Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Earworm: Running Up That Hill

Anyone who has known me long knows that I used to be a Tori Amos fan. I mean really used to be a Tori Amos fan, to the point of that's what defined me as a person for several years. Now, not so much. I generally press the skip button if one of her songs comes on, and don't really understand why I loved her music so much anymore.

It's kind of sad when you lose that big a piece of yourself. That's what you get when you find identity through music though. Tastes change. I never thought that mine would change so much.

Given that the music, voice and theatricality of Tori Amos were what drew me in, it's surprising that I never got into similar artists. Kate Bush was essentially the blueprint for everything that Tori did, yet I never particularly enjoyed anything aside from "Running Up That Hill." That one is one of my favorite songs of all time.

It's rare that I like a cover version of a song that I love as much as the original, but Placebo's cover is brilliant.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Earworm: Snuff on Digital

I made an effort, I really did. After AFI stuck with me for weeks after their concert, I had to force myself to stop listening to them. Even the stuff I love needs to be taken in moderation.

That isn't to say that I would turn it off if it came up on random. Lately I've been on a kick of listening to Blaqk Audio, Davey Havok and Jade Puget's electro side project. The album CexCells was released in 2007 to dismal reviews, if I remember correctly. I heard a whole lot of negative comparisons to Depeche Mode, but I didn't care. Their stuff It's a near-perfect tribute to the darkwave and synthpop music that I love so much and gains absolutely no new ground.

While I love the whole album, a few songs stand out to me in particular. "Snuff on Digital" is one of them, and has been pounding through my head since yesterday afternoon. I listened to it four times in a row. No wonder it's today's earworm. I want to go drive around in the rain at night. Unfortunately, that would involve two things at this point: Rain and dark. I'll have to stick to the oom-chh-oom-chh-oom-chh from the confines of my headphones today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Earworm: Buy Me a Condo

Given that I ended up unintentionally writing about "Weird Al" Yankovic last Tuesday, I don't have much to say about "Buy Me a Condo," one of the original, non-parody songs from "Weird Al" Yankovic in 3-D the same 1984 album that brought us "Eat It."

Like I said before, I wasn't familiar with a lot of the songs that Al parodied when I was a child, but I knew that they were parodies. As I got older and started searching out the originals, I was confused by his style parodies, which were original songs inspired by a specific artist or genre of music. I never really liked "Buy Me a Condo" when I was a kid. The music was fine, but I didn't understand the lyrics at all. I'm sure I asked my mother what ganja was a time or two after hearing the word in song.

I have now listened to "Buy Me a Condo" again for the first time in years, and it's far better than I remember, since I actually know what he is singing about now. The generic reggae music and lyrics are actually fairly cutting into the suburban-yuppie lifestyle, even if children make up the main demographic for the music. You've got to start somewhere, right?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Earworm: Waiting for Tonight

Great, I guess I opened a can of worms with yesterday's earworm. This one comes from my DJ days as well. Jennifer Lopez was a force with whom to be reckoned near the year 2000, and I got a lot of requests for "Waiting for Tonight" by wannabe frat boys trying to score with wannabe sorority girls as well as wannabe sorority girls who didn't want to score with wannabe frat boys. The crowd was generally, and I was generally able to shut the music out of my head when I wasn't at work, so I happily played whatever top-40 drivel would keep the kids dancing.

My wife caught me humming "Waiting for Tonight" a couple of months ago after not hearing it for nearly ten years. She then rightfully punched me in the arm and told me to stop it. I did, happily. That doesn't mean that I won't subject others to my misery, however.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Earworm: Jellyhead

During my DJ days, slow nights would involve putting on one of the Jock Jams compilations, pressing play and sitting back with a smoke, a drink and a book, only worrying about what was playing on the off chance that a bachelorette party came in and wanted to hear the Lil' Kim version of "Ladies' Night." During that time, I actually got pretty addicted to "Jellyhead" by UK pop group Crush. It's the only song I knew by them, and was pretty entertaining, given that I was hanging out at goth bars when I wasn't working. The super-happy sounds of a low-rent girl-group didn't mix very well with the industrial sounds of VNV Nation and Project Pitchfork that were piped through my Discman's headphones, but I didn't care. It was certainly better than the Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears and Mandy Moore remixes that I had to play on a nightly basis, and is still a guilty pleasure to this day.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Earworm: Boyz in the Hood

Dynamite Hack! I loved the Superfast album when it was released in 2000. It was reminiscent of Nerf Herder and early Weezer, and was quirky enough to reach number 12 on the Modern Rock charts, propelled by a cover of Eazy-E's "Boyz in the Hood."

