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Elsa and Anna and the Icicle Dagger (PBS Revisited, semi, sorta)
In 1987 I tossed an insult at a loose aggregation of people that included me, calling us "PBS for the youth." Basically, I was fingering the punk/postpunk indie-alternative "underground," but also worlds and hairstyles and rampages that surrounded it: rock critics, letters-to-the-editor, on-edge heroin poetry zines, the appreciation and appreciators of American eccentrics and outsiders and outsider art, pop detritus, etc. A music marginal intelligentsia. My insult turned out complicated, since having some PBS impulses was better than having none, I decided, and the process of PBSification had grown out of what had initially seemed like untrammeled strength and was embedded in seed form in the most disruptive music of the 1960s; I cited the Rolling Stones in particular:

Richard Meltzer was right: Rock 'n' roll collapsed the distinction between awesome and trivial. Overall, rock 'n' roll could not have been great had it been merely awesome. I say "overall" because, when it comes down to the sound of specific bands, I prefer the awesome-awesome to the awesome-trivial. I prefer the Rolling Stones to Elvis. Meltzer tried to portray the Stones and Dylan at their 1965 peaks as trivial and silly (not to mention awesome and serious), just like the rest of rock 'n' roll. Meltzer was wrong, the Stones and Dylan were simply awesome — but I understand why he portrayed them in the way he did. He was trying to save them. Triviality protects awesomeness. The Rolling Stones, even more than the Beatles, saved white rock from being Bobby Rydell/Las Vegas shit but put it irrevocably, despite all their intentions, on the PBS path. By being merely awesome, the Stones laid the seeds for the destruction of rock 'n' roll. PBS can co-opt mere awesomeness. They can turn it into "seriousness" and oppose it to "fun." The Sex Pistols (who were the Rolling Stones reincarnated thirteen years later, and that's all they were) were a lot closer to PBS than to Elvis. The were better than Elvis, too — the awesome, sociofuckological aspects that made them closer to PBS helped make them better. But, though they saved punk for a couple years, they made punk socially significant hence digestible by PBS. (So do I, by the way — though I’m not great like the Sex Pistols or important.*)

I'm being a bit loose with the term "PBS." I mean a certain PBS head (attitude), which can include a cult taste for shitty horror movies, pro wrestling, African pop, comic books, Hasil Adkins... all this pseudofun is a covering for a mind set that's ruled by PBS. We're making horror movies safe for PBS. We have met PBS, and it is us. I mean an imaginary PBS of the future, with pro wrestling, splatter films, and leftist analyses of the Capitalist Entertainment Industry (scored by a reformed Gang of 4). All rendered lame in the context of our appreciation.
--Frank Kogan, Why Music Sucks #1, February 1987.

I don't consider this the most intelligible passage I've ever written. It was part of a long, unruly essay, in a long, unruly fanzine. For a clue as to what I thought I originally meant, here's a Cliff Notes version I wrote 20 years later for the Las Vegas Weekly (including, for non-Americans, a description of the actual PBS):

The Rules Of The Game No. 24: The PBSification Of Rock

I wouldn't say the LVW version really delivers: missing are the tumult and anguish of the original Why Music Sucks essays, the social life and the social detail, as well as the multiple twists and back-and-forth of my own thinking;** but it does clarify several points, as well as throwing a couple of pointed questions at me at the end.

Anyway, last month, in response to my quarterly list of top singles, Dave in passing referred to my PBS metaphor, which prompted a longer conversation in which I let loose with a bunch of reassessments and qualifications that I've thought of over the years. And lots of twists and back-and-forth. I'm reposting our convo here. This isn't the "PBS Revisited" essay I ought to write someday (I make reference to a 32-page email I sent Dave and Mark where I wrestle an issue I barely touch here), esp. given that what I value most in this interchange are the Elsa and Anna analyses; but it does give some indication as to where such a reconsideration might go. As I say, the PBS metaphor is never not going to be half-assed, and I'm never not going to feel it's essential. Dave = David Cooper Moore.

Kendrick and PBS on the cultural corner, with gentrificationCollapse )

Elsa and Anna go for brokeCollapse )

PBS wrap-upCollapse )

FootnotesCollapse )

Is music up to the task of creating social critiques?
To continue my X-post extravaganza, I put this on both the BLEUGH thread and the Adjunct thread. Mark had brought up Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka, and I'd said — based on my unreliable memory — that, to Jones, "Black American culture contains — among other things — a critique of America, and he doesn’t want to see that critique blunted" (e.g., Black American musical practice contains a critique of America):

(1) Any opinion on Sidney Finkelstein? I read Jazz: A People's Music but can't recall specifically what I took from it; and I once owned but out of a combination of busyness and fear never read How Music Expresses Ideas (the fear because, when I opened it at random, I read something along the lines of "While the Soviet criticism of Shostakovich may have been heavy-handed, there was a fundamental truth...,"* and decided I just wasn't up for it emotionally; I'm sometimes very weak). Do remember considering the jazz book interesting and smart; also that Jones/Baraka cited him favorably — notice that for the title of my John Wójtowicz–Leroi Jones chapter I paraphrase the title "How Music..."

(2) A question we should go into — that we're implicitly raising — is whether Jones (as I've perceived or misperceived him) is right, that music (in comparison to, say, books and essays) is up to the task of creating a cultural critique, at least creating a critique that's more than merely incipient.

