The Blerd Radio Podcast

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the final Blerd Radio podcast of 2014!

Big Money, Michael Parr, Dr. Z & Cunningham have gotten all gussied up and we're ready to take over your New Year's Eve...at least before all the parties and fun and stuff.

Anyway, picking up where we left off on Part One, the panel wanders through the highlights and lowlights of pop culture in 2014, including:

-The return of Prince, which elicits a massive yawn from super-huge Prince fan Dr. Z

-Cunningham gives his rundown of the best movies of the year, giving props to Boyhood, Birdman, Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets, & Jingle Bell Rocks!

-He also gives a thumbs-up to the small screen's Mike Tyson Mysteries

-The panel shakes its collective head at the ongoing Bill Cosby saga, one of the weirdest WTF episodes of 2014.

-We say goodbye to Philip Seymour Hoffman & Robin Williams.

A few 2014-wrapping round robins commence:

-Best Concert of 2014, in which we give props to Stevie Wonder, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Living Colour and the late Ian McLagan.

-The "Person of the Year" category leads to a discussion on the recent civil unrest in the U.S. as well as brief chats about the state of the modern music industry.

-Most anticipated Kany...uh, album of 2015.

(also: new albums from Chic, Kendrick Lamar, The Decemberists and Giorgio Moroder get mentioned)

And, finally, the panel picks their three favorite albums of the year-this part of the discussion cuts a swath through The Afghan Whigs, Julian Velard, Big K.R.I.T., Flying Lotus, Big Freedia, White Lung, The Gotobeds and more.

The Blerd Radio Team thanks you all for listening and subscribing. Wait till you see what we have in store for 2015! Happy New Year!

Direct download: Year_End_Podcast_02.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 10:30am EDT

Ladies and gentlemen!

Welcome to The Blerd Radio team's 2014 wrap-up; or at least the first part of it. True to form, we gabbed so much we had to split the episode in two; lest we be responsible for your being glued to the computer for two hours plus.

It's been sort of an underwhelming pop culture year, but that didn't stop me (Big Money), Michael ParrCunningham The Packet Man and Dr. Z from touching on a variety of topics, which include:

-D'AngeloBlack Messiah came out on the day we recorded this podcast, and the surprise release was heavy on everyone's mind.

-The biggest-selling albums of 2014, including the Frozen soundtrack, Taylor Swift's 1989, and Sam Smith's In The Lonely Hour. We discuss Taylor's ubiquity and business smarts and question how involved she is in the construction of her music, while wondering if British pop can give us something a little less beige than Mr. Smith.

-Is there still hope for pop music? Betty Who? comes up in conversation as a non-cookie cutter pop artist that might break here in the U.S.

-Jeff Giles, friend, occasional Popblerd contributor, media Grand Poobah, introducer of Ariana Grande.

-The panel imagines Cunningham as a rebellious prep school girl (after he expresses a taste for Lana Del Rey.)

-Why does Ryan Tedder poison everything he touches, and why is he so damn popular?

-Cultural appropriation at its worst-personified by one Iggy Azalea.

-The U2 Songs Of Innocence/iTunes fiasco. Is Bono the white Kanye? (or, is Kanye the Black Bono) Also, how much disbelief do we have to suspend in order to imagine that Rolling Stone's voting of Innocence as the best album of 2014 wasn't an example of the Old Boys Network at its best?

Give this podcast a listen in the player below, or direct download it at this link.

You can also download/listen on Ye Olde iTunes!

Direct download: Year_End_Podcast01.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 5:41pm EDT

One thing we didn't properly cover on our 1989 podcast from earlier this year was director Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. Over the course of many conversations, the Blerd Radio team (myself, Michael Parr, Cunningham The Packet Man and Dr. Z) discussed dedicating an entire episode to Do The Right Thing specifically, or doing an episode on Spike's oeuvre. 

Then Ferguson happened. Then Cleveland happened. Then Staten Island happened. And it seemed like the most obvious (and timely) thing to do from a pop culture perspective was to talk about Do The Right Thing and how prescient the movie seems in light of current events. 

We all knew going in that discussing the movie was going to lead into a greater discussion about things like race, police brutality and the general state of this country. Any time you get four passionate people in a room together (as "virtual" as this room may have been,) you're going to get an interesting discussion. What we ended up with is , to my ears, one of the best podcast episodes we've ever done.

Yes, we talk about the film at length. If you've never seen Do The Right Thing and you've been curious (and trust our opinions) , you'll hopefully find plenty to enjoy over the course of 90 minutes. It is a tremendously important movie for a variety of reasons. It was the magnum opus of a critically acclaimed screenwriter and director, it was the film debut (or an early-career screen turn) for a number of soon-to-be superstars like Samuel Jackson, Danny Aiello, Rosie Perez, Jon Turturro and Martin Lawrence, it was beautifully shot, it contains great music and it's a compelling story. We cover all of that. And, as befitting a film that's probably more comedy than drama, there are plenty of light moments throughout the podcast.

