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8.17.2005

MTV Video Awards predictions – because pop still matters


I have to say, I love music videos. As a child, my Mom and Dad expertly raised me, but television was a close third. And what did I watch? Music videos.

Of course, being in Canada, I didn’t watch MTV. In fact, I’ve only seen maybe MTV once or twice in my entire life, and I never really cared for it. But damn, they really throw a helluva awards show.

And as a connoisseur of music, I shall weigh in on my picks for this year’s hottest videos. Sure, at the VMAs the awards don’t matter, but ever since the radio star died a merciful death, videos remain awesome.

Besides, payola only involves radio, right?

Right?


Best Female Video:

Amerie, "1 Thing"
Mariah Carey, "We Belong Together"
Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl"
Shakira featuring Alejandro Sanz, "La Tortura"
Kelly Clarkson, "Since U Been Gone."

Kelly Clarkson may continue to sex it up and rock out, but she’s no match for a ‘real musician.’ You all know that her shit is bee aye en aye en aye ess. Gwen Stefani is one step closer to leaving “No Doubt” behind when she picks up her prize. Her video is pointless, confusing, yet could be intellectualized and ironically appreciated. And it is her shit.

Best Male Video:

50 Cent, "Candy Shop"
Kanye West, "Jesus Walks"
Beck, "E-Pro"
Usher, "Caught Up"
John Legend, "Ordinary People."

In reality, this award belongs to idiot-savant R. Kelly for parts 1 to 5 of his trapped in the closet masterpiece. Beck is the obvious loser. Kanye’s “Jesus Walks” is just too old of a jam to win either.

It’s a hard pick. Will this award go to Fiddy, who I remember said something along the lines of “little kids will think this song is about candy”? Unfortunately I think his video, while very sexy, is boring. Also, I find Fiddy a little creepy with his sandman style rap drawl.

Usher has got it, because he is the new Michael Jackson. Shamon.

Best Group Video:

Black Eyed Peas, "Don't Phunk With My Heart"
The Killers, "Mr. Brightside"
Destiny's Child featuring T.I. & Lil' Wayne, "Soldier"
U2, "Vertigo"
Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams."

You know Black Eyed Peas, the 2 year old in me thinks replacing “fuck” with “phunk” is funny. And I really enjoyed that Killer’s song when it was originally performed by Blondie.

U2 has their own iPod designed after them, but Green Day is performing at the awards show, so they must win.

Best Rap Video:

Eminem, "Just Lose It"
T.I., "U Don't Know Me"
The Game & 50 Cent, "Hate It Or Love It"
Ying Yang Twins, "Wait (The Whisper Song)"
Ludacris, "Number One Spot."

This award is all about trying to reunite Fiddy with the GAME, so in honour of this massively great tune, here are the lyrics to “Hate It or Love it” in their entirety. Don’t hate!

[50 Cent]
Yeah let's take em bak
uh huh

Comin' up I was confused my mommy kissin a girl
Confusion occurs comin up in the cold world
Daddy ain't around probably out commitin felonies
My favorite rapper used to sing ch-check out my melody
I wanna live good, so shit I sell dope for a fo-finger ring
one o' them gold ropes
Nanna told me if I pass could get a sheep skin coat
If I can move a few packs and get the hat, now that'd be dope
Tossed and turned in my sleep at night
Woke up the next morning niggas done stole my bike
Different day same shit, ain't nothing good in the hood
I'd run away from this bitch and never come back if I could

[Chorus (50 then Game):]
Hate it or love it the underdog's on top
And I'm gonna shine homie until my heart stop

Go head' envy me
I'm raps MVP
And I ain't goin nowhere so you can get to know me

Hate it or love it the underdog's on top
And I'm gonna shine homie until my heart stop

Go head' envy me
I'm raps MVP
And I ain't goin nowhere so you can get to know me

g-g-g-g-unit!

