Wed, 2 December 2015
The penultimate episode of Blerd Radio's 2015 season focuses in on hip-hop, as each member of the panel counts down their 10 favorite emcees of all time. The inspiration for this episode came about because of this Billboard article, and while the piece itself was a source of derision for many, the lists created by me (Big Money), Dr. Z and Michael Parr all shared at least half their content with the Billboard tally.
Before we get to the hip-hop section of the show though, one major musical feat has to be addressed-Adele's monster debut. For the first few minutes of the episode, Adele's success is analyzed. While Blerd Radio podcasts are fairly well-known for intense sidebars, this might be the first time a podcast has ever BEGUN with a sidebar.
Now, it's on to the discussion. Before the panel counts down from 10-1, a few defining factors are discussed. First and foremost, what makes a great emcee? Is it flow? Is it storytelling ability? Is it vocabulary? Is it some intangible "X" factor? Or is it a combination of all those factors? Also tackled the age old question of why some of the greatest technical emcees are saddled with the worst possible production.
New-school hip hop (with a few notable exceptions) is summarily yawned at, with a couple of shots thrown in Drake's direction. The lists' bias towards NYC is also discussed (just as Big Money broadcasts his first show from the tri-state area).
A lengthy discussion about the dearth of quality female rappers follows; as no femcees made any of the top 10 lists (and Billboard's inclusion of Lauryn Hill seems more like forced inclusiveness than a ranking based on true skill).
Next up? The lists. We won't spoil any of the podcast by enumerating the choices in this show summary, but suffice to say you will be surprised by some inclusions/omissions, and you will be completely not surprised by others. The lists are different enough from one another that they provide some interesting discussion.
Stay tuned for the next episode; in which the panel discusses the best music of 2015!
(Also, apologies for some sound quality issues...there was a computer freeze about 2/3 of the way through the episode.)
Mon, 26 October 2015
Hello and welcome to another episode of Blerd Radio.
In 2013 and 2014, we took time to talk about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, its induction process, and that year's crop of nominees. While there was talk about retiring the Hall of Fame-cast this year, 2015's crop of nominees resulted in some of our most spirited conversation to date.
Of course it helps that the gang's all here: so join myself (Big Money), Dr. Z, Michael Parr and Mike Cunningham The Packet Man for an episode full of music geekery, along with a few laughs and more than the average episode's share of impressions.
Here's some of what you'll hear on this episode:
Impressions Galore!: The Packet Man brings his comedic A-game to this episode, offering impersonations of RZA, Ice-T and Mike Tyson. The entire panel takes a crack at Ringo Starr, and Parr steals the show with his Donald Duck impression, though.
Not so much Jann Wenner/Nominating Committee Vitriol: The decision was made to not focus too much on the process and give most of our time to the artists that are nominated this year. For your reference, they are:
-Nine Inch Nails
We also place our personal ballots for five artists on the list. Additionally, we talk about the two currently eligible artists we would induct, and stand up for one modern-day artist each who we would place in the HOF.
Man, for an institution none of us is crazy about, we sure talk a lot about it.
Also, The Packet Man discovers a whole world of food bracing courtesy of Chaka-lates, Parr is traumatized by Cheap Trick's smash "The Flame", the panel remains firmly divided on the merits of the Velvet Underground, and there's a lengthy gush about Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. Enjoy!
Mon, 12 October 2015
About a year ago, we recorded a show discussing two legendary pop stars: Madonna and Janet Jackson. Then my Macbook died, taking the podcast with it. The release of Janet's "Unbreakable" album made us realize that it was time to revisit the topic. So, here we are once again, talking Madge and Janet.
Here's some show notes for y'all:
-Between the solid reviews, a #1 debut, and her nomination for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Miss Jackson is having a pretty awesome week.
-Oh hey--Madonna also released an album this year. Two of us were scared away by the song titles and guest lineup. The one of us who did give Rebel Heart a listen didn't come away with the warm fuzzies, exactly.
-Which begs the question; how does one age gracefully in pop music? Is it necessary to keep up with the younger artists, many of whom are influenced by Madonna and Janet?
-Are we unfair to Madonna because she dares to express herself as a sexual being in her fifties, or are we just tired of her doing things seemingly for shock value?
-Does Madonna have a run of albums comparable to Janet's legendary Control/Rhythm Nation/janet/Velvet Rope sequence?
-We do an Unbreakable deep dive. Dr. Z, not wanting to spoil the listening experience, is still waiting for his copy to come in the mail so he can listen.
