Thursday, 29 November 2007

Best of Album Review





When the follow-up smash, “Odelay” dropped, it was clear that Beck Hanson wasn't "mellow"-ing out on his "gold" laurels. His artfully and technologically advanced rock-fi hit rocketed him from “Loser” to a pop star pimp with nothing more than a “Devil’s Haircut.”

The former California busker and poet employed his mastery of multiple instruments
and genres while romancing the industry’s newest production techniques of the time.

With help from production prodigies, the Dust Brothers(first regarded for their own techno-magical tricks on Beastie Boys' "Paul's Boutique"), “Odelay” was encrusted with electronic samples and technologic gems, crafting an album fit for the snazzy, new millennium.

The result jacked the mid-90s alternative rock scene, drawing the line for itself far beyond the popular teen angst-riddled, angry guitar solos, and blending jazz, rock, rap, folk, blues, with hi-fi-tastic tricks. “Where it’s At,” materialized a bangin’ party, with Hansen’s gritty, vo-coded words melting over obscure samples and keyboard loops. “New Pollution” married sizzling electronica with the poet’s lyrical conundrums.

Many fans would argue that Beck went on to release increasingly intellectually complex creations, but his Billboard opus cracked glass confines and allowed the popular music world's ongoing discovery and experimentation in the worlds of rock, rap, jazz and EDM.

Rumours of a re-release with additional tracks have circulated, but “Lord Only Knows” if that will become a reality.

Monday, 19 November 2007

We're Guilty

It's 10 am on a Sunday morning and I'm furiously pumping my legs against the weighted pedals of the bike at the gym. I've just switched on MTV's dance music channel and am listening to my Ipod simultaneously (I like to have completely different music connecting to videos--sometimes they actually make sense that way). Suddenly, this video comes on and I find myself wavering between disgust and wanting to suppress out loud laughter at its outrageousness.

The video of De Souza's "Guilty," a monsteriffic hunk of stinky disco house cheese, plays out like a soft core porno, featuring barely-dressed women playing inmates who are "frisked," handcuffed, and "searched" by other women dressed as "cops," who seem to have half of their "uniforms" missing. As if the comedically terrible action weren't enough, the directors added a lesbian "shower" scene and a male "cop" dressed in hot shorts spanking an "inmate" with a thick, purple, uh, "billy club."

I'm no prude when it comes to videos. Sexuality and sensuality has its place, but this was ridiculous. I sincerely hope that this video was some kind of tongue-in-cheek thing. If anyone knows anything about the production of this video, please share.

Of course, immediately following the "Guilty" nightmare, was Armand Van Helden's "MyMyMy," which is, in my opinion, a really nice house tune, especially the Joy Kiticknti electro house remix. However, in the first shot is a bikini-clad ass. On a beach somewhere a creepy, white, flab-bellied dweeb is suddenly surrounded by a bunch of bikini clad models who fondle, grope and lick him throughout the entire video. Isn't this a bit of a tired theme?

More and more all I see on dance music videos are thin, fake-breasted women groping on each other, or surrounding one man, or even themselves all alone. The commodity of female sexuality in the music industry, neverminding the fact that it degrades women, has taken all of the fun and creativity out of the music video.

It's not sappy nostalgia that brings me back to the early days of music video, it's the entertainment. Look at A-Ha's "Take on Me," for example. The animated motorcyle chase scene, the fantasy of going into a comic book, the action, the heroism, the romance, it was all like a mini feature film, and it was noteworthy. We used to be able to discuss music videos intelligently like we would discuss feature films. Now, it all looks the same: Chick on Chick, Guy on Chick, Ten Chicks on One Guy, Chick on Self, brilliant, genious! I suppose that it keeps people watching videos these days, but, honestly, do these videos reflect a world that doesn't appreciate anything unless it involves T and A? We no longer have attention spans for anything with a plot?

