Can We Deport American Prayer?

// August 28th, 2008

Please say a prayer for America.  There is an epidemic building whereby celebrities and musicians are creating cheesy songs as some sort of exercise in self-adulation to show their support for Barack Obama.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that the preaching of the famous holier than thou set can only hurt Obama’s campaign to win the hearts and minds of America’s people.  Maybe they can go away for the next 2 months or so and come back when the election’s over?

I love Obama as much as the next guy, but seriously?  Is Dave Stewart even an American citizen?  Because if he’s not, we should deport him for this horribly cheesy song!!!

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Amazon’s New mp3 Widget

// May 15th, 2008

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Obama’s Celebrity Army

// March 4th, 2008

will.i.am has followed up the star-studded Yes We Can with another song & video for Obama named We Are One:

The video features Jessica Alba, Ryan Phillippe, George Lopez, Kerry Washington, Malcolm-Jamal Warner (Theo!), John Leguizamo, Regina King, Tyrese, Eric Mabius, Macy Gray, Zoe Kravtiz, Tabu, Tichina Arnold, and Freddie Rodriguez among others.

It’s not too bad, but to be honest, I find these celebrity political endorsements to be somewhat annoying and patronizing. They mean well, they really do, but in the end, they might just ruin it all for Obama. I’m talking about the backlash against Hollywood when celebs start getting all preachy and holier-than-thou on the rest of us - especially when it comes to politics.

By and large, just about every celeb in this video has never been politically active nor vocal in the past. All of a sudden, here they are, basically telling us to vote for Obama without delving into any matters of substance whatsoever. Hey, it’s the new cool thing to do! Just like those Livestrong bracelets a few years ago & being green last year…

The fact that people who otherwise wouldn’t care much for politics feel so strongly about a candidate & getting involved is a testament to Obama’s strength as a leader & symbol for hope & change, but that doesn’t mean that more bandwagoning celebs, especially B-listers trying to stay relevant in the public eye, will help the cause. That remains to be seen, but Time seems to think that this year, things might be different:
Obama’s Celebrity Army

Maybe these guys should take a page out of George Clooney’s book:

“You know, my father ran for Congress two years ago. But…everything was categorized as Hollywood versus the heartland, and I actually hurt him, as he was running as a Democrat in Kentucky. I could do damage to Obama. So, I don’t necessarily know [that] saying I back him is helpful.”

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Obama’s Greatest Hits

// February 26th, 2008

For all of my readers out there, yes all 2 of you (are there even 2 people reading this???), I’m sorry for being delinquent in posting recently. I’m becoming a lazy southern Californian… I have emerged, however, to share with you this:

Obama’s great and all, but what’s really great are all these songs he has dedicated to him.

First we had Yes, We Can by will.i.am & an all-star cast:

Pero para mi gente, los Amigos de Obama, here’s the new Obama reggaeton anthem:

Think it can’t get any better than that?
Well it can.
Mariachi style mutha uckers!!
Mariachi Aguilas de Mexico with Viva Obama!:

Si se puede!!!
Yes we can!!!

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Yet Another Masterpiece From R. Kelly

// October 9th, 2007

R. Kelly aka Mr. Showbiz has just blessed us with yet another masterpiece. Words can’t do it justice, just watch & enjoy:

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SpiralFrog Is A Joke

// September 17th, 2007

The hype machine announced the launch of the delayed & much-ballyhooed free ad-supported music download service SpiralFrog today - a self-proclaimed iTunes competitor (are these guys for real?). The service offers free song & music video downloads that are preceded by 90 second commercials in MSFT’s WMA format with PlaysForSure DRM.

Beyond the major problem that no one wants to hear a 90 second commercial before every song they listen to (goodbye playlists!!!), WMA files aren’t compatible with iPods (~80% of the mp3 player market) nor Microsoft’s own Zune player! But things get even worse. There is no burning to CD available and registered users must renew their subscription every 30 days to keep downloading music & every 60 days to keep listening to files they have downloaded. So far, SpiralFrog’s catalog consists of about 800,000 songs from Universal Music Group & some independents. This service is basically rendered DOA - dead on arrival.