We also wind up having the sort of discussion that great film should provoke. It's not always an easy, or comfortable discussion (and I'd like to think that we handled it pretty smoothly given our disparate backgrounds) but it's an important one. And in this case, hopefully an entertaining one.

Direct download: DoTheRightThing.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 11:26pm EDT

Our discussion about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was so involved, we had to split it up! You can listen to Part One here.

The estimable Dr. Z had to sit this podcast out (something about a bikini wax?), but Michael ParrMichael Cunningham The Packet Man and yours truly held down the fort in Z's absence.

The second half of the show covers:

-The "Recently Deceased" argument and whether it greases the skids for Lou Reed's induction as a solo artist.

-Cunningham attempts to explain Lou Reed's appeal to me, drawing a (not wrongheaded) comparison to Bob Dylan.

-Will the hopes of a Morrissey/Johnny Marr reunion (even though it will never happen) be a boon for The Smiths and their chances at induction?

-What about those Morrissey cancer rumors anyway?

-How many R&B vocal groups should be inducted?

-Should there be a rule about inducting solo artists who are already in as members of groups?

-The collective shock we experience upon discovering that Stevie Ray Vaughan was not already in the Hall.

-Parr waxes rhapsodic over "Lenny," a song that is not about Mr. Kravitz or the partner of Squiggy.

-Are The Meters in? Or are they out?

-Bill. Motherfuckin'. Withers-king of everything.

-Does a certain Afro'ed drummer who is more or less the patron saint of this site hold a serious amount of sway as far as inductees being chosen?

-The team casts their own ballots--I can't say we'll surprise you too much there.

-Will a female rapper ever be inducted?

-We also pick two artists not presently up for induction and explain why they should be nominated/inducted.

-Matt Wardlaw gets mentioned in a second consecutive podcast. We should just invite him to do one of these damn things.

-Parr delivers a note-perfect Aaron Neville impression.

-Do you want some Doobies in your hall?

And more. You guys know the routine.

 

Direct download: HOF_Cast_Part_2.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 7:54am EDT

Last year, the Blerd Radio team had one of its most interesting discussions centered around the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That discussion went so well, we decided to attack it this year with a fresh list of nominees. The end result was another interesting discussion. How interesting, you ask? So interesting that we had to split the discussion in half. Look for the second part later this week.

Dr. Z couldn't make this podcast, so you're left with a trio of Mikes: myself, Mr. Parr and Mr. Cunningham. Three is definitely not a crowd in this instance, and the first half of this edition of Blerd Radio covers:

-General overview: what elements of the Hall of Fame do we like and dislike? This is a rehash of our discussion from last year...what are the parameters, and will there come a point when everyone is in the Hall of Fame? Furthermore, what is rock 'n roll?

-Ladies and gentlemen, the ageless Jann Wenner.

-Are we looking at a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Taylor Swift and Britney Spears in 15-20 years? And can we get some love for Cher, for Chrissakes? (leading to a discussion on whether the Hall of Fame is discriminatory towards female artists.)

-This year's nominees are:

PAUL BUTTERFIELD BLUES BAND- (collective yawn and WTF? from the panel, for the second straight year.)

CHIC- Another second-straight-year nominee, and one we're all (still) quite passionate about. We run through a list of Nile Rodgers' accomplishments, and also make the connection between Nile and another performer on the list of nominees, Stevie Ray Vaughan.

-Did Chic kick off the modern-day producer's era?

(we almost go into fits about Isaac Hayes not being in the HOF, before realizing he was inducted thirteen years ago.)

GREEN DAY- Are Mike, Tre and Billie Joe first-ballot worthy? They're certainly influential, although Cunningham might be not as much a fan as the rest of us. How punk rock!

-Sidebar: Might the HOF go easy on the star power this year?

JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS- Does an induction for her (them? Who are The Blackhearts, anyway?) ensure that The Runaways will never get inducted? And what does this mean for other rockers of the '80s? (Melissa Etheridge, Tracy Chapman, Sinead O' Connor...)

-Is the HOF unfairly biased against non-American artists?

KRAFTWERK- This really just gives Parr and Cunningham a chance to bust out their German accents.

THE MARVELETTES- Does "the 5th best girl group on Motown" deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame?

N.W.A.- Is Dr. Dre the richest Black musician in the world?

Does N.W.A.'s music deserve a critical re-evaluation? Where do they stand in the hip-hop canon?

We also show respect to Salt 'n Pepa (who haven't even been nominated yet) while also cracking a joke at their expense.

NINE INCH NAILS: Let's be real, here. This is one fairly long gush for Trent Reznor.

There'll be a Part II!: We talked so much we decided to split the podcast up. Look for the second half, coming soon.

Direct download: HOF_Edit_Part_1.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:01am EDT

Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to 1989!

Yes, the Blerd Radio team (Big Money, Michaels Parr & Cunningham, and the Incredible Edible Doctor Z) are hopping in the old time machine and turning it back a quarter century (!)

