Category: Music

Here ya go.

Why is pop musi…

Why is pop music the only art form that still inspires such arrantly stupid discussion?

-Sashe Frere-Jones, The New Yorker

There is a very simple answer to this–pop music is popular. So is stupidity.

Since pop music is popular, pop stars are glamorized and scrutinized in ways that other artists don’t have to deal with, or at least don’t have to deal with to quite the same extent. In the public eye, these people become more than just music makers. When conversation becomes vapid (as it always does when such a large group of people focus strongly on a single person) it extends past weight loss/gain, dating, social events, and other such things that have nothing to do with music to the music itself.

Why is pop music the only art form that still inspires such arrantly stupid discussion?

-Sashe Frere-Jones, The New Yorker Feb. 6, 2012


Sometimes PostSecret’s are very in tune with my life.

Turn [off] the Lights

On the radio the other day, I heard the censored version of Kanye West’s All of the Lights. Normally, I’m indifferent to censorship. I think it’s a bit absurd, but if people feel they need to build a wall between themselves and curse words, well, I feel bad enough for such people that I’m willing to overlook any minor inconveniences it has on my life. Lately, there have been a few song edits that have bothered me. The first is changing the lyric, “Fuck you” in Cee-lo’s Fuck you to “Forget you,” which messes up the rhythm of the chorus. The second is Malaysia’s garbling of “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby” in Lady Gaga’s Born this Way, which Lady Gaga discusses in her Google interview. The last is, of course, the censoring of “I slap my girl” in All of the Lights.

The chorus, functionally the thesis of most pop songs, metaphorically explains that in order to begin to fix the problems in our society, we need to bring them into the light. The song discusses (in order) prison sentences, infidelity, a lack of father figures, custody battles, unemployment, poverty, and drug use through two first-person perspectives. In the context of the song, all of these problems are related, and they all stem from the narrator “slap[ping his] girl [who] call[s] the feds.” To censor an event in this song defeats the message the song is attempting to convey, and, moreover, perpetuates the major problem the song is discussing.

In order to begin solving these problems, we must begin a public conversation. The unwillingness to put this lyric out on the airwaves, only makes deniability of the problem easier, and further isolates women who are in such situations. Shrouding such a situation in silence gives it a type of power; the only route to solving this problem is through the education and openness that results from public admittance and discussion.


The poorly thought out reasoning behind this censoring seems to be based either on the assumption that if domestic violence is mentioned in music the song is encouraging such acts, or that silence and ignorance will prevent listeners from committing such acts themselves. This thought process is somewhat reminiscent of abstinence only sex education, and is a mindset encountered frequently in the Bible Belt.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Junot Diaz, author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. A fellow audience member asked his why his books are inappropriate for in-class high school reading, though high school aged readers make up his target audience. Diaz launched into an allocution about the separation of art and religion. He discussed our penchant for viewing all art through a religious/moral lens  and the various problems with such a mindset, mainly that art, the purest form of human expression, doesn’t subscribe to morality–just because it’s wrong to feel something, doesn’t mean you don’t feel it. Diaz theorized that morality and religion are based around struggles for power, which art is unconcerned with.

I don’t want to begin the argument of whether the music Kanye West makes is “art”. Regardless of your feelings, the argument can be applied to this song and situation. All of the Lights attempts to make a convincing argument in favor of morality, but that argument is censored to the point that the listener may not know what parts of the song are even about. When your morality is so extreme that it hinders an educated message in its favor, it’s no longer morality, it’s fear, and such a fear is far more dangerous than any topic it’s trying to censor.

Your Tuesday afternoon music video:

Fishy in the Sea!

Ponyo, ponyo, ponyo, fishy in the sea
tiny little fishy, who could you really be?
Ponyo, ponyo, ponyo, magic set’s you free!

Conductor by Alexander Chen

Conductor: from Alexander Chen on Vimeo.

Conductor Alexander Chen decided to make the New York City subway system into a giant stringed instrument. The result is mesmerizing.

I remember listening to the radio one day when a segment of Lady Gaga came on. She listed a few of her influences and they were good– The Stones, Van Morrison. It was soon after Just Dance was released and I remember thinking to myself, “I doubt the chick who sings about getting drunk in a dance club was influenced by Van Morrison.”

Those were the before times.


I was listening to Pandora Radio, today when Third Eye Blind‘s Semi-Charmed Life came up on my cue. I began thinking about the semi-new Georgia Meth Project.

A few months ago, the Georgia highway and airwaves were suddenly speckled with anti-meth ads. I, along with many other members of my society, found the advertisements fascinatingly gruesome. Some hi-lights: A girl talking about how her best friend committed suicide when she refused to give her meth, a dismal prison cell depicted on a billboard beneath print that says, “No one thinks they’ll lose their virginity here. Meth can change that,” a girl talking about her teeth disintegrating as she pulled them out of her mouth.  I have no doubt that any number of these ads could easily dissuade a teenager from doing the drug.

Back in 2005, when the Meth Project was started in Montana, meth was everywhere in Georgia. I could name many friends and acquaintances of mine  from many different walks of life that casually did the drug. In some ways, it was the great uniter. Meth knew no bounds such as income, intelligence, or education level. All sorts of people did meth, and did it frequently.

If Montana was anything like Georgia, the project’s creation makes perfect sense. So why didn’t Georgia jump on it, and campaign for the project to move to GA, next, or create a similar project to dissuade Georgia teens from essentially killing themselves? Is it possible that Georgia government is so out of touch with its populace that it was unaware of the problem until recently? Or was it that the project’s waiting list was 5 years long, and no one cared enough to start a similar campaign in this state? I wonder what the meth death toll was in Georgia during those five years that the state drug its feet.

These days, the drug trend seems to be going in a more “natural” direction. I’ve noticed straight speed and ex are far more prevalent than meth in the casual environment (at least in the circles I’ve spent time in). It seems as though the drug trend is flashing back to the early 90’s. I’d be hard pressed to name even one person I know who still does meth.

Maybe trends are simply changing with the times. Maybe it’s just because I’m growing up, or maybe teens have wised up about snorting hardware store materials. Whatever the reason, I doubt any of it is the result of the Georgia Meth Project.