Do you love to write? Are you passionate about music? If so, you might just be the person or thing that we’ve been looking for.
We’re in the hunt for fresh and dedicated members to join our ranks at staff and contributor level. We don’t care much for degrees around here, but a pre-requisite for any position is that the candidate has the ability to write independently to a consistently high standard.
Experience in reviewing live performances and interviewing musicians is preferred but not essential at this point. More important is that the candidate has the ability to interpret music and the world around them in an interesting and articulate manner.
Successful applicants will be required to:
Review new album releases.
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Work as part of a team to formulate new feature ideas.
To apply for the position:
Register an account on Sputnikmusic and build a portfolio of at least 3 full-length reviews (typically 3-5 paragraphs).
In 1-2 paragraphs, tell us a little bit about yourself and why you think you’d be a good fit for our staff or contributor teams.
Give details of your relevant writing experience, whether at Sputnik or elsewhere, with links to 3-5 pieces of your strongest work.
Those of you in the Sarnia-Windsor-Detroit area are familiar with 88.7FM/CIMX, the so-called “new-rock alternative” for the region. If not, you’re free to stream them live anywhere in the world [[from their official site]].
While their 5:00PM all-request hour seems to be the same people calling in (just once I would love to drive home from work and NOT hear “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails at the same fucking time every day), the station does have its perks on days I forget my iPod: The Top 9 @ 9 (which is exactly what you’d expect it to be), the People’s Choice (two songs ’square off’ with the winning song advancing to the next day to take on a new challenger), the “Catch of the Day” (at 4:30PM, prior to the aforementioned Request Hour, a non-single or forthcoming single is aired) are 89X mainstays.
Also, Dave and Chuck The Freak’s morning show (which rivals Grand Rapids’ “Free Beer and Hot Wings Morning Show” as the funniest morning show from my former home state) can be so hysterical that I’ve thought I pulled a rib or two, and all of 89X’s DJs remain attuned to their listeners and go out of their way to give back to the community.
For example, each of the 89X radio personalities served as guest baristas at Caribou Coffee locations throughout Metro Detroit, as part of the station’s “12 Days of Christmas” celebration. Proceeds from this event were donated to charity:
It’s fitting that we should begin Christmas Eve with a rendition of ‘Silent Night,’ for it was the song that was sung by British, French and German soldiers during the Christmas Truce that was referred to in yesterday’s post. It was the only Christmas song they knew that had been translated into all three languages, having originated as a German carol (‘Stille Nacht’) from the pen of Austrian school teacher Franz Xaver Gruber (music) and priest Joseph Mohr (lyrics).
It’s interesting to note that the original, besides being German, differed from the modern in that it was intended as a mid-tempo dance tune rather than the slow-paced lullaby that it has become. First performed in 1818, the song was a fast success and it spread quickly through the various churches of Europe, eventually making its way to America and its first English translation in 1859. More or less everybody is aware of the “standard version” so I’ll push right ahead and highlight artists who’ve put their own unique spin on the track.
First up, we have Enya. Ireland has been a recurrent figure in this series, but for once I have a reason other than familiarity for focusing on a song, as the former Clannad singer’s recording is ample demonstration of the song’s inherent flexibility: the original can be sung in at least 44 different languages with very little lost in the way of meaning.
By contrast, Simon & Garfunkel’s 1966 recording involves a radical rethink of the song’s…
The above is the subject of a million glib remarks – so many, in fact, that we tend to forget there are people out there who give up well-paying jobs to pursue a career they have absolutely no aptitude for. In this case, pro skateboarder Jereme Rogers – a man already burdened by the failings of his parents, who were so confused by the similarity of “Jerome” and “Jeremy” that they named him a bizarre hybrid of the two – retired from the sport at the age of 24 to pursue a career in the rap business.
Barely a year later, Rogers returned to pro skateboarding, but it hasn’t stopped him from continually dipping his toes in the music industry. ‘30 Thousand 100 Million Freestyle’ appears to be his first single under the new name J. Casanova – he’d previously recorded under his given name – and I can categorically say it’s his best recording yet under the new name.