A couple years ago I was surprised at a bar when "Anyway," my other favorite song from Superfast came on the jukebox. Even more shocked were the guys who picked it when I sang every word along with them. They bought me a beer. Music is truly the universal language. Raise your glasses.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Earworm: The Sign

Cone on! Ace of Base two days in a row? This must be some sort of karmic payback. I can't imagine the crime that fits this punishment. Hopefully this will cover it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Earworm: Don't Turn Around

Ugh. Terrible synth-pop reggae. "Don't Turn Around" was the sixth single off of the Ace of Base 1993 album The Sign. That album is like a time capsule, representing all of the crappy music that polluted the airwaves in the early 1990s. Yes, I know that it is a cover of the far-superior original by Aswad, but the Ace of Base version actually tarnishes the song past the point of redemption.

Nothing is ever going to be new again. When Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" was released, I couldn't put my finger on why it seemed so familiar. It's "Don't Turn Around" mixed with Madonna's "La Isla Bonita," and is actually the first one of Gaga's singles that I turn off when I hear it. Thanks for the memories.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Earworm: Sultans of Swing

One of the reasons that I got into music was due to "Weird Al" Yankovic. When I was a kid, I wore his records and tapes out. I saw him in concert many, many times, and while I knew that most of what he did was parody existing songs, I wasn't familiar with the origials for a lot of them. I was well versed in "Another One Rides the Bus," but didn't know "Another One Bites the Dust" until years later.

At some point, I began investigating, trying to become familiar with the original artists of his work. Given that I didn't have cable and was subject to pretty much whatever was on the radio, it was a slow process. I still didn't know many of the songs or bands that were being parodied.

When Yankovic's 1989 film UHF was released, I immediately saw it in the theater. It was the greatest thing ever, and featured a video of a modern recreation of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. I had no idea that it was a parody of "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits until years later.

As I got older and began expanding my musical experience, I did become familiar with "Money for Nothing" as well as several other Dire Straits songs. In the late 1990s, my roommate at the time cam back from a trip to Thailand with some bootleg CDs. One of them was a Dire Straits greatest hits album. At this point I did know the original "Money for Nothing" and its accompanying animated video, but still hadn't heard much more. That compilation didn't make me a big fan, but it did introduce me to some great songs like "Sultans of Swing," which was running through my head when I woke up this morning.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Earworm: Gone for Good

Remember when Garden State came out and Natalie Portman said that "New Slang" by the Shins would change your life? Not mine. I heard absolutely nothing special about most of that soundtrack, given that it was made up of stuff that I had been listening to for years. I hated that the indie stuff that I loved was suddenly in the mainstream. The movie seemed cute but forced, and I rolled my eyes whenever anyone asked me if I had heard the soundtrack.

I didn't like the Shins at all, and made an effort to get far, far away from the new hipster crowd that emerged from bringing the scene into the mainstream. I didn't give the Shins a chance at all.

Lately, however, Pandora has been playing "Gone for Good" from Chutes too Narrow a lot. I'm realizing that the hype, now that it has had several years to cool down, is actually warranted. It's a really good album, one that I would have loved had I found it on my own. I'm man enough to admit that my music snobbery made me miss out on some great stuff.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Earworm: Oh Bondage, Up Yours!

Wow, this brings me back. "Oh Bondage, Up Yours!" by X-Ray Spex is one of the absolute greatest punk songs ever recorded. I haven't heard it in years, but something brought it back. Perhaps when I watched Roger Corman's Suburbia a few weeks ago it opened a door that can't be closed. Muahahah.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Earworm: Nada, part 2

My internet was knocked out by a storm this morning, and my cellular service has been spotty throughout the day. I think a tower may have been knocked out by a lightning strikes my cellular service. Thus, no earworm update for Saturday. Tomorrow we'll be back to our regularly-scheduled program.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Earworm: Nada

It's been a bad day for earworming. My mind has been completely devoid of music all day, so there is no earworm for today. I'm feeling under the weather and have a splitting headache.

I listened to the new Stars album today. It's pretty good, although I wish that they would make something a whole lot darker.

Now I just want to go home and watch A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. It just seems like a perfect night for good horror sequels.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Earworm: Chop Suey!

