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Musings

Channing Freeman’s existential review of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way has received much attention on the Twitter Machine and elsewhere, however we’ve never before received criticism so thoughtful and so immaculately-presented as what follows. Mr./Mrs. Freeman will be licking his/her wounds after this one.

And, yes, those are pictures of the inimitable Gagster.

Victory Records, I am disappoint…

23.24: p.s. if at any point I came across as a less gay or less Irish alternative to Graham Norton, that wasn’t my intention. I apologise.

23.22: Has all this been worth it? Has it fuck. Next year I’m going and getting stoned. Goodnight!

23.21: And Azerbaijan win by a mile. Decent song to be honest.

23.14: As suspected, 12 from Ireland to the singers who looked the most like Jedward.

23.13: 6 for the UK from Ireland. Take that!

23.12: Oh fuck off Mooney.

23.08: Despite a spirited bolt from Italy, Azerbaijan are walking it.

23.03: Fucked over by the French again. The hand of Henry was at work in this.

22.59: Fuck this.

22.56: No points exchanged between Turkey and Greece. Grudge.

22.50: Got my lipstick on, here I come, da da da…

22.47: Sweden!

22.46: Haha they gave 12 to Lithuania. It’s a badly-kept secret that Polish people listen to shit music, usually out of their cars.

22.45: Only one from Poland. We give you jobs and this is the thanks we get? OVER.

22.44: Yes Denmark, YES!

22.43: I’ve always loved the UK.

22.42: Seriously UK… if you don’t give Jedward 12 we are OVER.

22.41: Sweden? Really?

22.37: Seems the eastern European states aren’t huge Jedward fans. We should never have let them join.

22.25: Why is Stefan Raab… I mean just why is he even?

22.24: I think the lines are still open. I don’t know. You might still have time to vote…

Those who knew of Lady GaGa before she got big with The Fame were certainly witness to a musician and songwriter with much potential. Sure her debut single Just Dance may have benefitted from the guest appearance of Akon, but by the time the single Poker Face was released, there were no doubts that Lady GaGa was going to become one of the biggest names in the pop world. One hit wonder she definitely is not.

The Fame Monster was a rather fitting sequel. Not surprising given that it was originally planned as additional content on a re-release of The Fame. Yet despite two very solid releases, the barometer is signalling some rough weather ahead with the release of the forthcoming album Born This Way.

So the big question to ask is why the worry? Yes the face and body attachments she has been wearing lately are weird, but GaGa has never really been one to build her fame on looking attractive, and this isn’t exactly the first video we have seen in which her appearance has been rather bizarre.  Yes you would actually have to be one of her most loyal monsters to actually like the music video for Born This Way. Perhaps from a creative standpoint it is great that she has abandoned the generic approach of many other pop music videos. But from a commercial standpoint, it is hard to imagine it attracting more fans than it scares away. Even using a…

“It’s not like I ran for President and I said something really bad…”

Note: At some point in the last month or so, we may have given the impression that Rebecca Black hasn’t deserved all of the abuse and death threats that have been levelled at her. In light of this interview, we can see that some of the criticism was coming from the right place.

Note 2: She’s only 13. Give her a break. But fuck those are some dumb ass answers.

It’s been about a month since Rebecca Black’s wonderfully inane ode to the JFK assassination, Friday, hit Youtube and became immediately immortalized as one of the greatest memes of all time. Naturally, it’s spawned countless parodies, some genuinely funny, others interesting novelties. But on this Friday, I wanted to share with you the best of them all: the Hell Version. This incredibly well edited cut of Black’s video, which is kind of like if Aphex Twin’s “Come to Daddy” was directed by Marilyn Manson on the worst day of his life, is genuinely terrifying. Bet you never thought you’d hear Aphex Twin, Marilyn Manson, and Rebecca Black mentioned in the same sentence, did you? Check out the video below:

Scary, no?

“I think Kid A is a bit weird…”

Running the business end of a website online, you tend to be confronted with the odd dubious proposition, always conducted by email. We’re all familiar with the most venerable exiled Princes of Nigeria, but fewer will be familiar with the Twitter follower scam.

