It used to be that we would say the famous people died in groups of three.
I think by now everyone acknowledges the enormous amount of suckage that 2016 represents. Yeah, sure, people who are famous die. And yeah, there are a lot of people who are paying this year for choices they made when they were younger. And we’re all getting older.
That doesn’t mean it gets any easier, especially when our icons are dying daily. We just can’t keep up, can’t recover.
I was never much of a Wham! fan, because the music was way too pop-oriented for an edgy New Wave fan, but they were in the clubs when I was, and the music was all over the radio back before I stayed tuned to NPR most of the time. It wasn’t until Freedom hit the airwaves that I really paid any attention to George Michael.
This song became one of my anthems, intended to be sung at the top of my lungs in the car.
I’m sorry that fame comes at such a price, that we do what we do to those who live a different life. Sorry especially for the ones who crash and burn early. His was another unique voice silenced in a year that has hit the music industry hard and its fans harder.
It seems fitting, somehow, to include this video on this of all days.
At the same time some of us are mourning the losses on this year’s Election Day, we can also remember that this was the end of the “War to End All Wars” that wasn’t. I
Today news broke that we lost another in a growing cadre of musicians and poets, Leonard Cohen, on November 7th. Best known for his song, “Hallelujah” (thanks largely to its inclusion in the movie Shrek), Wikipedia says of Cohen:
Leonard Norman Cohen, CC GOQ (21 September 1934 – 7 November 2016) was a Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality, and personal relationships. Cohen was inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was a Companion of the Order of Canada, the nation’s highest civilian honour. In 2011, Cohen received one of the Prince of Asturias Awards for literature and the ninth Glenn Gould Prize.
Armistice Day (co-opted in 1954) remembered the event at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 as the moment when the Allies defeated Germany during World War I.
Wikipedia says of the first Armistice:
The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was an armistice during the First World War between the Allies and Germany – also known as the Armistice of Compiègne after the location in which it was signed – and the agreement that ended the fighting on the Western Front. It went into effect at 11 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”), and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender. The Germans were responding to the policies proposed by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson in his Fourteen Points of January 1918. The actual terms, largely written by French Marshal and Supreme Commander of the Allied Armies Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German troops to behind their own borders, the preservation of infrastructure, the exchange of prisoners, a promise of reparations, the disposition of German warships and submarines, and conditions for prolonging or terminating the armistice. Although the armistice ended the actual fighting, it took six months of negotiations at the Paris Peace Conference to conclude the peace treaty, the Treaty of Versailles.
In this year, 2016, the year the music died, we are on the brink of many changes. We have forgotten so much of our history, but Cohen, born the same year as my mother, was old enough to bear witness to the ugliness of the second War to End All Wars.
It’s so easy to get distracted by the things in life, just in general. As I’ve gotten older, it seems there’s some new thing to deal with every day, and some new reason to move away from established habits. I’ve let this blog slide because of that, but today’s Twofer Tuesday selections come in direct relationship to the discussion of #YesAllWomen, #NotAllMen and #AllMenCan, the three hashtags accumulating their current fifteen minutes of fame.
I would like to think that the discussion will outlast the next few weeks, and that we will continue to explore our views of sexuality and violence as they relate to gender and equality, but I think Ingrid Michaelson got there first.
I don’t even remember how I got turned on to the first of these videos. I may have mentioned before that when I was a kid and MTV still played music (a statement that dates me instantly) I watched everything, and Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” appeared in heavy rotation back then. I disliked the video, even as the music caught my attention. I’ve included Palmer’s original for reference, so you can see shot for shot, how well the director pulled this off.
Now that the distraction has become an extended discussion about the foundations of communication between men and women, this seems most fitting of the videos I’ve collected in my playlist, so I’m presenting it to you for further comment.
It’s likely that there aren’t a lot of people today who remember the noise and furor surrounding the publication of Playgirl magazine, the first porn magazine directed at and for women. Reading the Wikipedia page tells you nothing about the handwaving that surrounded the publication. Chippendales, with a sordid history of violence, bankruptcy and legal issues. Objectification of men just doesn’t happen all that often, so when videos like this one come along, they’re eye openers.
(Here’s Robert Palmer’s original, for reference.)