The excessive amounts of these sexually explicit videos insult the intelligence and sophistication of most human beings. They subliminally transmit the message that, A) We're only interested in sexuality, that which translates only to a thin, leggy, long-haired female with enormous breasts and a curvaceous rear end, and involves homeoerotic activity and masturbation, but only among females, never males, and B) That we're unable to understand or process anything more complex than watching human beings interact on a sexual level. Everything else is too much.
Videos like this one featuring the Beastie Boys, hold a slim margin compared to the "sexy" ones.
I'm feeling a bit disillusioned, a bit deflated by the state of affairs in the music industry at the moment. I sense desperation and lack of direction at the moment. I can only hope that we'll hit a new wave and renaissance of the music video industry. In the meantime, besides the ones I've listed, enjoy my following favorite music videos:
"Get Yourself High" by The Chemical Brothers

"All is Full of Love" by Bjork (directed by Chris Cunningham)

"It's Oh So Quiet" by Bjork (directed by Spike Jonze)

"Weapon of Choice" by Fatboy Slim

"Where it's At" by Beck

"New" by No Doubt

"Like A Prayer" by Madonna

I'll leave you with those for now. For those of you who are sick of watching the inane, enjoy!

Friday, 16 November 2007

That Frenzy--Is it Worth It?

The Dow Jones recently reported that the most popular weight loss drugs on the market in the U.S. have proven not to provide significant weight loss. I think I speak for most educated individuals when I say, "No, duh!"
The drugs themselves actually do little to accelerate weight loss. Those who have been successful using the pills have been successful mainly because they have had to change their life habits in accordance with the pill's reccommended programme. Most pill manufacturers provide a reccomendation of a certain amount of daily calories plus a regular exercise regimen. Wait, isn't that how doctors reccommend one lose weight--through diet and exercise? I think this little pill has received one too many pats on its brand-stamp.
It's mostly women who have snapped up these products, according to sales and marketing figures. In my opinion, most women who have purchased such products either don't want to do everything it takes to lose weight healthfully or have unrealistic expectations of what their bodies should look like. Usually it's a combination of both.
At the risk of sounding like Meme Roth, the truth is that, every single one of us could potentially find a programme for weight loss that would make us thin if we somehow gained superhuman willpower and spent our whole lives obsessed with our calorie and fat counts, workout schedules, etc. And it is, true, many women make excuses for why they can't lose weight. I know that if I cut my calories to 1600 or less I would lose weight. The truth is, sometimes I'm just not satisfied with that amount. I go to sleep on an angry, growling, empty stomach a lot of the time. Yes, I could shut up and suffer, but would being the ideal size be worth the agony?
Reality steps in all too gracefully at this point. Slightly overweight women like myself face the nastiest world of all in the battle for self acceptance. We are caught between an obesity epidemic screaming at us like an angry American football coach and a feminist movement that says, "Screw that, love your body!" We face little health risks. Our risk is purely emotional or aesthetic, but how do we cope in a world that tells us that, although we are pretty much healthy, we still don't look good enough?

Many women find a solution in that little pill, like that new one, Alli, released earlier this year. It absolutely flew off of the shelves as soon as it came out. I suppose they think it will solve all of their problems. Pop a pill, like the box says, and all of the bad stuff will be absorbed. Sure it does, but what is absorbed has to go somewhere.
All of the fat is expelled in oily, uncontrollable diarrhea. The more fat you eat, the more will leak out of you. Splurge on doughnuts at the office, get doughnut fat coming out of your bum all day long while you work.
I'm fairly certain that if this question was posed to any heterosexual male: Which would you prefer--A) A beautiful, smart girlfriend who was 15 pounds (1.1 stone) overweight, or B) A beautiful, smart girlfriend who was the ideal weight but had oily diarrhea all of the time? --the man would probably pick the former, unless he had some kind of a weird, gross fetish, but I won't get into that one for today.
Only pure evil could have gone ahead with a pill like that. Glaxo Smith-Klein, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the thing, claims it is a "useful addition" to one's regular weight loss programme, according to the Dow Report. I don't see anything useful about anal leakage, unless a person likes purchasing and wearing disposable diapers, which again is something I will not get into.