To be honest, there’s probably not enough time and space on the internet to detail exactly how whacked-out this video is. For instance, he claims he has women all around his waist “like a shoestring” – is it normal to keep your pants up with shoestring? I use a belt, but then again I don’t know what the fashion is among millionaires these days. Even better is the self-satisfied smirk he can’t seem to remove from his face after he drops the zinger: “Though…
The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best Christmas movie of all time. Now, you might be thinking “well, I don’t know about that, Downer, I mean it’s good and all, but there are so many other classic, canonical films,” and true, Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life are close seconds, but I speak the truth. Trust me.
Here are a few of the many reasons why (Spoilers, maybe?):
1) Hans Zimmer’s absolutely perfect score.
Zimmer’s songs are universally fantastic (if you skip through the Tiny Tim one), fitting the Muppets’ brand of satire comedy while also being wonderful tunes by themselves. The opening number “Scrooge” exemplifies this; it’s a minor key march whose major key chorus betrays that its lead character (Michael Caine, in a career defining performance) isn’t really threatening, just a grouchy guy we’re going to love unconditionally. Later, “Marley and Marley” turns a haunting into a thrilling duet between Statler and Waldorf in one of the film’s most memorable and meta-awesome scenes. And “When Love If Gone” is actually kind of a tearjerker when you ignore the completely flaccid actress singing it. As far as Christmas musicals go, Muppet Christmas Carol gets it right by having all their songs be instantly recallable and undeniably lovable.
2) It’s the best version of “A Christmas Carol”
In the context of “Christmas Carol” adaptations, it’s no contest: Muppet Christmas Carol gets the story pitch perfect for the holiday season. This version blends whimsy…
Christmastime is a time when, traditonally, families come together. However, in coming together, we also tend to be more acutely aware of those that are missing: those we’ve lost and those that, for whatever reason, can’t be with us.
The story goes that, on Christmas Day 1914 (the first of the First World War), peace broke out. German, British and French trench troops crossed into no man’s land to exchange gifts and, famously, play games of football together. The scenes would not be repeated the following year, or any other. Whether motivated by basic humanity or naivety, those early gestures of solidarity quickly gave way to the horrors of the most brutal and senseless war in modern history.
It’s in the latter context that Jona Lewie’s greatest hit (it was only beaten to #1 by a re-release of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ shortly after the singer’s death, about as far from a fair fight as you can get) is set. Set to ironically regal horns, ‘Stop the Cavalry’ is one of the most established songs of the Christmas canon, worldwide but particularly in Britain, however it only contains one actual reference to the Season to be Jolly, in the lament of a frontline soldier: “Wish I was at home for Christmas…”
Modern wars bear little in comparison to the large-scale destruction of human life that were the World Wars. However, though we may all disagree on political issues, it’s imperative on all of us to spare a thought for military servicemen…
Not a lot of people know this, but as well as being an accomplished singer of showtunes and a country & western star, John C. Reilly makes a working man’s living as a comedic actor. Will Ferrell is also adept at saying ridiculous things with a straight face.
On a completely unrelated matter, here’s a video of David Bowie dropping into Bing Crosby’s house at The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for a spot of singing/jousting to the tune of ‘Peace on Earth’ and ‘Little Drummer Boy.’ Make sure to click through for a free download of the track.
You could say I had an interesting Saturday night. I’d say it was one for the ages.
warning: what you are about to read does get a little graphic.
So I was visiting a friend in Hamilton, a shit-smelly city situated about 45 minutes Southwest of Toronto. The night started out pretty dull, actually, consisting of us sitting around watching Saved by the Bell episodes, sometimes with the commentary on, and eating soggy homemade ravioli. I don’t think we could ever imagine how the night would end just a few hours later.
