Tag Archives: boy bands

Die Gedanken Sind Frei

Sorry for not posting in a while, I’ve been captivated by Frontline’s awesome underview of the Bush Administration in my extra time at work this week. In terms of my last post, I’m just going to link ya’ll to Columbia lecturer Scott Horton’s excellent distillation of Obama posted to Harper’s the other day. The cat is pretty much in the bag in terms of the cast for this year’s reality show ‘The US Presidential Election,’ and Clinton’s death throes (here, here, and here) are going to make a hilarious montage for our non-Idol contestants, John and Barack. But I digress. Speaking of Judases: Battlestar Galactica had a two-page spread ad in Rolling Stone this week that parodies da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper,’ with Six as christ and Apollo as Judas. Eight days!!! OoOoooOoh!

The cultural insularity of music today is not simply the consequence of deficient pedagogy or propagation. It would be too facile to groan over the conservatories or complain about the record companies. Things are more serious. Contemporary music owes this unique situation to its very composition. In this sense, it is willed. It is not a music that tries to be familiar; it is fashioned to preserve its cutting edge. One may repeat it, but it does not repeat itself. In this sense, one cannot come back to it as to an object. It always pops up on frontiers.

-Michel Foucault

Yeah, so on that note, link dump:

Believe it: Four glorious hours of In Rainbows‘ haunting closer “Videotape”, committed to an obsolescent media format, with accompanying visuals from Philip M. Lane and some pretty swank cover art designed by Jacob Blandy.

Shejay: A world-wide network of female DJs, producers, vocalists, promoters and musicians in the field of electronic and dance music. (MP3’s here)

Dave Matthews tickets go on sale this Saturday! Matthews and Bob Dylan are shockingly some of the only two mainstream live acts that offer tickets for a ‘reasonable’ fee (usually between $45-60). So why on earth would someone pay $85 to go see these fucktards play? Can’t we just start a national recycling drive to hand out old copies of boybands of yore to the twelve year old girls that will go see them? God I can’t wait until Hannah Montana has an abortion scandal because of them. SOS, really? ABBA should come and slap the shit out of them. Someone please give them some LSD.

The Music Illusion

Five sweet auditory illusions from New Scientist.  Fun times, I got stung by them!

New Scientist magazine this month is running an excellent series on music and (obviously) the science behind it.  Fascinating stuff, really.  The cover story (‘The Music Illusion’) is penned by Daniel Levitin–a long-time music producer who’s worked with some of the greatest rock acts since the 70s (including Dylan and The Band).  His article is a distilled version of his awesome book ‘This Is Your Brain On Music,’ which I’m currently finishing.  He now approaches music, having worked in the producing and mixing field for years, as an academic, and more specifically, an evolutionary psychologist (read Wired’s related story from last year here).  And man, he get into the nitty-gritty of not just ‘music’ as a cultural production, but how individual pitch vibrations are intercepted by the ear and distributed throughout the brain, giving rise to emotions and behavior.

By better understanding what music is and where it comes from, we may be able to better understand our motives, fears, desires, memories, and even communication in the broadest sense.  Is music listening more along the lines of eating when you’re hungry, and thus, satisfying an urge?  Or is it more like seeing a beautiful sunset or getting a backrub, which triggers sensory pleasure systems in the brain?… This is the story of how brains and music co-evolved–what music can teach us about the brain, what the brain can teach us about music, and what both can teach us about ourselves.

Good eats, guys.  Check it out.

Also, after talking with a political science professor friend of mine Monday, she suggested I read some George Lipsitz.  He’s a professor of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz (as well as being part of the Black Studies faculty at UC Santa Barbara) and last year published ‘Footsteps In The Dark: The Hidden Histories of Popular Music.’  I just scored the book yesterday, but so far, it’s an amazing collection of the genealogies and migratory patterns of the musical influences heard in many bands and genres.  I approached with caution because I’m aware Lipsitz’s framework is based on essentialisms of cultures (actually, ‘anti-essentialisms’, but it rallies the same origins of the arguments, hence giving them a passive credence), but I’m definitely impressed by his sonic mapping skills thus far.  A gem in the first section of the book about boy bands:

Of course there are plenty of reasons to dislike boy bands.  Every aspect of their identities–from the physical features of group members to the songs they sing to the answers they give in interviews–is scripted and carefully coordinated on the basis of market research.  They are never original, innovative, or unpredictable.  In their stage personas and song lyrics, the boy bands succeed because they hint at the provocation of erotic desire only to contain it by presenting themselves ultimately as adolescent, innocent, wholesome, and cute, simply longing for longing rather than for love or lust.  Their celebrity status seems to reduce the dignity of their fans, enlisting them as spectators and admirers of boys they do not know, apparently for the simple reason that other girls have focused on the band members as objects of desire.

As opposed to, say, musicians.  My sentiments exactly.  Wow, so two of the three posts on this blog so far have bitched about crappy consumerist record labels (thanks Jive)… I promise more love in the future!