-Why haven't Madonna and Janet (and many other legendary female artists) been the focus of remaster/reissue campaigns like many of their male counterparts?
-In case you forgot-these ladies also act. Well, you probably haven't forgotten. But we understand if you'd like to.
-We discuss our favorite album by each artist, which sidebars into the alleged Janet Jackson/The Time movie that was discussed in the wake of Control's success.
-Next up: our 3 favorite songs by each artist.
-We wrap up by discussing the most underrated songs or albums by Madonna and Janet, and pay tribute to the guy who was so stoned he called the cops on himself. No, it has nothing to do with Janet Jackson or Madonna, but we do go off on tangents quite a bit. This should be expected!
Mon, 28 September 2015
Greetings, Blerd Radio fans!
In this episode, we're headed to the Multiplex for a discussion of movies about music. It's the first of a two-part discussion (and because we say "fuck linear threads", part 2 will come at a later date...or rather, it won't be the next thing we cover.)
The podcast gets off to a rousing start as we salute the good fortune of our brother Parr (and also send him a get-well shout on account of his recent surgery), leading right into our main topic, which is...
...'90s porn actresses! Oh, wait...
The very beginning of the "rock and roll" film, with shouts sent in the direction of '50s classics "Blackboard Jungle" and "Girl Can't Help It"...seguing into golden era celluloid masterpieces like...uh, "Krush Groove" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
Did "From Justin To Kelly" sound the death knell for the "rock and roll movie"?
How did a movie like "Purple Rain" come off so well when most films in this vein land with a thud? Something about a little-discussed quality called "mystique".
A discussion about favorite films leads into a seven-minute breakdown of the plot synopsis for the Dan Aykroyd/Digital Underground vehicle "Nothing But Trouble"...in which John Candy plays a challenging male/female dual role.
So, what's up with those biopics? And why do so many people pronounce that word incorrectly? Hint: it doesn't rhyme with "myopic".
We are interrupted by The Packet Man's cat, Miles, who sits in on the podcast and calms the panel down with melodic purring for a minute or two.
Great performances in biopics: a surprisingly short list that focuses on Gary Busey's Oscar-winning performance in "The Buddy Holly Story" and Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's "The Doors".
Not so great performances in biopics, which leads to reminiscing about VH-1's mid-Oughts flirtation with Lifetime-esque music bios, including the MC Hammer Story and the misguided casting of comedian Flex Alexander as Michael Jackson. Yes, that Flex Alexander. And that Michael Jackson.
We very quickly talk about "music nerd" films, i.e. "High Fidelity" and "Empire Records", and give props to the King of the Music Nerd flicks; Jack Black.
And...documentaries/concert films? Nah, that's the next podcast. Enjoy this for now! We promise we won't take so long to return!
Direct download: Zack_Stiegler_Michael_Cunningham_on_2015-09-24_at_20.14.mov
Category:Entertainment -- posted at: 9:00am EDT
Mon, 10 August 2015
And now for something completely different...
Our friends at Popdose introduced the Chart Attack format years ago. With their blessing, we have reactivated the brand and are now introducing you to Son Of Chart Attack!
Big Money, Michael Parr (both Popdose and Chart Attack alumni), Dr. Z and Mike Cunningham the Packet Man are hopping in the wayback machine-as they often do-and counting down the top 10 of Billboard's Top Alternative Tracks chart for the week of 7/23/94.
The Top 10 Singles That Week are (in reverse order)
"Big Empty" by Stone Temple Pilots
"Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories
"Selling The Drama" by Live
"Shine" by Collective Soul
"Prayer For The Dying" by Seal
"Girls & Boys" by Blur
"Black Hole Sun" by Soundgarden
"Vasoline" by Stone Temple Pilots
"Come Out And Play" by The Offspring
"Fall Down" by Toad The Wet Sprocket
In addition to discussions about each song, you'll also hear about:
-What each member of the panel was doing during the week in question; and which panelist got his first hint of nookie during the summer of '94.
-How Lisa Loeb spawned the birth of "adorkable".
-The awesomeness (or not) of the '90s alternative rock soundtrack.
-Billy Corgan's litigious nature.
-The one band on this list that each panelist has seen live (it's not who you'd expect).
-The uber-gay Pet Shop Boys remix of the #5 song on this list.
-The creepy, creepy, CREEPY "Black Hole Sun" video.
-The connection between one of the two Stone Temple Pilots songs on this list and parody rock band Green Jelly (admittedly, it's a stretch.)
