Posts Tagged iTunes

Anticipation (or, Why Not To Order Online)

I’m going bonkers. Usually ordering stuff online isn’t a big deal. It’s so easy and user-friendly over at Amazon.com that I have a great time. Well, when waiting on a new release, it’s horrible.

I didn’t have much of a choice, though. If I wanted the new Duran Duran album All You Need Is Now, I had to use my coupon and the free super-saver shipping. Believe me, if I’d had the cash, I would have been at Best Buy when the store opened to get my hot little hands on a copy.

But these are hard times.

We’re all tightening our belts and making do as we can. So when I found I’d accrued enough points from research.fm surveys to pick up the album for free, I jumped at the chance. Otherwise, I would have had to wait who knows how long until I could buy it. When you think about it, I really lucked out.

I’m still going bonkers, though. All the other Duranies have their copies and are happily listening to and chatting about it.

What a sad puppy?

Image by Cameron Bennett via Flickr

My copy will come some time next week. We will review it. There will be much rejoicing.

 Until then, there will be frustrated, giddy waiting. Hoping the album will be better than the iTunes download, breathlessly anticipating the liner notes and artwork, I will sit on my hands and try not to whine too much.

What about you guys? What have you had to wait for that made you jump every time the postman went by? Have you ever waited outside a store for it to open on new release day? Please, please tell me now, is there something I should know?

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Old 97s – Doreen – guest blog by Nigel Blackwell

I was stunned and inspired by the way a new friend of mine was able to apply his writer’s sensibility to the dissection of song lyrics. So please welcome our guest blogger, Mr. Nigel Blackwell!

If it can ever be said that I grew up, I did it listening to the Beatles, the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Squeeze and everything in between. I ended up with a mixture of musical tastes. There are some that would say “taste” isn’t the first word that comes to mind looking my music collection. At least they did say that until I sent the boys round (governor).

The Old 97s were an instant hit with me. Pounding melodies, a vocal line that shouts “I don’t do melodies,” and no %$*#@! Disney channel vocal effects.

What’s that you say? Disney doesn’t use a million dollars of equipment and software on anyone they select for stardom? Yeah, right. In which case I bet you can’t wait for Mitchel Musso’s “live” tour. I’m on tenterhooks. (what’s sad is that Disney used to care about talent -ed)

I digress, back to the Old 97s., specifically Doreen, from Hitchhike to Rhome.

Don’t know it? Well, iTunes has the first minute to give you the idea (and maybe buy a copy).

http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/doreen/id6557602?i=6557584

Pounding melodies – check.

Banjo front and center – check.

And then there’s the vocal line. Hot damn (as they might say). Alt country. No whining about “ma dogs done gone left me” here. There’s a story, and like the best stories it’s shown, not told.

To start with there are the cheesy rhymes.

When I first met Doreen
She was barely seventeen.

And

Well you can roll your eyes and nod
But I swear that I saw God,

Rhett Millar’s delivery is so no-nonsense that it all just works.

And the lyrics show, not tell.

In the first four verses we’re shown how he falls in love with her. No blatant “I’m in love” lines here (even though Sir Paul’s made a fortune through that route).

When I first met Doreen
She was barely seventeen.
She was drinking whiskey sours in the bar.

The way she tossed ’em back
I would’ve had a heart attack.
But as it is I let her drive my car.

We galloped through the boroughs
Like a pair of horny thoroughbreds,
Until I said, “Stop the car, Doreen.”

Well you can roll your eyes and nod
But I swear that I saw God,
In the moonlight on a side street in the wreckage we call Queens.

Brilliant. Not only do they show us he’s in love, they keep the car theme going with “side street” and “wreckage.”

Then we hit the chorus. The awful dream. The dark threat of new lovers (esp the ones started with Whiskey sours. So I’m told, anyway).

Doreen, Doreen, Last night I had an awful dream.
You were laying in the arms of a man I’d never seen.
Come clean Doreen. Come clean Doreen.