[Game]
On the grill of my lowrider
Guns on both sides right above the gold wires
I'll fo-five em
Kill a nigga on my song but really do it
Thats the true meaning of a ~ghostwriter~
10 g'z will take ya daughter out of Air Forces
Believe you me homie i know all bout losses
I'm from Compton where the wrong colors be cautious
One phone call will have ya body dumped in Marcy
I stay strapped like car seats
Been bangin since my lil nigga Rob got killed for his Barkley's
That's 10 years I told Pooh in 95' I'd kill you if you try me for my Air Max 95s
Told Banks when i met him imma ride
And if I gotta die rather homicide
I ain't have 50 Cent when my Grandmomma died
Now i'm goin back to Cali with my Jacob on
See how time fly?

[Chorus - 50 Cent]

From the beginnin to the end
Losers lose, winners win
This is real we ain't got to pretend
The cold world that we in
It's full of pressure and pain
Enough of me nigga now listen to Game

[Game]
Used to see 5-0 throw the crack by the bench
Now i'm fuckin with ~5-0~ it's all startin to make ~sense~
My moms happy she ain't gotta pay the rent
And she got a red bow on that brand new Benz
Waitin on Sha Money to land sittin in the Range
Thinkin how they spend 30 million dollars on airplanes
When there's kids starvin
Pac is gone and Brendas still throwin babies in the garbage
I wanna know what's goin on like i hear Marvin
No school books they use that wood to build coffins
Whenever I'm in the booth and i get exhausted
I think what if Marie Banker got that abortion
I love ya Ma'

Best Hip -Hop video:

Common, "Go"
Nas featuring Olu Dara, "Bridging The Gap"
Kanye West, "Jesus Walks"
Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell, "Drop It Like It's Hot"
Missy Elliott featuring Ciara & Fat Man Scoop, "Lose Control."

What makes “Drop it Like it’s hot” so cool? Is it Snoop’s laid back delivery? Or Pharrell’s freewheeling use of abstract and creative beats? One of the highlights of Snoop’s career is that breakbeat halfway through the song when he raps about the crips and bloods. This award has his name all over it.

Best R&B video:

Alicia Keys, "Karma"
Mariah Carey, "We Belong Together"
Ciara featuring Ludacris, "Oh"
Usher & Alicia Keys, "My Boo"
John Legend, "Ordinary People."

Since when did R&B have to be boring? Somehow Ciara snuck her video in there, and she has got to win. The song is like sex personified.

Best song of the year:

Foo Fighters, "Best of You"
My Chemical Romance, "Helena"
Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Weezer, "
Beverly Hills"
The Killers, "Mr. Brightside."

Sadly, for a strongly rock supporter guy like myself, I can barely pick a winner in this category because I couldn’t care less about any of these acts. Three of these songs blatantly sound like three other more popular songs – Green Day covers “Wonderwall,” Killers cover “Dreaming” and Weezer covers “The Joker.” “Best of You” isn’t the best from the Foos so by default, I’ll have to go to the poseur-du-jour band My Chemical Romance.

I need to retreat to my Arcade Fire and Death From Above CDs before I continue.

Video of the year:

Coldplay, "Speed of Sound"
Kanye West, "Jesus Walks"
Green Day, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams"
Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell, "Drop It Like It's Hot"
Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl."

Ah the big cheese award. The one for the record books, which in 20 years will be ridiculed for it’s shortsightedness. I’ll pick the Kanye West pony for this one, just because the song is actually amazing, and I imagine at the VMAs they have him turn in an electric performance of “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” and will then accept the award.


Check out all the music videos on LAUNCH

The inventor of the remix, Diddy, is doing his thing to the VMAs

AP casts their ballots for the awards show

The official home of the VMAs online

8.10.2005

The Guest Bedroom – “We Like Accidents”



Rarely do I feel like picking up an EP after hearing half a song, But after a late arrival one night at the Silver Dollar, one half of a Guest Bedroom track from their opening performance was enough to get me interested.

A lazy review of this band would say they sound somewhat like the Dismemberment Plan and Les Savy Fav, with riot-grrl flair for good measure.

On the band’s website, they classify themselves as “Fuck-pop.”

For the rest of us, this is a straight up rock band. You have some aggressive and propulsive bass lines from Paul Clifford, pounding in time with Tim Smith: what they lack in dynamics is definitely made up with enthusiasm.

