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Archive for October, 2007

That, my friends, was a life-insurance commercial. Okay, everyone knows Asians are way ahead of the game in technology. But marketing? That’s a Western thing right? The O.G. Capitalists?? The video above says otherwise.

Asians (especially Koreans) are famous (or infamous?) for their sappy, saccharine, sickeningly emotion-drenched television dramas and movies centered on a family member, lover, pizza delivery guy, or whoever dying. So they combined the talent they have for the emotional-overload, tear-jerker effect of those movies with the bottom-line, money making machine of capitalism — to sell life insurance! Wow…this sure blows those All-State commercials with the black dude from 24 right out of the water. They could be selling athlete’s foot powder and I’d probably buy a case of it if I saw this on my TV screen.

I definitely felt a little tug in my heart though. I hope I never connect that tug at my heart with a tug at my wallet. I almost feel flat out exploited after watching that.

But they still have much to work on with their consistency. Here’s proof that they are still perfecting their craft:

A little too in-your-face huh? Just a little too forced and a tad too direct, one might say. There are other commercials from them of varying mediocrity, which can only mean… that there’s room for us “Westerners” to catch up right? Let’s do it! We can’t let these guys beat us at this game! You call yourselves capitalists…Get creative people!

Seriously though. I wonder how State Farm’s or All-State’s spin on these will look…

Eh…that was nice. Pleasant, happy music. Good, sunshiny vibes. But is it a mother giving birth prematurely so the father, who is fighting brain cancer with every fiber in his body, can hold their newborn son before he dies (while also showing the recorded videotape message of the first, and last, father-to-son talk)?

Yeah, um, Liberty Mutual? You’ve got a long way to go.

Song of the Day: (follow link to download page)
Page France – “Million Man Money Hand”

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This was something that Shades of Graeae discovered, which I think was found in Australia’s The Daily Telegraph.

If the dancer below, who seems to be completely in the nude (the graphic designer was too lazy to slap on some clothes?), is spinning counter-clockwise, you are left-brained (which is masculine). If she spins clockwise, you are right-brained (which is feminine) — generally speaking that is. I’m sure our brains are too complex to be defined by a spinning graphic, but I guess it’s a good/fun indicator.
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cans

Now THIS Is What I Call Music.

I was sort of getting tired of listening to the new Radiohead album (I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to it about 60-70 times now), so I decided to make a little mix-tape for my car (I left my cd’s in my non-rental car, which is being repaired at a shop that is kinda far away…and I’m lazy). I went through my iTunes library and put about 60 songs that I felt were “bomb-diggity” and put them in a playlist. Then I whittled that down until I felt I couldn’t cut anymore. Then for the final stage, I took those songs and rearranged and forced myself to cut a handful more of them so the compilation would resemble some form of “flow.” I did this until I had a group of 20 songs that would fit onto one audio cd (mp3 cd’s don’t work in the car). This got me the most select of the bomb-diggity jams I’m feelin’ at the moment. And then I was done and saw that it was good.

But I decided it was so good that it would be a sin not to share it. Hence, this post on my blog. (The download link is at the end of the entry, for you lazy people.)

Here’s a breakdown of the compilation:

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dentist

If you haven’t been to the dentist lately (as in over a year), please make an appointment! I hadn’t been to the dentist in years and I recently went (no health insurance…yeah, maybe I should move to Canada). FIVE cavities! THREE which may need ROOT CANALS and crowns! I also need an implant to replace one of my molars sometime in the future because I swallowed the temporary tooth that was in there. (I see in my stats that many readers are coming here from google searches of “swallowing temporary tooth.” For those who are worried about the effects of doing that: It’s okay, your digestive system will scoot it on through and it will come out the other side. Mine was big and had metal hooks and everything…and I’m still alive! But for all I know, it might still be inside me. j/k j/k…you’re fine. But please check with a physician anyway. I did. I actually called 911 too. Yeah, I’m a bit of a nerd.)

Yeah…my teeth aren’t too strong to begin with. The dentist said that they are actually relatively brittle, so they are really susceptible to cavities, even with brushing, flossing (I admit, maybe I don’t do this as much), and the mild-formula, king-size, twin-pack orange Listerine I get from Costco. My candy/soda intake was not really closely monitored during the time my “adult teeth” were growing in. (Blame it on the parents… “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.”)

