Monday, August 8, 2011

Adele and the Absence of Taste

I hear that kids these days are into this woman singing here to the right. Her name(at least on stage) is Adele. You can hear her on any radio anytime. She is omnipresent and omnipotent when it comes to singing. That is if you were to ask anybody with the emotional capacity of a twelve year old. Which let's be most of us. I am hear to challenge the idea that she is worthy of any praise beyond that of a normal pop singer. I've been listening to her songs recently as an..interested observer. I have come to the simple and seemingly insane conclusion that she is overrated. Let me clarify. If I had a nickel for every time Dirk Nowitzki was compared to Larry Bird..I could whore out Donald Trump. Dirk for all his talent and glory is no Larry Bird. NO ONE is Michael Jordan. Brett Favre is no Dan Marino and Cedric Benson at best was a third down running back despite comparisons to Jim Brown when he entered the league. Adele is no Christina Aguilera. She's no Beyonce and for anyone who has compared her to the great female singers... Kindly close your mouth in a fashion that most efficiently ceases the noise. Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald could have run a 10k, eaten breakfast and sang At Last 57 times before Adele could have even attempted to sing the right pitch.  Diana Ross would have sweetly smiled and sang every Adele song ever a warmup. That being said..Let's delve into why this moderately talented singer is severely overrated.

I understand completely that most pop artists worlds revolve around three chords and that they are considered geniuses when they add a fourth chord and throw a deceptive cadence in there. I quite frankly love most of these artists. I'm picking on Adele because according to anyone who's anyone these days she's a musical and lyrical genius. She's not. I've been listening to her songs that are on youtube, which is just about all of them. Here's the insane variety of Chord structure. One. Five. Four. One. Four. Five. One. Rinse. Repeat. In her hit song Someone Like You she throws you off by going from the one chord to six first rather than five. Guess who else has done that? Every student who has taken music theory for dummies. Oh guess what other hit song of hers does the exact same thing? Rolling In The Deep. Which is potentially the most overplayed song of the year along with almost all of Rihanna's. The artist with the biggest variety of chord and overall sound? Dave Matthews and Muse. Dave uses infinite varieties of chords and instruments for all of his songs. Muse just has an insane diversity and incredible musical taste in every album.

It's hard to completely criticize this part of her because there are very few artists that actually do something other than 4/4 but I've yet to find one of hers that isn't. Someone Like You is in cut time which in layman's pop terms is the exact same. The most rhythmically diverse pop artist? Dave Matthews. No one comes close to the rhythmic diversity they employ.

Her lyrics make me laugh. I'm no grammatical expert but last time I checked if you were writing only love songs you should at least attempt to make them sound correct and like poetry. I quote "Reaching a fever pitch and it's bringin' me out the dark." Now you may go..well it's just missing a preposition no big deal right? Wrong. Let's take the preposition out of some famous phrases. "To be or not to be" Becomes "Be or not be" Shakespeare. "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Becomes "You can't stand the heat, get out the kitchen." Harry Truman. "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on." Becomes "A lie gets halfway the world the truth has a chance get its pants." Winston Churchill. Can you imagine if Churchill had said that in public? He'd have been taken from office and we'd all be a part of Germany and under Hitler's sons thumb. Kanye West would have liked that since he apparently thinks Hitler was a great man but that's a different story. Again this isn't a criticism of her in comparison with the majority of pop artists, this is a criticism of her when compared with anybody worth their salt. The artist with the best lyrics? Take your pick..there's a ton of artists with great lyrics. Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Simon and name but a very, very few with great lyrics.

Singing sucks. Is she better than Miley Cyrus? is my 2 year old nephew. Is she better than Taylor Swift? is my 2 year old nephew. Is she even comparable to Beyonce? No. Is she comparable to Gaga? No. Is she comparable to any great artist pre-1980s? No. Yet people go around touting her as one of the great voices and artists of our time! She's sappy and doesn't sing above a G4 unless to move down as quickly as possible. She hardly ever starts a phrase without adding a huge amount of glottal and someone never told her as a kid that a diphthong is incorrect in most languages. The start of her Youtube sensation Someone Like You has the words "I heard". This is an accurate representation of what she actually says. iiiiyyyeeeeaahhhh hhhuuuuaaarrddd. That could be Swahili. She cancelled quite a few concerts of her last tour due to Laryngitis which...I'm fairly positive translates to:"My voice is shot because I don't know how to sing so cancel the next couple of stops."