After briefly deliberating, then wisely declining the prospect of going to a cougar bar, we wandered around downtown Hamilton for a few minutes. On our way, I met a homeless man who was really interested in Winter Solstice conspiracy theories and loved yelling at taxi cabs parked in crosswalks. Eventually, one of my friends pointed out a nearby bar, “Doors” I think it was called. He said the bartender was named Tyler, to which I vaguely remember saying, “hey, that’s my name”.
Cool story bro, right?
Then he goes on to tell me that the bar is known for having some weird goings-on. That and it’s often blasting Scandinavian metal. Against my better judgement, I started running. I never run. I wish I hadn’t. Walking inside, I didn’t hear Scandinavian metal. No, instead I saw a guy and girl duo on the turntables and MPC, a scruffy tall white guy rapping and someone dancing…
Users that are younger and more American than me might not really get this, but for somebody who didn’t get an internet connection until they were 16 and immediately set about using forums populated almost entirely by people over 3,000 miles away from them, the culture shock was surreal. I remember going into college and discussing all the crazy things we’d found out about the world at large from using forums the night before; learning that Americans think Blur are a one-hit wonder, for instance, was little short of mindblowing. The one discovery that stuck with me more than any other, though, was that no other country in the world cared about their Christmas #1.
It never occurred to me how silly this is until I had to explain it to a bewildered Canadian, but silly or not it’s true – the Christmas number 1 single is an absolutely huge deal in the UK. Getting it is a badge of honour for the bands that did, to the point where it even gets occasionally mentioned among the other major achievements of The Beatles (in ‘63, ‘64, ‘65, and ‘67) and Pink Floyd (1979 with “Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2″), and has become the most commonly accepted barometer of the popularity of the Spice Girls. For some, their solitary Christmas #1 is enough to keep them famous among the general public for years to come – you’d be surprised how many parents in the UK started reminiscing about…
Backlash is such a strong word, and perhaps not the most appropriate one given the level of antipathy the group evokes among the internet cognoscenti, but it’s impossible to avoid the term in reacting to the Lonely Island’s new single ‘I Just Had Sex,’ which features imaginary tough guy Akon.
As an unabashed fan of the Lonely Island’s first CD, 2009’s Incredibad, I’ve always found it difficult to reconcile my love of their music with my complete disdain for SaturdayNight Live, and in particular Andy Samberg’s turgid contribution as a sketch actor. Like most of the SNL cast, Samberg as an actor represents the banal strand of comedy that dictates saying something in a funny accent automatically makes it ha-ha funny, when in fact all it does is make him look like a douchebag.
It’s a similar concept that has prolonged the painful career of Kenan Thompson. Thompson, who most famously played the part of the unfunny half of Kenan & Kel, seems to most rational observers to serve one purpose on the show: to play black characters in sketches where it would be racist for the white members to wear blackface. That’s not to say that SNL producers are racist. In fact, it’s the opposite – they hold black comedians to the same low standards to which they hold themselves. It’s equal opportunity mediocrity, and it’s rampant on SNL.
Which brings us back to the Lonely Island.
Over the past three or four years, the Lonely Island…
One often wonders that were Cee Lo Green to compose a Christmas track, would it sound anything like ‘Fuck Christmas.’
The short answer is no – for one thing, he’d probably release 11 censored versions before finally sticking the original out of sight mind at the arse-end of his Christmas album. The long answer is also no. The intermediary answer has yet to be confirmed but is believed to also be no.
As far as Christmas songs go, ‘Fuck Christmas’ probably occupies the same level of notoriety as Dog Soldiers does among werewolf films: everybody in the know knows the score, but nobody in the know is worth a fuck in the grand scheme of things. ‘Fuck Christmas’ wasn’t even deemed worthy of inclusion on Fear’s one work of note: 1982’s The Record. It ghosted in on reissues of the underrated hardcore band’s finest record.
