fj: (phkl)
You know, I actually do have developed musical tastes in pop. And I have never watched a single episode of The Laguna Hills of County. But after reading about Heidi Montag's stupid, and stupidly successful, exploits of self-promotion on Dlisted, I kinda excitedly grab my headphones every time the editor posts another link to one of her songs.

Because they are such Awesomely Well Made Awesomely Bad Pop. The central part of a pop song, the voice, is so useless in Montag's case that every trick is pulled out to make it, well, we can't call it 'work', so let's call it 'lounge around successfully'. Doubling, tripling, pitch correction so blatant it goes into pure robo-voice territory, quadrupling that robo-voice as backing vocals again, rip-off Timbaland productions, and lyrics so awesomely bad the whole thing is trying to pass off being a dumb falling-over drunk ready to go get banged by some frat douche as a sexy almost-mystically sensual mature experience.

I listen to it on repaeat three times, my mouth hanging open some production team would try to sell something that is the music equivalent of an overproduced SNL skit about Britney for reals. Yet they do.

I'm in love. Someone please tell me Fashion is being remixed for a Homo Shirtless Streetfair Dance Party.
fj: (Default)
Decades of Gay Advancement to get us over Our Damage pays off: no adoring throngs of Homos for Amy Winehouse like for Judy, Edith, Maria C.

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7 Musics

Jun. 20th, 2008 05:48 pm
fj: (Default)
Wel, [livejournal.com profile] philhasablog tagged me, so here I go.
It's a Summer Song Meme

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your summer. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.
Not sure if I will reach seven, there isn't much that is constant right now. Not like when I was growing up glued to the radio and thus would hear the Summer Hit(tm) 27 times an hour, whatever that Summer Hit was in Europe that year. I suggest [livejournal.com profile] zurcherart for that.

But hey, let's go.
  1. "Touch My Body", by Mariah Carey. Look, I am not seeking it out, but it seems to be following me. From that YouTube moment where during a live performance she decided to direct her back-up vocals -- someone is gonna get fired -- or the remix used in some of [livejournal.com profile] djmattconsola's podcasts, to the time that I was waiting for [livejournal.com profile] iejw in a bar, and this guy who had caught my eye, and I his, stands next to me, looking around, singing it as it played on the music system. --"Well, if you insist..." I say. And he's "What's that?" And I say, well, you were singing Touch My Body, so if you insist... and he's all happy and we hug around and I find out he has been up over 48 hours now for this lay-over in London, but he's not on anything, oh no. Then [livejournal.com profile] iejw comes in and the guy is all smitten with Ian and he was amusing but we had this party to go to.

  2. The sound-set called 'Tokyo Train Station' in Admium. I have this meta-chat program running on this new laptop day and night, and the little chimes of people joining and leaving fill my day.

  3. When I am home, I am running a 4-day long playlist of my top rated songs in iTunes non-stopon random. As I have more history than present, it is of course heavily skewed towards 80s and 90s electro synth stuff, embarrassingly so. I need to get an Audioscrobbler plug-in to work on iTunes for Windows so you can all see my shame on my last.fm account. Here's the widget:


  4. The 'Hard Candy' album by Madonna. I dislike it for the favorable reviews it got compared to 'Confessions' or even 'Ray of Light'. Reviewers say this is more authentic or heartfelt, to me it sounds just as mechanical but with an AI set to "Nile Rodger's Early 80s". Now I kind of expect to hear it when I am in London going to a gay bar or to my Very Gay Gym, but one day I walked into the hardcore musclehead gym I belong to in Düsseldorf, and it was playing and I went what the hell?...

  5. That British Airways tune. Because of this.

    I've heard it 20 times or something by now in the last 8 weeks.


  6. The album 'Melanchólia' by Matia Bazaar, an Italian group. One song was a summer hit in the late 80s. Recently rediscovered it, and I keep playing it like I played it then. Synt cheeze, love it.

  7. The sound of rain when I fall asleep. Didn't get much of that in LA, do get it in London and Düsseldorf, as beautiful weather comes and goes. I haven't had enough of that soft pattering yet.

