Tuned Out: Archives
August 5, 2008
Naturally Selected: A Ditty On The Divide Between Darwin & Jesus genre: Hip-Gnosis & Tongue-In-Cheek & Tuned Out
This video is hysterical. Between the voice of Jesus being a girl, the implied gay relationship between Darwin and Jesus, the moments of petulance, and the oh so funny screeching episode, I couldn't stop laughing.
June 19, 2008
Mika, born in Lebanon and currently living in London, doesn't get a lot of mainstream attention in the States. I've included two of his videos below. The first is for the song, Lollipop, an infectious upbeat tune with a fun animated video that just seems appropriate for the start of summer. I'll come back to the meaning of the song in a moment.
The second video isn't actually the music video for the song, Billy Brown...but it does a good job in telling the song's story. In fact, there isn't an official video for the song since one was never released. The song, in my opinion, tells the story of a man who struggles to accept his homosexuality.
That brings me back to Lollipop. There has been a fair share of buzz about Mika's sexuality, a subject he has not chosen to address. Some have speculated that he's gay but doesn't disclose that fact as it could hinder his popular appeal in the United States. He points to Billy Brown as evidence that he isn't shying away from sexual orientation.
Let me be clear. Mika's sexual orientation is irrelevant to me but to the extent that issues of orientation may influence the songs he performs makes my psychology wheels spin. In this particular instance, call it instinct, intuition, or gaydar...but whatever it is, I find the content of his songs fascinating. Both of these songs talk about love and relationships...with a focus on a lack of fulfillment as well as a measure of preoccupation with norms and conventionality.
Granted, Lollipop is far more gender and orientation neutral than Billy Brown, but what I hear in both songs is the undertones of a personal struggle...one that leaves the protagonist is a state of limbo. If he follows his heart, he'll have to endure the whispers and judgments of others...if he conforms, he can fit in but he'll be denied the happiness he seeks.
Hence, he vacillates between the two, which I view as akin to the back and forth of a pendulum...always struggling to find the center...but always overshooting the mark in an endless battle for a measure of constance and comfort. In other words, the center is safe but often wholly meaningless. Mika's song, Stuck in the Middle, reveals more of this concept. The lyrics can be found here.
One line captures the essence of what I'm talking about. When Mika sings, "Oh Billy Brown you are a victim of the times", I hear the angst I've described above. Whether that angst is Mika's or simply the words expressed in a song he sings, I don't know. Regardless, the song succeeds in capturing real feelings that I suspect resonate for many in the gay community.
Mika - Lollipop
Mika - Billy Brown
June 12, 2008
Despite Donna Summers unfortunate labeling as anti-gay back in the early 80's, she is undoubtedly an iconic figure in shaping the trajectory of the gay music scene. Summers has long denied the accusation that appeared in a New York publication and her support of AIDS related charities suggests she never abandoned her gay audience.
History aside, it's great to see her back with a new album titled Crayons. From what I've listened to, I think it has some real potential...especially in the dance club genre. Given the number of remixes that have already surfaced, I suspect the attention her new CD receives will only intensify.
I caught her recent performance on The Late Show with David Letterman and I've included video of that appearance below. From what I've seen, her voice is still intact and I wouldn't be surprised to see the song Stamp Your Feet achieve some measure of "gay anthem" status. I for one hope the gay community embraces this latest iteration of the "Bad Girl"
Here's some links you might want to check out:
To listen to more tracks from the CD:
One of the better remixes (IMO):
Donna Summer On David Letterman
June 10, 2008
The following videos are unrelated except for the fact that I've posted them together. The first video is Into The Nightlife, a new offering by Cyndi Lauper from her latest CD, Bring Ya To The Brink. Lauper doesn't get a lot of mainstream attention but this song is worthy of it. I have no doubt that it will be a big hit in dance clubs. The album is somewhat of a deviation for Lauper in that it is primarily dance tunes. I think this is a good move for Lauper and I hope it brings her some of the recognition she deserves.
The second video is from The Brighton Port Authority (Latest project of Fat Boy Slim) and is titled Toe Jam. In a strange combination, David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal are the featured vocals. All that aside, what makes this video noteworthy is its creativity. OK, there's nothing original about naked people...but if you can break away from watching the booties and boobies and pay attention to the black censor bars and the patterns they create you'll see the unfolding of the originality of this video.
Cyndi Lauper - Into The Nightlife
The Brighton Port Authority - Toe Jam
May 13, 2008
I don't really know that much about Gnarls Barkley outside of their hit song Crazy from a couple years back. Going On is from their new album The Odd Couple. I came across the music video for the song by chance and found it to be a refreshing deviation from what we would typically expect to see.
