The 2013 Rober Awards Music Poll is now open. You can cast your votes @ http://roberawards.com/the-rober-awards-2013-music-poll/ NOMINATIONS TALLY: 5 Nominations: JOHN GRANT JULIA HOLTER KANYE WEST 4 Nominations: ARCADE FIRE MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3 Nominations: BOARDS OF CANADA DAFT PUNK DAVID BOWIE NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS PREFAB SPROUT YO LA TENGO 2 Nominations: AUTRE NE VEUT CHVRCHES DANNY BROWN DISCLOSURE FACTORY FLOOR FKA TWIGS FUCK BUTTONS HAIM JAMES BLAKE JANELLE MONÁE JULIANNA BARWICK NEKO CASE PARQUET COURTS PHOSPHORESCENT PUSHA T QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE SAVAGES VAMPIRE WEEKEND
You really think so? Then take a look at these so-called similar artists found on each of the following artists among the first 50 artists listed:
Metallica - System of a Down, Slipknot, Godsmack, KoRn, Disturbed, Rammstein, The Offspring, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Children of Bodom, In Flames, Apocalyptica, Alice in Chains, Bullet For My Valentine, Lamb of God, Stone Sour, Nirvana, Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine, Deep Purple, Nightwish
--You really think nu metal like KoRn and Slipknot sound the same? When was Pink Floyd known for making headbashing tunes? I never knew Offspring was a metal band. I didn't know Metallica had harsh vocals like Children of Bodom, Lamb of God, and In Flames! I didn't know Metallica had rap vocals like Limp Bizkit and Rage Against the Machine. And I most certainly think Led Zeppelin is a true metal band since thrash and heavy metal is the first thing that comes to mind when someone says Led Zeppelin
The Offspring - Papa Roach, Limp Bizkit, Metallica, System of a Down, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters, Nickelback, Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Rage Against the Machine, AC/DC, KoRn, Bullet For My Valentine, 3 Doors Down, Disturbed, Hollywood Undead, Slipknot, Guano Apes, P.O.D., In Flames, Serj Tankian, Dope, Breaking Benjamin, Static-X, NIrvana, DragonForce, Puddle of Mudd, Iron Maiden, Linkin Park, Rammstein
--So wait, I'm supposed to believe that the nu metal craze of the 90s featured The Offspring? I'm supposed to believe Offspring played funk rock music like RHCP. I'm supposed to believe Offspring is a rap-oriented group like RATM, LP, and Hollywood Undead? A post-grunge outfit LIKE FUCKING NICKELBACK? In Flames did punk rock or pop punk? This is news to me!!!
Nirvana - Sex Pistols, Metallica, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Guns N' Roses, The White Stripes, Ramones, System of a Down, Joy Division, Korn, The Beatles, Queens of the Stone Age, Pink Floyd, Green Day, Marilyn Manson
Gee, Nirvana is hard rock like Led Zeppelin. And they play psychedelic music like Pink Floyd and The Doors...obviously the Beatles and their happy pop and rock and roll is similar to Nirvana and their negative creep grunge sounds. And obviously it's nu metal since it's similar to KoRn and SOAD (I consider SOAD part of the nu metal scene but not as a nu metal band).
And there's more out there. This is all thanks to the brilliant formula for finding similar artists. Congratulations, if you love Guns N' Roses, you will love Nirvana (and vice versa).
The music polls will be closing on January the 31st.
BON IVER DESTROYER SHABAZZ PALACES
CLAMS CASINO FRANK OCEAN NICOLAS JAAR REAL ESTATE ST. VINCENT THE WEEKND TUNE-YARDS
A$AP ROCKY AZALEIA BANKS BEASTIE BOYS BEYONCE COLIN STETSON DRAKE DUM DUM GIRLS FRIENDS GIL SCOTT-HERON & JAMIE XX GILLIAN WELCH KANYE WEST & JAY-Z KATE BUSH KING KRULE LANA DEL REY SBTRKT TOM WAITS ZOMBY
The music polls will be closing on January the 31st.
BON IVER DESTROYER SHABAZZ PALACES
CLAMS CASINO FRANK OCEAN NICOLAS JAAR REAL ESTATE ST. VINCENT THE WEEKND TUNE-YARDS
A$AP ROCKY AZALEIA BANKS BEASTIE BOYS BEYONCE COLIN STETSON DRAKE DUM DUM GIRLS FRIENDS GIL SCOTT-HERON & JAMIE XX GILLIAN WELCH KANYE WEST & JAY-Z KATE BUSH KING KRULE LANA DEL REY SBTRKT TOM WAITS ZOMBY
Last Saturday, I discussed the issues with the current similar artist formula...especially Metallica being top 10 in similarity with The Offspring (like what?).
Well, since then, I put my programming skills to work and well, I built a little program to test to see it would work with other artists. Results were noticed on several bands/artists as their similar artists over went a make over. However, it did lead to new problems as I tried testing it out super-mainstream acts including our favorite band...Radiohead.
...well, apparently. Radiohead's top 250 similar artists currently are all over the place in random genres. A bigger batch of similar artists would be needed to get the best results, but the question is...is my new formula better. I'm going to show you some examples of artists top 25 similar artists...before, and after. You guys make the decision.
