11

Masterpiece YouTube: “Mime Through Time,” SketchSHE, 2015

I’m tired (so what else is new) but just wanted to get a post in today. I haven’t done one of these since March, so I think it’s time for another. You’ve probably seen this clip before, but it’s so creative and hilarious and just my style, so here’s an in-depth analysis.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 20: “Mime Through Time,” SketchSHE, 2015.

SketchSHE consists of three funny ladies from Australia: Lana, Madison, and Shae-Lee. I have no idea which is which, so I just refer to them as Driver, Passenger, and Backseat.

We start with the three just hanging out in their car. Passenger turns on the radio, and they’re in 1940s gear and singing along with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” They look like nurses going to a party off base. A salute, and a seamless transition into Elvis, complete with jumpsuits and new makeup/hairstyles. With a headbang, they’re the Beatles. Even though Driver and Passenger are tied up, they can still un-duct tape themselves. A bit illusion-shattering, but no time to think as they morph into Queen. They have a nice transition here into Michael Jackson, and this might be my favorite bit because they each have a different King of Pop look going on; Backseat has the “Thriller” jacket, and Driver is “Bad.” The choreography is inspired too. Then, it’s time for my favorite transition…just wait for it…1:17. That Passenger seat face is scary but hilarious as they all become Whitney. A hair flip leads them into Nirvana, and for some reason I’m getting Hanson flashbacks. I don’t like this song, but they do it well. Then it’s time for a rap interlude, with some mist in the background. Check out the Driver rapping and the Backseat fly girl. This next transition into Britney seems a bit out of place, as the light and positions change drastically, but the head-shaving bit cracks me up every time. The Eminem bit is not my favorite, but then they go all “Single Ladies,” with the one-shoulder jumpsuits and hand-motions, aided in interpretation by some fierce eye makeup and expressions. A great transition into Gotye. That bit seems out of place too because there’s not really a dance style associated with it, but then we get them in full-on “Thrift Shop” pimp mode, which is #$%^ing awesome…and then there’s “Wrecking Ball.” One by one, they realize that they’re topless, and then someone off screen gets Driver to roll down her window because she’s illegally parked, ignoring the fact that there are three topless (presumably naked) women in a car singing along to Miley Cyrus.

I think they did a great job of including a variety of music styles from pop to punk to rap, and the costumes and makeup designs were, for the most part, dead-on. I was surprised at some of their omissions, like Madonna (“Vogue”), Spice Girls(“Wannabe”), Bee Gees (“Night Fever”), country line dance (“Achy Breaky Heart” or “Cotton Eye Joe”), 90s boy band, Motown girl group…but then again, maybe they’re saving them for Part II. I sure hope there is a Part II.

What I learned from this video: Road trips are always fun with friends, make sure you don’t forget your shirt, and don’t park illegally.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by A & P: Anxiety and Procrastination.

Also, according to my Live Statistics, my 25,000th flag showed up a few days ago, and it was from a visitor from Singapore. Thanks, Singapore!

1

Masterpiece YouTube: Double Feature – KOLture Shock/Wootton Acabellas

This week has been rough in more ways than one, as you know, and I’ve kinda been scrimping on new content. I found out about another death today (my friend’s husband, after a short bout of lymphoma) but I had a really positive and enlightening meeting with one of my professors yesterday, so that kinda makes up for it a little. So, to make up for it, I’m putting out a double feature of Masterpiece YouTube; I know it’s my “fall back content” when I haven’t read anything new or can’t think of a rant or a fun story or anything. But here are two YouTube Masterpieces to enjoy.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 20/21: KOLture Shock, “Hatikvah” 2015/Wootton Acabellas, “Troublemaker” 2013

With all the bad rap Israel’s been getting lately (and by lately, I mean, since the beginning of the world), along comes a video that makes me proud to call Israel my spiritual home; something that could only happen in Israel, nowhere else in the Middle East.

We open on an ordinary Jerusalem Light Rail trip (side note: I never got to ride it because it was not finished until a little while after I left) and it’s chock full of commuters from all walks of Israeli life. Suddenly, a chick in a violet top soprano-belts the first line of the Israeli National Anthem (Hatikvah). After a moment of silence, the percussion kicks in and she starts over, this time with accompaniment from a bunch of other riders and stares from…other, non-singing riders, who pull out cell phones. One older lady with glasses and a curly ‘do is singing along, although clearly not as part of the group because we later see her clapping. After a final crescendo and an awesome percussive coda that sounds like a slowing-down train, they get applause and are greeted by a cheering audience from the platform.

