“Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, too much of its time

I really dislike “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears because it’s a perfectly written song that sounds exactly like the year it was recorded, 1985. Five years earlier, it would have sounded mildly seventies-ish and been great. Five years later and it would have had a little more grit and sound… Continue reading “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, too much of its time

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I look forward to the day when machine learning can differentiate between “don’t play this song because it is awful” from “ don’t play this song because I’ve heard this it a thousand times” (e.g. “Superfreak”, “Rapper’s Delight”, “Come as you are”). Related, I’d love a way to tell the machine learning “if you are ever stumped about what to play next, it’s always OK to slip this song in” (e.g. “Wouldn’t it be nice”, “Summertime Blues”, “Izzo (H.O.V.A)”, “Overture to Samson and Delilah”).

My Rite of Spring overfloweth

Today’s the hundredth anniversary of premier of hometown favorite Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The National Public Radios are all over this. NPR Music and WQXR are collecting a bunch of articles they’ve done in the run-up to the anniversary. My favorites: a visualization of the score and a list of essential recordings. The latter features… Continue reading My Rite of Spring overfloweth

What makes longevity?

A joke for a late-night variety show monologue may only be funny for one day (e.g. a joke about a celebrity). A newspaper article may lose relevance in days or weeks. A TV show might feel dated a couple years after its run ends (e.g. most problems on Seinfeld could be solved with a smartphone).… Continue reading What makes longevity?

Smiling rappers

The rap game doesn’t have to be all posturing and diss tracks. We need more smiling rappers.

Get in my ears, you dissonant chord

Petrushka chord. Two major chords played a half-tone apart. So, it sounds good, except it sounds grating. It’s a motif throughout Stravinsky’s ballet Petrouchka. Ergo, like everything Stravinsky, get in my ears! Listen to it and learn more about the chord from the awesome “Feynman of classical music” (I just made that up) Leonard Bernstein.

AC/DC writes robust songs

AC/DC writes songs that are fundamentally very strong. They aren’t the most touching, artistically composed songs. But they’re very solid songs. They hold together well, you can sing along, they don’t ramble on longer than they should. How robust is AC/DC’s songwriting? You can throw bagpipes into one of their songs and it still holds… Continue reading AC/DC writes robust songs

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Hip-hop for nerds: “Otis”

(Ed. Herein, I attempt to break down a current favorite of mine, “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West, in terms familiar and interesting to nerds, specifically of the nerd and/or comedy persuasion.) “Otis” is a song arranged and performed by two best pals, Jay-Z and Kanye West. It opens with a sample of Otis Redding… Continue reading Hip-hop for nerds: “Otis”