Media Studies 330W–Philip Louie-Fall 2010

a qwriting.qc.cuny.edu blog

Points of Interest (extra blog post #2)

This week’s readings were fun to read.

Personally the McLeod reading on mashups was interesting to read.

Honestly, I didn’t knew much about the term mashup until like 2 years ago when I downloaded a free mashup song. see the link below

Mashups are fun (and quite ridiculously catchy) to listen to if you know most (if not, all) of the songs that are being used to make a totally whole new sounding song.  For example: United State of Pop (2009) is a collection of songs sung by pop artists last year and was mashed up by DJ Earworm and is posted on his site:  Click here to listen or download it for free:   http://djearworm.com/united-state-of-pop-2009-blame-it-on-the-pop.htm

I like how he still support the fact that you should still buy the artists’ songs/album that he used to make the mashups.  (see the disclaimer at the bottom of DJ Earworm’s site)  So he’s technically not stealing the real song’s credit, just praising it.

I agree with McLeod in that the mashup is deconstructed.  The songs used lose their meaning to form a new, almost pointless song.

I wonder  if there are other genre mashups that are popular.  I would be pleased to see non-pop songs being mashed up.  But I guess most songs that are mashed up have to be pop.  Correct me if I’m wrong, by posting a comment about a mashup that isn’t pop.

In terms of the Bull reading on iPod interpersonal culture, I felt I related to some of the responses.  I agree with the comment made by Marianne in the text where she states:

“I’ll switch it off. The iPod is my personal entertainment but I don’t want it to interfere in the way I interact with other people.  So if someone speaks to me I don’t mind switching it off.  I consider it impolite not to.”

I know I’m thoroughly a considerate person, so I felt the connection she felt too.  I don’t want to be rude and listen to my iPod and ignore someone if I’m in a public setting or speaking to someone in a public place.

There comes a time where you need to block your mind off of the public (i.e. Subways, buses, or any other form of mass transit), but I feel that you can just do the same if you read a newspaper or stare off into space while on a long commute.  I may seem old-fashioned but I prefer to listen to music in my room or living room than having to isolate myself into a bubble in a public setting.  Yes, there are perks to listening to your favorite music in public (personal space, comfort, one’s own personal public zone), but you can do other things, like read assignments, plan out your day in your head, or making mental notes on what you’re going to do after classes are over, etc.  I think another reason why I don’t listen to my iPod in public settings is because of the safety issues that comes with it (lose focus, someone could rob you, threats, and isolation from important announcements on the train or bus)

From the Locke reading, I liked the comparisons of the test subjects’ music library.  I liked how they broke it down to what song was purchased or downloaded.  What I though odd was that the college student who owned 3,000 song didn’t have any iTunes purchased songs.  I find that hard to believe.

Personally, most of my music library is ripped from CD’s.  Then the rest is from companies offering free limited time only promotional songs (like car companies), iTunes purchases (some), or free song code cards via Starbucks which I get from my cousin who buys a drink there often and gets these cards, but I digress.

Lastly on a different point, I was too young to have downloaded anything illegally via the early incarnation of Napster or Kazaa, so I can’t say that I have practiced file sharing or actively participated in file sharing sites.

Not to make you admit any wrongdoing, but who here experienced with Napster of the late 90s, early 2000s?

Update

Wow, end of the semester coming up, one more class left.

I just want to update my previous post in regards to what my presentation is going to be about.  For my presentation next week I will be discussing the digital revolution covering aspects like file sharing and Napster (late 90s -2000s).

Points of Interest: Collins Essay (extra blog post)

Collins talks about how the music industry and the video game industry is mixing together.

Personally a video game without music isn’t really an entertaining game.  The article was interesting because she talks about video games which is another of my favorite hobbies to do on my down time or during the breaks between semesters.

After reading this, I realized that almost every video game now is trying to incorporate real artists into the game.  With the rise of games like Guitar Hero, and Rock Band, each series made many iterations of artists themed games including The Beatles or artist-inclusive games which is what Guitar Hero has.  With so many well known artists out there, plugging their songs into video games is a cool way to boost your rep, popularity, and record sales.  I find this to be a potent force to reckoned with.  What do you guys think?  Do you find yourself loving a game more if your favorite artist is featured in it?  Or are you offended or frustrated for the fact that they even tap into this industry?

You would think the game itself is the main reason gamers buy a game but to Collins, she says the soundtrack is the most important marketing tactic to sell the game.

When I read that items in the game were being labeled by a band (Nine Inch Nails), that was kind of unique and funny at the same time.  I’ve never seen real life artists being programmed into the game’s storyline.  That must be humbling to see your name or artist band’s name enshrined forever in a video game.

Musicians also find their way into “driving games” which are mainly dance tracks.  I wonder why that is the case, having dance music in driving games.  You would think it be rock music, or indie pop rock playing in games that require chase scenes for example the game called Driver.

I wonder what current or new artists will take the stand in the video game industry and turn a new game into a whole entirely branded artist game.  This would be very innovative and an all-new experience to play instead of hearing dribs and drabs of promotion in various sectors of the game.  But it all depends on the licensing agreements too, so who knows?  The future of the music and video game industries look bright!

Revised Musical Analysis Assignment

Musical Analysis

Song: Violet Hill by Coldplay

Violet Hill (single) Artwork

Click here to listen to the song: Violet Hill (audio)

Coldplay is one of the leading alternative bands in the music industry.  Winners of 7 Grammys and having 20 Grammy nominations, the band is widely accepted amongst music lovers including myself.  They managed to have success with all their albums thus far.  For my analysis I would like to discuss the song, Violet Hill.

