Coolest Music Video

December 17th, 2010 at 1:50 pm (Notable Artists, Notable Music, Random Stuff)

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The Most Unexpected Rihanna Cover Ever

December 2nd, 2010 at 1:24 pm (Notable Artists, Notable Music)

I anticipate I’ll have more to say about this artist later.  For now, I’ll post this here so I don’t forget about it or lose it and just say: wow.  Pop/classical fusion — I’ve never seen anything like it. (If you’re not familiar with “Don’t Stop The Music” by Rihanna — a huge pop radio hit from a few years ago — watch this first).

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Kanye’s Self-Inflated Twisted Fantasy

December 1st, 2010 at 5:21 pm (Music Commentary)

Sometimes aimless YouTube surfing can be rather satisfying.  Sometimes it can be rather aggravating, particularly when one’s interest in a new album by a certain popular artist named Kanye West causes one to stumble upon some startlingly laughable interviews of said pop artist.  I’m fully aware that calling Kanye a self-involved jerk is a bit like declaring that Velveeta isn’t real cheese.  After his drunken gaffe at last year’s MTV Awards — where he botched sweetie-pie Taylor Swift’s tender moment of triumph — Kanye’s belligerent arrogance is practically household knowledge.  Even President Obama (mistakenly thinking he was off-record) called him a “jackass.”  The problem is, Kanye can’t be dismissed wholesale.  Commenting on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which dropped November 22, an iTunes listener-reviewer writes: “Dear Taylor Swift, I just gave this album a listen and Ima let you finish, but this is one of the greatest albums of all time.  OF ALL TIME.”

I’ll preface by saying that I intend to give his new album a good, earnest listen, and that I like some of his past work (808’s and Heartbreak in particular).  It’s clear that Kanye’s music has struck a chord with listeners, despite his unflattering public image.  The many vigilant Kanye haters out there are surely missing something by ignoring his recurrent popular success.  Surprisingly, his jackassery can sometimes even be endearing, or at least comical. During an interview with Ellen Degeneres, Kanye’s casually immodest cracks earned him quite a few laughs from the studio audience.

Still, one can’t help but mumble “hubris” — or at least wonder if he isn’t getting in his own way — when Kanye says (in all seriousness) that he intends to be the greatest performer in a generation.  Or when he self-righteously explains that in making 808’s and Heartbreak he discovered the value of “melody”, and cleverly decided to use it here and there.  Or when he talks about the difficulty he and other hit-makers face in deciding whether their latest release outshines The Beatles.  Give me a break.  Why don’t you just focus on making the best music you can, and be grateful that so many people find it valuable enough to purchase.  You might also beware of that fabled Achilles’ Heal of stardom, the belief that present-day fame is: (a) a vindication of artistic merit, and (b) lasting and historically relevant.

That Kanye’s most potent skill is in production and beat-making, and not so much in performing or melody writing, is obvious, but let’s go a step further.  I wonder (and this is a sincere question) whether Louis Armstrong would have ever said, publicly or privately, that he thought of himself as the greatest performer of a generation.  Terry Teachout can correct me, but it appears to me Armstrong was simply a gifted and hardworking musician who endured the struggles of touring and fame to share his genuine passion for music.  Somewhere far along that road (to borrow a line from a certain genius), he became, yes, one of the most loved and enduring performers of a generation.  Perhaps the differing attitudes of Kanye and Armstrong can offer a lesson to young artists about talent, fame, and humility.

Time, of course, will supply its exclusively evenhanded assessment of Kanye West.  I downloaded “Heartless” last night, one of the epic hits from 808’s and Heartbreak, because I hadn’t heard it in a while.  To my surprise, I found it kind of boring.

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Absent

December 1st, 2010 at 4:47 pm (Random Stuff)

I’ve been absent from blogging for a while, the worst consequence being that my goofy “Bed Intruder Song” cover sat at the top of the page for a month.  I feel a rant coming on, though, so the hiatus is soon to end.

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