Mon, 22 June 2015
Over the course of the last three podcasts, the Blerd Radio team has been exploring nostalgia. Well, we've been specifically exploring nostalgia. After all, this podcast spends a lot of time looking back.
This three part series concludes (after a bit of a break...sorry y'all, life happens) with a look at how our romanticism of the past plays a part in the media we consume today. We also welcome our friend The Packet Man back! He sat out the first two episodes, but that just gave him the opportunity to come up with a bunch of Rachel Dolezal jokes.
Elsewhere in this podcast, we discuss how the film industry has turned nostalgia into a major money maker thanks to reboots like Jurassic World. This also seems to be crossing over into television, with the success of Girl Meets World and the impending threat of Fuller House (featuring D.J. Tanner, the unluckiest woman on the planet when it comes to losing loved ones unexpectedly.)
(The Packet Man also reveals a retroactive crush on Kimmy Gibler).
A discussion of the ridiculously awful trailer for the (likely) ridiculously awful film Pixels leads into some serious superhero/comic nerdery on the part of the panel. We wonder when the reboots for the Batman, Superman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series will end.
Finally turning over to music, we discuss how some of our favorite current artists directly or indirectly call back to styles/musicians we enjoyed in our youth. Whether these artists creatively meld a variety of sounds from the past and turn it into their own sound (like D'Angelo or Jack White) or directly (and in some cases egregiously) copy (like Duffy or Chromeo), the fact of the matter is that almost all of what passes for popular music these days is based on sounds originated by others.
Of course, "Uptown Funk" has to be part of this conversation. Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars each have been lauded for/accused of putting a "now" sheen on older sounds/being unoriginal (where you stand on this issue depends on how you feel about the artists themselves.) This song seems to have brought the "ripoff" argument to the fore.
(Why is The Packet Man so quiet during this portion of the podcast? Turns out that he's hesitant to join the conversation for fear of implicating himself!)
Ultimately: have we reached a stage in music where nothing at all can be called completely original? And if completely original music does exist, will we ever hear it in this increasingly fragmented landscape?
Check us out in the player below, listen to us on Liberated Syndication, or subscribe to us on iTunes! Enjoy this episode!
Mon, 18 May 2015
This time around, we're continuing our discussion about nostalgia that began with the previous podcast. Our focus this time shifts to the music industry's time-honored tradition of repackaging, reissuing and creating deluxe anniversary editions, and how that all trades on nostalgia to generate sales.
Included as part of the discussion:
The team (minus Cunningham for the second straight episode) ponder the exact moment record companies realized "oh shit, we can keep mining our catalog for reissues!"
The tie in with greatest hits compilations is explored, as are themed compilations i.e. "love songs", "dance jams", etc. Big Money mentions the Sly & The Family Stone disco compilation as one of the first instances of this phenomenon. The rest of the panel expresses a morbid curiosity to check this record out.
-Spurred on by a discussion with our friend Steve Cunningham, the team talks about the recent spate of anniversary-related deluxe packages and whether they're worthwhile or anyone even cares (we point to recent packages from Bryan Adams, Tears For Fears and The Spin Doctors as examples)
At what point does the reissue/remaster train stop, in light of digital mastering and the fact that the CD market has shrunk so much?
Which legendary artists still need to have their catalog sonically re-evaluated? Prince, Stevie Wonder and Janet Jackson are at the top of the list.
The panel wraps up by naming their favorite reissues: Dr. Z stumps for Bruce Springsteen's "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" package, Big Money reps for Hip-O's exhaustive Marvin Gaye reissue campaign, and Parr votes for Peter Gabriel's "So".
Part three's coming soon! Stay tuned!!
Mon, 4 May 2015
The Blerd Radio team (Big Money, Michael Parr, The Packet Man & Dr. Z) created a lengthy (and pretty intense) podcast about being record geeks, a topic that's pretty much the reason this podcast even exists. Then Big Money's Macbook shit the bed (why am I talking about myself in the third person?), taking the podcast with it. After a couple weeks to regroup, the team is back and we're talking about another topic near and dear to our hearts: nostalgia.
This article is a good jumping off point for the podcast, as all three panelists (The Packet Man is AWOL for this one) are above the age most people (allegedly) stop listening to new music. I guess a good sub-heading for this show would be "getting older as a music fan".
A good chunk of the podcast also concerns the "music was better when I was a kid" argument, which may not necessarily be so. Particularly when it comes to pop music, there have been equal amounts of great songs and shitty songs for half a century.
Two important musical genres that have come of age along with us are hip-hop and metal. How does the forthright and often aggressive (and sometimes misogynist/racist/homophobic) lyrical content of either genre sit well with us as grown-ups? Does the same discomfort apply to overtly sexual lyrics?
