SHE SAID: Mainstreamedness

July 23, 2010

Samuel Johnson would have a field day with you.  On the one hand, yes language evolves and adapts, on the other, no.  You can’t throw a word and some suffixes together and celebrate your literary inventiveness.  Perhaps Jeremy has taken on a new occupation penning Sarah Palin’s speeches.

The main issue here isn’t whether or not a fan was a fan before the hype, but more whether or not the appreciation is genuine or not.  Because I have no issue with someone who genuinely appreciates something regardless of when they discovered their passion.

Passion is contagious and beautiful.  I love watching my friends enjoy something or do something they enjoy.  And it is our love of songs or movies or sports and our desire to share that love with those around us that leads to mainstream appreciation, which is what most who are producing something want.  I love my brother’s passion for the Red Sox, day in and day out.  I love my son’s obsession with Indiana Jones, even though the first movie’s came out when I was in grade school and Indy’s so mainstream that xBox and Lego are cashing in on his fame.  And I am not going to tell my boyfriend he can’t like the Kings of Leon because I introduced him to them once their third album was out.

I do, however, get annoyed by those who are fans only because it’s cool to do so.  The girl in high school who claimed a lifelong love of Led Zeppelin shortly after she realized her crush was a die-hard fan annoyed me.  The sports fan who only watches during the playoffs/finals/world series and won’t shut up about it makes me feel cheated.  The woman who buys not because she likes the item, but because she knows it’s “in” depresses me, as does her endless and ironically fruitless journey.  The friend who will only listen to small bands that have yet to go mainstream loses credibility because his appreciation is tainted.  And, making me listen to crappy new bands, each trying not sound like the band that influenced them, gets old quickly.

The real fan, the audience member who can enjoy as if he or she was the creator, the person ahead of the mainstream, on the cutting edge – is it all a quest to define ourselves as something beyond average?  Are we more special if we can truly enjoy or appreciate?  Better?  Cooler?  Smarter?

I think it would be fantastic if people didn’t feel the need to fake or build up passion.  Ultimately, however, I feel guilty judging and commenting on whether or not someone’s appreciation is genuine or not.  Do you have to feel like Bob Dylan is the eighth wonder of the world to be able to enjoy his music and message?  Do you need to have considered asking your girlfriend to marry you on the big screen at a Sox game in order to be considered a real fan?  Maybe Jeremy and my frustration over enjoyment and the genuineness of said enjoyment is only our juvenile refusal to share a favorite toy.


SHE SAID: Remakes

June 10, 2010

Jeremy, I hate it when I agree with you because I feel like it makes our blog so boring.  Instead of lambasting you, I’m just saying, yeah, good point.  Which is not that interesting because we are supposed to be contrasting views on arbitrary themes.

Also, as we discussed online earlier, you writing a post about the Karate Kid (or the remake) with me as a sounding wall is kind of pointless since I have not seen either film.  Although, it sounds like I’m not to blame for the second one since it hasn’t been released yet.  It’s akin to me posting about the hassles of getting my period and expecting you to deliberate what it’s like being a woman with me.

Carrie - Original and Remake

On a broader note, as far as remakes go, Hollywood is to blame for the the general impressiveness:  either the original stunk and a remake was necessary, or they are unimaginative and running out of ideas. Either way, both are depressing realities to face for a nation waiting patiently while reclining on the couch for someone to inspire us pay $12 to sit in the darkness snacking on overpriced junk food while visually ingesting drivel.  A positive outlook, I know.

To compare it to a similar idea … why are some musical covers more successful than others?  Why is it okay for Susan Tedeschi to slay Angel From Montgomery and Don’t Think Twice, but it’s not okay for a director to remake Karate Kid, The Parent Trap or Carrie?  Why is it okay to remake the Bourne Identity, but not okay for Madonna to massacre American Pie?  Why can I not stomach American Idol?  If an artist, be it an actor, singer, musician, producer or director, can somehow make the piece their own and it is artistically new and interesting enough, then bring on the covers and the remakes.  If you are going to revisit history, best to interpret it, rather than regurgitate it.  If, however, you are simply going to record the original with your voice and/or new mediocre actors, please don’t bother.  The original, even a completely forgettable one, will still blow any successive version out of the water.

Movies are a much more challenging undertaking due to the amount of people involved, the length, and the confines of the story.  Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 remake of Romeo and Juliet is one of the few that comes to mind and its success lies in his placing it in modern day.  Unfortunately, this was not an effective approach for Gil Junger’s 1999 movie, 10 Things I Hate About You.  Had Julia Styles not been hot and grating on a table, this would have been forgotten rapidly.  On a side note, I’m relieved that Hollywood has stopped trying to push crappy movies with the whole “based on a Shakespeare text” defense.