George Bush I is president, the World Wide Web is in its infancy, the Berlin wall came down, and baby Taylor Swift made her way into the world. We talk about none of these four things during the course of this podcast.

We do, however, discuss...

-The San Francisco earthquake and the differences in the reporting of natural disasters in the '80s vs. our instant news via social media.

-Dr. Z goes apeshit over The Wizard, co-starring Fred Savage.

-Cunningham gives props to the Ghostbusters 2 soundtrack. Too hot to handle, too cold to hold!

-Big Money discovers that We Were Promised Jetpacks were named after a line in Back To The Future 2.

-WHITE BOYS LOVE CHRISTIAN SLATER!!

-The Batman phenomenon...Jack Nicholson as The Joker, Hot Kim Basinger, and more...oh yeah, there was a soundtrack too. Some dude we all like recorded it. And may originally have meant to record it with someone else we all like.

-Madonna's Like A Prayer, a fount of dissenting opinion. And we are remiss for not mentioning the anniversary piece written by our friend Annie Zaleski.

-What were The Jacksons doing in 1989? Moonwalker & Rhythm Nation.

-Hair Metal-palooza, which is very closely tied in to Power Ballad-palooza. Special shouts to Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood and Aerosmith's Pump. Cunningham is definitely not the strongest link in this particular conversation.

-Black rock takes over: introducing Living Colour & Lenny Kravitz, which dovetails into a conversation about the exquisite and gorgeous Zoe Kravitz.

actress and singer Zoe Kravitz

-Apparently, hiding your musical tastes from your friends (or separating that from different groups of friends) is a thing?

-Hip-hop underwent a transitional period in 1989. Pop hits from Tone Loc & Young MC ruled the roost, but there were great not-as-recognized records by MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane and more. There was also the debut of MC Hammer. And classic albums Paul's Boutique and 3 Feet High & Rising, which was the winner of the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll that year.

-Alternative rock begins to go mainstream: Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana debut, and The B-52s and The Cure have their biggest hits.

-New Invention: Fred Schneider GPS. We're copyrighting that shit.

-TV in 1989: the debuts of SeinfeldThe SimpsonsArsenio and Saved By The Bell, starring TAT AKA Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (apparently she's got an acronym thing happening now.)

-"We Didn't Start The (Fucking) Fire"

N.W.A. and the (muppet) Posse

...and so much more...

Check us out here on LibSyn. You can also download the podcast from iTunes and make sure if you do, you rate us and leave a comment!

 

 

Direct download: 1989_podcast.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 11:23pm EDT

The Blerd Radio team (me AKA MJ AKA Big Money, Dr. Z.Cunningham and Michael Parr) is at it again, dedicating this episode to Stevie Wonder on the launch of his Songs In The Key of Life retrospective tour. An all-Stevie episode has been on the agenda for quite a while, but we finally decided to go for the gusto, focusing on his "golden" era, a period that covers his iconic albums Talking BookInnervisions, Fulfillingness's First Finale, and Key of Life.

Among the topics discussed over the 80-minute podcast:

-The newsworthiness of the "Stevie Wonder Truthers"- a group of people who've surfaced with the hypothesis that Stevie has been feigning blindness for the past 64 years.

-Pre-Talking Book Stevie- 14 albums (!!) some killer singles, glimpses of a monster talent, and a version of "Light My Fire" that's leagues better than the original ('cause fuck The Doors.)

-Which living Motown artist/personality will helm the era's definitive biography? Why hasn't Stevie written a book yet?

-"Maybe Your Baby"-yea or nay?

-The mention of Don McLean's American Pie (which was nominated for a 1972 Album of the Year Grammy when Talking Book was not) sets Cunningham into a tizzy-the ensuing rant is priceless.

-How songs as sappy as "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" and "Isn't She Lovely" managed to capture the hearts of people who were not predisposed to such Hallmark-card sentiment.

-Innervisions as Big Money's first Stevie album and (arguably) his favorite album of all time.

-Peak Period Stevie's ability to deliver messages while not seeming heavy-handed.

-Stevie's Sleeper: Fulfillingness' First Finale

-The weird bond between Stevie and Bette Midler (at least as pertains to the Grammy Awards)

-Key of Life covers and Celine Dion's reminiscings about being a little nappy-headed child.

-How unique it is to have a multi-record set that's good ALL the way through.

-Driving straight from the middle of the road into the ditch via Journey Through The Secret Life of Plants.

-Modern-day Stevie's material getting short shrift thanks to the long shadow cast by his best work.

-"I Just Called To Say I Love You"-because.

-Alicia Keys getting sonned (nicely) by Stevie on national television.

-Stevie's amazing vocal agility-still largely intact after fifty+ years of singing.

-Cunningham (the star of this particular podcast) confuses Stevie with Ray Charles because of course! He also relates the story of hip-hop producer Peanut Butter Wolf meeting Stevie at a urinal.

-This turn in the conversation occurs thanks to Cunningham's recommendation of Yesterday's New Quintet.

-The Songs In The Key of Life listening party documentary.

...and so much more!