As I understand it, the video was filmed in Jamaica. BoingBoing summed it up with the following.
John Paul sez, "My sister Wendy went to Jamaica to make a music video for Gnarls Barkley. I've always found it fascinating how she listens to songs and just fantasizes about what imagery or story goes with the music, and then struggles to make the video happen in an incredibly short time frame and on a tight budget. This video is maybe her finest. The imagery comes out of her head, partly inspired by a trip we made to Africa, partly inspired by Jamaican dance hall glory.
While the song has an upbeat tempo, the story told in the song is much darker and deeper and perhaps that's what makes the combination of the minimalist video format with the traditional energetic dancers all the more intriguing. The videos coloration is muted except for the occasional yellow text...all of which is likely intended to allow the subtle though obvious symbolism to emerge...and does it ever!
Note that the video opens with a scene reminiscent of The Last Supper and proceeds to incorporate the use of a door as a representation of the cross that Jesus carried. Along the way, most of the "followers" drop off leaving only the protagonist and one woman to complete the journey. Once the door (cross) is put in place and opened, we see the woman toss a rock through the opening as if to represent Thomas, the doubting follower. As the rock passes through the door, a kaleidoscope of color (heaven) appears after which the man (Jesus) jumps through the doorway...soon followed by the woman.
I've included the lyrics below so readers can sync the imagery with the words. Oh, by the way, I really like the sound and the song as well. Let me know what you think.
I've seen it with my own eyes
How we're gettin' otherwise
Without the luxury of leavin'
The touch and feeling of breath
And times you're both technically
Something you've got to believe in
Connect the cause and effect
One foot in front of the next
This is the start of a journey.
And my rhyme is already gone
Somehow this doesn't concern me.
And you can stand right there if you want
But I'm going on
And I'm prepared to go it alone
I'm going on
To a place in the sun that's nice and warm
I'm going on
And I'm sure they'll have a place for you to oohoohooo
Anyone that needs what they want, and doesn't want what they need
I want nothing to do with
And to do what I want
And to do what I please
Is first vual my to do list
But every once in a while I think about her smile
One of the few things I do miss
But baby I've to go
Baby I've got to know
Baby I've got to prove it
And I'll see you when you get there
But I'm going on
And I'm prepared to go it alone
I'm going on
May my love lift you up to the place you belong
I'm going on
And I promise I'll be waiting for you oohoohooo
Still I try I never know what to do
Don't follow me...
Gnarls Barkley - Going On (Music Video)
Jonny McGovern is one of the cast members of Logo's The Big Gay Sketch. The show features a number of comedy skits that focus on all things LGBT. McGovern is a stand-up comic who often plays a character called The Gay Pimp.
In the following video, The Gay Pimp shares his latest creation, a music video for the song, Don't Fall In Love With A Homo...an ode to straight women who might be tempted to fall for their male gay friends. McGovern and friends want straight women to know that doing so is a recipe for disappointment. They also want them to know that there are plenty of lesbians who would be happy to oblige their need for amorous adventure. Needless to say, all of this is an ideal subject for a tongue-in-cheek video.
I think it's pretty funny but I'll offer a word of caution that it contains adult language that some may find offensive.
March 29, 2008
This Boy's In Love is the latest single from Apocalypso, the second album of The Presets. The two man band hails from Sydney and the duo released their first album, Beams, in 2005.
The vocals, particularly on this song, remind me of Peter Murphy...with an added measure of Howard Jones. The sound of this song is definitely reminiscent of the 80's though some of their offerings have a distinct punk flavor as well as hints of disco.
The duo cite Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Trans Am, and The Pet Shop Boys as influences on their music. Their high energy style shouts dance music though it's hard to lock in on a distinct genre. Perhaps that's what makes them so refreshing.
Their MySpace page can be found here.
The music video follows as does a dance remix.
The Presets - This Boy's In Love
This Boy's In Love - Lifelike Remix
March 13, 2008
You Know Me Better is the latest single to be released from Roisin Murphy's CD, Overpowered. For those unfamiliar with Murphy, she is a Irish born singer songwriter formerly of the duo Moloko. Overpowered, released in late 2007, is her second solo CD; following on the heels of her 2005 debut CD, Ruby Blue.
Her sound isn't unique, as it reminds me of some of the last vestiges of disco during the transitional years to the distinctive stylization of the 80's. As to comparisons, Murphy's sound has been mimicked by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
I like the retro feel of the video and the many different looks Murphy embodies. It's a bit campy, yet still stylistic. The mixture of bold and brazen personas with a reserved shyness is a nice combination and it dovetails nicely with the songs lyrics.