Tagging [livejournal.com profile] iejw, [livejournal.com profile] danger_chick, [livejournal.com profile] likethecandybar, [livejournal.com profile] dendren, [livejournal.com profile] krimon
fj: (smug)
[livejournal.com profile] fj: Also, I typed 'Maniac' into the iTMS, and am now going down the list of music samples of all the versions of that cheesy 80s song (which my 12 yo self loved). It os rather hypnotic, or I finally succumbed to drugs and don't know it
[livejournal.com profile] jpeace: oh jesus
[livejournal.com profile] jpeace: check for carbon monoxide poisoning
[livejournal.com profile] fj: my windows are open
[livejournal.com profile] jpeace: perhaps europe is low on oxygen
[livejournal.com profile] fj: Oh man, do you know how many Rip-Off / Karaoke / Club / Trance / Trip Hop versions there are of this crap?
[livejournal.com profile] jpeace: must be a cheap license
[livejournal.com profile] fj: I think I'll try "Danger Zone" next


PS: Oh good, Michael Sembello made a lounge version.
fj: (phkl)
Madonna simply can't do duets. Nor co-productions. A successful Madonna product is finely tuned to what she is and can do and what she brings, and thus the production values have to be unique. Put anything not in full service to Madonna in the mix and the product breaks down.
fj: (tech)
I am in the market again for some system to play the music on my omputer in my small flat. The standard "tiny cube + subwoofer" PC speakers is out, since I want better sound, and not just for the area around my desk, so I am looking into actual library-shelf HiFi systems. I still don't know what is simply going to sound good and what is going to be the set the HiFi Store Salesperson wants to get rid off when he sees this sucker walk into his store, so I am reading up what I can. So far I need to avoid Bose -- well, ok, I didn't want a subwoofer anyway -- Sony, and B&O acording to some bloody religious online battles. And which amplifier in these mini-systems actually will not make my MP3s sound any worse than they already are, who knows.

Thing is, none of the little systems have what I really want, which is the ability to play two inputs at the same time. I like playing my music or net radio, but not from the computer I am actually working on, since that impacts performance. I'd like to use the print server laptop for that. However, when I actually did hook up the computer to the stereo, being able to hear the chimes from chats and other processes even when I was not at my desk was really useful, and those sounds do come from my main computer.

I have been thinking about multiple-input audio a lot when looking at Bluetooth headsets. I want headsets that will partner with my laptop so I can listen to music and sounds and use Skype without wires, but also cut over when the actual mobile phone rings. I want them to play music on my phone at the same time as game sounds from my laptop, each at a level that I an set as comfortable.

Current users of technology multi-task, especially younger ones, using multiple devices. Yet all amplifying peripherals support sound coming from only one. This is not right. I think I will start with buying a little HiFi set to drive some loudspeakers, but also hunt for an extremely simple two-channel mixer, although so far the only ones I am finding are for DJs and those are not simple at all. As for multi-input mixing wireless headsets, anyone can run with it. I bet you can't do it with Bluetooth anyway unless the headset incorporates multiple separate receivers. Not to mention that BT stereo transmission still isn't really that good.

Portables

Jan. 22nd, 2008 08:58 pm
fj: (tech)
My bet is that when the music labels allow iTunes to drop DRM, the biggest losers will not be those studios. I doubt their wares will be pirated any more or less. No, the biggest loser will be Apple as suddenly all kinds of other players besides iPods will be usable for the contents of the store. I want to use my phone as my player, but can't yet.

In other brainstorms, Apple is saying the WiFi-enabled iPod Touch could be a whole new computer platform. Well, Nokia has had one for a while, pretty equivalent in many ways, but I think it has been positioned wrong. It shouldn't now be positioned as some kind of media player, no, that space is taken, and certainly the current branding as Your Mobile SSH Solution is, um, limiting. But it would be really useful and notable if it was an adjunct to the phone, a real one, with which I could SMS and MMS and email and browse the phone-book and adjust the settings of the phone it is paired with when in proximity. In fact, when it can see the phone it has been paired with over Bluetooth, the N pads should be the ones that ring when a message has been received, and some trials should be done how headsets and cameras should be distributed across the hardware for video calling or browsing while calling. This way I could have a tiny phone, comparable in size to the 6100 or even the 7380 that I could carry everywhere, even in the shank of my boot, when I am in a state where my outfit uh, has very few pockets, yet when I have jackets and cargo pants I can also carry a messaging and media device that is comfortable and has lots of storage, and these items work together and apart. I kept seeing this weekend people having to make trade-offs between having usable small phones and liking full thumb keyboards or large surfaces to get with their friends and have plenty of music to play. Usually they had committed to some kind of hardware that was ok in some situations, but making other situations difficult.
fj: (Hector The Protector)
And yet if she died tonight from whatever, and some cop told some twink coming out of The Abbey he couldn't take his cocktail out on the sidewalk, I don't see West Hollywood burning. Not counting out the NYC East Village teen thug lesbians, though.
fj: (Default)

I have written before about how the transition to digital technology is changing the notion and perception of 'static', whether new generations would recognize the references to static in pre-digital media, now that a transmission or playback error no longer takes the form of visual or audio 'noise' but pixelization or silence. Yet recently I saw a Verizon commercial where the daughter tried to get away from her curfew by having her friends imitate traditional static and her mother on the other end of the line pointing out that that was simply impossible on Verizon's network, after which the daughter switched to claiming the sounds were ambient noise.