 

Direct download: Wondercast.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 7:13pm EDT

Blerd Radio 2014 | Episode 13: The In Sound From Way Out

KICK IT!

(and give me props for not going for the obvious "Fight For Your Right" intro on the actual podcast.

This episode pays tribute to three bad brothers you know so well--Ad Rock, Mike D., and the late, great MCA: better known as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame artists The Beastie Boys.

Over the course of 90 minutes, the team of Big Money, Michael Parr, Dr. Z and Mike Cunningham discuss the legacy of the three East Village punks who shook up the hip-hop world and morphed from bratty caricatures to elder statesmen with cachet in the rap and alternative rock communities. 

From the sophomoric but still enjoyable Licensed To Ill to the trippy Paul's Boutique to their uneven more recent efforts, the Beasties were never less than interesting throughout their three decades as a unit. 

Some questions/statements that come up over the course of the discussion:

-How important a factor was the Beastie Boys' race in their success? (also, the first-ever comparison might be made between the Beasties and New Kids On The Block)

-Does Paul's Boutique hold up a quarter-century later? (we also discuss the excellent 33 1/3 volume dedicated to the album and revisit sampling laws.)

-The court of public opinion is split on the Beasties' more recent efforts, although no album provides more dissenting commentary than 1999's Hello Nasty.

-The immortal "Skills To Pay The Bills" VHS and the role of video in the Beasties' career.

-What is their legacy and will there be another group like them?

Listen, comment, do your thing!

Direct download: Beasties.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:01pm EDT

We weren't intending to give you back to back 30th anniversary episodes, but this podcast's topic was too good to pass up. Yes, boys and girls, we are talking The Cosby Show in our latest episode.

(and apologies for some audio issues on Big Money's end.)

Cliff and Clair Huxtable (and, of course, their kids,) entered our world in September 1984 and immediately changed the landscape of situation comedy. Cosby marked the first time an affluent Black American family was portrayed on TV, and because of Cosby's masterful way of mixing cultural education with everyday family occurrences, the Huxtables ruled the TV roots for five consecutive seasons-still a record for a sitcom (and one that is unlikely to ever be broken.)

In this episode, Big Money, Michael Parr, Dr. Z and Cunningham discuss the following:

-The argument that The Cosby Show didn't accurately portray Black American culture.

-What was the best of the (many) Cosby Show themes?

-How has no one made a Gordon Gartrelle knock off shirt yet?

-Cliff and Clair's influence, not only as Black professionals, but also as a couple that was still very much in love with one another.

-The entire panel's enduring crush on Phylicia Rashad, only trumped by the panel's enduring crush on Lisa Bonet.

-Why Cliff Huxtable's dad was The Cosby Show's secret weapon.

-Cosby's impressive list of satellite characters and guest stars. And we didn't even get around to discussing Vanessa's fast-talking friend Kara!

-Cosby's later years: Martin Kendall, Olivia, Cousin Pam, and the jumping of the shark.

-Off Cosby: "Angel Heart," Malcolm-Jamal Warner as jazz bassist, the Tempestt Bledsoe talk show, Guys With Kids,  Leonard Part 6Ghost Dad, and this photo:

Ghost Dad

-Cosby's place in the pantheon of legendary sitcoms.

-Our favorite episodes, with a special shout to "eh, mon!"

 

 

Direct download: CosbyCast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:58pm EDT

No, we didn't spend an hour and a half talking about The Return Of Bruno.
 
This episode of Blerd Radio finds Big Money, Dr. Z, Michael Parr and Mike Duquette discussing The Boss: singer/songwriter/showman Bruce Springsteen.
 
Frequent co-conspirator Michael Cunningham is MIA this episode because he hates Springsteen. And is a commie bastard.
 
It's the 30th Anniversary of the classic Born in the USA album, which sold multi-millions, was the #1 album of 1985 (despite being released in 1984) and spawned a record-tying 7 Top Ten singles. The album is a cultural touchstone for many that came up in the era, and we discuss its importance in the pop music landscape as well as whether its highly regarded by Bruce's cult of diehard fans.
 
As with many albums recorded in the mid-late '80s, there was a bit of a compromise with certain songs being remixed or geared to fit in with a more dance-centric/MTV audience. Case in point: a slightly really odd dance version of "Cover Me."
 
In addition to Born In The USA, we talk about the role of the E Street Band over the course of Springsteen's lengthy career, showing appreciation to the individual members but also wondering if Springsteen hasn't kinda given them the shaft when it comes to co-billing them over the years. Perhaps his ill treatment is the cause of Little Steven's perennial resting bitchface?
 
(of course, a Blerd Radio podcast wouldn't be a Blerd Radio podcast with at least one major sidebar--which we utilize to take a shit on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.)
 
We also shout out our favorite Bruce albums, give props to the fact that a 65 year old man can probably kick all of our (significantly younger) asses, and at least one of us discovers the true meaning of "Pink Cadillac" for the first time. Who knew?