As a music geek, how do you justify loving a piece of music objectively vs. loving it because you associate it with personal memories? (our example in this discussion is Bruce Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A.)
...and because we can, the podcast ends on a Chumbawamba joke, followed by a Vanilla Ice joke.
Thanks for listening and feel free to leave feedback!
Mon, 13 April 2015
(2015, Episode 4)
Last week, I posted the first portion of our 2-part series celebrating all that was great (and a few things that weren't) about 1990. While the first part focused heavily on film and TV, most of this second part is dedicated to our bread and butter-music.
The Milli Vanilli Lip Sync Scandal: And how no one thought it odd that people who barely spoke English were able to successfully not only sing, but rap in American accents. 1990 was not only the year that Milli Vanilli was found out, but vocalist Martha Wash found her booming instrument used on records by no less than three huge dance acts (Seduction, Black Box and C+C Music Factory) without her consent.
Jordy: No, the rapping toddler didn't make his musical debut for another three years. but once Cunningham goes on a tangent, there's not much pulling him back.
Rap Blows Up/Goes Pop: Thanks to the biggest artist of the year, MC Hammer, hip-hop goes mainstream to a level that no one could have predicted. Hip-hop snobs, already displeased with Hammer, see red when a white rapper of dubious credentials (Vanilla Ice) steals a page from Hammer's playbook and takes rap further mainstream. Thankfully, there was not only a fair amount of authentic hardcore hip hop, but also albums like LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out, a work that skillfully balanced mainstream accessibility with hip-hop's street aesthetic.
Will Smith: The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air debuted in 1990, catapulting the "Parents Just Don't Understand" rapper to superstardom. The panel discusses when Will lost his "cool" card (don't worry...we all agree it was long after Fresh Prince went off the air).
Musical Debuts Of 1990: This was the year that brought us the mellifluous tones of Mariah Carey (and a classic first single) as well as The Black Crowes, a rootsy band that served as an antidote to the pop/metal theatrics currently ruling the day (like, for example, Nelson--a group that also made their debut in 1990).
Recommendations: The panel delivers three recommendations each from 1990, and it's a wild list that includes Public Enemy's magnum opus, the greatest hip-hop teen movie of all time, a masterpiece from a group of new wave icons, and...Parker Lewis Can't Lose!
Grab a listen in the player below. You can also stream or download it directly from Liberated Syndication or iTunes!
Mon, 6 April 2015
(Episode 3, 2015)
Ladies & gentlemen, welcome to another thrilling episode of Blerd Radio, in which the team of Big Money, Michael Parr, Dr. Z and The Packet Man (Michael Cunningham) get into the big ol' time machine and travel back a quarter-century to 1990.
When planning this episode, we initially figured that since 1990 wasn't a watershed year in pop culture, this would be a quickie. Boy, were we wrong. We talked, and talked, and talked some more, and the end result is that we had to split this podcast into two parts. Part 2 will arrive next week. In the meantime, here's some of the stuff we discussed.
The Gulf War- The two older members of the panel share their fears about getting drafted, while everyone attempts to figure out what "SCUD" stood for and Cunningham blows minds with his recollection of Desert Storm trading cards.
Madonna- Was Dick Tracy the dividing line between mildly titillating Madonna and straight-up controversy whore Madonna? And who decided that American kids were gonna sit for a movie based on a thirty year old comic that was already outdated?
How horrid was 1990 for film? Home Alone, Pretty Woman, Back To The Future III, The Godfather III (SPOILER ALERT), Ghost.
Better mob movies than The Godfather III: 3/4 of the panel reps for My Blue Heaven and Goodfellas.
Graffiti Bridge- Because we are all Prince geeks, we have to give some time to the celluloid masterpiece that is Graffiti Bridge. We also talk about the Prince-directed Time reunion that took place around the film's release.
Ninja Turtles Are Forever- TMNT blew up in 1990, thanks to a hit movie and some serious merchandising that included Coming Out Of Their Shells-The Album & Documentary (documentary??)
The Simpsons- Matt Groening's classic cartoon sitcom made its debut at the very end of 1990, and within a year it was a sensation, complete with a soundtrack and an assist from the King Of Pop. Due to its original placement on Thursday nights, we also talk about how the show helped destroy The Cosby Show and throw a couple of inappropriate Bill Cosby jokes in for good measure.
Oh, speaking of Cosby...and bad movies...Ghost Dad came out in 1990.
