Log in

No account? Create an account
Grammatical Trends In Recent Cameroonian Hip-Hop (A Thinkpiece)
The saying* goes that one event is an anecdote, two events are a trend, and three are a thinkpiece. I'm jumping the gun here since I'm up to only two, and I'm not engaging in much thought, either. But I'm certainly not basing this post on knowledge, so thinkpiece it is (as in "I think — but do not know, and am too negligent to try and find out — that the reason Northwest Region isn't actually very far north is that the more northern part of British Cameroon was absorbed into Nigeria").

So the trend we are following is this: in the last year there have been two very good Cameroonian hip-hop tracks that (I think) make fun of elementary-school grammar lessons. Each is (I think) played for laughs; in fact both videos are emphatic pissers. But both make serious points: in Koppo's "Gromologie," that the core words of indigenous Bantu languages are worth using, as opposed to being shunted aside in favor of more grandiloquent French phrasing. Or that one shouldn't restrict oneself to proper French as opposed to the many available languages and pidgins. So the point is more about competing languages than about grammar, I'd say. If that is the point and I haven't got it backwards, and the song is in fact in favor of grandiloquence. Or maybe the song is about grammar. How would I know? I don't speak the language this guy is singing, which seems to be predominantly French but contains words from elsewhere. Nor do I know any Bantu languages. Or any language other than English. Google Translate isn't a great help here, partly due to the non-French words, I presume, though "Ils speak avec des mots, comme des bigs dicos," probably does more-or-less translate as "They speak with words, like bigs dicos." —I'm guessing that "speak" sneaks its way in via English. The Northwest Region and Southwest Region on the border with Nigeria were formerly part of British Cameroon. Cameroon is officially a bilingual country, but it has something like 250 languages, says Wikip, including a number of pidgin languages, among them Cameroonian Pidgin English and Camfranglais. Koppo mentions the latter. ("Les bindi intellectuels, tels que je ndem pêle-mêle Koppo rappe même quoi ? Du n’importe quoi Mais Camfranglais nous gui les points plus que jamais," which Google Translate recreates as "The intellectual bindi , such as I ndem pell-mell Koppo even rapping what? Anything But Camfranglais we guui the points more than ever.") I can't tell if the reference is negative or positive.

Here are the lyrics:


The other track is Tenor's "Alain Parfait (À L'imparfait)." I assume "Alain Parfait" is a Lady Mondegreen à la "Richard Stands" in the American pledge of allegiance. ("And to the Republic for Richard Stands," a child's misconstrual of "and to the Republic for which it stands.") This track is — I think — a kid's dream of mastering his French lessons contrasted with his actually botching them horribly. The serious point behind the comedy being — I think — that you don't have to be perfect; no one's perfect.**

Here are the lyrics:


Whatever languages or grammar systems Koppo and Tenor are drawing on, they love the words. They're rappers. They like rattling words around their mouths and juggling them with their tongues.

*Well, I think this is a saying, in that I read something maybe somewhat like this once, somewhere.

**At 3:25 the Tenor video inserts a brief clip of — I think — Les Têtes Brulées, though I can't tell you the significance of this, either musical or social. Tenor has fun going air guitar in imitation. (I look forward to his engaging with the Chuck Berry duck walk.) Les Têtes Brulées' style of music, bikutsi, was supposedly (i.e., that's what Wikip says) more earthy and indigenous than Makossa, a competing pop style. But (again according to Wikip) Les Têtes Brulées were plenty cosmopolitan and poppy, and back home in Cameroon were sometimes considered too "easy listening."

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/368548.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

2018 Visited: Royal KD "Swagchy" (no tiers)
I'll be creating several "2016 Revisited" and "2017 Revisited" posts shortly, and I figure that if I'm to claim that such posts re-visit those years, I'm implying that I'd only visited those years the first time through, rather than inhabited them. Which is silly. But does one inhabit a year? All of the year, everywhere and at every moment? —Well what does "inhabit" mean here? In any event (or any year), one doesn't suddenly leave one's socioemotional abode once a new year's hits. One takes one's habits and habitude along. And when you say you're revisiting old habits, this usually means you still inhabit or are inhabited by them anyway, right? But this time you're giving them a more critical eye.

Anyway, years aren't containers, and though we're in this one that doesn't mean other years aren't in us too and here's a song that hasn't been officially released nor maybe even gotten its final studio workover, so we can say we're as yet just visiting* it rather than being incarcerated along with it.

[UPDATE: Weirdly, Royal KD have taken this performance down from their YouTube site, and may have also changed record labels. So maybe this song isn't going to be a single. It's still up on Facebook, here. And someone's posted a different low-sound performance of it on YouTube. Fingers crossed.]


Small-label idol-pop hip-hop from 2018 Korea, but shouty sorta like how mid '80s Queens/Long Island hip-hoppers might've sounded if they'd been immersed in Bo Diddley vamps from 1959 or Velvet Underground vamps from 1969 (which they weren't, but I still am). Not that this has the urgency of old Diddley, Velvets, or Def Jam, but it does evoke grinding moodiness while still being good knockabout fun (which is sort of what Diddley, Velvets, LL, and all did/were, too).