Now the thing about YouTube is, if you watch one video, you’re often presented with similar videos to watch that follow up on the subject matter, the artist, or the action in the video. So I watched this follow-up and liked it a lot, because it’s much more real than the first video. It speaks volumes about the difference between seeing someone as a whole person and seeing only what you want to see. It’s sad that people don’t check the entire package before buying for the pretty wrapping outside.
I’ll note that the first of Michaelson’s videos has reached viral status. The second has under 150k hits. That’s a shame but not a surprise.
Okay, so this is another throwback (might be that way for the whole week, at this rate), but Paula Abdul’s dance is infectious and the animation for her performance partners, The Wild Pair (originally credited as MC Skat Kat), the video employs a technique similar to Gene Kelly’s Anchors Aweigh and Invitation to the Dance.
It’s one of my favorite music videos from the ’80s, because of the animation and the dancing.
My musical tastes spring from late ’60s Motown, R&B and folk, ’70s psychedelic and classic pop & rock, and the ’80s New Wave movement. I’ve liked some of the newer stuff, but not much.
There are a few artists who transcend time and style, who produce classics that defy pigeon-holing when describing their work.
Cyndi Lauper made hits like “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “She Bop” popular in the clubs, and yeah, they’re fun to dance to when you’re out in a club or at a party, but they’re not substantial like these two pieces.
True Colors and Time After Time both have a smoky quality and more heart than a lot of the music that came out of the New Wave. The video shows she went there long before Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Björk.
It’s one-hit-wonder time today, with Kajagoogoo‘s Too Shy, a video I liked a great deal when I used to watch MTV (back when they showed, you know, music).
I always wondered what happened to them, because I knew there was something that happened. Limahl broke away (well, not really, according to Wikipedia), and eventually made a hit out of the theme for the movie version of The NeverEnding Story.
Ah, well. The backstory is seldom as nice a read as the art produced.
Yeah, I know. You’re probably sick of the song now. I’ll try to make this the last time (for now). But I couldn’t contain myself when Adele Dazeem…ahem…Idina Menzel herself sang on Sunday night’s Academy Awards show. (Made me wonder whether it was just a simple mistake, an amazing parody of herself, or a brilliant marketing move for the producers of If/Then.)
But I digress…
I mentioned earlier that there are in excess of 213k in parody or tribute links to the song Let It Go on YouTube. I’ll give it a rest after this, but you need to see these, just because.
First, the current Broadway cast of Avenue Q congratulate their co-creator, Robert Lopez, who co-wrote the song with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez:
Then, there’s Alex Boyé stellar Africanized Tribal cover of the song, with the ) Ft. One Voice Children’s Choir. Holy cow, can that kid sing!
Finally? What you’re all probably thinking. And if you haven’t swallowed yet, do yourself a favor: Put the coffee down.
Yesterday’s parodies of Bohemian Rhapsody have inspired me to post the reason why I think Frozen will take at least one Oscar come Sunday. Let’s face it – there are few songs from movies that achieve such lofty status in such a short period of time. The Disney movie hit screens on November 27, 2013. Since then, there have been (as of this writing) some 213,000 parodies of the song Let It Go, written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, performed by Idina Menzel. If that’s not a guarantee of success for Original Song, I don’t know what is.
I already mentioned Let It Go once, but once clearly wasn’t enough. I guess I can’t let it go. And, as I said yesterday, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Here are three parodies for your Feel Good Friday pleasure:
First, there’s the tip of the hat to Batman’s Mr. Freeze. (Vocals not ideal, but then I don’t think of “Ahnold” as a particularly musical actor.)
Then there’s the literal version, which ought to get a lot more exposure than it has, because it is, in fact, awesome. High notes and all.
And finally, Cincinnati WKRC Traffic Man Bob Herzog’s exquisitely performed Traffic Man parody, which leads to the inevitable “I wish winter would end” feeling I’ve got, knowing there’s yet another winter storm on the way.
Throwback Thursday isn’t just for the original clip. Sometimes, it’s for the original clip and all the things it inspires.
The original, ground-breaking Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen was released in 1975 as part of the album A Night at the Opera. Since then, it has achieved stratospheric status as the UK’s third best-selling single of all time. The work is amazing, considering the analog nature of the recording and the process of assembly. (Click the link for a detailed description of the entire studio and post-production work that went into the final project.)