I am very excited for the fanboy fury that may occur from this. I think Adele is a decent artist by today's standards but for the love of all that is good and true. Refrain from comparing her to anyone other than someone that is a sappy singer with not much talent and an unimaginative set of songs. With that I bid you...Ado...or Adele.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Random Youtube Video of the Day

The video of the day is a song that has been covered almost millions of times since it's creation by Leonard Cohen in 1984. It's the very famous Hallelujah NOT written by a man named Handel. After spending the past hour on Youtube trying to find my favorite version of it.(trust me just about every famous artist in the past 20 years has done a cover from Willie Nelson to Rufus Wainwright to Imogen Heap and every artist in between) I'm going to put my list of top 5 versions of this song before posting it and if you ever have the time, do listen to the different versions because the top 5 are all good. I'll also include a few honorable mentions as most of the artists who did it have voices worthy of this song. It's a marvelous song about love and faith with a few  biblical references thrown in for good measure. One of them being the story of Samson and Delilah when she cuts his hair. The other being the story of King David and Bathsheba when he sees her bathing.

1.Espen Lind- Four Norwegian guys, one on guitar and all singing throughout the song as solos and harmony. They also clearly love the song and really give the song everything. The last guy to sing a solo is my favorite and has a pretty neat voice.
2.Kate Voegele- No one knows who she is but I first heard hers a few years ago and it's great. It's now a studio record on youtube that has a million hits. The one she had a few years ago had less than a 1,000 views and some strange picture when I found it.
3.Rufus Wainwright- This is the one that is in the movie Shrek, pretty normal version of it.
4.Imogen Heap- The most bare of any covers but it's very beautiful and soulful as typical of her singing.
5.Allison Crowe- Her at a piano, singing..what more to say?

Honorable Mentions
KD Lang- Solid woman vocals, piano and light synthesized orchestral background.
Jeff Buckley- Probably the most famous version..I find it too self-indulgent and lacks soul.
Willie Nelson- Just cause it's Willie you should listen to it.

After all that here's Espen Lind's incredible and Art of Choice blog winning version of Hallelujah. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Random Youtube Video of the Day

Today's video is dedicated to a great new bluegrass band that was formed a few years ago. They are called the Punch Brothers and have opened for Dave Matthews, played with Steve Martin and performed on David Letterman as well as touring all over the US of A. My buddy Paul Kowert is the bass player for them, a former Curtis Institute of Music student as well he joined the band in 2008. Chris Thile is the lead vocalist and mandolin player, formerly of the band Nickel Creek. Gabe Witcher on the fiddle, Noam Pikelny on the banjo and Chris Eldridge on guitar. They have a really incredible album called antifogmatic that you can purchase on iTunes. My favorite song of theirs is Rye here it is in a live radio recording of it. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random Youtube Video of the Day

Today's video is yet another opera video dedicated to the incredible Jussi Bjorling(there's an umlaut on that o but I am not sufficiently skilled enough to put it in there) It's the aria Che Gelida Manina-What a cold little hand- from Puccini's La Boheme. Hands down my favorite aria of all time and possibly my favorite 15 minutes of opera comes from this segment of La Boheme leading from Rodolfo's aria into her aria(Si, Mi chiamano Mimi-Yes, they call me Mimi) and then finally into their duet O soave fanciulla-O gentle maiden- 

Jussi Bjorling lived from 1911-1960 and was widely acclaimed for very good reason to be the greatest living tenor. Jussi is of Swedish descent and sang in major opera houses all over the world in just about every repertoire imaginable. He inspires singers to this day and was one of Pavarotti's favorite singers if that gives any more credibility to this guy's copious amounts of opera street cred.

The basis of the aria is Rodolfo explaining to Mimi who he is and what he does. He's essentially a very simple and poor poet and artist. I advise following along with this rough translation while listening..It's truly stunning stuff..I guess Puccini knew what he was doing. Translation. Enjoy the video and incredible singing by the great Jussi.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Pick a Table at a Self-seating Restaurant

After many weeks of not writing a new blog devoted to the art of choosing I chose to finally write my next blog. Due to considerable amounts of coaxing from several sources I decided to devote it to one of my families most discussed subjects..Picking a table at a restaurant. It is a very complicated subject and the amount of times I've gotten up and moved locations that lesser educated people on the subject had chosen is a number too large to be worth mentioning. No I'm not rude(Unless I haven't which case, avoid at all costs). I merely have a higher level of care for a humans wellbeing and I believe strongly in the degree of happiness derived from sitting and eating in comfort.