I was thinking about this recently in the context of YouTube and the art form of the music video. It seems like a natural match, short video and a medium for showing short video, but it is actually a really bad fit in my opinion. Pop-music videos, like pop-music, rely on a lot of dynamic changes, like beats, to stay interesting, often punctuated by dramatic moments. In other words, something's gotta happen often, and have a big wow from time to time, or we get bored. Thing is, digital video is really bad at both, the encoding algorithms rely on there being very little difference between one image and the next to be able to pack video in what little bandwidth we actually have. Beats, visual or audio, going bam bam bam bam are about a full change between one image and the next. People moving over a static background means very little difference between one image and the next, so there is a lot of room for information to be pushed down the pipe. Have a the background moving as well, or changing color or brightness rapidly, and there is so much difference between one image and the next that the channel cannot keep up.

Somewhere in the early nineties, as music videos grew up from their infancy of just recording performances with camera tricks and their adolescence of trying to be a movie, the Brits started shooting videos with an insane amount of cuts and movement, foreground and background, to keep visual interest. I was recently thinking about the prime example of that style and wondering how it would survive on YouTube, and by coincidence it got posted on my flist today.


Bros -- "I Owe You Nothing"

Total YouTube failure. There isn't a single frame where there isn't pixelisation, where every face isn't some form of a blur -- and those boys were so airbrushed already -- and the backgrounds are just a mess. Look, this video isn't art and never was meant to be, but it was a prime example of its time, and it basically cannot be seen properly in this new medium. Contrast that with a video of which the director explicitly tried to make something that would work as well on a TV screen as YouTube. It had to be dynamic and exciting on the 60" screen, but not become a blur on the 2" one. It was done with very static backgrounds. Static camera shots. If there is movement, it is controlled. Close-ups are always still. The going in and out of focus on the face is so managed that the pixelisation works with it as a cute effect.


Rhianna -- "Umbrella"

Incidentally, I do not believe for a moment that was Rhianna herself dancing en pointe. I never got a full shot of her doing it. I am ready to be told wrong. I am also now wondering whether sets and editing rooms for video shoots will have rudimentary YouTube encoding equipment on hand to see directly how well a shot or cut will show up.

Not all of the early and mid-nineties videos are completely lost, of course, but often do not fare so well. Take the following one, one of my absolute favorite videos, which uses dance as its main visual hook. It stalls on my underpowered laptop from time to time, takes out fluidity or power in the movements, and chances are very visual dramatic moment at 3:52 simply gets dropped on the digital floor never to be seen because it uses one of the most awkward objects for digital video to try to encode: smoke, and lots of it. The result is an approximation of the performance: you kinda know what everyone intended, but you just can't really sink into it because your brain constantly has to fill in the blanks YouTube drops.


New Order -- "True Faith"

I can't wait for a better medium than YouTube for music videos. I consider it a bad fit. Music videos weren't made for YouTube, and YouTube obliterates them, makes them absolutely irritating. All the subtelty of lighting and motion becomes a stuttering mess. A medium that makes Mark Romanek's work look anything but sleek and crafted doesn't deserve it.


David Bowie -- "Jump They Say"

No, YouTube should be used for its own art and entertainment that was specifically made for it. Not to broadcast media that was made for a different form of transmission, but for people who start fresh, whose work does not rely on what YouTube is bad at, but use YouTube for what it is good at: the conversation YouTube is embedded in, to layer idea upon idea upon idea. Make it have its own stars, like [livejournal.com profile] timfogartyfeed recently showed me.


kevjumba & Happy Slip -- "Put It In Purse"

fj: (NL)
Laurie Anderson's "Oh Superman" was #1 on the pop charts in The Netherlands when it came out for what seemed like forever.





I hated the song because I couldn't hear the music in it. That changed as I grew up. I hadn't thought about it in a while, and heard it today again. The lyrics are kinda different now.