Here are sly-seeming labelmates Blah Blah, equally low on tiers.**

*Ref. to board game Monopoly.

**"No tiers" and "low tiers" and "tierless" are shorthand that [profile] davidfrazer and I use to indicate that a group or label isn't on an upper commercial tier but is just as good as those groups and labels that are, hence no tiers for the creatures of the night.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/368352.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

More Japanese freestyle
Remember five years ago we were talking about Japanese freestyle? [profile] davidfrazer clues me in to further developments: Fairies "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~."

The speedbeats and basic pounding rhythm are from '90s Eurobeat, but the doleful melodies are freestyle, so are the hooks (freestyle and Italodisco), not to mention the screeching-brake intro and the "HEY hey hey-hey HEY hey hey-hey HEY— HEY hey hey-hey HEY hey hey-hey HEY" electro-stutters at the start, and the mournful chordings and the "oh oh-oh" vocal riff that come between the brakes and the heys.

Here are some vintage 1980s–early '90s freestyle tracks, to give you an idea what I mean by the term.*

New York:

Cover Girls "Inside Outside"

Judy Torres "Come Into My Arms"

Cynthia "Change On Me"

Lisette Melendez "A Day In My Life (Without You)"


Debbie Deb "When I Hear Music"

Sequal "It's Not Too Late"

Company B "Fascinated"

*The genre "freestyle" is not to be confused with "freestyle" in hip-hop, which refers to live, improvised or at least off-the-cuff raps.

[UPDATE: David Frazer has now found out that "HEY HEY ~Light Me Up~" is a cover of Vanessa's 1993 Eurobeat track "Hey Hey" (Vanessa likely being Clara Moroni under another name), the Fairies' version not straying far from the original. See David's comment below.

I learn from Wikip that, while the term "Eurobeat" has had many uses, by 1993 it was mainly referring to Italian Italodisco-derived tracks selling almost exclusively to the Japanese market. This song is still definitely, overwhelmingly freestyle, at least on top, with Eurobeat underneath. Of course, Italodisco and freestyle took on each other's characteristics.]

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/368117.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I had an awake dream (the generous and fun Fall)
Was just reading Kat Stevens's One Week One Band on The Fall and playing for Clare "Container Drivers" from the 1980 Peel Sessions. Clare said, "This is a lot more fun than Malcolm McLaren."

Of course it is fun. ALL Fall is fun, among many other things. There's always something bouncy or at least rollicking in the sound — rollicking sarcasm, often enough, I NEVER FELT BETTER IN MY LIFE, but rollicking nonetheless. The fun is being strenuously punched back into its dough container, but that's fun too, on the days when pushback is your flavor of fun.

Two years ago Clare and I were reading murder mysteries to each other, Rex Stout and Raymond Chandler. "Raymond Chandler is a much more generous writer," Clare said. She's way right about Chandler being a generous writer, though I hadn't thought to think it. Stout's in his light and delightfully bickering world, but it's not the world so it's way underpopulated. Chandler's in our world and his fierce eye records details and details, all the stucco, the stucco upon stucco in 57 varieties, items I'd never noticed, the ragged plants, the dirt, the driveways, desiccated apartments and apartments that are too plush, punks trying to comb their blond hair back.

"The members were devoted readers," says Wikipedia, "with Smith citing H.P. Lovecraft, Raymond Chandler, and Malcolm Lowry among his favourite writers."

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367758.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Dick Enberg: Those were the days when...
Dick Enberg of NBC Sports, watching the Irish team on parade during the opening ceremonies of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona; he goes into a somewhat more-meandering-than-usual monologue about Irish long-distance runners of the past, listing the great ones, concluding with, "Those were the days when Irish guys were miling."

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367398.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I'm A Legendary Such And Such (Top Singles 2016) (yes, almost a year late I'm finally posting 2016)
Best-ofs for 2017 are already appearing,* and here I am finally posting my Top Singles for 2016. It's not that I've been ruminating all these extra months about 2016's music: I was done with this list in February, and I've refused to add to it since. It's just that I wanted to write something good before posting, or at least something interesting about some of these songs. And it kept just not happening, a combination of busyness and some sort of block. But here we are; I worked hard on the list back then, which is odd and deserves some explanation, that I worked so hard on it then and that I still feel it should be posted, no matter how late.

So here's a quasi explanation/justification, followed by an embed of the YouTube playlist, all 100, then the Top 100 list itself, and then maybe something interesting about several of these songs.

Quasi Explanation/Justification

When I was 12 I drew up lists of songs I liked, drawing stars next to each song to show how much I liked it: 1 star was good, 2 was very good, 3 was better than that, 4 the best. A very positive rating system. "Turned Down Day" by the Cyrkle was one of only two that got a 4, though I don't remember what the other one was. It's possible "Eleanor Rigby" got the 4, though she might have only been a — still impressive — 3. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" certainly would've been a 4 except I stopped making the lists by then. And "Hanky Panky" and "Mother's Little Helper" were surely 4's as well, except they were older, from back in the summer, so I didn't feel I needed to list them. At least, I don't remember listing them.