I spend a considerable amount of time in restaurants. Among my favorite quick-eat places are Qdoba, Chipotle and Jack in the Box. I have refined taste buds that have been developed over years to appreciate the simple things in life. One of those things is cheap food. Enjoy your 15 dollar salad. I'll take my processed meats and over-salted fries to the bank someday for that Aston-Martin in the last Bond flick. One of the things that enables me too eat less than healthy foods with the same level of enjoyment is my good choice of locale. With that being said here are my tips to getting the most out of any dining experience.

Avoid People
The only way I can see this rule ever being broken is if you seriously think your ability to laugh and talk loudly is really going to get that cute girls attention in the table next to you. As a fellow loud laugher and talker let me tell you..It never works so just keep walking and hit that table in the back corner where you won't have to deal with her potentially annoying voice and even more annoying talking-on-the-phone-while-I-eat habit. The more people you are near the more likely someone else is to sit near you. It's like that parking spot 10 cars from any other car that you so wisely take that by the time you get back to your car from shopping at World Market has been beset on both sides by Hummers(Maybe I'll cover parking spots in a future post.) People will also bump into you, drop food on you, ask you for a chair or loudly interrupt your conversation for any number of likely unreasonable and useless reasons.

Face the Entrance
Who wants to face a wall? All you have to look at then in your frequent moments of utter panic that you have no idea what the person across from you is saying is the oddly spackled patterns of flowers on the wall which..really..truly..honestly do look better from fifty feet away. If you face the entrance you can assess any potential dangers as soon as they enter. You can instantly get a feeling for what you might have to deal with should someone decide to sit next to you(heaven forbid) and also judge the level of noise that that party of twelve that just entered might bring to your conversation.

Avoid Entrances, Exits, Soda Machines and Bathrooms
Foot Traffic. It's all about foot traffic. If you are by any of these you are increasing the number of people who will go by you exponentially. If I were to create a priority list it would go in the exact order I just put it as. Everyone enters the restaurant plus the x amount of people who come in and leave. Everyone who eats has to exit. Most people who eat have a soda and then last of all a few people use the bathroom. If possible avoid these situations.

Do not sit in the aisle
The last rule I wish to give unto you is that of not sitting in an aisle. If you can sit in a booth or table against a wall you're much more likely to enjoy your stay. You have a wall to put your bags against where people will not be kicking it. You won't have people walking behind you and beside you the entire time. I trust you to make good judgment on choosing the best aisle seat after reading this article if you have no choice.

If you haven't sensed my theme yet...I'll make it clear.. Watch out for people.. They want to make life as easy for themselves as possible. If we lived in a world full of considerate people who cared about not banging doors and noisily opening wrappers during a movie we wouldn't have any of these problems. My job is to make your life as easy as possible in a world that is only concerned with itself. In turn you will succeed in making everyones life better without them knowing it. I cannot think of a much more noble thing to do than that. I hope you can all choose not only the best train seats but now the best tables at a restaurant. Here's the quote I will leave you with and thank you for reading.

"Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil."

Jerry Garcia

Random Youtube Video of the Day

It's been far too long since I have gifted you dear reader, follower and/or stalker with a video. I assure you that it's due to matters of utmost importance such as eating, sleeping, praying or brushing my fangs and combing my fur. I also promise you I have a new life-changing choice blog half done. Now to today's video. It's a cover of Outkast's Hey Ya done with an acoustic guitar and piano by Obadiah Parker. It makes the unbelievably catchy song very Elton John-esque..Or Phil Collins. Enjoy and stay tuned for new posts in the near future.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Random Youtube Video of the Day

Today's video is the epitome of nerdy-ness in music. Some creative music student who had time(or a class assignment) created a counterpoint fugue based off of Lady Gaga's hit Bad Romance. It's a very creative idea to make a Bach like fugue based off of a pop song seeing as all of their music is essentially stolen from the greats anyways. Here's the original Bad Romance and then the fugue. Enjoy.

Lady Gaga Fugue