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The curse of Autotune Apr. 8th, 2013 @ 07:17 am
Autotune annoys me, for a number of reasons. I don't like how bland it makes voices - it strips out all the depth, to me.

But, you know, some people like that, and some careers are kinda built on it. The price, of course, is that prefab pop princesses who can't actually sing will get mocked for that.

Except then Autotune became a thing, where denatured vocals somehow became some kind of "normal", and so you get more of it, and you also get a lot of undeserved hate forming.

It irritates me when I see people sneering at Miley Cyrus (as a major example) for being talentless and Autotuned. It also annoys me that she's Autotuned.

Party in the USA: Miley Cyrus, notably Autotuned to standard prefab pop princess levels. Standard video clip; she's distinguished from every other young singer product by the well-worn cowboy boots in which she has faint hints of boot-scooting, and her relatively age-appropriate clothing.

So, people presume, she's just another prefab, and the faint hints of country in her dress and dancing are because she's the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, and everyone still faintly resents that stupid stupid song of his anyway, so hate on Miley Cyrus, because misogyny anyway, and stuff.

Except that Miley Cyrus is talented.

You can know, because of things like her duet of Jolene with Dolly Parton. (Which I also love because it's kind of adorable, not least because of how much they clearly adore each other.)

In that clip, she's singing "Jolene", she's not autotuned, and she's singing it very well. Now, does she get outperformed by Dolly Parton? A bit - but then, given that Dolly has been doing this since several decades before Miss Cyrus was born, it would kind of reflect badly on her if she didn't have the pipes to outsing her goddaughter. But Miley Cyrus still does it well, and sweetly.

Although it's not as cute as this.
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... huh. Sep. 24th, 2009 @ 12:22 pm
I just worked out what one of the main reasons I'm kind of hiphop-averse is.

It all boils down to the word "featuring".

It comes up a lot, and in too many cases means, for me: "So here's this song by someone you think is talented, that would be a totally awesome song, except it's "featuring" some other dude, who sucks."

The top example today being "Let It Rock" by Kevin Rudolf, feat. Lil' Wayne.

Kevin Rudolf's song: AWESOME.

Lil Wayne's bit: ASS.

I still like the song, because the rest of it is awesome enough to let me just wait out the crappy Lil Wayne bit, but this, I think, is why for me hiphop as a genre is "there are some songs I like but it's not really my thing". Because I can't just have artists I like, because there's so much damn crossover with artists I don't.

So I just haven't ever got into it, it's got a difficulty curve I just can't deal with.

ETA, please note: If liking Kevin Rudolf and not Lil Wayne is unfashionable, please be advised that I do not care.

You know what else I like? Aqua. And Vengaboys. And Gummibear. I absolutely adore Dolly Parton. Showtunes, too. I actually own the album from which William Shatner's legendary version of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds comes - and I like it. I have Leonard Nimoy singing The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins, and if there is a nerdier statement of musical appreciation in existence I don't know what it is.

My collection also includes anthems of the Soviet states, Ladysmith Black Mombazo, and a significant collection of World War II-era music, some of which is hideously racist propaganda, Christian rock, and German death metal. The only person my taste in music has to suit is me.
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Music! Music! Music! Jun. 10th, 2009 @ 12:23 pm
So, I'm developing a temporary obsession with Dolly Parton's new album, Backwoods Barbie. Which I don't own, I've just been playing tracks off YouTube.

I need this album. If only for Better Get To Living, which may be a song I need to play at the start of every day. Certainly last night, when I was mood-crashing, it was instrumental in my recovery without things falling apart.

So, looking to get hold of it, I called my Preferred Record Store, 78 Records. (Which, if I'm spending money on music, is actually my preferred outlet. They're independent, they have a serious commitment to range, including imports and local music, and they're generally pretty awesome, in my experience.)

I asked if they had Backwoods Barbie in stock. The woman who'd answered checked, said no, asked if it was new, then checked release dates to see if they should. Said yes, it was out, and they could order it... which I declined, since I wanted it sooner. I thanked her and started to press the call-end button.