(Why 'Turned Down Day"? That's a question to return to some other day, maybe.)

"Sunny Afternoon" was a 2 or a 3. "Sunshine Superman" was 2 or 3. Obviously they're connected in my memory. "Last Train To Clarksville," the band name Monkees meaning nothing to me yet, got 2 or 3. When the show appeared several weeks later, "(Theme From) The Monkees" got a 1. (That's a good score, remember.) Those are all I can recall, though I surely listed far more than just those.**

Why did I make such lists? Was one reason to remember song names? To remember which band did which song? Did I even write down band names?

One reason, I think, was that the lists made listening more exciting. And the ratings, they made it a competition, a car race, a competitive event. Making it a race drew me in, maybe even kept me listening more than I'd have listened otherwise.

Several years earlier when I was alone I'd run marble races on a track I had. Spent hours at a time doing it, scoring which marbles did the best. I'd play a game outside — also alone — where I'd throw a tennis ball against the basketball backboard nailed to a tree at the side of our driveway and try to catch the ball. One "team" was the thrower and the other "team" was the catcher, and if the catcher missed, the thrower scored a point, assuming the throw was in-bounds. First team to score 12 was the winner. I'd have tournaments. The teams were called Pic, Poc, Pook, and Peek. Each had its own throwing style and personality. Different windups, different arcs, sometimes different hands. Poc was my favorite and, not surprisingly, a frequent winner.

In retrospect this seems like a very boy thing: listings, scoring, winners and losers, competing.*** The imaginary tennis-ball competitors, though, had more specific criteria for winning and losing than songs do.

I never showed anyone my song lists, the ratings.

This doesn't mean there was no public purpose in this: remembering songs, knowing where I stood. But it was its own adventure, too.

So here we are. I'm still making lists, pitting songs against each other, sort of. Anyway, almost a year late, my 2016 list: as I said, I worked hard on it, listened a lot. Besides my public ongoing list I had a private YouTube playlist called "Borderlines" and another called "Interesting Songs Maybe, 2016," kept mining both for new entries, at the end had an extra 12 or 14 remaining on Borderlines that I kept relistening to, to make sure they shouldn't make the main list. I thought a lot about which songs deserved to be higher or lower, as if there was a difference between 58 and 68. (I'm going to be more casual tossing things in order this year. Just not going to spend the time.) All this on a blog which almost nobody reads anymore.

But I keep wanting to do these lists. It's one way of organizing my listening, keeping at least some of it contemporary, now that no one's paying me to review and I myself am not remembering to even look at the Great Competitive Election like the Voice's year-end poll (if it's still even a thing; I have no idea who won last year).

Of course there are plenty of other ways I organize my listening, and plenty of other questions I ask of music and of myself besides the big blunt-instrument ones, "How good is it?" and "Do I like this more than that?" But there's something pretty basic here, the question "Do I like it or not?" and "What's good?"; maybe even basic because the answers are so unsteady and the reasons so opaque.

Also, you're not seeing enough of my other questions anymore. I keep saying I'm going to post more. Maybe one reason the lists at least get posted — even this one, so horribly late — is that they have a timeline: first quarter, half year, three quarters, year's end. This one sort of has a deadline too (I'm on my sixth or seventh): at what point is it even beyond ridiculous to post it?

Here's an embed of the playlist. Honestly, I'd be surprised if anyone gives it the afternoon it would take, but I urge you to anyway. Just let it go in the background.

1. HyunA "How's This?"
2. Britney Spears ft. G-Eazy "Make Me..."
3. Crayon Pop "Vroom Vroom"
4. 4minute "Canvas"
5. FAMM'IN "Circle"
6. Céline Dion "Encore un soir"
7. Tiffany ft. Simon Dominic "Heartbreak Hotel"
8. Era Estrafi "Bon Bon"
9. DLOW "Do It Like Me"
10. Wonder Girls "Why So Lonely"
11 through 100Collapse )

Commentary: Céline, Tiffany, Kenji Minogue, Yoonmirae, MOBB, TacocatCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367192.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Two by Shinee
Shinee are my favorite of the SM boybands, though I've no particular insights into either Shinee or Jonghyun (and obviously no insight into the suicide of a young man I knew almost nothing about).

Here are my two favorite Shinee tracks; besides singing and dancing, Jonghyun wrote the lyrics on these two.*

*You may recognize the melody of "Juliette" as "Deal With It," recorded originally and then shelved by Jay Sean, subsequently a small-sized hit in America for Corbin Bleu; Shinee reworked it with all new words by Jonghyun and bandmate Minho, making it tense and tingly and gorgeous.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/367095.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