Oh, you don't remember the formula? Very well...time for a quick summary *First, grab all 250 similar artists for Artist A. Obtain them in the given order. *Next, for each similar artist starting with the one with the highest original rank, look at the first 3 tag and count how many of the tags are similar to the tags in Artist A. Resort based on this. You should end up with 4 groups starting from top (matches all 3 tags, matches 2 tags, matches 1 tag, matches no tags) *Next, break the ties by resorting each group based on matches among the first 4 tags (which will spawn even more groups) *Then finally, re-sort again, this time on the top 5 tags. If there are still ties, break the ties based on their original rank.
It's a lot of technical and algorithm stuff that is complicated for the average user, so I won't go that deep. See my example in the first journal entry here for an example with The Offspring (though I work a little backwards here).
Also, I have banned several tags...here are some of them *Tags that are the same as the artist - not all have been banned, but the common ones have been (ex: red hot chili peppers for Red Hot Chili Peppers). These tags simply group together projects involving members of a band...but really, they may not have the same style. *Tags referring to geographical locations...american, british, swedish, german. The geographical location doesn't make sense at all. I haven't gotten into geo-genre tags much yet as they may require research before banning (some countries may have a genre as a specific style). *Decade tags. Similar artists do not have to reside in the same decade. If there's a Led Zeppelin clone playing the exact same style of music today that Zep played in the 60s and 70s, then perhaps they should be similar. *Nonsense tags...you pretty much know them...crap, awesome, heard on pandora, sexy, legend....they don't reflect a genre or style *The alternative tag. To be honest, this tag was holding a lot of stuff back, especially those that are also alternative rock. This tag is incredibly abused as well to hell, so I dropped that tag. Still no decision on the indie tag...I'll have to run a few more tests through different artists to make that decision.
So there you go...the banned tags. I'll go through several examples...these are the top 20 artists, before and after.
Not only has every single non-punk rock band has been removed from the current list, but even mainstream punk rock bands like Sum 41 and The Offspring are also gone. The result? More melodic hardcore bands in the top 20. Strung Out is now the most similar. Sum 41 and The Offspring show up between #21-30. And Nickelback? A long way down...at 139. This is probably the main reason why the punk tag was not removed.
WHAT THE FUCK IS THE OFFSPRING DOING HERE? Literally. Well, for the most part, it looks OK with Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax on top first but...AC/DC, GNR...they sure may have been influenced by them, but would you really call them similar to Metallica? Would anyone even consider Slipknot or SOAD similar to Metallica either? Avenged Sevenfold?
Hmm...kind of strange here. Slayer actually dropped while Testament on the other hand arised. Now...MD.45 comes up #1...I dunno, many claim it's punk rock, but their top tags are thrash. But what the fuck are Acid Drinkers, Kat and Turbo? They're thrash metal bands from Poland. Both shared thrash metal and heavy metal tags with Metallica, thus the high ranking since thrash metal and heavy metal are also among Metallica's top tags too.
Slayer only shared two tags (thrash metal, heavy metal) while the Polish metal bands shared all 3 (since polish was banned due to location). It's quite interesting to be honest. Similar artists are supposed to get us into new artists. Not sure if they're good or not, but perhaps you might wanna give a spin to those artists.
What bout hip-hop? Let's take a random hip-hop artist....ok, Kanye West (I had to ban the gay fish tag in order to get similar artists).
Umm...is it just me or did this get a little more on the poppy/rnb side (well Kanye did do more poppy stuff on the last 2 record). LOL at the different version of the guy known as Diddy on there (hip-hop, rap rnb, pop, soul were the top tags for Kanye West after other tags were dumped...including hip hop (duplicate tag for hip-hop), kanye west (for obvious reasons) and...GAY FISH. TBH, most people tend to consider Kanye as a good musician rather than an MC.
One more example. I have also banned the classic rock because it referred to a radio format rather than a genre. One band I tested was Queen:
Well...most of the top 10 consists of random Queen side projects. But do they play the same exact style...or even have a good discography to choose from? Queen & David Bowie only has one song of existence! And the next 10 artists...hmm...feels like Queen takes in a bit of those bands, but they aren't even similar to each other. What bout this new formula?
Well, most of the original British Invasion is gone...some of those arena rock bands though are now in (Styx, Foreigner, and Journey to be specific)...Alice Cooper is in, and he's considered glam rock which Queen sometimes goes into...not bad. Most of the Queen side projects are gone, and AC/DC and Aerosmith seems to belong somewhere else (got to go outside the top 30 to find them). The top band is Slade...based on their last.fm page, they seem to also incorporate glam rock and hard rock together. Same with Sweet as well. Remember Queen still has hard rock influences to their sound as well, which is why not all hard rock band on the original list are gone. Seems to feel like a better list IMO, but what about you?
Well, I'm prolly going to go through more artists and search for more tags. Perhaps I could show you some more examples as well from other genres. It should be known that not all similar artists formulas are perfect. And there will always be artists that aren't similar at all.
Remember, I'm only able to resort the original top 250 similar artists. If there are some that are clearly similar to the given artist, but not in that artist's top 250 similar artists, it may not be caught. IMO, this formula is better applied over a similar artist pool of more than 250...probably a lot more artists.
So take a look and pass me some feedback...whether it be on a formula, tags to include, and perhaps ask me for a few examples.