This is a masterpiece for two reasons: the a cappella is not bad, could be better, but the camera work is really top notch. A great mix of shots of singers and bystanders, edited together to show a range of emotions. Plus, singing on public transit has always been a fantasy of mine (come on, who wouldn’t want their everyday life to turn into a musical?).

Final note: I actually know one of the people in the video; the skinny chick in the headscarf at around 1:30 is my sister’s best friend from growing up, the one she went to Israel for in December for her wedding. Also, I’m not sure, but the rabbi at 0:30 looks an awful lot like my Chabad rabbi from UMass.

Now for a different type of a cappella; the video quality is poor but the sound is amazing. It was filmed at Wootton High School in Reston, Virginia, and it’s the Wootton Acabellas singing Olly Murs’ “Troublemaker,” a totally underrated pop hit from the early 2010s. The choreography is cute, their outfits are simple yet elegant and age-appropriate, and the lead singer isn’t too bad.

But then there’s the rap soloist.

She is AWESOME. According to the video, her name is Rahila O. Olanrewaju and if she doesn’t have an album in the works, she better start on one because I would pre-order that. Seriously. And I buy a CD about once every five years. Plus, if you listen closely, she is also beatboxing for part of the song, which is also awesome.

The masterpiece about this is that it’s so simple and humble yet these girls can sing. For most people, it’s amazing; for a high school group, it’s outstanding

10

Masterpiece YouTube: “Pot Belly,” Freshlyground

Today was a completely lazy day, so I thought I’d do some justice to this video.

That’s So Jacob Presents

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 19: “Pot Belly,” Freshlyground.

We start with Freshlyground’s frontman (frontwoman?) Zolani Mahola in a completely green house, brushing her teeth and going through her morning routine alongside some random white guy. They seem to be complete opposites; he drinks coffee, she eats cereal. He plays chess, she reads and eats green jelly beans that must’ve taken hours to pick out of the bag. She finds an odd red one, and flicks it off like nobody’s business. Outside, he gardens and she launders, and they play some flirty hide-and-seek. She holds a mysterious green box, which he excitedly opens to find a bright green shirt. Zolani opens her door to find some red roses. They’re both overjoyed, until they realize that their items just don’t fit in; the guy wears the green shirt but gets so uncomfortable in it that he has to cover it with a red jacket and scarf, and she almost has a panic attack until she puts the roses behind a curtain. At sunset, they sadly take back their gifts, and for some reason, Zolani is wearing a khaki-looking trenchcoat, unless it’s actually a pale green and either my monitor or my eyes are deceiving me, and they go off their separate ways and go to sleep in their respective homes.

The next morning, Zolani sees a red flower petal on her bed and she snaps to attention, repainting her entire house red and replacing every single thing in it with something red, including her jellybeans, her outfit, and even her makeup, even though, ironically, she puts on red lipstick though she never had green lipstick on.

She opens the door, and lo and behold, her neighbor is standing there in a green suit, just for her. So then, they compromise, and the camera fast-forwards to them in her bed, only with a red and green striped blanket, as well as red and green pajamas on him and the room now decked out in bicolor decor. Oh, and take notice of the bottom left corner; he brought his chessboard over to her place and must’ve dug up some green pieces. Nothing could be cuter.

Oh wait, it could. We close on their toothbrushes in the same cup. All is well.

I like this video because it teaches us that people should look past each other’s color and love one another. Also, the song is pretty dope and it has nothing to do with the video and vice versa which is kinda cool.

 This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by tolerance, tiredness, and Jelly Belly.

13

Masterpiece YouTube: “Tell Him,” The Exciters

Time for a cleanse, and what better way to get my thoughts back on track than with a Masterpiece YouTube. Only this one is a little bit different; it’s actually so bad that it’s a masterpiece. It’s like a masterpiece of banality.

That’s So Jacob Presents

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 18: “Tell Him,” The Exciters, 1963.

Ever since I finished reading the book Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound by Alan Betrock, I’ve been playing “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “Be My Baby” in my head. But one of the most forgotten gems of the 1960s girl group scene is none other than “Tell Him,” by The Exciters, featuring lead singer Brenda Reid.