So we’re shown he’s worried about her being faithful and (hot damn) we’re shown how he’s separated from her and has to admit his feelings to the band.

Well I’m pulling into Cleveland
In a seven-seater tour van.
There’s eight of us, so I’m sleeping on the floor.

The guy that plays the banjo
Keeps on handing me the Old Crow,
Which multiplies my sorrow, I can’t take it anymore.

Now I’m begging and I’m pleading,
“Well pull over guys, I’m bleeding.
There’s a Fina off the highway with a phone.”

Keeping the threads going, we’re still traveling and the whiskey hasn’t been forgotten. The best lines are surely, “so I’m sleeping on the floor,” “I can’t take it anymore,” and best if all, “There’s a Fina off the highway with a phone.” Everyone knows what he’s taking about, but the sound of the word “Fina” is such a great contrast between the “ing”s and “o”s of the previous verses.

Finally we’re shown that she’s dumped him. The inevitable conclusion. His dread manifest.

I’m calling you Doreen,

But it rings and rings and rings.

Where is it that you are, if you aren’t in our bed at home.

Even the last line is nothing ordinary. It’s a great reversal of the normal word order to put “home” as the last word, the final take-away. They wanted you to understand, if you hadn’t got the picture by then, the guy’s dream of home was gone.

Show, show, show. No telling. Brilliant.

Course, I can hear lots of you saying serves himself right, moral of the story – don’t pick up chicks under alcohol. But really guys, are you so pure you can throw that stone? Have a heart.

Better still, put that stone down and spill the beans. Do whiskey sours ring bells in your past? Margueritas in Austin? Or was it Poire Williams in the Swiss Alps (if you’re rich)? Don’t worry. Your secrets will be safe with us.

And we’ll be sooooo sympathetic. Really…

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Music Review Monday – Duran Duran’s “All You Need Is Now” (the single)

We’re going to do a little something different for this, the second edition of Music Review Monday. I’m going to review a single, rather than the whole album. That single is called All You Need Is Now. Why? Several reasons. It’s off a brand-new iTunes album that’s only nine songs long, and the full fourteen song CD won’t be available until late March. I want to wait for the additional five songs to do a full album review.  Also? I’ve been dreading this review so much that I broke out into a flop sweat every time I sat down at my computer this past week.

You see, I am what is referred to as a Duranie. I’ve been one since the spring of 1985. I was ten years old. It’s fair to say that listening to Duran Duran is one of the major reasons I am who I am today, why I think the way I think. I’m freaking terrified of this review. You can imagine my excitement at the announcement of their thirteenth studio album. I’ve always been able to count on them to create something I at least like (Pop Trash), if not something I adore (Arena).

I guess, by the law of averages, it couldn’t last. Okay, enough stalling. On to the review.

It starts off with a highly annoying techno keyboard sequence from Nick Rhodes. You remember me talking about him in last Friday’s post? Where I called him God? Yeah. There’s a steady if uninspired rhythm provided by Roger Taylor, our heroic drummer. Then Simon Le Bon begins to sing, sounding more bored than I’ve ever heard him and muffled and distorted by some “nifty” effect. John Taylor (also known to Duranies as the Almighty Bass God) then fills things out a teensy bit with his bass guitar. They all sound pretty much like they’re phoning in their performances. The song drifts out of techno-land into a semi-lovely chorus that almost gives me hope. It’s soft and sweet, tasting of reminiscences and longing. Everyone’s at least bringing their B game. Rinse and repeat. I’ll admit the extended dream sequence after the second time around that segued into and out of the chorus again was beautiful and ethereal, but then it dragged back into that incessant techno-twaddle to fade out on… crowd noise?

