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Archive for the ‘Hearings’ Category

what can’t be packaged in pop music?

In Feelings, Hearings, Thinkings on August 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM

The other day a best girlfriend introduced me to the new Eminem and Rihanna track. Though I hold my preferences, I’m fairly open to new music. So in her car, I opened my ears to her recommendation.

First I just paid attention to the well-produced, tried and tested beats and the sweet, pained call of Rihanna’s chorus vocals. I liked it. Catchy. Then I started to take in the lyrics.

“Love the way you lie?” I queried, perplexed, double-checking I wasn’t hearing incorrectly.

“It’s an awesome song. It’s the words. They makes sense to me.”

My friend has been on and off with a guy for over the last year. We all have friends like this; perhaps we’ve been that friend. Perhaps the relationship’s foundation was rocky; perhaps you’ve broken trust; perhaps the commitment isn’t balanced; perhaps someone isn’t being honest with themselves; perhaps the communication just isn’t there. But you want it to work. So you make up, calm down. But the next flare up hits and the cycle begins again. You know in your gut that you’re not yourself or the best of yourself when you’re in the relationship. But for whatever reason, we keep coming back.

My friend and I listened to “Love the Way You Lie” several times that weekend. Each time I heard more and more of what I was scared to voice: she was in an emotionally abusive relationship.

And now there’s a song for that. That scares me.

It’s not the subject that scares me. I’m quite aware that such relationships exist. And I’d rather people talk about their relationships, use our friends for support, get our worries out into the open so we’re not bottling them alone.

I also get that passion and rage are of the same cloth, and many of us feed off both emotions in a relationship. Vampire sex is hot right now. Sex and biting, feeding off pain, etc. We’re watching it, reading it. We like it. And it’s been written about, sung about, made movies about before. I get it.

What does scare me is the way pop music wraps up volatile subjects in catchy tunes and then gets pumped into public places (Tim Hortons line up!) for men and women of all ages to consume passively.

Is this ok? When such a subject is masked in pretty packaging, does the subject matter become acceptable? Does it become status quo? Does it become, ugh, normal?

Let’s not forget the fact that Rihanna herself was in a high-profile abusive relationship — what is this saying about her, that she’s now professing her desire for such cyclical pain and insanity? I don’t care if she means it personally or not. This isn’t even about the young girls who look up to her. It’s about our society in general and how relationships are normalized and consumed.

Why is this my business, anyway, you ask. If I’m not in such a relationship, and if I’m so snooty about my music choices, I don’t have to listen to this. I can change the radio station, not download the track, not Google the video.

But I have to care because it’s out there. Because I know this cycle too; I know it’s hard to break. And because I know people in such relationships right now, and they are my best friends. These are strong, passionate, caring women who, like myself, are not immune to the urge to care for a broken man. But, like many of us (myself included), find ourselves in patterns that we are acutely aware are not good for us, yet we don’t change.

And I care because I want us to start talking about what’s happening to us in our relationships. There’s not enough of it. Call up your friends, tell them what’s confusing you, and listen to how they respond. Don’t be ashamed of confused emotions, don’t be scared to voice doubts. Best friends are the most honest. We love you enough to tell you the truth. And we know it’s hard to hear the truth, but really we’re just echoing your gut.

So let’s not just package the issue up in pop production techniques. Let’s talk. Please.

To clarify, I have spoken openly with my friend who I refer to here. This post isn’t a not-so-subtle plea for her to realize what’s going on in her relationship. She knows and has identified it herself. This post came about because of my introduction to this song. There have been other comments and criticisms on the Rihanna-Eminem video.

Oh What a [cbc] World

In Hearings on August 8, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Recently at work (yay Mac!) and at home (boo, aging netbook) I’ve been putting on CBC Radio’s Canadian Songwriters online channel. Rich Terfry pops in and out about every 30 minutes just say, “Oh hey, it’s Rich. Hope you’re swell. And FYI, this is CBC.” Nothing more, no other interruptions. Just great original tunes by fellow Canadians and a lot of good covers too.

This afternoon I caught a track by Rufus Wainwright. What a fantastic performer that man is. Ha, even better when he’s taking the piss out of himself. And in a witch’s hat too?! Smiles all around.

I say, the dog days are over

In Hearings on August 3, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Something happened this weekend inside me. Can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’d say this feeling began around Monday morning (high five for stat holiday). I woke with this song in my head, not having heard it in a couple months.

Why does that happen, anyway? Why does a particular song come to us out of the blue?

I reckon it’s my subconscious telling me to celebrate. There are good things blooming in my life, and I’m going to dance away the stings of the last couple years.

And the voice of Florence Welch sends me into just the mystical dancing fit. Her angelic, operatic tones, the hip- and head-shaking percussion, make me feel like I could float up to the ceiling and flail around like a coordinated, face-painted six year-old. You should really check out her website. (Leave it open in your browser long enough and tell me if you also get lulled into the rhythm of that ominous breathing.)