The Twitter follower scam is probably best explained here (in fact, keep a tab of this page open because it crops up later), but in essence it’s a “service” offered by certain professional internet people, whereby they will access your Twitter account and, over the course of a week, begin to follow a large number of automated accounts that will follow you back, thus boosting your headline “follow” figure – until, that is, they all begin to unfollow you within a few days.

Anybody with a Twitter account will be aware of just how ubiquitous these bots are… now imagine you’re following them.

Usually I ignore these offers, as well as the numerous pittance-paying ad companies that contact us daily, but today was particularly humid and I had nothing better to do. I got an email from Glyn Berrington of UK mail order company Sturnam Clothing, offering me the opportunity to gain 500 new Twitter followers in just one week for the low, low price of $40, or £25. I just couldn’t resist.

(Apologies for the low text visibility – think of it as an artistic commentary on the shoddiness of the scheme.)

Intrigued by the possibility of connecting so many lines of generic…

I struggled for awhile with the second part to this little discourse. The struggle was that, to be in full disclosure, I had no idea really where I was going with the argument. I simply knew that my first part was not enough and as a failsafe I put that “Part 1” at the end of the title. I had a rough idea at what I was trying to get at, but in terms of putting something together—well I was at a loss. So I’ve decided to structure this second part in a very Hegelian manner. Hegel’s method of discourse, for those of you who do not know it, is essentially to have a thesis, then an antithesis, and finally a synthesis. For, the first part of this blog post laid out my essential problem: where have all the big ideas gone? My suggestion, if it may not have been clear, was that the increasingly factional categorization—I believe nitpicking was the word I used—of genre labels by communities of music lovers such as ourselves here at Sputnik, is symptomatic of the endangerment of these big ideas. A ‘big idea’, as I see it, is an attempt to illustrate something specific in a way that transcends experience and connects to the mind of the audience. This is not to say platitudes or other generalizations, in fact that’s the opposite of what I mean. No, a big idea is one that makes you think beyond the way you normally do.

I believe…

Meet Alexandra Wallace. Anybody who’s attended a reasonably high-profile university (or maybe even a crappy one) knows Alexandra’s type: pretty, rich and pig ignorant of the world beyond her gated lifestyle.

Earlier this month, the UCLA student and part-time swimsuit model posted a video on Youtube complaining about Asians at college. About how they have their families come over at the weekend to cook their meals for the week (not everyone can afford to eat out all the time) and disturb all her epiphanies at the library with their “ching chong ling long” phone conversations.

Oh and, seriously, you should go outside if you’re scared your relatives might have died in the tsunami because, honestly, some of us are trying to have an epiphany here.

Alexandra’s probably not a racist. As outlined above, she’s of a fairly common variety of over-privileged, entitled moron that congregates at almost every institution of higher learning because money > intelligence. Unfortunately for her, her stupidity earned her death threats from the usual throngs of anti-social idiots on the internet and she’s had to leave the school. Nobody should celebrate that.

What we should celebrate, however, is this rather delightful bitch-slap delivered courtesy of LA musician Jimmy Wong. The set-up is perfect, and the music is an oddly satisfying mix of Lonely Island-style perv-R&B parody and, er, Jason Mraz. The chorus is infectious and, barring some vocal blips, it’s really nicely recorded. Boyce Avenue got a record deal for a…

In the hours following my blog post on Black Robot vs. Bl_ck R_b_ts, I received an email from the former’s PR person, Jenn. She’s given me permission to publish our correspondence verbatim.

Hi Dave,

As someone who works for the band in the US, I just wanted to clarify a few things that your story missed:

First, the Irish band came to our attention after someone posted about them on Black Robot’s Facebook page.  They appeared to be getting ready to release a new CD and it’s pretty impossible for two bands to share a name (as you can imagine).  We initially tried to deal with the Irish band privately.  From the start,  they were mocking the US band and making a joke of it.  They also published all private messages.  We realized we would get no cooperation and had no other choice but to let FB and Myspace review and handle it.  This was a decision of management, first and foremost.

