Why Chris Brown’s latest outburst is actually a GOOD thing


So, Chris Brown threatened to shoot Frank Ocean. This after calling him a “f*ggot” and probably punching a few kittens on the way out. Brown paints himself as Jesus. Yes, literally. Ocean, being somewhat closer to sainthood, turns the other cheek.

You might be tut-tutting and muttering the word “terrible”, but all this is rather good if you think about it.  Continue reading

Azealia Banks and Perez Hilton are amateurs: wittiest celebrity insults of all time

Jumping the shark? Azealia Banks

So Azealia Banks apologised to her gay fans after calling Perez Hilton a “f*ggot” and telling him to kill himself, because that was a jaw-droppingly stupid thing to do. The ugly spat arose because he sided with her rival, Angel Haze, a couple of days after Ms Haze posted a diss track about Ms Banks, to which she retaliated in kind.

[Caution: all links contain strong language]

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My Funny Valentine (etc)

Lurrrve is in the air. Well, not so much here, as the chocolate souffle was wolfed down in between burping my 12 week-old and sipping low-alcohol wine. But that has its own romance, you know: the “happily ever after”. My valentine message to Him Indoors was “I can’t believe how not sick of you I am” – and I meant it.

So here’s some sizzling songs for those living the fairytale, and those whose handsome prince or princess is currently off somewhere fighting dragons.

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Who makes the rules for music?

Written for Collapse Board

“…there must be room for some sort of experimentation in how music is written? Of course there is, but those who subvert the rules must understand them in the first place – why they’re there, how they work, and only the people who have a complete mastery of music can bend or break those rules” – Princess Stomper

“Who set these apparently rigid rules for what’s a great song and what isn’t? Where are they? Who wrote them?” – Darragh Murray

As with any of these things, they evolved naturally. Most of what we think of as pop and rock music is descended from blues and jazz, and mutated somewhere along the way into the common 32-bar form and verse-chorus form. In either case, the crucial elements are the verses and the chorus.

Pop songs typically begin with an introduction – a unique section that leads the listener into the song. The verse is the poetic stanza that follows. Some songs include a pre-chorus or transitional bridge, which often uses subdominant transitional harmonies. These can add variety when the verse and chorus have the same harmonic structure. You then get your chorus – the bit that repeats at least once musically and lyrically – and this is the most identifiable part of the song, where you normally get the main hook.

Connecting the chorus to the next part of the song is, of course, the bridge. It’s something different from the verse and the chorus and unlike those doesn’t need any lyrics. The bridge can either precede or replace the next verse. (If the latter, you then get the chorus again). The bridge is intended to surprise the listener, who is expecting the chorus, and the chorus will often be repeated to stress its finality when it is at last heard.

The middle eight is an eight-bar sequence that can appear mid-way through a song after the second chorus. The structure of that song might be intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle eight-chorus-chorus-outro. Alternatively (or additionally) you might get a solo of the guitar or sax variety, and any song indulgent enough to include one will plonk one anywhere it bloody well likes. Lastly, the outro might include vocal ad-libbing, which is where pop divas play Look How Much I Can Sing. Umbrella has the pattern intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-middle 8-chorus-outro:

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Where did all the catchy tunes go?

At the video game forum where I hang out, someone linked to a rather stupid article from 2001 called “Where did all the catchy tunes go?”, in which Steve Sailer claims that – well – things ain’t what they used to be. I could have ignored it, could have walked away, but I thought there was a defence to be made for modern pop. I know this because I’ve been there: saying that there aren’t great songs out there only proves that you haven’t been paying attention.
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Structurally Unsound

Listening to MGMT yesterday, I began to wonder if people had forgotten how to write great songs. “How can you say that?” I hear you cry. “Electric Feel is a great song”, to which I’d counter, “Electric Feel has a great hook; it is not a great song.”

Great songs have rules – surprisingly rigid ones at that. It’s not that the songs that obey those rules are automatically good, but that the ones that break those rules are almost universally bad.
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Rihanna – Sell Me Candy

Over on Collapse Board, Isolde Fry talks about Rihanna’s new single, and how some of the imagery makes her uncomfortable. It’s more just lame than creepy in my opinion, but I’m mostly disappointed with the music.

I wouldn’t comment on most bland chart pop, but Rihanna has done better multiple times. The whole Good Girl Gone Bad album was excellent, with six seriously strong tracks (making it a rival to Madonna’s Ray of Light in my view, in the higher echelons of great pop albums).

There’s a great live version of Breakin’ Dishes on Youtube, with guitars added in to stunning effect, but I won’t feature it because it makes me a little queasy in the wake of the whole subsequent Chris Brown thing.

Another very fine track, Sell Me Candy, should induce no such qualms its with bland love-song lyrics – but the try-to-keep-up syncopation and breezy melody would have made it a worthy single. This live version adds in an intro and some guitars, which improves the song, but it still sounds good on the album.

#trendingtopics – Music Shuffle

From Facebook:
Time for another one of these.
Write down the first 25 random songs that come up on your MP3 player, iPod etc. I used Last.fm set to My Library station.
No cheating!
No editing!

I thought I’d give it a go, using Last.fm, just to see what would happen. I found it interesting because it was forcing me to listen to things that I hadn’t heard in a while or given a particularly fair listen, and playing things out of the context of how I usually hear them. There’s some good songs here …

1. Foetus – Verklemmt

Bit of a no-brainer for me, considering how much I’ve been listening to this lately. I find the video hard-going (made by Alex Winter from Bill & Ted, it’s got literally thousands of cuts), but it’s a great song from the album GASH.


2. The Kinks – Dead End Street

Ah, I never tire of this song. I used to play it a lot when I was unemployed and starving-broke, living in a miserable bedsit in one of the rougher parts of South London.


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10 Great Pop Songs from the Noughties

It’s been a day for celebration as the Chilean miners have begun their ascent. My mate Kenny reckons he liked them when they were still underground – but now everyone’s talking about them …

Kenny’s weird. He doesn’t like pop. I mean, granted, most pop’s rubbish, but every now and then a pop song makes the charts that’s as weird and wonderful, complex and exciting as any other style of music. Here, to remind us, are some of the best.


Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For? (Love. Angel. Music. Baby., 2004)


The story behind this New Wave treat goes that Stefani’s first day in the studio with the legendary Linda Perry was disastrous, with Gwen breaking down in tears of self-doubt. Perry played her a tune the next day, which Gwen really loved, and Perry said, “Well, what are you waiting for?” The pair then documented Gwen’s emotional state to form the lyrics. It is unknown whether white rabbits were involved in the proceedings.


Sugababes – Stronger (Angels With Dirty Faces, 2002)


Back when the Sugababes made truly excellent records, this ripped off Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy to devastating effect. Lush strings complement the fine three-part harmony against a languid trip-hop beat. This song is a great reminder of how they used to sound before they lapsed into bland, shallow elevator muzak.
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