Posts Tagged ‘music’

I don’t know what to do with Pearl Jam’s new Barak recording, “Barak Around the Clock.” [Sorry, It’s broken]

I suppose it’s meant to be funny; or maybe “edgy,” like, ironic, you know. Said with rising inflection. It’s pretty stupid, as political statements go and as music; cornball, whatever.

Mostly it makes me wonder if Pearl Jam is really still that juvenile. Makes me say “Eew, dudes, grow the hell up!” Am I really that old???

The Vulture has a funny post here, titled: “Pearl Jam Will Not Rest Until John McCain Elected President.” I wouldn’t go that far–I don’t think this has the potential to hurt Obama; but I would say “Pearl Jam Will Not Rest Until Every Shred of Their Credibility and Dignity Is Forever Gone.”


Well, apparently Pearl Jam is running away from “Barak Around the Clock.”  For whatever reason (I’m inclined to think the extent of mockery on the internets, but who knows) they’ve pulled it from their website.  If someone finds a working link I’ll re-link, but for the moment you’ll just have to imagine it.  Or go see David Daniel and his band perform it on Youtube.


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Karaoke, Ridiculous and Sublime

I find it a little hard to explain why I love karaoke, but I do. More, by far, of my favorite memories from nights out listening to music come from karaoke than from any other kind of performance. The girl who wanted to be a country star out practicing at Kirin, the guy with the GIANT Viet Namese accent singing the 8-minute version of “I’m Sailing Away,” the KJ with the Turgenyev-esque tale of woe at Ridgeway’s, and most recently, the woman taking a header off the stage while singing “I Wanna Be Sedated” at Cowboy Monkey–and still finishing the song.

Recently I was at a party, trying to put into words what it is that I find compelling about it, and was thrown back to a fairly basic statement: it makes me love people. Makes me love the singers and the people listening, and by extension, humanity writ large. Karaoke is like church to me, I suppose. But that’s not much of an answer–that is, it doesn’t really explain why I feel that way. I have thought more on it, and I’ve come to this: I love karaoke, at least as it is practiced in the U.S., because it presents life’s rich pageant, the Ridiculous and the Sublime. It is a place for laughing at ourselves, and being moved by the intensity of feeling we can bring to experiences; a place for suprisingly beautiful renditions of songs, and for truly awful ones. It makes the mass-marketed commodity into a thing we take hold of and force to serve our needs, personal and communal. It can also be tragic, of course, but that, too, is moving, if only because it points us to our own tragedies, big and small.

Some friends of mine have a “Live Karaoke Band,” which I’m fairly certain is the most interesting thing to do in Champaign-Urbana, where I live, and which is in some ways even more appealing than regular karaoke. I think watching the guys in the band (mid-30s, moderately successful local rock musicians) work with the singers (some good, but mostly what you’d expect), cueing them, directing them to the right pitch, helping them have the experience of interacting in a musical context, is pretty awesome. It seems like an obvious concept, but I haven’t seen it elsewhere–makes me wonder how common it is.

One final thought: I don’t particularly like the Japanese-style karaoke. Singing in a private room with a small group of one’s friends sounds like it would make for a better time–no waiting to sing, no suffering through strangers’ mangled renditions–but for me it loses everything I go to karaoke for.

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Arrgh, how irritating!

Last week I clearly remember hearing a piece on NPR (my lovely wife corroborates this, btw) that reported on recent neurological research into the ways that music lights up the motor center of the brain, and now I can’t find it. The researchers were particularly impressed with the fact that it’s hard to not tap your foot along to music (true, but sort of makes you say “duh”).

I’ve been reading an essay by Richard Middleton (p.104) in which he argues for a gestural metalanguage for doing music analysis, and reflecting on how it relates to this nice bit of brain science. More than the actual physical reaction to music, I’ve been thinking about how I imagine movement when I hear music. I also dig it that this points to a nice way of getting past the mind/body dualism.

Anyway, if anyone out there has a ref. for the actual bit of research I heard about on NPR, I’d love a citation–simple searches have not yet turned it up.

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