An Observation Concerning… Boring Covers.

“And cover me, Cause I’ve been branded, I’ve lost my mind.”
-Candlebox, “Cover Me”

I’m a strong supporter of cover songs because usually – usually – bands either put a unique twist on a classic or sometimes make the original a little better with a new sound. I could provide you with a list, but it could go on for a while – feel free to leave a comment if you want some rockin’ suggestions.

Me First and the Gimmie Gimmies make their living off their ska versions of hits, and Justin Mauriello put out one of my favorite cover albums, Justin Sings The Hits. I know, super original album title. Also, we’re all well aware that rap artists use beats from older songs, and even Lady Antelbellum’s new hit, You Look Good, briefly included the chorus of Bill Withers’ Use Me during an award-show performance. Then you have to think, what would life be like without the great, drunk, or humorous karaoke performances people embarrassingly struggle through? Awful, that’s what. Lastly, we must recognize the carefree tone-deaf individuals who save their belting for the shower and car. The artists thank you for the tribute, and we thank you for keeping it to yourself.

That brings us to our issue: some people don’t keep their talent to themselves. YouTube and social media has truly taken the uniqueness out of the individual and entertainment. Having a good voice is nothing nowadays – just like if you won a million bucks you could blow through it pretty quickly and you don’t even have to try. Everything has become devalued, but we can do a whole series on that direction of society. No? Okay good. I don’t feel like working that hard at the moment. Anyway, to prove my point, why do you think reality singing competitions and talent shows can have a new season every year? Because there’s that many people out there who have talent. The real question is, what puts you ahead of the rest?

Becoming a sensation is easy as long as you have a camera and a microphone – which are both on your phone by the way. Even easier!  It’s also easy because – and I think I’ve mentioned this before – we have too many people who believe that average things are amazing. Reference: “An Observation Concerning… People Loving Amazing Things” on this amazing blog. See what I did there? It will come to you.

The main reason behind this post is the annoying plethora of slow covers by female singers with sultry voices. It was cool when one person did it, but now everyone does it, and they sound exactly the same. It’s like they’re trying to be deep with another person’s words, which ultimately shows that the meaning of cover songs have been lost. They used to be for fun and/or a tribute, but now it’s to get attention and/or sell things like Wrigley Gum and dumb, pointless features on an Iphone.

What would you want to hear while in a bar? A slowed down version of a song, creating a depressing cloud over what was once a fun night, only so the singer can get noticed by some drunk people who won’t remember anything anyway; or something fun and exciting or an amateur who really worked hard at learning Friends In Low Places or Bohemian Rhapsody, passionately expressing themselves and getting the entire bar involved? Neither is also a valid answer, but one is still better than the other.

On a personal note, I once won a t-shirt for my rendition of Oops, I Did it Again during karaoke night at a dive bar.  Cool. Really cool.

WBG

An Observation Concerning… Things Celebrities Say.

“’Cause I just wanna be famous, be so fucking jaded.”
-Puddle of Mudd, “Famous”

Prior to this post, I assume it would be in my best interest to offer a disclaimer. Therefore, I do not mean the following two examples to target all celebrities, but rather only some.

First, when Missy Elliot says, “If you want to make an album, make an album,” in the latest Honda campaign on television, it makes me think that this is why people are dumb and entertainment is suffering from a lack of quality. This isn’t really her fault, but more the car company’s doing. It’s not easy to make an album, that’s why there are way more starving musicians in the world than successful ones. It’s easy for someone who has thrived to say something like that. In addition, this may be the philosophy behind modern music trends and why good albums are very rare nowadays. Trust me, I’ve suffered through many on Spotify. At least tell people the truth, Missy. “If you want to make an album, make an album, but there’s going to be years and years of hard work, sacrifice, and a complete change in life and personal relationships just for the chance of maybe being successful for a brief period in your life.”

Second, I saw a headline after the tragic Manchester bombing that read, “Katy Perry says, ‘We need to co-exist’.” Great, wonderful, no shit, Katy. I’m not sure if I should be upset with the singer, or the journalist for writing the teaser. I heard ISIS decided to stop terrorizing people because they really got the message now that the pop star made it clear. All those bumper stickers that half the world has plastered onto their car the last couple decades didn’t mean anything until she said something. Of course we need to co-exist, and guess what, we kind of already do because there are a plethora of beliefs and races scattered all over this overpopulated world. Celebrities have the keen ability to take incredibly generic sayings and make their followers believe that the philosophy is now validated because it came from their mouths. Remember, they are paid to entertain, not necessarily to be themselves. With that in mind, who exactly are we listening to? A person or a character?

We tend to forget that celebrities are some of the most overzealous, delusional people in the world, and yet we hold on to their every word and take their advice and opinions to heart. Why? Most of them are richer than the people they claim to relate to and seclude themselves behind iron gates so those very people don’t interact with them – they are their own 1%. They seem to always be in destructive relationships, addicted to something, in a therapy session, having suicidal thoughts, constantly craving attention, or living out of a bus, plane, and hotels for half the year. Hell, actors and actresses aren’t even in their right mind for months at a time because they are consumed by a role or a ridiculous religion. Long story short, you should instead listen to your parents, your family and friends, your educated leaders, whatever higher power you believe in, or yourself and you’ll be okay… and don’t listen to me.

WBG

An Observation Concerning… Chris Cornell and Grunge Music.

“I was lost in the pages, Of a book full of death, Reading how we’ll die alone, And if we’re good, we’ll lay to rest, Anywhere we want to go.”
-Audioslave, “Like A Stone”

MAY YOU FINALLY REST IN PEACE

The world lost a rock icon on May 17th, 2017. Chris Cornell. The Soundgarden/Audioslave front man was found unresponsive in his MGM Grand hotel room after a performance in Detroit. The initial report is that he hanged himself in what is believed to be a suicide.

