Category Archives: pop
Yesterday was “Radio Gaga”; today is Lady Gaga! Long-time readers know that Lady Gaga is pretty big around here, so no suprise! This is her duet with Bradley Cooper from the new version of A Star is Born. Enjoy!
One could cogently argue that the 1980’s Giorgio Moroder cut of Fritz Lang’s seminal science fiction movie Metropolis is not the best or definitive version. I would argue, though, that Moroder’s soundtrack for Metropolis is one of the best soundtracks of the 80’s, or, in fact, of that latter part of the last century. The soundtrack album, though, has different versions of the songs, though, and is in my opinion substantially inferior. This is most evident with Pat Benatar’s contribution. She sings “Here’s My Heart”, which recurs throughout the film; and the version in the film is far superior to that on the soundtrack album. The version above is a spliced-together mix of the movie version of the song. Despite the inferior production values of the album version, Benatar does great on it; but in the movie version, she sings like an angel. I dare you not to fall in love with her after listening to this! 😉
The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones was the great “This or That” of the 60’s. Despite the unsurpassed creativity and variety of pop music in those days, it sometimes seemed as if the Beatles and the Stones divided the world between them, with there being no third. Certainly, they appeared to be the yin and yang of the rock world. There were the smiling, relatively clean-cut, boyish Beatles, who managed not only to make music for the kids, but to put out what John Lennon later disparagingly referred to as “granny music”, and who even made cartoons for kids (see below). On the other hand, there were the more brooding and snarly Stones, who were definitely not granny or kid-friendly, and who put out such anthems as “Sympathy for the Devil”. Of course, in the real world, the dichotomy was less stark–the Beatles had their dark side, and Charlie Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones, was and is into Big Band music. Still, the images and the public perception was there. I was too young to be aware of all this at the time, of course; so I’m going to approach this from another direction.
There has never been a time in my life that the Beatles weren’t in the cultural atmosphere. Their first album, Please Please Me, was released in March 1963, four months before I was born. Beatlemania ensued in the United Kingdom. They came to America and played on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964. Beatlemania ensued in the United States. Thus, throughout my earliest years, there was always something by the Beatles on the air.
My first clear memory of them is of the cartoon TV series, The Beatles, which aired in first run and then in reruns from 1965 to 1969. I watched it regularly and could still remember bits and pieces of it by my forties, at which time I showed episodes to my then-young daughter on YouTube. As far as 60’s cartoons aimed at kids go, it still held up. And what a soundtrack! Going back to my youth, I was vaguely aware when the movie Yellow Submarine came out in 1968, but I never had the opportunity to watch it until it played on network television sometime in the early 70’s. It was very different, to say the least, from the TV series; but I found it oddly fascinating. Several years ago, I bought it on DVD for my daughter, around eight at the time; and she, too liked it.
As I said, the Beatles were always there. I listened to relatively little pop music as a kid, though. The records (yes, it was pre-CD and MP3) I bought were all classical. I heard what was on the airwaves, of course; and there was always Beatles, and later, Paul McCartney, and to a lesser extent, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, as solo acts, on the radio. Still, it was more background music than anything else.
A live version of a song from my favorite Pretenders album, Learning to Crawl.
Here we go again…. 😉 As with the Most Evil Song of all time, it’s not about musicianship, or whether the song is a “good” pop song or not, or what your feelings about Justin Timberlake may be. It’s not even about the conscious intentions of the songwriter(s). It’s about the message contained within the song. Let’s jump right in. Here are the full lyrics (which can be found lots of other places, too); and I’ve quoted the part I want to look at below, my emphasis, as usual:
‘Cause I don’t wanna lose you now
I’m looking right at the other half of me
The vacancy that sat in my heart
Is a space that now you hold
Show me how to fight for now
And I’ll tell you, baby, it was easy
Coming back into you once I figured it out
You were right here all along
It’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me
I couldn’t get any bigger
With anyone else beside of me
And now it’s clear as this promise
That we’re making two reflections into one
‘Cause it’s like you’re my mirror
My mirror staring back at me, staring back at me
Superficially, this is better than Savage Garden’s “I Knew I Loved You”, which implies that the lover is brought into very existence merely at the whim and pleasure of the narrator. Here, the beloved has a separate existence, at least. The first line of the song, not in the block above, says, “Aren’t you somethin’ to admire/’Cause your shine is somethin’ like a mirror” which at least acknowledges the lover as a “Thou“, a real Other, and compliments her. However, in the very next line, the narrator says, “And I can’t help but notice/You reflect in this heart of mine.” Well, it was good while it lasted.
Now that I’ve got your attention…. 😉 First, let me tell you what I don’t mean. I don’t mean it’s a poorly-crafted song–it’s quite well done. I’m not saying I dislike Savage Garden–they were a very listenable pop group, and another song of theirs, “To the Moon and Back”, is quite a good song, which I like a lot. I’m certainly not saying the song is evil in the sense that certain people over the decades have claimed that rock is “the Devil’s music”, or that hidden backward messages are planted in songs, or any of that claptrap. So, you may then ask, what the heck do you mean?
In order to do that, I’ll have to quote some of the lyrics, my emphasis. It’s easy enough to Google song lyrics, but if you’re too lazy to do so, they can be found here, among many, many other sites. I provide the link so that you can see the entire context for the lyrics I’m going to quote here. The parts I’m going to quote adequately make my case, I think; but I don’t want anyone to think that I’m cutting out stuff that contradicts my thesis. In fact, I’m also going to quote part of the song that actually does indicate (slightly) the opposite of what I’m arguing for.