Admittedly, I don’t like techno music as a general rule, although some people can do it brilliantly. This was not done brilliantly. It sounded hollow and dry, devoid of emotion, boring. When I played this song for my mother (whose favorite Duran song is Taste The Summer) she wrinkled up her nose and asked, “What happened to them? They used to be so full of life.” Guys, you are doing something wrong when a 67-year-old thinks your song is a big yawn.

In the interest of full disclosure, all my Duranie friends LOVE this song. Some even find it uplifting. Desperately worried that I’d lost the plot somewhere, I played it for friends outside that circle. All of them asked me to turn it off, like yesterday. I even played it for one of my sisters. She and I don’t usually agree on much of anything. After listening to the single she looked at me, eyes filled with confusion, and asked why they didn’t just do mash-ups of their old songs instead of re-hashing and re-packaging them in new and uninteresting ways.

I was so worried about this review. I didn’t want to do it. Then someone said a brilliant thing to me. “Someone needs to put the mirror up so they can see the egg on their faces,” they said. “Who better than you, someone who loves and respects them?” I stammered something about owing it to them to give them a glowing review since they had given me so much joy in the past, so that they go on selling and making music. They countered with, “Gigi, do you want them to continue making songs like this?”

No, I don’t.

 What do you think?

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Music Review Monday – Michael Jackson’s Thriller album

I thought I’d kick off the music reviews with the very first album I ever bought, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Music has always been a part of my life, from the scores in the movies I watched to the songs we sang in school to the music my family played at home. But the first record I ever bought (with my hard-earned chore allowance) was Thriller. Yes, I said record, and I meant it. Back in the dark ages, there was no such thing as digital media. Computers took up whole rooms, far too large to have a personal version. We used record players, cassette decks, and radio to get music. However, thanks to technology, I’ve linked each song to their Amazon.com page where you can listen to them, just in case you haven’t heard them or just want to listen along with me.

I listened to this particular album until the needle on our player went smooth…several times over. Play just about any song on it, and I can happily sing along. I have pulled out my own vinyl copy to check the track listing. We’ll start with side one.

Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘ is, perhaps inevitably, the first song. When I hear it, my shoulders automatically begin moving left and right to the beat and if I’m standing, so do my hips. So what if it’s one of the most repetitive songs on the planet? It’s too high to get over, too low to get under. It infects you with the beat, the Almighty Beat, until you just can’t be still. Go ahead, try it, I double-dog dare you! Even if you do nothing more than nod in time, you’ll see. Interesting side note? There’s mention of that naughty Billie Jean and how she’s always tellin’ lies. Who says foreshadowing is just for novels?

 Second, we come to Baby Be Mine. The beat’s still there, still strong, and yet it’s unmistakably a ballad. You’ll come to see that the beat is the underlying commonality throughout the album, in fact. At any rate, this song has everything a ballad should have – expressions of devotion, confessions of desire, promises of fidelity and eternity. Yet it doesn’t feel insincere or facile. To me, it sounds honest, sweet.

Third is The Girl Is Mine, a duet with Sir Paul McCartney. Their voices don’t just provide a beautiful counterpoint when they’re going back and forth. They harmonize. Near the end, there’s a “conversation” that feels natural rather than contrived. Two of my friends and I lip-synced a little skit for this song for our school’s talent show when I was ten. I played Michael’s part, Julie was Paul, and Whitney was the girl we “fought” over. Good times, man.

Fourth, finishing off side one, is the reason I bought the album in the first place, the reason I can watch zombie movies even though my “ick” tolerance is way low. Thriller, the title track of the album, is definitely one of my top ten songs/videos of all time. The alien keyboard starts us off, nice and spooky, escalating as the beat asserts itself. Maybe because the video is so deeply entrenched in my psyche, the tension builds as Michael starts to sing, infusing the song with a more concrete story-telling feel. I don’t just see the video behind my eyelids every time I hear the song, my body fills with the tension and excitement I felt when I first encountered it. Somewhere, deep inside, music was forever changed for me. There’s something about his voice, at times trembling, at others pleading, warning, even mocking, that draws me in, makes me feel like an audience of one. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. And then, Vincent Price, the master of creeptasticness, begins to speak. **shivers** This isn’t just a song, it’s an event. Lift the needle, carefully reposition it, listen again.

