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The producers of the upcoming Wolverine solo film have decided, in light of the negative critical and fan reaction to the third X-Men film, to high-light Hugh Jackman's musical theater abilities and the gay subtext of the X-franchise:
I love covers. I love Disney. I...am okay...with Tim Curry.
One of the points raised the other day in my post about Sweeney Todd was that the play is actually very funny, something not on display in the trailer. So, to get the Cult of Burton off my back (like the Cult of Joss, only with better clothes), I'll make you a deal. If Depp and Bonham Carter can pull off this scene, I'll be charitably inclined towards the film.
This brief snippet of Sweeney Todd pretty much confirms many of my misgivings. Talk-singing? Helena Bonham Carter looking woefully miscast as Mrs. Lovett? A more ridiculous wig on Johnny Depp than he's ever worn before? A seeming reluctance to let the audience know it's a musical? Oh, dear...
Music Video Stream of Conciousness: Doctor Who Edition
Rouge Traders, "Voodoo Child"; I loved the use of this song in The Sound of Drums. A lot of Doctor Who fans seem to think it was somehow blasphemous to use an electro-rock tune with a good beat to score an alien invasion. Never mind that the song is actually used diegetically; it's actually being played in the scene by one of the characters. It's a deliberate sick joke on the part of the villain. He's planned his end of the world scenario down to the last detail, including choosing theme music for it. Now, that's dedication to evil.
Britney Spears, "Toxic"; Now, if you want to complain about the use of pop music in the show, take this piece of garbage. Lousy, lousy song. Granted, in the episode The End of the World the song is explicitly used as a joke. And at the time, the world thought little Brit-Brit was just a marginally talented teen starlet, using her sexuality as a cover for her lack of singing ability. We didn't know at the time that she was batshit fucking nuts. Still...horrible, horrible song.
Gary Williams, "Song for Ten"; One of the features that has developed in the Christmas specials for Doctor Who is the use of an original song. Of the two we've heard so far, I prefer the song from The Christmas Invasion. Lyrically it resonates with me more. This live version was from a charity concert where Murray Gold's music for the show was performed live.
KLF, "Doctorin' the Tardis"; I was the only person in my school who had any clue what this song was about.
And, just for fun, here's a rather nice mix of the various title segments and variations on what a lot of people consider one of the all time best television themes.
Yes, contemporary television shows and their "goths/emos are scary" storylines will look just as dated and ridiculous in twenty years...sorry C.S.I. fans.
Attempts to contemporize Archie comics ruining the jokes:
Does anyone use commercial collect calling anymore? Does anyone use payphones anymore?
Batman being a hypocrite:
Man, was that series awful. I think the "armor" the heroes wore is easily in the top five of "Stupidest Things I've Ever Seen In A Comic." I'm glad Alex Ross really liked the Super Friends when he was a kid, but that was no excuse for DC to put this out.
Oh, and in regards to the big spoiler news from comics today, I only have four words to say: status quo successfully maintained!
Music Video Stream of Conciousness: Have You Heard...
My friends always seem very surprised by my taste in music. I don't know what it is, my musical interests are diverse enough that I hardly think I could even be said to have a specific taste in music. And yet, I hear "You like Dolly Parton? Really?" or "I would never have guessed that you'd ever even have heard of The Cows" or "I've never even heard of Scared of Chaka" to get the impression that if my musical likes and dislikes confound people so, I must be doing something right. As a result of this, bands I've never heard, or heard of, get talked up to me periodically. And with the invention of the internet, it's become fairly easy for me to sample songs from those recommended groups.
Kings of Leon, "On Call": I know folks who absolutely adore this band, and actually arrange their vacation and travel schedules to see them whenever and as many times as possible. I just don't have that level of devotion to any band. And, you know, they're not bad, but I can't say I'm too taken with this song. It's rather droney indie-rock sounding, and honestly, that sound doesn't really do it for me anymore. <
Big & Rich, "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)": When country became rock with an obnoxious accent, I really stopped caring about country music. There's nothing special about this at all, just the exact type and sound in country music that I can't stand. I can see why this became somewhat popular, what with its taking a t-shirt slogan and turning it into a song. It's the sort of pop-orobous which contemporary American culture seems to thrive on.
Goldfrapp, "Strict Machine": Now, I could get into this. It's got just about all the things I like about electronica (about the only musical genre where I find that I prefer female vocalists to male vocalists by a wide margin), but even those elements of electronica that I tend to dislike, such as the back-beats which frequently overpower all the other elements, are restrained here. Of course, all it takes in that situation is one lame DJ to turn up the bass too damn high, and that delicacy is ruined.