This was the first song off their fourth studio album, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends which was released by EMI Records in UK in conjunction with Capitol Records in the US.  It was the first single off this album and it is worthy for analyzing.  This was meant to be a protest song according to lead singer Chris Martin.  It was the band’s first attempt at recording a protest song.  The song title, Violet Hill is an actual street which joins with Abbey Road.  Many should be aware that the title was a nod to the Beatles (one of their musical heroes), as that road was known to be associated with them.  What they are protesting can be left for interpretation and elaboration.  Coldplay’s music raised many questions as to what genre they belong to.  Some would say pop-rock, and some would say alternative rock.  For the purpose of this argument its best to consider the band as alternative.  (NOTE: iTunes classifies them as alternative.)

Violet Hill has a mellow and peaceful start.  It gives the listener a moment to reflect on anything he or she wants.  A soothing synthesizer begins playing.  There are no lyrics until around the 35th second.  The piano eventually begins to play a rather serious melody indicating the beginning of the Chris’ introduction of the lyrics:

It was a long and dark December

From the rooftops I remember

There was snow, white snow


The song introduces the setting as a cold dark day in December where snow covered the person’s house.  It sounds likea first-person narration to the listener or to somebody he loves (e.g. A story; reminiscing about this day).  It makes me feel solemn, the song itself makes me feel calm but a serious kind of calm.  It’s a kind of alerted peacefulness experience so far.
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The piano melody continues as it gets pushed to the background once the guitars begin playing (0:47).

Clearly I remember

From the windows they were watching

While we froze down below

At 0:47, the (electric) guitar joins the scene as Jonny Buckland (lead guitarist) starts his role in the song.  This could be the introductory door to the song, and it’s now opening and unraveling as the song continues.  The lyrics here indicate that this was no dream.  The people froze (psychologically) when they experienced this cold dark December day.  This is an analogy for what comes next in the lyrics.

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By the 49th second, the track starts to get denser filled up with the entire band playing:

When the future’s architectured

By a carnival of idiots on show

You’d better lie low

If you love me, won’t you let me know?


Chris sings that question in a falsetto manner.  It’s like a cry out, a pleading to the world what the song is going to be about.  In lyrical terms, this is the part where Chris begins to recite one of the crucial messages and the analogies the lyrics depicts.  The future being architectured indicates that with the current state of world we live in, our future is being built up.  Normally, it’s the unknown, and when someone tries to play and ‘design’ the future, that’s a bad thing.  Why would we want to be living in a future that was already predetermined?  The carnival of idiots is a reference to the people the band criticizes who built that future, and Chris is warning the rest of the world to shield themselves.  This is indicated in the instructions, you better lie low.  The main question of the song, if you love me, won’t you let me know, is an ode to those ‘idiots’ if they ever come to their senses and stop with what they’re doing, then kindly tell us.

At 1:20 until 1:25 before dissolving back into a regular drumming beat, the drums played by Will Champion are banging throughout nine times:

Was a long and dark December

When the banks became cathedrals

And a fox became God

Priests clutched onto Bibles

Hollowed out to fit their rifles

And a cross held aloft

Bury me in armour

When I’m dead and hit the ground

My nerves are poles that unfroze

And if you love me, won’t you let me know?

The falsetto repeats again and only for the question.  Chris really wanted to express his vocals that way to get the message out there.  He did it in such a high-pitched way so as to get all who listens, the pleading message.  This would repeat once more later on.  Meanwhile, the beating of the drums could represent something exploding left and right.  Something controversial (Going into combat for unnecessary reasons) is being told as the drumming beats were placed right after the all important lyric “If you love me, won’t you let me know”.  You can hear the cymbals too, as cymbal beating usually indicates a military, or marching song according to Drum Solo Artists’ webpage on drum anatomy.  This agrees with the song since the military is involved in the notions expressed in the song.  By the 1:51 mark, the guitar changes chords as you can hear the distinct sounds compared with the beginning of the song throughout this segment of the lyrics.  This is a break from the normal guitar melody and lasts until the 2:02 mark.

In terms of lyrics, the line, was a long and dark December repeats again to reiterate that the person from the beginning is still reciting his story.  There are changes going on the world, mostly with negative effects, as indicated by banks becoming cathedrals, and a fox becoming God.  Foxes are known to be sly and devious.  So this is comparing the ‘idiots’ to the fox.  They think they are God now, and could do anything to us citizens.  The part about priests having Bibles that are hollowed out for a rifle to be placed instead is a tricky picture to paint.  It probably meant that even the priests can’t control the situation, that they too are subjected to the ‘idiots’ (fox’s demands).  The rest goes back to the personal point of view where the idiot’s deeds are going to get the person killed.  So it’s best to die with the armor they put you in, to signify what pride you have left.  This is a very tense part of the lyrics, as that question is reiterated once more.  It’s signifying to the ‘idiots’ again, anytime you change your mind, please tell me because you know that you love me.  Stop playing games, or the tortures will continue.

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The percussion (drums) would start to be in the spotlight by 2:08.  This is to show the emotions of the message as drummer Will Champion pounds the drums to be clear to the listener.  This lasts until 2:13.  By 2:14, it becomes layered again, with Jonny playing a spotlighting guitar solo riff and the background drums continue.  There are no lyrics from 2:08 and 2:39, as its all instrumental at this segment of the song.  This could well be the intermission of the song, where the exciting conclusion will arrive soon.  No actual words are heard here, except for the expression Chris says at 2:36 (“Woohoo”).  He probably did that to keep the energy going and to keep the listener engaged before the final part of the song is played.  Otherwise, this section of the song was inventive, appealing, and fun to listen to.  It sets up for the remaining seconds of the song.  It’s the bridge to a conclusion, to get the listener to the final part.