Will this new version of The Karate Kid shed new light on the relationship between student and teacher?  Will the acting provide new depth to the characters?  Will the setting, the medium switching to kung-fu, the star power of young Mr. Smith and Jackie Chan make this newer version go down in the record books?  Probably not.  And chances are, I’m not going to see it anyway.  But, I am looking forward to Grace Potter’s new album, if I can get my hands on it.  She killed, in a heel stompingly good way, the Beatles classic, Come Together, the last time I saw her live in Burlington.  When done well, I love the revisiting of an old classic, the respect shown to the artists that have come before and influenced today’s creators.  I would be upset if it weren’t happening.

SHE SAID: Lyrics

April 1, 2010

While I’ve never been a huge fan of poetry, I have always had time for the ADD-friendly alternative, song lyrics.  Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of music while training for a marathon.  And while I’m out plodding along and getting miles under my belt, I find that I’m focusing more on the lyrics than I used to.

Some of my favorite lyrics are found in Bob Dylan’s songs.  The last verse of Bob Dylan’s Dream, a song about friendships and time, always chokes me up: I wish, I wish, I wish in vain/ that we could sit simply in that room again/ ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat/ I’d give it all gladly i our lives could be like that.”

I have moments where a lyric I thought I understood has a completely different meaning for me.  This morning Grace Potter’s “Stop the Bus” threw me for a loop when I realized that “the day you asked me for my name” could refer to an introduction or a marriage proposal.  Revelations on the Road.  Sometimes they are more insightful than others.

Ray LaMontagne’s lyrics in “Empty” are, while not the greatest to exercise to, are beyond lovely:  “outside the rain is tapping/on the leaves/to me it sounds like/they’re applauding us/the quite love/we’ve made”.  The whole song is achingly beautiful.  Check it out.

This morning, I also decided that I wholeheartedly appreciate the honesty in Cake’s “Love You Madly” confession: “I don’t want to doubt you/ know everything about you/ I don’t want to sit across the table from you/wishing I could run”

And, in that same vein, is Citizen Cope’s “If there’s love/ I just wanna have something to do with it.” Pretty much sums it up.

Eric Lindell is impressive in fitting all his words into his “Rock & Roll”: “And in a wink/they’re on the brink/from drink to drink/and at the bar/with cash to flow/shot to shot/it’s getting hot/advance the plot/to see how far it’s gonna go/all depends/on ditch the friends/and grab a cab/another chance/at cheap romance/doesn’t count ’cause the room is spinning/nothing to lose/tonight they both are winning/and they fall in love/as they fall in bed”  The impressive part is that the tempo fits the sentiment perfectly.

The Raconteurs have one of my favorites “You don’t understand me/ but if the feeling was right/ you might comprehend me” and they also wrote an impressive narrative ballad, “Carolina Drama” that is incredible.

But, I also have some randoms in my mix that confirm how easily lyrics can go awry.  I say, either nail them down, or stick with simple (I believe I have demonstrated both above).  Also, I realize that the power ballads of the 80’s provide ample material to rip apart in a post like this as do artists like Britney, Madonna and The Spice Girls, but I’m trying to stick with songs that are on my iPod.

Jamie Cullum. Stop trying so hard. “This has been fun, I suppose/although my feelings are all juxtaposed.”  Jamie clearly really, really wanted to use the word juxtaposed in a song.  More so than having a string of words make sense, he wanted to wow the ladies with his SAT vocabulary word choice.

Mya.  Yes, I draw the line at Madonna and the Spice Girls, but Mya made the cut.  I also have some Beyoncé and Pussycat Dolls – IT MAKES THE RUN A LITTLE MORE FUN.  Back to Mya.  It’s so easy, it’s almost not worth mentioning.  But, couldn’t you have come up with something easily as groovy and slightly more descriptive than “my love it like … wo/ my kiss is like … wo/ my touch is like … wo”  I think Mya and Jamie Cullum should hang out and each positively influence the lyrics of the other.  That being said, the rest of the song is fun and I smile when it comes on and I can pretend my ass is like … wo.

And lastly, Train.  I love to run to your “Hey Soul Sister” because it’s catchy and poppy and cheerful, but the opening line is quite possibly the worst in the entire song: “your lipstick stains/ on the front lobe of my left side brains” … this isn’t a science class – you’re a pop group.  I think there might have been a way to relate that idea.  Not a great opener.

This song is full of gems: “the smell of you in every single dream I dream”.  Ahhhh, thank you for clearing that up.  I was confused it might be in a dream you eat.

And while I love the line: “I’m so obsessed/ my heart is bound to beat right out my untrimmed chest”, I think this song might take the cake for most amount of ridiculous lyrics.  Although, now that I have viewed the official video, it appears that Train is quite proud of the lyrics because they are written out and plastered all over the video.  Maybe they realized they were ridiculous and figured they would preemptively attack that issue by putting them out there in song and print.