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A Music Post, Imagine Ye That

Thanks to hipsterdetritus, my guide to all that is sub-optimal in music fandom, for alerting me to this: sometimes people will ax, who killed hip-hop? Or, as Anti-Pop put it, who popped the stripper? The answer: it was the Internet. I pretty much want to punch everyone involved in this post right in the face.


The Song: "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" by X, from More Fun in the New World
Qualities It Possessed That Made It a Candidate for Best Song Ever: Simple yet instantly memorable riff. Clever fusion of L.A. punk sound with cool jazz elements. One of the best-ever examples of John Doe & Exene Cervenka's vocal compatibility. Amazingly smooth, almost imperceptible build from a quiet beginning to a furious ending. Profoundly political lyrics filtered through a deeply personal sensibility. Funny background dialogue at the end. John Doe whistling a variant on the main melody as the song winds down. DJ's drumming.
Then Again, Maybe Not: Dated lyrical reference to "British Invasion" synth-pop.

The Song: "Holiday Road" by Lindsay Buckingham, from the soundtrack to National Lampoon's Vacation
Qualities It Possessed That Made It a Candidate for Best Song Ever: Unbelievably catchy hook. Excellent guitar playing, all done by the underrated Buckingham. Propulsive, bouncy rhythm track. Sunny, breezy feel: perfect pop. Rare use of handclap percussion that is not instantly annoying. Terrific guitar solo. Presence on soundtrack to movie that reminds us of the very last moment in world history when Chevy Chase was funny, as opposed to a laughingstock. Just-right use of backup singers. Status as undisputed classic car music for driving with the windows down.
Then Again, Maybe Not: Sample of barking dog at end of song is unsettling.

The Song: "Metal Health" by Quiet Riot, from Metal Health
Qualities It Possessed That Made It a Candidate for Best Song Ever: Staggeringly great monster guitar chord to open song, immediately followed by one of the all-time great hard rock screams from Kevin DuBrow. Nice choogling guitar riffs in verses followed by killer chord licks in choruses. Song actually does make you want to bang your head, fulfilling most urgent requirement of metal while adding fun self-referential aspect. Presence of evil chuckle. Amazingly great trashy lyrics, culminating in transcendently awesome moment when DuBrown says "I'm not a loser and I ain't no weeper".
Then Again, Maybe Not: Second guitar solo makes the song go on a tad too long.


Jun. 12th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)
....that was Lindsay Buckingham?

Actually, not too surprising.
Jun. 12th, 2008 07:42 pm (UTC)
He is a man of vast but hidden talents. Tusk was the great punk album nobody listened to, and when he played live gigs in the '80s he would sometimes have 8 or 10 electric guitars going at once, like Sonic Youth.
Jun. 12th, 2008 07:29 pm (UTC)
Will you explain that first paragraph (and the post it refers to) for the old folks in the audience?
Jun. 12th, 2008 07:56 pm (UTC)
1. I like hip-hop music.

2. However, there are lots and lots and lots of hip-hop fans and writers -- most of them neurotic, "cred"-obsessed white guys -- who spend endless amounts of time fretting over whether or not this or that rap song possesses a sufficient degree of "realness". If it is found to be insufficiently "real", these educated, privileged white guys declare it to be "hipster rap" or "backpacker rap" and order that it be shunned, because real black people, whom they have somehow been selected to speak for, do not listen to such music. (This happens even if the band making the music is black.)

3. Because this sort of discussion is incredibly annoying, deeply passionate, and totally meaningless, the natural medium for it is the internet.

4. Therefore, the internet has sort of ruined hip-hop for me.

5. That post, in particular, by hip-hop hanger-on Sasha Orenstein, is super super annoying, because (a) it is directed at rap critic Tom Breihan, who has annoyed millions of these nerds by becoming a successful white rap critic who is not them, and (b) it declares a certain type of rap -- in this instance personified by a duo called the Cool Kids -- to be worthless and "hipsterish" by dint of its alleged "meaningless" nature.

