrom
· Jolie Holland
· The Horror Pops
· The Horrors
· I’m from Barcelona
· In This Moment
· Iron Maiden
· Bon Iver
· Flaco Jaminez
· Sarah Jarosz
· Jimmy Eat World
· Johnny Boy
· Judas Priest
· Richard Julian
· Killswitch Engaged
· Sean Kingston
· Solange Knowles
· Alison Krauss
· The Knux
· Aaron Lacrate
· Lady Gaga
· The Last Vegas
· Late of the Pier
· Cyndi Lauper
· The Laureates
· Ryan Levine
· Jeffrey Lewis
· The Liars
· Love as Laughter
· Nick Lowe
· Magnetic Fields
· Jesse Malin
· Richard McGraw
· Tim McGraw
· John Mellencamp
· Charlie Miller
· Miss Li
· Monster Magnet
· Mumford & Son
· MV & EE with the Bummer Road
· Nine Inch Nails
· Notorious Cherry Bombs
· Paolo Nutini
· Nora O’ Connor
· Shane O’ Dazier
· Colby O’ Donis
· Oh Darling
· James Otto
· The Parlor Mob
· Sean Paul
· Pearl Jam
· The Phenomenal Handclap Band
· Grant Lee Phillips
· Chris Pierce
· Robert Plant
· The Polyphonic Spree
· Portugal the Man
· Radio Moscow
· Jay Reatard
· The Rosewood Thieves
· Rye Rye
· Ron Sexsmith
· Naomi Shelton
· The Silversun Pickups
· Slash’s Snakepit
· Todd Snider
· Spank Rock
· George Strait
· Ken Stringfellow
· Jazmine Sullivan
· Taylor Swift
· The Sword
· System of a Down
· Thee American Revolution
· The Thermals
· Two Door Cinema Club
· The Unicorns
· Keith Urban
· The Vanity Plan
· Velvet Revolover
· Rhonda Vincent
· Brooke Waggoner
· Butch Walker
· The Walkmen
· The Weepies
· Brooke White
· Charlie Wilson
· Winter Gloves
· Xiu Xiu
· Rachael Yamagata
· 16 Horsepower
...so my one-week vacation from my blog turned into a one-week and seven-month vacation, but now I'm back/to let you know/I can really shake down the rest of these songs before the day/year/decade is over.
Okay, maybe I can't shake down all the rest of the songs on my list of the best songs of this past decade all in one day, but a man has to start somewhere.
I'll begin by listing almost two-hundred artists whose records didn't quite make my cut, but who recorded admirable music nonetheless.
I'll continue by then offering capsule reviews of 100 songs that either didn't quite make my original list (but I've since come to appreciate much more) or that I overlooked upon the way. These 100 songs were published sometime between January 2000 and June 2008.
I'll complete my list--hopefully, sometime within the next two weeks, possibly sooner--by offering full reviews of the top 100 songs on my list of the best records of the decade as well as analyzing (somewhat simultaneously) 67 songs that were released between July 2008 (my original cut-off date when I started this blog a year-and-a-half ago) and December 2009.
The sum of all these record reviews (333 + 100 +67) will then be 500! Yes, five-hundred fantastic pop songs of this past decade that have made my life more enjoyable. I could easily (though not quickly) lengthen the total to 750, and given a couple/three months to research, even 1000, but I think 500 will do quite nicely.