P.S. The above song, “Dog Days Are Over”, had another video made for it back in late 2008. Which do you prefer? Let’s compare:

strawberry swing

In Hearings on July 30, 2010 at 3:52 PM

I’ve been listening to the radio more than I ever have these last six months. I can’t handle the technicalities of illegal downloading my music, and I also can’t be asked to buy it right now (unless I am completely enraptured). So the radio is a great feed of new tunes.

I’ve been rotating between CBC Radio 2, Shore 104.3 FM and The Peak. Here is my most recent fav summer tune.

And what a lovely video – I love such a surprise!

small talk ain’t cheap (well, kinda)

In Hearings on July 11, 2010 at 9:00 AM

Complaints have been made once or twice about the cost of having our Queenie visiting her lil ol’ Canada. Apart from her keynote speeches at Canada Days, I wonder what ‘value added’ we Canadians receive from such visits? What about from her ‘small talk’ with all the politicians and random children called upon to curtsey?

Well, according to my sources (today’s episode of DNTO), Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s small talk last November with Queenie’s son led to him spotting Prince Charles $10 for some local sheep’s cheese! Ha! I wonder if that tenner ever got repaid.

move over CBC music

In Hearings on June 29, 2010 at 11:28 AM

I was recently introduced to what I now consider a contender for my music-browsing ears. Yep, CBC Radio may not have my whole heart any longer. Please make some space for NPR.

No, no, I’m not jumping the border or abandoning my country’s public broadcaster. I just need less repetition.

Lately I’ve been checking out the program All Songs Considered. Not only do they not have to contend with Canadian content quotas, they also don’t tend to repeat songs! Well, from my limited listening exposure. So far.

Not that there is anything wrong with Canadian content quotas. I am a big supporter of Canadian talent. But it does bother me that CBC seems to only dip into a small pool of the same CAN Top 40 to meet such targets. If I know the words, and the only place I’d learned those words were the radio, then it’s being overplayed.

Seriously, if I hear Bob Mackowitz introduce “On Top of Your Love” by Royal Wood one more time as a new, bumpin’ tune, I’m tuning out.

Anyway, there are some great tracks on ASC’s recent show, “Listeners Pick 2010’s Best Music (So Far)”. I’m hearing so much new music! Like #10 “Treats” by Sleigh Bells. Check it oooooout.


In Hearings on June 22, 2010 at 9:00 AM

A rare, short-lived music medium, an 8-track is essentially a legend to my generation. At least I am aware of them enough to get the irony of using the name for this music-sharing site. let’s us make ‘mixtapes’ to share publicly. Folks can comment on whether they like your tune-juxtaposing style. I think it’s a neat addition to anyone’s personal online journal. I mean blog.

However, flipping the keener–critic coin, there is a downside to this seemingly fun website. Turns out you can’t preview the list of tracks on a mixtape, nor can you skip through tracks. I guess this is how the site justifies playing music for free: If you skip a track, that artist isn’t getting the exposure they’ve agreed to receive from 8tracks.

Thus hitting the fast-forward button more than three times will result in your aural ADD getting smacked with a polite box requesting patience: “Apologies for the inconvenience, but our music license requires us to limit the number of tracks you may skip each hour.”


let’s get this summer started

In Hearings on June 21, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Saw this talented fella a couple weeks ago, joined by Grand Analog and a quick appearance by Hannah Georgas for the chorus of this particular summery track. I’d come across his Old Prince tune a couple years ago and kept tabs on him while in the UK. His intelligent lyrics are especially catchy to my snobby hip hop ears.

It was a great performance — I’m excited to see where he’s going to go next with his talent.

my Welsh post

In Hearings on June 18, 2010 at 2:17 PM

There was a fantastic episode of Living Out Loud today on CBC Radio 1. Myfanwy Davies, a Maritime journalist, reflected on her relationship with her father and her pilgrimage to his home country of Wales.

It was wonderful to hear the Welsh accent again. And it’s true what Myfanwy said: “The Welsh are always looking for connections”. Many times during my times in Swansea, I was asked where I was from, what my family name is. And then they’d place my light eyes as Irish or my fair skin and surname as German, and try to claim my dark hair as Welsh.

What I experienced about the Welsh is their modesty and their understated care. The local general store, five terraced houses down from my home, doubled as the post office. I often visited to post my handwritten letters or eBay items, or to pick up milk and eggs. Wendy, one half of the married owners, recognized everyone. She couldn’t quite get a handle on saying my name (she preferred to shush the C, producing a new nickname, Josh) but she always said hello and asked how my families (Canadian and Welsh) were doing. Her tone was often short but polite and our conversations were normally brief (it was a popular post office). But I always left feeling a part of that little Blackpill community.

Do you know anyone Welsh? What are your impressions of these folk?

Sarah Slean meets The Other Mother

In Hearings on June 15, 2010 at 9:00 AM

I can’t see them when they’re walking sideways.

Years ago, she hooked me with the piano chords and haunting vocals of “Sweet Ones“. And again this morning, I’ve been caught by “Day One”.

Video director, Nelson Chan, teamed up before with Sarah to create a short animated film, Tales of the Baroness. I never caught the first airing on Bravo! in 2007 but watching the trailer gives me heebie-geebies like I got from The Other Mother in Coraline. Beautiful women can be terrifying.

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