On the surface, this is probably one of the most banal, boring, and unfortunate music videos of all time, set to the tune of one of the best songs of all time. Seriously, there is so much more they could have done. As in, literally, anything. This entire video can be summed up in one sentence: some people went to the zoo and sang to the animals. But since this is Masterpiece YouTube, let’s break it down. Keep in mind that this “music video” was made way before the advent of Final Cut Pro or iMovie or even the Internet.

We open on a bear. Aww, yay, a nature video! Wait…not so fast. The camera then zooms out to show the Exciters singing to said bear, wearing fancy red dresses and suits, looking terribly out of place for a day trip to the zoo. Then we go back to the bear, who listens for about a half second before walking away, because he is a bear and cannot understand the concepts of love or music or the English language. The camera goes back to the singers, and then to the bear, who appears to clap along, but then at 0:36 is all, “…Did you not get the memo yet? I’m a bear. A BEAR. I still do not understand what you are doing with your hands and your mouths. Forget it, crazy humans. Bye.”

Bear walks away.

Brenda and her crew head over to the lions’ den, and you can actually see the lion in the background running out of the shot, as if to say, “no way I’m going to be in this dumb video, bye.” Then the camera zooms in on him. (LION: “What did I just tell you people?”) Then he has a change of heart and goes back into the frame, following Brenda, as we cut to some swans, who are more interested in some food in the water than the talented lady singing near them.

Then comes the weird part. I’m talking, super weird, like Three Men and a Baby weird. The camera zooms in on Brenda, but there is someone in a white dress, who may or may not be a ghostly spectre just standing there. Stock still, quiet, and probably unaware that he/she is being filmed. Seriously, you couldn’t have chosen another angle or edited the person out? What was the budget, $7.50 and some Fruit Roll-Ups?

Swans? Still eating.

And now, the really weird part, and the kind of dizzying one. The Exciters have now gotten on one of those turntable thingies you find on playgrounds, and finish the song while in a slow revolve, with Brenda’s eyes following the camera when she comes back around to it.

So, there you have it. Weirdest one-hit wonder music video ever. Kind of a shame, too, because the Exciters were really good, especially Brenda. Speaking of Brenda, when I first saw this video on YouTube awhile back, someone commented saying something like “wow, this is really good, whatever happened to the lead singer?” and someone named “breid1976” or something responded “thanks for the compliment…that was me, my name is Brenda Reid, I’m a mother and grandmother now, and I’m still singing…glad you enjoyed it…” That version of the video has been taken down, and the comment along with it (I looked, and could not find it). No word on whether that YouTube user actually was Brenda Reid or not, but it’s quite possible; as far as I know, she is still alive and well at age 70. It also seems like something she’d do; I imagine her as being this sweet old lady who has a garden and goes to church every Sunday and also happens to have been one of the best forgotten voices of the 1960s. She is on Facebook, and I friended her; seeing that her wall posts are a lot of praise from random fans, I’m hoping that she’ll accept my request and we can become pals, like I’ve done with Julie Brown and Mink Stole, both of whom I’ve written to and gotten responses from.

And now, to bed, for some light-ish reading.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by Thin Mints. Thin Mints: it doesn’t matter how many calories there are per serving; go ahead and eat the entire box yourself, because you deserve it. Find yourself a Girl Scout and buy some Thin Mints today!

11

Hey-La, Hey-La, The Girls are Back

Put another notch in my book belt, because Girl Groups: The Story of a Sound by Alan Betrock is officially in the books, as of today.

I don’t know if it really counts as having read a real books, since it’s less than 200 pages and includes pictures on almost every page, but it’s a great journey through the nostalgia of the girl group sound. The book goes through the major groups, like the Ronettes, the Shirelles, and the Supremes, but also some lesser known ones like the Exciters, the Shangri-Las, the Dixie Cups, and the Angels. There’s also a corresponding documentary you can watch on YouTube that gives you the full story (well, most of it), including interviews with some of the people of the era, including the late great Ellie Greenwich, the supremest of the Supremes Mary Wilson, the lovely Darlene Love, and the rebel queen of rock-and-roll, Ronnie Spector herself. Nostalgia everywhere you turn.

“But Jacob,” you might say, “you weren’t alive in the 60s and 70s, when Ronnie Spector was teasing her hair and Murray the K was on the air.”

I beg to differ.

