Blog Post 8

Greetings

This blog is going to explore electronic music through the song, Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye. I would take a chance in saying that most people over the age of ten have heard Marvin Gaye’s music, and anyone who loves good music knows it very well. I just didn’t know much about his story after the What’s Going On era. I learned that after a couple of failed marriages, he was left with financial woes and drug problems. So In 1981, with tax problems and pressures from the IRS, he chose to flee to Europe. During this time his relationship with Motown was severed and he signed with Columbia Records. The result of this collaboration was the album Midnight Love, with the massively popular hit Sexual Healing. The story is that author David Ritz was visiting Gaye in Belgium when he came across a pornographic magazine and he quipped that the singer needed “sexual healing”, and the rest is history. To me, this song is in keeping with the Marvin Gaye avant-garde style. This was cemented in my mind when I learned that, because he couldn’t get the feel he wanted from anyone else playing it, he played all of the music himself. The song begins with a very distinctive Trip Hop sounding beat and Marvin Gaye loudly whispering “Wake up” over and over again. Then the synth bass drops in and a “chunk” sounding guitar begins to play. It’s obvious that he used lots of synth sounds in this production and a there were a lot of loops used in various parts of the song. I also heard an electric piano way down in the mix and a lot of reverb was in it too. Sexual Healing won a Grammy in 1982 for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. I thought it was great that the instrumental version also won for Best R&B Instrumental, because that track is awesome. (I love Trip Hop!)

DJ Max-A-Million did a remix of this song in 1995 that became very popular in dance clubs.  Check out the video:

To contrast this song, I am going to go to the other end of the spectrum musically with the MTV unplugged version of This Woman’s Work by Maxwell. For those who may not know, the unplugged version of a song is a good way to hear what a band or solo artist really sound like. The music is generally stripped down and doesn’t have added synth work or production and neither do the vocals.

I must admit that I had only heard a very nice rendition of this song on American idol and didn’t know anything about it. I learned that it was written and released, in 1989, for a John Hughes film titled, She’s Having A Baby, by artist Kate Bush.

Maxwell is known as a pioneering Neo Soul artist, but he his also simply a great singer. Maxwell performed this rendition for MTV Unplugged and it was released in1997. I think that him agreeing to do this for MTV was very calculated on his part, because he rode the success of the EP version of this song and then released it on his own album in 2001. This recording is beautiful. When it begins and the notes are being played and he is doing the “A ha’s” it perfectly sets the song up. The simple chords behind the vocal are perfectly placed and his voice sounds superb. The song was written about a man dealing with a wife, who is suffering through a hard pregnancy and he is looking back at their life together and reminiscing about all the “If I, Could a, Should a, Would a” moments that he dropped the ball during their relationship. The song depicts his pain as he realizes that she may die and leave him with all of those regrets. Maxwell’s voice pleads with those lamentations and regrets throughout the entire song. By the time he gets to the end of the song and sings these words:

I should be cryin’ but I just can’t let it show baby
I should be hopin’ but I can’t stop thinkin
All the things we should’ve said that we never said
All the things we should’ve done that we never do
All the things that you wanted from me
All the things that you needed from me
All the things we should’ve given, but I didn’t
Oh darlin’, make it go away now.
Just make it go away.

You believe him and you are totally in the Maxwell web. The simplicity of the song and the slow moving way he sings it, is like experiencing a great artist painting a great masterpiece.

 

References

Ankeny, J. (n.d.). Biography: Marvin Gaye. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/marvin-gaye-mn0000316834/biography

 

Hogan, E. (n.d.). Song Review: Sexual Healing. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/song/sexual-healing-mt0005469951

Songfacts: Sexual Healing. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1713

 

Unplugged Definition, Retrieved from https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=what+does+unplugged+mean+in+music%3F&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-002

Huey, s. (n.d.). Biography: Maxwell. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/maxwell-mn0000866491/biography

Erlewine, S. (n.d.). Maxwell MTV Unplugged. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/album/mtv-unplugged-mw0000542616

Songfacts: This Woman’s Work. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3852

Carson, D. November 19, 2014. SoulTrain.com. Retrieved from http://soultrain.com/2014/11/19/neo-soul-music-still-exist/

Blog Post 7

Greetings

In this blog I am going to be exploring the 1990’s Alternative band Radiohead and the 1990’s Hip Hop artist, 2Pac.