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By 2:40, the lyrics continue as the guitarist, Jonny Buckland plays a different chord.  This correlates to the lyrics Chris was singing (“I don’t want be a soldier…” up to 2:50 where it goes back to the main melody)

I don’t want to be a soldier

Who the captain of some sinking ship

Would stow, far below

So if you love me, why d’you let me go?

The lyrics at this point interpret to the listener to not go into war because the end result is tragic like a sinking ship going down below.  The question if you love me, why d’you let me go, is a slight variation off of the earlier one.  However this question is addressing the ‘idiots’ who sent the soldier to war, if they truly love their country, why send out the soldiers out to a cruel punishment which can lead to early death.  It’s like they set your fate and it’s not fair because it’s like killing your own people.    It’s unnecessary for war to happen.  So the question is pleading for mercy. This is truly to the point where the soldier is pleading for reasons why the ‘idiots’ did this.  The final question is heard in a falsetto way for the last time and it ultimately made me feel that this song reached a point of climax.  It is evident with the the delivery of Chris’ voice at this last line of this segment of the song.  It illustrated a soldier with his or her last gasp of air, to the point where he or she is on his or her knees with the final pleading.  The falsetto was only done for the questions in this song in order to break away from the normal delivery of the song which was to convey its complex lyrical meaning.  The questions up to this penultimate segment was all in falsetto.  It stood ground on its own and ultimately should impact any listener who listens critically.

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By 2:57, the instrumentals appear in the spotlight once more which would last until 3:03.  By 3:04, Chris sings the final lyrics while the piano becomes the only instrument being heard.  This settles down the song as it first introduced it; all calm and collected.  That last piano note can be heard until about two seconds before the song ends.

I took my love down to violet hill

There we sat in snow

All that time she was silent still

Said if you love me, won’t you let me know?

If you love me, won’t you let me know? (x2)

Lyrically, the song wraps up by telling of this person who took his love (wife) where they sit down quietly, much like the piano’s melodies which is softly closing the song.  That important question appears again, thus reiterating the whole message of the song to the listener.  If you love your fellow citizens, why tell them what to do and send them off to war.  It’s wrong, and it should be addressed so that future citizens can understand what they faced.  Overall, this last bit of the song made me feel at peace again just like the beginning of the song.  So the band succinctly told their “story” if you will and started and ended in the same manner.  This illustrates how real stories are like especially children’s stories where you start off a story, then the conflict occurs, and events take place which ultimately reaches a peak point (climax), then slowly falls and concludes with an overall resolution (the end of the song).

Violet Hill is an important song in the history of the music industry.   It was quite different from the other songs they recorded in their previous albums, Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and X&Y. The main difference was the major fact that this was their very first protest song.  No other song they recorded had the protest theme.  The song speaks to any generation dealing with problems that can’t be readily solved, but particularly those deployed for war.  This song was written after Chris was watching The Bill O’Reilly Show and it inspired him to write this song.  It was meant to ridicule people like Bill O’Reilly and to question government and its influence on war.  Seeing that this song was recorded during President Bush’s term, this song speaks towards the War on Terror, which had two ongoing wars at the time.  The war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan were the crux of this song.  This song questions those ‘carnival of idiots’ as Chris sings in the middle of the song.  This is addressing those people in the media whether its government officials like the President or political TV show hosts.  The major focus was to get the song out there to raise more awareness of the country’s status at war.  After a few years of the recording of this song, it’s safe to say changes have been made around the world because this song was released.  Ever since George W. Bush left office, and Barrack Obama came in, the war in Iraq has slowly deteriorated.  The combat portion of the war was declared over just this year.  The awareness of the song helped fuel the changes needed for an improved present state of living.

Works Cited:

“Coldplay.” Coldplay, 12 06 2008. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://coldplay.com/recordings.php>.

“Drum Set Anatomy.” Drum Solo Artist – All about Drum!. Drum Solo Artists, n.d. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://www.drumsoloartist.com/Site/Drum_Set_Anatomy.html>.

Gregory, Jason. “Chris Martin: ‘Coldplay’s ‘Violet Hill’ Inspired By The Beatles’.” Music News, Photos, Gig Tickets,   Videos, Forum, Reviews, Features, Festivals. Gigwise, 18 12 2008. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://www.gigwise.com/news/48307/Chris-Martin-Coldplays-Violet-Hill-Inspired-By-The-Beatles>.

Willman, Chris. “Viva La Vida | Music | EW.com.”Entertainment Weekly’s EW.com. Entertainment Weekly, 13 06 2008. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20206310,00.html>.

TIDBITS:

Single release: May 9, 2008

Chris Martin (lead singer)
Will Champion (drums)
Guy Berryman (bassist)
Jonny Buckland (lead guitarist)

It was a rare gift to their fans when they released this single for free off of their website the week before the album dropped in stores.

The song had the first line of the lyrics completed awhile ago before finishing it up and recording it for this album.

UK Singles Chart 8
US Billboard Hot 100 40
US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 9
US Billboard Pop 100 38

Further Questions to Think About:

Could this song be interpreted in a different way?  If  so, how and what way?

Do you think this song will inspire future artists with their own protest song(s)?

Does the overall question (If you love me, won’t you let me know?) have a universal answer?

Savage, Young, Ferris Articles :Points of Interest (Journal #6)

Continuing with 1970s era this week, many aspects of punk were talked about.

