(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘pop

“Who, who, who, who”*…

From 99% Invisible, the remarkable– and revealing– story of an all-time champion earwig…

All kinds of songs get stuck in your head. Famous pop tunes from when you were a kid, album cuts you’ve listened to over and over again. And then there’s a category of memorable songs—the ones that we all just kind of know. Songs that somehow, without anyone’s permission, sneak their way into the collective unconscious and are now just lingering there for eternity. There’s one song that best exemplifies this phenomenon— “Who Let The Dogs Out” by the Baha Men.

The story of how that song ended up stuck in all of our brains goes back decades and spans continents. It tells us something about inspiration, and how creativity spreads, and about whether an idea can ever really belong to just one person. About ten years ago, Ben Sisto was reading the Wikipedia entry for the song when he noticed something strange. A hairdresser in England named “Keith” was credited with giving the song to the Baha Men, but Keith had no last name and the fact had no citation. This mystery sent Ben down a rabbit hole to uncover the true story and eventually lead to a documentary about his decade-long quest called Who Let the Dogs Out

Whomst Among Us Let Out The Dogs (Again),” from @99piorg.

Anslem Douglas, “Who Let the Dogs Out?

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As we contemplate catchiness, we might recall that on this date in 1995 the #1 song in America was “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio.

Interpolating Stevie Wonder’s 1976 song “Pastime Paradise,” “Gangsta’s Paradise” features vocals from American singer L.V. who served as a co-composer and co-lyricist with Coolio and Doug Rasheed. (Wonder was also being credited for the composition and lyrics.) The single was certified Platinum in October of 1995 and ultimately sold over 5 million copies.

Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 9, 2023 at 1:00 am

“Why is God making me suffer so much? Just because I don’t believe in him?”*…

David Shatz on an important important– and surely the funniest– modern philosopher…

Many have heard the story about the British philosopher [Oxford linguisitic philosopher J. L. Austin] who asserted in a lecture that, whereas in many languages a double negative makes a positive, in no language does a double positive make a negative. Instantly, from the back of the room, a voice piped up, “Yeah, yeah.”

While the story is well-known—and true—many do not know that the “yeah, yeah” came from Sidney Morgenbesser (1921-2004), a professor at Columbia University who later became the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, and whose 10th yahrzeit will be marked this summer. Those who did not experience Morgenbesser could not fully appreciate James Ryerson’s words in his superb portrait in the “The Lives They Lived” issue of The New York Times Magazine: “The episode was classic Morgenbesser: The levity, the lightning quickness, the impatience with formality in both thought and manners, the gift for the knockout punch.” (Ryerson has long been working on a book about Morgenbesser.) Nor could most people know that this comic genius was revered by philosophers and other literati, including people of eminence and fame, as one of the truly spectacular philosophical minds of his time—someone whom, reportedly, no less a figure than Bertrand Russell considered one of the cleverest (that’s British for “smartest”) young men in the United States…

A man who would surely have tickled Wittgenstein’s funny bone: “‘Yeah, Yeah’: Eulogy for Sidney Morgenbesser, Philosopher With a Yiddish Accent,” in @tabletmag.

A few other examples of Morgenbesser’s wit:

• Morgenbesser in response to B. F. Skinner: “Are you telling me it’s wrong to anthropomorphize people?”

• In response to Leibniz’s ontological query “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Morgenbesser answered “If there were nothing you’d still be complaining!”

• Interrogated by a student whether he agreed with Chairman Mao’s view that a statement can be both true and false at the same time, Morgenbesser replied “Well, I do and I don’t.”

* Morgenbesser, a few weeks before his death from complications of ALS, to his friend and Columbia philosophy colleague David Albert

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As we laugh and learn, we might recall that on this date in 1979, “Ring My Bell” was atop the pop charts.

Written by Frederick Knight, the composition was originally intended for then eleven-year-old Stacy Lattisaw, as a teenybopper song about kids talking on the telephone.  But when Lattisaw signed with a different label, Anita Ward was asked to sing it instead.

“Ring My Bell” went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, the Disco Top 80 chart, and the Soul Singles chart.  It also reached number one on the UK Singles Chart.  And it garnered Ward a nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1980 Grammy Awards. It was her only hit.

See (and, of course, hear) Ward perform the song here.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

June 30, 2023 at 1:00 am

“There is nothing permanent except change”*…

Menudo has been ranked one of the Biggest Boy Bands of All Time by several publications (Billboard, Us Weekly, Seventeen, and Teen Vogue, among others)– the only Latin band on their lists. The Puerto Rican boy band, founded by producer Edgardo Díaz in 1977, has had 39 members– who’ve been routinely replaced as they “age out,” usually at 16. It has launched the careers of a number of popular international stars, including Ricky Martin (in Menudo 1984–89) and Draco Rosa (1984–87), and sold over 20 million albums worldwide.