First off, I will explain “alternative rock”. Alternative Rock emerged in the late 80’s and early 90’s and is usually characterized by bands who have a “do-it-yourself” or non-conformist attitude; hence “alternative”. It is said to have been the most popular music of the time period.

Now, let’s talk about Radiohead. I learned that Radiohead was formed when the members were students in 1988, and that Pink Floyd, Pixies, R.E.M. and Nirvana heavily influenced them. They are considered to be one of the most critically beloved bands of all time. The song I have been listening to, Karma Police, is off of their 1997 album, OK Computer. It has been said that no other album from the 90’s decade has left such a lasting legacy. This album marked a clear transition from hook-oriented Britpop to more experimental, prog-friendly rock. From the simple introduction of the song with the guitar and piano, to the vocal, bass and drums coming in simultaneously, the song slowly builds its message. The lead singer perfectly draws the picture, but the arrangements fill in the colors and make the song. The song is about fate and how it will always catches up with you, so when the lead begins to sing: “Karma Police arrest this man”, he draws you into the story. During the second verse a haunting synth sound, akin to that of the Theremin, begins to play and further sets the solemn mood of the song. For me, the chorus drives it home. When the drums stop and he sings, “This is what you get” and that piano hook plays with the harmonized “Ooh’s with the synth I was totally into it.   I got teary eyed at the end when he began to sing, “For a minute there I lost myself.” I felt his performance and the band obviously knew that there was nothing else needed, because all that ends it is a rising “siren like” pulsating guitar wail coming up through the music. Bravo. Radiohead just gained a fan.

When I read that Radiohead was one of the most beloved bands, I decided to choose one of the most beloved rappers ever, 2pac (Tupac) Shakur. I believe that his death elevated him to a larger global status, but the work he left does speak for itself. Because of the effect the Radiohead song had on me, I chose a song that had a deeper meaning.

Eminem

Before I delve into his story, I have to give honorable mention to rapper Eminem, who has been proclaimed to be the King of Hip-Hop. Uh huh, let that marinate. I’m sure you’re asking: “Why?” The answer is easy: Eminem has done what no other rapper has been able to do. He has sold over 155 MILLION albums and singles worldwide AND he is also the SECOND BEST selling individual male artist, falling behind Garth Brooks. That is major. I like Eminem, but I was shocked at the statistics. His cumulative album sales have grown to 44.91 million (in the SoundScan era), and continue to swell.

Now that I have paid homage to the King, let me continue exploring 2pac. 2pac was born in New York City, to two Black Panther party members. His parents separated before he was born, and he grew up moving around the country with his mom and sister, mostly living at the poverty level. In spite of this, as a teenager, he gained acceptance to the Baltimore School of the Arts. While at the school, his creative side flourished and he began to write raps and act. I was totally shocked to find this out. I had never heard it before and felt that this background was very important to what made 2pac so special and relevant to whom he became as an entertainer. It is also reminiscent to that of the great Brian Eno where his art flavored his music. 2pac even has a book of poetry, The Rose that Grew from Concrete, that was released posthumously.

The song I listened to is Keep Ya Head Up, which comes off his second album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. The song is designed to encourage women and could also be described as an ode to women, especially black women. I learned that it was also dedicated to the memory of Latasha Harlins. Latasha Harlins was a 15-year-old black girl who was shot dead in Los Angeles by Soon Ja Du, a Korean store owner. Du was only convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and was incredibly sentenced to only five years probation, 400 hours community service and a $500 fine.

