Scratchy Grooves For almost twenty years, starting in 1984, Bill Chambless on WVUD-FM at the University of Delaware, explored the pop music of 1900 to 1940 on vintage recordings, "scratches and all." Stream the shows at this website, migrated from the original cassette tapes and maintained by his son.
What if Disney Princes were in a Boy Band? Appearances by: Ariel and Eric; Beauty and Beast; Cinderella and Prince Charming; Jasmine and Aladdin; Mulan and Li Shang
The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records is a radio series on BBC written and narrated by Stuart Maconie. Each episode focuses on one particular pop song and tells the story of the song as well as what social trends it mirrored, for instance the episode on Telstar by The Tornadoes focuses on the technological progress, especially in space travel and music, and the story of songwriter and record producer Joe Meek. 25 episodes have been broadcast, including ones on Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers and 21st Century Britain, Cornershop's Brimful of Asha and the British-Asian experience , and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'aime and sex. There are 25 more to come. There is also a blog and profiles of the songs already discussed. [Previously on MeFi]
Youtube user Thepeterson puts together collections of the major radio hits, movies, video games, and technology of a given year. So why not take a time machine trip to the media landscape of : 1997, 1999, and 2002
Marcello Carlin and Lena Friesen review every UK number one album so that you might want to hear it, starting in July 1956 with Frank Sinatra's Songs For Swingin' Lovers (reviewed August 2008) and so far ending up in September 1981 with Genesis' Abacab (March 2013).
Justin Timberlake likely made his new album to fulfill a contract he signed with Live Nation in 2009.
Noted filmmaker Allison Anders (recent L.A. Weekly profile) won 50 rock and pop records once owned by Greta Garbo at auction. She's listening to them, one by one, and writing about them at Greta's Records.
A couple days ago, Minami Minegishi, a 20 year-old member of the wholesome, innocent idol group AKB48 posted a video of herself, head shaved, tearfully begging not to be fired from the group. What horrible crime did she commit? What awful, unpardonable sin caused her demotion and public humilation? Dating. [more inside]
"This year, two monumental genres with decidedly global pedigrees arrived on our shores and attempted to crack the American pop code, with one enjoying far more decisive success than the other...One of those is definitely sexier and zeitgeistier than the other, but that doesn't always result in sustained cultural relevance."
K-Pop, EDM, and Baby Brosteps Toward a More Global Pop Landscape
K-Pop, EDM, and Baby Brosteps Toward a More Global Pop Landscape
"If Fantasma is a concept album, then what exactly is the concept? Simply-put, Fantasma is an album about music itself — a tribute to how the very process of hardcore music nerd fandom and collection reference lead to creation and production." Released in 1997, Fantasma by Cornelius was one of the finest albums of the 90's, and arguably the peak of the Shibuya-Kei music scene in Japan. Néojaponisme recently published a five-part, detailed retrospective on the album in honor of its fifteenth anniversary. While reading, you can listen to a playlist of the full album on YouTube. Enjoy! [more inside]
The 'About' page of UK music website Popjustice also doubles as a pop fan manifesto.
What happens when you mash up Cinderella, Disney songs, queer culture, and top 40 hits? This, apparently. [SLYT]
Warning for general ear-worminess. I'll be humming this all week.
Warning for general ear-worminess. I'll be humming this all week.
Its writer refused to record it. Pat Boone almost killed it. Then it was resurrected as a B-side to an indie prestige project. Then it became an A-side in its own right, sold a half a million copies, and ended up being performed by its writer on the last ever episode of the Monkees. - "Song to the Siren's irresistible tang" by Martin Aston. [more inside]
If you’ve ever heard someone complain about the 4 chord pop song, this is what they are talking about.
"I analyzed the chords of 1300 popular songs for patterns. This is what I found."
The story of the ABBA sound. 8 minute Swedish documentary. Click the "CC" button for subtitles.
The story of Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers in one picture. A cautionary tale of working for an RIAA label (and Clive Davis) and what happens when your 'legendary hit' peaks at #11. At least he has a friend in Yoko Ono.