6. Said "meaningless" nature is evident in the fact that its performers fail to sing about consequential issues. This would be a more worthwhile criticism if (a) the writer, a premature old fogey, were able to name any non-"meaningless" rap that was made after 1988; (b) he did not single out for attack M.I.A., whose work is very political and and consequential, and who, in addition, is not a rapper; and (c) he did not cite as an example of a "meaningful" rapper Biz Markie, who, while awesome, was not what you might call a heavy theme guy.

7. The author also decries as "meaningless" any rap music (and, by extension, any music) that contains irony, a position that I have always found nonsensical.

8. Generally speaking, there are few spectacles less edifying than watching a bunch of white people argue over whether or not something is black enough.

9. The comments thread starts out stupid and gets stupider, eventually degenerating into a number of posts by a guy who associates hipsters with homosexuals and demands that hip-hop not be allowed to become "gay", while all the while insisting he is not a homophobe.

10. In the end, I am filled with hate.
Jun. 12th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
Gotcha. Folk demanding "authenticity" in music are always bad news, especially when they regard themselves as the only arbiter of what "authenticity" is.

BTW, is "Sasha" a generic name for white people who explain to other white people what black culture is/should really be?
Jun. 12th, 2008 08:36 pm (UTC)
May I modestly propose that, if you are a man and your name is Sasha and you like-a the black people music all time, you not be allowed to talk or write about it with any being with whom you share a language? For instance, you (Sasha) can earnestly gas on about how only charter members of the Nation of Gods and Earths circa 1991 should be allowed to record (but not if Timbaland produces)to your cat, or post it on Mongolian listservs. But hush it elsewhere, people are trying to eat and go about their lives. It's not fair, it may not be right, but it must be done.

And eventually, carrying on from my problem-solving on Dora's LJ, your Asian girlfriend will resolve the issue by stabbing you in your sleep.
Jun. 12th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
"I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts" is moving, but I gotta say that "See How We Are" makes me tear up damn near every time I hear it.
Jun. 12th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
There's actually a voice of reason or two in that comments thread, but this is not one of them:

"word life the crackers where i work listen to this group called “guided by voices” where a dude gets drunk and rambles for two minutes and that’s a song"

I... what? Uh.
Jun. 12th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC)
Well, as someone who has consistently declared X as The Greatest Band To Ever Walk The Earth, I of course agree with you. Though "Sugarlight" from Los Angeles has a spot on my favourites list for its sheer intelligent savagery too.

But yeah, with "Bad Thoughts" it was nice to hear a band be political without being banal world saviours a la U2 or simplistic name-calling tantrum-throwers either.

I've never heard Buckingham's solo stuff! It's been on my to-hear list for eons, considering how many people have said surprised and good things about it.
Jun. 13th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
So of course there is a certain kind of dude who, if asked if he likes hip-hop, will say, "Oh yeah," and who, if asked what hip-hop groups or artists he enjoys, will say, "Oh, Aesop Rock, Can Ox, all the Def Jux stuff," and who, if asked the profession of Warren G, would guess that he is the other bass player in Animal Collective.

It's possible that this dude, who would be more likely to identify David Banner as green than black, is attracted to El-P and not to Birdman because he's avoiding the "less comfortable aspects of black culture." Maybe. Or maybe it's just that he operates in a Pitchforkian sphere that contains John Darnielle and Ben Weinman and Vast Aire, but not Randy Newman or Kai Hansen or Cam'ron.

Either way, I get that you don't want to be that dude, because that dude misses a lot of good stuff that doesn't happen to be on indie labels. But if you're so worried about giving a good review to a CD that you suspect that dude likes that you--who clearly also enjoyed every single minute of it--have to come up with some cockamamie excuse about the CD not being important, then you are something a million times worse than that dude.
Jun. 13th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
Ya know...I never realized Holiday Road was by Lindsay Buckingham but I always loved that song in the movie. And I agree, he's terribly underrated. I'm now feeling nostalgic and must find my old Fleetwood Mac albums....


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
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Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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