As I dissected the song I discovered that the music from the song is built around a loop from a song called “Be Alright by Roger Troutman and Zapp. The Hook is arranged with the words: Keep ya head up and the “Ooo child” chorus from a 1970 song written by Stan Vincent for the “Stairsteps” that has been recorded by a multitude of artists. It also features the soulful vocals of Dave Hollister on the Hooks.

2pac’s lyrics are catchy and he rhymes in a song form at times. The lyrics that stood out for me were these:
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women

And these:

It seems the rain will never let up
I try to keep my head up, and still keep from gettin’ wet up
You know it’s funny when it rains it pours
They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor

There were other lines that fit the world we live in today, but those really stood out. This song didn’t affect me like the other song, but as a woman, it was nice to hear a man saying them.

Resources

Alternative Rock Definition. Urban Dictionary. Retrieved from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Alternative+Rock

Jackson, J. February 24, 2012. The 90 Best Albums of the 1990s. Paste Magazine: wasington.square. Retrieved from http://www.pastemagazine.com/blogs/lists/2012/02/the-90-best-albums-of-the-1990s.html?a=1

Songfacts. Karma Police by Radiohead. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=2461

PPCorn. April 7, 2015. The Top 10 Greatest Rappers of All Time. PPCorn. Retrieved from http://ppcorn.com/us/the-top-10-greatest-rappers-of-all-time/

The News Nerd Staff. August 12, 2014. Jay-Z Says Eminem is The Most Overrated Rapper of All Time. The News Nerd. Retrieved from http://www.thenewsnerd.com/music/jay-z-says-eminem-overrated-rapper-time/

Erlewine, S. (n.d.). Biography: 2pac. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/2pac-mn0000921895/biography

Whosampled. Retrieved from http://www.whosampled.com/sample/583/2Pac-Dave-Hollister-Keep-Ya-Head-Up-Zapp-Be-Alright/

Blog 6

Greetings

This blog will be about the 1980’s R&B song Give It To Me Baby by Rick James. I’ve never known much about Rick James so I looked forward to reading about him. I didn’t realize he was considered to be such a genius back in the day. My research showed that Rick James was journeyman musician up until 1978, when his first single came out called “You an I”. It said that he single handedly rescued the company, Motown. I read that he came home late one night, wanting to mess around with his girlfriend, but he couldn’t because he was too drunk. So instead he went to his piano and wrote the song “Give It to Me Baby.” The song held the number one R&B position for five weeks and hit number 40 pop in the summer of 1981.  As soon as the song starts it command your attention the bass line drives it and the funkiness of the groove pulls you in. The horn section further tickles your ears. The synth is used twice distinctively, once with a high string sound and the other with an acid sound. It is true funk at its best.

My contrasting song is the 80’S Rock song, Back in Black and it comes from AC/DC. AC/DC is an Australian band, formed in 1973 that made their mark in the 1970’s with their hard rock sounds and loud signature power chords. They had continued success over the years while going through a series of lineup changes that culminated in the death of their lead singer, Brian Scott in February of 1980. He was replaced by Scott Johnson and three months later they record the ‘Back in Black” album, which became their biggest seller. The actual song “Back In Black” is indicative of their signature style. It begins the hi hat and muted guitar hits count off, then the bass and guitar power chord simultaneously come in playing, with the guitar breaking off for some finger licks. It is very distinguishable. When the vocal comes in forceful and squalling, it is classic rock at its finest. The bridges have that bouncing bass and powerful guitar and it has an awesome guitar solo in the middle. It is simple, but it is what I have grown to think of as Rock music. Both of these songs are classics because they are perfect representations of what their genres are supposed to sound like. I also believe that these two songs mirror each other in construction. From their signature beginnings with the ear catching bass lines to the classic guitar rifts these two songs have what R&B/Funk lovers and Rock music lovers look for and expect in their music.

