Archive for July, 2010

Song of the Summer: “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado
Subtitled “OMG Nelly Furtado is totally rapping!”, this gimmicky track made its bones on the novelty of Furtado trading Pop-Rap come-ons with Timbaland over a boilerplate Tim beat. To be sure, Furtado had proclaimed her love for Hip-Hop as far back as her debut (and decidedly more Adult-Contemporary-leaning) album, but from its sound to the completely superfluous Timberlake cameo in the video, this was as cynical a chart-chaser as they come. It worked, spending 6 weeks at the top of the Hot 100. But try playing it now and ask yourself how well it’s aged.

Yeah, I thought so.

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Almost SoS: 2005 – You Tell Me

Posted: July 27, 2010 by RA in Music
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Song of the Summer: “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey
No song was bigger in 2005 (or the entire decade) than Mariah’s monster ballad. Built on a sparse drum-and-piano track (somewhat similar to Lil’ Jon’s “Lovers and Friends”), Carey is the most emotionally resonant she’s ever been. As a result, this classic cut ruled the airwaves all summer, breaking all sorts of airplay records. I’d love to find a song I felt was more worthy of the title, but… no.

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Almost SoS: 2004 – Amerie’s “1 Thing”

Posted: July 24, 2010 by RA in Music
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Song of the Summer: “Confessions, Part II” by Usher
Usher’s Confessions album ruled the charts in 2004. With lead single “Yeah” just beginning to slow down after having ruled the airwaves for the first half of the year, “Confessions II” began to titilate audiences with the thought of the then squeaky clean Pop star being involved in an ¡escandalo! of the “secret love-child” variety. While midtempo SoSes are not all that common, the (erroneous but intended) belief that this was a glimpse into the breakup of one of R&B’s best-loved couples was too much for fans to resist.

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Andrew Breitbart, far-right media blowhard and Karl Rove/Lee Atwater fetishist, most famous for the scandal he fabricated about community organizing group ACORN, may have finally been caught in the act.

A few days ago, he released a clip of USDA official Shirley Sherrod seemingly regaling the crowd at a local NAACP event with the tale of her denying a white farmer the help he so sorely needed. The media was up in arms, brimming with appropriate outrage. So were the USDA and NAACP — the latter immediately condemned her actions and the former forced her to resign immediately (apparently insisting she tender her resignation from wherever she was, via Blackberry).

As it turns out, Breitbart only showed a fraction of her 40-minute speech. Not only did that apparent abuse of power happen in the late ’80s, and not during her USDA tenure, but there was no abuse of power. The selected portion of her speech was part of a larger one in which she explains how she went from considering whites less disenfranchised (and thus, less deserving of her help) than blacks, to deciding that poor whites were getting shafted just as much as blacks were. She then goes on to detail her efforts to save this white farmer from the lawyer who was supposed to be helping him save his farm (also white, seeing as we’re playing Racial Bingo here), and spends the rest of the video preaching racial unity and co-operation with a touching sincerity. (more…)

So, I resisted the urge to join the chorus of keystrokes reacting to Prince’s declaration that the internet is “over.” Whenever an artist makes such a statement, America –public and punditry alike — reverts to a childlike state of literalism, unable to imagine a meaning deeper than the very words on the page. It serves their overall purpose of mocking them as crotchety old men confused and frightened by the internet, unable to end the reign of Auto-Tune.

Forget the fact that Prince Rogers Nelson (or “the baddest motherfucker to slip on a pair of size 6 heels” to you) pioneered the practice of distributing music and connecting with fans via the web. Forget that he won a Webby for that shit. Forget that, at 5’2″ and in eyeliner, he’ll take your girl with a single raised eyebrow. Yeah, forget all that. He’s just an old geezer afraid of teh internetz.

lulz.

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Single Woman...So the other day, I ran into a promo for USA’s new show for the second time in about as many days.

My first impression? I’m kinda insulted.

I’m not really into blondes, but I want to hope that if it was a really hot, dark-haired chick, I’d feel as irritated and amused by the ad as I do now.

We’re presented with a sexy blond with a killer body, pouting to camera as she holds a gun. She’s in a skin-tight outfit that shows off her drum-tight body. Ooh, and looka the heels on those little feet of hers! Oh shit, and the zippers??! Total freak!

At this point, your sister walks into the room. (Damn, why won’t mom let you put a lock on that door?) She sees the pretty blond girl. Wait a minute — look at the fierce look on her face! That’s not a girl — that’s a woman! And look at her outfit! Pretty sweet. Killer heels, too. She totally isn’t the type to take any mess from a man. She’s a total feminist, like Christina or Gaga or KE$h@! Omg! (more…)

Pharrell vs. BeyonceSong of the Summer: “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé
The first salvo in what was to be Beyoncé’s all-out war on the public’s consciousness almost ended in a whimper. No, I’m not talking about the oft-repeated tale of Rich Harrison’s tardiness. I’m talking about the fact that the crazy brilliance of “Crazy in Love” almost went unnoticed altogether, greeted with the same mild interest audiences showed “Work it Out”. But thanks to one of the greatest videos of the 2000s, as directed by Jake Nava, the greatest glamour video director of the  2000s, “Crazy” ceased to be heard as a percussive paean to the Harlem Shake. The high-gloss sexuality of the video drew the world’s attention to the sexier, catchier, all-around most infectious element of the song… those horns.

We all remember where we were when we first saw that video. That fakeout fall at the beginning is the JFK assasination of our time. There, I said it. (more…)

Street Fighter 

Ladies and mostly gentlemen (who are we kidding here?)

Step away from the window. Get out of the tub and unplug that blowdrier. Life is worth living again! The good folks at College Humor have blessed us with the highest-quality material we’re likely to see all summer. I’m talking, of course, about “Street Fighter: The Later Years”. (more…)

The Grant case isn’t over yet. Some comfort (small and cold, though it may be) may be on the way. The Justice Department may be ready to intervene. Highly unlikely, considering the justice department’s record of making grand declarations, and then doing nothing once the news cycle ends. Still, I feel like if Eric Holder had his way, things would actually happen. On a multitude of fronts.

 The article also shares some other news — some good, some bad. The good?

Federal officials planned to begin their civil rights investigation after the conclusion of the state case against Mehserle, who faces sentencing Aug. 6.

Involuntary manslaughter convictions call for two to four years in prison. But since the jury also found Mehserle used a gun during the crime, the judge could tack on an additional three to 10 years — an option Oakland officials hope would quell additional unrest in the city.

The bad? Probation is still a possibility, though a distant one.

To appeal to the judge to consider the gun enhancement at the August 6 sentencing, write to:

Judge Robert J. Perry
Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center
210 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

You can also call (213) 974-5394. Regardless of the misleading voicemail, this is for Perry’s court.

Grant Mural

Noah Berger/AP

Last week, Johannes Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Oakland native Oscar Grant in the early hours of Jan 1, 2009. He was found not guilty of voluntary manslaughter and second-degree murder charges. Involuntary manslaughter convictions carry a sentence of two to four years.

I’m surprised he was found guilty of anything. And that makes me angry. Or rather, I should be angry, but I’m so used to these injustices that I can’t muster up the rage. So I’ll just say a few things:

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