The go is tight, all because they come to disturb (Top Singles Through Three Quarters 2017)
More than 60 already, just tossing things at the end of the list and I'll put 'em in order later. Cameroonian hip-hop continues to kill it. I recommend "Déranger" by Mani Bella ft. Ténor at number 28 as an extreme of cackling and caterwauling and excellent carrying on. (In describing it as such am I misreading it ignorantly from overseas? Google Translate, whatever its facility with standard French, hasn't yet gotten a handle on the Cameroonian hip-hop variant. But "The go is tight, all because they come to disturb" certainly captures the spirit of what I'm hearing. Tight and loose at once.) Kazakh K-pop-derived boyband Ninety One are all elbows on "Su Asty" and it's pretty damn exciting. Miso is all arms and legs on "Pink Lady," as usual. And I finally gave in and placed her "Miso" higher than CLC's "Hobgoblin" in my top ten. (And it's her even-more-bargain-basement-than-usual dance cover of Sunmi's "Gashina" that made me realize that the latter belonged on this list.) Katy Perry surprised me by pulling me in. I tossed off four sentences about it for the Singles Jukebox. Writing it only took me three hours. Celine Dion is on her fourth and fifth singles from what may be her best album (warmest, anyway). The world has mostly stopped caring, but she hasn't.

Here's the ongoing YouTube playlist as of whenever you click on it (size grows and order changes). I hope you give it a spin.

Tracks from Cameroon in the current order: 4, 28, 29, 30, 31, 36, 37, 39, 54, 55, 56, 57. [UPDATE: On the playlist they're now 2, 18, 26, 30, 32, 47, 51, 54, 55, 58, 65, 66, 71, 74, 83, 84, 100.]

1. Lil Debbie "F That"
2. NCT 127 "Limitless"
3. MC G15 "Deu Onda"
4. Jovi "Ou Même"
5. Miso "KKPP"
6. CLC "Hobgoblin"

7. Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia "Bounce TV"
8. Scooter "Bora Bora Bora"
9. Omar Souleyman "Ya Bnayya"
10. Steps "Scared Of The Dark"
11. Pristin "Wee Woo"

12. Vince Staples "BagBak"
13. Cherry Coke "Like I Do"
14. K.A.R.D "Rumor"
15. Die Antwoord "Love Drug"
16. Alternative TV "Negative Primitive"
17. Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie "In My World"

18. K.A.R.D "Don't Recall"
19. Katy Perry "Swish Swish"
20. Ashmute "Scenery"
21. Twice "Knock Knock"
22. Molly "Я просто люблю тебя (Dance version)"
23. Serebro "Пройдёт"

24. Hyolyn x Kisum "Fruity"
25. G-reyish "Johnny Gogo"
26. Nadia Rose "The Intro"
27. Yellow Claw ft. Juicy J & Lil Debbie "City On Lockdown"
28. Mani Bella ft. Tenor "Déranger"

29. Yungtime ft. Mihney "Uh uh, uh hum"
30. Reniss "Pilon"
31. Jovi "Devil No Di Sleep"
32. Miley Cyrus "Malibu"
33. Jessi, Microdot, Dumbfoundead, Lyricks "KBB"

34. Sunny Sweeney "Better Bad Idea"
35. IU "Jam Jam"
36. Maahlox le vibeur "Un Bon Plantain"
37. Koppo "Gromologie"
38. Taylor Swift "Look What You Made Me Do"
39. Franko "On S'assoit Pas"

40. Olamide "Wo!!"
41. Sevyn Streeter ft. Ty Dolla Sign & Cam Wallace "Fallen"
42. BTS "Come Back Home"
43. Kenji Minogue "Oekomta Mekaniken"
44. Celine Dion "Je Nous Veux"

45. Celine Dion "Les Yeux Au Ciel"
46. Egor Creed & Molly "Если ты меня не любишь"
47. Ninety One "Su Asty"
48. Tchami "Adieu"
49. Tei Shi "How Far"
50. Miso "Pink Lady"

51. Titica ft. Osmane Yakuza "Docado"
52. Omar Souleyman "Chobi"
53. Black Dial "Сөйле"
54. Tenor "Kaba Ngondo"
55. Reniss "Manamuh"
56. Tenor "Bahatland"

57. Tata "Ndaleh"
58. Sunmi "Gashina"
59. Lady Leshurr "Unleshed 2"
60. Grimes ft. Janelle Monae "Venus Fly"
61. Olga Buzova "Мало половин"
62. The Can't Tells "Faulting"

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/366675.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

"Most defenses don't have a response for it" (Andy Benoit lets you know in advance)
Andy Benoit on Friday September 1st posting at the Sports Illustrated/MMQB Website:

K.C. will occasionally send a back on a deep downfield route out of the backfield. This is so unusual that most defenses don't have a response for it — they've never needed one.

Thursday September 6, Kansas City versus New England Patriots, rookie running back Kareem Hunt on a deep downfield route.

Here's the clip again (in case YouTube kills the embed), plus a replay that shows defensive end Cassius Marsh forced by the play design into deep coverage. A defense would want a cornerback or safety, not an end, defending a deep route:


And Sports Illustrated provides X's and 0's here:


Benoit's postgame analysis:

The play began with a patented Chiefs misdirection fake to [Tyreek] Hill, which widened the defense. It ended with Hunt finishing a wheel route out of the backfield, where the only man who could defend him was Cassius Marsh, a longtime 4–3 defensive end in Seattle who was acquired by the Patriots just five days earlier. Presumably, Marsh has not practiced downfield man coverage much. Worse yet, it was one-on-one coverage with no deep safety — a consequence of free safety Duron Harmon reacting to Hill and Eric Rowe double-teaming Travis Kelce instead of replacing Harmon in centerfield. As expected, they'd homed in on those two all night, and [K.C. coach] Andy Reid made them pay.