It’s yet another new internet service that gets the hype, but just doesn’t get it. It’s a joke. I wonder if anyone behind this stupid idea of a company actually downloads music or has a clue who their consumers are.

Maybe that’s why their initial launch was delayed for 10 months from last December, followed by the departure of its CEO Robin Kent, 5 executives & 3 board directors. Kent proclaimed last year that

Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling. SpiralFrog will offer those consumers a better experience and environment than they can get from any pirate site.

He must have been just saving face by trying to pretend he believed in this stupid idea before he was going to jump ship OR maybe he’s just never downloaded music before & thinks that kids haven’t either.

Would anyone actually want to use this service? We’ll soon find out, but let’s just say that the chances of me winning the Mega Millions lotto tomorrow night are looking much rosier than their chances of success.

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Britney Spears Is A Complete & Utter Trainwreck

// September 10th, 2007

…and yet, somehow I can’t look away!!!

Mama Spears made her “comeback” at the MTV VMAs last night & it was a total disaster. Not only did she sport a bit of a belly, but she basically walked around the stage - almost tripping a few times - didn’t really dance, and didn’t even try to sell her horrible lip-synching, which was more like lip-talking. She basically looked like a bored stripper who’s not looking for many tips.

As Reuters put it:

Britney Spears launched her highly anticipated comeback at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, drawing ridicule by dressing up as a stripper and miming her new single.

Other music stars in attendance like Fitty Cent, Chris Brown, Diddy, etc. just stared in bewilderment at the trainwreck, while Rihanna & her friend were literally spotted laughing at the spectacle:

The sad thing is that some of Britney’s new songs (which are featured on Perez Hilton) are actually pretty good, but that brings us to the real problem of the icon that is Britney Spears: she’s a fabrication of the modern music industry. Her vocals are probably dubbed & the one thing she was actually good at - performing on stage - she’s no longer putting any effort into. After tonight, this comeback of hers is going to get even more interesting as the reality & image of Britney collide at full force.

…and yet, somehow I can’t look away!!!

The VMAs were not all bad though. Justin Timberlake called out MTV on 2 separate occasions, demanding that they play more music videos instead of the reality TV garbage (some of which, like The Hills, which I love!) that litters the network today. The Fantasy Suite parties & performances were a nice touch, although really just if you were there in Vegas partying it up, instead of catching little moments of them on TV.

Here are my personal highlights from the show:


Chris Brown & Rihanna: Wall to Wall / Billie Jean / Umbrella / Kiss Kiss

Soulja Boy: Crank Dat

Foo Fighters & Cee-Lo: Darling Nikki

Kanye West & T-Pain: The Good Life

Alicia Keys: No One / Freedom

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The Masterpiece That Is Trapped in the Closet

// August 22nd, 2007

R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet came to a triumphant conclusion this week, capping the 2nd set of chapters of this masterpiece hip-hopera with chapters 13-22.

Like most artistic geniuses, R Kelly is truly aware of his greatness.
Kells, accompanied by some nerd host named Matt Singer, presented one chapter each night for the past 10 nights, chuckling & feelin’ himself on every episode & its intricacies while Matt just nods somewhat befuddled or condescendingly.

What many people wonder, though, is if he is in on the joke or not. Maybe that’s what makes R Kelly some sort of genius. We just can’t tell, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still absolutely hilarious TV, viral, and it’s the one amp; only hip-hopera from the Pied Piper of R&B, who’s now calling himself Mr. Showbiz. In short, Trapped in the Closet is a masterpiece amp; you should see it over amp; over again.

To get the run down on all the chapters and the web of sex, lies, deception, and the package that envelops Sylvester, Gwendolyn, Twan, Rufus, Cathy, Chuck, James, Bridget, Big Man, Tina, and Roxanne, check out the Trapped in the Closet Wiki and YouTube.

