Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Every English band ever plays closing ceremony of Olympics

OK not really, but a fair lot of them did. The 2012 London Olympics closed with a spectacular revue of British pop music. The Spice Girls slammed their bodies down and wound them all around. George Michael called out for freedom, and Brian May joined Jessie J to perform We Will Rock You. From elder statesmen like The Who to newbies like One Direction, the ceremony had something for everyone. Even this guy. Watch the Spice Girls perform below.

Gotye creates user-submitted mashup video

Are you sick of Somebody I Used to Know yet? After watching this, you will be. Gotye collected all the fan submitted videos for his hit song and created a Somebodies Voltron. It’s pretty amazing. Enjoy.

The Bad

Chris Brown and Drake sued for bar brawl

Chris Brown and Drake are going to have to reach deep into their pockets to pay for the damages to Manhattan nightclub W.i.P. after they and their entourages engaged in a bottle-throwing brawl that left two dozen people injured and the club in ruins. Entertainment Enterprises, which owns W.i.P. and its sister bar, Greenhouse, has been sued by those victims and is now seeking $16 million from Brown and Drake. Next time you want to fight, guys, grab plastic bottles.

UK lottery winner wants to reunite Guns ˜N Roses

Adrian Bayford won the equivalent of $232 million playing the EuroMillions lottery on August 10. And he’s already got a plan for how to use it to benefit as many people as possible. Bayford wants to reunite the original lineup of Guns ˜N Roses, and he’s willing to fork over some serious quid to see it happen. Maybe a big payday can make Axl and Slash can bury the hatchet once and for all and take us back to Paradise City.

The Ugly

Killers drummer gropes Michelle Obama

Killers drummer Ronnie Vannucci once grabbed a handful of the First Lady’s derriere, he revealed this week. While the band was being introduced to the Obamas during the Fourth of July celebrations at the White House, Michelle went in for a friendly hug. But(t) due to her statuesque height and his diminutive one, Vannucci’s hands found purchase on her backside in an incident we like to Killer Booty. Read about it here.

Katy Perry moons waterpark

Speaking of butts, Katy Perry flashed both cheeks after slipping and sliding on a water slide at Raging Waters in California. We’re only showing the “before” picture, so if you want to see the full moon, you can do so here.


Friday, July 20, 2012.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sound and Vision: One Direction and The Wanted — the Return of the Boy Band?

The British are coming”again!

It’s been more than a hot minute since multi-platinum boy bands like *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys roamed the earth and ruled the charts. Now, after a decade-long dormancy, cute, heavily-styled guys who sing in harmony and don’t play instruments are suddenly back in fashion.

Once again, the UK is leading the charge onward and upward. While Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC were born in the USA, they enjoyed their earliest success in the UK. This time, though, the new wave of blushing boy bands represents an authentic UK-born-and-bred British invasion.

The members of The Wanted, whose “Glad You Came” single has climbed into the Top 3 of Billboard’s Hot 100 (the quintet’s self-titled US debut album arrives April 24), and One Direction, whose first album, Up All Night, just outpaced Adele to enter Billboard’s Top 200 album chart at No. 1 (176,000 vs. 148,000 copies sold), all hail from Britain and Ireland.

In just a few months, both groups already have enjoyed more US success than Ireland’s Westlife, or Take That, perhaps the UK’s biggest boy band ever, who aside from one Top 10 single (1995’s Back for Good), never made it big in the States. (With the exception of Spice Girls and Bananarama, UK female vocal groups”including All Saints in the ˜90s and, more recently, Sugababes and Girls Aloud”haven’t fared much better in the US over the years.)


SoundTrax: Shower Stall Rock Star

This week, we’ve compiled a list of our eight favorite sing-a-long tunes to let the rock star living inside all of you shine. In typical SoundTrax fashion, I’ve done my best to avoid falling into a specific time frame or genre. These are all songs pulled from my personal library that I can’t help but belt out whenever they come on shuffle. While I would probably avoid some of these songs like the plague in my everyday listening, I’ll be honest: There is only so many times you can listen to Backstreet Boys’ I Want It That Way without feeling the urge to join in on the chorus.