As you've noticed the last several years, similar artists for bands/artists have gotten worse and more unreasonable. Especially if you keep reading on and on through the top similar artists for each artist. The one that has been baffling me for a while is The Offspring, a punk rock band that's not extreme metal or hard rock (though they do have alternative influences and sounds at times). In fact, as of 12/25/2011, these are their top 50 similar artists in order:
You guys can puke now. The current formula is based on what people of Offspring listen to more often. But seriously...we know this. If one person listens to two bands, those two bands aren't necessarily similar...especially The Offspring to Metallica. The Offspring to Nickelback. The Offspring to AC/DC (seriously...). The Offspring to System of a Down...The Offspring to Disturbed and Godsmack (seriously...?) The Offspring to Slipknot, KoRn, and Limp Bizkit (when has The Offspring ever been nu metal?). And worse yet, The Offspring to Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Bullet For My Valentine, DragonForce, Rob Zombie...are we supposed to believe that The Offspring is a heavy metal band?
Anyone should know that this method isn't the best way to find a similar artist. It's not. Simple as follows. A topic on the forums discussed that and some people suggested that the bands/artists be determined by tag clouds. That could work, but a few believe that there could be problems, especially when taking the whole tag cloud as a whole and seeing a ton of hard rock and alternative bands become similar to the one artist (The Offspring in this case).
Actually, there is another way I've been looking at, and it was a waste of several hours.
What if we took the current list and re-sorted it based on just the top 5 tags, taking into account the order of the tags. Of course there are questionable tags like classic rock, 70s, and for some reason, very frequently polish and polish rock (appears that The Offspring has a huge following in Poland), but for now, let's leave them here (already, the infamous seen live tag was banned from the tag cloud).
This is what I did...I grabbed the top 5 tags for every single band and resorted the list based on how many tags a band/artist shared those tags. Those that shared all 5 tags (in this case, punk rock, punk, rock, alternative rock, alternative) came on the top followed by those that shared 4, then 3, and then 0. Here's how the top 20 now looked like:
SHARED ALL 5 TAGS Billy Talent Hoobastank Pezz Killradio Alien Ant Farm Unwritten Law
SHARED ONLY 4 TAGS (missing tag in paranthesis) Sum 41 (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) Bad Religion (had political, missing alternative rock) Green Day (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) blink-182 (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) Bloodhound Gang (had comedy, missing punk rock) Pidżama Porno (had polish, missing alternative rock) Bowling For Soup (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) Good Charlotte (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) AFI (had emo, missing alternative rock) SR-71 (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) Social Distortion (had rockabilly, missing alternative rock) No Use For a Name (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) +44 (had pop punk, missing alternative rock) Strachy Na Lachy (had polish, missing punk)
As you can notice now, all of those metal and hard rock bands like Metallica, AC/DC, Nickelback, System of a Down, Disturbed and Godsmack....GONE from the top 20...actually they didn't even break the top 30 as well. What was more disturbing though was the high number of bands that didn't even share a single tag with The Offspring. These are some of the bands that you could hear when listening to The Offspring similar artists radio, and grab a bucket, you're about to puke hard...no, Justin Bieber is not there, but still...
Take a look guys...enjoy listening to all that metalcore, symphonic metal, power metal, heavy metal, electronica, nu metal, thrash metal, melodic death metal, and hip-hop stuff. According to last.fm right now, they are really similar artists to The Offspring (actually, all of them except for DF and BFMV come up as medium to low similarity to The Offspring). But seriously, a band that doesn't even share any of the top 5 tags with another band/artist has no reason even being on a list with that band. And there's literally a common thread with the bands/artists listed above. Most of them are pure metal to the point they don't even have a rock tag (I suspect Priest would get one if classic rock was barred though). Others like The Prodigy or Eminem are from electronica and hip-hop genres...and..really...I can't see a similarity with those bands to begin with.
So there...we managed to filter in bands that are similar...but it's not over yet. Let's now resort the list again, but this time, only compare the top 4 tags for all artists/bands. Tiebreakers for this sort will be
1). Number of tags shared when maximum 5 tags are used... 2). Their original ranking on the old formula, higher goes first
After the sort, the top 20 looks even more different:
Pezz Killradio Billy Talent Hoobastank Alien Ant Farm
Unwritten Law Sum 41 Bad Religion Green Day blink-182
Bloodhound Gang Bowling For Soup Good Charlotte AFI Social Distortion
No Use For a Name +44 Sugarcult The Distillers Autopilot Off
Well for the most part, the ordering has changed here. Some other bands now moved into the top 20 as there's more of a focus on the top 4 tags.
Last but not least, I repeated the resort again, but only comparing the top 3 tags for all artists/bands using the same tiebreakers as before while adding another tiebreaker that takes greater precedence (basically the number of tags shared when the maximum tags is used at 3...followed by the 2 tiebreaker rules listed above). And here is the final product:
#1 Killradio #2 Billy Talent #3 Unwritten Law #4 Sum 41 #5 Green Day #6 AFI #7 Social Distortion #8 Ramones #9 Pezz #10 Bad Religion #11 blink-182 #12 Bowling For Soup #13 Good Charlotte #14 No Use For a Name #15 +44 #16 Sugarcult #17 The Distillers #18 Autopilot Off #19 Transplants #20 Pennywise
Now where did Hoobastank and Alien Ant Farm go? Even though they shard all 5 tags as The Offspring, the ordering on both bands was different (rock, alternative rock, alternative, punk rock, punk), while with The Offspring, the ordering was (punk rock, punk, rock, alternative rock, alternative). As a result, the bands only shared 1 tag among the top 3 tags and ended up going below those that had at least 2 of The Offspring's top tags (punk rock, punk, rock).