The band disbanded in 2009, but re-formed on its old template in 2019. And it’s just announced its latest roster, bringing its count of members up to 44…

Nearly a year after Menudo Productions announced they were on the search for new members to form the next generation of Menudo, the band has officially unveiled the five boys that will comprise the group.

On Monday (March 20), Nicolas Calero (10), Gabriel Rossell (13), Andres Emilio (14), Alejandro Querales (15) and Ezra Gilmore (12) were announced as the new faces of the eternally youthful boy band. And, in celebration of the announcement, the group also released their very first single “Mi Amore,” the first song off their upcoming debut album…

What’s old is new again: “New Menudo Boy Band Members Unveiled,” from @billboard.

* Heraclitus

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As we board the Ship of Theseus, we might recall that it was on this date in 1958, at 6.35am, that Elvis Presley reported to the Memphis draft board to be inducted in the U.S. Army. From there Elvis and twelve other recruits were taken by bus to Kennedy Veterans Memorial Hospital where the singer was assigned Army serial number 53310761.

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March 24, 2023 at 1:00 am

“Culture is the name for what people are interested in”*…

Henry Nelson O’Neil; “The Last Hours of Mozart”

… but “culture” (that’s to say, “high culture”) has also been a form of authority, a kind of superego for society. These days, Adam Kirsh argues, not so much…

From the 1920s to the 1950s, from jazz and blues to rock and roll, tweaking the canon was part of the appeal of pop music—and a favorite device of lyricists. Ella Fitzgerald had a signature hit with Sam Coslow’s “(If You Can’t Sing It) You’ll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini).” Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote the lyrics to “It’s a Simple Little System,” from the musical Bells Are Ringing, in which a bookie uses composers’ names as code to refer to racetracks: “Beethoven is Belmont Park/ Tchaikovsky is Churchill Downs.” Chuck Berry hit the same targets in “Roll Over Beethoven”: “My heart’s beating rhythm/ And my soul keeps singing the blues/ Roll over Beethoven/ Tell Tchaikovsky the news.”

In recent decades, however, this type of indirect homage to the authority of classical music has completely disappeared from popular music. The last example may be “Rock Me, Amadeus,” a German pop hit from 1985 that was inspired less by Mozart himself than by the 1984 movie Amadeus, in which the composer is portrayed as, in the song’s words, “ein Punker” and “ein Rockidol.” Today’s pop lyricists don’t poke fun at Beethoven and Tchaikovsky because young listeners no longer recognize those names as possessing any cultural authority or prestige, if they recognize them at all. It would make as much sense to write a pop song called “Roll Over Palestrina” or “Rock Me, Hildegard von Bingen,” since all composers are equally unfamiliar to a mass audience.

Like the disappearance of a certain species of frog or insect, this is a small change that signals a profound transformation of the climate—in this case, the cultural climate…

And while that change has its costs, Kirsch explains, it also has its benefits : “Culture as counterculture.”

Walter Lippmann

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As we contemplate canons, we might recall that on this date in 2008 the #1 song in the U.S. was “Whatever You Like” by T.I. Jared W. Dillon of Sputnikmusic called the song a “more sophisticated take” on Lil Wayne‘s “Lollipop.”

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 6, 2021 at 1:00 am

“Words of nuance, words of skill/Words of romance are a thrill/Words are stupid, words are fun/Words can put you on the run”*…

We know them by their words…

For some stars, a big vocabulary is priceless. Singer-songwriters from Patti Smith to Nick Cave have built careers with songs whose rich language is as important as the music. We wondered if today’s chart-toppers used such a diverse word set.

We already know that some Hip Hop artists have access to a breathtaking array of expressions. But what about other contemporary stars?

WordTips counted the words used by 100 modern stars and the 100 greatest singers of all time and added up the number of unique words they used per 1,000. For example, Patti Smith used 2,669 different words across a total word count of 12,291, giving a score of 217/1000.

Key Findings

• The star with the biggest vocabulary overall is legend Patti Smith, who uses 217 unique words per 1,000.

Billie Eilish is the modern star with the biggest vocabulary: 169 per 1,000.

• Legend Luther Vandross and modern star Trey Songz are tied with 66 for the smallest vocabulary.

• The song with the most unique words is Lou Reed’s The Murder Mystery, recorded by The Velvet Underground, with 639 words

An interactive that reveals who uses the the widest array of words: “Which Singers Have the Biggest Vocabularies? Modern Stars vs Legends.”

* Tom Tom Club, “Wordy Rappinghood

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As we express ourselves, we might recall that it was on this date in 1965 that the Beatles released their fifth studio album, Help!, accompanying the movie of the same title. Seven of the fourteen songs, including the singles “Help!” and “Ticket to Ride”, appeared in the film and took up the first side of the vinyl album. The second side included “Yesterday”, by Paul McCartney, the most-covered song ever written. While “Yesterday’ isn’t an especially-demonstrative example, McCartney was a top-ten user of unique words (7,896 across his compositions).

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

August 6, 2021 at 1:00 am

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