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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cacophony of Fail vs Opera of Win:

Cacophony
[kuh-kof-uh-nee]  
–noun, plural -nies.
1. Harsh discordance of sound; dissonance: a cacophony of hoots, cackles, and wails.
2. S discordant and meaningless mixture of sounds: the cacophony produced by city traffic at midday.
3. Music . frequent use of discords of a harshness and relationship difficult to understand.

To premise my title, you now have an idea that I am speaking about a lot of sound that fails...in this case music.  

Opera
[op-er-uh, op-ruh]  
–noun
1. An extended dramatic composition, in which all parts are sung to instrumental accompaniment, that usually includes arias,choruses, and recitatives, and that sometimes includes ballet. Compare comic 
    opera, grand opera.
2. The form or branch of musical and dramatic art represented by such compositions.
3. The score or the words of such a composition.
4. A performance of one

Just in case there are those out there that need to break up the difference.  

I am no music critic, I do not follow certain genres nor get into the breakdown of such genres into their respective groups and subgroups, all deriving their individual cultures. 

I do love music, and I am pretty eclectic, almost an audiophile of sorts, in terms of how I will make sure I have the best setup for my listening enjoyment. You might, if you peruse, through my iPhone, iPad, laptop, or even my media center, find that I have anything from Andrea Boccelli to Led Zeppelin. I love Rap, but depending on the generation you belong to may not know some of the people I listen to. like Sheila E, Eddie E and Grand Master Flash. You would also easily find Run DMC, Rob Base, and Cool and the Gang, but if you don't know those two, you are missing out on cultural icons that defined their genre for my generation.  

I even listen to what other guys in my circle would call "girly music", like Pat Benatar, Janis Joplin, Melissa Ethridge, and Celine Dion. Hell I had a musical love affair in the 90's with Ace of Base. Whenever the blues hit me in High School, be it a fight with the girlfriend, or a break up. There were many. I would pop Ace of Base in, "Don't Turn Around" would play, I was home.

I had debates with friends when My Chemical Romance started pitching their music onto the airwaves, because I loved it and love their videos.  I thought it was very artistic, angsty, yes. But Artistic none-the-less. I was granted an Emo Brand. Emo...really? Me? I'm not Emo, so I thought, to myself. These guys are stupid, branding people for what they like. Like I need some type of personal pain or need to cut myself to enjoy someones apparent Emo music.  

In that case, most of us are Emo, since a huge majority, of anyone, that was a teenager or in their 20's during the 90's, like me, would of liked Nirvana. Cobain was so Emo, he killed himself. I find it annoying to be labeled for my likes or dislikes. Granted, it is the mark of the disenfranchised to create a label to assert some semblance of their individuality by associating with something other then the norm they were raised to be.

I find now that music has some champions regardless of their genre or what you may perceive to be artistic or beautiful. There are avatars, of such variety, for each.  It's when these, wondrous, people, we tune in to listen to, are featured in another music. Crossing over genres, to build on something different, or try to be new, that is when I cringe.

Back, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, there was a Rap group called Public Enemy and a Rock Group called Anthrax and they decided, why don't we do something no one has ever done before. We'll team up and make some music and combine our styles. Holy Shit...We just invented magic, sex in a cup, and all of that kind of thing.

Run DMC + AeroSmith - Walk This Way


Which gave rise to this diamond of music:

Anthrax + Public Enemy - Turn it Up


But then again, nothing has ever been better than Run DMC when it comes to rap. You have others that are amazing, but they are the top, as far as I am concerned.  I am old, what do you want.

After that, everyone tried to do the crossover. We see it all the time now and we don't think much of it. A lot of times you will have partial crossovers where one superstar singer or group helps an up and comer. Simply sharing a video or a stage. Boom! Up and comer explodes  Eventually doing the same thing for another rising star. It seems to be a popular model, almost a Pay it Forward set of planning.  

I love crossovers, there are many that do the original pioneers justice. But every so often you have, well, flops. You can have a totally garbage crossover. You can have a totally garbage main performance, where the crossover, or the featured person, steals the show. Or the reverse, a great song where your featured person just kills it.  

I see this a lot, where you have perhaps pop or rock and a rap artist featuring.  Then again, I don't always go out there for new music, I'm contented with a brisk list of music I tend to listen to often.  With the occasional, let me check out whats new, and absorb the music of any one person I really like.

Let's put a good example of a recent musical crossover.

Kevin Rudolf Ft. Lil Wayne When I arrive


Eventhough Lil Waynes lyrics are a little weird, the song is great and it works.

Lets look at a female variation crossover

Mariah Carey Ft Nicki Minaj - Up out my Face (Boy)


These are great and are entertaining, you don't think to yourself, some of the rap lyrics don't really make sense.  Which is a plus, even though some of it is off.

Here is an example, where the Artist is fantastic, but the Rap feature...not so much.

Katy Perry Ft Kanye West - E.T.



