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.