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by Jason Gross

20 Oct 2008

Recently, the Metropolitan Opera got the bright idea of selling videos of some of its performances online.  Seem silly?  They also recently broadcast some of their shows in movie theaters.  The end result was that they got packed audiences for these viewings.  Don’t be surprised if they have good sales of their broadcasts too.

So the obvious question after this is… why aren’t more venues doing the same?  Not everyone can make it out to shows- you have a busy schedule or maybe you happen to live in an area where your favorite band isn’t doing a show.  For the millions of people in either of those boats, paying a couple of bucks to see the show might not be a bad idea, especially if it’s filmed well.  You have the bonus of saving money on traveling to the club, not paying for over-priced drinks and not having to push around for a good view of the band.  Plus, if you can keep the video, you can slow it, play it back, fast forward through parts you don’t like or see parts you love again and again.  And if you wouldn’t have to wait until it gets released as a DVD, that’s even better- even if it’s offered for sale online a day or two later, it’s still current and fresh.  Seems obvious. 

So why ain’t it done? My guess is that part of the problem is that you not only have to pay the artist involved but also the label and the publishers for the songs they’re doing.  But if the band’s got their set list planned in advance, that can be arranged too.  I was at a Lucinda Williams concert where they had burned copies of the first half of her show ready for buyers who came there after the second half but in that case, she was covering her old albums so it was a set group of songs.  The Pixes and Phish did this too for their concerts but as we all know, good shows are more than just good audio- the visuals are the important missing component.  Fans want it and some smart entrepreneurs will figure this out, make deals and give it to ‘em.

by PopMatters Staff

20 Oct 2008

The real Sarah Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live this week and confused the hell out of Alec Baldwin.

Here’s a little extra web fun too.

Gov. Palin Cold Open
Gov. Palin pays a visit to the show

Update: Palin Rap
Amy steps in for Gov. Palin

by Kirstie Shanley

20 Oct 2008

It’s hard to believe that Deerhoof, the four-piece band out of San Francisco, California, just released its 13th album and has been a band for 12 years. Touring to support their latest full-length, Offend Maggie, the band has definitely refined their unique sound during these years, yet they still maintain the energy, excitement, and cutting edge quality of newer bands. In other words, Deerhoof carry no baggage but instead sound as fresh and inviting as ever.

This excitement really shone through at their packed show in Chicago. Lead singer Satomi Matsuzaki not only demonstrated an awesome chemistry with her band members—play fighting and jumping on amps—but she also interacted with the audience, spreading around bags of tortilla chips and loaves of bread. She possessed an ease and sense of happiness that projected well across the audience and made the evening infinitely more enjoyable.

The band concentrated on their most recent albums, but the flow of the overall set had an unexpected quality considering the jarring transitions between some of the individual song’s verses and choruses. Despite the idiosyncratic rhythm patterns and other aspects of their sound, Deerhoof always come off as really tight live and stay essentially true to their recordings.

This show was definitely no exception with band members willing to start and stop on a dime. Matsuzaki’s vocals – in English and Japanese—filled up these songs with an enchanting feminine and repetitive element that fit well with the musical accompaniment. It’s true that Deerhoof manages to create something truly original, which is quite something in this day and age. However, the true talent of its four members lies perhaps in their ability to take their eccentric chord changes, rhythms, timing, and vocals and somehow transform them into interesting pop songs.

by Barry Lenser

20 Oct 2008

“If they had wanted to, they could have found plenty of double meanings in our early work. How about ‘I’ll Keep You Satisfied’ or ‘Please Please Me’? Everything has a double meaning if you look for it long enough.”
—Paul McCartney

It’s amusing to consider the harmless sources of inspiration behind “Please Please Me”. As John Lennon was writing what would become the Beatles’ second single, he was working off a Bing Crosby tune from the early 1930s and imagining soulful crooner Roy Orbison on vocals. As a result, “Please Please Me” was a more downcast and sonically tempered song in its earliest forms. Not ideal material for the follow-up to “Love Me Do”. George Martin was pushing for the Beatles’ cover of “How Do You Do It”, written by Mitch Murray, to claim that designation. But to their credit, the young foursome wanted their own songs to be released. Martin later relented and, after treating it to a dramatic studio revamp, which included a harmonica section, beefed-up vocals, and a faster tempo, the Beatles issued “Please Please Me” as their second single. Far from John’s formerly heartsick, bluesy conception, it emerged as an invigorating and sexually charged rush of a pop song.

I haven’t read anywhere that John greatly adjusted the lyric of “Please Please Me” between its initial and final versions. This is noteworthy because it’s hard to imagine that the song could come off as so subversively salacious (by 1963 standards, anyway) in its early Orbison-styled form. Without the fleet pace and bracing harmonica parts, what would have created the brisk energy that vigorously animates the song’s sexual subtext? Without the call-and-response “come ons” and their tone of escalating frustration, how might John have sounded so desperate for fleshy satisfaction? Overall, the studio changes would seem to have transformed “Please Please Me” into a song whose needs were urgently of the moment.

