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Friday, Apr 2, 2010

After months of being exposed to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” (a song that contains what I consider the single most annoying hook of 2009) via its endless plays on the top 40 radio station every store I enter seems to be piping in, I was reasonably certain I had no pressing desire to further explore the work of pop music’s current It Girl. Ah, but nothing demands attention like a zeitgeist-capturing hit, the sort everyone around you seems to have already heard dozens of times. Given the massive attention afforded to Gaga’s latest single “Telephone”—a duet with new millennial R&B diva Beyoncé Knowles—I took that as a sign that I should probably see what the fuss was about. So I caved and watched the video for the song on YouTube (which, it must be said at every opportunity, is so much more a fitting vehicle for the music video medium than any cable network currently is).


And, well… the song didn’t impress me. A rather routine modern dance-pop tune that demands attention based more on its volume than due either to its hooks or its groove. Not bad, but not outstanding either, and also not as effective as Gaga’s previous singles. But to be fair, it isn’t necessarily the song I’ve been hearing everyone yabber about. It’s the epic nine-and-a-half-minute video directed by Jonas Akerlund that’s really demanding the public’s attention.



Tagged as: beyoncé, lady gaga
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Friday, Apr 2, 2010

In the last year, UK listeners have been inundated with the sound of the nasal-grazing, strawberry vixen, Florence Welsh – or as she is more popularly referred to as, Florence and the Machine. An opinionated, and compulsive Londoner, Florence, at just 22, was able to instigate the re-emergence of a musical trend that seemed to have petered out when the terms ‘avant garde’, and ‘experimental’, all of a sudden became unsexy.


By formulating arty piano tunes, and splashing in garage rock, and ‘80s style pop, synthesizers, and luscious string-soaked ballads, Florence seems to manage the unwieldy with effortless grace. This is coupled with a Kate Bush style quirkiness, a Christie Hynde snarl, and an effortless vocal ability that sits somewhere between Annie Lennox and Etta James.


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Thursday, Apr 1, 2010
The band's longtime vocalist has hinted at a possible reunion. Will this lead to a new era of success for Anthrax, or will the confusion and uncertainty of the past seven years continue?

In a recent interview with MetalSucks, Armored Saint/ex-Anthrax lead singer John Bush said that the possibility exists that he would provide vocals for Anthrax’s Worship Music, an album that was supposed to be released in October 2009, but was delayed when then-singer Dan Nelson left the band. Anthrax has played some live shows with Bush since then, and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Fans and critics alike have been constantly asking current members of Anthrax if Bush would return, and the response has been one of uncertainty every time. Bush’s statement that the possibility still exists will likely fuel a whole new wave of the same questions.


There’s no doubt that Bush returning to Anthrax would be an amazing turn of events, especially considering that Anthrax’s last album, 2003’s We’ve Come for You All, was Bush’s last album with the band before his departure. Ending the waiting period of Worship Music would also put Anthrax back in the spotlight of the music scene, opening doors for a variety of interesting tours, including the highly-rumored “Big 4 Tour” of Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax that has been suggested and then shut down several times in recent months. Fans would love him for returning to the band full-time after fading off the radar in 2005.


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Wednesday, Mar 31, 2010
Gymnast, actor, writer, violinist, and (oh yeah!) soul music singer-songwriter, Russell Taylor shares his renaissance qualities with PopMatters in this latest edition of 20 Questions.

I imagine Russell Taylor sharing a cup of tea with Langston Hughes, or discussing his latest set of lyrics with Billy Strayhorn. Perhaps the night before, he sat in with Duke Ellington or hoofed across the floor at Small’s Paradise. If Russell Taylor had been born four generations earlier, these scenarios would be the stuff of history books. Anyone who knows Taylor, one of the most prominent artists to emerge from New York’s independent soul music scene, knows that he has an affinity for the Harlem Renaissance and the individuals who made “uptown” a destination in the 1920s. Doubtless, he’d be embraced by the literary and musical figures of that creatively fertile era.


It’s the 21st century, however, and Russell Taylor is carving his own niche not just in Harlem and New York, but around the world. From Paris to London to Atlanta to Los Angeles, he brings a fresh take on soul music that began with his pair of Soulstar releases and grew with Somewhere in Between (2006). The artist is still working his latest release, Confessional (2009), and preparing to film videos for two songs from the album, but not before returning to his acting roots, composing songs for other artists, and planning a 2011 release.


As PopMatters learns in this edition of 20 Questions, there’s a well-spring of ideas and thoughts that percolate inside the mind of the man who delivered “Let Me Love U”, one of 2009’s best songs. It’s a good time to be Russell Taylor, or as his friends and fans know him, “RT!”


Tagged as: russell taylor
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Tuesday, Mar 30, 2010

Cue the jokes about scandalous riders: The Libertines are back, reuniting for this summer’s Reading and Leeds Festivals.


Ever since the Libertines split, the hyperbolic British music weeklies have tipped the reunion to happen, occasionally using “Could be…” quotes from frontmen Carl Barat and Pete Doherty. But outside of a few close calls here and there, the full-on reunion never materialized.


Instead the world has had to make do with Barat’s comparatively dull Dirty Pretty Things and Doherty’s sometimes thrilling musical excursions with Babyshambles and a host of co-conspirators who’d slip in and out of the shadows like something from a Sherlock Holmes mystery.


Doherty has also shown an affinity for falling afoul of the law, regularly appearing in the tabloids due to some combination of drugs, driving and celebrity romance.


But now the Libertines are back, promising readers of the NME “to play the songs people want to hear,” which certainly sounds like a cash-in, even if it’s a fantastic one. 


“Potentially it’s a fucking disaster,” said Doherty in the video, which is part of what makes the whole thing so exciting. It could all go horribly wrong, which is sort of where the band’s brilliance lies. If rock & roll is at its best when it all feels as though it could go wildly off the rails, there are few acts who’ve tapped into that vein as perfect as the Libertines.


Whether they survive the trip to record or play again is almost secondary. The Libertines were always meant to burn bright for a moment, then leave us wondering what the hell had just happened.


To celebrate,


Watch the Libertines exclusive interview on NME.com.


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