As for some of those disputed bands, Nickelback ended up coming in at #69. Much lower on the list, but still quite high as they did share 1 tag among the top 3 (rock). Also, remember we are re-ranking the top 250 bands artists and remember we are already dealing with a good 45 bands that have nothing in common with The Offspring. I do not know whether they strive to get the top 250 bands and cut off from there, or work out some weird formula there, but perhaps maybe they should apply the current formula to get a batch of even more artists, apply the above formula, and then just take the top 250 artists...honestly 250 might be too much...top 200 perhaps? You could see a real shake up on many similar artists lists.
Many mainstream bands like Metallica, Radiohead, Linkin Park and other bands could see a lot of shake-up too. There are still a few other unresolved issues, like will it actually pick up 100% similar artists? Red Hot Chili Peppers for example has their top tags as rock, alternative, and alternative rock. Didn't some of the bands listed above have those 3 tags as well? Are they really similar? But perhaps it could cut bands that aren't alternative to begin with, like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, etc...
Another issue is potential abuse of tags. I'm talking about a bunch of wackos attempting to give something like Justin Bieber the now infamous brutal death metal tag (honestly though, 1 tag isn't really going to be enough and even identifying a brutal death metal band that a Justin Bieber fan listens too is going to be real difficult...especially if it doesn't share a pop or something. Moderators can assist with issues like that.
Also, the removal of tags could have an effect on similar artists. If we remove something like 70s, 80s, swedish, female vocalists, and all those other tags, can we guarantee that the new tags will make things better, or make things worse? What about tags regarding the same thing (alternative is not the same as alternative rock, but hip-hop/hip hop/hiphop? Nu metal/nu-metal? alt-rock/alternative rock?)? Do we merge these tags into one? Or do these duplicates exist because there's no other major tag to classify them as? What about vague tags like "classic rock"? And abused tags like "alternative", "indie"? And bogus tags like "crap", "awesome", "better than radiohead"? With cases like this, it's all trial and error then, but it's really something that can be done on the go and with the assistance of user feedback.
There is one more thing I thought of regarding my suggested? Perhaps we could start sorting based on top tag for each artist, then by top 2 tags, then by top 3 tags, and all the way until the top 50th tag or something (and if an artist doesn't have a certain number of tags, TOO BAD :P). But that's something that would take a while to look at.
Who knows, perhaps someone might create a last.fm widget tool based on this suggestion. But it is clearly a possibility to use instead of the current formula, which guarantees a ton of similar artists that have nothing to do with each other.
It's been a tough week in Japan. Last Friday, one of the worst earthquakes struck the Sendai area. The damage was intense, and now the Fukushima power plant is in danger of a potential nuclear meltdown.
While this has happened, the city of Tokyo had also felt the earthquake as well. And there was a close call for All That Remains. Lead vocalist Phil Labonte was currently on a tour with the band in Japan when the earthquake struck. Apparently, he and the band were doing a soundcheck when the earthquake happened. The band made it out with no issues and few days later made it out of Japan back home to start on their next leg of the tour. CNN was useful for the first time in a while as Phil LaBonte was interviewed on CNN regarding his experience. ATR fans should take a look:
Now, that was probably an adventure for Phil. However, it's not over still in Japan. Anyone following the news knows that there's a nuclear plant ready to go into meltdown status. 50 workers are staying behind to prevent the worst-case scenario from happening. It's nerve-wrecking and my thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the earthquake. Also, good luck to the 50 workers staying behind and putting their lives at risk to prevent disaster from happening.
One last thing before we move on, mainly to the tasteless Americans who are claiming that the tsunami and earthquake was pretty much divine retribution for Japan bombing Pearl Harbor...you're horrendous. You're stupid, and you deserve to rot in hell. It's absolutely disgusting to see the arrogance of these Americans who pretty much have no sense or sympathy to others...remember that not only did Japan bomb Pearl Harbor, we proceeded to drop nukes on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It's just sickening. And if anyone else agrees with these people that it's revenge on Pearl Harbor, stay away from me, and if you're a friend that agrees, it only takes 2 seconds for me to remove you as a friend.
Last week, Alice in Chains's former bassist MIKE STARR passed away after a possible drug overdose. Now there's only 2 original members of Alice in Chains left (Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney). The time after Alice in Chains has been tough. Starr was ousted from the band in the mid 90s after Dirt due to a growing drug usage issue, and the time after that was a struggle for him, fighting addiction constantly, even showing up MTV's Celebrity Rehab (a show that AIC members found disgusting, though they still gave their support to Starr). Now, both Starr and Staley are up in heaven.
R.I.P. Mike Starr.
But, there was more. Just today, I learned about the death of g-funk legend Nate Dogg. The last few years, Nate has suffered numerous health problems including a stroke in 2007. While Nate Dogg as a vocalist was not known for his solo career, he was known for his appearances on various tracks, most notably Warren G's Regulate. Among other notable tracks include 50 Cent's 21 Questions and Eminem's Till I Collapse (feat. Nate Dogg). The loss of Nate Dogg is a major loss for the hip-hop.
