Category Archives: Jeff Blake

Results: Magic

Jeff Blake

Nina Simone – I Put A Spell On You

So much magic in my life.  As much as I wanted to shout out to Mick Smiley’s “I believe it’s magic” song/remix from the Ghostbusters movie (the one where Sigourney Weaver is flashing her pecs at the camera, and growls out a yell that shatters her building’s facade).  His incomprehensible lyrics and lethargic melody only added power to his jam.

But for power, how can I not shout out to Nina Simone?  Although she’s only covering Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, she makes this song hers by giving herself to it completely.  It’s not a happy song–it’s full of desperation, pain, confusion, and ought to scare the shit out of whomever it’s directed to.  I can’t stand versions of this song sung as a happy, romantic theme.  She’s belting out her pain; lady’s in trouble, and it shows.

But then that’s when Nina Simone is best: when she’s singing from desperation, pain, and confusion (for example, on Four Women: “My name is PEEEEEAAAAAACHEEEESS!”).  Just like in real life, if you believe in magic and you want to be taken seriously, you have a difficult line to walk and must avoid falling into the ridiculous–and I think Nina Simone walks that line, partly by sounding so vulnerable and earnest.  As a contrast, listen to Marilyn Manson’s version: he comes awfully close to succeeding, but at the end you can’t take him seriously because he’s all sound and fury, but no power–just one more angry white man shrieking out how depraved he is.  Yawn.

But just to keep everything ridiculous, I’m submitting a video of Nina Simone put to Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, with what appear to be Portuguese translations of the lyrics.  How magical!

Megan Costello

America – You Can Do Magic

America proves the existence of magic for me.  Although it is black magic that brought Sarah Palin to the presidential campaign, I am not talking about the United States of America.  No, I’m talking about the soft-rockers who hypnotize me with their jams.

Affectionately known to me as the Shoop-Ding Song, the 1982 hit You Can Do Magic is not only about magic, it IS magical- first at 40 seconds into the song, and then again at 50.  Shoop-ding! After the first two shoop-dings have got me hooked in the chorus, I just let the magic rush all over me in the warm cocoon of easy listening.

Shoop-ding is the sound of magic happening.  God bless America and their soft rock tribute to the best sound effect ever.

Himanshu Mhatre

FAIL

Had Himanshu managed to submit an entry, it might have gone a little something like this:

Accio Internet!

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This Week’s Results: Jesus

Jef Doon

Pataphysics – Jesus Grow A Handlebar Mustache for Me

I broke up with Jesus when I was twelve years old. Even then, it was pretty much a one-sided relationship.

As a little Catholic schoolboy, I was taught Jesus’ love and introduced to all the benefits of a strong foundation in religion – my personal favorite benefit is “the body of Christ” (damn tasty).

The only problem is that along with all the love come ridiculous rules and enforced guilt. I don’t remember much from Catholic school other than getting scolded all the time by principal Sister Dolores (pains in Spanish), who looked like USC head football coach Pete Carroll. I believe fun is a punishable crime in Catholic school.

I escaped Catholic school to attend public middle and high school, but Jesus will always love me and beckon me to return to Him. (He loves you too.) Still, it’s really not all that hard to turn away from the hypnotic magnetism of Buddy Christ or Touchdown Jesus. After all, I know that a relationship with Jesus is like most relationships – just uninvited responsibility and a lot more trouble than it’s worth.

I had a hard time deciding on a song this week. Do I go for irony and pick a song of praise? Do I choose a classic song like “Personal Jesus” or “Monkey Gone to Heaven”? Do I make fun of the fact that Jesus was a zombie?

Eventually I chose “Jesus Grow A Handlebar Mustache For Me” by Pataphysics whose name pretty much says it all. Enjoy!

Jeff Blake

Alex Storer – Heavy Industry!

Jesus Christ: a rich topic to Iron Clef with. I was sorely tempted to pick Velvet Underground’s “Jesus,” as I like Lou Reed–and to hear him singing a plea to Jesus rocks the box.

But for Iron Clef, I’ve gotta sing of pleasing artists that might not get the attention they deserve. This week I submit a soulful crooner whose tunes tug the heartstrings with lyrics that tickle the funny bone: Alex Storer. His song “Heavy Industry” focuses on what Jesus loves, hates, and his preferred plans for investment. There’s some mention of what God wants, as well. For more brilliance by Mr. Storer, I strongly suggest his “Dinosaurs 9” song, with one of the most plaintive refrains bemoaning being born a carnivore.

As far as I know, “Heavy Industry” is his most requested song and a good introduction to his awesomeness. He is still making music, and sometimes performs in the East Coast somewhere. Now on to the awesome.

Dr. Peter Venkman

Billy Idol – Plastic Jesus

Jesus huh? Well the choices are practically limitless. Christian rock is an easy target, and let’s face it, it’s absolutely hilarious. But how do you choose between Stryper and DC Talk?

On the other hand there have been some truly amazing songs that drew inspiration directly from the JC, many of them in the country and western genre. But when I think of these I keep coming back to Johnny Cash singing Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus, then I get a little bit angry, and I move on.

So I’ve picked something a little different – an old song that’s a little bit funny, a little bit catchy, and that’s been covered by a slew of folks. Plus it’s a driving song, and driving songs are great. This one even advocates drinking and driving with, well from, the son of God. The first version of ‘Plastic Jesus’ I heard was by Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon, but I’m choosing the 2005 cover by Billy Idol instead because something about old punk rockers making new albums really hits a soft spot for me.