(3) Actually it's Otis Ferguson and Manny Farber and Andrew Sarris and ilk who really propelled me to the question. The way I thought of it in college was that the two great proto-auteurists, Ferguson and André Bazin, both treated filmmakers' aesthetic decisions (not just dialogue, but what to show, how to show it, whether to cut or pan, what angle to use) as ways of thinking. To put it crudely, Bazin reads movies for, among other things, the filmmakers' attitudes towards the world, whereas Ferguson reads movies for, among other things, what filmmakers are doing in the world. But obv. it's not either/or for those two critics or in general. Anyway, extend to anyone's behavior, e.g., musician choosing to play this note rather than that, singer phrasing this way or that, fan deciding to dance and deciding which dance, person wearing or not wearing band T-shirt, and on and on and on. Question is, does this hairstyle and acting out really take us far in the way of usable and repeatable critique, of effective understanding, rather than just placing us in Spot A or Spot B etc. in various social situations? (Ludwig Wittgenstein belongs here: we can include in our idea of language that it's more than just the utterances/words, it's also the social practices in which they're embedded, including events, actions.) Btw, what I drew from auteurism wasn't "the director is the author of the film" but rather that filmmaking is a series of choices, and these choices, no matter how original or how rote, constitute thought, no matter whom or what you assign the thought to — the actor, the screenwriter, the director, the studio, social habits, the social structure, the zeitgeist — and no matter how good or bad the thought is. Question is, how far does such thought go? E.g., how a cashier goes about scanning bar codes represents thought, but that doesn't necessarily mean one's scanning of bar codes is a form of social commentary, or can be extrapolated into social commentary.

*Can't locate the exact quote through Google books, which doesn't show any general excerpts and is sparing as to what from my searches of this book it's willing to show. The phrase "heavy-handed" gets me no hits. I did find this noxious sentence: "In the Soviet Union, criticism is a sign of the high regard the people have for music and its creators."

Ice Cream and the Ice Creams ft. Ice Cream "Ice Cream" (Singles First Quarter 2015)
Missed most of February (and most of everything else). Ash-B is the great discovery here, a strong and throaty rapper like Choi Sam but with a tone that's more supple and subtle. Will say more when I post my 2014 albums list. "The Song Of Love" is a low-rent slow dance from Core Contents Media (yeah, it's not Core Contents Media anymore, but in my dark heart it always will be). "Yumeno Ukiyoni Saitemina" scrunches together two acts I never really got and it's catchy. Azin's the sort of respectable-type well-controlled quality singer I always intend to be indifferent towards except every year there's another one who gets to me. I can't tell if Rihanna's goofing. I'd have called it "Bitch Betta Have My Ice Cream." Red Velvet take the cake. Christine and the Queens sing "Christine." ZZBEst kinda go soul horny in the early evening. Lizzy trots. GFriend are trying to sound like early SNSD and kinda do. They don't dance remotely as well, unfortunately. Jason Aldean does rote party roteness with good guitars. J'sais pas, I dunno.

Looking forward to Crayon Pop, Miss A, Blady, Exo. What'd I miss?

1. Ash-B "매일"
2. The Seeya "The Song Of Love"
3. Momoiro Clover Z vs KISS "Yumeno Ukiyoni Saitemina"
4. Azin "Delete"
5. Rihanna "Bitch Better Have My Money"
6. Red Velvet "Ice Cream Cake"
7. Christine and the Queens "Christine"
8. ZZBEst "랄랄라"
9. Lizzy "Not An Easy Girl"
10. GFriend "Glass Bead"
11. Jason Aldean "Just Gettin' Started"
12. Brigitte "J'sais pas"

The Jazz Singer (One Elephant, Two Elephant, Three Elephant, Four)

Question 1: Is it correct to say that during the '40s and '50s the usage of the word "jazz" both narrowed and changed so that what it denoted became more consistent and less varied and contradictory (but conversely, when there was a controversy over jazz taxonomy it was more fraught than it had been in decades past, and of course the relative taxonomic stability didn't last) and so that what was retrospectively considered historically part of "jazz" (from Buddy Bolden through to bop) was narrower than what had actually been called "jazz" in the '10s through '40s? (No idea what was being called what in the 1890s-'00s.)

Question 2: So is my impression correct that, prior to this narrowing and shifting, terms like "jazz" and "blues," and later "swing" (and what about "western swing"? and "country"? and "pop"?*) had significant overlap, that a broad range of dance music could be considered all three (or six)? How was someone like, say, Big Joe Turner classified when he was performing in the 1930s? If a time warp had let people in 1934 hear "Shake, Rattle And Roll" (either version) would it have been obviously "something other than jazz" to them? (Hat-tip to Swanstep @36 under My Own Private Record Club.)

Data note: Otis Ferguson (died 1943) considered Fred Astaire a jazz figure (probably more for dancing than singing, but also taken as a whole).

Question 3: The role of improvisation and length of solos had a lot to do with the reconfiguring, right? And making a fetish of them? (Assuming I'm right about the nomenclature being reconfigured.) Also, the role of dance.

Question 4: What about singers? In the era covered by Mark, the early LP era, Miles may be the elephant in the room as regards the future, but singers — significantly absent from Mark's list of "jazz expansive" — were the elephants of the present. E.g., in the late '50s Dinah Washington could be considered simultaneously the most popular jazz singer in the world and the most popular blues singer in the world, but she seems now to have been written out of both of those categories. (Or am I wrong about that?)

What about Nat King Cole?

*UPDATE: "Folk" should be in there too. (I remember reading somewhere that through the '40s "folk" was a viable term for a lot of what was eventually called "country," that it was the association with the left and with communism that doomed the word "folk" in this usage (and encouraged it in others). Of course, "I remember reading somewhere" is not a very useful citation.) Um, and while I'm in the update section, let's note that there was a famous movie in 1929 featuring Al Jolson that was called The Jazz Singer.