R.I.P. Nate Dogg
A new low for pop music
Now time for something on the bright side...well, not really bright. Over the weekend, a chain of events took place and the next thing you know, another youtube video had gone viral, but it's gone viral for all the wrong reasons.
I'm talking about a 13-year old pop singer by the name of Rebecca Black and her song Friday. It was uploaded almost a month ago, but suddenly went viral this weekend (I do not know who the source of this is). And well...it's pretty much pop music making yet another wrong turn again. Considered to be lyrically one of the worst songs ever with the most nonsensical lyrics. As for the music...oh boy...it's mass autotune to a monotonous voice...and even a "rap" by the producer. It gets better, ready?
A FUCKING MUSIC VIDEO...supposedly a 13 year old gets into a car with her friend...a preteen boy driving a car? WHAT THE?
But wait, there's more. The label for the song is by ARK Music factory...and what do they do, they ask for girls 13-17 who want a career in music. If selected, they go down to L.A., record a song, and release a music video with it...most of the profits goes to the producer himself. And there's more of where it came from.
The aftermath has been...well...I can't even tell if anyone in the shoutbox for Rebecca Black is serious...whether they're for real or just spamming the lyrics to the song:
FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN FUN.
And lyrics that state that yesterday was Thursday, today is Friday, and tomorrow is Saturday, and the day after is Sunday.
While many are still driving through this mess, one thing has come up to me. Who is the root of this? Why are people encouraged to literally dumb down the music?
Folks, it's not Rebecca Black or Ark factory we should be blaming. It's this woman right here:
Kesha Rose Sebert...she's better known as Ke$ha. Electropop artist, responsible for the song TiK ToK. Funny thing is that she is actually smart, scoring a 1400 on the SATs (I'm not making this up). But just look at what happened right after Tik Tok...mass autotune dance pop songs. No originality...just everyone trying their hands at it. Partying partying partying. I say she is the root of the current fad of pop. She is partly responsible for things like this happening.
I blame her for the trend of autotune hits that have been coming out. Yeah, T-Pain was the person responsible for the autotune fad, but Ke$ha is the one that's made pop music itself dumbed down, encouraging nonsensical party-style dance lyrics.
I think it's really time for a music revolution now. I mean, how many more autotune dance pop songs do we really need? Even veterans in music like Usher and Snoop Dogg have released pure autotune dance songs. And really, what can end this trend.
NOTE: If you do enjoy these songs, feel free to listen to it. I am not going to criticize your taste in music. I'm just criticizing the fad (in fact, there's actually just a few autotune songs in my loved tracks...okay, it's Kanye West, but it's still autotune stuff :) )
While we laugh out at this one, we must wait to see if this becomes a full blown sensation, or just a sign to never make purposely bad music, if that's the case.
Going to discuss a lot of stuff in this entry. First, it's been several weeks since the Grammies
AND THE GRAMMY GOES TO...
Yes, the grammies, the show that determined that Jethro Tull was more metaler and hard rocker than Metallica. Yeah, but there was a...paradox created when the album of the year award was announced.
As you know, the award for best album of the year was between Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster, some country album by Lady Antebellum, Recovery by Eminem (sorry purists, but the more I listen to it, the more I enjoy it...and I've listened to him for almost a decade now). All 3 won their respective genre award for best album (pop, country, and rap respectively). There was also Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, but I'm pretty sure it was only nominated to "boost" ratings by having the most popular thing at the award show to drive in listeners.
Now, the 5th nomination went to Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. That album as up for Best Alternative Album, but lost to Brothers by The Black Keys. The Black Keys also took the best rock song over Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire was shut out going into the final category. It looked like it was going to be Lady Gaga claiming the prize...or was it.
Yes, in a matter of minutes, the world got stunned as The Suburbs stole the top prize. AF's only award of the night. And backed it up with an encore performance.
So, the night ends with Arcade Fire winning the top prize, yet losing Best Alternative album. Does this mean, the real album of the year was Brothers? Several things could have happened. Maybe the people who voted on Best Alternative Album were into alternative music while the AOTY award was voted among all voters. Maybe they expected AF to be the top contender for album of the year and not Black Keys. What would happen if we swapped The Suburbs with Brothers? I'd say Brothers would win hands down and cause a similar shockwave, despite bringing in 2 grammies going into the final category. Or perhaps we drop Teenage Dream and bring in Brothers to compete with The Suburbs? Actually, that might split the vote on SFF and cause Lady Gaga or Lady Antebellum to win.
Anyways, I actually haven't listened to either band yet...ok, a browse through my library will indicate that I dig the track Howlin' for You by the Black Keys, and I'm quite interested in hearing more from them. Same with Arcade Fire too. But that may not be right now.
Last thing before we leave, it's sad to see the response after Arcade Fire winning. There's a website "Who is Arcade Fire" that went up right after the show, and...the ignorance is just bad. Some claim that it was the number of #1/top 10 hits that's important in winning the award. Others claimed that only 5 people know or heard Arcade Fire (*looks as past last.fm weekly charts*...um yeah, 5 people...). This is the problem with the pop music crowd. I've said this several times, it's not the number of records you sell that matters, it is the lasting appeal of an album. SALES /= ACCLAIM!
Of course, the only person that should decide whether an album is good or not, is you...and only way to do that, is to listen to it in it's fucking entirety. Yeah, I listen to a lot of bands myself with a lot of sales, but that's not a reason to justify a reason for the band/artist to be good.