It was thoroughly interesting to read about the punk culture and how hardcore fans reacted to this style and co-culture.  Punk musicians like the Sex Pistols were very rebellious, and had views of the world very uncharacteristic of other genres like rock, and pop.  To me I feel that the punk craze isn’t like what it was in the 70s.  After reading the Sex Pistols essay, I believe that punk has evolved to what we think of punk.  1970s punk was crazy madness, and rebellious.  Today’s punk is more tame but rebellious mostly in the lyrics.  The concerts of the ‘yester-year’ punk was like a riot.  Today’s punk concerts are collective and energetic but in my opinion isn’t as crazy as the 1970’s punk.  Maybe because of safety and commercialism is what’s affecting today’s punk.  What do you guys think?  Would you like to experience the original punk bands or modern day punk musicians?

I feel that punk should receive more awareness but for more so of the origins of it because it inspired a dedicated movement.  If anything in the music world causes an impact of that caliber, then I feel they deserve all the credit possible.  Though I’m not much of a punk listener/fan, I’m more open to listening to some punk especially bands like The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Ramones.

Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen Music Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MeP220xx7Bs

I found this video to be catchy with the guitar and vocals as the primary way to convey the message.  It was such a simple music video, nothing fancy with the camera work, and imagery.

But Anarchy in the UK is a different story.  The pandemonium in the crowds definitely exhibits the true punk performance with the fans.  Fans are so diehard, truly amazing hardcore supporters of punk that they literally feel like a member of the band.  See for yourself in their video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAsWdUo7r4c&feature

This video was wild, people looking all comatose and dazed out while they danced.  At certain moments it looked like the fans were choking each other as they hear the band play.  To me this video defined a huge chunk of what punk truly was.  Crazy, influential, supportive fans around the world were in a frenzy with this unique genre.

Fans demonstrated the “pogo” move which is literally jumping up and down from where you stood at the punk concert.  They looked funny doing it but it was a popular and normal move to do at such a venue.  I wonder what crazy moves (if any) are inspired by fans today if they see what these people did back then.  I don’t think you want that kind of craziness back then today, it would get you into deep trouble along with unnecessary riots.  But who knows, we might see a totally new kind of punk that could be different but just as insane as the earlier bands.

Reading about punk this week opened my eyes as to the true “punk” that is known by music historians.  I feel that now with a clearer understanding of this “culture” of a musical style I get a better sense of how punk shaped the music scene then and now.

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Posers were true fans who emulated the artists they loved.  Reading about posers made me realized that its not a recent term.  It established alongside many artist of the 1970s like David Bowie.  As a collective society, these posers dressed and acted like the artist they love.  The dedication is amazing, almost borderline scary because a whole lot of fans were doing it.  Luckily for bodyguards nowadays, posers are more controlled in the audience (for the most part).

Fanzines were another way to express love for a band or musician.  These were fan made magazines where they discuss tastes, and interests about a band or musician.  I feel this was the start of fan clubs, membership only deals, and user-generated fan fiction which ultimately led the way to the modern day fan memberships online and in exclusive places like chatrooms, streaming concerts online, and digital subscriptions to the band.

Some Further Questions to Think About:

Do you have a band that you absolutely love to the point where you try to emulate them?

Do you have a membership of any kind or form to your favorite band?

Have you been to a concert where there’s a collective sense of what to react when listening to a song other than swaying your hands left and right?

Millard (pgs.308-12, Chaps. 15 & 17), Dyer/Lawrence articles: Points of Interest Journal Post #5

In this week’s readings, specifically the theme of disco, rap, and technologies in the 1970s were well discussed.

For my latest journal, I would like to share my thoughts on the Millard text and the articles by Dyer and Lawrence.

Disco became popular in the 1970s.  This unique musical genre impacted the music industry and the people who listened to it.  It featured drums, synthesizers, the singers, and the optional DJ.  DJ’s were the cheerleaders of the music clubs where they kept the party and energy going as evident in clubs both homosexuals (mostly as Lawrence tells us) and heterosexuals in Dyer’s article.  The discotheques were special places to jam and have fun while listening to disco tracks.  I didn’t realize that disco impacted such a huge array of audiences, from the music industry, to fashion, and arts.  This genre I feel isn’t just the 1970s Saturday Night Fever style and disco ball shining in the club but a whole encompassing aesthetic and dance driven type genre.  Seeing that I didn’t grew up knowing much about disco, the material Dyer discussed was eye-opening.  When Dyer mentioned that it was erotic, I didn’t knew disco can be looked at like he argues.  I guess it’s because of my unawareness that impacted my thoughts and feelings about this genre.  Before reading this I always thought disco was purely entertainment and dance, while rock and roll was all sex, drugs, and of course rock and roll which was connotative for sex.  Now I see that disco is more than what I thought it was.  What do you think about disco?  Do you know any examples where disco isn’t erotic but tame?  I wonder if any exist.

Punk was another one of those special tastes kind of genre.  Many deemed it low-fi and not conforming to music industry’s norms.  Punk is like a revolting revolutionary wave of singers.  They wanted to sound low quality in order to gain their fame.  They stood up for what they sang, and I feel that’s risky but if it works (which it did for their sake), then by all means I support it.  I feel that punk isn’t a well-standing genre but it’s own target audience is what will keep them alive in the music industry.

Rap was also another unique genre which connected to the black audience right off the bat.  They were originally independent champions as they were ignored by many major labels.  I didn’t think they were classified as “indies” before I read this.  Now I feel even more convinced about the underdogs, the independents.  The original roots of rap are really interesting to hear as evident by Sugarhill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight.  It was the first rap single to actually impact pop music as Millard points out.  This single sounds very authentic, and does not sound like modern mainstream rap singles (in terms of the background sounds).  You can hear elements of disco kind of trickled in.  It’s more like a dance-rap single.