I went today to fill in the last of the FIVE cavities. We’re “waiting and seeing” for the root canal worthy ones — they have this white, pasty temporary filling on them. On the drive back home, I was testing out my new bite while my mouth was still pretty numb, I think I bit my tongue three times in a row before realizing what I was doing. I’m pretty sure it will be painful once the anesthesia wears off. I’m also pretty sure it was indeed the vague taste of blood I tasted….

All this could’ve been prevented with regular visits every six months or so to the dentist…except for me swallowing my temporary tooth…there was nothing I could’ve done about that. It’s certainly taking a big chunk out of my checking account.

“There’s blood in my mouth cuz I’ve been biting my tongue…” (the rest doesn’t really apply…but it’s a great song)
Rilo Kiley – “Portions for Foxes”

And another one of my favorites from them:
Rilo Kiley – “The Execution of All Things”

Oh alright, here’s one more — from their pop-y new album:
Rilo Kiley – “Breakin’ Up”

Now run along and attend their concert or something =)
And go to the dentist!

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up-radiohead2.jpg

It has been said by many people already: “In Rainbows can be the end of the music industry as we know it.” But, as has also been pointed out all over the place, what Radiohead has done can only be done by already established acts with a devoted, loyal fan base. A dependable talent for the fans to base their loyalty on helps too. Here’s the lowdown on what happened with their new record if you’ve been living under a rock.

I still think this could totally flip the way the music industry works. Right now, bands may (roughly) follow this path to stardom: They form, develop their sound, and independently do everything. After creating some buzz by doing bigger and bigger gigs they may sign to an indie label. Then they do well here and they get picked up by a major, losing their too-hip-for-mainstream fans in the process. From there, they sign a big, glitzy contract with the majors and constantly fight to strike that balance between meeting the bottom line of the corporate minded label and finding ways to explore their artistic expressions. After being successful at that while increasing their fanbase and gaining credibility with critics, they are free to do whatever they please. In Radiohead’s case, they make two of the best albums in rock history then go off and blip and beep their way to hovering somewhere between mediocre and good…then leave their label to release an album in a revolutionary way (more on that album later).

Now, with this crazy stunt that Radiohead pulled, it seems the Major Labels (and any other label, including the adorable and innocuous indie labels) seem to have possibly been relegated to the role of initially building and then maintaining that loyal fan-base for artists and bands. And in this future, hypothetically possible case, when the band gets “big enough,” instead of moving on to a huge record label, they get promoted to Independent status, like Radiohead is with the release of this album. The goal is to become Indie! (Hipsters everywhere will be like the happiest people ever.) Wow…that would be brilliant. I haven’t thought about this much but so far it seems pretty brilliant in my mind.

The record labels will still be fine. They won’t be as rich, which might be cause for desperate attempts at thwarting this movement (see: Who Killed the Electric Car). But however much the big, bad record labels might hate it, their roles will finally be exactly what they should be: discovering and promoting real talent and getting it to a point where the talent, and not marketing prowess, speaks for itself. And true, valid, legitimate art with real value becomes the ultimate goal, as it should be. If artists are truly talented, they will make it through to the final step and have that acclaim and freedom to try to make even greater art.

Some takes from around the, uh, Internets:

New York Times – “Radiohead Fans, Guided by Conscience (and Budget)”

The Mac Weekly – “Will Radiohead Change the Music Industry Next Week?

Time – “Radiohead Says: Pay What You Want”

liftwhileclimbing.wordpress.com – “The Music Wars: Radiohead’s Rainbow Coalition”

The last guy offers an interesting take, in that the artist/bands themselves learn how to monitor markets and set the right price points for themselves as they grow — or at least be closely involved with the people they pay to do it for them. I guess that’s the role of the record labels in my analysis above. But yeah, that’s another good thing. The artists would be free to be independent from start to finish now. Even if it’s a difficult way to do it, having that freedom would be great.

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As for the Album Itself?