Shiny Toy Guns, "You are the One": Oh my word. The imagery is damn pretentious as to be absolutely giggle-worthy. Especially when it's being used to promote the music of a rather generic indie-RAWK! band that had to resort to the chick-singer cliche to differentiate themselves from all the other nearly identical sounding indie-RAWK! bands out there. Of course, that being said, they're not bad, and I could see myself buying a CD. If I found it used or similarly on sale. It could make good driving music.
When I went in to pick up my comics on Saturday, I asked Mike where the Kevin Church co-written Cover Girl was, since I didn't see it on the racks. So Mike showed me where they were keeping it:
(No, but seriously, the book's pretty good. And I'm not just saying that because I'm afraid of Kevin. Because, honestly, I'm not. Have you seen him? An asthmatic squirrel could probably take him in a fight.)
I had an uneventful weekend of watching watching Little Britain: Live (how can so many unpleasant characters be so funny?), playing Puzzle Quest (who knew combining Bejeweled with a console-RPG could be addictive?), listening to The Feeling (which I still suspect was unusually emo of me, despite reassurances to the contrary) and reading comics (you know, the multiverse has only been back two weeks, you'd think the fanboys could hold off calling it confusing or a creative failure a bit longer, but no). Pete, meanwhile, spent his weekend driving back from Colorado. I think I got off the better of the two of us. And what did you do this weekend?
Music Video Stream of Conciousness: They Did Have Other Songs Edition
Tatu, "Nas Ne Dogonyet": I thought the "they're hot underage lesbians!" marketing angle on this band was pretty exploitative and offensive in it's exploitation, but I secretly liked their sound. Which is fairly impressive as I rarely gravitate to female vocalists, particularly female pop vocalists. The only song of theirs I ever remember getting any serious airplay was the English version of "All the things she said" but I particularly always liked hearing their songs in Russian. Frankly, it just sounds "right" with the music and beat to hear their songs in the original language.
Men Without Hats, "Pop Goes the World": I think this was actually a second, modest hit for the group, but let's be honest. People only remember "The Safety Dance." That they were a pretty solid 80s synth-pop band will be lost to history, so long as VH1 can still find comedians in need of a paycheck who will sit in a front of a camera and make fun of a video that in actuality wasn't significantly goofier than any other video from the period.
Sparks, "Moustache": Even though Sparks has been around, well, longer than I have, I'm still surprised that people are surprised they're still around. That is, when they even realize that they weren't just Jane Wiedlin's back-up band. This video is worth checking out just for the unsettling and unusual sight of Ron Mael without his moustache.
The Hidden Cameras, "Awoo": I'm not sure what it is about sarcastic gay Canadian musicians, but they appeal to me. Most people, if they've even heard of the Hidden Cameras (don't Google them...you'll only regret it), are only aware of "Ban Marriage," but Joel Gibb has been pretty steadily releasing material of high quality. I find that I generally prefer the band's albums as a whole to isolating particular tracks, but this song works fairly well on it's own. The video is a little masterpiece in and of itself, offering creepy imagery which seems at odds with the cheery tune, but not the lyrics themselves.
Well, if you're going to create a wholesome, kid friendly band to do covers of your songs, I guess a group like A*Teens isn't a bad solution. To be honest, they're kind of bland, but I don't mind their sound because it's a little lower than the screechingly high soprano voices of Agnetha and Anni-Frid. This song, "Super Trouper" is one of the rare Abba tracks when the boys in A*Teens actually get to sing, even if it's just "su-u-per trou-u-per" in the background. Honestly, if they hadn't written the songs, I don't think there would have been any need for Benny and Bjorn either.
I think I'm one of the few people who actually liked Robbie Williams's album of swing covers. It was just a slight, playful album of stuff that you could tell that Robbie and his sometimes curious choices for duet partners enjoyed themselves immensely making. And while Robbie and Jon Lovitz singing "Did You Ever?" is probably my favorite track, the version of "Somethin' Stupid" with Nicole Kidman is the only video available. Hey, if anything it's not as creepy as Frank and Nancy Sinatra singing the song.
William Shatner should really have never been allowed near a microphone. At least Leonard Nimoy can carry a tune. And it may make me a kill-joy, but the ironic, hipster "love" for Shatner gets on my nerves. I'm also not terribly fond of fan-made music videos, as they're so rarely any damn good whatsover. But this video for "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is very well done, and witty, and I'll even excuse the post-modern irony just this once.