CLICK HERE:Rapper’s Delight — Sugar Hill Gang (Youtube video)

DJ’s are also an important component to rap.  I feel that this is evident today with many rap artists utilizing DJ’s in their performances.  Artists who take the DJ into their performances in my opinion are creative, and expressive in general.  They know they can connect with their fans and its evident because rap is still a thriving market to be in.

The digital technologies in Millard were interesting to read.  From eight-tracks (my topic for my paper) to the digital age (elements of which I plan for my presentation) started in the 1960s and continues right through the 1990s as Millard mentions.  The digital age in my opinion will always continue until something crazy happens which ultimately changes the music industry and how we listen to music.  But meanwhile, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for lasers, cassette tape, and the compact disc.  These three I believe are essential if we are to have the CD player, VCR’s, laptops, iPods, iTouch, iPad, digital cameras, etc.  So we owe those three a lot and what they function in the 1970s to early 2000s.  Though its sad to see old formats slow down, new ones are very exciting to experience.  For example, I grew up with my parents who had the big stereos and cassette players.  I was raised when cassettes were still in popular use.  Then when that slowed down, CD’s became my main format for music listening.  Nowadays you don’t see a cassette tape anywhere unless you go ask your parents, or visit your grandparents.  Just a few years ago I began to notice the CD (album) slowly declining.  Evidence includes: artists having their albums released only as digital copies online, and iTunes selling more singles than the whole CD album.  Now with everything online (Youtube, iTunes) and the introduction of portable music storage devices, I feel it won’t be long before the CD format will become part of our memories.  Fortunately enough, I still have CD’s in my house and I don’t see myself ever selling them.  Best to collect and cherish the formats you love is my message to you all.

Additional Questions to Consider:
Do you still buy CD’s?  OR Do you buy both CD’s and digital tracks from iTunes?
Do you think digital tracks will be taken over by some unknown format that has yet to be introduced?

Michael Coyle “Hijacked Hits and Antic Authenticity: Cover Songs, Race, and Postwar Marketing /America on Record: Millard 11-12 (Points of Interest Journal #4)

Brief Outlook: Coyle talks about the idea of covering hits and how hijacking hits didn’t meant anything illegal was being done in the music industry.

Chapter 11 was about Rock and roll and how it impacted the music industry.  Chapter 12 was about the record and how people utilized it and spread throughout the world including Europe.

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Coyle Article

Hijacking hits was the term used to describe what we call artists who made a cover song.  Today cover songs is the popular term that is preferred.  It’s when an artist makes their version of a popular hit that released before the newer one.  To me, I feel that hijacking hits is a misleading term to use.  Back in the early 20th century this was the term most often used to describe the practice of ‘producing new versions of money-making songs’ as Coyle tells us.

I wonder why no one wanted to use the word ‘cover song’, it would cause less controversy as ‘hijacked hits’ had.

Hijacking hits affected race relations after WWII where white capital exploited black talent.  I feel bad to those artists who were affected by this like LaVern Baker.  Her label marketed her as a novelty pop singer in order for her to become a target for hijacking.  I find it unfair because she didn’t experience enough success as one of her songs, “Tweedle Dee” was ‘hijacked’ by a white artist, Georgia Gibbs who had more success and she wasn’t the original artist.  Though I don’t have a problem with either version in terms of vocals, I just feel that the concept of hijacking hits isn’t the same as the concept of covers today.  On a side note, I prefer the original version because it had originality, it was longer than the hijacked one, and it had more soul in the original.  That’s just my opinion, what do you think?  Do you think hijacking hits is a good thing back then or a bad thing?  Which version would you listen to?

Click to listen to their respective version:

“Tweedle Dee” (LaVern Baker version)

“Tweedle Dee” (Georgia Gibbs version)

But in today’s society, ‘covering hits’ in my opinion is a bit more fair because when an artist releases their original, it matures and has its share of success before an upcoming or current artist covers it and gives it a twist to make their version have a slice of success.  I feel that covers today are meant to be shared as long as they aren’t released in a short period of time between each other.

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Chapter 11

Many people think rock and roll is a category of it’s own.  But from reading the Millard chapter, I was amazed to see that rock and roll isn’t just having cool guitars, drums, and lead vocals.  It can include blues as well.  Rock and roll started in the 1950s with artists like Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran emerging.  Rock and roll started during the tape recorder and microgroove disc era.  They were on 7″ 45 rpm discs which has a large center hole in the middle, and was lighter than the 78 rpm.  Many artists signed on to the independent labels, for example, Elvis went on to Sun Records, and Chuck Berry on Chess Records.  Independent record companies helped shaped rock and roll to what its legendary status is today.  Seeing that fact alone made me think that independents (given the chance to sign on to the right artist) can achieve success just as much as a major label can.  Do you think independents can generate success like they did in the 1950s?

After the Depression is when independent companies thrived.  They recorded with artists that weren’t signed onto major labels.  They picked up the markets where they did not.  They utilized this opportunity to branch out into different genres such as western music and R&B music.  The independents did well as they took advantage over the public’s evolving and changing tastes for music.  I was thoroughly supportive when I read that they scored many hits on the Billboard pop music charts.  It’s encouraging to hear such news because its a tough business to be in if you are with an independent company versus a major label company.

By 1960, each week came a slew of new music in the form of new singles, and albums.  It was very competitive to get your record or single noticed in those days.  I commend those who actually got noticed and achieve success because that’s a feat to be proud of.  Many artists will go unnoticed, or won’t achieve enough sales as predicted, or worse, won’t do both.  This is happening today with many artists in my opinion.  It’s hard to stay on top of the charts, nevertheless the top 10 for a long time anymore.  Usually when a new album or single is released, it peaks to a certain point then slowly settle or drop as new singles and albums top them the following week.  This is evident with Billboard’s charts today and iTunes charts as well.  It’s even harder for lesser known artists to do well on these charts without the help of radio exposure, touring, PR, and just general word of mouth unless you’re signed to a major label.