He MySpace page can be found here.
January 23, 2008
Sadly, we never know for sure when death will arrive...some of us live well into our old age having traveled far and wide...some of us depart in the middle of the journey...some of us are still undecided about which journey to take. It's doubtful we'll ever know for sure where Heath Ledger stood on that continuum.
We're left to hope the time he spent here was deliberate and meaningful...we're left to imagine our own alternate endings...but we're also lucky to have had the opportunity to observe the trajectory of his emerging career. Fortunately, as we each take a moment to visualize our preferred final scene for his life's script, we have a rich blueprint to build upon.
I posted the following video shortly after the release of Brokeback Mountain. This video is a compilation of scenes from Brokeback Mountain set to the James Blunt song "Goodbye My Lover", one of the best songs (IMO) off of his CD Back To Bedlam. It seems a fitting tribute.
December 28, 2007
Endings & Beginnings: Not The Same Auld Lang Syne genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Happy Remembrances & Rhyme-N-Reason & Tuned Out & Video-Philes
Life can be about symmetry or it can also be about irony...and occasionally it can be about both at the same time. As I've pondered the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008...looking for words to say goodbye to one year as well as to greet the new year...Dan Fogelberg's death came to mind as did his song "Same Old Lang Syne".
Both seemed to fit the moment as well as capture the essence that so often eludes us during the holidays...a realization that in the course of one year, life and death have traveled hand in hand. What one takes, the other returns...though the ledger never seems to satisfy as losses and gains are difficult to measure.
Life and death, one year stacked upon another, the constant parade of seasons...all mark endings and beginnings though none are quite the same...yet each prevails when it arrives. Some bring symmetry, some bring irony, some bring neither, and some bring both.
Regardless, at the end of any journey, all that remains are the stories we tell. As we enter 2008, may your stories be filled with joy, may your losses leave you with treasured tales of times gone by, and may you gain the wisdom to accept what yesterday has brought...as well as what tomorrow may bring.
The following video is a holiday greeting set to Dan Fogelberg's "Same Old Lang Syne". Below it is a poem I wrote many years back while seeking to make sense of the countless dichotomies found in this existence. Today, I simply accept that their constance represents the nature of our uniquely human story.
That which blankets...
Be gone now
it is said...
Life shall come;
remove the dead.
Beneath the snow,
The seed survives...
Till when at last,
the sun shall rise.
The freezing wanes
Where life begins...
The water flows,
We start again.
Will fill our eyes...
Death at bay;
The living thrive.
But who shall lead
The blind to light?
December 20, 2007
I first saw Nicole Atkins perform The Way It Is on The Late Show with David Letterman. I remember thinking her voice sounded like another artist I really like...but I couldn't think of who it was. When I decided to post her performance, I listened to the song she sang on Letterman and I also found a second song, Neptune City, which I've posted below.
That's when it hit me...she sounds a lot like Mama Cass from The Mama's & the Papa's. Her sound also reminds me of the folksy style of Judy Collins from many of her old songs...although Atkins has incorporated a number of new elements in her style and her sound.
Atkins grew up in New Jersey and her album, "Neptune City", has the same name as the city in which she was raised. "Neptune City" is Atkins' first widely recognized work. To find out more about Atkins, you can visit her web page here...or her MySpace page here.
Nicole Atkins - The Way It Is
Nicole Atkins - Neptune City
November 8, 2007
I love music and I've tried to included a lot of it here at Thought Theater. Today, I'm including the first artist that I actually know...and one well deserving of the attention. James Roy isn't widely known...yet...but he ought to be. Aside from liking James the person, I like his music and I love his lyrics.
I first met James in a club in Denver through a mutual friend. As I was traveling around the world in 2005, James and I exchanged emails after my friend assured James I wasn't a loon with an agenda. I simply wanted to know more about the person who sang the words that spoke to me. Ever since, we've kept in contact.
I've followed James' career and the release of his CD's as well as his first music video. When I started Thought Theater, I told James I would be happy to do a posting to introduce my readers to his music...and I'm happy to say that day has arrived.
With the recent debate in the LGBT community over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)...a debate which has been spirited and divisive at times...it seemed like the right moment to introduce James and his thoughtful and insightful words and images...words and images that speak to many of the issues that mean so much to the LGBT community.