Here are some poignant reviews of Kells’ epic:

Village Voice:

Many of its biggest fans seem to think they’re laughing at Mr. Kelly, not with him, as if the whole thing were some sort of glorious, terrible mistake. People like Weird Al and Jimmy Kimmel have done “Trapped” parodies, which is pretty ridiculous when you consider that “Trapped” itself is already total self-parody of a particularly broad sort. Anyone who doubts that Kelly possesses the ability to laugh at his own sexed-up persona should really see the Live! The Light It Up Tour DVD; the opera version of “Feelin On Yo Booty” should dispel any lingering doubts. Kelly knows that he’s being funny with “Trapped in the Closet”; any storyline that includes a midget shitting himself at a pivotal moment can’t be taking itself all that seriously.

New York Times:

Mr. Kelly’s outlandish achievement seems to inspire overstatement, especially online. The Web site for New York magazine (nymag.com) proclaimed this “the cultural event of the year,” while one fairly typical commenter at ifc.com called it “a perfect storm of the worst artistry ever.”

No doubt Mr. Kelly is enjoying all the attention. He seems drawn to the idea of being an old-fashioned all-around entertainer, and he has recently taken to performing beneath a lit-up sign that reads, “R. Kelly as Mr. Show Biz.” He already stands as one of the last true giants in the twinned worlds of R&B and hip-hop, and now he’s relishing the idea of branching out into IFC territory. (He told Variety he “thought of ‘Trapped’ as an independent film.”) Mr. Kelly seems giddier than ever.

And yet there is something slightly unnerving about the kind of attention “Trapped in the Closet” has received. Many of its biggest fans seem to think they’re laughing at Mr. Kelly, not with him, as if the whole thing were some sort of glorious, terrible mistake; as if the far-fetched plot turns (most infamously, the policeman cuckolded by the “midget” hiding beneath the sink) and cliffhanger endings (“Oh my God, a rubber!”) were the work of someone who set out to make a traditional musical and failed. It’s hard to think of a work that has inspired more parodies, from Weird Al to Jimmy Kimmel, from sketch comedy to cabaret. Why do so many people think the funniest pop star on the planet is the butt of the joke when he is so obviously in on it?

Trapped in the Closet may be an anomaly, but it’s no fluke.

Slate:

Surely this is the most widely viewed psychedelic chitlin-circuit soap opera in history.

Instead of singing about sex, Kelly is singing about singing about sex. He’s gone meta-love man.

Trapped in the Closet is a riot, but it is also, in its way, profound. The real triumph of Kelly’s meta-love-man routine is how it underscores something essential about sex and desire: the comedy and absurdity that so often accompany the desperate lurchings of our loins.

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RIP Max Roach

// August 17th, 2007

 

Legendary jazz drummer, Max Roach, one of the greatest drummers ever & one of my personal music idols, passed away yesterday at the age of 83.

As one of the most prolific jazzmen of the bebop era, Roach played with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins & Clifford Brown.

Among these collaborations, Max Roach was part of the “greatest concert ever,” Jazz at Massey Hall, which featured the quintet of Charlie Parker on alto sax, Dizzie Gillespie on trumpet, Bud Powell on piano, Charles Mingus on bass, and Roach on drums. He was also known as being part of the amazing yet short-lived Clifford Brown / Max Roach quintet, which sadly came to an end with Clifford Brown’s untimely death.

Roach moved on to leading his own groups as well as composing several musical pieces dedicated to the civil rights movement including 1960’s We Insist! Freedom Now Suite with Oscar Brown.

WKCR’s Phil Schaap, one of the great jazz historians & radio hosts, put it best in saying

The world’s greatest living drummer just passed

Sadly, we’ll no longer hear Phil’s words every morning during his show Birdflight, “Good morning Max!” but we know Max is back with that great quintet in the sky now.

Max Roach drum solo

Max Roach w/ Dinah Washington @ Newport

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Tay Zonday Is My New Favorite Singer

// August 3rd, 2007

Tay Zonday is the newest YouTube & internet celebrity & he’s my new favorite singer. This U of Minnesota grad student kicks ass. Not only does he have this deep baritone voice, but beyond being amusing, he’s got some deep lyrics.

Here’s his song Chocolate Rain that’s blowin’ up on the internets right about now (3+ million hits & counting):

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