Even though I was born in the 1980s and grew up in the 90s and 00s, I didn’t embrace the music of the times until high school. Some of my most cherished memories are from car rides to school, to the mall, or to the doctor, singing along with Aretha or Diana on the radio. I grew up listening to the Supremes, the Shirelles, and Martha and the Vandellas. Most kids like to sing “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” or “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” or at least a catchy, pervasive pop earworm – from my generation, it was songs like “One of Us,” “Doo Wop (That Thing),” and “Ironic.” The first song I knew all the words to, however, was “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and I would sing it at every opportunity. In the Napster era (RIP), the first song I ever downloaded was “Respect,” by Aretha Franklin, which is kind of ironic.

Even if you didn’t grow up in the 1960s, there’s no denying that these songs are arguably the best music America has ever offered the world. The lyrics are fun, if a little dark at times, but always break the ice. Plus, their wide vocal range makes them great karaoke choices, or for a cappella groups. Everything about them is timeless, and if you were to repackage them by a popular artist of today, they’d be just as popular.

With that said, here are my top five favorite girl group songs, some of which might have future entries decided to them:

5. The Dixie Cups, “Iko Iko”

4. The Chantels, “Maybe”

3. The Angels, “My Boyfriend’s Back”

2. The Ronettes, “Be My Baby”

1. The Shirelles, “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?”

And if you don’t want to watch the documentary I linked above, here are the two most important moments.


This entry is dedicated to one of the all-time greatest teen queens, who unfortunately passed away earlier today at the age of 68. She brought us “It’s My Party,” “You Don’t Own Me,” and her own version of “My Boyfriend’s Back.”

Ladies and gentlemen, a moment of silence…

LESLEY GORE (1946-2015)

14

The Safe House, Zap Mama, and Friends

I actually had a great post prepared for yesterday, but I decided to go to visit WeKache in Milwaukee for the weekend, so that never got done.

So, yesterday was Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been a huge Valentine’s Day person, but I acknowledge its existence, and it seems like most of the world does the same. This year, however, everyone went batshit insane over Valentine’s Day. On Friday, one of my classmates said that he and his wife had booked dinner for Valentine’s Day over a month in advance. I thought he was just being silly, but oh my lord, there was absolutely nowhere to eat dinner that night. I think that coupled with a weekend, especially a Saturday night, made people more susceptible to eating out. After we called a few places that ended up having two-hour-long waits, we decided to go a nearby mall and try our luck. It was already 9:30 PM, and PF Chang’s had a 90 minute wait. They did say that bar seating was open, first come first serve. Stupidly, we didn’t wait nor put down our names, and went to try Maggiano’s at the other end of the mall instead, to find the exact same story, minus the bar seating. WeKache wanted to phone it in and just go home and cook something, but I wanted to go back to PF Chang’s and try for bar seating. We got back and the wait was still that long, but eventually we got a table and a more-than-decent meal. The only thing they were out of was the banana spring rolls, so we went for chocolate cake for dessert instead. We shared tofu lettuce wraps that were to die for, I had the Hunan fish, and WeKache had the beef and broccoli. Adding a coconut cooler (for him) and a sangria (for me) led to a ridiculous check of $60, but we tipped generously since our poor waiter had been dealing with a crazy crowd and the food was good and didn’t take that long to arrive, comparatively.

Today, we slept in, had brunch at WeKache’s place, then headed out through the snow (yes, it snowed) to Starbucks to get some work done, after which we would get dinner. After reading 120 pages for Indian Theatre, I was checking my email and suddenly realized that I had bought tickets for Zap Mama at Memorial Union, for tonight at 8.

It was 5.

Whoops.

After a minor freak-out on my part, we packed up, jumped in the car, and went to one of the restaurants we called the night before, a place I have been dying to go to, called The Safe House. They were considerably less busy than the previous night when we called, and we were only 12 minutes away, so we went.

The Safe House is a spy-themed restaurant in a building called “International Exports Ltd.” After parking and saying “heyyy!” to the sculpture of The Fonz on the nearby Riverwalk, we headed inside a tiny room, where a woman asked us for the password. I gave it my best shot, but of course I was wrong, so she told us to put our backs against the wall. Fortunately, at that moment, a handyman walked in, and the woman pressed a button, opening a swinging bookcase that led to the entrance. Ever the rule-breaker, WeKache walked in behind him even though he wasn’t supposed to, while I stayed and answered the woman’s question of when the Berlin Wall was built (1961, on my third try, which impressed her) and she opened the bookcase for me. Behind the bookcase was a short mirrored hall, at the end of which, a wall opened, revealing the interior of the restaurant.

