Saturday, June 27, 2009

The One Where I Have Nothing To Say

This is going to sound cold and unfeeling, but when I heard Michael Jackson died on Thursday, I didn't even flinch. As I left my apartment to head to the grocery store, I saw the posted articles about his heart attack on Facebook. I didn't blink twice. I just thought, "Hmmm, not good," and left. At the checkout counter, the person ringing me up said to his co-worker in the next aisle, "Did you hear? Michael Jackson's dead. It was on the news." I didn't look up in shock, horror, or even surprise. Possibly because he didn't relate this information with much concern on his own part. But I came back, and went about my day as if nothing happened. Watched an episode of Bones. So You Think You Can Dance did a short tribute at the beginning of the show. During the commercial breaks, I looked it up, to make sure it was true. All the blogs had pictures up with captions/headings like "In Remembrance"; notably, most of them were photos of him when he still had dark skin and an afro. Only then was it true - he had died. It was sad. But not sad in a 9/11 tragic sort of way. Just sad in the regular vein of someone dying. Not an event of significant gravity.

I almost feel like I should be more concerned though. It's weird when I think about it: for someone who loves music as much as I claim to, Michael Jackson didn't have that much of an influence on me. Indirectly, he's much a part of my interests as everyone and everything that I feel has had some significant influence on me was inspired by him. But directly? Not so much. I'm a late eighties baby. By the time I started getting interested in pop music, (which was pretty late since my parents refused to let us kids watch any sort of music television), he'd already put out the History album. "Black or White" was my introduction to Michael, his talent and his genius. The next significant memory of his music was the music video for "Childhood" which was a special feature on the Free Willy 2 VHS (I loved those movies when I was a kid.), and my attempts to fill in the backstory to the "Smooth Criminal" video. I listened to the History album and caught up on what was by now common knowledge. And then Michael took a backseat. I didn't grow up with his music in my ears because I grew up during his long hiatus from music. My older siblings jammed Biggie and Boyz II Men and a little Jay-Z, but no Michael. And Invincible, in my opinion, couldn't hold a candle to his old work. So I couldn't really relate when I saw pictures of people crying, and when my dancer friend called me and talked to me about how she couldn't believe it, and she wished it wasn't true, and tagged me in a Facebook note where she described how MJ impacted her life. It didn't really mean all that much to me.

His passing is sad, I won't deny. I've been listening to his music since yesterday and reminding myself of what the world lost by his passing. But he'd already given us a lot of himself: you could even say he gave too much. And he lived a long life - I unfortunately know a lot of people who didn't even make it to 20, or 15. People die every day. A 16 year old girl was gunned down in Iran while out watching the election protests. I search "13 year old black model" trying to find out what's up with Gerren Taylor these days, and Google comes up with like 5 news articles of young black kids either shooting someone or getting shot. Life is short, life is precious, but I get that already. Michael's death isn't so much a reminder of that as it is another event in the long chain of events that make up the human experience and the nightly news roundup.

But I'm left here wondering why I'm writing a music blog if the biggest influence in pop music today dies and I don't really have anything to say about it at the end of four paragraphs apart from "It's sad." Maybe there's something more to my love for music than just the links it can create to my memories and my childhood. Maybe the world's so f-ed up that feeling sad about the death of someone I didn't know seems pointless, and maybe even trite. Maybe, in the grand scheme of things, my exam on Thursday is more important than Michael Jackson. (Right now, at least.) Or maybe it's just sad, and nothing more. I will say this, though - if his passing makes me write a long blog post when I have a test in 5 days, it has to be of some sort of significance.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I <3 Amazon

Just got Mos Def's "The Ecstatic" for $3.99!!! This has made my week :)

I also got Chrisette Michele's new album a couple of months ago for $2.99, but haven't listened to it yet (slaps herself on the hand).

I was worried that I wasn't going to be able to afford to actually buy my music, since I like so many different artists. But if Amazon keeps this up, that won't be a problem :) They are also selling 88-Keys and The Foreign Exchange's albums for $5, along with albums from Coheed and Cambria, Eartha Kitt, and Cream. Get them while they're hot.

That being said, all future gifts in the form of iTunes/Amazon/7digital gift cards, or actual CDs, will be gratefully accepted :)

P.S. Green Day released a new album and I've heard NOTHING about it. What gives? I thought they were like the pioneers of 90's punk rock, and a major influence on many of today's bands. Oh well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Remember the days...

...when all the dancing popstars needed to do was a little two-step coupled with enough hair flipping and six-pack flashing to keep the fans screaming? It's like that's changing. Below is a video for the song "Beat Again" by the British boyband JLS (they won some awards show...), and from the looks of it, they are doing some serious popping and locking.

Compare with 5ive's video for "If Ya Gettin' Down, circa 1999. Minimal dancing from the band themselves, but decent moves from the back-up dancers.

I still like this song, though I now find it considerably cheesy and not as banging as I originally thought. A little remastering and remixing though, and I would bump this song in my car. If I had a car, that is.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Drought

I love music. Yes, it's obvious, I know. I go through albums and mixtapes like it's my job (kinda wish it was...). They haven't yet invented a subscription music service that gives me ALL the music I want (And until then, I will continue to say that the digital music industry, globally, needs to step up its game). But it's like the good artists are taking a sabbatical. Right now, I miss Corinne Bailey Rae, Maroon 5, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu. I'm sad because I can't really expect them to suddenly appear with music anytime soon. Maroon 5 takes their time with each album, which I appreciate, because their last two albums have been amazing. Corinne Bailey Rae lost her husband last year, and has barely recorded anything since. Lauryn Hill has been on hiatus for years, and the only track we've heard from her since only makes me sadder that her career kinda just stopped and never really started back up again, despite claims and rumors that she has recorded many tracks. And yes, I know Erykah Badu released New Amerykah Part I last year, but I wish she'd hurry up and release part II.

Usually I find another artist to keep me occupied until my favorites release new music, but there's nobody right now. I mean, nobody. I'm going to see Drake in concert this week, and I'm not even excited. And I love Drake. I have Bat for Lashes's new album on my iPod but I feel like I've listened to it all already. New music does nothing for me, and old music is... well, old. What's going on?

Maybe this whole music thing was a phase, and I'm finally phasing out. Or maybe I have too much music, and the good stuff is hidden under all the extra fodder I've collected to fill my iTunes library. Or maybe I'm realizing that music can never be "new". Everything that you've done has probably been done before in some form or shape. Every new beat is modeled off an old one, every new lyric or tune is a tribute to its ancestors. The last time I felt excitement or enthusiasm about a new artist or song was in February.

What makes music special then?