Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

 
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Thursday, Dec 10, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
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Fuse is counting down the top hits of the year. Fans voted at Fuse.tv for their favorite songs and the ultimate viewers choice will debut at number one in the Top 40 of 09: The Year in Music. Tune in Saturday, December 12th at 4pm ET. An encore will air Sunday at 12pm ET.



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Wednesday, Dec 2, 2009
A wonderfully produced documentary on the most important recorded legacy of popular music.

Perhaps no band has had a greater impact upon the history of recorded music than the Beatles. The studio wizard George Martin claims that he liked the energy the young four musicians had when he began recording them in 1962 but he never imagined that they had musical ability or the creativity to sustain a long career. His opinion, needless to say, shifted radically over the course of their working relationship. Together, the Beatles and George Martin would produce one of the greatest collections of studio recordings of popular music.


The Beatles on Record, a new documentary on the History Channel, tracks the Fab Four through their recordings. The film is a marvel of editing. It includes filmed footage, enlivens still photographs by giving them a virtual three-dimensional feel, and uses only the voices of the Beatles themselves along with their producer and studio collaborator George Martin as narrators. Obviously the producers of this documentary lavished considerable attention to culling from the various recorded interviews with John, Paul, Ringo, George, and George to find pertinent commentary on each of the record releases. Bob Smeaton, the man behind the Beatles Anthology series, is at the helm here and his attention to detail and his stylish use of archival material creates a truly admirable piece of work.


Those who know something about the recording history of the group may not learn a lot of new information here but the presentation makes for enjoyable viewing nonetheless. Besides, who could ask for better music?



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Thursday, Nov 19, 2009

On Saturday night in LA, pop sensation Lady Gaga performed at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s 30th Anniversary Gala. She performed the new ballad “Speechless” from her forthcoming album, The Fame Monster. Russia’s world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet also performed that evening. Talk about pop culture slamming into high culture.


Later that week, Lady Gaga appeared on Gossip Girl in an episode, appropriately named “The Last Days of Disco Stick” which combined Gaga’s musical performance with cheesy narrator duties. In a comment to MTV News, Gaga said, “I am the narrator behind what is going on with the characters and make the song part of the moment. We used these ladders, and I’m falling off ladders. Ladders are kind of a monster symbol about bad luck. And I have this 35-foot-long dress on and these X’s, very gothic-inspired. It was great. They let me do whatever the hell I wanted. It was amazing.”


 



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Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009
by Andy Edelstein - Newsday (MCT)

Hokey smoke! Rocky and His Friends (later renamed The Bullwinkle Show) debuted 50 years ago this week. This wacky Jay Ward creation — featuring the misadventures of a flying squirrel and a dimwitted moose (as well as features like “Fractured Fairy Tales” and “Peabody’s Improbable History” aka “Sherman and Peabody”)—remains one of the most beloved of cartoons, even if it’s not being broadcast on TV today (a crime in and of itself).


Here are five things you may not have known about the moose, squirrel and their pals:


—During the early stages of preproduction, the show was going to be called Frostbite Falls Follies, to reflect Bullwinkle’s hometown of Frostbite Falls, Minn.


—The show’s narrator was William Conrad, best known as the rotund TV detective “Cannon”.


—Peter Noone, the lead singer of the British Invasion band Herman’s Hermits, got his name because bandmates thought he looked like Sherman of Mr. Peabody fame.


—Bad guy Boris Badenov’s name was a pun from Mussorgsky’s opera, Boris Godunov.


—June Foray, who voiced Rocky, also provided the voice for Boris’ nefarious better half, Natasha Fatale.







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Thursday, Nov 5, 2009

On November 10th, 1969 beloved children’s television series Sesame Street premiered in the U.S. By 1970 a spin-off version of the show reached Canada, followed by New Zealand and Australia in 1971, the U.K. in the 1980s, China and Russia in the late 1990s, and the list goes on. Throughout it’s history, the show has featured some of pop culture greats, from Johnny Cash to Michelle Obama. Now, 40 years later, Sesame Street continues to entertain (and sometimes educate) generations new and old.


 


 


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