System of a Down goes in too many directions at once for me. I can't wrap my head around their music on a typical day, but there is one exception. "Chop Suey," from their 2001 Toxicity album is one that I don't turn off when I hear it. It's a near-perfect blend of chaos and order that is brought together by pounding drums and grinding guitars. It was also released right before the September 11, 2001 attacks, and reminds me of what was going in in the world at that time every time I hear it.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Earworm: Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer

Seriously? It's the middle of June. Today is the last day of my vacation. This is what the earworm gods have in store after a long night of Red Bull and vodka?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Earworm: Give It All U Got

Lil Jon is amazing. His lyrical prowess is the stuff of legends.

"Give It All U Got" isn't on Crunk Rock, Lil Jon's latest album of songs that make 2 Live Crew seem tame and talented, and I can't get enough in small doses.

The most incredible part comes at 00:12 when Lil Jon declares that not only is he going to give it all he's got, but that he is too.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Earworm: Joyride

Last cassette years! Last cassette years! I don't think that I even owned this one. Roxette was rumored to be discovered by a Minneapolis DJ who brought a copy of Look Sharp back to the US. You know, because nothing is truly important until we have our stamp on it. Wikipedia says that it was an exchange student who brought a copy of the album back home to Minnesota and gave it to a DJ. If Wikipedia says it, it must be true.

Right after that rumor hit, I got it in my head that I was going to discover the next big thing during a family vacation to Australia. That band was a hair-metal group called Roxus. If I remember correctly, they were terrible, making the kind of music that would have fit into a cheesy 1980s-montage video, and/or the animated Transformers movie. Thankfully grunge came along and swept that one under the rug.

I am not a Grammy-winning producer. Roxus was supposed to be my ticket to the big time. Some things just aren't meant to be.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Earworm: Replay

No, no, no! What have I done to deserve this? Last night the radio decided to play cruel tricks on me. The same station that cursed me with Dave Matthews two nights ago played Creed. That was simply too much to take, so the station was changed five seconds into Scott Stapp's yowling. Anything would be better, right?

Unfortunately the only other station that was programmed in was of the top-40 variety. They were playing "Replay" by Iyaz. It's a very slick pop song that will get stuck in my head for days if I hear just a little bit of it, and I listened to the whole thing in a preemptive strike to keep "Arms Wide Open" by Creed from taking up residence. If that were to happen, bands like Puddle of Mudd and Unkle Kracker would move in and trash the neighborhood. I just can't afford for that to happen, so "Replay" it is. I can live with that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Earworm: Why I Am

I'll admit it. At the beginning of college I went through a phase of listening to whatever everyone else in the dorms liked. I made some bad decisions along the way, but college is all about experimentation, right? Right?

So yeah. Yes, I was one of the many sheep who fell into the trap of listening to Dave Matthews. Mostly it was for the sake of appearances, but I never really listened to his stuff outside of being around other people, so at least I can keep telling myself that. It actually took Alanis Morissette singing on 1998's "Don't Drink the Water" to make me realize that I never wanted anything to do with his music again. It was just a phase. That's all it is. Much like those poor, misguided children who follow the Insane Clown Posse, I just went through a phase of listening to jammy bands. I grew out of it, and learned a valuable lesson. It taught me that groupthink can be a very, very dangerous thing. So no more being a sheep for me. I'll quietly rebel from the sidelines from now on.

Then last night happened. I get into my car after work and "Why I Am" the Dave Matthews Band's 2009 album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King was playing on the radio. Normally I quickly change the station or turn on my iPod whenever a song of theirs comes on, but not this time. I let it play through. My head didn't explode, but I'm scared. My tolerance level has gotten too high. I'll just tell myself it happened because Bonnaroo is this weekend and I won't be there, so my mind was coping by giving me a taste of what I would be missing. Sure. Just keep telling yourself that. Everything will be fine.

Still, Boyd Tinsley is a fantastic performer. I could watch him play the violin all day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Earworm: Careless Whisper

Today's earworm is by George Michael, one of the greatest pop singers ever. "Careless Whisper" is one of my favorite songs. I avoided the radio completely for several weeks when I heard Seether's awful attempt at destroying it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Earworm: Hips Don't Lie

Shakira is a hit-or-miss musician for me. I understand the appeal, and her latest album is so out-there that its bizarreness is almost enough to make me want to listen. "She-Wolf" is an amazing trainwreck that can get me dancing every time. It's even my ringtone for when my wife calls. She hates it.

That said, "Hips Don't Lie" has bugged me since the first time I heard it. Not only is it a terrible pop song, but it became a hit and was tacked onto a reissue of her 2006 album, Oral Fixation, Vol. 2 in an attempt to elevate sagging record sales. It worked, and whether I listened to the radio or not, I couldn't escape the terrible-duet stylings of Shakira and Wyclef Jean. I used to be a big Wyclef fan, too. The Carnival was one of the best albums of 1997, and I will always love his work with the Fugees. Everything afterwards? Not so much.

