Mon, 24 November 2014
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 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.
Mon, 17 November 2014
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.
Wed, 5 November 2014
Ladies & Gentlemen, welcome to 1989!
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.
-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 Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Arsenio 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!
Mon, 13 October 2014
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 Book, Innervisions, 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!
Mon, 29 September 2014
(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!
Wed, 30 July 2014
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
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?
Wed, 16 July 2014
Greetings, dear readers! Guess what time it is? If you guessed "time for another Blerd Radio podcast," then you, sir or madam, are correct!!
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!
Sun, 15 June 2014
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.
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
Mon, 7 April 2014
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?
Wed, 12 March 2014
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.
-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.