The elephant and the giraffe
Posted this on Mark's KIND OF BLEUGH thread:

Feeding off the other discussion, I want to say here, right now, that when it comes to token jazz albums, you guys don't know shit! I, Frank Kogan — or I, Frank Kogan, back as a teenager — penetrate to the essence of the token jazz album. Listen, Kind Of Blue is for the serious jazz dabbler. I mean, you guys (I mean, the guys who bought Kind Of Blue without followup), bought it because it topped some poll, right? Or because it was recommended to you, or something? Whereas I, as the pure token of tokenism, got jazz not even because it was jazz, but because it was the cutting edge of whatever it was the cutting edge of (the Revolution? Well, it was on Columbia Records) (followed on by the cutting edge of what used to matter, also on Columbia, iirc):

First jazz album bought by me: Miles Davis Bitches Brew
Second jazz album bought by me (if I even knew it could be classified as "jazz," which I may not have known): some Billie Holiday 2-LP compilation covering the early years, possibly called The Early Years (the label was confusing things by releasing multiple 2-LP and 3-LP sets with overlapping material: this one perhaps begins with "Miss Brown To You" and has the banana-bananah song and perhaps "They Can't Take That Away From Me" (so the alb becomes my intro to the Gershwins, too, but maybe "Can't Take That" was on one of the 3-LP sets) and "Swing, Brother Swing," which was my favorite for rocking hardest*).

Got a token blues album too, the second Robert Johnson compilation (the one with "Love In Vain").

Oddity confounds tokenismCollapse )

Btw, Tommy Mack's brother is right. "If you just put on Bitches Brew it’ll make no sense." I remember reading a jazz interview at the time, some musician who hated Bitches Brew describing it as program music gibberish, "Here's the giraffe. Here's the elephant," which is how it sounded to me, too. Didn't play it much. Not until eight years later, at least, after I'd heard Pangaea, in which the trumpet (and keybs?) sounded like Miles was staging interventions on his own albums, spraying forth bold lines of paint to restructure all the jamming and vamping going on underneath (possibly also a mishearing, but a more interesting one), was I, with my ears readjusted, able to hear Bitches Brew as a weird hostile Louis let loose in the abstract expressionist exhibit, splashing broad brushstrokes and rearranging sky and ground, while the sidemen tore up the joint. And here's the giraffe! And the elephant!

*An intriguing moment in "Swing, Brother Swing" is when Billie sings "Red indigo, and there ain't nobody gonna hold me down." How in the world can you have red indigo? (Turns out it's "Rarin' to go.")

Glimmer Spotlight 1
I've been wanting to comment on an ever-increasing number of Mark Sinker posts, especially this on Freaky Trigger where he continues a convo (prior installment here) that, among other things, draws on my hallway-classroom metaphor. Here's a preliminary map (or something) of how I might start responding, when I get the chance.*

1. I'll start with the question, "What would Mark say that he's saying here?" although, in order for this to be an exercise in understanding rather than typing, I'll try wherever possible to avoid using the words he uses.

Or you should try, if you want to anticipate me in taking a shot at it. Also, "saying" is a generic here that includes "doing."

2. You can walk and chew gum at the same time.

In other words, if I say or do A, that doesn't necessarily mean I'm not also saying or doing B, C, D, E, and F, including some K's and L's and M's I'm unaware of.

3. A special instance of the principle "You can walk and chew gum at the same time" is my attack on the hallway-classroom split.

The split goes, in the hallway you talk to and about each other; in the classroom you talk about some third thing: the subject matter. My claim is that good rock critics don't buy into this divide, so they refuse to honor the boundary between hallway and classroom.

4. I'm an alienation addict.

NotesCollapse )

*Posting here on my lj since I don't know if Freaky Trigger has fixed its spam filter problems, which had been delaying the posting of comments on old threads.

I'm pretty sure Hank never sounded this way
I'm pretty sure Hank Williams never sounded like the Velvet Underground. But Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?" sure does, with the two chords of "Heroin" and the unison pounding of "I'm Waiting For The Man."

I wouldn't assume conscious derivation here. I wouldn't preclude it either, but the sound likely is Waylon going for a slow, serious stomp, and grinding down on two chords for weight and emphasis, the outcome happening to resemble what Lou and co.'d done eight years earlier. John Morthland calls it "a choppy, bass-heavy beat conceived as a result of Waylon's late-fifties stint with Buddy Holly but hardened by infusions of Johnny Cash's sound." Not that Waylon didn't listen to a whole lot of rock. Not that this track isn't, fundamentally, hard rock. As rock as it is country.

Any opinions are welcome as to actual derivation, possible genuine sourcing from Velvets, etc. A toe dip into Google isn't yet finding anyone else hearing the Velvets connection, despite its being massively obvious — it jumped me when I first heard the track a decade later, mid '80s, Dreaming My Dreams taped for me by my buddy Mark Hatton with the annotation, "Perhaps the greatest country album ever."

Don't know if I've ever embedded T-ara's "Roly-Poly" vid. YouTube killed the Eng Sub version,* so I'm testing to see if Dailymotion will still embed onto lj:

What I keep pointing out, about this vid and about the first several live performances, is that Jiyeon** manages to be effervescent in the dance without once cracking a smile.

*For some reason it was Tokyo Broadcasting System that put in the copyright claim, though this is the Korean video, not the Japanese.

**Jiyeon's the lead dancer here, the one in violet, with hair up, in the first of the live videos, in cut-off striped shirt in the MV.
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Tiny Montgomery
I like how the rhythm in "Tiny Montgomery" makes itself strong by just digging in and digging further, no moving forward. —The rhythm I'm referring to is mostly Dylan's voice, and the strum strum strum. Bass and the rest are a shuffling swing, I guess. So you can sway back and forth while the song steadily drives you down. A-Plus.