The restaurant itself was a feat of architecture. After we were seated and had ordered, we were encouraged to look around. There was tons of spy memorabilia, from James Bond posters to a Checkpoint Charlie sign, and several hidden doors, behind one of which was a phone booth. Each little area had a different spy-related theme, from the KGB to the German Underground, and it was pretty awesome. The food was a bit on the small and overpriced side, but service was quick and the atmosphere was worth it. The waitress even got into it, calling us “spies” rather than customers. I checked my geocaching app for some reason, and it turned out there was a geocache inside the restaurant! So, I went to the bartender, and she pulled it out: an ammo box full of goodies that has been there since 2002. 

We finished our meal, but then realized…we didn’t know how to get out. We certainly couldn’t go the way we came, so we asked a waitress, who responded, “Go find the phone booth and put in a quarter.”

So we did, and as I picked up the phone, a message played, with a number combination. Once I dialed the number, the wall opened up to a cold underground tunnel, which led us to the exit. What a crazy experience.

After I got all my stuff from WeKache’s apartment, I said goodbye and drove my snow-covered car back to Madison. According to my GPS, I was due to make it home at 8:11, eleven minutes after the beginning of the concert.

Shit, shit shit.

Nevertheless, I pressed on, and once in the car, flew down the road, despite being dead tired. I made it home at 8:05 and walked into the Union at about 8:12. Fortunately, my ticket was still there and the show had just barely started, so I headed in. And I wasn’t the only one who was late – a huge group of at least 10 people walked in behind me – so I didn’t feel so bad as I headed to my seat in the first row of the mezzanine.

I actually came across Zap Mama randomly while doing research for a paper on Ruined by Lynn Nottage (ironically, what my parents were watching at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore at that very moment) and found some songs on YouTube which I liked. The group is headed up by the incredibly talented and energetic Marie Daulne who was just as gorgeous onstage in her black dress as she is on her album cover. Hailing from Belgium and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zap Mama has sung their “polyphonic urban African hip-hop” since 1991, on albums and in movies like Tortilla Soup and Mission Impossible II.

Marie Daulne of Zap Mama

I was not as familiar with their set list, or with their co-musical act Antibalas, but the sheer joy of Daulne and her backup singers made up for that. The only song I recognized was “African Sunset,” originally done by Miriam Makeba. In the middle of the show, Zap Mama left the stage and Antibalas performed, but they came back for a funky Afro-inspired rendition of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” which I couldn’t help but sing along to. As the concert progressed, more and more people got up and danced, and by the last song, I was one of them. I danced until the end of the encore, which was at 10:30, making it one hell of a concert. For most of the concert though, I was in my seat dancing like this:

anigif_cb9f70e8f74c9915958356e3585dceff-0

And now I am back home.

All in all, I had a great weekend, productive and fun, the kind that my younger self always wanted to have: dinner with friends at a funky restaurant, some fun driving, a concert at night, the real ideal “twenty-something” life.

Oh, and according to my statistics, yesterday I was visited by my 100th unique country of the year, Hungary, so there’s that to celebrate.

 

20

Rosanne Cash and a New Look

Normally, I don’t follow the Grammys (Grammies? Grammys just looks wrong). Most of the time, the nominees are people who I don’t really know or care about, although I do have to admit I felt a certain amount of satisfaction when Esperanza Spaulding beat out Justin Bieber and Drake for Best New Artist, hopefully she won’t fall victim to the Paula Cole/Shelby Lynne/Milli Vanilli curse.

This year, I was pleasantly surprised with three nominations, and subsequent wins for The River and the Thread, the latest from Rosanne Cash. I do not buy many CDs, what with YouTube and Pandora, but I bought The River and the Thread last year, and had it in my CD player for about a year, just playing on repeat,and I never got tired of it.

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2015/02/08/rosanne-cash-wins-3-grammys-beyonce-pharrell-lamar-win-2-at-pre-show/

Rosanne Cash and her awards

 

My love for Rosanne Cash started my junior year of college at UMass Amherst. My birthday is in October, and having just arrived at school a month earlier, I didn’t have many friends, but I wanted to do something special for my birthday, just for me. So I looked around for something to do, and on the website for the university’s concert series, it just so happened that Rosanne Cash was performing on campus as one of the final stops on her Black Cadillac tour, a short walk from where I lived, so I decided to check it out. I invited some friends, however it ended up being just me, but that was okay.

