Words about Music
A friend of mine just sent me a link to the Top Ten YouTube Videos of All Time. Reviewing the list, I realized that I hadn’t seen any of them, so I sat myself down and watched them all.
Below the cut, you’ll find links to each video, along with a few of my thoughts on each one (WARNING: Contains Bieber)
OK, the social media revolution is complete. I joined Twitter.
I’ve been reading too many articles lately in which some newswire is relaying news – typically celebrity news – based on what the celebrity in question has just tweeted. So, I figure, why not use Twitter as the news source it has become? I do not ever intend to tweet (I’m already on Facebook, and I honestly can’t see a reason to be on both, unless I’m caught in a real life, hashtag-worthy event…). Rather, I plan to use Twitter as a kind of “Facebook of the Stars,” in which I can read about what various celebrities are telling the world without having to catch up on them through E! Online or Yahoo! Gossip or some other aggregator that has worked an exclamation point into their name.
So, at the advice of a friend, I googled “Most Twitter Followers,” which led me to this site – a list of the one thousand most popular tweeters. Of the thousand I found there, I “followed” 59 people. Here they are, sorted in order from most followers to least:
|1) Lady Gaga||21) Al Yankovic||41) Hugh Jackman|
|2) Justin Bieber||22) Larry King||42) David Blaine|
|3) Britney Spears||23) Wil Wheaton||43) Drew Carey|
|4) Barack Obama||24) Lindsay Lohan||44) Lea Michele|
|5) Kim Kardashian||25) Penn Jillette||45) Miranda Cosgrove|
|6) Katy Perry||26) Bill Cosby||46) Craig Ferguson|
|7) Ellen DeGeneres||27) Dalai Lama||47) John Hodgman|
|8) Taylor Swift||28) Brent Spiner||48) William Shatner|
|9) Oprah Winfrey||29) Alyssa Milano||49) Steve Martin|
|10) Justin Timberlake||30) Kevin Nealon||50) Sarah Palin|
|11) Ashley Tisdale||31) Nick Swisher||51) Seth Meyers|
|12) Ryan Seacrest||32) Yoko Ono||52) Tina Fey|
|13) Paris Hilton||33) Sarah Silverman||53) Roger Ebert|
|14) Demi Moore||34) Neil Patrick Harris||54) Bill Maher|
|15) Jimmy Fallon||35) John Cleese||55) Joan Rivers|
|16) John Legend||36) Dr. Phil||56) Pamela Anderson|
|17) Al Gore||37) Barbara Walters||57) Miley Cyrus|
|18) Conan O’Brien||38) WikiLeaks||58) Jessica Simpson|
|19) Dr. Drew||39) Michael Moore||59) Howard Stern|
|20) Stephen Colbert||40) Kathy Griffin|
In terms of actual entertainment, I am fans of some of these folks and not of others, but they all looked like they might produce interesting tweets, which was my only criteria here (and thus concludes the story of how a Twitter user came to follow both Michael Moore and Sarah Palin on the same day. If only I had a way to share this exciting news with everyone I know. Oh yeah, that’s right: Facebook).
Anyway, first impressions of Twitter as news source:
- It works. In the first fifteen minutes, I learned that Ellen Degeneres had sat down with a seven-year old paleontologist, that Justin Bieber has raised over $7 million for a clean water charity by asking his fans to donate to it in honor of his upcoming birthday, that Roger Ebert hated the Oscar telecast, that Kathy Griffin is going to appear on Glee, that Lea Michelle had pasta with Tom Hanks after the Oscars, that Matthew Morrison has a new single out (quick review: Yuck), that Britney Spears has a new single out (quick review: didn’t bother clicking the link), that Barack Obama will work with anybody! ANYBODY! to improve Health Care Reform, and that Seth Myers wrote a clever line about Charlie Sheen (“Post-Oscars, when I say “The King’s Speech,” I’m referring to stuff Charlie Sheen said.”). Not bad as a quick (and mindless) news source.
- In the time it took me to read 1,000 names and click on 59 of them, 13 people followed me. One is an “online dog community,” one is extremely profane, one describes herself (forgive me for assuming the gender here) as a “Justin Bieber fan.” All thirteen are total strangers to me and likely not even real people. Regardless, all thirteen will be significantly disapointed when they notice that I never tweet. Not even once just to try it. Ever. Seriously.
- Wikileaks releases new, “shocking” information every hour or so. I honestly didn’t realize just how shock-jock they were about their information. I haven’t removed them from the feed yet, but they’re the only ones I’m considering removing at this point.
- And finally, I knew right away this was a mad, mad world when I followed President Obama and saw these two things pop up on my screen:
Yeah – this is gonna get weird fast…
This story is strange on a wide variety of levels.
But first, the facts: Pop singer, Katy Perry, recorded a segment for Sesame Street, in which she sang a (child-friendly) version of her hit song, Hot N Cold, with everybody’s favorite montser, Elmo. The segment was posted on Sesame Street’s YouTube channel as a “sneak peek” at the show’s season premiere. After more than one million views, the folks at the Sesame Workshop received a number of complaints that Ms. Perry’s outfit was too revealing, making it inappropriate for a TV show aimed at preschoolers. The Sesame Street folks decided not to air the segment on television and removed it from the Sesame Street YouTube channel, although they did allow it to remain on other YouTube channels and websites, including Katy Perry’s own YouTube channel and katyperry.com.
