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but is it art?


music review::dean gray- american edit

i thought of posting this one earlier, like, say, when everyone including mtv was talking about this project, but i decided to wait, because i didn’t want to talk about it in order to build its hype, i wanted to actually review it as music (as opposed to a media event).

first of all, if you don’t know about dean gray go here before reading on.

as a listener, i’ve always considered mash-ups a technically charming art form, but not much else. the magic of the mash-up is twofold; 1. you feel clever when you’re able to name all the sound sources and 2. it is the epitome of pop music. think about it: the perfect pop song is one that makes you think you’ve heard it before. mash-ups are entirely made up of music you HAVE heard before and, as in this case, usually the most recognisable parts of it. (if you don’t believe me, ask madonna. her latest single is anchored on a repetitive sample of an abba song embedded in the popular conscious decades ago.)

as pop music, this is untouchable. even if your acquaintance with pop is incidental (as mine is), you can sing along with almost the whole album. it’s reader’s digest for music. it even has a pretty wide scope (as far as pop music goes), incorporating everything from aerosmith to dr. who to kanye west. which only underlines it’s uber-pop status- trying to appeal to the broadest audience possible.

like the catchiest (and, hence, most memorable) pop music, american edit is ebullient. it’s almost impossible not to bounce in time with it as it chortles along, bringing you all the music that got stuck in your head as you scanned the radio looking for something you actually liked.

unlike other pop music, though, the mash-up is all about the construction. if you don’t know this already, let me break something to you: all pop music is constructed. i don’t just mean that someone writes it, that’s a given. i mean that someone actually concentrates on making it accessible and catchy, so that you’ll remember it, even if it annoys the hell out of you. mash-ups call your attention to how they are constructed and to why the music in them sticks in your head. this could be intended to make the listener think about more carefully about the music they listen to. (more likely, i analyse things too much and it’s intended only to show off the producers’ considerable talents and, with luck, land them a contract, as a similar mash-up did for dj danger mouse.)

the problem with mash-ups is that they tend to lose your interest once the curiosity value wears off (two and a half listens for the average person). and in that respect, american edit, although a stellar example of the form, isn’t really any different. listening to an entire album of this is kind of like eating a bag of cotton candy. it’s kind of cool at first, but you overload pretty quickly. although as far as top forty goes, green day probably provide as good a backbone as you're going to find, a lot of the other source material grates on my nerves (if i go the rest of my life without hearing the eagles, i’ll be happy in hell). this limits my ability to listen to it repeatedly. in an ironic twist, by jumbling up the music of “mainstream” american idiot with a lot of other stuff, the “underground” producers gut the album of its political content (making it even more ideal as pop music).

you may notice that i’ve spent far more time in this review talking about the form of the music than the substance. there’s a reason for this: as music that will stand the test of time, this doesn’t have what it takes. which only goes to cement its position as the greatest pop album ever.

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jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: hot stuff, comin' through

i don't even know what to say about the weather. the end of september saw temperatures at a scalding 36c/ 97f outside. this is especially annoying because we've had a moderate summer. most days it rained a little in the morning, the temperatures didn't creep into the 30s too often and there wasn't the normal stretch of a few weeks when it felt like we were living on the sun. now, we've receded into more normal fall weather, although it's still on the warm side for mid-october. that climate change thing is a bitch.

trying to think of something positive in the situation, it does put me in a perfect frame of mind to write about urban decay's naked heat palette. it's the latest in what appears to be an endless series of warm neutral and red eyeshadow palettes that have followed in the footsteps of anastasia's modern renaissance. [which i ultimately decided i didn't need after doing a thorough search of my considerable stash.] i do think that it'…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…