Friday, December 28, 2012

Gangnam Style’s One Billionth View: The End Of The World As We Know It?

December 21, 2012 may not be the end of the world as we know it, but Gangnam Style reaching its one-billionth view on You Tube is?

By: Ringo Bones

The Mayan Apocalypse failing to “materialize” back in Friday, December 21, 2012 might be one of the most anti-climactic end-of-the-world predictions ever, but unbeknown to some, the 21st of December 2012 also marks the day that the music video of a very unlikely hit from a very unlikely South Korean pop sensation who can be oft mistaken as the bastard son of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos has just reached its one-billionth view on You Tube. Is it the end of the world as we know it then?

A very light-hearted end-of-the-world may it be, but Psy’s Gangnam Style – named after the posh, high-end and upscale shopping district in South Korea just had its music video reach the one-billionth viewer mark on You Tube back in December 21, 2012. The unseemly South Korean pop sensation with a not-so-Korean sounding hit that could with a horseback-riding-mime dance move that even a novice dancer can do without unduly embarrassing himself – or herself – had been slowly conquering the world’s contemporary pop hit playtime months before. And who knew that its catchy music video that has been posted on You Tube months before could also reach its one-billionth view before fading away into oblivion – as most pop hits since the end of World War II often do after a six-month reign.

It seems like the South Korean pop juggernaut called Gangnam Style will still we be with us and recruiting a new cadre of fans for the better part of 2013. As the Seoul government eyes of promoting the posh, upscale shopping district of Gangnam as a South Korean Beverly Hills, another billion or so inhabitants of planet Earth may still be too busy shaking their booty to Psy’s Gangnam Style to probably even notice. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remembering Ravi Shankar

He may be famous for introducing The Beatles – especially George Harrison – to traditional Indian sitar music back in the 1960s but is Ravi Shankar much more than a traditional Indian music curiosity?

By: Ringo Bones

 A few days ago - December 11, 2012, Ravi Shankar passed away aged 92 in a San Diego, California hospital. Most people in the West probably know him as that “Indian musician” who popularized traditional Indian sitar music in America and the rest of the Western world during the latter half of the 1960s. But to music lovers who only discovered his musical works during the “world music” and tube-based hi-fi boom of the mid 1990s, Ravi Shankar is much more than that.

Shankar was very influential in shaping the “psychedelic” period of the Beatles during the mid 1960s and was instrumental in expanding Beatle guitarist George Harrison’s musical vocabulary. The timing of Ravi Shankar striking a universal chord and earning the admiration of Western music lovers during the politically turbulent period of the 1960s had forever made Shankar “inextricably” associated with 1960s era protest songs while making traditional Indian and other traditional music of the rest of the subcontinent “palatable” to Western ears. As a testament to this, Ravi Shankar even won a Grammy back in 1983 for composing the soundtrack of the movie Gandhi.

Without Ravi Shankar, his fellow traditional Indian musician Ali Akbar Khan and Qawwali musician from Pakistan named Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan probably would have never got the fame they deserved during the “world music” boom of the mid 1990s. Thanks to Shankar’s efforts in the 1960s, Eddie Vedder, Jeff Buckley and all those hipster musicians from the 1990s had at least a richer musical vocabulary more or less rivaling that of 1960s psychedelic era musicians. And not to mention musicians playing Central Asian Sufi Muslim torch-songs via a Gibson Les Paul and an excruciatingly loud Marshall amplifier that seems to make the Spice Girls and 1990s era boy-bands seem musically insignificant by comparison. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Taylor Swift: Queen of Breakup Songs?

Though her discography speaks for itself so far, but does Taylor Swift truly deserve the title of “Queen of Breakup Songs”?

By: Ringo Bones

As a recap of the high-profile boyfriends he had so far now range from famed actor Jake Gyllenhaal, fellow singer-songwriter John Mayer and recently - that young eligible bachelor from the Kennedy clan named Conor Kennedy – it seems like famed singer-songwriter Taylor Swift had been dubbed the ”Queen of Breakup Songs” by both fans and critics alike. But does she truly deserve the title?

Well, sometimes me and my closest friends had been asking ourselves if there is already an oral sex / fellatio parody version of Taylor Swift’s We Are Never Ever Going Back Together already out there on the internet. If there’s one already, please drop us a line. Although both officially and unofficially from her fan’s perspective, We Are Never Ever Going Back Together is allegedly about her recent breakup of a young man from the Kennedy clan and the trail of breakup songs is more than enough to fill a 7-inch vinyl EP.

Taylor Swift’s fame – or infamy, depending on your perspective – as the “Queen of Breakup Songs” 
probably first began when her song Dear John was dubbed by mainstream FM disc jockeys as her breakup song on ex-boyfriend and fellow famed singer-songwriter John Mayer. Although when it comes to singer-songwriter on singer-songwriter he said she said breakup songs, Taylor Swift wasn’t the first. The one singer-songwriter who pioneered the trend was probably Carly Simon when she wrote: You’re So Vain – pertaining to her dysfunctional relationship on ex-husband and fellow famed singer-songwriter James Taylor back in the 1970s. And I too sometimes wonder if John Mayer’s latest opus: Queen of California – was inspired by John Mayer’s rather dysfunctional high-profile relationship stint with fellow famed singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.   

Monday, August 20, 2012

Pussy Riot: Punk Rock and Politics’ Heady Mix?

Given that punk rock is an inherently political genre of music, are Pussy Riot now serving as the barometer of one’s right to self-expression in Vladimir Putin’s Russia? 