 

Direct download: Brucecast.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 9:20am EDT

Blerd Radio 2014 | Episode 10: Summah Summah Summah Time

Greetings, dear readers! Guess what time it is? If you guessed "time for another Blerd Radio podcast," then you, sir or madam, are correct!!

This podcast features panelists Michael CunninghamMichael ParrDr. Z and Mike Duquette along with myself, and we're throwing our annual summer party.

You're invited to listen in as we discuss:

-The concept of the "Summer Anthem," a fairly new conceit that most agree began in the early '90s with DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's "Summertime," but which has roots in '60s classics by The Beach Boys and the Motown label.

-This AV Club article which laments the death of the "Summer Anthem," in light of Iggy Azalea's fairly forgettable hit "Fancy," but the panel wonders if the summer anthem is just taking a long nap, as opposed to being dead.

-The mention of Iggy Azalea leads to a short discussion about female rappers and one panelist is left in disappointed awe after being told that many popular female rappers likely didn't write their own lyrics (and, allegedly, neither does Iggy.)

-It's summer movie season! What's popping at the box office? Duquette gives us the lowdown on "Transformers," "22 Jump Street" and many of the season's hottest flicks.

-The panel collectively scratches its head about "Jersey Boys."

-A discussion about summer television immediately goes nowhere, because none of us really watches TV. God damn, we're pretentious!

-Binge watching...yay or nay? You might be surprised by the panel's opinion.

-There is a lot more reading being done, though, and most of it is music related. Whether it's the umpteenth book about Michael Jackson, a classic 33 1/3 book, the tales of guitar god Joe Satriani, or the posthumous autobiography of Rick James, pages are being turned!

-Non-entertainment related summertime activities! Dr. Z and Cunningham give it up for amusement parks, roller coasters and funnel cake. I finally receive a satisfactory explanation as to what funnel cake actually is.

-We find out that Parr's wife is a "G" for persuading her husband to go on a roller coaster. Props!

-Recommendations include Dave Holmes' column on Vulture and more. Listen to get the full scoop!

Enjoy!

 

 

Direct download: Summer_2014_Blerd_Radio.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:28am EDT

Blerd Radio 2014 | Episode 9: Slipping You Some (Native) Tongues

After a lengthy hiatus, the original Blerd Radio team is back with a tasty podcast that discusses the impact of the Native Tongues crew: specifically A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.

Among the many sub-topics discussed by Big Money, Dr. Z, Michael Cunningham & Michael Parr are:

An appearance by the God Rakim Allah at a local strip club/music venue in Pittsburgh, which makes the panel question the appearance of Pittsburgh natives Dr. Z & Cunningham on the podcast (when they could be rocking with Ra.)

This podcast was recorded on the birthday of the great Johnny Gill, leading to a story about how Cunningham rubbed some female karaoke patrons the right way.

Why are we doing this podcast in the first place? A rundown of the achievements (mostly unheralded) of the Native Tongues.

Were De La, Tribe and the others too complicated for middle America? Or does the general populace only like seeing their rappers of the cartoonish gangsta variety?

The Tongues influence spreads wide and includes the introduction of jazz into the hip-hop ouevre, the proliferation of the posse cut, and the popularization of the (somewhat dreaded) hip-hip skit.

We give props to the Jungle (the Jungle) the Brothers (the Brothers)

"Beats, Rhymes & Life" (the album)-classic? Or not?

Did Consequence break A Tribe Called Quest?

"Low End Theory" vs. "Midnight Marauders"

"3 Feet HIgh And Rising" vs. "De La Soul Is Dead"

and finally...De La vs. Tribe

 

 

 

Direct download: Tongues_Cast.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 10:55am EDT

Welcome to the latest episode of Blerd Radio!

In this episode, Big Money (the titular Blerd) is joined by his West Coast compatriots, Garrett "GG" Gonzales and Kevin "KJ" Johnson. Free from the constraints implied by a specific theme, this podcast is a freewheeling hour (and change) that touches on the following topics:

-Sir Mix-A-Lot's plush new gig making announcements at SEA/TAC airport, and whether it's appropriate to call Mix a one-hit wonder.

-The differences between hip-hop radio on the East and West coasts in the early Nineties.

-MC Hammer's ubiquity on West Coast hip-hop radio around that time leads to a discussion about the infamous "Pumps And A Bump" video and whether anyone on the panel would be caught dead in a leopard-skin banana hammock.

-Did Hammer really have a leg to stand on when challenging Michael Jackson to a dance-off, and do any of today's singer/dancers (Timberlake, Chris Brown, Usher, Ne-Yo) hold a candle to the King of Pop on the showmanship tip?

-KJ and Big Money finally met in person! Get the lowdown on their thrilling face-to-face.

-Also, find out how KJ came into possession of a teddy bear modeled after Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men. Yes, you heard that right.

-A discussion on turning 40, from three men in their late thirties. The operative word is: frightened. This discussion somehow turns into the initial planning stages for a Popblerd guys' weekend in Las Vegas. If and when this happens, there will be pictures.

