In the late '80s, documentarians Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker spent six months in Tokyo looking at how symbols and imagery familiar to Americans had been appropriated and given new significance in Japan. Though more than 20 years old, the resulting video remains popular in undergraduate courses across the social sciences and humanities in part because it's so entertaining. [more inside]
Singer-songwriter Laura Marling will release her latest album, Once I Was an Eagle, this May. She's shared a first song off of it, "Where Can I Go?" [more inside]
Jon Brion gets around. As a composer, he scored some of the best movies of last decade and change – Punch-Drunk Love, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Synecdoche, New York, and I ♥ Huckabees. As a producer, he's worked with Fiona Apple, Kanye West, Aimee Mann, and the excellent bluegrass outfit Punch Brothers. He writes pop music like the best of them – witness Meaningless, Knock Yourself Out, Here We Go, or Didn't Think It Would Turn Out Bad for a nice sampler of his style and range. His live shows are notoriously whimsical and eccentric – he's apt to perform Radiohead's "Creep" in the style of Tom Waits, or cover Stairway to Heaven as a one-man band, recreating all the parts to its climax on the fly.
World Gone Wild is a 1988 post-apocalyptic film with English pop singer Adam Ant as the villain. The entire film can be watched on YouTube. Via Armagideon Time.
Mining Boom are a Perth band whose videos for the fuzzed out pop songs Telecom and Craigie (NSFW language) use found footage to invoke and skewer a sense of nostalgic Australiana.
Alex Britti's 'Oggi sono io' covered by Italian pop star Mina, who recorded it in one take. An English translation of the lyrics.
Major scaled is a Vimeo user who digitally transposes sad songs into a major key. Here's their cheerful rendition of REM's Losing My Religion. [more inside]
In the 1980s, there were twee bands, and then there was Trixie's Big Red Motorbike. Formed in Shanklin, Isle of Wight in 1981, TBRM were brother and sister Mark & Mel Litten, sometimes assisted by Jim Bycroft on sax and Jane Fish (of The Marine Girls — whose most famous alumna you would have heard if you were alive in the 90s [previously]) on backing vocals. Their sound, lofi, their artwork handmade. Their first single was sent to John Peel [passim], who proclaimed they'd “wipe the floor with the competition” and had them in for two sessions. [more inside]
For the 2012 iTunes Music Festival, 65 acts (including P!nk, One Direction, David Guetta , Jessie J, OneRepublic, Ellie Goulding, Andrea Bocelli, Matchbox Twenty, Muse and many others) performed at the Roundhouse in London throughout the month of September. 40 performances are available in full online. [more inside]
You either know who Dar Williams is or you don't, but chances are that if you know her music, you've got a bit of a story behind that. [more inside]
DJ Earworm has released his annual "United State of Pop" mashup of the year's 25 most popular songs according to Billboard's charts: Shine Brighter. [more inside]
BigBang, "Fantastic Baby" (slyt, K-pop).
Daniel Kim is back again this year with the Pop Danthology 2012, a mega mash-up of 55 pop songs from 2012 (SLYT).
Robin Skouteris is a music and video producer, remixer and DJ based in Athens who creates mashup remixes, (like Deep and Sour and Looking for Sunshine) and a few parodies. His latest remix was released yesterday: "PopLove." [more inside]
Suburban Kids With Biblical Names write music with a warmth and simplicity that really hits the spot on chilly autumn days. My favorite songs of theirs are Noodles and Trees and Squirrels; their better-known songs include Funeral Face, Rent a Wreck, and Loop Duplicate My Heart.