Andy Benoit is my favorite writer on current football. His MMQB archive is here. And here I am a couple of months ago recommending his and Gary Gramling's 10 Things podcast to Dave:


This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/366390.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Did they change me? (Troy Gentry)
Just read that Troy Gentry of Montgomery Gentry died in a helicopter crash.

There was a deeply unsettled push and pull in Montgomery Gentry between rejection and rapprochement, standing their ground and reaching beyond it. Their sound gave an appealing glisten to outlaw country, what I inarticulately describe as "adding a lot of color." Of course "color," as in black and white, as in potential racism, is what scared me in them but it also seemed to scare them, in complex ways. Obviously I'm not exactly the "hip-hop mess" they were trying to brush off in "She Couldn't Change Me," but inexactly I kind of am and so are you.* When the woman returns at the end of the song, how much from the outside does she bring with her? Are they merely winning her over or are they genuinely taking her in? In any event, it was this song of theirs that pulled me in, not just to their music but to the country genre itself. I'd listened before but never really tried to grapple, never was willing to feel it so much.

Troy had the gentler voice and the gentler look. Even though "She Couldn't Change Me" uses Eddie's dark and apparently implacable singing, Troy is the face of the video, so becomes the face of acceptance. The ending is sweet, where he embellishes her colors rather than trying to paint them over.

And of course a few years after "She Couldn't Change Me" was "Some People Change," which may seem only a gesture, but gestures matter. Anyway, there's always the longing for something more, elder wisdom, God, something more feminine, rejected parents. They never sat easy.

That said, as I let my country listening drift away in the '10s I let Montgomery Gentry drift away too. I'm not really on Facebook, but I do check in to see what Dave is up to. I once posted 6 or 7 music favorites, including Montgomery Gentry, so the Facebook algorithm puts Montgomery Gentry up on my news feed.** The duo (on Facebook, anyway) treated the election as if it didn't exist, no mention of Charlottesville, and so on. Probably just playing it safe, but one can always imagine they didn't talk up Trump because they actually couldn't stomach Trump's racism, despite their being the kind of people he was claiming to stand for. —Well, one can do some research, too, which I haven't. Perhaps I'll catch up someday, if I'm not too scared. They made the most reliably good music of the country '00s, the deepest social-emotional poetry, and I put their album Carrying On number two on my albums of the decade list (all genres). Notice the double meaning of "carrying on," which is both holding on, persevering, on the one hand, and causing a ruckus, creating a scene, continuing on in a disruptive or improper manner, on the other.

This is where I wrote about them in the Voice, sliding around, trying to find and lose my own feet:


https://www.villagevoice.com/2002/12/24/the-onslaught (Ctrl-f "c&w whiners")

*Notice how narrow I expect the readership for this post to be, my saying "so are you" with such confidence.

**The Kinks too. So Dave Davies and Ray Davies and Dave Moore and Montgomery Gentry are my window into the Facebook world.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/366194.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Five people who don't know me whom I wish I were in conversation with
Five people who don't know me whom I wish I were in conversation with:

Duncan J. Watts
Sean Carroll
Nate Cohn

Er, that's only three. But I'd like this to become a meme. And if I left you out, or your gender, race, class, and musical preference, that doesn't mean I don't want to talk to you.

Funny, I barely follow Cohn (as opposed to Matt Yglesias and Josh Barro, whom I read all the time), but he once did a tweet on the "total failure of comment sections" that I want to dispute. (I only half-jokingly sometimes claim to have invented the comment thread. In any event, I think it's not only still a viable form, but one of the most essential.) Anyway, not only could my three teach me loads but there are specific thoughts of mine I want them to challenge*; also, though, I think they could use some of what my brain produces, e.g., thoughts inspired by Wittgenstein and Kuhn, things that could untangle some of their thoughts or help them express themselves to the lay people like me that they covet and court; why they shouldn't be worrying about "post-Truth" (though they should and surely do worry about American-grown fascism); what they could wonder about instead.

*I wrote about Watts here and tried to channel him here and here as to my own guesses e.g. why the Sex Pistols and Crayon Pop etc. became famous (is there a way to figure out how much was owing to luck?). I mention Carroll here, my being unable to figure out what physicists mean by "information": if information is preserved then our ability to "read" and understand it would also be preserved, right? How could the latter not be information itself? But if so, then we ourselves are preserved — hurrah! — indefinitely even into the cold dead future. Except I'm sure what I just said is wrong. I just don't know why it's wrong, and I think it would take someone real work to demonstrate that it's wrong.

(I'm assuming there's no difference in kind between "physical information" (if that's a term) and other types of information; i.e., I assume all information must in some way be "physical." Of course I don't think the word "physical" in this paragraph explains itself, and not being a physicist I don't know what I'm saying with the word much less how to explain it. (Btw, this is something I believe I can offer people: a nose for when they fall into incorrectly thinking their words are explaining themselves.))