As soon as the lights dimmed, I knew I was going to have a surreal experience. The stage’s backdrop was a projection of roses shimmering on a black background. Rosanne Cash’s disembodied voice reverberated throughout the theater, explaining the reason for the creation of this album, as a tribute to her late mother Vivian Cash Liberto; her late stepmother June Carter Cash, and her late, great father, Johnny Cash.

She came onstage in a black and silver tunic, looking elegant, but every bit a rock star. She performed the songs from the album beautifully, as well as a few others, like Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” which she did a great justice too. In between sets, she engaged in banter with the front of the audience, updating them on the Red Sox score, because at the same time, the Sox were in the qualifying stages of the World Series (which they won that year). Much of the audience had gone when she came back out and did an extra encore, a rendition of “The Wheel” that was so on point. It was chilly outside, but her rich and soulful voice warmed me up like a good cup of coffee or bowl of vegetable soup.

Shortly after that, she went in the hospital for brain tumor surgery. I hoped and prayed she would survive, and she did, continuing to sing and make records, and now, she’s won three more Grammys. Good on you, Grammy Award Committee, for getting it right. Rosanne Cash is one of the great voices of America and I hope she’s around for a good long time to come. If you don’t know her music, look it up now.

Also, I’ve been struggling to get a good, new look for my blog. Thanks to Canva.com, I made a fun header graphic, but I feel like the background could use a little spice or something. I just want to make it jazzy, make it a little more me. Any thoughts would be much appreciated 🙂

2

Masterpiece YouTube: Donald O’Connor, Applied Mathematics

Today was a horribly cold and blustery day, the first of the year. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean six more weeks of winter for Madison. I actually had a nice day, though: lunch with 12 friends at Great Dane, and I also got to the gym, which was just about empty, thanks to the Superbowl and the weather. I’ve got a lot on my mind, so to give you a more accurate picture of what it looks like and because I don’t have the wherewithal at the moment to think of something interesting and new, here’s an updated episode of MYT from last September that I’ve been meaning to fix.

Just watch.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 14: Donald O’Connor, Applied Mathematics, Are You With It? (1948)

This, my friends, is talent. No offense to the silver screen stars of today (does anyone even use that phrase anymore?) but Donald O’Connor’s feet have more talent in them than the majority of this year’s Oscar nominees. It’s even more striking in black and white. And yeah, it’s not really about math, but it’s fun to watch and pretend that it’s your math homework.

Donald O’Connor was part of an amazing generation of performers. And when I say performers, I mean performers – people who could sing, dance, act, and had personalities and energies that were just electric. People like Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, Vera-Ellen, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly. There’s a reason why Singin’ In The Rain is one of the best American movies of all time; it’s because the viewer is drawn into the story and its characters. These days, I feel like popular movies are all pretty much the same animal; remake of a remake of a remake, sci-fi aliens/dinosaurs/warriors, romantic comedy, or screwball comedy. Not to say that they aren’t good, there’s just a certain magic that goes into a musical film; as the characters go through their changes through song, so do you. I think the only major movie that would fit this category is Pitch Perfect, and even that’s pushing it.

Speaking of remakes, I think it’s high time for Are You With It? to mount a comeback. From what I understand, the plot is about a math teacher who joins a traveling carnival. In today’s economy and the worrisome job market, this might be just the thing to inspire people, or at least entertain them.

Or you could just watch Donald O’Connor dance some more.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by the Rachel Sweet Pandora Radio channel, which I’ve been rocking out to for the last half-hour while I wrote this.

In other news, I hope that y’all come back and visit even though the January Blogging Odyssey is over. I’ve had a pretty good day though, with five continents reporting in, all but Africa: North America (Canada and USA), South America (Peru), Europe (UK, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, and Liechtenstein), Asia (Israel, India, UAE, and the Philippines) and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). Tell your friends?

0

Masterpiece YouTube: Annie Lennox, “Walking on Broken Glass”

Ever since I posted about broken glass yesterday, this song has been playing in my head, for two obvious reasons. One, because it’s a good song, and two, because it was the first music video that I watched over and over and over again and sometimes they pull it off YouTube which can be sad. So, I present to you one of my favorite music videos of all time.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 14: Annie Lennox, “Walking on Broken Glass,”

The video starts innocently enough, with a few twinkly piano notes over some tableaux appearing to be from the Mozart/Marie Antoinette era…but then the violins pick up, and the stillness is broken by the waving of a fan.