References

Ruhlmann, W. Rick James Biography. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/rick-james-mn0000366164/biography

Hogan, E. (n.d.). Song Review: Give It To Me Baby. Allmusic.com Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/song/give-it-to-me-baby-mt0005620142

Songfacts. Give It To Me Baby. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=21744

Erlewine, S. AC/DC Biography. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/ac-dc-mn0000574772/biography

Erlewine, S. Song Review Back In Black. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/album/back-in-black-mw0000188862

Songfacts. Back In Black. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=80

 

Blog 5

Hello and Welcome back

In this blog I’m going to start with the song Karma Chameleon by Culture Club. First of all, Culture Club intrigues me because I like Boy George. I don’t really know why, but I absolutely love him. Delving into the bands backstory, I was surprised to find out Boy George’s dad was a boxing club manager. Talk about contradictions. You would think he would come off as a harder meaner person, but he comes off as quite the opposite. I wasn’t shocked to read that he was attracted to glam rock, which was obviously the foundation for his extravagant and signature sense of style. As far as I am concerned the other members of the group were simply bit players in the group. They all came from other bands and all of them together were heavily linked with the new romantics, Northern soul and fashion.  While listening to the song and dissecting its New Wave sound, I was shocked at how simply made it was. It was quirky at best. But considering that it was an MTV song, I went to YouTube and watched the video. That was the clincher. It made me want to dance along with the people in it. It made me feel good and Boy George was the guru and catalyst singing the song with conviction.

Contrasting this song is the Synthpop song, Here Comes the Rain Again by the Eurythmics. The Eurythmics, consisting of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, had formerly had a band called the Tourists. The post-punk scene going on in England influenced them.   Although Annie Lennox is heavily made up in an androgynous outfit and looks more like a pretty punk rocker, this song is heavily reminiscent of a pop song. However from the moment it begins an arpeggio sounding synth captures your attention and commands you to listen while the song builds with multiple synth sounds. This includes the bass line and and added drum machine. The violin sounding synths sweeping through further distinguish the sound. This is another danceable song, however the vocals are much better. In conclusion, I would have to say that the difference between the two songs is that Karma Chameleon needed video to make it number one around the world. There is no way it would have done so without MTV. “Here Comes The Rain Again” doesn’t need a video to sell it, because Annie Lennox’s vocals and the strength of the track were enough.

References

Erlewine, S. Biography Culture Club. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/culture-club-mn0000116178/biography

Songfacts. Karma Chameleon. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=5775

Erlewine, S. Biography Eurythmics, Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/eurythmics-mn0000206241/biography

Mason, S. Song Review: Here Comes The Rain Again. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/song/here-comes-the-rain-again-mt0051966289

Songfacts. Here Comes The Rain Again. Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=4222

Peer Feedback Posts

Peer Feedback Post A

Greetings James

Good post. I researched the Sex Pistols with Johnny (Rotten) Lydon also. And after listening to so much punk music this week, I had to laugh when you stated that Public Image Ltd’s melodies weren’t so punk as to “grate on your nerves like some could”. I totally got that statement, because most of what I listened to did. I thought it was very interesting that Johnny went from angry punk music to a commercially pop punk sound. I wonder if he only did that to crossover into a more mainstream market. Did you come across any information on that in your research? I would love to know his reasoning behind that decision. I would suggest that in the future when you have such a great post, maybe you could put up a link or picture to enhance it. I also would love to know more about how you felt about the music. Kudos

Carmen Davis

https://jameswallaceblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/week-2-blog-3/comment-page-1/#comment-1

Peer Feedback Post B

Greetings

I was blown away when I read about Gary Numan’s technique of using the guitar pedals with the synthesizers. I thought that was actually genius and it is something I am definitely going to try. I am also going to investigate how The Smiths isolated and recorded those drums. Sonically, it boggles my mind. I am familiar with Gary Numan and I’m sure that most musicians and producers know of him, however I had never heard of The Smiths. You spoke of how they also had influenced you. How did you become familiar with them? I’d love to know. It would have been great if you had included some of the music you spoke about. It would have helped me hear through your ears or see things from your perspective. Gary Numan is Rock, Pop and Electric music. The Smiths are Indie Rock. Since they both have influenced you, I would love to know what you consider your sound to be. Great post

