Category Archives: Megan Costello

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: Robots

Vishal Trivedi

Looper – My Robot

Robots are scary.

At least, that’s what the purveyors of sci-fi and pop culture would have us believe. Fantasy doomsayers from Arthur C. Clarke to Matt Groening have given us dystopic visions of an era in which artificial intelligences, sometimes in concert with extraterrestrials, have conspired to undermine (or mock, in the case of Bender) that unique soulfulness which makes humanity so special. Some portrayals of robots in pop culture are affectionate and charming, some are quite funny; some are insipid. Some are complete bastardizations of otherwise good robot literature.

In all this hubbub and fascination with robots, however, an important point gets lost: we haven’t actually been able to make a really cool, functional, humanoid-type robot yet. Seriously, this is the best we’ve got to show for our efforts so far. I’ve seen ASIMO in person; he’s not that impressive. Now of course at some level I too think that the idea of robots is cool. You can’t deny that the immense potential of robots ignites the imagination, but I’m not going to be truly excited about them until we have a robot that can actually do something veritably awesome. Playing chess well when you can literally extrapolate every possible move just isn’t that impressive. I want to see a robot do something unexpected, like bust out a freestyle rap or write a compelling novel that isn’t just cutting and pasting from stuff that humans have written. I want some robotic inspiration. I’m looking for more than computational power; give me some robotic intelligence.

So with that in mind, here’s a song which fairly encapsulates the sense of hope with which we regard robots, but also acknowledges the lack of real progress that robots have made to date, because as of now, they’re actually pretty useless.

Megan Costello

Rivers Cuomo – Blast Off

We’re still not sure when exactly the robots replaced weezer front man Rivers Cuomo with one of their kind. Was it immediately after Pinkerton was released or just before The Green Album? All we do know is that the Rivers who wrote Pinkerton is gone.
But somehow Rivers got something past his robot captors and reminded us why weezer was once good. The recent collection of Rivers Cuomo solo recordings gives the world (and not just the hardcore weezer fans who haunted message boards for mp3s) a peek at his lost opus Songs from the Black Hole. This opus was to be a rock opera taking place in outer space. Rivers experiments with harmonies, voice effets, and concepts unexplored in prior song writing efforts.
Most epic of the rock opera which gave birth to much of Pinkerton is the opening number, Blast Off. Blast Off is a 4 part conversation between 3 sailors on a ship blasting off to outer space and their robot navigator. Each character is sung by Rivers, who expresses their fears and hopes for their mission. Its all pretty clear except for the robot ‘mechanoid’ character that Rivers sings through a vocoder. It wasn’t until I read the lyrics that I could actually figure out what the robot was saying. Rivers’ robot captors must have gotten a hold of the master tape of the song before they reached the public, just to make sure he didn’t let anything slip out about where they have him.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter. For better or worse, whether you can understand it or not, nothing says robot like a vocoder.
Thank you Rivers for sneaking this past your robot guards. Now please come home and rectify the mistakes your robot captors have been releasing for the past 7 years.

Aaron Azlant

Para One – Dudun-Dun

Perhaps, when the robots finally do overpower us, they will use advanced weaponry to force us into a life of endless, back-breaking servitude. Or, perhaps they will appear to us instead as beautiful French models clad in lingerie and subdue us gently with e-z-break pillows. Either way, if they are soundtracked with Para One, heir apparent to the Ed Banger throne, I won’t complain. But I will prefer the models.

Dingoes ate your baby? Well cry me a river! Now you can…

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Results: Be My Baby

Oliver Hinds

[At Oliver’s request, no editing was performed on his entry. Sorry. -Ed]

Melvins – Creepy Smell

melvins explored a complete space by drum intros and won’t stopped as now they have 2 drummers. i certainly could find “be my baby” intro in their catalog. sure enough, my track from ozma album satisfied. ozma is a great, great one. this is not the best song on ozma. you should’ve been listening to “oven”. or “at a crawl”. both tastily made. but let us talk around this one. several reasons to like this one present. these reasons are listed in order below.

1) whispered intro are lyrics from a gene simmons solo album. what?

2) the refrain at the end is “creepy crover”. the name of the song is “creepy smell”. crover is the drummer’s last name. does this suggest that dale crover has an offensive odor? cross reference with “you disgrace me” at the middle of the song. maybe they are saying he stinks at drums? personally i think the drums here are only slightly sub-melvins-par. and they certainly aren’t smelly.

3) several tempo changes are used. always works as a cheap way to impress me.

4) how many bands have their own nikes? (i don’t know the answer to this, but i’d like to)

5) The stream-of-consciousness riffing and just-for-pretend-sloppy-but-really-asshole-tight performance is vintage melvins. its a good example of how they managed to remain unpopular enough to keep the respect of the important fans for more than 20 years. just try to bang your head to it. i guarantee you’ll look like an asshole.

Rich Bunnell

The Spongetones – “(My Girl) Maryanna”

It’s true that Ringo is secretly everyone’s favorite Beatle, but it’s more for his doe-eyed innocence than his – admittedly underrated – musical chops. On the Spongetones’ 1984 single “(My Girl) Maryanne,” the one-time cover band envisions an alternate reality in which Ringo was set free and allowed to pursue his lifelong dream of a full-time career as conductor of Shining Time Station. Meanwhile, the remaining Fab Three recruited drummer Hal Blaine to infuse their music with the same legendary percussive cannons that made “Be My Baby” such a wonder to behold.

Rhino’s 2005 compilation “Children of Nuggets” is jam-packed with artists whose hyper-sincere imitations of their tonal papas is exactly the reason why their songs are so great. The Spongetones are possibly the most blatant masquerade act on the whole four-disc set, but christ, what a truly glorious masquerade. It’s a witty concotion that’s as grinding of an earworm as anything on “Rubber Soul” – and in the end it’s the spirit of the Ronettes that lets the whole affair fall into place.

Megan Costello

The Blow – Parenthesis

As a closet romantic, I am a sucker for a good love song. They’re my first choices to stumble through at Karaoke bars, professing my unrequited love to a microphone and a room full of strangers. I know I will survive, that I’m a lovefool. I take my cue from the ticking of the midi drums and the second the familiar cadence comes on over the PA, I know that someone out there will be my baby.

Others much more talented than myself roam the karaoke circuit looking for love and inspiration. There is no doubt that Portland, Oregon duo the Blow, self proclaimed karaoke-bar hoppers, found inspiration it in the The Ronettes. Made up of Khaela Maricich and Jona Bechtolt, the Blow released Paper Television in late 2006, an album chock full of quirky love songs.

“Parenthesis” is the jewel of the album and has been stuck in my head since early last November, when I first heard Khaela perform it live. No sooner did the backing track beat its way through a slightly altered but drum intro, did I know I had a new favorite song. Khaela bounces her way through odd proclamations of unconditional love, just begging you to sing along. She doesn’t literally say “be my baby,” but the thought is there. Your heart beats along with the song and you wish you too could find someone to partner your parenthesis.

And just in case you thought I was lying about the karaoke thing, check out the music video.

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