The lyric of course remains the primary reason that, for instance, Robert Christgau once described “Please Please Me” as about oral sex. The chorus speaks for itself: “Please please me oh yeah/ Like I please you”. To “please” someone strongly suggests an action taking place. In this case, an action has been performed and the performer is seeking reciprocation. The same is true of “You don’t need me to show the way love” or “I do all the pleasin’ with you”. These lines again indicate physical activity much more than any sort of non-carnal exchange of affection. The rousing “come ons”, echoed back and forth between John and the supporting vocals of Paul and George, also factor in heavily. They prompt the question: would John really be shouting “come on” in an effort to elicit greater emotional attention from his significant other? It sounds strange to ask “Oh, come on, why won’t you love me more?” The pettiness implied in that phrase better suits a request for a sexual favor. And, finally, it doesn’t require much gutter imagination to interpret the line “Why do you make me blue?” in a bawdy manner.

In the end, “Please Please Me” is entertaining as a call for equality between-the-sheets but more gratifying as a pure pop pleasure. It’s just over two minutes of impassioned vocals, meaty guitarwork, shifty percussion, and snappy momentum, with a bit of scandal to boot.

by Mike Schiller

19 Oct 2008

Eternal Sonata on the PS3

Eternal Sonata on the PS3

The more you look at this week’s group of releases, the more a sense of déjà vu takes over.  So many of the big new releases this week are either sequels or rehashes that you really have to look deep—no, like seriously deep—to find anything resembling a new idea.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  PlayStation 3 owners are finally getting a chance to play a couple of games that Xbox 360 owners have been enjoying for a while, and each with some bonus stuff to make the experience unique enough to keep PS3 owners from being slighted.  Eternal Sonata has received the biggest makeover, with new characters, outfits, and events enhancing one of the best current generation RPGs out there.  Bioshock, for its part, is basically the same game as the one on the Xbox, but with interactive loading screens and a few new challenge rooms (not to mention the Bioshock 2 trailer that’s recently hit the web).  A re-release of Portal is showing up on the Xbox 360, for those who’ve been waiting for a version of the game to be released without the rest of The Orange Box (for whatever reason), and new releases in the Spyro and Spider-Man franchises are all over the various platforms.

Guitar Hero World Tour

Guitar Hero World Tour

The one retread that simply can’t be ignored or underestimated, however, is Guitar Hero World Tour.  Out on Sunday, it’s a rehash in two separate ways: one, it’s obviously a sequel to the other three Guitar Hero games out there, and two, it’s Activision’s acknowledgement of the game-changing Rock Band, in that its approach to the rhythm game genre is almost exactly that of Rock Band‘s.  Guitar, drums, bass, and vocals—they’re all here, and they’re going to present a serious challenge to Rock Band 2‘s popularity given the sheer recognizability of the name.  Despite the fact that so much of the new iteration of Guitar Hero is simply the following of Rock Band‘s lead, the mere fact that the new Guitar Hero totally revamps the franchise while the new Rock Band simply continues it may lead people in the direction of Activision/Neversoft’s version of the band setup for the holiday stretch.

Me, I’m looking forward to playing the Death Magnetic tracks I’ve been toying with on the guitar for the last two weeks on all of those other instruments.  Hetfield’s vocals on “All Nightmare Long” should be an especially good time.  I haven’t had a good grunting ‘n growling session in a while.

Wii Music

Wii Music

The running theme for the Wii and the DS is kids’ games.  All manner of branded whatnot is showing up this week, from various Nickelodeon and Disney brands to less recognizable IPs like Ener GBuild-a-Bear is here, High School Musical is here, and even Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? gets a couple of releases.  Of course, the sore thumb here is Wii Music, a release that’s had to endure some awfully loud mocking in the gaming community since its reveal at this year’s E3.  The thing is, it can hardly be evaluated as a game.  It is a toy.  Not only that, but it’s largely a toy for kids, with very loose definitions of success via gameplay.  I can also say that, having been able to share it with my family, it absolutely is one of those magical little games that can bring the family together for an hour of light entertainment, no matter the ages of those involved.  Heck, I had my 1-year-old wailing away on drums for a couple of minutes after she got a load of the rest of us.  I don’t think it’s a classic in the making, but it certainly shouldn’t be disparaged the way it has been over the last couple of months.

All right, having jumped off of my tiny little soapbox, and acknowledging that there are about a billion things being released this week, I must ask: What are you playing?  Are you going to spring for Midnight Club, or is Barbie Horse Adventures more your speed?  Pore over the list—and a Guitar Hero World Tour vid that never fails to fascinate me—after the jump.

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