April 28, 2010

Possibly the Greatest Comedian That Ever Lived

Bill Hicks - new documentary out.

April 26, 2010

Dancing. This Article Contains Swearing.

Yes it’s another moan, another futile attempt to change something that I have little power to change. This time it’s the world of dance. There are two types of dancing. Actually three. There are three types of dancing. The first is what you and I do when we go to a nightclub (i.e. not much other than shuffle around). The second type is that which we might pay to see, for example a ballet, musicals etc. in a theatre, or a pop concert, and the third type is the ‘art’ of dancing, that which seeks to push the boundaries of dance, e.g. people like the late Merce Cunningham, or (good) break dancers.

I have no issue with types one or three above. It’s type two. Ballet, musicals and pop. Ballet? Who cares? Honestly, who gives a fuck? No one. It’s kept alive for the same reason as Latin is kept alive. Nostalgic and educational reasons only. No one really likes it. I went to an opera once. Fucking never again! I had to pinch myself to stay awake. As did all the school kids I was with (it was a trip at a school I worked at). Same with ballet. I know, kidding aside, that some people love it. But what does it do for the ‘everyman’? Nothing. And yes, I’ve seen Billy Elliot.

Musicals? Don’t get me fucking started on them. I am not a woman of a certain age, who wears gold coloured shoes. I fucking loathe musicals. Take yer West Side Story, and fuck off. What do musicals add to the world of dance? Sweet fuck all, that’s what. I’ve seen those lame old dance routines a million fucking times. So take them, and…..

Now, to the real bone of my contention. Boy and fucking girl bands. That they can go on stage and show the fucking world, the young impressionable world I might add, that THIS is what constitutes a high standard of entertainment with the fucking auto-tuned voices and middle of the road shytey fucking dance moves that you or I could learn in a day, is so fucking lame I’d like to dig a big hole and throw the fucking lot of them, and their managers, in it.

It’s a fucking absolute disgrace.

Wildly experimental dance, or music, is too much for most people, including me mostly, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept the opposite end of the spectrum – ZERO INVENTIVENESS AND CREATIVITY WHATSOEVER. We know what good dance is. We know what good singing is, so why do we let the music industry sell us lame entertainment? Because we don’t fucking demand otherwise, that’s why.

If you want shit dancing and shit singing from your pop performers, do nothing. Phone up X-Factor or whatever arsehole-nonsense is on this week, and vote for some shyte or other because it’s slightly less inept than the other acts that night. Then watch the videos in this article (below), and ask yourself what real talent is. If you can, watch with the sound off, and focus just on the movement.

Watch this video and focus on the dancing (if you can, they aren’t wearing much). Any semi-competent dancer could learn these dance moves in a day. Pathetic. What seems to be happening with these boy and girl bands is that ‘if they can do it in a synchronized way, then it’s great (no matter how lame the individual moves are)’.

Or this video, (anyone who says ‘yeah but they’re gorgeous’ will be shot at dawn.) It's rubbish. You or I could learn those dance ‘moves’ in an hour.

It seems we’ve regressed both in terms of what happens on stage, and what we accept as ‘good’ as an audience. We, as an audience, have to take some of the blame. The performers themselves though, especially the mainstream ones, should be thoroughly and deeply ashamed of themselves.

Some Good Dancing....

Check this guy out. Something like this would take months, if not years, to learn. THIS is impressive. If a little weird.

This is break dancing from THIRTY years ago. It would appear that today’s pop performers have learned ZERO in the years since. Worse, our audiences accept crap performance… (ps. Red Lycra full body suits didn’t catch on. Can’t think why….)

Watch this video – Masters of Dance. James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire et al. Now I hate, with a passion, all those old musicals, but it has to be said – they could dance, and all of the stuff on this video is at least 40 years old. Why has dance reverted to being rubbish? Simple, because our audiences have been brainwashed into accepting crap.

April 18, 2010

Old Music is better than New Music, and it always will be.