Other than that, I've never "gotten" the Basement Tapes, in either sense of the word. Couldn't stand the Great White Wonder boot when it broke onto FM rock in 1969, and never owned the official album, though I once had it in a stash of a friend's records for a summer, listening to it once, and taping "Tiny Montgomery." In any event, a way into it, if I ever do dig in, might be via Don Allred's Pazz & Jop comments, e.g.,

much enjoy that "Folsom Prison Blues" here sounds like the Band is playing "dum dum dum dum doo wah diddy, talk about the boy from New York City," which totally fits the loose flair of D.'s singing (the convict, still regretful, is also getting cranked up on cellblock cocktails). This performance of "The Bells of Rhymney" starts reminding me of "All Tomorrow's Parties," to the further credit of both songs and their performers, incl. writers.
My description of "Tiny Montgomery" is my attempt to explain to myself why it reminds me of the Velvet Underground without reminding me of frequent Velvets source the Yardbirds.

Was inspired to post by Sabina citing the Velvets and then trying to do different, regarding EMA.

I wouldn't assume Dylan had heard the Velvets yet. Was his own drawl he was using for a hammer.

Fairytale In The Supermarket
Yesterday my girlfriend and I heard, piped into the King Soopers supermarket on Speer and 14th, near where I work (serves a Hispanic neighborhood to the west, downtown to the east, Auraria Campus to the north), Television's "See No Evil." I'd certainly never heard anything like it — classic Velvets-Byrds-Wagner derived avant garage from the first CBGB era — in a major supermarket chain before. (King Soopers is Kroger's outlet on the Wyoming/Colorado Front Range.) Was followed up by a surf instrumental, then '60s pop hit "Georgy Girl."

Today, at the King Soopers on Evans and Carr, a few blocks south of where I live in heavily Hispanic west Denver, the guy in front of me complimented a woman working checkout by telling her she had a lovely necklace and asking whose picture it featured. "It's a Korean group, GOT7. Sorta hip-hop and dance," she explained. I spoke up: "I know GOT7. They're the latest on JYP," I added, in order to appear knowledgeable. The woman was about 22, seemingly Anglo.* As she rang up my order, I asked her what other K-pop she listened to, and she said her other best band was Infinite. "Oh yeah," I said, "'Be Mine.'" "That's one of their best songs," she said. She said that SHINee was also one of her favorites, but that GOT7 and Infinite were the ones she liked most. "Have good listening," I said, as I carted off my groceries.

Of course, GOT7 have zilch to do with Television, or CBGB. But notice that the love interest in the supermarket in GOT7's "A" is wearing a T-shirt of another classic CBGB act.

*By "Anglo" I mean non-Hispanic Caucasian; I'd be considered "Anglo" by this def'n, even though my ancestry is Eastern and Central European Jew.

Chickens More Credibly Penetrating Than Human Beings. (My Top 70 Singles, 2014.)
Am more ambivalent about "Chick Chick" than the high ranking indicates, given the social inequity underlying the song: the vocals are utterly pedestrian during the cutesy "mǔ jī mǔ jī mǔ jī mǔ jī" stuff and during the rap; the track only starts to cook when the screaming and the chicken clucking and the cackling let loose. It's then that it goes to syncopated excitement, a great visceral speed chase — really penetrates the nervous system, sorta like Bob Quine's guitar lines back in the Voidoids. But my needing to reach so far back for an example, and to guitar sounds rather than singing, leads me to this disturbing conclusion: Chickens are now more credibly penetrating than human beings are. Oh yeah, and if this list and my own viscera are representative (big "if," since they're quite possibly not, and if I'd listened to more hip-hop and rock and banda* maybe I'd know this), women are more credibly penetrating than guys are, women are more credibly tough than guys are, women are more aggressively cute than guys are, women front for rock music better than guys do, women front for heartbreak better than guys do, etc. But I've been worrying about this for years, every time I post one of these lists. And since I'm a glass-is-half-empty kind of a guy, I don't attribute this to women being good but rather to guys being lousy. And it isn't that I believe males no longer have talent, but rather that they're not finding musical models that work for them — as singers and front men, that is; when the spotlight's not on, guys are there contributing to the adventure, as instrumentalists, songwriters, dancers, impresarios, owners. Actually, the boybands are great dancers. And as for "not finding models that work for them," what's really — or merely — evident in this list is that guys are not finding models to make music that works for me. Boybands are doing fine among the fans. I'd have ranked boybands Vixx and Infinite higher if the singers had pulled off the high emotion, but the songs are gripping nonetheless.

Oh yeah, and I'm also pissed off that it's mainly young women and young men on my list (even my token trot track is by a relative youngster), but I've harangued about that before too.

I'll note that celebrated chickenphobe HyunA kicked butt this year (as well as displaying, slapping, and embracing butt (of more than one species)), and was somewhat penetrating back in 2011 deploring chickens. And that A Pony Named Olga are male human beings, not ponies.

Bold for tracks I added since October 1.