A FAN, PEOPLE.

Clearly, Ms. Lennox means business.

As she sings, the video shows a foppish gent dancing with several ladies at a proper, pastel-colored ball, with periodic cuts to Annie Lennox looking cross between Maleficent and a sexy nun. The fop in the middle is clearly the one she’s got the hots for, but that bitch in white keeps lady-cockblocking her. Finally, she gets him aside, only to lose him again and stomp her dress in frustration and in time to the music.

Then all hell breaks loose.

In she strides, hands on her widely-farthingaled hips. With confidence, conviction, and just a bit of condescension, she pushes the others aside to get to her man. The light makes her all crazy-eyed as she attempts to drag the man in white away, and it’s all an embarrassing but terribly exciting fuss as she gets cruelly ripped away from her young lover. But this is Annie Lennox we’re talking about, who takes nothing sitting down, and she proves it by crawling on all fours to get what she wants, before ultimately failing again and leaving with contempt. She trots down some awesome spiral stairs and ends up…in the arms of her young lover. So it was not in vain after all.

This video is a masterpiece really empowers me to be as bad-ass as I can be, and to do it with conviction. If it worked for Annie Lennox, it can work for you too. Plus, it’s delightfully innocuous to look at, with a fun storyline that gets more fun as with each successive viewing you can pick a different side and watch the events unfold from the perspective of a different character. CHOICES. It just gives me all the feels, but mostly the feel to use long words and adverbs.

Plus, period costume!

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by actual broken glass.

3

The Queen of Soul-ed Out?

Yesterday, I saw a link to a leak (why do they call it that? Just say it’s an early release or something, it’s not like a sniper’s hunting down these people) of a song from Aretha Franklin’s new album, consisting of cover songs. I looked at the track list, and Aretha made some good choices. What stuck out the most, obviously, was the first track, “Rolling in the Deep” by the ever-popular Adele. “This should be good,” I thought, not really knowing what to expect.

So I clicked on the link, and was presented with a studio cut of the song, which sounded pretty good for a 72-year-old, minus the annoying backing vocals, especially when they launch into “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” towards the end of the song, which has nothing to with Adele or the point of “Rolling in the Deep” or anything. I think they had to put it in there so Motown fanatics could hop on board, because change is scary.

And then I saw the comments.

Most of which implied that the recording used (with or without the Queen’s knowledge) the dreaded AutoTune, scourge of the music industry and sworn enemy of music purists. I took another listen, and I honestly couldn’t tell much of a difference. Every now and then, I would hear something that sounded a bit non-human, but for the most part, it’s Aretha, and very much so.

Other comments directed me to Aretha’s recent performance of the song on David Letterman. The first thing I noticed was “wow, Aretha looks great.” My second thought? “This does sound different.” Granted, that’s the thrill of the live performance; you hear things that might not be there on the recording. No two performances sound alike, and there were a few moments where Aretha backed up from the mic and I missed a word, or she rushed through a lyric, or something. It sounded similar, but not the same as the recording, but it’s still the Queen of Soul.

My thoughts?

Of course, AutoTune is evil, but that’s only when the powers that be use it for nefarious purposes, like making a bad singer sound good or making someone sound completely different (in a good or bad way) from how they actually sound. However, there are probably some benefits to pitch correction. If time is of the essence, it can be a quick fix on a 95% perfect take, just so everyone can go home an hour earlier. On the original cast recording of The Pajama Game, there’s one song that always bothered me, “Once-A-Year Day.” In the recording, Jerry Orbach (who was not a young man at the time), stops mid-word to wheeze. It’s a very obvious wheeze. and it’s also very obvious that it’s not in the song. If they had used AutoTune, they probably could have corrected it, or at least modulated it a little bit. That’s the good side of AutoTune; masking one obvious mistake from an otherwise perfect take.

Even if there was some pitch-matching software involved, it’s still a very good recording and sounds very much like the singer. Also, she’s seventy-two years old, and with age comes vocal changes and fatigue, so I think she’s earned the right to use AutoTune to make a decent song then have a raspy, pitchy track that critics will tear up.

Hear it for yourself here:

The Studio Version

The Letterman Version

What do you think?