Thursday, May 05, 2005

R&B Music Pet Peeves

I love R&B Music. How could I not. The operative word for me is rhythm. Anything that has a good beat automatically gets a plus on my scorecard. But despite my love for this genre, I am very much aware of its inherent imperfections, especially in the latter years. Like any type of music, there are some negative things about R&B that tend to grate on my nerves and have me searching out my alternative rock cds after a while of listening to it too much.

Let me elaborate on those inherent flaws

1.It gets a little boring to sing about sex all the time
Sex is important. It's a good thing (in theory). Nothing wrong with singing about sex sometimes. But can we have more songs that are not about getting it on? Perhaps about the environment, child abuse, war, poverty, you name it? How many times to we have to hear about wanting to do someone on various pieces of furniture in various ways? Even worse, when we descend to graphic details about such actions. I could name names, but I won't. Anyone who listens to enough R&B knows where I'm coming from.
2.I really could do without the obligatory rap solo
There you are, jamming to some great singing and a hot melody when bam, insert rap chorus. Sorry that was very distracting and not necessary at all. Why did you have to ruin my song by adding the rap part? Don't get me wrong. Nothing against rap music. It's cool and all, but if I wanted to listen to a rap song I would have put one on. Maybe I just want to hear some singing straight through without an interruption. Pretty much every R&B cd is guility of having at least one song with rap solo in it, so I don't even have to point fingers.
3.Where did the actual music with real instruments go?
Sometimes I'm left to wonder if there's a musician strike going on when I turn on a R&B cd or two or three, and there's no real music in the backrgound. There's a basic, generic beat that my portable Casio keyboard at home could cook up. What's that about? Is it just cheapness on the part of the record label? Sure you can do this new cd by this hot new artist, but here's the catch: You cannot hire one musician. Just use a keyboard. Have the engineer cue it up for the artist to sing over. Um, I paid top dollar for this cd. Can I have some music with it? This usually sends me flocking over to the land of long haired, depressed, White boys singing and playing real guitars, and maybe even with a real piano or saxophone in the background. I've really gotten to the point when I wince when that what I called canned, generic r&B beat comes on. I know that it's about the voice, but the voice sounds so much better with a great musical background. Like a pretty frame to a wonderful painting.
4.Did you really have to rip off my favorite song and remake it, and I use the term loosely?
Perhaps some of you who happen to stumble across this blog were old enough to hear Tom Tom Club's Book of Love in the 80s. Great song. Well some years ago, there was a new song by a really really big R&B diva that pretty much remade the song, but not in a way that did justice to this 80s club standard. What's up with that? Sampling is a part of the music industry, but there's a thin line between sampling and remaking without calling it the same name. Come on!
5.Did you flunk out of grammar school?
I'm sure you didn't, so why do you deliberately misspell common, easy words and use bad grammar on purpose? And you rap guys are especially, heinously guilty of this. Perhaps you should use your millions that you made on that single that makes your grammar teacher turn green because everyone knows you were in her class and go back to school and remediate the fifth grade. Or better yet, buy a dictionary. Maybe your mother can stop having to tell people that she definitely made you go to school so it's not her fault if you can't spell or use proper English. I admit it's a pet peeve of mine, but it's my blog so I get to complain!
6.Why would you write a song about your bad behavior, as if you're proud of it?
Last time I checked, cheating on a spouse or a significant other was frowned upon. Do you brag about not bathing, wearing deodorant, farting in public, or having bad breath? Why would you brag about being a player, stepping out on your man, stealing another girl's boyfriend, or getting a girl pregnant while you are cheating on your own girlfriend? And ladies, are you really that proud of your thuggish boyfriend who's on the revolving door out of prison? Also if you know he's a dog, just leave him, so you can sing about global warning or the destruction of the rainforest instead. Just food for thought is all.
7.X-Nay on the Interlude-ay
Why do most r&b albums have interludes? Most of the time they are really dumb or crass with someone doing a skit that is usually blatantly unfunny. Or they may have a good song that once you start getting into it, dies a premature death. There's the standard 'insert r&b singer's name-leave a message.' That was unique and cool about ten years ago, but now it's just tired. I think of interludes, quite frankly as filler. And as long as there are great songs, I personally don't need filler on my records.
Well, hopefully someone is feeling a little gratified or commiserating with me. Perhaps all the things that I discussed are mainstays in your minds. At any right, I felt the need to discuss them these major rants that I have with the genre, from the viewpoint of a serious fan, mind you.
Well, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I think I'll go listen to my media player, chock full of r&b songs :)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Don't You Just Hate When People Ask You What Your Theme Song Is?

