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

 
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Wednesday, Apr 8, 2009
by PopMatters Staff
Jennifer Kelly raved about L.A. indie pop group the Little Ones back in a 2006 Now Hear This piece for PopMatters. "Not since the Spinto Band has a young musical outfit burst onto the scene with the level of infectious joy that the Little Ones exhibit on their Sing Song EP. Spinning out exuberant harmonies and indelible hooks, yet under-girded with strong, eccentrically plotted beats, the EP had the irrepressible optimism of early summer -- the smell of new mown grass and suntan lotion was practically built right in." Frontman Ed Reyes answers our 20 Questions in the midst of working on a new record.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
The last movie that made me cry was The Wrestler. In my head I was crying, but I didn’t exhibit it publicly for fear that I wasn’t wouldn’t be perceived as tough enough. Just kidding. I did get emotional when Mickey Rourke’s character explains to his daughter that he is washed up. I couldn’t help feel that maybe we are all washed up in some way. Maybe sometimes you can’t really follow your dreams?


2. The fictional character most like you?
I would probably say Hiro Nakamura from Heroes. I think his penchant for being a super hero is really appealing to me. He has great imagination and tries to accomplish the impossible. I can really relate to his good heart as well. Maybe we look alike too? More people should be like Hiro!


3. The greatest album, ever?
Very tough question to answer. I could probably elaborate on some albums that shaped my musical way of thinking. One album is The Beatles’ White Album (1968) and the other is The Kinks’ Village Green Preservation Society (1968). Both records really taught the power of melody and storytelling. Even if the melody is simple it can still have a great impact against a well-crafted musical bed.


4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars all the way. I was raised on Star Wars and I have such great memories of going to the toy store and purchasing the various action figures. If I had saved them all they would probably be worth a fortune right now. At some point as a kid, I believed that Star Wars was real. I know there are some adults out there that think that way too…


5. Your ideal brain food?
My ideal brain food is Wasabi Peas. I can’t get enough of them. I like to pop a handful in my mouth and see how long I can stand it. It usually starts making my eyes water and after that I can really concentrate on anything. Everyone should try it.


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Tuesday, Apr 7, 2009
Seeing these moves come home confirms that they’ve always been the source of B.’s latest trends. This pop diva has managed an effective way of reproducing stardom, like Madonna, mining our dance floors, hiring us sissies to teach them how to assert their masculinity and femininity at the same time.

In case you haven’t heard, Vogueing is back. Madonna brought it to the mainstream, sealing the 80’s sloppy fate with classic club anthems ushering in a whole new breed of contemporary social dance. Yet, this again was an appropriation of Black sub-culture, in this case queer. Indeed, Vogueing is as old as Betty Davis and as American as apple pie, shown even with a quick perusal of the docu-films ‘Looking for Langston’, or even the voyeuristic ‘Paris is Burning’. More interesting, perhaps, or at least speaking from a more liberated voice, would be the 2006 film ‘How Do I Look’. At any rate, Jody Watley made it hot on the charts back in 1987, three years before Madonna, with one of Prince’s bassist Andre Simone’s most fly guitar rifts and synthesized melismatic beats, Still a Thrill. The normally high-pitched diva adopted an androgynous baritone voice for the lyrics, teasing viewers even more. The video was off the chain, and yes, an early dose of this black-n-tan boy ‘House’ dancing. How appropriate that Watley chose a Parisian style ballroom set for the video, and one of the genre’s early champions, Tyron “The Bone” Proctor, as her co-star.


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Monday, Apr 6, 2009
Without Jethro Tull there would be no Jethro Tull

Most people knew Jethro Tull had been around forever, but more than three centuries??


Oh. You mean the actual British dude, Mr. Tull, whom the progressive band was named after? (Wait, so that isn’t the singer’s name?) Quite an arbitrary choice, though certainly more cerebral than many of its era (Strawberry Alarm Clock, anyone?); and considering one of the early choices was Candy Coloured Rain, I think we can all appreciate that less acid-addled minds prevailed.


So who was this Jethro Tull and why is he important, aside from being on the cover of this album? Well, do the words seed drill mean anything to you?


Tagged as: jethro tull
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Friday, Apr 3, 2009

As T.S. Eliot portentously opined: April is the cruelest month.


Apparently someone once pulled an April Fools’ Day joke on him too.


What’s really sad is I saw this one coming almost before I finished reading it, so my burgeoning excitement was tempered by the lesser but wiser angels of my cynicism. A quick Google check confirmed the farce: there is no Captain Beefheart reunion in the making. Stuff like this is, alas, way too good to ever be true:


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Friday, Apr 3, 2009
On Love Vs. Money, The-Dream writes the same song three times, and every time it's amazing.

Back in February, I expressed how anxious I was for The-Dream’s follow-up to Love/Hate. So with that type of anticipation, when it came out, how could I be anything but disappointed?


Sure, there were some big tunes, but “Rockin’ That Shit” and “Walkin On The Moon” were released before the album, so I had played them out by the time Love Vs. Money was released. There were some other strong efforts too - his weird two-part song cycle (can two songs be a song cycle?) of “Love Vs. Money Part 1” and “Part 2” was good, and though they didn’t say what I suspect he hoped they would, they were catchy with some fairly hard and interesting production. There was really only one truly weak song, “Fancy”, but even it was weird and ambitious. So, the album was only disappointing when compared to the mastery displayed on his debut, and wasn’t weak when compared to other R&B albums.


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