Monday, February 28, 2011

Iconic Music Videos

For this post on Genre Buzzword, I want to take a look at music videos. I realize the title of my last post was a little misleading, as it was not about music videos, so I wanted to fix that by talking a little bit about music videos and ones that I think are pretty iconic.

I just want to start out by saying that I know music videos are still around. There have been some pretty impressive ones as of late (both the short and film versions of Kanye West's "Runaway" come to mind), but it seems like music videos have sort of lost the power they once held as a medium. For example, I personally don't think we will ever see a music video that had the sort of significance and impact that Michael Jackson's "Thriller" had. There was also a period of time from the 90's into the new millennium where some famous directors such as Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Hype Williams churned out some of the most memorable music videos. I remember when these directors but out a new music video, it was like an event. There would be big premieres for it on MTV and then you would see it all the time. Now that cable music channels have started cutting back on airing music videos except earlier in the morning, that sort of event phenomena seems to have gone away, or at least shifted over to the Internet.

I always loved music videos and when I used to catch them on MTV, VH1 or The Box, I would sometimes end up liking a song because it had a creative music video that caught my attention. I think that a good music video is one that enhances the song and makes it even more memorable for listeners, and occasionally the music video becomes even more popular than the song itself (The main reason I like the song "Sabotage" is the music video).

Here are some of my favorite music videos. Feel free to list your favorites in the replies!

Sabotage was directed by Spike Jonze and the video is the opening credits for a fictional 70's police drama show. This is probably my all time favorite music video due to the creative idea behind the video and the humor behind it. It's got everything car chases, foot chases and a few fights sprinkled in.

One of my favorite songs and I love this video by Michel Gondry. Great cinematography as most of the music video takes place in dream sequences and an interesting plot that has some Inception qualities to it.

Another Spike Jonze music video. The main reason why I love this video, and why I think many people love this video, is that it takes place entirely in the "Happy Days" universe. Awesome video that fits the feel of the song perfectly.

I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan, but I have to admit this is the best and most popular music video. It had a huge impact on music.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Nostalgia, Music Videos and the 90's

Ah, the 90's. Everyone has their favorite decade for music and for me, there is no greater decade than the 90's. I realize there are amazing musicians that came in previous decades, and I even enjoy them, but there is just something about 90's music that seems to hold my interest the most. I am sure the main reason that is the case is the nostalgia factor that comes out of growing up with this music and constantly hearing it on the radio. Earlier in the decade, when I was still very young, I remember watching videos on MTV with my dad (back before every show on there was some reality show nonsense and they still played music videos) and waiting to hear my favorite songs come on the radio.

 I still listen to many of these songs and I seem to be perpetually stuck in that time. I still listen to new artists and find new favorites, but it seems like the bulk of the music I listen to comes from the 90's. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong decade and wish I was a teenager back then. Oh well. Below are some of my favorite songs from the 90's that define the decade for me. One Hit Wonders, A Few Hit Wonders and everything in between.

What decade of music is your favorite? What are some songs from when you were younger that you still listen to or get excited when it comes on the radio? Feel free to list them in the replies!

Better Than Ezra "Good" - I just love this song. I used to listen to it on the radio every single time it came on. Still sounds great.

Spin Doctors "Two Princes" - Another song I used to listen to constantly. I always made my mom leave it on when it came on the radio. I recently found the CD at a yard sale and still listened to it. No I am not ashamed to say I still think this song is incredible.

Sister Hazel "All For You"

Spacehog "In The Meantime"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Radiohead Have Done It Again