In the last decade, no organ of music criticism has wielded as much influence as Pitchfork. It is the only publication, online or print, that can have a decisive effect on a musician or band’s career.... [W]hatever attracts people to Pitchfork, it isn’t the writing. Even writers who admire the site’s reviews almost always feel obliged to describe the prose as “uneven,” and that’s charitable. Pitchfork has a very specific scoring system that grades albums on a scale from 0.0 to 10.0, and that accounts for some of the site’s appeal, but it can’t just be the scores.... How has Pitchfork succeeded where so many other websites and magazines have not? And why is that success depressing? A lengthy history and review of Pitchfork [Media], from an inexpensive online alternative to a music zine, to "indie" music kingmaker, and thoughts on pop music (criticism). [more inside]
GonZo Presents Disco's Payback: The Reboots is an 11-track album featuring modern pop records mashed up with disco classics.
The Billboard Wayback Machine is an interactive that lets you explore the Billboard charts spanning from 1964 to 2011
"[Punk] in itself is comedy. The whole thing is ludicrous. They were taking themselves so seriously—" he laughs—"and the great message you want to tell people forty years later is 'Put butter on your crumpets'? What they were saying they stood for, which was sort of anti-greed, anti-establishment... At the end, they all want the check. That's the truth." Pop biographer Chris Heath - who's written some rather fascinating books on Robbie Williams and the Pet Shop Boys - meets Simon Cowell.
In Defense of Pop Music -- New York Magazine takes a look at the rise of pop and dance music and the death of rock in the charts.
It was music to be heard, not listened to. It was the soundtrack to the relaxed, sophisticated, mature vision of the good life. It was music for lovers. It was upbeat, elaborately arranged, chart-toppingly popular, and yet has been almost written out of the popular music history books, dismissed as “elevator music”; soulless, toned-down, pre-chewed, limp cover-versions of popular songs for old people. So sit back, put aside the politics and angst, slip into something comfortable (preferably with someone of similar description), and allow yourself to experience The Joy of Easy Listening [2, 3, 4, 5, 6]
Smash Hits! was a UK music magazine, first published at the end of 1978. It charted the progress of pop styles, including the rise of 2-Tone, and included a number of freebie discs, first as flexi discs, and later on CDs. The magazine faltered in the 1990s, and closed shop in 2006. Since then there have been a few one-off "special editions," first a 2009 tribute to Michael Jackson, and then a Lady Gaga special in 2010. 30 years after the first issue went on sale, a fan posted the first issue online. So far, new scans have been posted fort-nightly, following the original release schedule. 73 issues are online to date, each three decades after they first were sold. (via MetaChat)
Rebecca Black's Friday is a video single from an artist you may have never heard of, yet it's spawned animated gifs and in-depth lyrical analysis, raised speculation over possible album tracklists, garnered numerous covers, it's received the super-slow treatment (similar to Justin Bieber), and a short movie mash-up. Where did this all start? A magical place called Ark Music Factory.