They're best known for one song: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles), as featured in Benny and Joon in 1993, and though the identical twin brothers faded from the public eye in the US, 500 Miles was lovingly parodied by Homer Simpson in 2001, and the brothers appeared on Family Guy in 2006. That song was featured in Comic Relief 2007, and that rendition was the number 1 song in the UK for three weeks. Given this focus on a single song that was first released in 1988, you might want mark The Proclaimers as a one-hit wonder and leave it at that. But David Pollock, writing for The Guardian, wants you to reconsider: The Proclaimers are a lot better than you probably remember. [more inside]
Scott Bradlee is probably best known around the internet for his ragtime reinterpretation of classic 80's hits (previously), but that's certainly not the only thing he's done. There are the relatively straighter covers, for example. And then there's the other stuff. [more inside]
Talking Heads, Live in Rome, 1980 The Talking Heads concert film you haven't seen: the show that would eventually be recorded in the (awesome) concert film Stop Making Sense 3 years later, recorded while it was still a bit weird and uncertain. And therefore, wonderful. [more inside]
In March of 2009, an R.E.M. tribute and benefit concert was held at Carnegie Hall. One of the most interesting covers of that evening was Ingrid Michaelson's take on "Nightswimming." Michaelson used a looping pedal to slowly build the harmonies, so that by the end of the song she was accompanied by a whole choir of her own voice. While the Carnegie performance isn't available online, you can see a pared-down but still extraordinary performance from her appearance at the Sirius XM studios. (YT)
In 1995, The Mommyheads released the now out-of-print Bingham's Hole. Far and away the Mommyheads' best album, Bingham's Hole also may win the title for "least heard best record of the mid-'90s." [more inside]
Legendary lyricist Hal David, most famously partnered with composer Burt Bacharach, and countless pop performers ranging from Dionne Warwick to Tom Jones to The Carpenters and beyond, has died at age 91.
Dave and Duncan off the inspirational (and cancelled) MTV reality show 'The Buried Life' star in a parody of Rihanna's We Found Love video along side a bunch of spray paint and candy.
The 'About' page of UK music website Popjustice also doubles as a pop fan manifesto.
You might have heard Mike Oldfield playing during the Olympic opening and wondered, "What! Why the heck would Danny Boyle want the Exorcist theme playing at the start of such a grand event!" Oldfield's kept a low profile for years, so you may not remember him as the man who literally launched Virgin Records, one of only three artists to ever knock his #1 record off the charts with another #1 record (the other two being Bob Dylan and the Beatles). But those teenage successes were merely the start of an astonishing career, one full of pop music and prog rock, sci-fi and New Age, film scores and classical orchestrations — not to mention a spot at the start of Kanye West's recent album. His magnum opus, Amarok, is an hour of astonishing sounds and shifting genres which must be heard to be believed. Too overwhelming? Well, there're [more inside]
Now That's What I Call Drone: Vol. 1 - Drone ambient versions of top 40 pop songs. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Randy George Scott turns himself in for riding through British Columbia at speeds in excess of 180 mph (300 km/h). [more inside]
It doesn't even matter what I'm trying to say, 'cause by this point in the song you're just dancing anyway
"Euphoria", which won the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest (previously), is a #1 in several countries, including Ireland, Austria, and Switzerland Of course, it's not the only song charting internationally that you might never hear on US radio. It should come as no surprise that one can readily find international hits online. For instance - Sweden, #4: Panetoz - Dansa Pausa Sweden, #9: Mange Makers - Drick Den This doesn't purport to be an exhaustive list, but rather a jumping-off point. [more inside]
Jimmy Fallon, Carly Rae Jepsen, and The Roots Sing Call Me Maybe with toy/classroom instruments. previously
The long and rather surprising history of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, penned in 1957 by British singer/songwriter Ewan MacColl, has just taken another bold and dramatic turn with Erykah Badu and the Flaming Lips' starkly powerful cover of the song. Oh, and in the accompanying video, they've most certainly upped the ante as far as edgy eroticism in pop music goes, with Badu's sister Nayrok pushing the envelope into the stratosphere. Nota bene: explicit nudity. [NSFW]
The art house review/criticism series Brows Held High decided to tackle Nicolas Roeg/David Bowie's 1976 The Man Who Fell To Earth by reviewing it as a karaoke medley of Bowie's greatest hits.
