making music, actually. introducing This Be the Verse:
just because i like to rant about things i’m proud of, here’s a quick list of facts about this track (“beauty”):
1) it was made in garageband & fl studio 9 (and a little bit of audacity), using apple loops and two customized toxic biohazard programs.
2) the soundclips come from the movie little miss sunshine, which you should totes see if you haven’t yet.
3) from start to finish, the track less than a week to complete. i started out with the main melody (the layered synthesizer loop) in fl studio, added drums with garageband, edited and added soundclips with audacity, and then mixed the track using a bunch of repurposed garageband effects (what can i say, i have GB’04 and it pretty much doesn’t have a mixer). i’m especially proud of the outro, though i feel the main verses could use something…more. i don’t know what exactly, but i’m open to suggestions.
* * * * * * * * *
and now for something completely different.
in his recent review of nicki minaj’s new disappointingly dull album pink friday, pitchfork’s scott plagenhoef expressed my exact feelings on the state of modern female pop stars. i’ve struggled to find a fitting way to articulate this point, but he hit the nail on the motherfucking head:
“The gulf between Minaj’s public persona and her music here reminds me of the criticism laid at the feet of Lady Gaga– that for all of her high-culture namedropping, wearable art, and big event videos, Gaga’s music rarely reflects the full range of her conceptual constructions. Gaga’s emergence has certainly stylistically loosed up America’s top female stars. Alongside the emergence of Minaj and Ke$ha, Rihanna, Katy Perry, and even the often conservative Beyoncé have enjoyed the license to be more flamboyant and delightfully cartoonish. In most cases, however, their music is in line with current fashion rather than setting it. (That said, the artist here closest in line with the the sound of today’s top 40, Rihanna, is also the most consistently excellent; while it’s Ke$ha, the one most forging her own path, who is irredeemably awful.) It’s almost as if this generation of pop starlets is content to play outsized personalities at awards shows, photo shoots, and videos, yet stay within a sleepy comfort zone on record.”
yes. yes. a thousand times yes. gaga and the rest of the crop look rather than talk a big game. it’s very hard for me to get my head around the “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND GAGA IS A GENIUS LIKE A REAL MUSICIAN Y’KNOW WHAT I MEAN” people because her music is so factory-pressed and pedestrian. if she put any of the creative energy and focus of her image into her music, then i’d understand those “SHE’S A LEGIT ARTIST” kids and quite possibly even take up their mantel. but there’s nothing new there. nothing pushing the envelope. you can wear a thousand different devil costume-meets-burger king crown-meets victorian wedding lace contraptions to every damn entertainment awards show being held within the next two years and that’s still not what fucking matters.
this brings me to a rather disturbing conclusion: has it now come to pass that most people literally care nothing for actual music, but instead heap value on celebrity and controversial press stunts and from these things infer “artistic integrity?” “cultural significance?” “musical genius?” i’m sure you could argue this has been the case for most of the duration of pop music’s existence in the western world – certainly it’s easy to draw comparisons from the present day to artists from any of the last five decades – but it seems like we’ve come to a point of culmination.
gaga, rihanna, ke$ha, and (extreme shudder) katy perry are worshiped by both the screaming teen girls their music is designed to spend the money of AND not a few “serious music fans,” adults who i respect and who i know listen with a much more discerning ear than the majority. their strategy is working, whether anyone wants to admit that or not. if gaga suddenly decided to churn out records in the style of, say, the later múm albums, or if rihanna started using 4/7 time signatures, tibetan monk choirs, and mournful santoor melodies in her tracks (yeah, yeah, i’m letting loose here for the sake of making my point), would they still retain this universal fanbase?
apparently, the record labels don’t think so, because in the case of minaj’s pink friday, we see the biting, screaming hell-born harlot who tore away the spotlight from kanye and company on “monster,” among my beautiful dark twisted fantasy’s finest moments, now denuded of all her aggressive theatricality. in both the collaborative and solo work minaj did before her record came out, she was unapologetically over the top, more than happy to throw some spice into a canned top 40-ready track by letting loose and rap-ranting in a way you’ll really just not hear from many other female singers on mainstream radio. so, pink friday means the one person i could think of in pop music (meaning the kind currently played on top 40 stations) who had a voice, a musical style, and an image that were unified in their unique flamboyance has been declawed just like the rest of her cadre.
sad for someone like me, who longs to find original artistry in genres bogged down by shit (like top 40 music, like contemporary rap & hip-hop). but 95% of the rest of people who’ve heard minaj’s name before, i’m sure, could not give a shit. they’ll spin her tired-out rhythms and her by-the-book 2010 hip-hop instrumentation and vocal delivery just as much as they did for the fame monster; they’ll be sure to coo over her shiny outfits and weird haircuts and her offbeat comments in interviews. and you can bet that i’ll be fighting with some of them about her artistic integrity/genius/relevance/presence/omg she’s soooo great, you’re just being elitist, you don’t even listen to pop music because you’re a hipster so what do you know, etc etc.
but WHATEVS. time to get back to the grind.