I’ve never liked Gangster Rap, hated it in fact, until recently, when NWA crept up behind me and bit me on the arse. Now I rate some of their tracks as amongst the best I’ve ever heard. I didn’t hate Gangster Rap because I don’t like black music (it’s still ‘black’ in the UK) because I’ve liked old-school soul music for about 25 years. Indeed I know a fair bit about it, and have even dj’d it once or twice. I disliked it because, well, I didn’t like it! I was asked the other day here in Korea, “Paul, why don’t you like seafood?” It’s a stupid question. I just don’t like it. It’s not a conscious decision I can explain.

As a music fan of sorts, I’ve dabbled with new music in the past, and truth be told, I’d buy some right old crap, trying to keep up with current trends and new releases, as well as some good stuff too. It’s hit and miss, new music.

Anyway today’s longwinded gripe that will no doubt further reduce the numbers on my Facebook friends list isn’t about music as such, it’s about ‘neophiliacs’, that is, people, especially music fans, who think something can only be good if it is coming out tomorrow, and that anything made over three years ago is obscene and dull.

Some businesses need to be new. Fashion especially, reinvention and recycling aside, needs to be current. What was last year, is non-existent. Not so in music, Music is like painting, perhaps, you need to step back a bit to appreciate it. Some of it just sounds better with age, yours and the music’s. Led Zeppelin will always sound good. Billie Holliday will always be an amazing singer, a cut above the rest, as will Aretha Franklin. Jimi Hendrix could do things that other people haven’t been able to emulate, Al Jolson had the richest voice you’re ever likely to hear, and that’s just a few, off the top of my head. Whether you’re fans of these few doesn’t matter – just add your own list. If you’re not a neophiliac of course.

We only know they are great, and that their songs were great, because the distance that time has created allows us to see them completely, wholly, and we can see that time hasn’t diminished their achievements. They weren’t flashes in the pan. It’s like when they pick someone to be beatified in the church – it takes years, it takes a process.

Some people would have you believe that the Arctic Monkeys are in the same category, or The Editors, or The Foals or Lady Gaga or that any of the thousands of new tracks released every month are the latest big thing, and, of course, they could be, but you or I won’t know until 5, 12 or 189 years’ time. Go and browse the NME’s website, and they will be pushing a barrage of bands or artists as if they are something great, newly discovered, when really a lot of it is a slightly different take on what’s gone before, especially the guitar music in my opinion, though you may feel other genres are more stagnant. And I have to reiterate the point that some may well be great, any one of them could be the next boundary smasher, but only time will tell.

Why can’t musical journalists see this music for what it is? Decent enough new music, but not breaking any boundaries. Every few years we hear about the ‘next Beatles’, only for the ‘next Beatles’ to disappear after their difficult 2nd album, split up after creative differences, without breaking into any new ground, genre-wise, whatsoever.

We live in a different time from the sixties (no foolin’!!). Back then, the canvas was a little less busy than it is now. Many genres and styles we take for granted now, were burgeoning then, and not just the sixties, the seventies and eighties too. It seems like entire new genres were created right up until the nineties, and since then everything is a splinter of something that’s gone before, or a hybrid of previous genres. Sure, you could argue rock ‘n’ roll was a hybrid of this ‘n’ that, but at least when you put the ingredients in something new came out. Oasis are a good example of all that I’m saying here – hyped up to the max by NME and their brethren, not a bad band if you liked that type of thing, and absolutely added nothing new to any genre other than a rehash of previous indie bands and sixties beat bands. What genre are Oasis? Indie? Who cares? Indie used to mean ‘independent label’, i.e. not Sony. Now it’s just a ‘sound’ meaning you prefer guitars to Cheryl Cole.

Anyway, I digress. What I’m getting at is that there are (say) 1 million great albums, and (say) 10 million great tracks from all periods of recorded music out there. I guarantee you nearly all of it is better that what NME (or whoever) are pushing this week. It’s time to look back. The future is right there waiting to be discovered, in the past.

April 01, 2010

Moving House From Pyeongtaek to Dongducheon.

To my devout followers, both of you, actually none of you, I am moving house this week, which means moving computers, and having internets reconnected and the like. I am also starting a new job, which as you may be able to imagine all adds up to a slightly distracted Paul.

Back soon with some opinionated ranting on things that actually matter, I promise.