-Offspring lead singer Dexter Holland and his head full of noodles (as opposed to Noodles, who is another member of The Offspring.)
-Why so many Toad The Wet Sprocket songs have the word "down" in the title.
Subscribe to our podcast and make sure you leave us a rating if you're checking us out on iTunes!
Mon, 27 July 2015
We live in an era when misdeeds seem to be amplified-which raises an interesting question. How easy is it to separate great art when the people making the art are creepy/icky/criminal/horrible people?
Intro Music: The Ronettes' "Be My Baby" (this gets explained later in the show.)
Let's break down some of the highlights of the discussion:
-Dr. Z has headed straight to Blerd Studios from the dentists's office, where his oral hygienist proceeded to give him an unwarranted political lesson.
-On the day this show was recorded, "Cosby Show" co-star Joseph C. Phillips posted a thinkpiece online dedicated to this very topic: obviously in reference to his former television father-in-law.
-We wonder if there's a natural sociopathy that comes with being an artist or wanting to be famous? Deep psychological shit here.
-Do we have a different set of standards for creative/famous people than we do for ourselves?
-Does fame breed even more sociopathy? We talk about how celebrity can make one less a person and more a character, and we also wonder what it must be like for someone's sense of self when they're surrounded by sycophants.
-Kanye & Kim: Everyone's most hated rock star (except by us) and his equally hated wife. Does Kanye feed off of the hate? And are feminists who slam Kim K total hypocrites?
-A distinction is made between artists who are just obnoxious (Kanye) and artists who have criminal pasts, with an example being Axl Rose, who wrote "Sweet Child O' Mine" for a woman that he later was accused of beating the shit out of.
-We discuss R. Kelly and his insistence on making overtly sexual music when it's fairly clear that he's some kind of criminal sexual deviant (lack of conviction be damned.)
-Is it easier to forgive sociopathic behavior in our artists when their public image is that of a lunatic? (Example: Ol' Dirty Bastard)
-The Cee Lo Green saga of 2014 is explained to half the panel.
-Death: The Great Equalizer?
-What's the line at which we would no longer support/enjoy an artist's work?
-Why do female artists tend to avoid the same criminal behavior as their male counterparts?
-Hell, are there _any_ artists whose personal lives don't cause us to reconsider their work a little bit? (The Packet Man is severely disappointed when he's told about age-old Bill Withers rumors).
Spread this podcast to your friends! Tell them to spread it to their friends on social media, etc. Follow us on Twitter and leave a nice note for us on iTunes!
Mon, 6 July 2015
Piggybacking off of our last episode, in which Mike Cunningham The Packet Man jokingly stated that he was the leader of the Pittsburgh chapter of the NAACP, we (Big Money, Dr. Z, Michael Parr and The Packet Man) decided to do a podcast about cultural appropriation. This is definitely more of a circular discussion (with no real conclusion) than many of our other podcasts, but it's an interesting discussion.
-We discuss what made us finally decide to pull the trigger on this discussion, with a special shout out to "Black-ish"!
-What exacty _is_ cultural appropriation? Big Money and Michael Parr look up two separate definitions that all pretty much boil down to the same thing. We also take a quick second to express disgust at how casually this is treated in the fashion world.
-Why is a panel made up of three straight white guys (and one guy who happens to be black and gay) doing this podcast anyway?
-"Good appropriation" vs. "Bad appropriation", or rather-being legitimately influenced by a culture that's not yours vs. doing it strictly for commerce.
-The beginnings of cultural appropriation as it pertains to music: minstrelsy, vaudeville, Al Jolson, Elvis.
-A lengthy sidebar about The Rolling Stones and songs like "Brown Sugar", which are fairly offensive. Is their manner of cultural appropriation offensive, even though various members have taken pains to credit their forebearers and influences? (this is clearly not an easy question to answer).
-Appropriation of other cultures: Latin culture, gay culture, Eastern culture...
-Most egregious offenders (Eminem, Madonna, Iggy Azalea, Gwen Stefani)
-Particular focus paid to Madonna's somewhat shameless exploitation of multiple cultures, which seemed somewhat natural (or at least appeared to come from a good place) early in her career, but quickly progressed (or regressed) into something more sinister, and certainly less heartfelt.
-When it comes to artists who appropriate, how much responsibility do they have to expose their fans to their influences?
-We finally decide to put one of our longest running gags to rest.
-Finally, what will be the ultimate low point of cultural appropriation?
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!