To get more exposure back then, independents had to do the illegal practice of payola or the bribing of local DJ’s to get their songs to play on air.  So when payola scandals were exposed, they had to find other ways to be successful.  That solution was radio stations, and later with television. Television would become the ideal choice for people’s entertainment needs.  The only way radio survived those years was to adapt to new markets which was ethnic audiences as well as youth audiences.

Rock and roll eventually made its way to the film industry in the 50s and many movie companies formed their own recording company such as 20th Century FOX, and Paramount Pictures.  Elvis would sign with RCA Records to record songs such as “Jailhouse Rock” in 1957 for the film of the same name.  When I read the wiki article on “Jailhouse Rock” I was amazed to see its influences in pop culture today.  I didn’t knew that many people covered that song.

The target market in the 60s would be the youth generation.  They would contribute to many artists’ success such as The Beatles and would be involved with rock and roll for many years to come.  Though today’s rock and roll artists aren’t like the legendary ones of the past few decades they still are influenced by them.  Whether its in their songwriting process, or their image and tastes, the greats will always be in their careers.  I don’t see the original greats in rock and roll going anytime soon.  They will be influential for future generations to study and I hope they will appreciate them just as much as I do.

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Chapter 12:

The record was used to sell songs and the first was made by J.W. Fewkes of Harvard University.  Companies like Berliner and Victor formed to gather songs from all sorts of locales.  From hotel rooms to various types of Indians to the most northern area to the most southern area, music was to be found and recorded.  Music enthusiasts such as the Lomaxes help archive over 10,000 songs for the Archive of American Folk Song.  OKeh records focused on race records which were black artists, no minstrel artists were included.  This was interesting because finally the African Americans, and urban ghetto inhabitants get their chance to record their songs with a major record company.  I wonder if they still impact or influence any African American artists today?

Other cool bits of info that I found interesting were:
Hillbilly music was popular and was recorded among working class men and women.  Jimmie Rodgers became the first artist with a country song that was a best-selling record.  I didn’t think hillbilly music was a type of music, nevertheless was popular.  Now I feel there could be many other kinds of lesser known types of music out there that I never heard of.  You just have to find it and once you do, you can learn to appreciate those types as well.

During the middle of the 20th century, the British Invasion became successful all around the world.  It was their turn to export music to the US and was very popular amongst artists like The Beatles.  The Beatles were the iconic group who shaped many people’s lives both in and out of the music industry and their fans both young and old, still now into today.

Some more questions to think about:

Will rock and roll evolve into a different sound?

Do you think the Beatles will remain legendary forever?

Can independents find a successful artist who can stay and compete among today’s pop artists? or even top a major label’s artist?

Research Project Proposal Outline

NOTE: (Subject to change)

Tentatively I’m keeping the research project and the presentation separately.

For the research project, I would like to discuss the significance of the 8 Track, its effects on the music industry, and the anatomy of an 8 Track. I would also discuss some of the technologies that precede and succeed it. Overall, this is still in the planning stages, so there may be things added or dropped out.

This is a long-term project so everything will be done in stages.

So that’s all I have to say for now on what I plan to do for my research project.

Musical Analysis Assignment

This assignment is subject to revision.  Comments and suggestions are welcomed.

Musical Analysis Assignment

Song: Violet Hill by Coldplay

Violet Hill (single) Artwork

Click here to listen to the song: Violet Hill (audio)

I. Description of the song (includes instrumentation, melody, arrangement, vocals, and lyrics)

This was the first song off their fourth studio album, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends which was released by EMI Records in UK in conjunction with Capitol Records in the US.  It was the first single off this album and it is worthy for analyzing.  This was meant to be a protest song according to lead singer Chris Martin.  It was the band’s first attempt at recording a protest song.  The song title, Violet Hill is an actual street which joins with Abbey Road.  Many should be aware that the title was a nod to the Beatles (one of their musical heroes), as that road was known to be associated with them.  What they are protesting can be left for interpretation and elaboration.  Coldplay’s music raised many questions as to what genre they belong to.  Some would say pop-rock, and some would say alternative rock.  For the purpose of this argument its best to consider the band as alternative.  (NOTE: iTunes classifies them as alternative.)

Violet Hill has a mellow and peaceful start.  It gives the listener a moment to reflect on anything he or she wants.  A soothing synthesizer begins playing.  There are no lyrics until around the 35th second.  The piano eventually begins to play a rather serious melody indicating the beginning of the Chris’ introduction of the lyrics:

It was a long and dark December

From the rooftops I remember

There was snow, white snow
The song introduces the setting as a cold dark day in December where snow covered the person’s house.  It sounds like a first-person narration to the listener or to somebody he loves (e.g. A story; reminiscing about this day)
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The piano melody continues as it gets pushed to the background once the guitars begin playing (0:47).

Clearly I remember

From the windows they were watching

While we froze down below

At 0:47, the (electric) guitar joins the scene as Jonny Buckland (lead guitarist) starts his role in the song.  This could be the introductory door to the song, and it’s now opening and unraveling as the song continues.  The lyrics here indicate that this was no dream.  The people froze (psychologically) when they experienced this cold dark December day.  This is an analogy for what comes next in the lyrics.

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By the 49th second, the track starts to get denser filled up with the entire band playing:

When the future’s architectured

By a carnival of idiots on show

You’d better lie low

If you love me, won’t you let me know?