Carmen Davis

https://joshmayblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/18/blog-post-5/comment-page-1/#comment-4

Peer Feedback Post C

Greetings Robert

Nice post. From the songs of his that I have heard, I would have to agree with you in saying that the Notorious B.I.G. was an extraordinary lyricist. I wasn’t sure if I had heard of the song before, but I went and listened to a little of it and I don’t know the song, I have definitely heard that track beat. If his rap flow is an influence on you, I’m sure you will do well. I thought that it was very interesting how all of the popular rappers wanted that particular track. Randy Badazz had his pick of the greats and he obviously chose well. Who is Pam Long? Is she a rapper too? I am not familiar with that name. You talked about Sheryl Crow also. I also love that song because of the cheerful mood. That’s one of my feel good songs. It always makes me happy. I was kind of confused with the “ribbed instrument” comment. Maybe you could expound on that. As a female singer-songwriter producer, I would have loved to know what other artists were inspired by Sheryl Crow. Good luck in the future. I hope you make some inspired banging tracks.

Carmen Davis

https://robertloganarchuleta.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/blog-post-7/comment-page-1/#comment-3

Blog 4

Greetings

This blog is going to be about the difference in sound between Hair (a.k.a. Glam) Metal and Thrash Metal. The three categories of Metal we have on our playlists this month are Hair, Pop and Thrash Metal. First of all, I needed to understand the difference between the three subgenres, so I did a little research.

Hair Metal: Also known as “Glam” Metal was the name given to the slick, pretty, pop-oriented heavy metal and hard-rock bands of the late ’80s. They wore flashy clothing, heavy makeup, and large, teased hair. They also used pop sounding hooks and melodies.

Pop Metal: This sound was heavily concentrated in the Los Angeles based band scene.  Pop-metal bands emphasized the guitar riff and huge, catchy hooks similar to the fist-pumping choruses of the arena rock genre.

Thrash Metal: Thrash, also called Speed metal, became the most popular form of heavy metal in the American underground music scene. It combined British Heavy Metal with hardcore punk. It was played extremely fast, abrasive, and it was technically demanding, because, although the bands played fast, their attack was precise and clean. Because of its intensity and technical demands, speed metal quickly evolved into thrash, which allowed greater leeway in terms of tempo, groove, and instrumentality.

Bon Jovi:

After getting an understanding of what I was supposed to be listening to, I preceded to listen to the playlists. I instantly liked the song by Bon Jovi, “Living on a Prayer”. It reached out and grabbed me. I liked the lead singer’s voice and his vocal. It had a constant driving beat and the bass guitar was thumping, but I noticed that the lead guitar was used as more of an accompanying instrument throughout most of the song, until the build ups to the choruses, some echoing of the lead singer and the break down towards the end of the song. It only became a dominant instrument as the song began to end. I also noticed that the song had a very catchy pop-like hook. I think that’s why I instantly liked it. It was easy to catch onto and a very memorable tune.

Metallica:

To contrast the Bon Jovi performance, I wanted to find a song that embodied the Thrash/Speed sound. I found this with Metallica. I have been familiar with the name Metallica, but not so much their music. The song I chose is called, “Hit the Lights”. It immediately starts out with a great build up between the guitar and drums. Then the guitar is left suspended for six counts and it starts all over again. After a dramatic drum roll, the guitars start the song. Once one of the band members yells “Whoa!” the extremely fast tempo starts and it’s off to the races. I would definitely call it guitar driven music, but I must say it was very clean. The musicianship was excellent. I listened over and over again to the breakdowns and they were perfect. The guitar licks and notes were played cleanly with no accidental slides. Although there were no pop hooks or anything remotely pop like in the song, there were very distinctive bridges and chorus breakdowns by the music that I ended up “looking forward” to hearing. As a musician, I appreciate good musicianship, so I can see how someone could get addicted to listening to this type of music. I also can see why the “purists” didn’t and don’t like the Hair/Glam metal. It’s missing that raw music component that metal seems to thrive on.