It's such a malleable thing. There is not one song that perfectly describes me or my like. There are songs that act like a crutch for me to make it through. I do have to say that right now "1 Thing" by Amerie is definitely hitting the spot. I hear it, it makes me dance, gives me a false sense of euphoria, and makes me want to shake my groove thing.
Most of the time I'm really feeling the whole "I'm British, or I Want To Be, and Besides, I'm Pretty Depressed." What groups fall in that category, you ask? Or another way of putting the question is, what groups do I have to reach for because they put me in that frame of mind?
Lets see:
1.Keane--you probably know them from the Victoria's Secret commercial. "The End of Everything."
2.Coldplay--they vary from 'why does life suck' to 'it's gonna be alright.' I like that about them. "Shiver," "Clocks", "Trouble", "Don't Panic", "Green Eyes", which is pretty much country but let me preface this by saying I don't like country music.
3.Gene--they fell into the late 50s, early 60s beatnik club, and never found their way out quite, but I love them for it. I could listen to their song, "From Georgia To Osaka" twenty times a day.
4.Elbow--very strange but beautiful songs. I admit I haven't learned the names of any of their songs yet. Sorry.
5.Doves--bordering on electronica, which I happen to love. They have lovely songs titles like "M26", and "Northenden". I saw "Catch The Sun" on MTV2 back when they played more then just heavy metal/goth and hip hop and had to buy their "Lost Souls" CD.
6.Muse--they are harder rock then I usually prefer. But I love that song "Hysteria." The lead singer does the whole Jeff Buckley wailing thing that I adore.
7.The Stills--gosh I have no idea if they're British or not. But I'm loving "Fevered," "Gender Bombs," and "Love and Death," off their "Logic Will Break Your Heart CD.
8.Travis--very folksy, soft rockish alternative music. They got my attention with "Sing," which has the banjo sound. Normally I hate Banjo but it sort of works in this song. I love love love "Last Train" although the second verse is somewhat disturbing. "If it's all the same to you, here's what I'm going to do...I'm gonna buy a gun..shoot everything, everyone. And then I'll come for you..for it was you that drove me to...This could be the last train." I know, kind of scary but soo beautiful.
Strangely enough, if you're new to the whole Nouveau British Invasion sound, I definitely recommend picking up the Roswell Soundtrack. It's a great sampler for that sound, featuring The Doves, Coldplay, Travis, and some other good ones. The OC soundtracks also have some good ones, although I don't want the show. Thankfully my friend hooked me up the soundtracks :)
I Think I Probably Fell Into An 80s Time Tunne1
I love that early 80s sound. If I hear a group that gets that sound, I'm there. Some of my favorites:
1.The Strokes--they have that song down pat. "Alone, Together" is a particular favorite.
2.The Killers--I wore that CD out. "Somebody Told Me," "On Top," "Midnight Show," and "Smile Like You Mean It," are my favorites on there.
3.Modest Mouse--"The Good Times Are Killing Me," is amazing to me. I can't say that's my life though. "Sail On" has such a great guitar motif.
4.Franz Ferdinand--Really good guitar. Unpronounceable sound names at times. This Scottish band is throwing their hat into the alternative rock scene.
The standards
Duran Duran is my all time favorite band so I keep a lot of their songs on rotation. I particularly love "Last Chance on The Stairway," "Union of the Snake," "My Antarctica".
Mandalay's "This Life" is in constant rotation both on my mix cds and also on my media player. It will never be deleted as a matter of fact.
Maria has a couple songs that I adore too: "Lonely" and "My Soul". Both beautiful ballads that really touch me.
Bronski Beat has an older song called "Small-town Boy" that I seemed to be obsessed with.
Depeche Mode's "Home," "Never Let Me Down Again," "Love Thieves" tend to be played on a regular basis. I also really like "World in My Eyes" too.
As far as instrumental, a piece from The Specialist Score from one of my favorite composers, John Barry, is a favorite too. "When Ray Meets May At The Church" is the name of it. It's about 2 and 1/2 minutes, short and sweet and pretty.
My girl Kelis hits the spot with "Trick Me," "Flashback," "Protect My Heart" from her Tasty CD.
Then there's Beyonce' and her early Destiny's Child endeavors. I love to hear "Signs", Beyonce's collaboration with Missy Elliot about different horoscope signs and their relationship potential. I adore "Confessions" another Missy collab from Destiny's Child second and best CD "The Writing is On The Wall." That is a great, great song and I can listen to it two, three times a day at least.
If I had to pin down a song or two that tells me how I should be:
"Serious" by Duran Duran
"Not The Same" by Crystal Lewis--A Christian song that talks about how Jesus changes us for the better.

But I do have to say that the Dandy Warhol's "You Were The Last High," definitely could win the award for the most overplayed song in my collection, followed by "From Georgia To Osaka" by Gene as mentioned earlier.

As you can see it's hard to say that I have a theme song. But definitely I do have a soundtrack of sorts to get me through the days.