1. Wa$$up "Jingle Bell"
2. The Chainsmokers "#Selfie"
3. HyunA "Red"
4. BiS "STUPiG"
5. Kate Nash "Sister"
6. Courtney Love "Wedding Day"
7. Orange Caramel "So Sorry"
8. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q "2 On"
9. Nicki Minaj "Lookin' Ass Nigga"
10. Crayon Pop "Uh-ee"
11. Orange Caramel "My Copycat"

12. After School "Shh"
13. Shakira ft. Rihanna "Can't Remember To Forget You"
14. A Pony Named Olga "Funny What You Pray"
15. Wang Rong "Chick Chick"
16. Vixx "Error"

17. Future ft. Pharrell, Pusha T & Casino "Move That Dope"
18. T-ara "First Love"
19. Puer Kim "Manyo Maash"
20. Danity Kane "Bye Baby"
21. Badkiz "Ear Attack"
22. PungDeng-E "잘탕 (잘 시간이 어딨어)"
23. GP Basic "Black Bounce"
24. Serebro "Ya Tebya Ne Otdam"
25. Dal★shabet "B.B.B (Big Baby Baby)"
26. Ca$h Out "She Twerkin"
27. Crayon Pop "C'mon C'mon"
28. Arcade Fire "We Exist"
29. The Hold Steady "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You"
30. Gabylonia "Tirano"

31 through 70Collapse )

By the way, I'm only half-joking about the credibility of chickens — not that chicken sounds are inherently credible, but if it's Wang Rong herself doing the chicken vocals — and I think it is — the chicken voice unleashes something in her that she can't do otherwise in anything close to her own voice, at least not in the several tracks of hers I've listened to on YouTube. (But, given that Wikip says she's been putting out music since the early '00s, I've hardly got an overview of her work. This one's nice enough, this one's got some interesting voice maneuverings, and on this one she sings with authority.)

A Pony Named OlgaCollapse )

My Pazz & Jop ballot, 2014
Singles 2014

1. Wa$$up – "Jingle Bell" – Mafia
2. Chainsmokers – "#Selfie" – 604/Dim Mak
3. HyunA – "Red" – Cube Entertainment
4. BiS – "STUPiG" – Avex Trax
5. Kate Nash – "Sister" – Have 10p
6. Courtney Love – "Wedding Day" – Cherry Forever
7. Orange Caramel – "So Sorry" – Pledis Entertainment
8. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q – "2 On" – RCA
9. Nicki Minaj – "Lookin Ass Nigga" – Young Money/Cash Money
10. Crayon Pop – "Uh-ee" – Chrome Entertainment

Albums 2014

1. After School – Dress To Kill – Avex Trax – 15
2. Hong Jin Young – Life Note – Loen Entertainment – 15
3. Wa$$up – Showtime – Mafia – 15
4. Jiyeon – Never Ever – KT Music – 10
5. Kali Mutsa – Souvenance – Shock Music – 10
6. Infinite – Be Back – Woollim Entertainment – 10
7. Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams – Washington Square/Razor & Tie – 10
8. Kitty – Don't Let Me Do This Again – self-released – 5
9. Kelis – Food – Ninja Tune – 5
10. Vixx – Error – Jellyfish Entertainment – 5

Night Without Tiers 2014
From Korea, middling sellers or out-and-out commercial failures that I like a lot. Alphabetical order.

A.Kor "But Go." On the 2NE1 template, being haughty and inviting at once.

Badkiz "Ear Attack." Shouts, whistles, social seriousness, and a squiggle from "Party Rock Anthem." (I wrote about the vid here.)

Choi Sam "Answer." Beat rumbles tectonically; voice dark like rubber that won't go elastic.

Delight "Hate You." Sentiment is evergreen, voices are rough.

GP Basic "Black Bounce." The singers circle relentlessly.

PungDeng-E "잘탕 (잘 시간이 어딨어)." PungDeng-E PungDeng-E Go! PungDeng-E PungDeng-E Go! What others are getting from Lip Service's "Yum Yum Yum" I'm getting from these kids.

Ray.B "살만한가봐." The pang of an '80s New York night, now done better in Seoul than anywhere else.

Scarlet "Hip Song." Also a hiccup song, the vocals jumping and stuttering in rhythm.

Switch "39˚C." Bleary nights, wandering from club to club.

Wa$$up "Stupid Liar." Slow, brooding, bruising. This group has depth and variety, if anyone's ever going to notice.

Z.Hera "D Island." Last year her decor was études and preludes. This year she's livin in smoove. Still impressive, still aches.

Zizo ft. Nan Ah Jin "Spy." Guest singer gets the close-up, rapper feints and darts around her.

They're too popular for this list, but I'm currently also digging Hong Jin Young's "Cheer Up" (h/t Mat), Vixx's "Error," BTS's (Bangtan Boys) "BTS Cypher PT.2: Triptych," After School's "Shine" (Japanese), and everything Orange Caramel have laid their hands on this year.

All human social practices are language-games
Take a very simple Wittgensteinian language-game, e.g., a bricklayer says "BRICK" and the bricklayer's assistant brings her the brick.* All of this is part of the language-game: not just the utterance "BRICK," but also the assistant bringing the brick — so the actions as well as the sound. You don't have one part being language and another part not. It's all language, and if you leave out the actions it's not complete.**

Of course, at times the assistant could understand that he's to bring a brick, yet he chooses not to, in defiance or as a joke; or he may be prevented from doing so, say by an injury; and that doesn't mean the language-game is incomplete in these instances. As long as the practice is there, the established practice of "BRICK" and an assistant bringing the brick, the language-game is in effect. And defiance and humor are expressible in this language, too, even though the language only contains one word, the command "BRICK." (Suppose, somehow, there's miscommunication in the game. Or some misunderstanding, the assistant incorrectly thinking that it's only when the bricklayer has her arm raised as she's uttering "BRICK" that he's to bring the brick. Or maybe sometimes the bricklayer doesn't mean it, and the assistant has to figure out when. A game doesn't have to be conducted with absolutely certainty to be a game; a language doesn't have to have absolute certainty and consistency to be a language.)