Then, as I disconnect, I hear her exclaim: "Ohhhh!"

Momentary pause.

Redial.

Her: "Hello, 78 Records, how can I help you?"
Me: "Yeah, I'm the person you were talking to two seconds ago..."
Her: *exclamations of delight*

As it turns out, she'd misread the screen, and they actually have one copy of Backwoods Barbie. Which means I can't pick up one for my mother, who also wants it, but she's going to be going near a shop she knows in Kelmscott that apparently is really good for country music. (Whereas I have no expectation of going anywhere near Kelmscott any time in the foreseeable future.) So she can get her own.

The woman at the shop sounded thrilled I'd called back, because she was feeling genuinely bad that she'd not helped me. Because 78 Records staff want you to have your music. I asked if she could set aside that copy for me, and she said yes, absolutely, took my name, and I can collect it at the counter this afternoon. (I plan to stop by on my way back from psych.)

So. Music, and 78's still rules.
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Conversations and music - country and otherwise... Jun. 9th, 2009 @ 06:11 pm
I just then realised both the fact and the why of something.

Sometimes, I don't want to do the research.

I was just then thinking about a question, and thinking about posting about it... and then I realised it was something to which the answer was no doubt available online, if I chose to look, and I know how. But I didn't want to.

I wouldn't call it laziness - looking it up is quicker and easier than writing a post about it.

The thing is, a lot of the time, the reason I post about things is in the hope that people will respond, and we can talk about it. I love to have conversations, but lately even when people I like have been around to talk to on googletalk, I have trouble maintaining a gtalk conversation - which, I've only recently realised, is because the chime when a new message comes in bothers me, so I need to turn that off.

Also, I have trouble starting conversations with people about things I'm pretty sure they're not that interested in.

Normally I don't have this problem because I talk to Chas about whatever's on my mind. Chas and I have a lot in common in terms of the way we like to talk about stuff. But Chas is away.

So, here's what I was thinking about: music. Specifically country music, and country & western. What's the distinction?

My automatic thought: Country is the stuff you like, and country and western is the stuff you mock. Although some people don't like either. And I have, over time, learned what's behind even the hilarious song titles, like I've Got Tears In My Ears From Lying On My Back Crying Over You. These can be good songs (obviously there's plenty of crappy country music, but there's crap in every genre), but I've started to think that the mockery it gets is pure classism and snobbery. Country music is rural, country music in a lot of cases is by and for the poor and the uneducated.

Mostly, it's rural. Urban and suburban people love to think of country people as stupid and uncultured, hicks and yokels who can't tell Morrissey from Fall Out Boy.

It's part and parcel of the kinds of attitudes that lead to someone telling me, in apparent sincerity, that it's silly of me to get worked up about the plight of farmers - after all, I live in the city.

Deep, calming breaths, Sami...

The thing is?

A lot of country music is also really damn good. Catchy, or just kind of moving. A song about heartbreak is still about sincere emotion, even if it's written on a steel-string acoustic guitar. And Dolly Parton was singing about the strength of women long before the Spice Girls brought out "girl power", and my first lessons about the evils of colonialism came from Johnny Cash and Bitter Tears. (You want music of bitterness and rage and betrayal? Bitter Tears is right there for you, ready to leave a sour taste in your mouth even as you sing along.)

I've never been one to follow trends that much, but over the last ten twenty god I'm old years I've definitely let go of trendiness in music. When I was nine or ten I followed the pop charts and read music magazines and knew what was in the top ten. But I got bored of that (ah, ADHD) and went back to listening to what I felt like... which, for a while, was mostly sixties stuff and Cliff Richard, because I listened to what my parents played.

Then came Triple J, and I learned to love alternative and indie rock and electronica and trance, but by the time I hit my twenties I'd happily reconciled loving those things with loving Queen, and classic rock... as well as music I know is cheesy but it makes me happy, dammit, like Vengaboys and Aqua and Right Said Fred.

And country.
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