Let's start with Rise Against and their Endgame. We already know about the single Help Is on the Way, but now they have a second single titled Architects. That's ok, but I still think the album will be good. A lot of people are already dismissing the album for sounding like Appeal to Reason (lol, that's actually when I jumped on the R.A. bandwagon, but I went through their whole discography at once rather than starting with ATR). Wait for the album to release, then make a decision (damn deja vu from A Thousand Suns.
Next, our man Lupe. Lasers is coming in less than 2 weeks, and I'm learning more about the debuckle between and the music label. Apparently, Lupe contemplated suicide during this time after Lasers was rejected by Atlantic Records. He may have fallen into depression for some time. Atlantic records suggesting him to be like Kanye West. They wanted...a hit single...a single that would give them cash. Lupe wanted to rhyme whatever he wants. This stretch for Lupe led to what is said to be his darkest track on the album Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways) (feat. MDMA).
Lupe did have two more songs come out recently. The first one is clearly the work of Atlantic, forcing him to a dance-styled song called I Don't Wanna Care Right Now (feat. MDMA), not really good, and you can tell clearly that this was Atlantic's idea. The second single All Black Everything is vintage Lupe, dealing with racism and a alternate timeline in history where slavery never existed. Great listen. With that said and done, I patiently await Lasers.
Last but not least, the front runner for album of the year IMO is Foo Fighters. The name of their new album coming out is Wasting Light, and it's hard. They meant it. The first song released White Limo is...hardcore. Maybe even one of their best songs to date. A straight out hardcore-influenced rocker reminiscent of Weenie Beenie and Wattershed from their old Foo Fighters days. Their second single is also pretty good, Rope, many say it's influenced by Rush. Once again, another great single, and like with The Pretender in 2006, I'm fucking stoked for Wasting Light. There's also a music video released for White Limo, which I will discuss later.
QUICK NOTE: Radiohead released their latest album The King of Limbs, being open-minded, I listened to a few songs. They're decent, but none really got my attention, so I'll backlog this for awhile until I'm ready to listen to it.
And now, I'm going to review three music videos that came out in the last few weeks. They range from supposedly artsy, to blending to an album's concept, to...well, an analog RIOT.
Lets start out with Linkin Park and single #3 from A Thousand Suns, Burning in the Skies. The song became a favorite of mine recently. The music video for the slowpokes:
Really fits in well to the concept of ATS...the aftermath of a nuclear blast. This video shows the activities of various people moments before what appears to be a nuclear explosion in Los Angeles. Some are partying, one is studying, another is with the family, a kid is running near a camp site, a Japanese elder is reminiscing at what may be a lost person (perhaps from the nuclear attacks in WWII). The band themselves do not show up until after the second verse, possibly at the epicenter of the blast, moving slowly. I felt this video was really good and my favorite among the ATS vids.
I really hope though that they release a vid for When They Come for Me. Possibly a pro-hip-hop video since that's the theme of the song. No ketchup though :)
Next, Kanye West had previously debuted the song All of the Lights in his short film for Runaway. Maybe he should have built on that concept rather than make a new one, as only 2 of the gazillion guests were in the video (those being Kid Cudi, and...yes, Rihanna).
Well, the first thing is, lights...too many light...way too many flashing lights. Remember that episode of Pokemon with Porygon...well, that incident in Japan is probably why you never saw Porygon at all in the cartoon. Anyways, yes, too many seizures inducing lights. I survived it though. But perhaps, it should have been toned down quite a bit. They even removed it down for a few minutes and added in a warning regarding the lights.
Now the music video, first few minutes, we see a girl leaving an apartment. That's supposed to be the central story of the song...spousal abuse and the effect on a child. Taken from the eyes of the abuser who realizes his mistake and vows to change quickly before his child takes the same path as him. This storyline was not well done in the video, and probably should have had more focus instead of each of the 3 performers doing their thing. Kanye rapping, Kid Cudi doing the bridge, and....um...yeah, RIhanna doing the vocals (while the others on the track are missing...) Fergie's part....is GONE!!! Why? Perhaps if she didn't decide to cover Sweet Child o' Mine with Slash playing the guitar...um, yeah, that part was actually weak and could have been removed from one of my favorite songs on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Also, note that the video draws influence from the recent French movie Enter the Void...not rip off, but paying tribute (though are mixed about the film).
One other thing that from the video was...I became a hypocrite. I don't like to admit it, but...I jacked off to Rihanna. Yes, that's right. I did...never cared about it until that video, that changes the meaning of when she says "I want y'all to see this". Now, you may be wondering why this is a big thing. Well, I have been a super-harsh critic of previously mentioned Katy Perry being whorelike, and attempting to be hot (and I still don't think she is that hot). Yeah, I criticized her for being a woman using sexual features to impress the boys...that Firework song being the main issue...when the fireworks come out of her...they do come out of her...you know, right...that's what I thought, same with my friends.
But yeah, I admit it. I am a hypocrite for getting drawn to a woman that has the same features of another that I criticized, maybe to the limit. I have nothing to say about it, but for now on, I'm leaving Katy Perry (or to some, K.P.) alone.