Filling out the rest of the sound are indie-rock staple keyboards, courtesy of Rob Castle.

Then of course, the obvious focal point of the band, Sandi Falconer. Her voice is right up front and she gives a strong and sultry performance. And the girl actually knows how to play guitar.

No, really.

I have to deviate here for a minute, on this issue of girls in bands. I’m all for it, don’t get me wrong, but there is a whole paradox which goes along with it.

It seems like if you have a girl in your band, you get a free pass, and you will get ten times the amount of exposure your band would normally get if it was just guys. Part of that is women supporting their own, part of it is circus oddity curiosity, and part is pure, unadulterated sex appeal.

Women who front bands are also a double-edged sword. They draw the crowds, but make their all-male backing bands obsolete decorations. Look at No Doubt. Nobody gave a damn about that band until Gwen took over. Sure, your band gets some good publicity, but it will only last until she leaves for her solo career.

But I’m just an angry cynic I suppose. Back to The Guest Bedroom.

The first track, “We Like Accidents!” is a clever riff on looking back on failed relationships like highway rubberneckers slowing down at the scene of a horrific highway crash. Lots of pump and a very catchy hook.

“Drifting” didn’t really catch me, but the wildly dynamic changes of the song definitely shows off what Sandi Falconer is capable of vocally, showing promise for future tracks.

Same goes for “This is an emergency,” which in an alternate dimension could easily have stretched out for 4 or 5 minutes and become an epic classic.

The final track of the EP, “No Thief” is a radio friendly hustle of seduction. When the band rocks out, they really hit their stride, but the band keeps up a with a dance-floor friendly pogo beat on the verses.

I know I’m looking forward to more from this Toronto quartet, so be sure to at least download a few tracks from their website, and pick up the highly-limited EP while you can. Its spry beats are perfect for these last few weeks of summer, and its cynical heart will be there for you when the leaves finally turn brown.

Check out the band’s upcoming gig at Rancho Relaxo on August 10, and at Sneaky Dee’s on August 20.

Download “No Thief” from the band’s website

The coolest-webzine around, Wavelength, talks to the band

Check out their New Music Canada site

Read a review of the EP from NOW

Check out Sandi Falconer’s old band “Spitting Star” and download some mp3s.

8.03.2005

“Get behind me Satan” by the White Stripes, an album too good to let pass you by.



Everyone likes the White Stripes. Who didn’t love “Fell in love with a girl” the first 50 times they heard it? Same goes for “Seven nation army.” But it seems to me that “Get behind me Satan” hasn’t received the love it deserves yet. No, it’s not all rockers, but what White Stripes album is?

Maybe it’s because the White Stripes have a confusing number of gimmicks working for/against them. Brother/sister, red/black/white, old/young, guitars/drums, you’re probably familiar with it all.

I feel for the White Stripes, because they’re in a tough place for a band to be these days. They’ve been disowned by the indie culture that they crawled out of, and in the finicky world of modern rock radio, programmers still consider the band to be “garage rock,” filler between the death of nu-metal and johnny-come-lately nu-wave.

White Stripes are a stadium band. They are monsters in a world of children. But for some reason, listeners today are only willing to get behind bands in a big way as long as it’s on some kind of nostalgia trip.

Rolling Stones? Check.
Pixies? Check.
Eagles? Check.
U2? Check.

Don’t wait to listen to the White Stripes in 20 years when your kids discover them, and the band reunites for another stadium tour. Check them out now, and you’ll feel younger, happier, and healthier. “Get behind me Satan” is an amazing album by an amazing band in their prime.

So maybe to help nudge you towards checking out “Satan,” or maybe to even coax you back for a second listening, I’ve posted my own play-by-play, track by track.

  1. Blue Orchid.

A classy way to kick off any rock and roll record worth its weight in salt… with a ferocious barn burner that just plain rips. Jack’s guitar is big and crunchy, Meg beats away on the drums as she always does, and you love it. Not only that, Jack pulls out the octave pedal just to show how cool he can make any guitar effect sound.