What's even more disheartening is women's reaction to the drug and how hurriedly they whisked it off of drug store shelves. Has our culture bogged us down with such self-loathing that we cannot stand to be as we are? Year after year, I see women hating themselves, while a few men, the commercial world, and the media take turns at throwing stones.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Thoughts Like Fumes, Really

The United States has a female candidate running for the presidency, yet, amazingly, big corporations down to smaller entrepreneurs make money off of the objectification of women. More shocking is that the very skeleton of the misogynistic monster is the number of women who have been brainwashed into believing that male objectification of them is pro-feminist.

An exotic dancer once told me when I asked if she felt comfortable doing what she did, "I'm in total control of what happens when I'm doing a lap dance."

Another defense is that they make good money. I understand the sentiment. If men are dumb enough to waste lots of money on watching women shake it, why not take it?

The dancing in and of itself isn't that bad, to be honest. Women are beautiful. The female body is beautiful. Artists across centuries have known this. It's more than that, though. It's the idea that women are a commodity, an item to be bought and sold. For the right price, lads, you can have "Sparkle"'s tits in your face all night long. Or you can just keep her around for company while you get wasted, it's up to you.

Waggling tits and flapping ass cheeks aside, the idea that women can be won or bought creates a more dangerous culture. The existence of these kinds of clubs or even women musical artists or celebrities who flaunt themselves in a sexual manner contribute to a collective male consciousness that women can be seen as sex objects. An object is a thing, a thing can be manipulated and manhandled. A thing cannot protest when it's being wronged and a thing isn't asked permission to do things to it.

Let me say that my statements do not represent all men. Obviously, I'm talking about a wider, global male culture as opposed to individuals. Many more thoughtful men aren't even aware that objectification still exists for women. I had a friend say to me, "Oh, I didn't know it was still that bad." Perhaps feminism has taken a back seat in recent years. Women have gained more power in the workforce and in politics. Still, it's evident that this crude culture still exists.

Go to any nightclub or have an attractive female walk around with a hidden camera for a week. See the undressing stares, the pathetic come-ons, the horny, unwanted dry-humping on dance floors everywhere. Misogynists say that women "like the attention" or that they "ask for it" when they wear something tight or low-cut.

I go out in jeans and a regular t-shirt whenever possible and I don't act friendly. I still receive the same treatment as if I was wearing nothing larger than two postage stamps and a matchbook. I get pushed around and cut in line by big, burly guys on a regular basis, who often look back at me smugly, like, "Sorry, sweetheart, but I've got a penis, so you'll just have to wait."

Again, however, I don't blame the men. I blame the women. These so-called neo-feminists who objectify themselves to supposedly "control" men, may have had temporary mind control powers, but have since lost the war on misogyny. The parting shot at the end of the day is a scantily-clad woman with a drooling man at her feet, forking over the dollars. Who's in control? It's that chicken and egg thing, but it started with the object, the egg.

If you want your slice of the cake, you're going to need eggs. If women are to take back their sexuality, let it be on their terms, not on the terms of the man. When are we going to say, "Hey, the dick in the butt is not the proper way to say hello to someone at a dance club!"? People just accept this behaviour as normal. Oh, these guys are just horny jerks, never mind that they've just touched a woman with an erect penis (do clothes really matter in a case like this?). This is honestly the most offensive underrated encounter that occurs in the Western world. Men that get away with this sort of behaviour surely have attempted or committed date rape, a sorrowfully under reported crime. Yet, no one stands up for us and no one bans it in a club setting.

A male friend pointed out that if they banned "fockering," which is this move's technical police term, in one nightclub, it would lessen attendance. By men, perhaps. Why women? I would think it would increase female attendance because of the knowledge that they wouldn't get harassed by men. I would attend.

Women need to step out of the gold lame bikinis and uncomfortable pumps to sell themselves to the opposite sex and instead get clever. Bottom line: Sexy isn't a stereotype. A stereotype is a thing. Women: Be sexy. Be true to yourself.