Second, you refer to “cyber bullying” in your article, when in fact, it was NOT on our part.  We have had to ban no less than 25 people including band members (all from Waterford or nearby) for coming to Black Robot’s page and posting negative comments including insults to their music, age, appearance, etc.  No band member, friend or fan of Black Robot (US band) went to the Irish band’s pages and retaliated that we were ever aware of,

I miss big ideas. I lament their loss, in fact. I miss the sweeping gestures once made that attempted to understand oneself, a body of people, humanity as a whole, the very world entire. I was not around for these grand ideas (or, at least not in the intellectual capacity I possess now), yet I feel moved to write in elegiac prose as if I mourn the loss of something very dear. Before falling into a vast pit of hyperbole, I will make clear exactly what I mean by a ‘big idea’ through examples. Hegel’s dialectic is a big idea; Marx’s proletariat is a big idea; Freud’s archive is a big idea; Spivak’s postcolonial readings of Victorian texts are a big idea; these are attempts to explain the metanarrative of the human condition, the human struggle, the way in which the human acts and thinks and why. I do not necessarily lament the passing of the ideas themselves—any good close reading of these ideas reveals there many contradictions and faults—but rather I miss the attempt implied by these ideas. It seems to me that in our great postmodern idiom we have narrowed ourselves into a tautological spiral of refining and redefining and infinitely categorizing these ideas into sub-ideas and sub-sub-ideas. It is a phenomenon that is plaguing the music community as well, and this is what I lament the most.

I am not, nor am I attempting to, bringing anything new to the discussion at this point. Anyone who…

“Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry.”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry who?”
“Jonathan Brightman from Buckcherry and I’m suing you.”
“No, seriously, who the fuck are you?”

I wasn’t there for the first email exchange between Jonathan Brightman – ex- of sentimental LA hard rockers Buckcherry and, since 2008, of sentimental LA hard rockers Black Robot – and Waterford’s finest punk rock duo, since 2006, Black Robots. But if I had been there, I imagine that’s someway along the lines of how it would have gone.

As a matter of fact, I jest. I wasn’t there, but thanks the wonders of leaked email correspondence, I do have an exact transcript of how it went down – and it wasn’t all that different to the hilarious children’s joke outlined above.

A few short weeks ago, Irish two-piece Black Robots were contacted by Brightman’s Black Robot – their web manager, to be precise – to inform them that their names were too similar and that his trademark was being infringed. They were told in no uncertain terms that they had been reported to Facebook, MySpace, etc. and that they would be well-advised to begin the process of changing their name before their pages were deleted.

A subsequent email by Brightman referred to this as “courteous gesture.” This seemed odd to me because I, too, in my time as Sputnik editor, have received similarly courteous gestures that have left with…

John Legend posted a cover of Adele’s hit song “Rolling in the Deep” for instant download to his Soundcloud page on Wednesday evening. The cover is entirely a capella, and continues to rise Legend’s stock in my book. The harmonies are smoky and perfectly minimal, setting the perfect tone for Legend’s famously soulful pipes to belt the song’s memorable melody.

Mike Posner also has a cover floating around, but no one cares.

John Legend – Rolling in the Deep (Adele Cover) by johnlegend

EPs | 50-31 | 30-11 | 10-1

10. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

[Myspace] // [Review]

The Suburbs suffers the same fate as its predecessor Neon Bible, and that is basically that it isn’t Funeral. But outside of its failure to live up to the unreasonably lofty expectations of the band’s debut, this is yet another triumph for Arcade Fire, a band that has basically stamped its name as one of the most important musical acts of our generation. The Suburbs fuse the band’s trademark grandiose nature with a sound that is geared more towards straight-up rock than it is indie, but the results of this album rest more within minor details than they do in Arcade Fire’s overall sound (which most of us have already become aware of and accustomed to). The subtle backing vocals of Régine Chassagne, the alternation in phrasing structures, the increased presence of synthesizers, and the surprisingly large role that the basslines play in establishing a groove all make The Suburbs an album worthy of high acclaim in its own right. 

The Suburbs serves as something of a bridge between Neon Bible and Funeral. It shows momentary flashes of what made Funeral such a landmark album, but also maintains a great deal of the sleek, sometimes even Bruce Springsteen-like moments on Neon Bible. But if there is one…

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