This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/365853.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

It's the Viking sex drugs!
"It's the Viking sex drugs." She meant to say, "It's the fucking psych drugs," but "Viking sex drugs" is what came out of her mouth.

This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/365787.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I'm always running for you
Addendum to yesterday's HyunA post, and my conversation with [personal profile] belecrivain: Until a couple of days ago I hadn't known there'd been a short "Run & Run" video. "I'm always running for you" could mean that in your eyes I'm always running. But I prefer it to mean I'm always running on your behalf. On our behalf. I'm running ahead so everyone can see there is an ahead. I'm always working because I don't want to stop. The lyrics are bragging, while the video is loneliness. But the loneliness is still something of a boast.

This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/365354.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I'll Be A Wolf Forever Or I Can Live Alone (Artists Of The Year 2016: Wonder Girls, HyunA)
HyunA is my artist of the year for 2016, but Wonder Girls also had a couple of excellent singles, and since they've now disbanded it's my last chance for them. Hence the dual award. (I'm in the habit of doing this every June, except when it slips to July, or in this case August. And my 2016 singles list still needs to go up.)

Wonder Girls "Why So Lonely" (2016)

It seems to me Wonder Girls were in great shape to go forward, though I don't know anything about their relations with one another or with their agency, JYP.* Their recent concept as a "band" may have been something of a gimmick, each member playing an instrument. But they were also all involved in writing and producing the new stuff, as good as anything JYP had provided them earlier. And not only was it good, it managed to mix in adult-like stylings, loungey and breathy and jazzy, without losing its danciness or its lightheartedness. And, while not as radical as Oh My Girl's juxtapositions with similar material, it was as good as that, too. Like K-pop as a whole, Wonder Girls were excellent at working in and playing around with decades and decades of Western dance-pop styles — hip-hop and r&b and synthpop and disco and soul and girl group — without sounding anything less than contemporary. And when Wonder Girls went explicitly retro they still weren't retro. I'll miss them.

Also, Wonder Girls were my first K-pop group: the first I heard and the first I posted about. Not because I knew anything about them, or about K-pop; didn't even know there was such a thing. I'd long been playing with the idea of the dependence of foreground — what you do — on background, on what your collaborators do, on what the rest of the world does, or what it leaves blank, what shores you up and highlights you and sets you off, what differentiates you from the rest and the rest from you, your light and their shadow and their light and your shadow, how they create you and demolish you and you create them and demolish them, everything potentially twisting everything inside out. This has been kind of my ongoing thesis and masterpiece, my most high-profile version focusing on the Rolling Stones and James Brown. One day in 2009 I read a UPI squib about a Korean girl group as the opening act on a Jonas Brothers' American tour. Out of curiosity I searched YouTube and lo and behold, there was the Wonder Girls video for "Nobody" with Park Jin-young (JYP) doing a gag as a James Brown wannabe who gets displaced by his background singers. So I posted under the title "Background Becomes Foreground," and anhh and [personal profile] petronia showed up in the comments and began my K-pop schooling.

Like This and So HotCollapse )

As for HyunA, she's long been appealing as the friendly sex-bomb next door, humorous and emotional and emotionally accessible, donning sexiness as a kind of plaything, enjoying stardom and playing chicken with the censors while being fundamentally unpretentious. I liked how she put herself at an angle from the K-pop work ethic. She was powerfully fun without needing super dance chops or technically impressive rap displays. What I wasn't expecting was the raw power of her singles from the last three years, especially "Red" and "How's This?" but "Roll Deep" and 4Minute's "Crazy" belong there too. They basically rock the fuck out of the joint. A lot may have to do with the whole writing and arranging crew on these, some or all of HyunA herself, Seo Jae-woo, Big Ssancho, and Son Young-jin. Her sexy pout may not be any stronger than it ever was, but it's now the riveting center of music that no longer just tickles or seduces you but knocks you over, too. Or knocks me over, anyway. ("How's This?" isn't streaming at the amount of the others, none of which are as high as 2011's "Bubble Pop!")** And she's becoming a template for other acts: CLC and Miso.

HyunA "How's This?" (2016)

Btw, if you want to, you can see a bit of a shadow side in all of this, all her sex and dance invitations: there's the question of whether anyone really has it in themselves to run with her. I think Jessica Doyle way overstates this at the Jukebox, the loneliness, but she does a great bit of analysis, and she's right, it's there. Mo Kim sees it too: "HyunA registers 'How's this?' less as a coy request than as a taunt: she's daring us to keep up. Read that as fun, or sad, or somewhere in between..." Of course you can hear it as bragging, too. "I'll be a wolf forever, or I can live alone." (Here's an EngSub vid for "How's This?" You can find 'em for most of her songs, and find most of her lyrics translated at pop!gasa as well.) After School stated this duality succinctly at the start of "Bang!" one of my primary K-pop tracks: "T-R-Y Do it now! Can you follow me? Yes, uh-huh. T-R-Y Pick it up! You'll never catch me. Oh no." 'Cause if you get too close, I'm gone like a cool breeze.