Now, when you listen to Katy Perry sing, you almost immediately get sucked into her lyrics and her beat. Especially if you are into this particular genre, you can't avoid liking it, even if you are not a Katy Perry fan. The lyrics make a lot of sense toward the goal of her song.  But, I know, there is the but, You listen to Kanye's Rap, and you have to stop and ponder, what the fuck, does any of it have to do with her song. It seemingly makes no sense.  Here is a set of lyrics 

Katy Perry

Your 
So
Hypnotizing
Could you be the Devil
Could you be an Angel
Your
Touch
Magnetizing
Physical Imploding
Leaves my body glowing

Kanye West

I know a bar out in mars
Where they drive spaceships instead of cars

I don't need to go further than those two lines.  The video itself is fantastic, beautiful, a spectacle.  I loved it right away, but I have other motivations. It reminded me of one of my favorite fantasy characters in Anime, Sharon Apple, from Macross Plus.  I thought the parallel was uncanny.  Almost potentially inspired by it.  To the point I sent out an email to her production label with a curious question of its inspiration.  I have a friend at Capital Records, figured he might know the answer.  Which most likely it's just similar, and he will ask me "Wha???".  But I'm curious and inquisitive and have found no information on it online.  

Either way, her music is great and the song itself is also great, but the Rap feature, kills it for me.  

Lets look at a different Rap feature for someone that would normally be hardcore as a rapper but is fantastic

Far East Movement Ft Snoop Dogg - If I was you (OMG)



Although, the more I think of this one, it's not much a crossover as it's a combination of similar genres. But it is a great song featuring Snoop, the rap lyrics, which can be, related more toward Hip Hop still makes total sense.  I also get a kick at how physical he is with the models ass.  Nice Job Snoop...So let me look at a different example.

Taio Cruz Ft Ludacris - Break your heart


It's a great song with great rhythm for the club scene, however, while most of Luda's lyrics relatively follow the concept of the song, some of it, is so cheesy.  Really guys, can we egress from the concept of "Clever" Rap, because "hey it rhymes."  

You also have the concept of "Talk" Rap where its not really singing or rapping so in those instances we don't need to rhyme we just spit out there whatever we like:

That's all I'm gonna do woman...listen
Now I'm only gonna break your heart
Shatter and Splatter it, into itty-bitty pieces
whether or not you get it all together
its finders keepers and losers weepers

Let me stop there...it's atrocious when you break it down like this.

Those lyrics are quite possibly the worst I have heard on what is actually a great song.  Well, when i say great, I don't mean the concept. I'm referring to the beat, the rhythm.  You can dance to it...derp.

This one was kind of weird as well and I love Gwen Stefani, never miss a concert.  But personally it seemed like a complete 180 of what she does.  Then again that is good, gives her a different audience to promote to.  

Gwen Stefani Ft Slim Thug - Luxurious


For the record, that dude is not slim...O_o

Then you have her team up with AKon and that was awesome.  More of what her hardcore fans love. but then again, she has hardcore fans across 4 genres...XD  She is not a category, she is just awesome.

Gwen Stefani Ft. Akon - The Sweet Escape



But of course, his role in the song was pretty much, that of a back up singer.  

How about the reverse.  Rap artist featuring someone outside of Rap.  Lets explore this a bit.  

Nicki Minaj Ft Rihanna - Fly



This is a gorgeous song and done well, although from the beginning it feels like its a Rihanna song featuring Nicki Minaj.  Who knows.  

Diddy Dirty Money ft Skylar Grey - Coming Home



Fantastic song.  Diddy knows how to do it.  I expect nothing less from a guy who got the approval of Led Zeppelin to play with him.  Although there are those that hate it, most likely, due to the Godzilla film itself. I love Godzilla, but I love them all, and that one was entertaining, it made relative sense, so I dug it.

I, at this moment, am going blank in regards to finding one where the rap stole the performance.  I am sure I will think of one when I hit my bed at some point next year.  For now, I did think of, a song I loved where the musicians were great but essentially the Rap aspect "out-showed" it, slightly.

David Guetta & Chris Willis Ft Fergie & LMFAO - Gettin' Over You


O.K., actually after watching LMFAO, whom are quite awesome, and stole the show, I remembered a great song of theirs, but it was stolen by none other than Lil Jon.

LMFAO Ft LIl Jon - Shot


While we can all mostly agree this is a great party song.  I sure there is footage of me and my crews blowing rooms up with this song.  I'm certain.  But, I think most will agree with me, if there is no Lil Jon, this song would not be what it is.  

However, both of those above do not really fit the proper bill for what I was looking for, I was trying to research songs that were train wrecks yet the Rap feature gave it some credit.  

I hope the industry out there truly considers what they are shoveling, and understands you cant slap two awesome artists together and expect to get amazing music.  Most of us, I believe, are downloading music and that in itself should be a statement.  That we will get it to listen to it, but we won't buy it. 

I had hoped after 10+ years of the digital download age that the industry would pay attention.  Most people will buy what they like  If they don't like it, but it's tolerable, well you didnt pay for it.  There are tons of ways the Industry can measure what you like and what you don't.  

I like a little bit of everything, but it has to blow me away, for me to love it.  I don't care if it's Pavarotti singing Rap with Khia...if the song is good, awesome!  Speaking of which, the concepts I have been talking about, a lot of times are fixed by, none other than, mash up artists.  Girl Talk and Super Mash Bros have turned music that some of us otherwise would not care for and make it into instant hits. Personally, Khia.  I hate her music, but Super Mash Bros has a great track with Khia included in it

Super Mash Bros - Stop that Booty (Here we Come)


Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to get a lot of these performers to come to a concert and perform with these mash up artists.  I think it would be quite epic.  

I hope you all are listening to music, or watching something that puts a smile on your face, something that gets your head grooving.   Raise your voices, the industry has to bend to our will, not the other way around.  Remember that.

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