In lyrical terms, this is the part where Chris begins to recite one of the crucial messages and the analogies the lyrics depicts.  The future being architectured indicates that with the current state of world we live in, our future is being built up.  Normally, it’s the unknown, and when someone tries to play and ‘design’ the future, that’s a bad thing.  Why would we want to be living in a future that was already predetermined?  The carnival of idiots is a reference to the people the band criticizes who built that future, and Chris is warning the rest of the world to shield themselves.  This is indicated in the instructions, you better lie low.  The main question of the song, if you love me, won’t you let me know, is an ode to those ‘idiots’ if they ever come to their senses and stop with what they’re doing, then kindly tell us.

At 1:20 until 1:25 before dissolving back into a regular drumming beat, the drums played by Will Champion are banging throughout nine times:

Was a long and dark December

When the banks became cathedrals

And a fox became God

Priests clutched onto Bibles

Hollowed out to fit their rifles

And a cross held aloft

Bury me in armour

When I’m dead and hit the ground

My nerves are poles that unfroze

And if you love me, won’t you let me know?

The beating of the drums could represent something exploding left and right.  Something controversial (Going into combat for unnecessary reasons) is being told as the drumming beats were placed right after the all important lyric “If you love me, won’t you let me know”.  You can hear the cymbals too, as cymbal beating usually indicates a military, or marching song according to Drum Solo Artists’ webpage on drum anatomy.  This agrees with the song since the military is involved in the notions expressed in the song.  By the 1:51 mark, the guitar changes chords as you can hear the distinct sounds compared with the beginning of the song throughout this segment of the lyrics.  This is a break from the normal guitar melody and lasts until the 2:02 mark.

In terms of lyrics, the line, was a long and dark December repeats again to reiterate that the person from the beginning is still reciting his story.  There are changes going on the world, mostly with negative effects, as indicated by banks becoming cathedrals, and a fox becoming God.  Foxes are known to be sly and devious.  So this is comparing the ‘idiots’ to the fox.  They think they are God now, and could do anything to us citizens.  The part about priests having Bibles that are hollowed out for a rifle to be placed instead is a tricky picture to paint.  It probably meant that even the priests can’t control the situation, that they too are subjected to the ‘idiots’ (fox’s demands).  The rest goes back to the personal point of view where the idiot’s deeds are going to get the person killed.  So it’s best to die with the armor they put you in, to signify what pride you have left.  This is a very tense part of the lyrics, as that question is reiterated once more.  It’s signifying to the ‘idiots’ again, anytime you change your mind, please tell me because you know that you love me.  Stop playing games, or the tortures will continue.

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The percussion (drums) would start to be in the spotlight by 2:08.  This is to show the emotions of the message as drummer Will Champion pounds the drums to be clear to the listener.  This lasts until 2:13.  By 2:14, it becomes layered again, with Jonny playing a spotlighting guitar solo riff and the background drums continue.  There are no lyrics from 2:08 and 2:39, as its all instrumental at this segment of the song.  This could well be the intermission of the song, where the exciting conclusion will arrive soon.  No actual words are heard here, except for the expression Chris says at 2:36 (“Woohoo”).  He probably did that to keep the energy going and to keep the listener engaged before the final part of the song is played.  Otherwise, this section of the song was inventive, appealing, and fun to listen to.

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By 2:40, the lyrics continue as the guitarist, Jonny Buckland plays a different chord.  This correlates to the lyrics Chris was singing (“I don’t want be a soldier…” up to 2:50 where it goes back to the main melody)

I don’t want to be a soldier

Who the captain of some sinking ship

Would stow, far below

So if you love me, why d’you let me go?

The lyrics at this point interpret to the listener to not go into war because the end result is tragic like a sinking ship going down below.  The question if you love me, why d’you let me go, is a slight variation off of the earlier one.  However this question is addressing the ‘idiots’ who sent the soldier to war, if they truly love their country, why send out the soldiers out to a cruel punishment which can lead to early death.  It’s like they set your fate and it’s not fair because it’s like killing your own people.    It’s unnecessary for war to happen.  So the question is pleading for mercy. This is truly to the point where the soldier is pleading for reasons why the ‘idiots’ did this.

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By 2:57, the instrumentals appear in the spotlight once more which would last until 3:03.  By 3:04, Chris sings the final lyrics while the piano becomes the only instrument being heard.  This settles down the song as it first introduced it; all calm and collected.  That last piano note can be heard until about two seconds before the song ends.

I took my love down to violet hill

There we sat in snow

All that time she was silent still

Said if you love me, won’t you let me know?

If you love me, won’t you let me know? (x2)


Lyrically, the song wraps up by telling of this person who took his love (wife) where they sit down quietly, much like the piano’s melodies which is softly closing the song.  That important question appears again, thus reiterating the whole message of the song to the listener.  If you love your fellow citizens, why tell them what to do and send them off to war.  It’s wrong, and it should be addressed so that future citizens can understand what they faced.

II. How the song fits into a larger historical context?

Violet Hill is an important song in the history of the music industry.   It was quite different from the other songs they recorded in their previous albums, Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and X&Y. The main difference was the major fact that this was their very first protest song.  No other song they recorded had the protest theme.  The song speaks to any generation dealing with problems that can’t be readily solved, but particularly those deployed for war.  This song was written after Chris was watching The Bill O’Reilly Show and it inspired him to write this song.  It was meant to ridicule people like Bill O’Reilly and to question government and its influence on war.  Seeing that this song was recorded during President Bush’s term, this song speaks towards the War on Terror, which had two ongoing wars at the time.  The war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan were the crux of this song.  This song questions those ‘carnival of idiots’ as Chris sings in the middle of the song.  This is addressing those people in the media whether its government officials like the President or political TV show hosts.  The major focus was to get the song out there to raise more awareness of the country’s status at war.  After a few years of the recording of this song, it’s safe to say changes have been made around the world because this song was released.  Ever since George W. Bush left office, and Barrack Obama came in, the war in Iraq has slowly deteriorated.  The combat portion of the war was declared over just this year.  The awareness of the song helped fuel the changes needed for an improved present state of living.