Red, Hot Issue, Irony, footnoteCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/365124.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Why I don't use the word "neoliberalism"
Tweetstorm on why I don't say "neoliberalism." Potentially way more interesting post on this subject if I bring in hairstyle (not a pejorative) and hallway-classroom and real life. Someday.

This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/364834.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

A Punk Votes For A Punk Again (Mid-Year Singles 2017)
A punk votes for a punk (again). Here's the playlist:

1. Lil Debbie "F That"
2. NCT 127 "Limitless"
3. MC G15 "Deu Onda"
4. Jovi "Ou Même"
5. CLC "Hobgoblin"
6. Miso "KKPP"

7. Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia "Bounce TV"
8. Pristin "Wee Woo"
9. Omar Souleyman "Ya Bnayya"
10. Steps "Scared Of The Dark"
11. Vince Staples "BagBak"

12. Cherry Coke "Like I Do"
13. K.A.R.D "Rumor"
14. Die Antwoord "Love Drug"
15. Alternative TV "Negative Primitive"

16. Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie "In My World"
17. K.A.R.D "Don't Recall"
18. Ashmute "Scenery"
19. Twice "Knock Knock"
20. Molly "Я просто люблю тебя (Dance version)"

21. Serebro "Пройдет"
22. Hyolyn x Kisum "Fruity"
23. G-reyish "Johnny Gogo"
24. Yungtime ft. Mihney "Uh uh, uh hum"
25. Nadia Rose "The Intro"
26. Mani Bella ft. Tenor "Déranger"

27. Reniss "Pilon"
28. Jessi, Microdot, Dumbfoundead, Lyricks "KBB"
29. Sunny Sweeney "Better Bad Idea"
30. IU "Jam Jam"
31. Maahlox le vibeur "Un Bon Plantain"
32. Koppo "Gromologie"

You once again get Debbie's nasty mug staring at you atop my playlist and my prediction is you'll get her all year. So — again — a punk's voting for a punk, me for Debbie. (See me a few months ago ripping in all different directions on punk, and a more malevolent punk voting for a more malevolent punk.)

As you may have expected, I've spent hours debating whether the CLC track ranks higher than the Miso or vice versa. I keep trying to throw Miso higher, for being the more powerful performer. But CLC get more help from their song, the zoom golly golly takeoff being seductive and razzy at the same time.

But Miso seems to have razz and seduction burned into her personality, or at least her persona: low-rent and going for instant ingratiation, which can be more alive and more enduring than art that has more forethought or money or integrity behind it. I really don't know how well I'm reading Miso, though, how much of this is just the low budget rather than the personality. In the video I think she's throwing herself at us, with smiles that aren't friendliness or niceness, so it's availability that's not altogether available, but a lot of wiseass fun. It's not unfriendly, if you wanna play along. Except as I said I'm just guessing here, and peering across cultures. The template is HyunA but without the immediate allure and playfulness (or without convincing me of the allure and playfulness); so where HyunA's strong and warm and emotionally accessible, Miso's aggressive and fast, but actually that's alluring too, a fast come-here-and-ride. A different allure. Or a video that couldn't afford a lot of camera setups.

As David Frazer points out, "KKPP" uses the same sample as "Canvas" by HyunA's old group 4Minute, though that song's not the group's most HyunA-centric.

Speaking of "Canvas," it's number 4 on my list for last year, the final version of which was finished in February but I still haven't posted the list; last year I thought Rihanna's product wasn't as good as the cheap Eastern European knockoff (Era Istrefi's "BonBon"); this year T-ara's going-out-of-business single isn't as good as "Johnny Gogo," G-reyish's poor-boy-sandwich of a "Roly-Poly" imitation; and of course HyunA's single with Triple H isn't as good as the two HyunA imitations on my list.

Francophone West Africa is killing it, even if I don't understand itCollapse )

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/364651.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Elongated candy, beautifully vaporized
The T-ara kissoff EP is okay enough, on and off, the only real standout track being "Diamond," a strangely deep and ethereal Qri solo chant that sounds like "I Want Candy" elongated and beautifully vaporized — though interestingly enough, it's the next cut, Hyomin's "Ooh La La," that uses a Bow-wow-wowish Bo Diddley beat and a melody reminiscent of the Temptations' "The Way You Do The Things You Do." Neither track sounds much like T-ara.

This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/364352.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I'd rather write a great line that only 5 people read than a good one that 5 million read
Of course, the title line is something of a compromise: it's an okay line that only 5 people will read.

(I'm on a break from hectic busyness, hope to post more.)

Speaking of great guitar lines, here's Ronnie Hawkins And The Hawks from February 1963 — don't know if that's the recording date or the release date; either way, I doubt that anyone at such an early date other than the guitarist here, Robbie Robertson, was putting down, on vinyl or tape, guitar lines with as much distortion, sustain, and virulence (in London you might hear something like it live from Brian Jones or Eric Clapton, but the tape's not running yet, not for a few more months).