Today in 1966, Brian Wilson starting laying down instrumental tracks for "#1 Untitled." Eight months, 90 hours of tape, and $50,000 later, he released his "pocket symphony." [more inside]
"Pop music is old. Whether you consider it started with jazz, swing or rock and roll in the 50s, it's old. There is nowhere new go to. Seriously! There are new bands who have their own voice and style but in terms of the type of music they're making....it's just recombinations of other historical styles. There is nowhere new to go. There just isn't, I'm sorry to say, and it's not because I'm old." Orchestral Manoeuvres In the Dark's Andy McCluskey on pop music, not getting any respect, and reforming the band. They've got a new album out; the title track (and forthcoming single) "History of Modern" is a jaunty ode to the inevitable death of everyone & everything. [more inside]
Bored of Ke$ha, Fergie, and their various American contemporaries performing "hip-hop"-"tinged" "pop"? Say "alo" to apple-cheeked Romanian-German star Miss Platnum. Maybe start with Mercedes-Benz and She Moved In, before moving on to her earliest and biggest hit, Give Me the Food. [more inside]
The Music of Jacques Brel is an article by music journalist Amy Hanson about the career of pop music legend Jacques Brel and his effect on popular music in the English language. A lot of songs and covers are mentioned in the article, below the cut are links to the songs that I could find videos of online. [more inside]
I maintain that only an encyclopedic-archaeological turn can save an aging person's attachment to popular culture from descending into ridiculousness. Against Eighties Music by Justin E.H. Smith
Janelle Monae has been busy since the release of The Chase EP, the first of four "suites" that make up her genre-bending epic set in the distant future. She's been "discovered" by Diddy, continued to find inspiration in unexpected places, founded an artists' collective in her adopted hometown of Atlanta, and found time to speak to Vogue about her singular sense of style. Somewhere in there, she's also recorded the next two parts of the Metropolis Suite, titled The Archandroid (which is out today), put out a teaser for the album, and also the video for the first single, Tightrope. [more inside]
Christopher Bird at Mighty God King has written some corkers in the past - from his ejection from Livejournal owing to his review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to his frequent conversations with Flapjacks and Photoshopping of Final Fantasy Covers (previously). He's really outdone himself this time, with Scenes From An Alternate Universe Where The Beatles Accepted Lorne Michaels’ Generous Offer. Read it, and, quite possibly, weep. Bonus points to the first person who constructs a Primer-level explanation of what happened.
Poet and poetry/film/music/culture critic Joshua Clover has been posting excerpts from his upcoming book 1989: Bob Dylan Didn't Have This to Sing About over at his blog. [more inside]
Gyrations atop a giant Rubik’s cube? Check. Uber groiny, hardbodied ballet dancers in metallic bowler shoes? Check. Intimated BJ three-way with male Moschino models? Check. Glittering Mickey Mouse butt cleavage? OKAY NOW THAT’S JUST GOING TOO FAR. Coilhouse is awesome.
Of all the pretenders to the throne of "British Elvis" in the pre-Beatles UK music scene, none had the swagger or moves quite like Vince Taylor. [more inside]
"There's sickly pop, there's cheesy pop and then there's the Lightning Seeds brand of pure shiny pop." The Lightning Seeds mixed slick production with equally compelling melodies and lyrics, and produced a number of critically acclaimed albums in the 1990s. Now there's a new album coming out - their first since 1999's Tilt. [more inside]
"It did feel a little isolating at the time, having atheist parents who thought skiing was a pretentious extravagance, believed America should stay out of Vietnam and regarded Valentine's Day and Mother's Day as 'meretricious, capitalist flim-flam.' " Daniel Grafton Hill IV (better known as this guy) remembers growing up with Daniel Grafton Hill III in a progressive, over-achieving, mixed-raced family. Meanwhile, the Hill father-son saga takes an ominous turn in the next generation.
The Mellotron features prominently on the 1968 album, The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society, more commonly referred to as The Village Green Preservation Society. The weird, eerie quality of this electronic keyboard, which uses pre-recorded tapes of individual sounds such as strings and woodwind instruments, worked well with singer/songwriter Ray Davies' nostalgic, backwards looking sensibility. [more inside]
Perfume, a three-girl Japanese technopop sensation formed in 2001 now consisting of Nocchi, Kashikuya and A~chan, is about to release their ninth single, "Dream Fighter". Perfume's July 2008 single "Love the World" was the first technopop song ever to debut at #1 on the Oricon sales chart. The previous highest debut for techno was Yellow Magic Orchestra's "Kimi ni, Munekyun" 25 years ago in 1983. (original article citing #1 record translated via Google translator) [more inside]
Classic tracks: Can't seem to face up to the facts? Searching for the heart of Heart of Gold? Mix Online delves deep into your favorite jams, to find out what was in the air when they were conceived. Know what I mean? via
"Radiodiffusion Internasionaal is devoted to the evolution of popular music from Africa, the Middle East, India and Asia and the proliferation of Western influences on these non-Western cultures. The focus is primarily the music from the mid 60's to the mid 70's." (Description from the front page of the site.) Slightly differently formatted version of the website here. Nice set of links, too (scroll down to the Words and Pictures section).