Source:

“Coldplay.” Coldplay, 12 06 2008. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://coldplay.com/recordings.php>.

“Drum Set Anatomy.” Drum Solo Artist – All about Drum!. Drum Solo Artists, n.d. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://www.drumsoloartist.com/Site/Drum_Set_Anatomy.html>.

Gregory, Jason. “Chris Martin: ‘Coldplay’s ‘Violet Hill’ Inspired By The Beatles’.” Music News, Photos, Gig Tickets,   Videos, Forum, Reviews, Features, Festivals. Gigwise, 18 12 2008. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://www.gigwise.com/news/48307/Chris-Martin-Coldplays-Violet-Hill-Inspired-By-The-Beatles>.

Willman, Chris. “Viva La Vida | Music | EW.com.”Entertainment Weekly’s EW.com. Entertainment Weekly, 13 06 2008. Web. 3 Oct 2010. <http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20206310,00.html>.

III.TIDBITS:

Single release: May 9, 2008

Chris Martin (lead singer)
Will Champion (drums)
Guy Berryman (bassist)
Jonny Buckland (lead guitarist)

It was a rare gift to their fans when they released this single for free off of their website the week before the album dropped in stores.

The song had the first line of the lyrics completed awhile ago before finishing it up and recording it for this album.

UK Singles Chart 8
US Billboard Hot 100 40
US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 9
US Billboard Pop 100 38

IV. Questions to Think About:

Could this song be interpreted in a different way?  If  so, how and what way?

Do you think this song will inspire future artists with their own protest song(s)?

Does the overall question (If you love me, won’t you let me know?) have a universal answer?

Filene and Kyriakoudes Articles (Points of Interest) Journal #3

“Our Singing Country”: John and Alan Lomax, Leadbelly, and the Construction of an American Past

The author of this essay, Benjamin Filene writes an interesting perspective on the Lomax family who collected American folk songs.  They were a travelling bunch of people who were scouting for talented musicians.  They wanted to preserve and popularize folk music.    Leadbelly, an African American singer, guitarist, and at one point of his life, prisoner was taken under the Lomaxes’ wings.  Leadbelly who’s real name is Huddie Ledbetter began an incredible journey with the Lomaxes.  He had great talent despite being in a prison.  There were bumps along the way for example, he couldn’t control his income as the Lomaxes held the majority of it.  He had to wear (at one point) his prison suit outfit when performing even after he was freed from prison, which I felt was a bit demeaning to Leadbelly but it was a promotional concept the Lomaxes had to do to garner appeal.  Leadbelly, over a period of time expanded his repertoire of styles, but settled down with new flavors that eventually were to stray away from folk in his later years.  This changed the way people viewed him as his audience was now geared towards the Northern states instead of the South.  This was where folk fanatics lost touch with his new style.  I feel this happens even in today’s music industry.  An artist suddenly changes styles and original fans can’t adapt to the new sounds and lose interest.  It’s a shame, but that’s the way things go, I guess. Overall, Leadbelly’s success was thoroughly enjoyed in my opinion in his early years with the Lomaxes until he died in 1949.

The Lomaxes for the most part were generally good people and they should be remembered/studied for many years to come.  Just like the “collectors” of today’s society which are equated to music producers/record labels, there will be highs and lows for each musician’s career.  You just have to take things in stride wherever you go.

Having just read about the Lomaxes and Leadbelly for the first time, I feel that there are even more artists, collectors, producers, etc. who deserve more recognition as other musicians do.  Does anyone know any other under-appreciated music icons of the past who deserve more credit?

“The Grand Ole Opry and the Urban South”

I’ve heard of the Grand Ole Opry before I registered for this course, but I never knew a lot about it until I read this essay.  This essay had some interesting insights to this cultural and social icon in country music.  Seeing that I was raised in the Northeast all my life, I’m not familiar as I want to with the South, the ‘hillbilly culture’, and country (rural) living.

The Grand Ole Opry got it’s name after George D. Hay, program director of WSM radio station in Nashville,TN was attempting to make a name out of his program which had Grand Opera elements in it.  It eventually was known as the Grand Ole Opry and ever since then, the rest is history.  The rich collection of artists who started here are legends today for example Roy Acuff, Deford Bailey, and Dr. Humphrey Bate and his Possum Hunters.  Country and folk music were the predominant styles of music played, however vaudeville acts were also included. It was catered to mostly Southern audiences.  Themes they sang include the automobile which was mostly scorned by Uncle Dave Macon.  He wanted to live in what that time was ‘old fashioned’ ways, which was not to use the automobile and instead use a wagon.  This even inspired him to sing it in a song.  This little fact alone made me felt that even something as simple as not liking an invention can be a song for the masses to hear.

A little point about DeFord Bailey is worth mentioning.  He was a well known African American harmonica player, yet Mr. Hay treated him in an unfair manner.  To me, I felt he had the short end of the stick when it came to performing.  Mr. Hay had him play alone and limited to a certain amount of tunes.  His inferiority almost seemingly rendered him a puppet as he was call Mr. Hay’s mascot for the Opry.  This raised questions to the racial treatment back then.  I would like to conclude by saying that had Mr. Bailey not receive the harsh treatment, he wouldn’t have been fired and be forced to comply to such orders.  He could’ve had a more illustrious career.

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