By: Ringo Bones 

To everyone old enough to experience first hand the birth of punk rock back around 1976 and 1976, this genre of music is known to be inherently political and politically opinionated. Remember the harsh polemic of Sex Pistols’ God Save The Queen on HRH Queen Elizabeth II during that period? And yet in the 21st Century, punk rock’s ability to not just settle back as injustice run’s amok in society is not lost on the Russian punk rock band named Pussy Riot. 

Pussy Riot gained global attention way before their harsh sentencing over doing an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in Moscow’s main cathedral back in March. They had always been critical of the Russian government failing to provide the semblance of social justice to the average working class Russian citizen. And given that in the West punk rock had always had a streak of Marxist-Leninist Socialist leaning view of social justice, its no wonder why Pussy Riot became a runaway success not just in their home soil but also to socialist idealist elsewhere in the world. 

The recent harsh sentencing of Pussy Riot by the Russian courts over their anti Vladimir Putin protest – as in sentenced to two-years in a labor camp – had attracted international condemnation by supporters hailing from Paris, London, Brussels and even ones as far as Washington, D.C. The question now is, will the “Pussy Riot show trial” eventually make the whole world doubt the rule of law in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Online Digital Music Streaming Services: Savior Of The Music Industry?

With the global music industry revenue in freefall since the Napster fiasco back in the dawn of the 21st Century, will online digital music streaming services now serve as the economic savior of the global music industry? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Irony of ironies indeed, who knew that the current state of freefalling profits and revenues of the global music industry will be saved by a music distribution platform whose technological roots is somewhat similar to that who nearly devastated it in the first place during the dawn of the 21st Century. Yes, the “Napsterization” of how we music lovers get our music is very devastating to the profit margins of both music industry bigwigs and established rock stars – and Napster could even be blamed for the current slump of our global economy as a whole. But can a legalized Napster-like technology be able to revitalize the failing profits of the global music industry. 

Recently music marketing research groups has just recently bared their study results. Online digital music streaming services like Spotify and WE7 are projected to generate up to 1 billion US dollars in revenue this 2012 – which is a 40% increase of their annual revenues of previous years since they opened for business. But can these projected figures really translate into a sort of real world results of the global music industry bailing out itself out of an economic slump?

While WE7’s profits are primarily generated via advertisers – as opposed to actual users paying for digital music downloads – current online digital music streaming and download service providers offer sound quality that’s good enough for your typical music lover who, if they are around during the 1980s, would probably get free music by recording off FM stations anyway. While the “unfortunate minority” who – since 1998 – had been complaining why Sony Music haven’t yet released Super Audio CD / SACD / DSD versions of classic Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest albums and who are prepared to pay for up to 40 US dollars a copy for them has since always found the sound quality of online digital music downloads and digital music streaming services wanting. But who knows what tomorrow might bring. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Rolling Stones Turning 50: Finally Getting Satisfaction?

It’s been 50 years since the Rolling Stones’ first public performance. Will Mick and the rest of the band ever get satisfaction?

By: Ringo Bones

 Back in July 11, 2012, the Rolling Stones “quietly” celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their first ever public performance. Time flies when your having fun as one of the world’s most iconic rock stars indeed as it was back in July 11, 1962 where Mick Jagger and the rest of the band first ever major gig at the Marquee Club in London. Strange how Mick Jagger used to say in press interviews during the bands heyday, around 1968 to 1972, that he would rather die than sing Satisfaction at 40. 

Well, 1983 came and went and Mick Jagger still manage to perform the bands iconic signature track – Satisfaction – throughout their gigs during the 1980s like he’s forever in his prime. And this includes their Bridges to Babylon tour during the latter half of the 1990s. If this won’t give Mick and the band the “Satisfaction” they desperately seek, I don’t know what will. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Remembering Whitney Houston - A Metal-Head's Perspective

Sometimes I wonder how will metal-heads remember Whitney Houston in the wake of her untimely passing on the eve of this year’s Grammy Awards – should I ask myself?

By: Ringo Bones

As an unabashed metal-head weaned on 1980s heavy metal back when Ronald Reagan still ruled the free world, I only became familiar of Whitney Houston’s breakthrough single, Saving All My Love, only because it is often played before Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer on mainstream FM back then; Though Whitney was first discovered by famed record producer Clive Davis as an 18-year-old choirgirl from New Jersey back in 1981. By 1987, Whitney gained fame by having more Billboard Number Ones than The Beatles – though Beatlemaniacs were not amused. And I even managed to see The Bodyguard – Whitney Houston’s iconic movie with Kevin Costner back in 1992 back when the mainstream FM stations in my neck of the woods were handing out movie passes like its going out of fashion.

As with almost all of Whitney’s fans, I also point the finger of blame on her marriage to former New Edition member Bobby Brown as the primary cause of her drug problems. Not to mention the well-documented incidents of domestic abuse and the crack cocaine binges that never would have intruded Whitney Houston’s rather cloistered choirgirl lifestyle prior to hooking up with the former New Edition member.

Though the official coroner’s toxicology report is still a few weeks away, many find it disconcerting the timing of Whitney Houston’s untimely passing in a Los Angeles hotel on the eve of the 2012 Grammys. Nonetheless, the Grammy tribute remembering Whitney’s achievements in the music world and the 4 hour long service on the New Hope Baptist Church is by no means the last of what we’ll hear of Whitney Houston’s iconic music career.