-Alcohol tolerance; as discussed by someone who finds himself out and about fairly often (Big Money,) someone who hangs out occasionally with his much-younger co-workers (GG,) and someone who goes out every fourth full moon (KJ.)

-Which '90s R&B group member should have had the biggest solo career?

And that's the tip of the iceberg, folks. You can listen in the player below, or download the podcast directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes!

Direct download: MikeGGKJ414.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:41am EDT

Two podcasts in a week? Yes, folks, we at Blerd Studios have been working overtime to entertain you.

In this episode, I am joined by Bill Bodkin, co-owner and editor-in-chief of our sister site, Pop-break.com.

As Bill is quite Irish, and it is March, St. Patrick's Day is discussed. Among other things, like...

-Bill's low batting average when it comes to predictions on our Grammy-cast from earlier this year.

-The incredulity that arises when Big Money is told that New Jersey governor Chris Christie was at the gym when he first heard the news of the "bridge scandal."

-BM and Bill (both diabetic) eye Subway's new Flatizza.

-Bill gives us an Academy Awards report, giving props to Matthew McConaughey and comparing this year's host, Ellen Degeneres, to last year's host, Seth MacFarlane.

-Do Muppet movies in the 21st century compare to the classic run of Muppet movies in the late Seventies and early Eighties?

-Jimmy Fallon's resuscitated "The Tonight Show" with the help of Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, and Brian Williams, whose daughter is apparently an actress! (which I'm sure many of you knew, but Big Money did not as he is cable-deficient.)

-How unbelievably bad is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit these days? Bad enough that Bill's been threatened by some of the show's diehard fans after writing an unfavorable review.

-SXSW, shows, and claustrophobia.

-Our new music wrapup includes quick chats about the new Beck & Pharrell Williams albums, and Bill discusses new artists he's into like We Are ScientistsYellow Ostrich and Eagulls.

And more...

Direct download: MikeBillMarch.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 9:47am EDT

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another fun-filled Blerd Radio podcast. In this episode, Big Money is joined by co-hosts Michael Parr, Mike Duquette and Zack Stiegler, and a very special guest: The Popblerd Time Machine.

We are hopping in and heading back to 1984, a year that signified a seismic shift in popular culture. Here's a quick rundown of some of the topics discussed:

-The 1984 presidential election: the first time there was a viable black candidate, and the first female vice-presidential candidate (but don't blame her for Sarah Palin.)

-The Summer Olympics, boycotted by the Russians, but definitely not boycotted by Lionel Richie. A discussion of this event serves as a memory jogger for some events that Parr had successfully blocked from his psyche.

-Michael Jackson's 1984, which was awesome (Grammy Awards) and not awesome (hair catching on fire.)

-The breakthrough of a younger grain of female superstar in the forms of Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. The former starlet is widely credited with helping bring the WWF to dominance, while the latter's videos revolutionized the art form...well, maybe except for "Borderline."

-Was Tina Turner (whose comeback was a major story in 1984) history's first GILF?

-There is a somewhat lengthy (but respectful?) discussion about the pre-teen discovery of breasts (thanks to Vanessa Williams' Penthouse spread, Apollonia's purification in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, and Daryl Hannah in Splash)

-1984 was a watershed year in film, spawning classics including the still-relevant This Is Spinal Tap and the not-as-funny-as-you-may-think (according to Parr) Beverly Hills Cop.

-The film adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, which was one of Richard Burton's final film roles (and boasted a soundtrack performed by Eurythmics.)

-The bizarre deaths of Andy Kaufman and Marvin Gaye.

-Stevie Wonder jumps the shark with "I Just Called To Say I Love You," which was a lowlight in a year full of negligible movie songs.

-The panel is asks which of the following four songs they'd choose if they were held at gunpoint and forced to listen to one of 1984's worst-"I Just Called To Say...", "Footloose", "Let's Hear It For The Boy" or "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go."

-Of course, there's one Adele Dazeem joke.

-We almost omit one unforgettable item-The Cosby Show debuted in 1984, revitalizing the sitcom and giving us Lisa Bonet and Phylicia Rashad.

-We discuss the dawn of "college rock."

-Finally, we each pick our top 3 singles from the year, but not before Duquette regales us with the story of going to see Ashford & Simpson in concert.

 

 

Direct download: 84_Podcast.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:00am EDT

This latest episode of Blerd Radio continues the conversation MJKJ and GG were having on the last podcast. Unfortunately, it also contains the same audio problems (albeit to a lesser extent.) However, as I said last time: the conversation's interesting enough that hopefully you can forgive the fidelity issues-this time.

Topics discussed this go-round include:

-The 10th anniversary of The College Dropout by Kanye West: How the album changed hip-hop, and what both GG & MJ saw in Kanye that made them fans right off the bat (and still to this day.)

-It looks like Michael Sam is going to become the NFL's first gay player (barring not being drafted or injury,) and the panel discusses why this is such a big deal for the NFL, for the LGBT community, and for homophobes.