Thus ends side one. Flip the record to side two.

We open with Beat It. Bright, funky, and with mind-blowing (at least for me) guitar riffs all blended into an anthemic dance tune. “You have to show them that you’re really not scared. You’re playin’ with your life, this ain’t no Truth Or Dare. They’ll kick you then they’ll beat you then they’ll tell you it’s fair, so beat it. But you wanna be BAD.” And no, I haven’t stopped dancing around, why do you ask?

Now we come to Billie Jean, that girl doing all the lying from earlier. Only, this story seems to be leading us to believe that maybe she isn’t lying, at least not wholly. “She’s just a girl who claims that I am the one” falls flat next to “the lie becomes the truth” and “so take my strong advice: remember to always think twice.” Of course I didn’t think any of this when I first got the album as a very sheltered nine-year-old. I didn’t even know what a “lover” was.

Ah, Human Nature, the most ethereal cut on the album. Breathy and almost haunting, I fall in love each time I hear it. Even for all that, the beat is very present, an undercurrent that pulls you along so that you sway to the rhythm.

I always wanted to be someone’s P.Y.T., their tenderoni, in need of T.L.C. Now was the perfect time. It just sounded like so much fun! Sometimes though, I couldn’t wait for it to finish to get to the next and final song.

The Lady In My Life, the culmination of it all, the soothing balm after all the dancing, monsters, being bad, lying girls, and did I mention dancing?  I don’t know what I’d do if a man sang this to me. It makes all my cynicism and bitterness just melt away. Adult me knows he’s singing about sex… slow songs get you laid, after all. But kid me just wanted to snuggle in his (and later, others’) arms and make with the smoochies… go nowhere and stay with him, whatever that meant.

Each piece of this album has something to pull you in, keep you listening. Puzzle pieces that interlock, complementing each other and completing the whole. I’ll admit, I have NO objectivity where this album is concerned. Who does in regards to their first love, really? I’ll also confess that it took several hours to write this review. I had to stop after each song and take a break to keep from all-out weeping. The world is a poorer place without Michael Jackson in it making music.

So, what was your first love, musically speaking, and why? Let me know in the comments what record, album, CD, whatever, spins you right ’round.

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Greetings and salutations!

Like many others, music has made me who I am. It fills me, moves me, provides a soundtrack for my life. The music I love (and even some that I loathe) becomes an inextricable part of me. Just recently, I reconnected with a childhood friend who asked, “Why don’t you blog about that?” She’s a big fan of social media, is Kristen Lamb.  So much so that she wrote a book called We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. I tried to tell her that I’m not really a blogger. Oh sure, I have my Livejournal, which is basically an online diary that some friends read, and my Facebook page where I play games, but tri-weekly blogging? Please.

“Well, you love to talk about music,” Kristen pointed out. “Why not talk about it with other like-minded people?”

“But I don’t know how I would come up with enough content!” I retorted, my eyes shifting from side to side as a wave of fear crashed over me. She gave me many good reasons as to why I was wrong, but the most eloquent persuasion was silent. Her hands planted on her hips, she just arched an eyebrow.

So here I am, out of excuses, starting a WordPress blog about music. There will be Music Review Mondays that can mean anything from a full album review to an artist or video review… possibly even a rockumentary review, if you guys are up for it. Wordsmith Wednesdays we’ll be taking a song and looking at just its lyrics, see what makes it so compelling (or not, as the case may be) from that angle. Fangirl Fridays will be devoted to those moments that make a fan – hearing a song in a store, meeting an idol, concerts, interviews… you get the drift.

So join me on this Magical Mystery Tour to expand our minds, and possibly our iTunes folders!

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