As Christmas songs go, ‘Fuck Christmas’ has it all: a romantic, Dio-like proto-metal intro; rich Dickensian imagery; lots of them vibrato things on guitar; the “bad” F-word. More importantly, it flips the entire Christmas carol concept on its head. Frontman Lee Ving sings “don’t despair, just because it’s Christmas,” depicting The Most Wonderful Day of the Year, quite rightly, as the miserable, regret-filled season that is for many of us. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
And at just 45 seconds, it’s short enough that you can listen to 106 times in a row without getting bored. Hoo-ha!
I have a bone to pick with “Last Christmas” and no, it’s probably not the one George Michael is hoping for. I don’t really care that it’s overplayed and over-saturated. Five, now six times on today’s blog? Whatever. I don’t even mind George Michael’s breathy, exasperated delivery. I mean, it makes me a little uncomfortable, but I’ll get over it. Nope. My problem with “Last Christmas” is that it does not make sense.
Now I don’t know what George Michael went to school for, if he went at all, but I doubt he studied much math. The other guy in Wham? I don’t know who he is. I don’t care, either, because he’s also obviously not too strong with numbers. Let’s look at “Last Christmas” as if it were a math problem. A really simple one, too. Like, second grade simple.
So, George Michael has one heart.
George Michael gives his heart away to someone. Presumably the other guy in Wham.
Guy who now has George Michael’s heart gives it away the very next day, perhaps explaining why I haven’t heard anything from him since.
At this point, George Michael doesn’t have a heart. Insert joke here.
How, then, can he give it to someone special next year?
“Last Christmas” is an insult to mathematical logic and I will not stand for it.
PS: You can point out that medically it is impossible for one…
Not a lot of people know this, but there are an awful lot of deranged, fanatical people out there who have dedicated large parts of their lives to archiving all 150+ versions of Wham!’s festive classic ‘Last Christmas.’
Naturally, I’m one of them.
Until an unfortunate incident with a fried motherboard destroyed my collection, I had upwards of 50 versions of the song in my possession, from almost every genre imaginable. Granted, many of those imaginable genres are the sort of trashy pop nobody sane would ever want to imagine (although I will defend Whigfield’s version to the death), but there’s an awful lot of good stuff mixed in there.
Come to think of it, had I been more clever about this, I’d have scrapped the “12 Days of Christmas” idea and just gone with the “12 Days of Last Christmas.” Maybe next year. In the meantime, feel free to take in 5 of the best.
Horses play an important role in western cultural mythology – think everything from the cowboys to Black Beauty – and it’s no less pronounced in music. Horses are hugely symbolic creatures: strong, graceful and difficult to tame. In other words, the very qualities that most (male) musicians would like to see in themselves.
I’ve decided to limit the countdown to actual horse-related songs, which unfortunately means no euphemisms. That means no ‘Horse it Into Ya, Cynthia‘ and no Band of Horses. It also excludes every song ever written about heroin, which rules out 90% of rock songs written between 1968 and 1995.
When I was fourteen, Muse became my favorite band. Considering what I’d been listening to before I heard them, they were actually a fairly sophisticated choice. I was finally starting to move beyond the realm of bands like Good Charlotte, Senses Fail, and New Found Glory (which I had moved on to from Christian music). I had been taking piano lessons for about five years, and I had grown to hate the instrument, mostly because I hated my teacher. So I was impressed with a band like Muse, who could write songs in which the piano sounded like something wholly different from the object of my distaste. They were playing the kind of music that I had always wanted to learn in my lessons but never did. It wasn’t necessarily difficult to play (barring the solo in “Butterflies And Hurricanes,” which floored me when my fourteen year old ears heard it), but it was certainly memorable, and as someone who wanted to forget all about the piano, that impressed me to no end.
Looking back, I find myself much more ashamed of loving them as much as I did than I am of loving a band like Good Charlotte, because Muse are now the worst band ever.
When Muse first started getting a lot of attention, there were a lot of Radiohead comparisons, which sent die-hard Radiohead fans into a tizzy because of Muse’s supposed unworthiness of the honor. That’s true, of course – Radiohead are a far superior band…