Thursday, June 15, 2006

Babs on tour - The Way We Were Not - American Express, why would I care?

OK, So I enjoy a good joke with Donald E. and Michael D. about the Academy Awards being the gay Super Bowl. My joking ends when the topic comes up to the Gay Diva - Barbra Streisand. So lurkers and posters, 'splain to me how the heck American Express decides that I'm a good candidate for access with over $1,000 VIP tickets? By the way, for me to go, the special guest would need to be Devo not Il Divo!

Boston - October 22: LOGE*FIRST LEVEL OF ARENA LOWER SECTIONUS $1,000.00 - US $1,800.00

CARDMEMBER EXCLUSIVE: WE'VE GOT BARBRA STREISAND TICKETS ON HOLD FOR YOU! Purchase tickets to see Barbra Streisand with special guest Il Divo before the general public! You can even use Membership Rewards® points for tickets. Don't miss out! Specific onsale information below.
Wachovia Center (Philadelphia, PA)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
Verizon Center (Washington, DC)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
TD BankNorth Garden (Boston, MA)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
Bank Atlantic Center (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
Philips Arena (Atlanta, GA)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
United Center (Chicago, IL)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
HP Pavilion (San Jose, CA)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
STAPLES Center (Los Angeles, CA)
6/12 at 1pm - 6/18
MGM Grand (Las Vegas, NV)
6/17 at 9am - 6/22
The Palace of Auburn Hills (Detroit, MI)
6/19 at 9am - 6/25*Local time
Don't miss Barbra Streisand!Order online or call 800-NOW-AMEX.Cardmembers, get your tickets here!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Everyone's a critic

I’m a music editor for a Boston-based social networking site called What this means is that when I get a chance, I write reviews of artists coming to the area to perform. Here are the latest three I wrote.

Kelly Clarkson

It’s the singer, not the song, as the saying goes, but in Kelly Clarkson’s case, the reverse may be true. The first American Idol winner has fought long and hard to shake the show’s associations of pop disposability, (even going as far as denying future contestants the right to sing her songs), and for good reason. One can imagine a 20-year-old Bob Dylan stepping up and squawking in front of the show’s judges and having his dreams crushed, then going on to revolutionize music. The point being that someone with deep talent probably wouldn’t want to be on the show in the first place. This is the ghost that haunted Clarkson. Haunted, past tense, thanks to song doctors, top producers and savvy A&R reps who have ensured that Clarkson sounds edgy enough to be considered almost cool and slick enough to stay on the radio. Rumor has it that her hit, “Since U Been Gone,” was molded after uber-hip NY rock band the Strokes. All the song doctors in the world wouldn’t be worth a wit if Clarkson couldn’t sing, and she delivers on that front, at least. The point being, at least.


You’re an aging superstar who’s just alienated most of her audience by releasing a soggy CD that attacks the American way of life during the most patriotic era in U.S. history since Reagan’s reign of bullshit. On top of that, you have further pissed off your audience by paralleling this CD with a move to England and the adoption of a shaky British accent. What do you do? Take a breather, then appeal as strongly as you can to your strongest fan base: disco dreamin’, dance-floor stompin’, karaoke-singing, aging pop nostalgists. Christ, the first single, “Hung Up,” is based around an ABBA sample. But it’s all OK. Because it works. You see, we all love Madge, especially when she drops her superior attitude and simply loves us back.

Mariah Carey

There are people who are born to sing. Mariah Carey is one of those people. She’s the Einstein of singing, actually. Did you know that the geography of Einstein’s brain was unlike normal brain structure? The same is true of Mariah. Her brain is typical, (obviously), but her throat structure is unlike the rest of humanity’s; it’s deformed in a way that allows her to hit notes, both high and low, that are beyond the range of what is considered normal. Doctors have displayed X-rays of her throat at conferences. Add to that actual music production talent, a great ear for melody and killer looks, and what do you get? More number one hits than any other human being since the dawn of recorded music. She’ll never alter our understanding of time and space, but she’s astounding, nonetheless.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Guilty Pleasures, or Why I Now Listen to Led Zeppelin

At work last week a colleague took a look at the CDs I brought in for the day and said, “I don’t need to listen to these any more.” The CDs? Mostly Led Zeppelin, including the one with Stairway to Heaven on it.

I knew what he meant. He listened to the band so much when he was younger that he could practically hear the songs in his head. I could not relate. I was a music snob when I was younger. When my peers were listening to Kiss, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin, Journey and other popular (both perennially and ephemerally) bands, I looked the other way. “Morons,” I snickered, and turned up The Smiths, Television, The Died Pretty and other bands that hardly anyone else listened to.

The problem was that the “uncool” music creeped in, in spite of knowing better. Damn, “Panama” was catchy, and that Eddie dude could really play guitar. And those opening piano chords in “Don’t Stop Believin’” always got my heart racing. For years I chose to ignore those impulses, but little by little I gave in. “OK, I’ll keep ‘Love Bites’ on the car radio, but only because there’s nothing else on and my CD player is broken,” I would rationalize. Soon those rationalizations became more frequent, and soon I crossed the line and purchased my first guilt-inducing CD: Journey’s Greatest Hits. Soon after, the wheel in the sky turned, the lights went down in my city and I was getting it any way I wanted it—I fully surrendered. I was rocking to such previously despised bands as Foreigner, AC/DC and even Van Halen. What happened? I realized that there is no wrong or right in music, just pleasure and non-pleasure. I realized that I was the moron all along. Although I still listen to artists most people have not heard of (Deerhoof, Some Girls, M.I.A.), I now listen to “uncool” music without guilt. Let there be rock.