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.
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!