Between asking Satan “how old are you” and commanding him to “get behind me” (a classic Jesus catchphrase), Jack stands tall at the beginning of the album. The color imagery arrives, albeit a bit confusing. The Wild Orchid, sometimes white, a regal purple, or even death black, is turned “blue,” a code worth that sticks out like a thumb amongst the band’s palette of red, white and black.

This album is all about a scorned heart, man or woman, it doesn’t matter. And if you’re going to read some celebrity into the album, Jack is equating Satan to Renee Zellweger.

You could stack this one right alongside “Fell in love with a girl” if you like.

  1. The Nurse.

So right after a stunning radio-rock classic, you launch into a mariba-led ballad? Doesn’t make any sense. And for most listeners, you’re probably going to skip right past this song, searching for the next guitar rock song. Don’t do that. All the explosive guitar is right here in this song. Guitar and drum blasts punctuate this tortured song about a Nurse who administers poison and makes poor Jack sick instead of better. How is it possible that such a weird and yet cool song exist? Only in the world of the White Stripes.

Also of interest, Zellweger also starred in “Nurse Betty” as the Nurse. And that movie sucked.

  1. My Doorbell.

“Doorbell” has one of the catchiest hooks of the entire album. Long after the album is over, you’re going to be singing “I’ve been thinking about my doorbell, when you gonna ring it!” No seriously. This is the White Stripes with soul, doing a drums and bluesy piano pop song. The Jackson 5 couldn’t do this song any better (but give me a time-machine and it would be amazing to try).

This is also another “take back what you said and take back yourself” kiss of type ballad. Still fits in line with this whole Zellweger is the devil because she dumped me and married a country music star theme. But instead of getting all emo, Jack is saying “I don’t need any of your petty, I’ve got plenty of my own friends.”

As a White Stripes staple, this is Get Behind me Satan’s “Hotel Yorba.”

  1. Forever for Her (is over for me).

After blazing through the first few tracks, you knew the White Stripes had to slow it down proper. “Forever” brings back the mariba, with a fuller sound mixed with acoustic guitars and the honky-tonk piano from “Doorbell.” The chorus explodes with Jack’s cry of “Let’s do it, Let’s get on a plane and just do it.” This is the album’s “let’s run away together” moment. Not quite a love song, definitely a lamenting-the loss album. Some very rootsy harmonies, and some great birds-and-bees symbolism. And is that a mariba solo at the end?

Also the Zellweger angle: getting on a plane and running away sounds very posh, definitely something that a famous actress like Renee would do.

  1. Little Ghost.

Jack White has endlessly plumbed the roots of rock music by pulling out endless old-time blues numbers, obviously as his beloved concert-closer has been “Boll Weevil.” But it seems after White’s work on “Cold Mountain” has brought Jack to the other American heritage music: folk. The ugly sexless version of the blues that lends itself to beautiful and haunting imagery. “Little Ghost” would not be out of place on the Cold Mountain soundtrack.

Another kiss-off track. The obvious Zellweger connection? She and Jack met on the set of Cold Mountain. This root of this song is all about being in love with something that you never acknowledged, kind of like how Jack never really talked to the press about his romance with Renee. See: “Though I try my best to keep it, There really was no secret.”

  1. The Denial Twist.

Another groovy piano based jam, guaranteed to have your head rocking. Is it Jack White rapping? Or just another great soul song, with a little bit of bass guitar tossed in there. Songs like this are timeless, and will still be awesome 50 years from now. This song picks up the album’s pace again, just to make sure you’re not following asleep. After all this is rock and roll, not another Sigur Ros album.

Is Jack the one in denial here? Or is he trying to find a way to move on from his romance with Zellweger? One of his tidbits of advice is to try “playing a different role” like an actor or actress would, amongst

  1. White Moon.

Bringing things down a little bit, or so it seems is “White Moon.” The foreboding piano ballad to Rita Hayworth starts off tender, but builds with loud drums and muted distorted guitars.

White Moon uses the classic White Stripes color imagery, with the aforementioned White Moon, the blood of a bleeding nose, a shiny tooth, a white ghost and snow. If anything this song reads like a manic love song to “Rita,” the wife of legendary filmmaker Orson Welles, who Jack White has paid tribute to in “The Union Forever.” Hayworth also has long red curly hair.