As imitation is considered the sincerest form of flattery, this song has plenty to recommend it, from Wayne’s World…
This brilliant music video tribute to the Doctor in all his forms is a fabulous mash-up of a-ha’s “Take On Me” video and clips in the style of the video taken from the series. I’ve been holding on to these for a while, so here’s your Twofer plus bonus tracks for today.
For reference, here’s the original video, by a-ha. You can really see how the style translates in color:
But wait! There’s more!
And I’m warning you now – swallow before you watch either of these. Yeah, they’re long, but the payoff is SOOO worth it.
There’s too many ways I could tag this. Leaving off at 12…
Ordinarily, it’s Wednesday and I’d be featuring a video (or more) on the subject of dance. Not today. I almost — *almost* featured a trio of Devo songs for Twofer Tuesday, but I hesitated. Yesterday, I heard that Bob Casale, one of Devo’s founding members, died suddenly of heart failure.
This has already been a hard year, with losing Pete Seeger and Shirley Temple Black among others, but they were both in advanced years. 61 (Casale’s age) is no longer as hugely distant as it once was.
Devo’s music had a major influence on my life, from taste in music to the realization that being different isn’t a bad thing. We’re Through Being Cool could be considered an anthem for some of the counterculture who thought of Devo as inspirational music.
Their brand of nerd rock predated “Weird Al’s” career by a solid four years. He eventually featured their music styling in an original tribute, Dare to be Stupid.
How do these music videos qualify for Dancing Wednesday? Well, if you’d seen me while I was an undergrad at SUNY New Paltz, in the local New Wave club, you wouldn’t have to ask.
The group is probably best known for the song “Whip It” —
— but there are others that I consider to worth including in this list. They follow, in no particular order. If you’re just discovering their music for the first time, I hope you can appreciate the influence they brought to music, especially during New Wave, and beyond as well.
The second song has that eerie “I know something you don’t know” sort of feel to it, on top of the minor key thing, and then there’s the whole story song thing. It hits me on multiple levels. Plus? Candles. Everywhere.
I adore these two women, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, of Decatur, Georgia. They speak more truth in their raw lyrics and honest vocals than many performers. And of all the songs they’ve done in their careers, these two speak loudest to me. Fortunately, these links are coming from the Indigo Girls’ VEVO channel and they shouldn’t go away.
Did you know Dungeons & Dragons turned 40 this year? Do you know how I know it? Because back when the world was new, before the dark ships came, I played AD&D. (That’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, for the uninitiated.)
That’s not how I heard about The Gazebo, though. I heard the story when I started playing an RPG (that’s Role Play Game) several years ago. The Dread Gazebo came up in conversation and folks retold the story as if sharing a modern Mystery Play.
But until a friend posted a link to this audio (yes, sometimes YouTube is audio-only, but it’s SOOOO worth the listen), I had no idea anyone had dramatized the story. So now I’m sharing. And this is your spit-take warning because it’s possibly the silliest story you’ll hear all day, if not all week.
So why did I know about this? Because Geek and Gamer Girls are EVERYWHERE!
Sometimes these things just write themselves. Billy Joel is coming to a Stadium near me this summer and I have a bucket list item to check off. Planning for tickets in the cheap seats. Hoping the fates are kind…
This special Twofer Tuesday includes time travel. Two of my favorite tracks, the first in two time periods.
After spending a whole day glued to the internet, watching with horror as the story unfolded in Columbia, Maryland, near where I live and attend classes, I’ve realized I’ve been holding my spiritual breath. Our idea of conflict resolution should never, ever include the use of firearms, and yet, it happens all too often in this country. We have forgotten how to be human when we resort to taking life by force.
I think it’s important to take a break for beauty, so we can remember that this is what we can achieve when we let go of the anger, the fear, the jealousy and all the other stresses that conspire to make our lives hell.
This Sunday, as we remember three people in Columbia who ceased to be, and those who were injured in body and spirit as a result of this horrible, violent, American-made act, listen to Yuki Koshimoto’s Spacedrum and reflect on the beauty of nature. Remember that we lose people daily, all over the world, to everyday acts of human violence.
Fear and anger drive our actions far, far too often.