In addition, you probably should watch this unrelated YouTube video:

For the love of all things holy, do us a solid and

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Results: Lord of the Rings

Jay Bohland

Pete Seeger – Listen, Mr. Bilbo

I’m told that J.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy has permeated the very fabric of our society. It’s not clear what that says about me since I’ve neither read nor watched the products of Tolkien’s fantastical fantasies (I have a feeling, though, that it says good things). With that foundation, it was clear to me that my direction would be to send readers on a musical journey that was as indirectly related to the actual topic as I could muster, and to follow that up with a clip that would sufficiently poke fun at the brotherhood of Hobbitville. While selections from the Flight of the Conchords were tempting, they were too obvious, and too relevant.

Instead, I’ll use the character “Bilbo Baggins” from the Hobbit and LOTR to get me where I need to go, which is to the banjo-powered populist world of Pete Seeger. Seeger’s 1946 admonition, “Listen, Mr. Bilbo,” lets Theodore G. Bilbo, then Senator from Mississippi, know how he feels about his racist ways. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Lord of the Rings, but it’s a delightful song that may still have relevance in certain parts of our country today.

To please the Iron Clef, however, I’ve also located this lovely video that sufficiently characterizes my stereotypes of the LOTR community, all the while teaching us the history of nuclear physics. It also makes the strong connection between Michael Flatley and Lord of the Rings that I was desperate to make when this contest started. And it made me giggle a bit.

Jeff Blake

Bunnynoser – Ravendell

“Then Illuvatar said to them: Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been wakened into song.” – The Silmarillion

This week’s theme is Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien loved music. Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Illuvatar, the Father of All (Tolkien also loved names and titles) creates the world through song. Everybody’s singing in Tolkien: Tom Bombadil sings a tree into submission in the Fellowship (good job there Tom), dwarves kick up a chorus line after eating a fantastic brunch, bunches of bar songs, and page after page of chants about long dead characters gadding about and getting it on.

My thoughts and devices turned to a party at the vegetarian-themed Co-op ‘Lothlorien’ in Berkeley, CA. A room was turned into “Ravendell:” people dressed as elves with glow sticks and danced to this techno-remix of LotR music. Showing the same modesty as Bilbo did in Rivendell (Book II of the Fellowship, Chapter 1 “Many Meetings”), the creator Bunnynoser stated:

“The funny thing is, I think that song is terrible. I made it as a joke for a Lord of the Rings/Rave party but everyone seems to love it. I suppose the Information Age is really just the Age of Fleeting Novelty.” Oddly enough, that’s exactly what Tolkien called the Fourth Age. Now sit and hearken, and be glad that great beauty has been wakened into song.

Himanshu Mhatre

Nightwish – Ever Dream [tribute video]

The relationship between the Lord of the Rings(LoTR) epic and world of music has quite a history. While itself taking admirable inspiration from the Wagnerian opera Des Ring der Nibelungen (a.k.a. the Ring Cycle) LoTR has in turn been a source of abysmal inspiration to music artists (esp. of the popular culture) for the past four decades. Its early influences are quite evident in works of bands like Led Zeppelin (Battle of Evermore, Misty Mountain Hop, etc…) and have been rejuvenated recently by the advent of the movie trilogy with artists spanning cultures from electronica through metal each showcasing their appreciation of the epic with the flavors and aromas of their niche music genre. The question about what could be the best musical representation/inspiration/tribute/accompaniment/experience for LoTR is bound to spur out diverse (and sometimes conflicting opinions). The sophisticated classical listener, for instance, might argue that Wagnerian pieces such as Ride of the Valkyries are the most appropriate, the timid classic rock enthusiast would point bands like Led Zeppelin (Battle of Evermore / Led Zeppelin II), the energetic modern rock devotee would allude to groups like Arcana XXII (Mordor / Fallen From Grace), while the complacent admirer of new age music would hint to artists like Enya (May It Be / LoTR OST).

But among all this hodge-podge of genres and loyalties another species of admirer lays completely ignored and unrepresented. The development of sites like youtube and of advanced multimedia editing software have seen the rise of a new form of artist – the tribute fan (aka the fan). Modern day fans have become adept at exhibiting their appreciation for movies, music and video games by combining elements of all three forms of media into an audio/video medley that collectively enhances the experience as a whole. But unlike the more popular artists, these aficionados are generally anonymous (and unanimous) in identity and get little or no limelight.

The track that I have chosen for this weeks post is one such fan tribute. What makes this particular track amazing is that it is not just a tribute to LoTR. This track is a combined tribute to Lord of the rings (LoTR), Legend of Zelda(LoZ) – Twilight Princess and the symphonic powerhouse metal band Night Wish (song Ever Dream (released as a single)). A juxtaposition of memorable scenes and events from an epic movie and an epic video game, strung together by a music made by the fabric of a genre that brings together the compositional sophistication of Wagnerian music, the energy and aggression of metal and hints of reinvigorating sounds of new age – a pastiche that would hopefully find its way to the taste buds of everyones palates.

If you think you would like symphonic powerhouse metal then you might also want to check out the more popular group Rhapsody of Fire.

Holy Fucking Shit! Now you can

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