It's now December 31, less than one day away from a new year/new decade, so let's get rolling!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Last week's results:
2 ACDC’s “Hells Bells” v. Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” 1
1 ACDC’s “Back in Black” v. Metallica’s “One” 2
3 ACDC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” v. Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” 0
0 Aerosmith’s “Angel” v. Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home” 3
1 Bon Jovi’s “Runaway” v. Van Halen’s “Jump” 2
1 Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” v. Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood” 2
1 Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” v. Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” 2
3 Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” v. Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” 0
2 Cinderella’s “Shake Me” v. Ratt’s “Round and Round” 1
3 Cinderella’s “Heartbreak Station” v. Slaughter’s “Fly to the Angels” 0
1 The Cult’s “Firewoman” v. Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” 2
0 Damn Yankee’s “High Enough” v. Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” 3
1 Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages” v. Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane” 2
0 Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” v. Motley Crue’s “Girls Girls Girls” 3
2 Dio’s “Holy Diver” v. Van Halen’s “Panama” 1
1 Europe’s “The Final Countdown” v. Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” 2
3 Faster Pussycat’s “House of Pain” v. Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian” 0
3 Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” v. Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart” 0
3 Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” v. Judas Priest’s “You Got Another Thing Coming” 0
2 Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” v. Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” 1
2 Guns N’ Roses “Don’t Cry” v. Skid Row’s “I’ll Remember You” 1
3 Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” v. Tesla’s “Love Song” 0
0 Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” v. Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” 3
3 Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” v. White Lion’s “Wait” 0
3 Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” v. Motley Crue’s “Too Fast for Love” 0
1 Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” v. Quite Riot’s “Cum On Feel the Noize” 2
Thursday, June 4, 2009
After writing Monday's review of "Cryin' in the Street," I felt nostalgiac and pulled out the photographs Foot Foot and I took during our three different stays in New Orleans. So, here are some of my own slides of New Orleans...and St. Francisville, Lousiana (from 2005).
In St. Francisville, Lousiana, stands the Myrtles Plantation. Foot Foot, Nicholas, and I stopped at the Myrtles plantation there for two reasons: it is one of the grandest plantation houses still in existance, and the Smithsonian lists the mansion there as the most haunted house in America. When we arrived, it was the middle of the day, and it was hot, but the land and landscaping were beautiful, and after wandering around for awhile, the three of us sat down to rest and adore the scenery.
After cooling down, Foot Foot and I decided to go explore the mansion, but Nicholas told us that he saw something stwange near the carriage house. We asked him what he saw, but he didn't respond. He was staring afar, and he remained transfixed.
Foot Foot raised her voice to get his attention, and she asked him again what he saw. He told her to come look, that he sees a monster. Penny walked around behind him and peered over his shoulder, and she saw...
After that narrow escape, we happened upon an enchanted swamp there at the aquarium, and Nicholas rode one of the hoodoo hop toads. Later, Nicholas developed a severe case of wart on his lower extremities, but we contacted Marie LaVeau's great-great-grandson Remy LeBeau via v-mail, and she gave us a cure for only $17.99. It worked, too.
I stopped by the Livre Imaginaire bookstore at 9 3/4 Bienville, and I consulted a consortium of texts legitimate, illegitimate, and not quite sure anymore 'cause my parents are both caucasian but I'm not. After burning the midnight oil and the beds that they burned, I remembered the spell that nearly took the life--and did take the arm--of one of my former students on our last senior trip to New Orleans.
Our tour ended that night outside the oldest building in the Mississippi River Vally (and the only surviving French-colonial building in the United States), the Ursuline Convent. Back when Louisiana was still a colony, prostitution was legal in New Orleans, and the city's criminal element ran rampant, and Governor Bienville sent to France for help, help that arrived in the form of twleve nuns, who came to New Orleans to educate, set up orphanges, and help a few of the locals get religion. The nuns--and Governor Bienville--soon realized they needed respectable women (previously, only lower-class women were shipped, and they were generally full of disease, and thus they either couldn't reproduce or didn't live long enough afterwards to take care of the children) to make honest men of those who weren't, so in 1721 the first of several boatloads of girls arrived from France (a practice that would continue until 1758) in tow with their luggage...shaped in the form of a casket--and hence came known as the Casket Girls. These girls first took room in the third story of the convent.
Nicholas then told me to ask the riverboat captains if they'd be willing to give us any information. I told him I didn't think they'd know, and if they did, they might not be willing to share their knowledge, but Nicholas stated that the people on the river are happy to give. Since he was correct about the openness of shipyard skippers, I climbed aboard every ferry on that side of the Gulf of Mexico, and none had heard or seen any of our seniors. The captains did, though, agree to share with me a smoke of their pipes. They even let Nicholas steer their ships whilst they each emptied bottles of peppermint schnapps. Ahh...life on the river. I'm glad I listened to Nicholas, as the boat rides lifted my spirits, and I soon forgot about the lost seniors altogether. Thanks, buddy, I needed that. The Little River Band was right: it was time (at that time) for a cool change.