Oh, strange story, let me count the ways…
1) Sesame Street pre-releases clips of its shows on YouTube? Is this really such hotly anticipated content that we can’t wait for the actual show to air?
2) Parents actually watch pre-release clips of Sesame Street on the Internet? Are there folks out there who really want to pre-screen Sesame Street on a regular basis?
3) To Sesame Street’s target demographic, cleavage doesn’t suggest anything naughty – it suggests lunch!
To be honest, I don’t very much care that they didn’t air it on television. One of the great things about the times we live in is that television isn’t our only source of media content. Anyone who wants to see Katy Perry sing with Elmo (or just ogle her cleavage) can do so on the Internet just as easily (or, some would argue, more easily) than on television. And if your two-year old is a big Katy Perry fan, you’re free to sit him/her down in front of the computer and let him/her watch. So the TV show becomes the “extremely safe zone.” That used to matter a lot, because the decisions of a select few affected the choices of the masses. Today, not so much.
For those who are curious, here’s the video. But be forewarned – if you click on it, you have to stop claiming that you read my blog just for the articles…
Some random humor from my e-mail inbox:
First, my friend Jeff Porten shows what happens when you eat lamb chops while listening to Elton John:
Bo combs my fleece next morn adorned
Zero hour six AM
And I’m gonna be munching grass and straw till then
The NASA satellite was low and tight
That caught my sheepskin fuzz
Ovis aries meets Ares
And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
Got four legs waving in the air sublime
I’m not the lamb they think is all alone
Oh no no no. I’m a rocket lamb.
Rocket lamb, glad I’m wearing wool ’cause it’s awf’ly cold.
Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
Leave them with the goats’ next door
Or their heads will bug out bad like Arnold’s did.
I see Spirit stuck there, down in the sand
In space there’s no one to hear you bleat
A rocket lamb, a rocket lamb.
And this orbit is still stuck on full repeat
No fancy gyroscope gives me a sign
I’d be better off as gyro meat
Oh no no no no no. I’m a rocket lamb.
Rocket lamb, Peep has no business raising sheep
Not to be outdone, Steve Walsh responded with this Paul McCartney tribute:
Well the grain exploded with a mighty crash, as we leapt over the trough,
And the first one said to the second one, “baaah”
Lamb on the run, lamb on the run,
And the farmer man and the upholstery stand, were searching everyone,
For the lamb on the run, lamb on the run, lamb on the run, lamb on the run
Well the shearer drew a heavy sigh, seeing no spool of wool had come,
And a bell was ringing in the village square, for the rabbits on the run
[NOTE: actual line!]
Lamb on the run, lamb on the run.
OK, so the first one is cute, but the second one is a challenge. So at that point, I turn to Billy Joel for inspiration:
There’s nine in our flock on a Saturday
But yesterday it was ten
There’s a sheep dog standing next to me
Making sure no one else leave the pen
He says, “Son, you appear to be musical
which for you, might seem quite absurd
But if you would please bleat a song that is sweet
Then I can keep track of this herd
baa baa baa, b- b- baa baa
baa baa, b- b- baa, baa baaaaaaaaaaaaa
Sing us a song, you’re the piano lamb
Sing us a song right now
’cause Mary is peeved I let one of you leave
and now she’s stuck eating the cow..
So there you go. Three guys writing song parodies who aren’t the least bit sheepish…
(Too much? Yeah, you’re right. Sorry…)
OK, it’s impossible not to compare, so here we go. Two groups of people who boldly claim, “We are the World.” Which group do you prefer?
Obviously, these are both wonderful causes, so I’m comparing only music videos here.
I guess I’m predisposed to prefer the original, since it’s how I first heard the song, and contains a larger percentage of artists that I know and/or identify with. That said, the new version is growing on me. I’m surprised by how much I like the rap breaks, both in the middle and at the end. I think what Wyclef Jean did with Creole lyrics and singing style went a long way toward making this an effort in Haitian relief, and not just a remake of the original song. I like the way they incorporated Michael Jackson into it (the image of Janet singing next to her brother is the first tribute to his legacy that doesn’t feel commercialized in some way), and I love the Ray Charles impression that Jamie Foxx threw in to honor another of the original’s stand-out artists.
On the other hand, I’m mystified about why they changed the lyrics to one of the verses (was there a religious objection to “As God has shown us by turning stone to bread?”). I’m surprised by Celine Dion’s choice to imitate, note for note, what Cyndi Lauper did with her part (with apparent coaching from Lionel Richie?), rather than bringing her own interpretation to the song. I think teen sensation, Justin Bieber, is going to get a big bump in face-recognition from singing the first solo (“There comes a time…”), but that most people will conclude that his voice was too weak to handle it. And I’m deeply, deeply troubled by the acceptance of auto-tune as a musical choice by folks Lil Wayne and others. If melodic singing isn’t his thing, then find someone else to do Bob Dylan’s part, please? That, or for heaven’s sake, someone please improve the auto-tune technology so it doesn’t sound like a robot attempting to sing such soulful lyrics!
