Saturday, September 15, 2012

K-pop Is Koming

The post below was published in September of 2012. Recently––December of 2012––a brouhaha erupted over Psy's impending performance for President Obama and some lyrics he performed in 2004 regarding deaths caused by the U.S. military in South Korea and around the world. This article from the Guardian U.K. offers some much needed perspective on the situation. Please read.

His moniker is Psy (for Psycho, nee Park Je-Sang or Jaesang). He may not be a part of the Korean pop music scene AKA K-pop, at least he'd rather not think so. In South Korea he is called "The Bizarre Singer." (This passes for bizarre in Korea?) In the U.S. he may also be a sign of things to come. Americans have traditionally had phobias about music with non-English lyrics but this may be changing. I may be attracted to this for all the reasons that I liked the Archie comic as a kid. Archie wasn't handsome or smart, had freckles and red hair (like me), no ball skills, no money, and no friends outside of Jughead. What he did have was the two hottest girls at Riverdale High fighting over him (at least on the covers, inside the books Veronica was usually more blasé). Psy has the chicks and also no illusions about his quotients of coolness, trimness, or danceness. (See him splash in the bath and sit on the toilet.) But who cares? He still has the chicks and the most virulently watched video in K-pop history. He may also something of a subversive in Korea (see link below).

I was alerted to this video by my 14 year old daughter. She is part of the post-modern generations that care nothing about gay marriage, cultural miscegenation, or music with lyrics that can't be understood. Perhaps they are the Brave New World at last. That should keep the Tea Partiers awake at night.

The Atlantic looks into Psy and gives some context to his video here. Adult son and his 60 year old mother bust a move Gangnam Style here.

Addendum: The records-keeping authority announced Friday morning that Psy’s Gangnam Style broke the record for “Most Likes on YouTube” with 2,141,758. That breaks the previous record set by LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem (1,574,963), Justin’s Bieber’s Baby (1,327,147) and Adele’s Rolling in the Deep (1,245,641). (It should also be noted that Psy is edging close to 100,000 dislikes as well.) Gangnam also has racked up 227 million views [over 823 million by Nov 25], which puts it just outside of YouTube’s list of the 30 most-viewed videos ever. [Gangham Style is now the Most Viewed Video Ever.] Postscript to the addendum: Gangnam Style now has the distinction of being the first video to break the billion mark.

Addendum excursus, etc: Gangnam is now moving into future trivial pursuit territory. Proof is this Berkerly, CA based Korean-American group giving Psy the Nouvelle Vague treatment. Together, the group is adorable but the girl is adorable cubed. Her hand gestures are just so.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In praise of cranky old geniuses

This has been making the rounds: With furrowed brows and evermore furrowed face, Dylan obliged yet another The Rolling Stone Interview, this time in support of his newest album. And that furrowed aspect of that face––the gestural lining, the graying cloud of hair, and the more recent addition of a mustache that is the car salesman's version of debonair––is very much in effect in his words. But then Dylan has always been more dark matter than shining star. As a guy edging ever closer to overripe maturity myself, I have nothing but respect for the old guys who can still deliver big––Leonard Cohen, Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins, Ian McKellen, etc. (sorry Clint)––and Dylan, now 71, delivers here epically.

The newsy red meat from the interview has been popping up on the interwebs news sources like juiced time lapsed mushrooms. That old crank Mr. Zimmerman just brought slavery fresh into the national conversation again! And, yes, his music referenced the material of others as have many other songwriters in history in a longstanding musical tradition: To this he responds, appropriately: So what of it, m*****f*****? If the new record Tempest has half as much salt and spice as the interview then handle this disc like you would a jalapeña pepper: It may leave some eye-searing burn on your on your fingers. See what all the fuss is about here.

Slightly less geriatric but none the less for it, is one of my favorite bands of all time, Television, heard in a vintage performance captured in their fully muscled prime from 1977 and available for download at Aquarium Drunkard, a blog I humbly submit as one of the best and longest running music sites around. Better yet, if you've been deprived of the experience of this band up till now, then hear it here, now. I've had a crush on this record since discovering it in high school. For me, this record is a rare diamond, un-occluded from start to finish. Really. It's that m*****f***ing good.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Roxy served raw a la 1973

Roxy Music: One of the great twisted voices of the 70s whose musical skid marks were left all over the 80s. They were a band that understood the importance of total integration of branding. In their early period, as evidenced below, their every aspect was a highly overdriven exercise in style: music, hair, make up, glittery fashion, PR, graphics, ambiance, milieu, and all with a quotient of cool as envisioned through a group of mascaraed, ersatz art school twinks. They were stylistically glam and yet miles away from it. They bore vestiges of prog yet had none of its excess or pretension. They had the insolence of punk and the self consciousness of New Wave at a time when New Wave was only used to describe French cinema. Their songs represented shovelfuls of music hall, cabaret, vaudville, showtunes, a thimbleful of The Beatles, and generous dollops of misappropriated Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Blue Cheer. And all of it done in a way that was quintessentially British.

Later on they'd smooth out the kinks and become the sleekly mature and buttoned up sound so favored by the AOR mainstream (see Avalon). It was a respectable move but nowhere near the prime of their kinkier origins. In 1973, their glory was in those kinks. You should love them if you don't already.

See here for an earlier post on one of the great songs from their early mid-period.

1) Do the Strand
2) Editions of You
3) In Every Dream Home A Heartache
4) Re-Make/Re-Model

Thanks to Dangerous Minds and Art Chantry for the prompt.