 

References

Hair Metal definition. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/style/hair-metal-ma0000011902

Pop Metal definition. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/style/pop-metal-ma0000002785

Thrash (Speed) Metal definition. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/style/speed-thrash-metal-ma0000002874

Erlewine, S. Bon Jovi Biography. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bon-jovi-mn0000069534/biography

EBSCOhost: Gliatto, T., & Stoynoff, N. (2002). Local Boy Makes Good. People, 58(22), 114.

Erlewine, S. Metallica Biography. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/metallica-mn0000446509/biography

EBSCOhost: Fricke, D. (1995). Married to metal. Rolling Stone, (708), 72.

Blog 3

I am not a Punk rock fan. In fact, I genuinely call it “angry noise”. At best, I have considered it to be some sort of musical noise, but I’ve never taken the time to research it. However, there is a Punk Rock band that has intrigued me, and it is called the “Sex Pistols”.

The Sex Pistols:

I was shocked to read that the band had only been together for two years. Their impact was greater than I had ever imagined. They not only greatly affected the music scene, but also presented the first do-it-yourself independent band model. Their persona was antiestablishment and their sound was considered raw, loud and violent. Hear are the sounds I hear: First there is a really loud rock and roll sound, with a driving beat. The next thing that caught my attention was a heavy “crunch” gravelly guitar sound that is being played over a thumping bass line. According to Allmusic.com, the conceptual direction of the group’s music was geared towards “anarchy, abortion, violence, fascism, and apathy”. Those topics made the band highly controversial. After listening to and dissecting the song, “Anarchy in the U.K.”, I would have to say that I “got” their message. It was delivered in eight bar increments with an angry sounding vocal, but I heard the message and it was clear. I also felt the conviction in the singing and it made me sympathetic to the music. I was really surprised at my reaction to it.

Bad Brains:

While listening to the lists of songs, I thought that the song Bright Brigade reminded me most of the Sex Pistols sound. It is a song by Bad Brains, who were an American hardcore punk band located on the East Coast, in Washington D.C. When I researched the band, I discovered that the Sex Pistols, indeed, had influenced them. The Sex Pistols and Bob Marley had inspired the leader and founder of the group, Dr Know. He, then, put together a group that combined punk and reggae sounds together, with angry political overtones. Bad Brains is considered to be the innovator of hardcore punk rock in America. Listening to their recording was a little more challenging because it was hard to understand the words. Quite frankly, it sounded like some demons out of a movie trying to sing. It made me feel frustrated. They used the same eight bar technique as the Sex Pistols and delivered the same kind of angry sound. I thought that Bad Brains used more of a shredded guitar sound and the bass line varied between following the guitar chord and thumping. To me, it was a little more “muddy” sounding than the Sex Pistol recording.

Bottom line: I can honestly say that I understand the basis of the original Punk Rock music now. It was meant to make a statement, similar to the music of Bob Dylan and Curtis Mayfield. I would also group it with the original Hip Hop music scene. I may never be a real fan of the music, but I can say that I am, now, willing to take the time to listen.

References

Erlewine, S. (n.d.). Sex Pistols Biography. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/sex-pistols-mn0000418740/biography

Adams, R. (2008). The Englishness of English Punk: Sex Pistols, Subcultures, and Nostalgia. Popular Music & Society, 31(4), 469-488. doi:10.1080/03007760802053104

Erlewine, S. (n.d.). Bad Brains Biography. Allmusic.com. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/bad-brains-mn0000075264/biography

Maskell, S. (2009). Performing Punk: Bad Brains and the Construction of Identity. Journal Of Popular Music Studies, 21(4), 411-426. doi:10.1111/j.1533-1598.2009.01210.x