#Popleveson: the Twitter meme from Court 73 Robert Jay QC, the lawyer at the heart of the UK's Leveson Enquiry into press standards has a particular way in which he asks questions which was yesterday applied on-line to top pop hits. The Guardian collects some of the best. [more inside]
Hear how popular music has changed from 1940 to today with the Radio Time Machine. Choose a year and hear samples of songs from the top of the Billboard 100 (or full songs if you're logged in to Rdio).
4 (to 6) easy steps to viral fame through pop music: 1) write and record a catchy pop song, 2) get radio play for your song, and 3) get Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez to hear your song, so 4) they tweet about enjoying your song. Bonus steps to further fame: 5) make a video that has a twist ending, which 6) people (including Bieber and Gomez) cover and remake and share online for further fame and fortune. Thanks to all this, Carly Rae Jepsen's pop dance song has moved beyond Canada, and is charting all over the world. If that's not enough, NPR's Ann Powers has further thoughts on the pop hit and its video. [more inside]
"Hi. Russia may well be associated with hard liquor like Водка, but in this video I will be talking about our traditional soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages." Part 1 [mostly juices] and Part 2 [fizzy drinks]. [more inside]
Before hip-hop beefs, there were response records, also known as answer songs, usually replies to well-known songs. There are a few key eras: blues and R&B recorded music in the 1930s through 1950s, including a number of responses to "Work With Me, Annie" (1954), recorded by Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, with answers including "Annie had a Baby," and "The Wallflower" by Etta James; and Big Mama Thornton's "Hound Dog" (1953), with a quick response by Louis Innis and Charlie Gore, made a mere week after the original was released, and Rufus Thomas' "Bear Cat" (1953), Sun Records' first hit. Country, rock & roll, doo-wop and pop music picked up where the blues left off, with most activity in the 1950s to 60s. Two examples from this era are "Are You Lonesome To-night" and "Who Put The Bomp," and responses to both. The most well known from the next decade was Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" (1974), a response to Neil Young's "Southern Man" (1970) and "Alabama" (1972). Until the 2000s, no answer songs had charted as high as the original hits. That changed with Frankee's "F.U.R.B. (Fuck You Right Back)" (2004), a response to Eamon's "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)" (2003), which was the first answer song to reach number 1 in the UK. Six years later and across the pond, Katy Perry's "California Gurls" was a response to "Empire State of Mind" by Jay-Z. It was the first answer song to reach No. 1 in the Billboard Hot 100. More Responses inside. [more inside]
Alex Chilton (of the band Big Star) died two years ago today. Here's a choir singing Big Star's song "Thirteen."
The story of the ABBA sound. 8 minute Swedish documentary. Click the "CC" button for subtitles.
Tally Hall is the best new band I've heard in years, hands-down. They're an American rock band best known for the excellent Good Day video and the cult Albino Blacksheep hit Banana Man. They've released two albums, each masterpieces; the first one is exuberant and youthful and, sometimes, utterly cryptic, while the second is stripped down but astonishingly contemplative and even spiritual, easily one of the best-written pop albums I've ever heard. If you're in the mood for something smart and warm and wonderful, there're... [more inside]
Fifteen years and three weeks ago, four lads from Dublin wandered into a K-Mart in NYC and attracted a crowd as they played a song they've never played live since. They then took some questions from the audience about their intentions over the next year or so. The proceedings were carried live on music television stations around the world. (Part 1 2 3 4) The day was February 12, 1997; the song was Holy Joe; the men performing were U2. They were announcing the release of their new album, POP, released 15 years ago, on March 3, 1997. Loved by many critics, adored by many fans, met with an indifferent shrug by the general public, and repeatedly scorned by the band themselves, perhaps it's time to look back again at this controversial groundbreaking album and landmark tour. [more inside]
The Atlantic explores whether Michael Jackson's contributions, like those of other black artists, are minimized because of his skin color.
Israeli New Wave? Yes! May I introduce The Clique. Here is their song Incubator. Here is another song called Don't Light A Candle For Me. Here are the lyrics to the second song in Hebrew and English. [more inside]