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Wednesday, March 16, 2005
DWNTACBW: Music to Torment Customers and Co-Workers With
The Perennial Favorites
Robbie Williams: Unpretentious and unapologetic pop music will always have its place in culture, and with Robbie that's all you're getting. The lyrics are occasionally cheesy and hopelessly self-referential (I think he's got about a dozen songs about how hard it is to be a self-conscious singer of unapologetic pop songs), and the music is nothing ground-breaking, but that's the appeal of him. It's just pop music for the sake of pop music.
Dolly Parton: A beautiful voice and very nice melodies, and country-flavored music that you can actually listen to and is actually country music, not what currently passes for country music. And with a career as long and as varied as hers, there's bound to be a phase she went through to appeal to just about everyone.
Stephen Lynch: This is more the sort of thing to listen to while we're breaking down shipments in the morning. It's very funny stuff, but oh man, is it ever in poor taste. We have too many "irony-impaired" customers to even attempt to get away with playing songs like "Hermaphrodite" or "Special Ed" or "D&D." Especially "D&D," what with the fact that we carry role-playing games and role-players are renowned for having a sense of humor about themselves. (One of my co-workers on the game side was playing a mix disc that happened to have "D&D" on it...and yes, there were complaints from the gamers about him playing a "gamer hating" song.)
Stereo Total: Ah, French pop...is it not the most glorious incarnation of music ever devised. So familiar, yet so tantalizingly foreign. And this duo takes all the conventions of French pop and runs with them, turning out marvelous danceable songs. I can listen to "Je te partie que le diable est Anglais" and "J'aime l'amour a trois" over and over again.
Phil Ochs: Folk music used to mean something, back before it was just a way to sell albums by semi-talented female guitar players to college students majoring in English. It used to be angry and opinionated and topical. And the best of the justifiably angry folk-singers was Phil, who always had the good sense to lighten the anger with lots of good-natured, ironic humor. Every once in awhile we need to skip a song on a disc because a customer we know is "irony impaired" happens to be in the store, but otherwise I like to leave him on as an antidote to the general conservative politics of most comics fans.
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: No, not the album by the Beatles, the two-disc soundtrack to the film starring the Bee-Gees and a whole host of seventies has-beens and never-weres. It's marvelously tacky and ill-conceived and I love the album for it. It's almost a testament to how bone-headed the entertainment industry was in that decade. And it has Donald Pleasance "singing" on it...what is not to love?
Harry Nillson: Specifically, the sound-track to Skidoo...Mike and I can listen to that all day long.
Sigur Ros: Dreamy lyrics sung over achingly sweet music. It's wonderful music to have in the background, as it just insinuates itself into the surroundings. You almost forget about it until some startlingly beautiful sound comes out of nowhere at you.
The Polyphonic Spree: Happy music with simple, joyful lyrics. It's good and bouncy and makes you feel better.
Scissor Sisters: It's almost a bit early to put them on a favorites list, because they've really only had the one album out so far, but I can listen to it over and over again, and it never gets old. They've got high-energy music with a distinctive sound, and they've taken their inspiration and not only wear it proudly, but they take it into new places. There's a wicked and ribald sense of humor on display in the songs, and an unashamed sex appeal as well.
Ashley MacIssaac: If my one concession to celtic/folk/fiddle music has to be made, it's going to be the kinky gay Canadian fiddler I'm going to listen to. Honestly, I don't know much about the genre, other than that it's usually inoffensive enough and the fans tend to have no sense of self-awareness and wear too many pendants, but I like Ashley's stuff. And, again, that he can be very funny when he wants to be helps a lot.
The Pogues: Okay, so I'll also listen to the drunken Irish punks signing celtic tunes as well. There, are you happy?
80s Music: How do you distill a decade down. I like that synth-pop sound, I like the lyrics that don't take themselves seriously, I like that the bands had the good sense to get one, maybe two albums of decent music out before disappearing. Whether on sound-tracks, or compilations, or mix discs, I can listen to the cheesy music of my youth for hours on end and be perfectly satisfied with the experience. Is it "good" in an objective sense? Only rarely. But that's not the point. It's almost as if the entire culture just decided to go goofy and have fun as a direct result of humorless right-wing governments coming to power all over the place. And it resulted in gloriously fun but dumb music.