Now that I got that out of my system, time for the cream de la coup of the three music videos. Remember I mentioned something about A Foo Fighters music video...well...here it is:
Ahem, sorry. Those passing my profile are wondering why I have been obsessed with this song...well, blame it on the music video. The Foo Fighters have been known for silly videos:
*The classic Everlong paying homage to Evil Dead in the strangest and craziest ways ever, cross dressing involved. *Learn to Fly, a Airplane! Styled video with more crossdressing, and Tenacious D playing the role of the "villain". *Breakout, a movie cinema date gone wrong...oh, and Dave Grohl fights a midget stealing his girl *The raunchy Low featuring Jack Black and Dave Grohl destroying a hotel room. *Long Road to Ruin, mocking the soap opera.
But nothing could prepare me for this. A music video of intense proportions. Shot with an old analog camera. It's a white limo being driven by the great Lemmy!!! (He's colaborated with Dave Grohl on his metal side-project Probot). The video...gets crazier and crazier as it goes around. The 5 members of the Foos are slowly picked up by a limo. Yes, 5 members, if you were living under a rock, former member Pat Smear, is not a former member anymore...he's returned, so there's 5 of them.
Well, acquiring all 5 is...well. The first guy (Nate Mendel) is roller blading, not looking, Lemmy can't stop the Limo and...BOOM, he's flying. Lemmy shakes his head, checks to see if Mendel is ok, and invites him into the white limo, which he quickly enjoys. Next is Dave Grohl and two buddies, probably into...yardwork as they play with rakes...and their outfits! YIKES. Dave Grohl weaing a COPS shirts (as in the tv show) and shorts. As the limo pulls, steam is coming out of the passenger seats. To them, it's a party...and the three join in the back seat for the partay. The facial expressions, vintage Foo Fighters, but now on drugs. Popping the champaigne.
Last but not least is...some guy smoking, looking gangsta, asked by Lemmy to hop in. What happens next is...a silly scene of the band performing, strange wacko facial expressions by the band including one reminiscent of that infamous Separate Ways video. Oh, and a hot chick coming by..
...wait...it's Dave Grohls' wife? Yes it is. They keep playing, even in the limo, and eventually wasted. And then just 3 minutes into the clip, Dave Grohl's facial expression takes a turn for the insane as the music stops for a few moments.
Psst: Also notice the date of the recording on the camera...January 3rd, 2012...at 3:40 AM...
Was this on purpose?
And the ending of the video...cheap editing, as Lemmy supposedly drives the limo off a cliff...actually, it's just footage re-used from Long Road to Ruin. And the video ends with Grohl's wife silently mouthing "White Limo".
I don't know, but never in my life has a music video driven me this insane to the point that...I would go outside and yell...
The Steelers got owned on Sunday...well, it came down to the wire. Lil Wayne was dancing and getting drunk, while Wiz Khalifia's fad song came to a crashing end. The cheese were out in full fashion, the terrible towels fell flat to the ground. Aaron Rodgers hoisted up his belt. Rumors indicate that it could be the start of a dynasty in Green Bay, a team not owned by a owner like Jerry Jones, but by the people of Green Bay.
But...several other things happened in the music scene.
Now Rise for the singing of the National Anthem
First, the national anthem. Well, before that, some girl from Glee sang America the Beautiful....now, I've had enough of the NFL always selecting people (mainly "good-looking" females) from music pop shows to do the national anthems and patriotic songs. And really, this rendition of America the Beautiful, uninspired. Seriously, this needs to stop now.
But the real issue was Christina Aguilera's rendition of the national anthem. Yes, she missed a line. Stop making a big deal like you're a fucking stupid pretenious Radiohead fan always making a big deal of a dumb stupid fucking radio edit for the song Creep, which was just one fucking word. Grow up...ahem, back on topic. So yeah, she missed a word, Americans make a big deal about it. It's a mistake. A mistake. Sometimes, you're caught in the moment that you make a mistake like this. Let it go. She has sung a ton of national anthems in her career. It's just one mix-up. Let it go and focus on other things.
Now without the mess-up, it still was a below average rendition of the National Anthem. And once again, we must wonder why of all people, she was selected to sing the national anthem. Honestly, someone from the Dallas area should have been the one singing the national anthem. The first super bowl in Dallas (neoliberals will call this the corporate greed bowl). But Christina Aguilera looked like a goddess after the Halftime show.
In the last journal entry, I mentioned how people were not thrilled about the selection of the Black Eyed Peas. The last halftime show featuring The Who took in very mixed reviews. The selection of another dad rock band didn't work out well, especially when the band was past their prime. So what does the NFL do? They decided to select a modern act while remaining "safe". But as the halftime show commenced...
It was terrible. One song after another....I Gotta Feeling to Boom Boom Pow, and then Lets Get It Started. Vocally bad, abuse of auto-tune, no flow, no style, no substance. But just when you think it couldn't get worse...a familiar riff to a classic hard rock ballad started playing...and then...he showed up. Slash of Guns N' Roses. Some thought he was going to "save the day"...but others like me watched in horror as Fergie went out and tore down Sweet Child o' Mine. Axl Rose most certainly enjoyed his B-day gift from Slash. Usher showed up later (some hoping HE would save the day)...oh wait, it's an autotune song OMG. Not much could be said as the songs continued to flow.
And the last one of the night, this time, it was fans of Dirty Dancing who put their hand on their forehead once they heard Fergie and will.i.am got out in The Time (Dirty Bit). By then, it was over. The halftime shows in the past with *NSYNC/Aerosmith/Brtiney Spears ruining Walk This Way. And that wardrobe malfunction with a show dragged down by pointless performances by Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake with the cream of the crop.
