Leave it to Peaches to make the drug references in The Wizard of Oz a bit less oblique. The video for “Billionaire”, from her latest album I Feel Cream looks like a Keith Haring by Patricia Field acid trip, where the flying monkeys have boobies and the joints are bigger than Toto’s head. Guest MC Shunda K comes in at the end to save the day…now I know we’re not in Kansas anymore.
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In 1983, the Circle Jerks released their third album, Golden Shower of Hits. The title track was a pastiche of AM gold by the likes of the Carpenters and the Starland Vocal Band, counterpointed by the punk-rock stylings of the Hermosa Beach-based band. It was an exquisite end to an exquisite album, an album many hardcore fans consider the last “real” Circle Jerks record before the departure of original rhythm section Roger Rogerson (bass) and Lucky Lehrer (drums). The band would go on to record many more albums, but musically and stylistically, Golden Shower of Hits marks a departure point for them as a band.
Enter the year 1984, and the release of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s In 3-D album. The track “Polkas on 45” is a medley of popular favorites including the Who, the Clash, and Devo, only this time done in the style of traditional polka music. Whether or not Yankovic was aware of the Circle Jerks’ jaunt into similar territory is unknown; however, Yankovic has followed this up by including a like medley on nearly every album he has recorded since, intent on applying this basic premise to the evolving tastes of mainstream pop.
Like much of Yankovic’s fare, these medleys are not meant to be taken overtly seriously, but as more of a light-hearted jab at the songs being parodied. But there is something of a biting edge here, and that becomes more apparent when someone like Aaron Roszczewski edits the original videos to fit the form of “The Angry White Boy Polka” from Yankovic’s 2003 Poodle Hat album, and posts it on YouTube. The glib seriousness with which such acts like Papa Roach or Disturbed approach their radio-friendly songs is made even more hilariously apparent when against a backdrop of music that has not been popular since the Lawrence Welk generation.
If the job of the satirist is to point out that the emperor has no clothes, then “Weird Al” Yankovic has got fashion tips for all of pop music.
The only thing more buzz-generating for an artist than having a video directed by Johnny Depp is to have that video banned. Sheffield workhorses Babybird (of “You’re Gorgeous” fame) have the singular good fortune of Depp’s friendship, which led to his playing guitar on the single “Unloveable”, and then directing the video. It’s depiction of frontman Stephen Jones’ hanging has met with some controversy, which can only benefit Babybird. And since “Unloveable” is a great song and “You’re Gorgeous” came out way back in 1996, let’s hope so.
Marina and the Diamonds
The Family Jewels
Releasing: 22 February (UK) / 25 May (US)
On Marina Diamandis’ MySpace, she asks herself a simple yet penetrating question, one any young artist who is looking to build a fan base without having to submit to the confines of the tabloid mainstream might ask themselves: “Can you be within popular culture without becoming it?”
The query could be considered rhetorical. However, after close inspection of Diamandis’ lyrics, you slowly begin to think otherwise. (Case in point: on her song “Hollywood” she boasts “I’m obsessed with the mess that’s America”.) Marina Diamandis, better known as Marina and the Diamonds (she is a solo act; the Diamonds is a reference to her fans), is a burgeoning singer-songwriter of Greek-Welsh descent who has already made a big splash on the UK pop music scene. Her first studio album, The Family Jewels, debuted at number five on the Britain charts back in February. The record will see its US release on May 25.
01 Are You Satisfied?
03 I Am Not a Robot
05 Mowgli’s Road
08 The Outsider
09 Hermit the Frog
10 Oh No!
14 The Family Jewels (iTunes Bonus Track)
And you thought trees were just… trees. Apparently they can also be musical instruments, at least when some human is banging on them with various implements. Diego Stocco creates an electronic sounding tune from loops he generates by tapping, flicking and, yes, bowing certain bits of a little bonsai tree. It’s actually rather good.