We can define "language-games" as being, more or less, "human social practices." The terms "language-game" and "social practice" are near synonyms, language being so ubiquitous. But let's see what happens if we go further. Let's get rid of "more or less." Let's say that all human social practices are language-games, whether or not any word is actually spoken in the practice, and whether or not all the parties even know a language. Yes, at least one of them — the parent of a baby, for instance — will have to know a language; but the other(s) won't have to. So parental action and baby wails and goos and parental response are all in the category "language-game." A baby being initiated into parent-child social behavior is a baby being initiated into language.***

By this definition, all musical events, including the "nonverbal," are nonetheless in some language-game or other. This doesn't mean "can be made part of a language-game by translating musical sounds into words or by describing the music in words." It means that the language-game includes musical sounds as they are, and we can take the sounds and see their role in particular games — particular social practices — just as we can take the utterances and actions in the "BRICK" language and see their roles in that particular practice. In any event, we refuse to give the social practices we call "music" the special status of being "nonverbal." They aren't.

Motive here is to tease out what might be usable in Mark"s glimmer of an ideaCollapse )

Footnotes (as opposed to musical notes?)Collapse )

We must decide not to be too busy or stupid to understand some macroeconomics
Emailed this to Dave and Mark the day after the election:

As for yesterday's election, it went even worse than I'd feared (though so far it looks as if the Dems held onto the governor's office in Colorado, though just barely). My only thought, which is not necessarily correct as far as winning elections goes, but:

Of the commercials I saw (mainly while trying to watch YouTube; watching, say, Spanish-language TV could've been a different story), the commercials for Mark Udall, the Democrat, and loser, in the Colorado senate race, mainly attacked his opponent on social issues (Gardner's long opposition to abortion, his confusion around birth control, etc.), while the Republican commercials, for Cory Gardner, consistently attacked Udall on his economic policy. Of course what the Repub ads said was wrong, but that's not my point. We Democrats need to be running against the Repubs on economic issues. But — this is my opinion and my wish, and I'm sure that lots of people would consider it unrealistic — this means that at some point the Dems
have to decide that a significant portion of the electorate isn't too busy or stupid to understand some basic, comprehensible, but counterintuitive principles of macroeconomics, if we're willing to take minutes at a time to teach them. Otherwise, the Dems have no good response when the Repubs simulate being responsible and thoughtful by attacking us for running up debt and deficit and accuse us of burdening the future with our current profligacy etc. etc. Of course, most Dems don't know macro either (and I hardly do, but I've got some sense from Krugman of the basic principles), and whom I mean by "Dems" and “Democrats" and "we" and "us" in this paragraph isn't altogether consistent...
This means that a significant number of Democratic leaders themselves need to understand a few core macroeconomic principles and be willing to communicate them to voters, and a significant number of us rank-and-file Democrats need to understand those principles and communicate them to other Democrats and to the independents and Republicans who are willing to listen.

I'm not claiming to understand macroeconomics enough to truly evaluate the core principles, but I think I know a few of them:

(1) If, in order to save money and pay down debt, everyone is cutting back expenditures at once, none of them will succeed in cutting their own debt. This is because your spending is my income and my spending is your income; so when a lot of people are cutting back, your and my and everyone's respective incomes will fall as far or farther than our cutbacks, we'll turn out to be worse off, and the economy will go into a depression.

(2) In these conditions, cutting taxes on private industry and the very rich will have little or no stimulating effect. This is because private industry and the rich are not going to invest in factories, goods, and services when demand is falling. Instead, they'll sock their savings away.

(3) But a government can counteract the debt spiral and the savings glut by stepping up and spending money. This will get the economy back on its feet.

(4) In the conditions I described in 1 and 2 (so, in these conditions, not in all conditions), this extra government spending isn't going to cause interest rates to rise or cause excess inflation. Now, not having studied macro, I don't claim to understand all the reasons here. But, for example (I'm quoting Paul Krugman), since the private sector has excess savings that can't be invested, government borrowing "gives some of these excess savings a place to go — and in the process expands overall demand, and hence GDP. It does NOT crowd out private spending, at least not until the excess supply of savings has been sopped up." (See here and here.)

(5) Overall (so, now not just talking about current conditions), if the economy is growing faster than interest on government debt, we're not burdening future generations by government borrowing or by deficits. (Which doesn't mean we should always run deficits. But that's a different matter.) I'm sure I'm being too simplistic in the way I've written this point. But I hope it gives a gist and that it's correct.

As I've said, I'm not claiming the expertise to evaluate the ideas I've written here (which are basically my attempts to copy what I've read). But the thing is, it isn't that Republicans and pseudo-responsible centrists have counter-arguments to these points. They don't know that the points exist.* Neither do most lawmakers, and neither does most of the populace. And neither do most of the people likely to read my livejournal, I'm guessing. (Not that many people read my livejournal.)

Anyway, while we may have the constitutional right to be ignorant, it's time we weren't. And billions of people will suffer and millions will die if we don't decide to learn something, and communicate what we know.

*There are exceptions, of course. Ben Bernanke is a Republican, for instance.

Two Paradoxes Of Falsification
Two paradoxes of "falsification":

(1) When you reject an idea, theory, or proposition because it can't be falsified, you've in effect said that it's false because it can't be falsified.

(2) The statement, "Theories cannot be verified, but they can be falsified," doesn't survive the challenge, "Can you verify that the theory has been falsified?"

I'm making a bunch of what I consider good assumptions but ones that most people who use the word "falsification" don't make, the most crucial being that, no matter a theory's merits and problems, it's not under challenge until there's a competitor and that it's not wrong (or false or untrue or superseded or worthless or vacuous or whatever) until it's been replaced. Also that, when used as a reason for rejecting a theory, there's no important difference between "wrong" and the terms that I followed it with in parentheses, including "false."*

Fwiw, I've never actually read more than two paragraphs in a row by Karl Popper, the person whom the term "falsification" is most often associated with. So you shouldn't assume this post applies to Popper, though maybe it accidentally does.

