Haters gonna hate.

(and a bad-ass gold tooth, though I think it’s classier/less flashy to get a molar in gold)

When I heard “Video Games” for the first time on the radio a while back, I was really impressed.  The music had a great new-old sound and she painted a picture.  Then I saw the video which was plenty iconic and fun.  Loved poor drunk Paz stumbling in her couture.

 

Then came the backlash.  While the DJ’s loved it at first, later they couldn’t play it on my local radio station without making snide comments or expressing ambivalence where once there had been nothing but love.  People trashed her music, her vocals, her looks, her street cred.  Now, I agree, her live performances on Later with Jool Holland and SNL were lackluster.  Nevertheless, as a performer myself, I know that even when one has talent, one also can get plenty of nerves no matter how long you’ve been at it.  On LwJH, you could hear the nervous quavering while she tried really hard to do lots of vocal tricks and doohickies to make up for the fact the song was so stripped down live.  Lots of artists “tart” up their songs for live performances.  I concede, it was a miss that night.   Her presence was of someone who hit the big time a bit before their stage persona and showtime “gameface” fully developed.  And yes, she made the mistake of enhancing with some injectables.  It was too much and probably looks better now that it has settled.  I almost made the same mistake but my aesthetics specialist sagely talked me out of it and assured me my super-thin upper lip looks more in balance with my face and that no matter what, I’d look trouted if I did otherwise.  We’re not all so lucky.  Remember Jess Simpson’s unfortunate lip augmentation?  That eventually settled too.

 

In addition to that, some have criticized her authenticity.  Come on, now.  There is virtually no successful recording artist out there who has not worked hard to craft an image and persona to make damned sure it’s as marketable as possible and will push music sales over the top.  Others have taken issue with her lyrics.  Yes, I agree, they’re not all amazing, but have you ever listened to some of the goofy shit that Bjork has done lyrically, vocally, and instrumentally?   And what about Anthony Kiedis?  Lots of people love RHCP but sometimes it just sounds like he’s singing “yabba dabba dibba dabba dibba dabba doo” over and over in some of his songs.  Even well-loved, seasoned artists have missteps.

 

If you listen to her album as a whole musically–including her vocals, there is something there.  There is a subversive, super-crafted, totally intentional charm that’s also present in her videos and I’m not the only one who felt it.  Love or hate it, Born to Die was strong enough to garner over 100K in album sales.  Face.

 

 

 

 

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Running into your celebrity idols.

I was recently working out at a gym location I’d never been to before.  After pounding away on the elliptical I climbed off to seek out the stretch area.  While scanning the room, my sights fell on a fellow two machines down from me: Richard Baluyut, founding member of one of my favorite bands, Versus.  There he was in all his indie-rock glory sweating away as I just had been.  I almost peed my pants with fan-geek glee.  I wished with all my might that he would stop by the stretch area after his sweat sesh, but alas, he did not.  I hope he stretched later because he will be sore if he didn’t!  Anyway, it got me thinking; how do you smoothly introduce yourself to someone you idolize to give them a compliment without being annoying to them or embarrassing to yourself?

It’s not as if Richard is such a mega rock star who gets tons of radio play that everyone would recognize him, but to me he’s a huge deal and I really enjoy and respect his music, and believe him to be a consummate stage performer.  How does one convey that sentiment without making a person uncomfortable?  Even in daily interactions with people we know, some are just not good at accepting complements.  I wouldn’t want to do anything that would make him feel like he couldn’t even enjoy a quiet workout in peace.  I know I get annoyed if there are people grunting on every rep or talking on their cell phones in the gym.  And I certainly wouldn’t like it if strangers came up to me or I thought there were people staring at me.

It reminded me of another celebrity spotting I had where I couldn’t get it together to say hello.  I was at a bar/restaurant around the corner from where comedian Ron White had just performed.  He stayed most of the evening across the room from me but I didn’t even turn around to fully look at him for fear of doing something dorky.

I guess the only thing I can do is to keep working out in that gym, hope I run into him in a normal and totally casual way without committing any social faux pas, and in the meantime, fantasize about us becoming bro’s and hanging out at each others’ respective pads and jamming out together.

The Shins: Port of Morrow.

Love love love the new Shins album.  I was a little concerned since it has been five years since their last studio album and as the line-up is an ever-revolving door, but the music stays true while continuing to evolve.  They played an amazing show which was much tighter and better-ended than when I saw them on tour for Wincing the Night Away.  At the previous show, they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a piss-poor encore performance where they flubbed a song, double-played one from earlier in their set, and did a lame-o cover.  Not so this time, friends.  Time has been spent honing their show into a nearly seamless spectacle; solid from start to finish with a well-executed finale.  But still, they did not play Turn on Me, nor did I hear A Comet Appears.  I suppose this is because the show hewed more toward a rocking sound than slow-jam.

Opening act Chairlift was pretty okay if you’re into retro eighties synthpop sounds.  I swear there was one sound their keyboardist got that was straight from a video game I used to play on Sega Genesis.  Have yet to place it.  In fact, their opening song was their weakest and sounded like a reject from the Space Harrier II soundtrack.  It did go up from there, but I still didn’t like them as much as I wanted to.  Their sound mix was excellent.

P.S. What is with all the nautical/aquatic references and themes, James Mercer?  Is it in reaction to relocating to land-locked New Mexico after being born in Hawaii?