One of my favorite covers techniques is to take a song clearly written for one gender, and have someone of the opposite gender sing it. It may be a bit on the cheap and easy side, but it almost never fails to entertain me. Cake is, not to put too fine a point on it, not a band I like. At all. But they did do a version of "I Will Survive" that I love out of all proportion to it's quality, just because their approach to the song, with a male singer and a kind of lethargic delivery, really let the lyrics stand out for me.
I have an inordinate, and probably surprising to many of you, fondness for the musical Godspell, or at least the film version of the same. It's vision of Jesus as a hippie super-hero, combined with utterly sincere and unironic songs are inspiring and charming. That it seems to completely and utterly annoy most American conservative Protestants, who object to it's message of God's unconditional love, is a plus in its favor as well. Now, I've often said that the song "Alas for you" reminds me of blogging, but "All for the Best" works really well in a number of situations as well. It's a very subtle smack-down on the "gospel of prosperity" that has become popular in recent years. John/Judas's line, "someones got to be oppressed" says so much in so few words:
(Besides, if you haven't seen Godspell you probably should, as it seems to be continually referenced in contemporary comedies.)
Of course, you can't really talk about "hippie musicals" without mentioning the grand-pappy of them all, Hair. I sort-of like the film version more than the theatrical versions, even though it takes massive and extensive liberties with the plot, or what little plot the play has, anyway. If nothing else, I'm glad the film version exists, as it provides definitive visual proof that yes, Treat Williams was at one point a sex symbol. He's not in this clip. Instead I highlighted one of the more popular songs, one that doesn't get covered very often, "Black Boys/White Boys." I love the twist they pulled in the film, giving parts of the song to male singers.
For absolutely no good reason, other than that I couldn't find any clips from The Apple (see, hippies=folk music="The Apple"=not terribly good=attempted sequel), here's "Bitchin' in the Kitchin" from Shock Treatment. Any song that manages to incorporate household appliances into it's verses as effortlessly as this deserves a look.
(Featuring appearances by Barry "Dame Edna" Humphries and Rik "the Prick" Mayall!)
Now, even though most of that song was for some reason given to Cliff DeYoung to sing, it did feature the sublime Jessica Harper. And since you can never have enough Jessica Harper (I sat through Suspiria for her!), here's "Special to Me" from the criminally under-rated Phantom of the Paradise.
Aw, heck, I can't leave you with just one Paul Williams song. Here's a certain something from the best film of both Scott Baio's and Jodie Foster's careers.
"This Corrosion" by the Sisters of Mercy. The album this song was from was my first "goth" purchase, from a period when the first wave goths had mostly outgrown their pretentiousness and Hot Topic wasn't around yet. So the Sisters had pretty much fallen into the self-parody realm. Or more of a self-parody than they always really were anyway.
"Kiss Them for Me" by Siouxsie and the Banshees. I still have an inordinate amount of fondness for Siouxsie and companies. Their music has held up so much better than that of their contemporaries. Of course, you can never be taken seriously as a goth band unless you have at least one song about a famous death.
"She's Lost Control" by Joy Division. Possibly stretching the definition of "goth" a little too include them, but Ian Curtis, if nothing else, certainly influenced many a goth band. This clip is worth watching, despite the wonky sound in bits, if only to see Curtis actually MOVING. I know, it's amazing, you wouldn't think it was possible. Joy Division always makes me remember this conversation I once participated in. "Hey, what do you call someone who likes New Order by not Joy Division?" "What?" "A poseur?" "But isn't that what we call Joy Division fans anyway?"
"Codo" by DOF. For my money, you can't get any better than this for a searing look at the hardcore, heavy German techno/industrial/goth sound. If you watch no other clips, watch this one.
So, I've been in an Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers/"why doesn't Greg Dulli put more stuff out" sort of mood lately, which prompts me to do a quick YouTube search. Lo and behold, here's a video I haven't seen in years, of "Debonair" from what is probably my favorite album of all time.
Thinking of 90s bands whose albums I played so much I actually managed to wear out CDs, I always did like Faith No More's version of "Easy" a whole hell of a lot.
So, now that you've seen the best damn video of a Lionel Ritchie cover featuring drag queens, here's the best damn line-dancing competition set to a song sung by a drag queen, from the film Adam & Steve.
All this talk of drag queens made me think of Eartha Kitt. Trust me, it sort of makes sense.