Suicide. We need to really look at this word – not to influence, but to study. Cornell was one of what I consider to be the Big 5 of grunge rock, a leader in the early-90’s movement that captured an audience that desperately needed a relation. Of those Big 5 only one remains since Cornell’s unexpected passing, and that is Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Unexpected. We need to really look at that word as well concerning this situation. An unexpected suicide.

Kurt Cobain shot himself on April 5th, 1994. Layne Staley overdosed on April 5th, 2002. Scott Weiland overdosed on December 3rd, 2015. Chris Cornell hanged himself on May 17th, 2017. Eddie Vedder has turned out to be seemingly normal. By the book it can be recorded that only two of these deaths were actual suicides, but I disagree. Staley was mentally ill, and it’s no coincidence his overdose happened on the anniversary of his good friend and fellow pioneer’s death. Weiland had been flirting with death for decades, and knew where his road full of abuse would lead.

These men weren’t junkies; they were incredibly talented but troubled individuals. I grew up in the 90s and it wasn’t the best time for the mind. I look at these emo kids and listeners today, these bands who whine and complain, but – and this isn’t a bad thing in the least – I don’t believe them. Cobain, Staley, Weiland, and Cornell didn’t do what they did to become rock stars, they did it because they needed it. The lifestyle certainly had an influence on their actions, but the decade was very lonely, very chaotic, and very overlooked, and the self-loathing lyrics of these men epitomized the attitude of the youth – and their life behind the scenes was exactly what they sang about: it wasn’t an act and success was not their main prerogative. Music was their release, and their music was our release and we found assurance in the fact that we weren’t alone. With that being said, who but their peers could they relate to? Who was singing to them? They were the pinnacle of depression and internal demons, and when they lost each other, the temple crumbled. However, their legacy will always live on.

So take the next week to listen to Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, and Soundgarden. Reminisce on an era of music that spoke to a generation and shaped the world of rock, listen to the lyrics, understand the madness, and thank these gentlemen for their contributions. They deserve nothing less.

Cheers, guys. Thank you.

WBG

‘PULLING A KANYE’ NOW A REAL PHRASE

“Cos I’m a brat, And I know everything, And I talk back, Cos I’m not listening to anything you say.”
-The Living End, “Prisoner Of Society”

From time to time, celebrities attempt to put their opinions above the public’s general likes and dislikes. Maybe it has to do with the psychological need for attention, or maybe they just believe they’re larger than life, but there’s a time and a place.

Kayne and taylor people com
Photo courtesy of people.com

Remember when Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift at the pointless 2009 MTV Video Music Awards or whatever they’re called (not just that certain broadcast, all the years are pointless)? You should, it’s in the picture above. Well he did it again, and to a much more established artist in the music industry at a much more prestigious awards show. Though it may not have been as intense as the last time, he did subtly offer insults afterwards about how people need to recognize true art.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M1GMQkrjdI

Let’s take a look at the two true artists centered in Kanye’s opinion.

-Beck: 12 Studio Albums, 12 national and international recognized award, and plays more than 12 different instruments.

-Beyonce: 5 Studio Albums, around 200 national and international awards, and is learning the guitar and plays a little keyboard.

A tweet from Brian Clark (@brianclark) read, “Beyonce: 27 writers and 19 producers, Kanye: 49 writers and 25 producers. Beck: 1 writer, 1 producer.”

I personally think Beyonce has been “recognized plenty and Beck is a true artist, but I may be wrong. He was able to appreciate the situation claiming, “[Kanye] He deserves to be onstage as much as anybody. How many great records has he put out in the last five years, right? You can’t please everybody, man. I still love him and think he’s genius. I aspire to do what he does (Glenza, 2015).” That was very nice of the album of the year winner, but Kanye was coming up to support Beyonce I thought? Speaking of, what the hell does Jay-Z think of these shenanigans? I, as many normal men would, think someone has a crush on a certain somebody. Of course, the popular rapper/musician/producer/whatever else you can put on a resume even if you did it just once, explained, “It was kind of a joke – like the Grammy’s themselves (Glenza, 2015).”

To support Mr. West (this may be one of the few times), I bet if the Grammy’s happened every five years no one would even know the difference. The same performers play, the same people are nominated, and LL Cool J, though he never seems to age somehow, has become a permanent host for all we know and will be forever. It has almost developed into insignificance because not even the musicians are happy with the outcome anymore, speeches are becoming more critical, and everyone has to collaborate. Though there’s usually an outcry of disappointment by fans that their favorite didn’t take home the small iconic trophy, at least the committee gives awards to artist who deserves it the most.

Sam smith hollywoodreporter com
Photo courtesy of Hollywoodreporter.com

Music is changing, as it always does. Each generation, no matter how strange the composition sounds to the generations before, is defined by a certain style and superstars. A horrible example of musical recognition was displayed by the youth after a Kanye performance that featured Paul McCartney. They tweeted, or whatever the hell it is they do now (something easier and requires even less attention probably) that they didn’t know of Paul McCartney, but now he is going to “blow up”; or how they love Kanye for helping unknown artists like McCartney get noticed. If you’re going to say your generation’s music is the best, at least be aware of what came before; but still, not even being able to recognize what of the greats who has spanned musical generations for over fifty years? You must be pretty dumb regarding the topic you claim to know so much about and “love”.

References:

Glenza, J. (2015).Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/feb/11/kanye-west-upstaging-beck-a-joke-like-grammys-themselves on February 16, 2015