-The perceived anonymity of the internet, of course, allows for people to casually espouse ignorance under the guise of...well...various forms. GG talks about his regulation of an NFL message board that found itself mired in homophobic comments.

-Will Sam's pre-draft admission hurt his chances of getting drafted highly? Which team will take him? Might the Miami Dolphins, looking to do some image makeover, draft him?

-Can we officially do away with the terms "no homo" and "pause"? Especially for the over 30 crowd? Thankfully, in suburban Washington State, KJ is blissfully unaware of what those terms mean and has to consult good ol' Urban Dictionary.

-Does Macklemore's big night at the Grammys also signify the official end of his career? Or does the ongoing success of significantly less-talented rappers like Flo Rida and Pitbull augur well for a bright future?

-What is Drunk White Girl music?

-Finally, should our girl Mariah Carey take a tip from Toni Braxton and team up with Babyface for some work worthy of her still considerable talent?

You can listen to Episode 5 in the player below, or direct download it at the link below. You can also search for us on iTunes, download the podcast there. Feel free to leave a comment and vote for us...even if it's to say that MJ should stop whispering (sorry, I had a sleeping nephew in the house when I was recording this) and get his mic fixed!

Direct download: Feb_MJGGKJ2.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:37am EDT

Hey, guys! Welcome to our latest Blerd Radio episode!

I am (for the second time this year) joined by my cohorts GG and KJ for an All Initials Podcast!

A few things to note: One, this will be a two-part podcast. We talked for a long time. Part 2 should be up over the weekend.

Two, I had my mic settings all jacked up and as a result, I sound like  I'm on a different planet than GG and KJ. That said, this is a really entertaining podcast, so we hope you listen anyway.

Among the topics discussed:

Sportz!: The Winter Olympics are underway, the NBA All-Star Game finished literally minutes before we started recording, and KJ might still be a little sore from the results of the Super Bowl. We also give a critique of Bruno Mars' halftime performance.

We also contemplate artists that could potentially headline the halftime show for the 2015 Super Bowl, and we come up with a somewhat unlikely, but hip and edgy candidate-Pharrell Williams!

Music: Valentine's Day weekend was a big one for free music, as Ne-Yo and JoJo both released mixtapes, and hip-hop legends De La Soul released most of their catalog for free on their website. We discuss why this is an awesome marketing move, and we briefly compare and contrast De La with their Native Tongue brethren A Tribe Called Quest.

The conversation then turns to Aubrey Drake Graham. GG reveals a previously hidden hip-hop snob and wonders if Drake is "stealing from the game." KJ, relatively unfamiliar with Drake, says that he confuses the Canadian rap star with a long-forgotten British pop star, while I contemplate the similarities between Drizzy and P.M. Dawn.

We also discuss the Rolling Stone cover story beef, in which Drake voiced his displeasure with being replaced on the magazine's cover with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The first release of 2014 that all three of us are geeked over: Toni Braxton & Babyface's Love, Marriage & Divorce.

The second release of 2014 that all three of us might be geeked over: the new Jacksons record (although it probably won't come out anytime soon.) GG recaps the brothers' appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show and wonders whether Marlon Jackson would've been a bigger star had he not been in his younger brother's shadow.

Direct download: Feb_MGK_Part_One.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:47am EDT

The Grammy madness continues.

GrammyIt's a convergence of multiple podcasts! Our latest episode of Blerd Radio brings together MJ/Big Money, Michael Parr and Mike Duquette from the 4 1/2 Mikes podcast, along with pop-break.com's Bill Bodkin and renaissance man GG for an in-depth look at this year's nominees and potential winners.

This blue-ribbon panel picks the winners for Song Of The Year, Best Rock AlbumBest New ArtistBest Rap AlbumBest Pop AlbumBest R&B Album, Album Of The Year and Record Of The Year.

In addition to the predictions, you'll hear:

-Why there can never be any such thing as a Beatles reunion again.

-Will Lorde be the bell of the Grammy ball?

-What would an Ozzy Osbourne Grammy speech even sound like? (hint: it involves subtitles.)

-James Blake is NOT the guy who sang "You're Beautiful."

-Looking at the last decade or so of winners, it might be time to reassess the perception of the Best New Artist Grammy as the kiss of death.

-Middle America's love/hate relationship with Kanye West.

-Mos Def's humble beginnings as a co-star of a TV show with Nell Carter.

-Was Justin Timberlake's "Pair Of Wings" written by a pre-teen?

-Lana Del Ray: musical tranquilizers?

-The horrible production values of Faith Evans' R&B Divas album.

-We LOVE LOVE LOVE (all of us) LOVE Nile Rodgers.

All that and more in this special episode (and apologies for the sound issues...my stupid laptop fan was running extra high.)

Nevertheless, listen in the player below, or direct download here, OR head on over to iTunes, check out our other podcasts, and leave some feedback!

Direct download: Grammy_Podcast.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 9:01am EDT

The gang is back...for the first time in forever.