TV in 1990: The ending of Pee-Wee's Playhouse and 227, the beginning of Twin Peaks & Beverly Hills, 90210, a show that was cool enough that Dr. Z lied about being on it to impress a girl.
Part one ends with a discussion of the glory and wonder that is Cop Rock!
You can listen in the player below, download it directly off of Liberated Syndication, or subscribe to us on iTunes.
Enjoy, and stay tuned for Part Two next week!
Mon, 23 March 2015
If you're a music fan and you've not been living under a rock for the past several weeks, you'll know that a jury decision to award 7.3 million dollars to the Marvin Gaye estate was big news. Of course, this decision came thanks to a suit that alleged the Robin Thicke smash "Blurred Lines" (written by Pharrell Williams) copied and didn't credit Gaye's #1 smash "Got To Give It Up". The Blerd Radio team (consisting of musicians Michael "The Packet Man" Cunningham & Michael "No Nicknames, Please" Parr, professor Dr. Z (whose syllabus has covered copyright law) and general layman Big Money) investigates in the latest podcast.
Some highlights from the podcast:
-If Thicke & Pharrell owe Marvin Gaye's family seven million dollars, how much does EVERYONE owe Bo Diddley?
-Did the "Blurred Lines" team investigate the court proceedings because they sniffed out plans to sue by the Gaye clan?
-Pharrell's long history of making songs that sound like other songs.
-Several examples of similar legal proceedings that have taken place in the past; most notably the case which saw a court declare that George Harrison "unconsciously" borrowed the melody of The Chiffons' "He's So Fine" for his "My Sweet Lord". Ultimately, Harrison had the last laugh...
-Cunningham's late arrival spawns a loosening of the discussion in which he manages to name check his old band Neighbours as well as several past episodes of Blerd Radio.
-In between the jokes, Cunningham also notes that this ruling was based on the sheet music alone; the jury was not allowed to hear the actual sound recordings.
-Does parody count in a case like this?
The ultimate discussion is: was the decision the jury made correct? (the panel unanimously answers "no".) What repercussions will this ruling have in the future? And will the judgment be overturned on appeal?
Stay tuned...and check out the podcast by clicking below. You can also download it directly from Liberated Syndication or check us out on iTunes.
Sun, 22 February 2015
Welcome to Blerd Radio's first podcast of 2015. In our new year debut (never mind it being mid-February) the team of Big Money, The Packet Man, Dr. Z and Michael Parr discuss the music and influence of what is commonly known as the "neo-soul" era.
Particularly in light of D'Angelo's Black Messiah album's suprise release and rapturous reception, we though it would be a good idea to talk about the era he birthed, in a way. Here are some related topics we felt it necessary to discuss over the course of an hour (and some change).
-The birth of "neo-soul"
A marketing concept developed as a reaction to the twin powers of "quiet storm" (Luther Vandross, Anita Baker) and "new jack swing" (Bell Biv DeVoe, Bobby Brown) designed to create music of a more organic nature than those two sub-genres were known for.
First artists that could fall under the neo-soul umbrella; the British acid-jazz movement (Brand New Heavies, Soul II Soul, Jamiroquai), Me'shell Ndegeocello, Tony Toni Tone.
-The King & Queen of "neo-soul"; D'Angelo & Erykah Badu and the impact that they made on the scene.
-Often compared but wildly different in actuality; D'Angelo & Maxwell
-Other artists that fall under that umbrella; Jill Scott, Angie Stone, Musiq (Soulchild), Alicia Keys? (side convo: when did Alicia Keys start screaming so god damn much?)
Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill: neo-soul? hip-hop? or just "Lauryn Hill Music"?
Has the music made during this era held up well over the years?
-Neo soul influences; Prince & Chaka Khan (side convo: Chaka's chocolate line; creatively entitled Chakalates).
-What's up with the lengthy delays between releases for many of these artists?
D'Angelo: nearly 15 years between Voodoo & Black Messiah
Maxwell: 8 years between Now & BLACKsummersnight. 6 years since BLACKsummersnight with no follow-up in sight.
Lauryn Hill: Miseducation is 17 years old. No proper follow-up in sight.
-Neo-soul newbies; including Jesse Boykins III & Taylor McFerrin, to name a few.
-Going independent; only a few artists from the era still have major-label contracts (which they don't need to further their brand). The Roots recently announced that they are free agents.
-The wonder of Dave Chappelle's Block Party
-Props to Rachid and Remy Shand, two artists that dropped interesting debuts but never followed them up.
Wed, 31 December 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the final Blerd Radio podcast of 2014!
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
-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!
Sun, 21 December 2014
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.
-D'Angelo: Black 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!
Wed, 10 December 2014
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.