It's unclear what, exactly is going on here, but whatever it is it's spectacular. My favourite parts are as follows:
1. The way he strolls along (note the exaggerated arm movements on the wide angled shots).
2. That he looks confused through a good deal of the song. It appears that they asked him to lip sync without ever hearing the entire song.
3. There are no discernible words in any language in the entire song.
4. The part where he goes super high, like those old Kia? commercials (1:26). What really solidifies the high pitch notes is the spin and point that goes along with it.
5. And when they go low and he looks directly, meaningfully, into the camera.
6. The laughing at 1:53. I'm not sure there's ever been laughing like that in a song. For about 5 seconds straight, with the music.
7. The decor. Really nice job matching the wall cover with his tie.
8. When he gives up trying to lip-sync at 2:14.
If you'd seen this before and didn't pass it along... shame on you...
Friday, March 5, 2010
Sometime last year I wrote some thoughts about K'naan's album Troubador, and I was pretty luke warm on the whole thing. My issues with the album were that it was over produced, had no heart, and I pointed to "If Rap Gets Jealous" ft. Kirk Hammett of Metallica as a prime example of why that was the case. Part of my distaste may come from the fact that the album included a guy from Metallica (douches!) who I'm picturing doing some kind of (douchey) underbite while he plays the guitar, but it also runs contrary to the "my music doesn't need no touch ups" line at the beginning of the song (at least the Dusty Foot version). Yes, I do get the irony of me complaining about a song where the message of the song is 'I don't care if you don't get what I'm trying to do here'. But, to be fair, the message is more about the rap/rock genre than it is about artistic integrity.
That was the crux of my beef with Troubador -- the unnecessary guest appearances by the Metallica, the Maroon 5 guy, Damien Marley, etc., etc., and the whole aesthetic of 'we need a bunch of guests so that we can reach a wider demographic'. More than anything, I would say that it was disappointing that music that has the potential to be so meaningful gets glossed over so that it becomes "more appealing". I had basically written off K'naan as a pawn of whatever record label snatched him up, until the other morning...
... when I watched NPR's 'Tiny Desk Concert' ft. K'naan and friends where he performed "Take A Minute", "Fatima", and "Waving Flag"... which brought me back to all the reasons I thought The Dusty Foot Philosopher was so interesting/moving and really, really, catchy at points. His story and his story telling are so compelling that it seems like all he needs to do is make sure the production on his albums doesn't ruin it. Of course, with a live performance in the NPR office it's pretty easy to avoid over producing, but it'll be interesting to see how K'naan moves forward. Now that he's "cashed in" -- it'd be very interesting to find out whether he's actually made any money, though with "Waving Flag" being the 2010 World Cup song I suspect he's making some serious coin from that -- what route he goes (hip hop or hip pop?). Is this worth even talking about at all, because maybe with his new found financial security he doesn't have anything interesting left to say anyways. I hope not, because when K'naan's production team gets out of his way I feel like his one of the most interesting, charismatic artists of any genre around...
Monday, March 1, 2010
So, yeah, it's been a while.
An explanation/excuse: I've been putting together PhD applications (actually, only one, but still) and it's not that I didn't have time, but more that my mind has been elsewhere. I'm hoping to get back to blogging a little, though I expect I'll be doing less and writing more about a variety of different topics rather than just sticking to music. We'll see how it goes though.
I guess the other thing is that I haven't really been keeping track of what's going on in music...
Beach House's first two albums s/t  and Devotion  really didn't do anything for me. Teen Dream, the third release by Beach House, really couldn't have come along at a better time for me, personally. The album evokes some of the nostalgia of those John Hughes movies like Ferris Bueller, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, or even Risky Business (not a John Hughes movie, I know, but it feels like it should be) where you just know that things are going to work out. That no matter how far behind the proverbial 8-ball the protagonist(s) get, everyone is going to be happy and learn the lessons that they need to learn.
Teen Dream is just about the perfect title for the album. In conjunction with the whole John Hughes thing, the album just sort of washes over you, one song blending into another (and you may, in fact, not remember listening to the whole album). Nothing on the album really stands out, which is not to say there aren't outstanding moments, because there are on just about every song, but the way the album flows bringing you up so gently and down so slowly you never really notice. I'm imagining this is the way heroin feels. Probably not.
But even if it isn't as good as heroin, it is a terrific album, and something I've listened to more from start to finish then I have just about anything else in the past year. Teen Dream never really deviates from that washed over ambient psychedelic sound, and they have enough material that it works, but not so much that you get sick of it. And then there's the closing track, "Take Care" that is like the Notebook level romantic. Even if you're not a huge music dork, there's a pretty good chance you're going to like this album.