4 1/2 Mikes has been operating at 80% capacity for months due to scheduling conflicts, but MJ/Big Money is, once again, joined by Dr. ZMichael ParrMike Cunningham AND Mike Duquette for a fun-filled hour of...talking about books? Books about music, to be specific.

Some of the topics that come up amongst our well-read group are:

-Michael Parr's new food website, and the enlistment of extreme peer pressure to make sure the site gets populated with content.

-The first impression of the new year-Dr. Z does Dr. Phil proud.

-One final discussion about Christmas, which leads into chats about Z's mysterious 12-hour Christmas bug and the year Big Money got chicken pox from Santa. Also, Z got a really ugly Jerry Garcia tie and reveals that he was a pre-teen Deadhead.

-Did you know that the Ying Yang Twins played a strip club in Pittsburgh in mid-December? Z and Cunningham (who live in PGH) didn't, and that makes them mad.

-Speaking of Pittsburgh, you should definitely check out the hip-hop comics drawn and written by Ed Piskor.

-A discussion of Nick Hornby's "Song Book" detours into a talk about "High Fidelity" (the alpha and the omega of music-geek fiction) and a pause to take in the overwhelming beauty that is Lisa "Lilakoi Moon" Bonet.

-So, where did the obsession with music books start? We go up the music mag ladder, from the teen rags to Rolling Stone, Spin, and the much-missed Blender.

-We stop for a second to laugh hysterically at the mess that was Michael Jackson's Moonwalk, the first music bio that at least two of us read.

-Parr immediately gets ambitious on our ass, touting The Frank Zappa Book, while Cunningham gives a thumbs up to Ray DaviesX-Ray and a massive thumbs down to Pete Townshend.

-The panel is asked who they'd most like to read an autobiography of, and the answers reveal a lot of '80s pop icons. And a lot of drummers. (Quick, name one '80s pop icon who's also a drummer. Sussudio! You've got it!)

-Big Money chats a bit about the best Michael Jackson bio, and inserts a plug for Joe Vogel's The Man In The Music, a book in which he is quoted. Twice. Parr and Z, meanwhile, give props to Per Nilsson's The Vault, a book which is apparently unavailable on Amazon because Prince found all the copies and burned them. It's the definitive book on Prince, no matter what Toure may have you think.

-Modern-day music geeks are rightfully jazzed about the 33 1/3 series-except for maybe the recent Andrew W.K. entry.

-Finally, we recommend our favorite music books.

(Duquette picks Steve Knopper's Appetite For Self-Destruction, Cunningham goes with Nelson George's Hip-Hop America, Parr suggests Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life, Big Money reps for Jacob Slichter's So You Want To Be A Rock 'n Roll Star?)

-Listen in the player below, or directly download at this link. You can also download and subscribe to us on iTunes! Please leave a comment!

Direct download: Music_Books_Podcast.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 7:52pm EDT

Hey folks. Welcome to a new year of Blerd Radio podcasts!

The first episode of 2014 shakes things up a little. For the first time in a while, MJ teams up with GG (occasional contributor to Popblerd, founder of Fight Game Blog) and for the first time ever, teams up with KJ (also an occasional contributor to Popblerd and founder of his own Wordpress site.) Over the course of a fun hour, the trio discusses:

-NFL Wild Card weekend, which featured a couple of exciting games, including a wild finish by the Indianapolis Colts that brought a tear or two to KJ's eye.

-Why if it wasn't for bad luck (or good Luck, as it were,) Andy Reid would have no luck at all. Wait, does that make sense?

Andy Reid

-Hey! Arsenio Hall is back, and he's brought MJ back to (viewing) late night TV!

-Arsenio was not on New Year's Eve, but MJ was still parked in front of the television, and he barely knew who anyone was, with the exception of a noticeably meatier (corset-less) Mariah Carey. Is pop culture passing us all by?

-There might be something to this Arianna Grande chick.

-Miley CyrusJustin Bieber and the new breed of child/young adult stars acting like complete fools.

-With the high level of MJ fandom in the room (thanks to MJ and GG,) it's inevitable that there be a short discussion about Michael Jackson. A question from GG's youngest son leads us to ponder the role Debbie Rowe has in her childrens' lives, and also to ponder whether Michael and Debbie (and Michael & Lisa Marie) actually did the nasty.

-Did you know that KJ and his two brothers (The Brothers Johnson?) have a couple of not embarrassing at all lip-sync videos?

-What was that sound? Hey, it was the surprise album Beyonce released last month that KJ somehow knew nothing about.

(Queen Bey also inspired the title of this particular show)

-Speaking of Beyonce, when did she become such a freak?

-Can you really have a believable feminist persona when your music is largely written and produced by men?

-What does "roheblius" (GG's Twitter handle) actually mean?

You can (and should) also follow Kevin on Twitter.

Listen to the podcast in the player below. Or you can direct download it here. OR you can subscribe and listen on iTunes. If you choose the latter option, feel free to leave us a rating or comment!

Direct download: Blerd_Radio_2014_Episode_1.mp3
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 8:22am EDT

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