[EDIT: What I wrote was a little ambiguous (see my second comment below), so I'll re-word a bit (adding the phrase "shown to be") to say: "...the most crucial being that, no matter a theory's merits and problems, it's not under challenge until there's a competitor and that it's not shown to be wrong (or false or untrue or superseded or worthless or vacuous or whatever) until it's been replaced."]

Krugman on productive silliness, economic models
Always meaning to post more, and also need to comment on a shitload of things (three Mark Sinker threads need more input from me — Inuit tech, Oasis, hallway-classroom [UPDATE: Sinker links added] — not to mention what I owe Mark behind the scenes). In the meantime, here are links to four five blogposts from Paul Krugman on the use of models. Krugman's saying that to understand anything about economies you have to make simplifying assumptions, simpler often being better as long as (1) the models still tell you something useful and (2) you know when life is telling you to turn 'em off or rethink 'em. Subtheme is that, according to Krugman, many conservatives do this absolutely backwards, that is, refuse to turn off the microeconomics model as the supposed source from which all macroeconomics must derive, while at the same time decrying macroeconomic models that could save billions of people suffering and millions of lives if policy makers would act on them.

Dare To Be Silly

Too Much Faith In Models, Capital Taxation Division

Economic Realism (Wonkish)

Jean Tirole and the Triumph of Calculated Silliness

The State of Macro, Six Years Later [UPDATE: Added this link here (it's the "Subtheme" link above) because Krugman states his concerns more emphatically than he had in his previous post]

The New Economic Geography, Now Middle-Aged [UPDATE: Added this link here, and here's where I originally discussed it]

Also, there was this, from me:

Neither rational nor irrational

The discussion with Mark, if I ever have time for it, would include my own justification for my simplifying assumptions (hallway-classroom, for instance; also, the Rolling Stones and call-and-response, also jocks-burnouts-and-sometimes-freaks) and where he and I need to create more of them.

HyunA Is Red (Top Singles Through Third-Quarter, 2014)
Distracted, scattershot listening, with some good discoveries nonetheless. Pretty much totally ignored hip-hop, but it kept pushing its way onto this list anyway, either as guest spots or per se. A couple of non-gender-reversible videos by Tahiti and A.Kor. A lot of hard-rocking aggression in my top ten (top twelve if you go down to Future), the non-"rock" (Chainsmokers, HyunA, Nicki) rocking as hard or harder than the "rock" (Kate, Courtney, w/ BiS kinda both rock and nonrock). I guess you could call Orange Caramel aggressively silly, too. HyunA is the highest newbie, a vortex of fake mayhem and real power — also with a problematic couple of seconds that you might miss but it's worth saying a little about: war whoops that are made explicitly American Indian in live performance, the problem being not Oh noes! appropriation! or the inaccuracy, but that even when the portrayal of Native Americans as fighters is positive, as warriors! as braves! as admirable and courageous! they're rarely portrayed as anything else [EDIT: as anything other than fighters, that is]. But fwiw, the suggestion of being overrun by whoops makes this particular song stronger emotionally, the song being an overload as it is. The lyrics, by the way, are a takeoff on a Korean kids' song, or so Google informs me. Kids go "Monkey's butt is red, red apple, apple is delicious, delicious banana, banana is long," etc. So HyunA's song goes "Monkey's butt is red, red is HyunA, HyunA is yeah..." so, implied, HyunA is delicious (some haters went, "So HyunA is a monkey's butt," but that's the Internet).

1. Wa$$up "Jingle Bell"
2. The Chainsmokers "#Selfie"
3. HyunA "Red"

4. BiS "STUPiG"
5. Kate Nash "Sister"
6. Courtney Love "Wedding Day"
7. Orange Caramel "So Sorry"
8. Tinashe ft. Schoolboy Q "2 On"
9. Nicki Minaj "Lookin' Ass Nigga"
10. Crayon Pop "Uh-ee"
11. After School "Shh"
12. Future ft. Pharrell, Pusha T & Casino "Move That Dope"
13. Shakira ft. Rihanna "Can't Remember To Forget You"
14. T-ara "First Love"
15. Puer Kim "Manyo Maash"
16. Danity Kane "Bye Baby"
17. Badkiz "Ear Attack"
18. PungDeng-E "잘탕 (잘 시간이 어딨어)"
19. GP Basic "Black Bounce"

20. Serebro "Ya Tebya Ne Otdam"
21. Dal★shabet "B.B.B (Big Baby Baby)"
22. Ca$h Out "She Twerkin"
23. T-ara "Sugar Free"
24. Arcade Fire "We Exist"
25. The Hold Steady "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You"
26. JunglePussy "Fuck Texting"
27. Shakira "Empire"
28. Jiyeon "Never Ever"
29. Mia Martina ft. Dev "Danse"
30. Infinite "Back"
31. Neon Jungle "Braveheart"
32. Lady Gaga "G.U.Y."
33. Zizo ft. Nan Ah Jin "Spy"

34. Tahiti "Oppa, You Are Mine"
35. Bass Drum Of Death "Black Don't Glow"
36. SNSD "Mr.Mr."
37. Kim Wan Sun ft. Tiger JK and Bizzy "Goodbye My Love"
38. Shakira "Dare"
39. Scarlet "Hip Song"
40. Tyga ft. Young Thug "Hookah"
41. Louie ft. Boy Wonder "Twilight"
42. Low Pros ft. Young Thug & PeeWee Longway "Jack Tripper"
43. Ray.B "살만한가봐"
44. Plan B "Candy"
45. After School "Rock It"
46. Infinite "Last Romeo"
47. Cam & China "Do Dat"
48. A.Kor "But Go"

49. Choi Sam "Answer"
50. Yemi Alade "Tangerine"
51. T-ara "LA'booN"
52. Brantley Gilbert "Bottoms Up"
53. Rascal Flatts "Rewind"
54. Switch "39˚C"
55. Yelle "Bouquet Final"
56. Polly Scattergood "Subsequently Lost"

Some notes on newbies:

A.Kor "But Go": Lil Jon–like shout-outs, CL-like joyously cute toughness, 2NE1ish mideasternisms.

