Music’s 3Rs 05.20.13: Tempted By The Dumb of Another
Posted by Sean Comer on 05.20.2013
From Kanye West debuting new songs on SNL and Bill Wyman being done with the Rolling Stones to Smashing Pumpkins covering "Space Oddity," Beyonce's pregnancy rumors and more, 411's Sean Comer breaks down the Right, the wRong and the Ridiculous from the week in music!
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Greetings, fellow Babies, and welcome back to Music's 3 Rs. I'm Sean, your malpractice-insured doctor of dumb with a Malaysian license that permits me to perform acupuncture, go elbow-deep to relieve an impacted bowel, operate a forklift, and manage professional wrestlers.
Always remember, I didn't break the news. It was that way when I got here.
Kanye West rolls out "New Slaves" and "Black Skinheads" on SNL
Personal preface: I haven't exactly been overly enamored in a while with Kanye West.
Quite honestly, his lyricism ever since his third album, Graduation, has come across to me as belying that the man has fallen prey to the same excesses that he came across as so uneasy toward during the most provocative moments of The College Dropout. That's not to say that he hasn't displayed imaginative production that's warranted admiration.
It's just that he's also often sounded bereft of a passion for music.
That being said, the two new tracks from his forthcoming album Yeezus represent the most fired-up Kanye anyone has heard in years…even if the lyrics to "Black Skinheads" adopt the "Ultimate Warrior Promo" strategy of saying absolutely nothing worth remembering, but yelling whatever you do say with enough conviction that nobody perceives the nonsense.
(Yeah, about that…"I keep it 300 like the Romans"…the Spartans were Greek, precious. Then again, your cute little "300 bitches/where's the Trojans?" line falters without intentionally sounding like a bit of a prat. Lesson to take away in the future: if you have to completely botch a reference intentionally to make a line work…write something different.)
Then again, "New Slaves" does make up for it somewhat with a rare return by West to the kind of self-aware social commentary of which he's capable at his best. Both tracks boast a fascinating Depeche Mode-evoking style that's so engagingly raucous, one can particularly miss just how hollow the "Black Skinheads" really are and still enjoy the track.
Yeezus -- which I am shaking my head at and deeming the "Occupy the Throne" of album titles – hits stores June 18.
Smashing Pumpkins cover "Space Oddity" at SXSW
I love it when a cover delivers exactly what I hear in my head when I think of the covering artist taking on the particular song in question.
Rolling Stone released this clip of Corgan and Co. taking on the David Bowie classic earlier this year during a rooftop set at the annual Austin, TX, festival. I can only imagine the grief I may catch below from Bowie loyalists, but…I enjoyed the hell out of this. It's not without fault; Corgan's phrasing results in him trailing off some lines far less cleanly than the way Bowie finished them, and the explosive drumming tends to overwhelm what is often otherwise a very sound delivery. Then again, chalk that up to no live version of a song ever living up to the original's studio smoothing of the edges.
Still, when this live version gets it right, it gets it right. Corgan and Jeff Schroeder in particular together capture the original's tripped-out guitars and synth in fine form. Being a big longtime Smashing Pumpkins fan, it is precisely what I expected the whole way around. Sometimes, I'm just that easy to please.
Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine continue leaving lasting mark with new USC academy
If this is to be the mark that Dr. Dre seeks to leave upon music's future, then I am completely fine with relegating Detox to permanent "urban legend" status.
The word for "God" on the lips of all hip-hop – or at least, in my opinion, he still deserves to be – joined Interscope Records business partner Jimmy Iovine in committing a combined $70 million to the University of Southern California to found the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. The four-year undergraduate program will educate students in fields including marketing, computer science and visual design via entertainment-industry interaction and the mentoring of USC faculty employed by other present university programs. The program's first 25 students will begin their matriculation this coming fall.
This is truly the kind of program that could leave an indelible mark on a generation of young, burgeoning artists and entertainers, if fostered properly. Arguably the most admirable trait of success that Dre has displayed into this era of his artistic career has been his willingness to evolve a value for well-rounded entrepreneurship and education that's steadily matured from his earliest days. He thinks forward, and thus has never been a man at a loss without recording his own new material.
Think of how many artists have stumbled from successful recording careers into a depressing obscurity for simple want of a vision for something bigger. Through this program, creative minds can hone and nurture skills – hard and soft – that they can then parlay into either fallback strategies or developing ventures that augment their artistic pursuits.
More than a guest verse or a hot beat, this is something Dre and Iovine can pay forward to arts and entertainment that will resonate in a lasting fashion.
Mike Mills: R.E.M. won't reunite
I list this among the Right because I genuinely hope that it's true.
So far, R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills told Rolling Stone recently, the Athens, GA, trio will remain true to their word: they're retired. Given the clean, amicable break that Mills described, it's easy to understand a reticence to gamble an ideal ending on the band's own terms.
"There were no real factors other than deciding it was time to break up," Mills explained. "There's no drug abuse. There's no in-fighting. There's no legal problems. It was time to break up. That's never really been done before. The idea of breaking up and not reforming for a reunion tour is kind of attractive to us. I doubt you'll see us touring as R.E.M. again. On the other hand, I just played with Peter [Buck] in New York City the other night, so fun things do happen."
Sometimes, reunions bear stunning new fruit, such as 2012's return of a revitalized-sounding Soundgarden. Others are more like the reconciliation of the Pixies: several shows a year at hand-selected festivals, but a dearth of organic creativity.