And it turns out there isn't always Mom.
fj: (tech)
I would have been more inclined to pay money for your service if you hadn't stopped streaming music in the last week of my trial. As in, song never loads. I could have dealt with your sucky, sucky interface, but I really do insist on actually having music to listen to, even if your catalog was a steaming pile of blah. (Bryan Ferry's section came up empty for example.)
fj: (bqw)
...why are you not aware of [livejournal.com profile] 13thofnever's latest entry?*


* Plz to ignore if actually already aware of entry.
fj: (Default)
First ten minutes of the MTV VMA are a complete trainwreck. Britney was on vicodin and did the worst job I have ever seen on stage; someone should have told her that when she was going on it wasn't a dress rehearsal. Sarah Silverman had no timing and no material. The multiple party format is reminding me of Club X from the Television Hell line-up.
fj: (Default)
In honor of the fact that you can't set a custom ringtone on the iPhone, I took an iTunes song I bought and edited it down to a small sound to use as an SMS alert. Been wanting to do this one for a while. It's been set in my phone and I like it.
fj: (Disney)
Going through my employer's online presence, I came across the theme-song for the movie "Meet The Robinsons", a CGI feature about a kid who time-travels to the future. I warn you, if you have fond memories of music hits of the early 80s, this will hurt. Bad.

fj: (Default)
Everything is better if you add 'With Yoko Ono.' at the end.

I am at the Michigan Women's Festival. With Yoko Ono.

I am in jail. With Yoko Ono.

I am stuck in an airplane on a tarmac for the last eight hours. With Yoko Ono.

I think I am going to start a gay hook-up MVNO. With Yoko Ono.

My cat keeps whining at 5 AM. With Yoko Ono.


Oh, ok, actual content then; while we are on the subject, an Oliver update. First of all, Twinkie still hates him. This is good. We couldn't do a proper phased separate rooms acclimatisation since we live in a loft, but I doubt it would have helped. Twinkie is the cat, after all, that consistently, every day, for ten years, picked a fight with the sweetest most docile cat I have ever known, who was twice her size and would always end up knocking her over in the end till she ran away screaming. Every day, the same way. In fact, the couple of months were Piruli was too sick to go for it, and after his death, she was not doing well. Now dear Scarlett O'Hara has somebody new to be pissed at, and I swear she is sleeker, more alert, and more gorgeous than ever. I think the white parts of her fur are even whiter. I am not kidding. She rules the house, owns everything, and makes great displays of being all over us.

Oliver, so so. He was all Mr. Dude when he walked in, but he misses cat contact. He wants to play with her. She growls and hisses at him to stay the fuck away. He's still Mr. Dude with us, and he seems happy most of the time. His coat is clean, his eyes are bright, and he is full of wonder. He'll even let our carpenter vacuum him. He loves the carpenter. He loves being up high and has perfected his ascent onto the HVAC ducts. However, he is not Mr. Dude enough to rule the house. It expresses itself that at night, when he is hungry, he whines until someone will sit with him to eat. At 1 AM, around 4.45AM, and 6.30AM. If no one comes, he will keep whining. When you sit with him and pet him while he eats, he constantly looks over his shoulder, like he is nervous at night. Of her. Putting a bowl of food high where he knows she can't reach doesn't help: he wants to eat from the big bowl she eats too. With company. Else he whines.

Basically, it is like having a nursing baby on my hands. The cat psychology people I read up on online say we have now created a habit he needs to be broken of. I have no idea how, he whines right through ear plugs. The one cat psychologist who was consulted through a friend says we are basically screwed. But she also seems to think that we did a horrible, horrible injustice to Twinkie by bringing another cat into her domain in her old age, so I kinda think the cat psychologis thinks we deserve it. I guess we should have mentioned that when alone, Twinkie whined at night for hours too, and seemed to be getting more neurotic by the day. Scarlett needs someone to dislike.

I am thinking of locking Oliver in the bathroom at 5.30 AM when he starts, with the litterbox and food and water. Couple of nights of that, maybe he will be ok. Yeah. With Yoko Ono.
fj: (talking)
"My Humps" won a grammy.

Mass suicide should ensue.
fj: (Default)
Wait wait wait... do cranberries even grow in Ireland? Was that group name ironic?
fj: (talking)
Beyonce getting another #1 with 'Irreplaceable" makes me want to write about how all her hit songs seem to confuse materialism with emotions. Love is an exchange of brand names, self-respect comes down to how much your own name is on which title. And they're such vapid brand names at that, I mean, Jaguar? I'd almost want to write how it may be a clever metaphor about the relationship constantly being in the shop.

But then I think I'd be boring myself.

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