Pivotal scenes from Almost Famous and Risky Business highlight the healing power of a sing-a-long (and how much fun it can be to rock out in your skivvies). The “Tiny Dancer” sing-a-long from Almost Famous is a personal favorite that I feel perfectly illustrates the spontaneity and sheer joy that can come from singing a well-known tune with your buddies.

For those of you who don’t feel comfortable belting out your favorite songs at your local karaoke night, the shower is often the only venue where you can truly express the vocal prowess you have. If you can’t sing, we ask that you don’t let the acoustics of your bathroom fool you: please keep the singing contained to the shower. There’s no need to terrorize the innocent patrons who didn’t realize it was karaoke night at the bar, or your kids sitting in the back seat of the minivan,

So grab your hairbrush, but please refrain from stripping down to a button-up and tighty-whities, and rock out to this playlist of rad sing-a-longs.

SoundTrax: Shower Stall Rock Star from OurStage on 8tracks.


Beat Generation: A (Brief, Brief) History Of Electronic Music

Welcome to Beat Generation. With this column, we’re going to try and cover as many strains of electronic music as we can, from house to techno, from ambient to glitch. We here at OurStage have noticed a resurgence of electronic music in pop music in the past few months. It seems appropriate then that for starters, we’re going to do a quick and dirty overview of the relationship electronic and pop music have had over the years, from the ’80s to today.

Well, it’s about time. Electronic finally broke into the mainstream in a big way. Disagree? Have you listened to the radio lately? Did you see that Deadmau5 had a music video on MTV? It’s been a pretty long road from a genre that started as an obscure offshoot of rock to near total pop ubiquity.

You can argue as to when electronic music first came to be until the sun goes down but it’s clear that pop and electronic'Cars' made it into the Top 10 in America and went to No. 1 in the UK had their first real meaningful interaction during the ’80s, the era of big hair, Reganomics and synth. Gary Numan’s “Cars”, released in 1979, started off this trend for most listeners. The everpresent synth line of the song fits in well with the verse chorus verse structure and also worked as a bouncy instrumental counterpoint to the feelings of existential disconnect and uncertainty that Numan presents in his lyrics. Notable releases from this era included landmark singles from the Eurthymics, The Human League, New Order and Madonna. The popular electronic sound of the ’80s was rooted firmly to rock and disco traditions.

Now we’ll move onto the ’90s. The pop/electronic flirtation during this decade was apparent but more fleeting. The hot sound was coming out of the UK; Big Beat and Jungle were dominating the airwaves across the pond and it was only a matter of time before America got a taste of it as well.

The Fat of The Land eventually went double platinum in the US

Fatboy Slim enjoyed enormous and lasting success for the latter part of the decade into the early aughts. Groups like the Prodigy, the Chemical Brothers and the Crystal Method were at their popular peak, winning rock listeners with songs featuring heavy guitar.  The Prodigy were especially notorious, releasing the quick-to-be-banned video for their single “Smack My Bitch Up” and signing to Madonna’s Maverick Records.

And then we move on to the Aughts. The current new trend of trancey, dancey electro in the Top 40 is a little different, thanks in large part to the emergence of Lady Gaga. Her debut album, ‘The Fame, didn’t blow up. It was a seismic event that shook the musical landscape around it. This marked a move in dance music to embrace the pulse and beat of electro and techno over the influences of hip hop and R&B which were the previous standard.

While past trends in electronic music were driven by scenes, the current dance trend  in pop music is a reaction to what the kids are into. In business and in pop music, aping the competition is not considered unoriginal or frowned upon; for many, it’s the only way to survive. Everywhere you look in contemporary pop music, there’s examples of the co-opting of electronic music. Look at Christina Aguilera’s stylistic makeover. Consider the difference between Katy Perry’s first and second albums. Think about Ke$ha and her entire career up to this point. Even Britney Spears is jumping on the bandwagon. While putting together her new album, Spears was in London working with dubstep producer Rusko. In a genre known for emphasizing the heaviest and dirtiest of bass lines and an uncompromising sound, the collaboration left some people scratching their heads.  The first song leaked from that album, “Hold It Against Me”, features unmistakable dubstep touchstones, including the infamous “wobble,” or a shuddering electric bass line. While this may have some purists calling foul, it’s proof positive that electronic has not only arrived, but from the dance floor to the airwaves, it has already conquered the world.