R.E.M. were never a band content to coast on "playing their hits." This is one act that, if the fires have truly burned down to ash, I would really rather see scatter to the winds.
Remember, Babies: "The man who knows when ‘enough' is enough will always have enough."
Beyonce addresses rumored pregnancy via Instagram pouting
Alleged to be sporting yet another of Jay-Z's buns in her oven, Beyonce addressed the chatter via her Instagram with about the rationality anyone would expect.
"I can't stop the rumors from starting, and I can't really change people's minds who believe them, all I can do is sit back and laugh at these low life people who have nothing better to do than talk about me," she groused.
Because if you genuinely believe that the insane attention heaped upon this delusional egomaniac of a genetic-material depository during her first pregnancy will actually dampen her thirst for perpetual adoration, then you probably also envy your usual Papa John's delivery driver for all the buxom, lonely housewives he must stumble constantly across who want a personal garlic-butter tasting from his small cheesebread.
Of course, befitting someone whose foundation of success has been making herself the center of attention and cried about that strategy's vast success like a baby with a diaper full of shit, she displayed the full conviction of her pregnancy-chatter resentment by having two backup dancers at a Zurich, Switzerland stop on her Mrs. Carter concert tour trot a couple PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System) units onto her stage.
You're not Bob Dylan, David Bowie or even your husband, you half-wit. Like it or not, maintaining your career's upward trajectory depends upon your perpetual visibility, and we all know that you know that. You don't rank among even remotely high enough an artistic echelon to be able to leave the public eye at length – as if you seemingly want to do so – and still have anybody give nearly as much a rat's ass when you release new music.
Beyonce chases high-profile performances such as headlining a Super Bowl halftime show, then decides to pick a fight with the entire Internet akin to flinging spitballs at Cthulu. She didn't exactly go to great lengths to keep herself sheltered from the public eye while pregnant the first time and arguably feasted heartily upon the perpetual pregnancy coverage the way most expectant mothers devour cookie dough-covered pickles – for fuck's sake, Jay-Z had recorded and released a rap dedicated to his new daughter Blue Ivy Carter within days of her birth -- but now insists on deeming anybody actually paying attention again "low life people who have nothing better to do than talk about [her]."
Cthulu with Cupcakes, I feel like I'm explaining the principles of priorities to a college freshman, not a north-of-30 mother: you can't stake your entire career path upon perpetual visibility in high-profile appearances, then turn around and lash out petulantly at everybody who acknowledges you. You look like an insane bitch when you get snippy about reports that you're pregnant, then court even more chatter by parading out PRAMS units while performing before an international audience.
Pick one side and ride it out, but personally, I support that of "Go the fuck away forever."
Bill Wyman's farewell to the Rolling Stones
Hope you enjoyed those O2 anniversary shows while they lasted, Babies.
Bassist Bill Wyman broke the bad news this week to The Huffington Post: for want of feeling like it's worth it anymore, he's played his last licks with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts.
"The nice thing was that my kids saw me on stage with the Stones," Wyman said. "They'd asked me the December before, and I had to jam with them for three days. I was under the impression I was going to get really involved, but when it came to it, they only wanted me to do two songs, which was very disappointing."
Truly, that is a sad state of affairs. Wyman gave so very much to the heart and soul of the band's 50-year anthology. I said it before, and I'll say it again: it was indeed a borderline criminal insult to bring him back to the fold for only two songs throughout the band's reunion gigs.
Then again, it's not like it was the only news this week that things broken couldn't be mended…
Ozzy: Bill Ward was a mess during recent Black Sabbath rehearsals
So, back in February 2012, Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward claimed that a contract impasse had begat his bowing out from reuniting with the pioneering hard-rock quartet for an upcoming album and tour.
That's not how Ozzy Osbourne remembers it, oddly enough.
Granted, if anybody embodies "unreliable narrator," it would be Ozzy. Playing Devil's Advocate for a moment, The Ozz Man claimed this week that Ward's present state left him in no condition whatsoever to back up himself, Tommi Iommi and Geezer Butler on even the band's old material.
What's worse, Ozzy claims, Ward chose to string the band along instead of outright telling his compatriots that he'd lost the plot.
"We looked at Bill, and he couldn't remember what the fuck we were doing," Ozzy told NME. "But he didn't come clean and say, 'I can't cut this gig, but can we work something out, guys, where I'll come on but with another drummer backing me up?' Or, 'I'll come and play a few songs.' That would have been cool. You know them yellow fucking stick-on memo notes? He had them all over his fucking drums. I was like, 'What the fuck's that for, Bill?' He said, 'I can't remember what I'm doing.' I go, 'How are you gonna remember out of those 500,000 bits of paper stuck all over your kit, which one you're looking at, Bill?'"
What I really hate to admit? After reviewing the band's new single "God is Dead" for this week's Music Buy or Sell, I can't really even say that Ozzy, Geezer and Tommy sound any worse off at all without Ward.
Nothing. Nope. Nothing particularly outrageous this week, since I'm not devoting another couple hundred or so words to Justin Bieber's monkey or Diddy trolling Downton Abbey fans because…reasons.
Therefore, I'm just going to keep poking Beyonce with sticks.
The sun's comin' up…I'm ridin' with Lady Luck
Thanks for stopping by, fellow Babies. I'm Sean. You're not. Never dull your colors for someone else's canvas.