In the end, I still prefer the original, but I’m glad they both exist. And if the new one is nearly as successful as the original in raising money for a good cause, then I’m doubly glad they put in the time and effort.
It seems that country singing superstar Carrie Underwood is engaged to marry the NHL’s Ottowa Senators’ Mike Fisher. Which, in the extremely unlikely event that she chose to change her world-famous name, would make her Carrie Fisher.
Attention 40-something year-old men: you may now commence picturing Carrie Underwood in a metal bikini. That is all…
So many blog-worthy things going on in the world all at once! So, some quick thoughts on several things:
Adam Lambert emerged from his #2 finish on American Idol as one of the most promising singing talents in years. At the American Music Awards, he decided to make his performance a social statement, rather than make it about the music. He’s since been cancelled by ABC from Good Morning America, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. And the shows that are letting him on suddenly want to talk about nothing else but the AMA’s. I’m disappointed. Not because I have a particular opinion about his “cause,” but because he’s allowed his cause to overshadow his music, which I was looking forward to enjoying. On the upside, I think maybe he’s realizing his mistake. Here’s what he told Ellen Degeneres:
It was maybe a little too far. I think in hindsight I look back on it and I go, “OK, maybe that wasn’t the best first impression to make again, the first second impression.” I mean, I had fun up there, I had a good time, my dancers had fun and the band had fun. I respect people and feel like people walked away from that feeling disrespected. I would never intend to disrespect anybody. So that was not my intention.
What he needs now is a musical “reset” – another spotlight moment, like the AMA’s, in which he knocks everyone’s socks off musically, and convinces people that music is his thing, not social commentary.
Tiger Woods released the following statement yesterday:
[N]o matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don’t share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one’s own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.
Whatever regrets I have about letting my family down have been shared with and felt by us alone. I have given this a lot of reflection and thought and I believe that there is a point at which I must stick to that principle even though it’s difficult.
I wish every celebrity in the world would memorize these two paragraphs and recite them whenever some nosy reporter presumes to suggest that his/her private life is somehow my business.
Tiger had a car accident and knocked over a fire hydrant. He needs to explain that to the police, and hence, to the public. If someone were knocking over fire hydrants in my neighborhood, I’d want to know who, where and why. That’s a public safety issue and a law enforcement issue. However, if the answer to “Why?” is “domestic dispute” or “private matter,” then I have no need or desire to know more.
Michaele and Tareq Salahi are the latest in a series of Reality TV inspired stupidity. Years ago, people would do dumb things to get noticed, to be sure, but the result was rarely more than the standard fifteen minutes of fame. Today, with the institutional backing (and financing) of a Reality TV Show’s production company, exhibitionists like these have the capability of distracting the entire nation for fifteen days, not fifteen minutes. The Salahi’s, like the Balloon Boy family before them, only benefit from their actions if they get caught. And even though the news media knows this, they play right into the perpetrators’ hands, because they also know that it sells soap. My only hope is that the largely negative reaction to both the Salahi’s and the Heene’s dissuade Reality TV producers from pulling stunts like this in the future. Because the media is certainly not going to show any restraint.
HBO recently aired the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th Anniversary Concert. Culling through two nights of music, they presented a “mere” four hours of musical genius, ranging from Stevie Wonder to Simon & Garfunkel to Aretha Franklin to Crosby, Stills & Nash to U2 to Metallica to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Add to that a truly amazing array of “guest stars,” such as James Taylor, Joe Cocker, Smokey Robinson, Sting, BB King, Bonnie Rait, and Billy Joel. As I watch these folks float on and off the Madison Square Garden stage, all I can think is, “These are the masters that today’s musical acts can only dream of approximating.” I’m not a fan of every musical style in the show, but the amount of raw musical talent on display is so far and away beyond the artists of today, that one wonders what the 50th Anniversary show could possibly have to offer. Maybe it’s just my age showing…
ISBS Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Live at Giants Stadium – October 3, 2009Sunday, October 4th, 2009
Good evening, New Jersey!
Last night at Giants Stadium, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band put on a three-hour extravaganza that proved conclusively that adrenaline can power a rock & roll band every bit as much as an electric guitar.
Billed as his farewell to Giants Stadium (a new Giants Stadium is nearing completion in the parking lot next door, and will open for business with next year’s football season), Bruce and the band powered through twenty-eight songs (setlist), providing the required momentum for the near-perpetual motion machine that is his loyal fan base.
Avery’s goal: to play The Red and the Blue with the Penn Band at Homecoming (November 7 against Princeton). Lessons have begun!
(NOTE: Click on the picture (or click here) to see a brief slideshow of pictures)
Here’s Jon Bon Jovi and Iranian singer Andy Madadian collaborating on “Stand by Me,” sung in both Farsi and English, and meant to be distributed around the world, but especially around Iran.
It’s the brainchild of American record producer (and bassist on the recording), Don Was. The site also has the MP3 available for free download.
(Hat tip: Jason Bennion)