Refreshed, the three of us walked back to our bed minus breakfast, ate our supper of baloney and crackers, and hurried off to sleep, exhausted from all the searching and pondering. The next morning, we woke early as to get home as soon as possible. We enjoyed our stay in New Orleans, but we were homesick. We packed our luggage, and I carried all downstairs and out to the Jeep. I pulled our vehicle around front, and I waited for about fifteen minutes for Foot Foot and Nicholas. They didn't walk out with me because Foot Foot had some last minute intestinal difficulties which she had to tend to. I didn't mind the wait, though. It was nice just watching the people walk by.
They soon came to the Jeep, stepped in, and we drove away, arriving home a mere four hours later. The next day, we took the film to Wal-Mart to get developed (this was back in the day before we were able to use a digital camera). Three days later, we picked it up, and we laughed and smiled at the photographs...all except the last one. That last one is of Foot Foot and Nicholas leaving our bed minus breakfast to go home that last day. What was so disconcerting about that picture?
I didn't take it. I was in the Jeep. The camera...was with me.
For those of you just now catching up, here are the last fifty:
For those of you not just now catching up, here are the last fifty:
#150: "Can't Get You Out of My Head" - Kylie Minogue
#149: "Portions for Foxes" - Rilo Kiley
#148: "Mercy" - Duffy
#147: "Don't Let Him Waste Your Time" - Jarvis Cocker
#146: "All of This" - Blink-182
#145: "Bullets" - Tunng
#144: "Put Your Records On" - Corinne Bailey Rae
#143: "Imitation of Life" - R.E.M.
#142: "Slow Jamz" - Jamie Foxx featuring Twista
#141: "Run to Me" - Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs
#140: "I Found Out" - Nathanial Mayer
#139: "Ya Ya Ya (Looking for My Baby) - Detroit Cobras
#138: "Dick in Dixie" - Hank Williams III
#137: "Gone and Went" - Bob Childers
#136: "On a Bus to St. Cloud" - Jimmy LaFave
#135: "Valerie" - Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse
#134: "Duplexes of the Dead" - Fiery Furnaces
#133: "Right Out of Your Hand" - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
#132: "Step in the Name of Love" - R. Kelly
#131: "Beloved Stranger" - Cindylee Berryhill
#130: "Hit the Ground" - Lizz Wright
#129: "Yeah" - Usher
#128: "Four Winds" - Bright Eyes
#127: "Saint Martha Blues" - Otis Taylor
#126: "Decoration Day" - Drive-By Truckers
#125: "State of Massachusetts" - Dropkick Murphys
#124: "American Skin (41 Shots)" - Bruce Springsteen
#123: "Paper Planes" - M.I.A.
#122: "A Border Tale" - Robert Earl Keen
#121: "Choctaw Bingo" - James McMurtry
#120: "Your Man" - Josh Turner
#119: "Old School" - Lyfe Jennings featuring Snoop Dogg
#118: "When the Crying Is Over" - Ian McLagan & the Bump Band
#117: "All I Wanna Do" - Jamie Lidell
#116: "Falling Slowly" - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova
#115: "No One Knows" - Mark Ronson featuring Domino
#114: "No One Knows" - Queens of the Stone Age
#113: "The Sweet Escape" - Gwen Stefani
#112: "1234" - Feist
#111: "A Case of You" - Prince
#110: "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" - Mitch & Mickie
#109: "Penny & Me (Live)" - Hanson
#108: "Seven Nation Army" - White Stripes
#107: "Your Touch" - Black Keys
#106: "1, 2 Step" - Ciara featuring Missy Elliot
#105: "My Sweet Annette" - Drive-By Truckers
#104: "No Vacancy" - Subdudes
#103: "Cryin' in the Streets" - Buckwheat Zydeco
#102: "Belleville Rendez-Vous" - -M-
#101: "A Stroke of Genie-Us" - Freelance Hellraiser
The capsule list from 151-200 can be found here.
The capsule list from 201-249 can be found here.
The capsule list from 250-300 can be found here.
The capsule list from 301-333 can be found here.