I will post the title of each track and one thing I like about it, then follow that up with some wrap-up thoughts on the album. (more…)

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Plan B

That’s the music video for “Mama (Loves a Crackhead)” by Plan B, featuring himself on guitar and vocals. Plan B (real name, Ben Drew) is a white, British rapper, who grew up in the ghettos (seriously) of London. He started out as an acoustic singer-songwriter type of artist, but after being pigeon-holed as a “British Justin Timberlake,” he abandoned everything and went with his “plan b” and focused on hip-hop (hence the name). But he kept the acoustic guitar and the dude can actually sing, so he does the vocals for his songs as well. He raps in a distinct cockney accent and his songs offer detailed, gritty tales told by a varied group of characters he creates. His lyrics can be very explicit, many have dark, twisted undertones, and some may even be repulsive to many. But there is a purpose behind all that graphic darkness — that’s why I’m still listening.

An easy but inadequate comparison would be Eminem. I’ll say that it is a valid comparison because their music has a similar dark, angry tone to it, they have similar rhyme schemes (heavy use of internal rhyming as well as typical rhymes at the end of lines), and disturbing, explicit nature of the lyrics. But Plan B is doing what Eminem could’ve done with his music. He is Eminem…except he is not self-absorbed; he’s socially conscious and (more…)

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radiohead bono sunglasses

Radiohead (pictured above in a rare candid moment with lead singer Thom Yorke doing a Bono impression) is releasing their first album in four years on the 10th.

If not musically brilliant anymore (I still miss the days of The Bends and OK Computer), they have earned back a bit of the respect they lost from me with the lesser level of music they have been putting out since OK Computer by employing this brilliant method of releasing their album. Before we go on, about that level of music they’ve been putting out of late…. It’s all my humble opinion of course. All the cool, holier-than-thou music genius kids would beg to differ I guess, but I think Radiohead’s basically been pissing away their talent. Not to say their albums have been shit, but compared to what they could be doing, they’re pretty much a disappointment at best.

But yeah, anyways, in a totally unprecedented, insanely brilliant (or dumb?), and bold move brimming with unbridled confidence/arrogance, they are offering their highly, highly, almost orgasmically (for some poor, unfortunate souls) anticipated album, In Rainbows, for any price you want. That’s right, you go to the album’s site, inrainbows.com, and you are offered two options. One is to buy the “disk box,” which contains all sorts of goodies, like the album, vinyls, and other stuff for a hefty $81 bucks. The other option is to pick the “downloads.” You click on “check out” and you are offered blank white spaces where the dollars and cents go…and it tells you “it’s up to you.”

Wow…it’s like paying what the art is worth to you. Man…it’s like they’ve proven idealism can be a reality. And they’re not exactly just offering it all for free like Wilco did a while back. (But you really CAN put in “0.00” and get the album.) It’s like they’re messing with your head by making you name the price! Not a paypal button in sight to ignore or brush off. Just a blank price tag staring at you, daring you to name a price.

The band is not currently under contract with any label and last I heard, they were deciding how exactly they would go about distributing their album. Well I guess they’ve made their decision. Wow…a band as huge as they are. I’m almost positive I won’t like the album nearly as much as The Bends/OK Computer. I’ve been suffering varying degrees of let-downs after listening to each of their subsequent albums after those two…I’m sure this album will be at least enjoyable…

But this move alone makes me want to give them the ridiculous 20 bucks that the major labels coldly charge oftentimes to music lovers everywhere. I haven’t bought the album. I got to checkout and it was like I froze, not knowing what to do. Then I cleared my basket and came here to write about it.

Wow, I want to think of what this could mean and what this could be the start of in the music industry. Can this lead to the evolution of the music industry that has been so sorely needed in order to finally learn how to accept and work with the advances brought along by the internet?? In other words, will it “solve” the “problems” of file sharing? (And no, iTunes is not an adequate “advancement.” People are freely downloading more than ever.) In this single move, Radiohead has defied the record industry AND has directly (yet wisely) addressed the self-justified “file-sharers”…uhh…like this blog…and myself included I guess…. But I’m too tired to go all into that right now… How much are YOU paying for the new Radiohead album? That is the question I am going to be asking for the next week.

I will let you ponder that while you listen to these Radiohead songs I’m offering to “share” with you. This is the Radiohead I want on the album…but I have sort of given up on seeing these guys again…

(follow links)
Radiohead – “Paranoid Android”
Radiohead – “The Bends”
Radiohead – “Fake Plastic Trees”

Radiohead – “Karma Police”

Oh and…The Bends is my favorite Radiohead album. Cuss me out if you want.

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