If anything this song sets up the necessary obsession needed for “Take, Take, Take.”

  1. Instinct Blues.

After “White Moon,” you need to rock, and you need a helping of the blues, and this song delivers it in unabashed Led Zeppelin bombast. Obviously, this is Get behind me Satan’s “Ball and Biscuit,” a romp through all the things that nature understands and does, except for one idiot, who doesn’t. Could that be Jack himself? Meg? Probably Renee.

Will all those who still worship SRV and get behind this kind of blues guitar playing? Jimmy Page was the true synthesis of American blues and psychedelic fireworks, and Jack White knows this. And all it takes to show of the power of the blues is an overdriven guitar, a distorted microphone and some heavy drums beaten into oblivion. It doesn’t matter how many notes you play, but how you play them. And if you’re like Jack, it won’t hurt to pull out that octave pedal again for a few seconds.

  1. Passive Manipulation.

“Women, listen to your mothers, don’t just succumb to the wishes of your brothers. Take a step take a look at one another, you need to know the difference between a father and a lover.”

What would a White Stripes album be if there wasn’t a playful dig at the Jack and Meg White Brother/Sister/Husband/Wife mythology? Its one part catchy melody, tossed off with a casual rhyme. “Manipulation” is this album’s “Cold, Cold, Night” without the sexiness, almost apologetic for the way Meg flaunted her sexuality on her previous solo effort.

  1. Take, Take, Take.

Still jonesin’ for another guitar track? Skip ahead a couple more songs. But if you want to be convinced again that the Stripes don’t need the fuzzed out electric guitar to get you to move, this track is it. Another simple blues number, “Take, Take, Take” is another ode to Rita Hayworth, but Jack plays the part of the obsessive fan. But instead of a woe-is-me-I’m-so-famous track, it someone strikes the balance between being sympathetic towards the relationship between fandom and stardom, while also showing how it can go too far. Jack sounds like he is having real fun in this song, and that fun is completely infectious. This song brings back some much needed momentum back to the album, but could also stand as an adventurous radio single.

  1. Ugly as I seem.

As close as to a hippie jam the White Stripes have ever come, “Ugly as I seem” has Jack play a “traveling” style acoustic guitar jam, with Meg playing along on a couple of hand drums. Jack laments childhood dreams and his ugly inward character, but ultimately decides that his partner wants to change him, and he needs to be who he is. Of course, he really is an amazing artist/musician/all-American rock star, so it’s okay.

  1. Red Rain.

And in order to bring balance back to the album, Red Rain comes to contrast the White Moon. Starting off with a little harmless sounding guitar, and then a child’s xylophone with quiet humming, before you know it the guitar is screaming wildly and the drums are stomping and trashing about. Then it stops. Then it starts again. Yes, this is rock and roll. “Can’t you hear me calling your name, girl?” This is plea, loud and clear. And when the chorus kicks in, it’s less melody and more stomping and riffing. The breakdown starts shifting Jack’s voice around with some kind of tremolo/phase effect, and it’s truly mind blowing. And at 3:24 I’m pretty sure he says “Oh Loretta.” Or maybe not. He could be teasing everyone who thought he had some torrid love affair with the Queen of country. Do you want evidence of Jack White’s genius? You can find it here.

  1. I’m Lonely (But I ain’t that lonely yet)

And while Jack White did recently lose his love to country, don’t forget about his foray into country himself, resurrecting Loretta Lynn by producing her “Van Lear Rose” album. Oh, and they kissed, right?

This song is one last drink before hitting the road, like one last song before putting all the instruments away after recording the album. The guitars are all packed up, and all that’s left is the dusty old honky-tonk piano in the corner. But it sounds great, and its all that Jack needs for the blues.

In conclusion:

Have you ever seen “The song remains the same”? Do you remember how jealous you felt of all those people in Madison Square Garden?

People will feel this way about the White Stripes. You’ll see.


Download The Blue Orchid

Check out the video for Blue Orchid at whitestripes.net

And if you’re bored, don’t forget about the classic White Stripes video game, Stripeout

There’s also a pile of stuff at redcandycane.net