Choi Sam "Answer": Almost subliminally deep electronic wobbles undergird rapping that seems to work from Korean talk as much as from hip-hop. Most distinct track on this list. (H/t Mat.)

Scarlet "Hip Song": Wears its electronics on its sleeve while going in its structure for the feel of a quick little rock 'n' roll knockoff, using the first eight bars of the 12-bar pattern, the voices as blippy and instrumental-like as the instruments.

Okay, briefly on the warrior thing. Historically you had descendants of Europeans going in and invading and displacing American Indians, with the invaders thinking of themselves as pioneers and settlers (albeit with an advanced guard of gunmen and celluloid desperadoes), whereas the people who resisted the invasion are rarely portrayed as anything but warriors, so are shown as fundamentally war-like. That's a ridiculous imbalance, no?

Anyway, that's all I've time for, may be off-line for a day or two. I don't feel censorious towards HyunA. Some persistent truth and education would be more useful, though not enough money's appropriated for education these days.

[Reminder, I've had to disallow anonymous posting, but if you hit the down arrow you can post using your Facebook or Twitter accounts, and Google+ and a couple more things; the dropdown menu will tell you.]

T-ara Tiger Torres freestyle connection?
I've been claiming that K-pop has a load of freestyle embedded in it, though I can't say how much of this is conscious, how much subliminal (e.g., GLAM knew they were sampling Chuli & Miae but seemed unaware that what they'd sampled was already a sample from the Cover Girls), and how much underived convergence (drawing on similar '80s and electronic sources, you can develop strategies and sounds that are similar to freestyle without their coming directly from freestyle). As far as I know, the word "freestyle" doesn't itself tend to pop up in K-pop as a reference to the NY-Miami '80s electronic dance style.*

Be that as it may, producer Shinsadong Tiger only sometimes delves into freestyle,** but there's a moment near the start of the regular mix*** of T-ara's "Sugar Free" where he's doing a fricassee chop and sugar toss right out of Mickey Garcia and Elvin Molina, for instance this from the Garcia-Molina production of Judy Torres' "Come Into My Arms" and this from their production of Cynthia's "Change On Me." Overall, "Sugar Free"'s hard four-four is far from freestyle, but "Sugar Free" has a recurring riff that also reminds me of Garcia and Molina in its bounce and its fast twistiness. Here are the three songs in full, which are very much worth your time:

T-ara "Sugar Free"

Judy Torres "Come Into My Arms"

Cynthia "Change On Me"

"Sugar Free" is the third consecutive riff-heavy throw-you-against-the-wall electronic dance track that Tiger's done for T-ara ("Sexy Love" and "Number 9" being the previous two), and once again I like it, all three being appropriately grimmer than the charming "Roly-Poly" and "Lovey-Dovey" he'd done for them pre-"scandal" (though I'm sure "Sexy Love" was conceived pre-scandal, so this likely is a coincidence). Still, I miss the charm. I have a bit of the same reaction to "Sugar Free" that I had to the Duble Sidekick–produced "Jeon Won Diary," which is that the track itself seems to be overwhelming the T-ara-ness. I feel this might have been more naturally a 4minute song, owing to the crescendo parts reminiscent of "Volume Up" and the way the title chant and the raps seem to be aching for HyunA's comically agressive pouting. These aren't criticisms. Having been thrown down a notch commercially, T-ara are still throwing down gripping music.

As for other recent T-ara product, the Jiyeon EP works very well for me while the Hyomin EP doesn't, though the latter has pretty good material. Hyomin may be the group's most emblematic singer, sounding sketchy yet strong in the higher register, so not quite "fierce" or "emphatic" but the one most defining of the high pitch, the one who makes it shred, even if her singing gets shredded a bit in the process. The shredding comes across as emotional commitment. But maybe she needs the other T-ara voices preceding and following her for everything to jell.

Jiyeon of course has been playing a role in my imagination that may have little to do with her. I cast her as the foil, perhaps? That may not be the right word. She's not counter to the bright T-ara sound, she's just not being the one to light it up. Stands off to the side in a way that draws her emotional attention anyway. On Never Ever her uninflected breathiness paradoxically gives gravity to the light sentimental material.

*As opposed to meaning raps that are off-the-cuff rather than entirely prewritten, this being an entirely different use of the word "freestyle."

**While 4minute's "Hot Issue" feels very freestyle to me, there's not a lot more from Tiger that does so — though in a brief moment in "Number 9," Jiyeon did manage to make me think of Brenda K. Starr's and Pajama Party's "Over And Over." And I feel

***Interestingly, it's not the regular mix but the tougher, bigger, and more spacious Big Room mix that's getting the big promo push from the label.

Country Music In Romania
Ran across this 2005 track, "Stay With Me," by Romanian pop singer Andra that sounds very country, though it's the Faith Hill/Martina McBride/Carrie Underwood type of country that traditionalists eschew. I've yet to find another country song in her oeuvre, and nothing in the video tries to signify country. Nonetheless, I say it's country. And good.

So far I've located no other major Romanian acts going country, though I'd claim that DYA's cod-reggae "Stai" is a bit countryish, including the lead singer's outfit. And I'll turn up a low-budget country song here or there, still leaning pop.

For all I know there are oodles more; Google isn't getting me to them.

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