I strongly recommend that readers visit James' website here...as well as his MySpace page here. He also has a microsite...here...that features the many remix tracks for his song, Rise Above. If you go to his site and click on the music tab and scroll down to the last CD, Don't Let Me Go; that was the first promo release of James' music and the CD I purchased the night I first heard him sing.
If you like what you hear, by all means tell your friends and encourage them to visit James' site or to stop by Thought Theater and take a look-see. If you have a website or know someone who does, don't hesitate to post his music video. Oh, and most importantly, if you do like his music, by all means purchase one of his CD's.
I've included the following bio which I lifted from James' website. Following his bio are two versions of his song, Rise Above. The first is the original release and the second is the remix James is currently featuring. After the two videos, I've included a graphic I threw together which contains the lyrics to Rise Above.
Not every artist starts out as one. For James Roy, it took a four-year electrical engineering degree and a taste of the corporate world before he realized that life is more about living than trying to meet the expectations of others. In the few years that followed, he built up a studio, founded the company Blue Disco Records, Ltd., and started capturing the world around him in high-energy songs with powerful lyrics.
Each song he writes is a completely different experience - a different story, sound, and emotion - and no single track can describe the rest. From edgy and aggressive to happy and upbeat, James builds a complex and changing soundscape that is held together by one idea: that we can always try something new and from that we can learn to grow.
With the desire to make a positive impact and encourage people to think differently, James released his first music video Rise Above. Full of strong imagery and vibrant color, the video exposes his feelings about discrimination and offers the scenario of a more progressive and open-minded society. Rather than perpetuating conflict through aggression, he suggests taking a greater perspective through understanding.
Following up with his new album "begin", he continues his musical journey with a collection of songs about new experiences and self-realization. He offers the chance to look at life in a new way, with each event as a stepping-stone to the next opportunity.
James is currently growing his business through production and remix services, live performances, online distribution, and promoting his new album. Each day he takes another step in following his dreams.
James Roy - Rise Above
James Roy - Rise Above (Radikal DJ's Edit)
November 4, 2007
Leslie Feist, who performs as Feist, appeared on Saturday Night Live last evening. Feist is a Canadian who has performed in a number of bands but surprisingly gained her fame in the United States following the use of her song 1234 in a commercial for Apple's iPod Nano.
The song is from Feist's third album titled The Reminder. I think 1234 is very reminiscent of the song, Fidelity, by Regina Spektor. Feist has a long history of collaborating with other artists and it no doubt has added to her interesting sound. Her work is primarily driven by her vocals which offer a blend of jazz and folk influences...all delivered with a quiet, yet piercing and pure, clarity.
The first video is of her performance on Saturday Night Live last night and the second video is from a performance on The Late Show a couple of months back. I find it interesting to see how the song is "packaged" for the two different demographics.
Feist Performs 1234 On SNL
Feist Performs 1234 On David Letterman
October 18, 2007
Every now and then a band emerges with more than an appealing sound. Augie March is one of those bands. The band hails from Australia and they recently launched their first major U.S. release titled, Moo, You Bloody Choir. You can find their MySpace page here.
The band is led by Glenn Richards who is arguably more poet than pop star. His songs tell stories...but the manner in which they are told makes them uniquely gripping and overflowing with emotion. Unlike many songwriters who seek to overwhelm the listener, Richards approach is subtle and somber, yet informed and inspiring. This magical mix sets Richards apart and left me struggling to identify a comparable contemporary as well as a list of identifiable influences.
Much of what is written about the band references Bob Dylan and while I hear it...it seems an incomplete description. My own take...less folksy than Steve Forbert's It Isn't Gonna Be That Way though equally poetic and poignant...more simplistic than The Waterboys though quite similar in the the use of muted imagery and symbolism...and possessing some evidence of the reflective angst found in many of the songs of Hothouse Flowers. Feel free to offer your own comparisons as I'm still trying to lock in on something more definitive.
The following video is Augie March performing One Crowded Hour, a song from the new CD.
Augie March - One Crowded Hour
October 14, 2007
Fado has been around for many years and is frequently considered to be Portuguese folk music with a focus on the sea and the travails of the poor. Above all else, the music is richly emotive and representative of the feelings associated with the long absence of a loved one.
The first video that follows is from her recent performance on Letterman's The Late Show. The song is called, O Gente Da Minha Terra, which translates to "Oh People Of My Land". The song can be found on her CD titled Concerto Em Lisboa. I was mesmerized by this performance and her evocative stage presence. The second video is the actual music video for the same song.
Mariza On Letterman- O Gente Da Minha Terra
Mariza Music Video - O Gente Da Minha Terra