Lo and behold, four years later I stumble upon this amazing parody of "Hips Don't Lie" and I actually like it. The pairing of Shakira and the fake Danzig make the song not just tolerable, but actually catchy. Now it's an earworm that I don't mind having stuck in my head.

My favorite part is at 00:21. Danzig and the wolf. Go!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Earworm: Single Ladies

Last night I found out that the BBC and the Starz network have commissioned a new series of Torchwood, my favorite modern British show outside of Doctor Who and The I.T. Crowd. The show has had its ups and downs over its previous three seasons. When it's good, it's very good, but when it's bad, it's really, really bad (Cyberwomen, anyone?). Still, one thing has stayed constant and kept me tuning in week after week: John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness. Of course, I immediately thought of Barrowman's performance of BeyoncĂ©'s "Single Ladies," in which he dances like no man has danced before. If his appeal ever truly reaches across the Atlantic, those kids on America's Best Dance Crew are royally screwed.

I still think he would have been a perfect casting choice for Captain America, even if he isn't, you know, American.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Earworm: Something Tells Me I'm Into Something Good

I don't know if Herman's Hermits were ever used to score a scene of The Wonder Years, but I feel like there should be an episode playing in the background right now.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Earworm: Hey Soul Sister

It's the chord progression that is in everything! While it is true that many songs share the basic chord progression with Pachelbel's "Canon in D," generally they use it in a way that each spin sounds relatively fresh. Having played the violin for several years, I have always been drawn to songs that share that foundation. "Hey Soul Sister" by Train is the latest in a long line, and runs through my head on a fairly regular basis until it mixes with another song that has the same foundation. It is earworm incarnate.

This guy hates the song. It makes for good comedy.

What does his untrimmed chest have to do with anything?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Earworm: Do You Know the Muffin Man?

No, I haven't been watching Shrek. I slept really poorly last night.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Earworm: Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic

Huh. I haven't heard the Police in ages. I actually got to the point where I was completely sick of anything that was on a greatest hits compilation, and anything by solo Sting made me want to stab myself in the ear. The Hipster Renaissance made them cool again, and I just got burned out with a quickness. Now though? Not so much. I have been able to handle them in small doses again for a little while and didn't mind when I woke up with "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" running through my head this morning.

The Peanuts edit wins today.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Earworm: Beautiful Girls

Bayside "Beautiful Girls"

I really dislike mainstream radio. Turn to any pop station an you hear the same ten songs over and over again. Sean Kingston's "Beautiful Girls" is one of those songs. When this song would get stuck in my head a few years ago, I would go out of my way to listen to mainstream radio in an effort to find something to replace it. The lyrics were inane and the interpolation of "Stand By Me" was worse than a straight, autotuned cover would have been.

The Bayside cover is a completely different animal. Doing away with all but the basic hints of "Stand By Me," their version still shares the same nonsensical message, but they turn it from a vintage-inspired, modern-pop mess into a '50s do-rock dance number. As an added bonus, somehow the tongue-in-cheek take on the lyrics seems a lot more realistic, as if they actually went through the heartbreak about which they play. It's just about a perfect match-up and succeeds in doing something that I didn't think was possible. It made me love that song.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Earworm: Float On

Modest Mouse "Float On"

Oh, how I love this song. Modest Mouse hit big during my senior year of college, and Good News for People Who Love Bad News provided the soundtrack to many a night of studies. They're coming to town soon, but tickets are sold out. That's great for them but bad for me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Earworm: One Tin Soldier

Coven "One Tin Soldier"

I had to work hard on this one. The lingering effects of the AFI concert have remained for three days now, so I tried as hard as I could to get something new stuck in my head.

When I first left Minneapolis due to a forced family move in the late 1980s, I joined my new school's choir. They made us sing "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison and "One Tin Soldier" by Coven. None of the other kids were familiar with it, but I knew the 45 that my parents had. I grew up in a very diverse area of the city and always loved that song due to its passive-aggressive nature.

The song has made a comeback of sorts in recent years, although more than ten years isn't so recent, I suppose. Punk-based supergroup Me First and the Gimme Gimmes covered "One Tin Soldier" on their first album, Have a Ball. I love each one of their albums of sped-up versions of songs that I know, even if I don't care for the source material. I'll take "One Tin Soldier" in any form though.