I expected the show to be not good. But I didn't expect it to be a failure of massive proportions. Some claimed the sound mixing was not good, but really, we go from the OK The Who to a colossial failure that the Black Eyes Peas showed us on Sunday. I had to listen to the original and only good version Sweet Child O' Mine several times. One must wonder why Slash even decided to play guitar for something that spelled disaster from the start. I still respect him as one of the best guitarists of all-time, but his cameo is something better not remembered of him.
Once again, on the message board for the NFL on my home site, everyone began dropping names of acts that should have been...from the way too extreme Lamb of God, to the way too hipster Animal Collective. From Daft Punk to Depeche Mode. One person felt that because there was no wardrobe malfunction, it was now safe to allow Rihanna into the halftime show. Others say enough is enough and it's time for rappers like Kanye West and Eminem to finally take the stage. And of course, some are now calling for Lady Gaga to come out (in a meat dress of course) and save "pop".
Bottom line is...the NFL failed again. They seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. They looked too far back for acts, and too modern for acts. They looked in the wrong places. Why even bother with a halftime show if trapped between these 2 choices. But what about the late 80s and 90s. What about Metallica, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. All bands with mainstream appeal, yet none of them are too old, or too young. What about Rush, an actual old band that's still ripping it out and releasing new stuff? Even Iron Maiden sells out arenas worldwide, even in North America. Why not them? And AC/DC is still a major name. Easily appeal to both youngsters and old rockers.
And no, don't bother with Justin Bieber. At this point, the announcement of him in a halftime show would almost lead to a massive firestorm to the point that the show would be cancelled within days.
I'll be honest. It's gonna take days to get these images out of my head. But aside from the show, there were a few other things to look at. Two commercials involving musicians:
JUSTIN BIEBER HAS JUST TROLL'D YOU Speaking of Justin Bieber, he was actually in a commercial with the Prince of Darkness. What? You mean Ozzy Osbourne? Why yes. A commercial for Best Buy involving one of their services. Apparently, Bieber did not impress Ozzy. But a employee working on the set lets Ozzy know that he thinks Bieber sounds like a girl.
Suddenly, millions exploded in laughter as Justin Bieber was insulted. Victory...
Actually, no. It was actually Bieber playing a double-role on you, disguised as that beared employee, insulting...himself. Yeah, that's right. You got troll'd by the guy you hate the most. How does it feel now?
Another reminder, please don't go and tell everyone to invade Bieber's videos to express your hate on youtube. If you didn't know, Bieber gets paid for every view of his video, as well as your comments. You're only making him reacher, and it's not a good idea.
EMINEM AND DETROIT RISES The other noteworthy commericial last night was...well, let's be honest first...once again, most of the commercials were not good. Some relied on old ideas, others were a waste of space (seriously, tell GoDaddy to stop...waste of money). The beer commercials were weaker than usual too. And some like the Bridgestone Reply All and the Doritos finger lick....really...stupid and not funny.
There was one commercial that stood out for me...it was not a funny commercial. It was a serious one with Chrysler introducing a new luxury car. But the way it was done was a tribute to a city that suffered hard times. And the man driving the car, none other than rapper Eminem (which was actually his second commercial). The 2 minute ad was well done and brought a chill down my spine. (no different, I'm up in Buffalo and we have several companies here that make key parts for car companies, so it's just as important for us). To me, it was the best of the night, not the slapstick humor ads that appeal to Family Guy fans.
Oh, the NFL fans ad was good too. To erase the poor pop performance of the night, I can rely on this to remove the dark spots.
AND HOLY CRAP, NEW RELEASES AHEAD
Finally, let me discuss some new releases that I'm anticipating: *First, Rise Against is going ahead with an Endgame. It won't be released for a few months, but the single "Help Is On The Way" is out. It's not a high-tier song IMO, but it give me more than enough hype for the album for me.
*Also out with a new single is rapper Lupe Fiasco...that's right, Lasersis coming out in March...and how about a new single...[track artist=Lupe Fiasco]Words I Never Said (feat. Skylar Grey). Kick ass, and is heavily political. The managers wanted a poppy song with rhymes about girls and cars. If girls and cars equated to politics, Gaza, Glenn Beck, and the state of the world, then I guess he won.
*The Foo Fighters said their new album was going to be heavy...and the 2 teasers for their yet named 7th studio album, speak true. I believe this album will be much sick, and may outclass their work from the 2000s.
*Apparently, Cake released a new album last month. Haven't really listened to it enough as I'm still diving through their discography, but I will touch it later. It actually charted at #1 on the billboards despite selling like crap. I heard reviews are mixed. But then again, I won't let others decide my music taste.
But didn't Radiohead say something about a new album they were working on last year? All it takes is final mixing and the next thing you know, it'll be released and this site....you know what's next.
Last but not least, I need to clarify one thing regarding hipsters. I do not like hipsters as people. Especially the ones that reek of elitism, think they have supreme taste, get their attitudes from pitchfork, etc. It does not mean I hate their music. There are some stuff I'll enjoy that's popular among the indie-cred hipsters, but there's also a lot of trash too. This goes for all scenes and all time periods (I'm looking at you, dad rockers).
That's pretty much it for now. Here to another February.