I'm curious if I'm wrong here, if there actually are blues or rockabilly or country boogie guitarists already giving you as much distortion or bite. Possibly there are ones with as much sustain and distortion, but they're not trying to hurt you the way the young rock men are. Maybe James Burton* has something of that in him, but still he's getting you through the night more than he's tearing the night to pieces. Some of the rockabilly singers had that push in them, but the guitars were relatively even tempered.

Unless I'm wrong.

(Taking Robbie Robertson as fundamentally himself, rather than an heir or precursor to anything, he's here playing thick and thin at the same time, that is he's got the sustain that gives the notes a bigger bleeding brush, but he's still whittling his guitar lines down to a sharp point. Also, there's something of a stutter/jitter to his playing, what someone might later call funk.)

*Note that the track I linked is by Ronnie's cousin Dale.

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/364279.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

Goofy shivers (Top Singles First Quarter 2017)
Generic songlist intro: Had mostly completed this a month ago, felt I ought to say something about some of these, hence the delay in posting. Here's the YouTube playlist:

1. Lil Debbie "F That"
2. NCT 127 "Limitless"
3. MC G15 "Deu Onda"
4. CLC "Hobgoblin"
5. Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia "Bounce TV"

6. Pristin "Wee Woo"
7. Steps "Scared Of The Dark"
8. Jovi "Ou Même"
9. Vince Staples "BagBak"
10. Cherry Coke "Like I Do"

11. K.A.R.D "Rumor"
12. Alternative TV "Negative Primitive"
13. K.A.R.D "Don't Recall"

Lil Debbie. By strapping herself tight to rhyme and meter schemes she becomes taut and virulent.* NCT 127. If this had been Super Junior doing the "baby it's you" part, the hair-on-the-neck harmonies would've been shivery and cold. NCT sound warm doing pretty much the same, and good for them. MC G15. The genre is "funk ousadia," Google translating it from the Portuguese as "daring funk" or "bold funk," which in this case is a slow goofy dance on a high wire.** The melodica brings me back to Ennio Morricone and Augustus Pablo, also shivery. CLC. HyunA moves with a nice ungainly beauty into which she's instilled presence and charisma while still being accessibly goofy. She's written and produced a HyunA soundalike track for CLC, who have none of her charisma and little of her talent, and they sound almost as good anyway and almost as compelling, also goofy.*** Juan LaFonta ft. Big Freedia. 60 seconds is an effective length for Big Freedia's insistent repetitiveness, about the length of a long TV commercial, which this literally is. K.A.R.D. Immediately gripping but the grip is too tight, or anyway the beats are a tad sludgy and, surprisingly, it's the female singers rather than the males who lie too heavily atop the rhythm. Lots of promise, though, in the songs and the singing.

*Virulence can be a massive irritant of course when linked to Debbie's childish toughness, and fuck that, but it's up to better people to make better music, and at the moment they don't.

**"Sexual connotations and puns in the form of humor," Wikip helpfully opines, also with the assistance of Google Translate.

***Hence the question I asked 30 days ago: "'What if the Rolling Stones had written and produced hits for the Shadows Of Knight?' (Well, what if HyunA wrote and produced CLC?)"

This entry was originally posted at https://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/363934.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.

I wasn't respectful enough, I wasn't quiet enough, even my appearance, "You look too American"
David Frazer said this in my lj comments; it deserves its own post.

Chocolat's contracts expired in February, and Melanie has given an interview to Kpopalypse.

To summarise, they never earned any money, the CEO was useless, the staff constantly pressured them to work harder and lose weight, and Melanie became depressed and began self-harming. And after thinking up the biracial gimmick the CEO decided that Melanie was "too American" and needed to look and behave like a proper Korean girl.
The interview does speak for itself. I'll add here that Melanie's whomp of a wail of "I want it all, all or nothing" in "I Like It" — a song she felt nothing for — showed right off that she had major talent. Even before that, in her narration of the first ChoColat publicity clip she was easily alive and playful in front of the camera. So, was management entirely obtuse, given that they picked Melanie to narrate right at the get-go, and had her loud and highlighted on the second single? Also, management chose good songs every time (i.e., songs I like), which is extraordinarily rare, and for all we know the girls themselves would have chosen worse.

So, we don't know management's own view of this, or the other girls': Still, if you're choosing performers because they're different, it seems lunkheaded to then try and squash down the differences. And if your training technique is psychologically backfiring on one of your talented singers, you should try to change the technique, right? (Yes, I realize this isn't so easy or even always possible when there's more than one performer involved, with each potentially responding differently to the coaching but all more or less needing to be given the same rules. Still...)

Also — I don't know this and obviously haven't done the research — but I had the impression back in 2011 that Korea was developing a body of case law that said that if a youngster signs a 7-year contract at age 12 or 15 or something and she subsequently sues to get out of the contract, the courts will back her and invalidate the contract. Of course, having a right to sue doesn't make actually doing so emotionally or financially feasible, or protect her from getting blackballed for it.

This entry was originally posted at http://koganbot.dreamwidth.org/363756.html. Comments still welcome here, there, and anywhere.