Music Features

Obsessions and Lamentations #4

1)  The Hills, Part II

I’m sorry to report that the cultural havoc wreaked by the Hills continues. Now, my wayward remote leads me to E! Entertainment Television, where their correspondents were dutifully reporting on the latest “D to the rama” surrounding Lo, Heidi, Spencer, etc. Except they were treating it as true celebrity gossip, right alongside the tragic Mayer/Aniston breakup. Or were they? Nobody knows. The poison spreads.
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2)  The Beijing Olympics
Really, do you care? I don’t. Good for Phelps. That’s nice, impressive too. However, I do notice that as I suffer through some personal turmoil, the games work as a kind of balm or mecuricrome, if not exactly soothing the wound, then at least distracting you from its pain. Maybe that’s the appeal of sports. There’s no happy lovers to be reminded of when you’re lonely, no money changing hands when you’re broke, and virtually no reminders that there’s a harsh world outside waiting to crap on your head. I know, I sound bitter and whiney today – deal with it.
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3)  Radiohead on vinyl
I’m publishing this on August 19, 2008, the day that the Radiohead catalog is supposed to be (re)released on vinyl, so at least there is something to look forward to. Recently I picked up The Bends lp up in Montreal and managed to smuggle it across the border without much trouble. I know this sounds like a cliché, but it really is like hearing it for the first time. The whole Radiohead allure is so wrapped up in the way they sound that I’m convinced that this is the format their non-digital doodlings deserve. And lest we forget, the bulk of their catalog involves manipulating old fashioned analog instruments like guitars, drums and Fender Rhodes keyboards.  I fully expect the apocalyptic OK Computer, that lamented the dying human soul in the face of encroaching technology, to gain added poignancy on the supposedly outdated vinyl record.
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4)  Mamma Mia
If you’re not too hip for your own good, go see this movie – it’s a lot of fun. Sure, it would probably suck a sock if it weren’t set to the endlessly appealing music of ABBA, but how good would West Side Story be if Winger wrote the tunes and Paula Abdul did the choreography? The song’s the thing! And these are flat-out brilliant pop constructions that work in almost any context, including a cheesy piece of fluff featuring the disturbing croak of Pierce Brosnan. Pierce notwithstanding, the actors are uniformly charming and seem to be having the time of their lives. Wouldn’t you, if you got to dance around a Greek Island in the summer sun singing Dancing Queen? And they paid you?! Go ahead, be cool if you want to. I’ll be over here delighting in the ever-circulating chorus of The Winner Takes it All.