Radiohead has done it again. According to Pitchfork, Radiohead will be releasing their new album "The King of Limbs" on February 19th. That is this weekend! After revolutionizing the way music is consumed with In Rainbows, many were wondering how the band would be able to top that and if they would try to follow a similar distribution model. This time around, however, the band has scrapped the pay-what-you-want model, but they have kept up the deluxe packaging. Oddly enough, as a fan of Radiohead, I was not even really interested in what the package would be like or how many songs would make up "The King of Limbs". I was just totally floored that the album was coming out so soon.
This is the second album in a row that Radiohead have announced just before the date it was to be released. In an age where music is leaked months in advance and people can report news and rumors in a split second, it is amazing how Radiohead was able to keep this album under wraps. This is a band that has dedicated fans and yet for the second time they were able to completely blindside fans with news of a new album. At this point you may be asking yourself, “Why is this such a big deal?” Well, as I mentioned earlier, music is available almost instanteously and we have lost the feeling of waiting months and even years for a new album. Radiohead has somehow managed to do the impossible, or at least what is impossible for major labels, and that is stopping leaks and building buzz for their album outside of traditional channels.
Another reason something like this is so huge is that Radiohead isn’t just another small band looking for a way to grab people’s attention. They are a highly respected group that has also sold a significant amount of records, and they are only building their legacy by utilizing creative marketing techniques to further help their career. You would think with the success the band has had lately with their new approach to music distribution would rub off on record companies who are losing money at a rapid pace, but sadly that is not happening.
I will say that as a music journalist, it is a little disheartening to have an album come out of the blue like this. One of the many perks of writing about music is getting to listen to albums way in advance. However, the thrill of getting albums months before they are released wears off after awhile and it is refreshing to be totally surprised by an album. So for those who don’t listen to Radiohead, would you rather your favorite band talk their new album to death before it even comes out and sit around waiting for it to come out or have them release an album totally out of the blue? For those who do listen to Radiohead, what are your thoughts on their distribution system?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Some Concerts That Defined My Life

After a pretty extended absence, I have decided to revive Genre Buzzword. What better way to kick off the restarting of this blog then to look back at two of my favorite concerts, starting with the first concert I ever got to visit and ending with the concert where I decided to marry my soon to be wife.

The first show that I ever got to see was Rage Against The Machine, which was around 1999 when I was in the 5th grade. My dad got me what is to this day the greatest birthday gift I have ever gotten: two tickets to see Rage Against The Machine in Philadelphia. My dad waited outside in line to get these tickets even though it was super cold outside for what would end up being the last Rage Against The Machine show in Philadelphia. I was so excited to see the show that it seemed it took forever for the weeks to pass until the actual show. I remember when the night of the show finally arrived and my dad and I were finally sitting in our seats and I was so excited that my stomach had butterflies in them.

Finally, when Rage Against The Machine took the stage, they unleashed one of the most powerful performances I have seen to this day. They poured every ounce of energy into that performance and Zach De La Rocha went absolutely insane on stage. The stadium went absolutely crazy and you had people leaping ten to fifteen feet from the stands over the barricades to make it into the mosh pit and before long complete pandemonium broke loose and there were chairs flying everywhere. Most kids my age would have been terrified but I remember thinking that this was the coolest thing I have ever seen and from that day forward I was completely immersed in music. I remember after that concert I used to wear my Rage Against The Machine t-shirt constantly in elementary school and the beginning of middle school which made people think I was crazy, but I didn't care.

However the concert that sticks out the most in my mind was a performance that I didn't really care about. It was when I went to a concert out in the woods with my then girlfriend and her brother to see a band called XYZ at a campground. Apparently, the band had a few hits in the '80s, but I mostly went to hang out with friends and generally have a good time. The campground was an absolute mess. It had rained the night before, so the ground was nothing but mud. Grabbing drinks and trying to find a bathroom was a grueling experience as every step you took, your shoes would get sucked down into the muck and your shoes were constantly getting ripped off your feet with every step.

It was one of the most magical nights of my life. Despite all the mud, bands I didn't really care for and hot temperatures, the three of us were having a blast. Finally night fell and as XYZ were playing one of their many hits, my then girlfriend and I decided that we wanted to get married. Shouting over the roaring crowd and loud music, we talked about how much we cared for each other and decided right then and there that we wanted to get married. Even though I didn't like the music, that moment made this concert hands down the best one ever.

I am sure many people are at least aware of Rage Against The Machine, so I will post the band that was playing when I decided to get married because it's pretty hilarious.