Category Archives: Response

Results: Ghosts

Rob Law

Attaboy Skip – Ghostbusters Theme

I don’t have many songs about ghosts. So after deciding that a Ghostface song or any song from that fucking Unicorns album would be a copout, I figured I should go with what I know.

Attaboy Skip were a band from Las Vegas, my hometown. They rolled in near the middle of that third-wave ska thing that you either love unrepentantly or still try your damnedest to forget. Largely because of this band, I was in the former camp. I’m not sure what it was: inserting non-sequitur bongo breakouts into their sets? The warm regard for their fans (the lead singer once thanked me personally and another time called me out in front of several thousand people for wearing one of their t-shirts)? Bizarre-ass covers such as this one, the Ghostbusters theme song?

Also, their drummer later went on to play for that other Vegas band, the Killers.

Sohrob Kazerounian

Michael Jackson – Thriller

Ah, ghosts. The millennia old notion of the paranormal, metaphysical spirit that haunts all of us stuck here in the physical world. They range from friendly creatures (casper comes to mind) to those that commit unspeakable (except when spoken of) acts of horror. You might think that the only justification for ghostly obsession with the living is complete and utter boredom with the netherworld. And – you’d be right. The thing is, being dead sucks. Granted, I can’t know this with certainty, but judging by the dumb ghost-y things ghosts do, and the even dumber people they choose to do them to, Hades isn’t exactly the eternal club-med some people make it out to be.

Thats why I’ve chosen the epic ghost song Thriller, by Michael Jackson (ghoulish zombie song really, ghosts are supposed to be transparent no?). In an apparent cluster-fuck of boredom, this zombie collective decides that terrorizing MJs girlfriend is a quality use of time. Moreover, if terror is to be the order of the day, they decide it should come in the form of killer dance moves that ironically, would one day revolutionize hipster (zombie) dance parties.

The confusion over MJ being a zombie or not aside, this song (and video, AND ALBUM) are absolutely awesome. If I had the time, and an old betamax, I would find old videotapes of me at 3 dancing to thriller. No matter. Find me today, and you can still see me dancing to it (and in all likelihood, in just as uncoordinated a manner).

Matt Silver Alex Storer

Concrete Blonde – Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man

Lots of people report of ghost experiences.  Their TV turned off without them touching it, or some dead guy transubstantiated in their mouth.  But rare is the experience of ghost lovin’.  For that, you’ve got to turn to the gothic underworld, or at least its radio-friendly counterpart from the early 90s, embodied by Concrete Blonde and the $20 set they constructed to tell their harrowing tale.

I’ll sum it up for you.  Dark queen Johnette Napolitano is taking a shower, when she sees some weird shit in the fog on her shower.  And when her towel isn’t where she remembered putting it, she deftly concludes that there is a GHOST among her.  Not just any ghost, some sort of otherworldly slut ghoul that wants to peep her naked body and inject some ectoplasm into her or something.  Clearly then, this is a ghost of a Texas Ladies Man.  They fuck during the guitar solo, right when that sepia-toned train (Freud, much?) crashes into Johnette’s crucifix-fingers.  Hot.

At least nobody picked that Indigo Girls song about being in love with your ghost…




Filed under Alex Storer, Response, Rob Law, Sohrob Kazerounian

Results: Theme Song

James Boo

Don – Are Diwano Mujhe Pehchano

In what is possibly the most tiger-centric gangster entrance in all of film history, a blazing Amitabh Bachchan in his prime, playing a street singer posing as a mob Kingpin, proves that intimidation and charm can be two sides of the same rupee. His eyes, hips, and oversized bowtie are in full effect as he courts the criminal underworld, daring even the most sternly goateed man to doubt his authenticity:

Who am I, who am I, who am who am who am I?

I am Don, I am Don, I am I am I am Don!

Strings swirl, horns blaze, and an insistent start-stop shuffle puts a dance floor under three and a half minutes of bombastic affirmation. Our hero spins and gestures his way through the South Asian, Latin American and Western influences that characterizes the seamless mosaic of Don’s cinematic score, reassuring the villains of his infamous name and reassuring the audience of his unmatchable Bollywood talent. A theme song with more volumes of purpose cannot be found; the flowers polka-dotting Amitabh’s wescot on their own are enough to say this much.

Nicotina Chevrolet

Velvet Mafia

Pop Quiz – Who/what is the Velvet Mafia?

(a) an underground organization of criminal crooners, led by the Velvet Fog, Mel Torme
(b) an elite group of gays rumored to be responsible for everythingfrom entertainment trends to British politics to the inability of Ab Fab’s Patsy & Edina to achieve professional success, and unofficially headed by David Geffen
(c) a New York City glam rock band headed by a 6’6″ bald drag queen who lived and died in bizzare circumstances
(d) a gay porn

Okay, when you’re ready, scroll down and grade your quiz.

If your answer was (a), you get 0 points.  You are wrong.*
If your answer was (b) you get 90 points.  Your response can be verified by Wikipedia and the urban slang dictionary, which is good enough for me.  The term in this context is mostly a joke, which is why you don’t get the full 100 points.**
If your answer was (c) or (d) you get 100 points.  You are correct!

*Unless you know something I don’t, and there really is such an organization, in which case you get 1,000 points.
**Unless there really is such an organization, and you can convince them to make Not Without Your Daughter posthumously famous, in which case you get 10,000 points.

So this wasn’t your standard multiple choice.  Sometimes there is more than one answer.  And this was the case with this week’s Iron Clef theme.  How can someone pick just one theme song?  There are so many excellent theme songs, from Nerf Herder’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme song to the theme song for It’s the Gary Shandling Show (“this is the theme to Gary’s show, the opening theme to Gary’s show, Gary called me up and asked if I could write his theme song…”).  And that’s just in the TV genre!  Then you’ve got film, video games…it boggles the mind.  After a week of soul searching, I finally narrowed down my entry to the Velvet Mafia Theme Song.  But as there are two amazing velvet mafia theme songs, I can narrow no further.

The first is the theme song/intro for the NYC band from answer (c), headed by the previously mentioned giant bald queen, Dean Johnson.  In this song, Dean sings of his willingness to sell himself to the alleged gay mafia from answer (b) in order to achieve professional success “If you wanna cross the bridge, you gotta pay the toll. If you wanna make it big, you gotta play with trolls. So pardon me while I go steppin’ out to Fire Island with David Geffen…” Since Dean was actually a manwhore, and was not exaggerating his willingness to get pounded for personal gain, one must only guess that he either never had the opportunity to meet the powerful queers and make his offer, or they reneged on the deal.  Either way, the Velvet Mafia may never have made it to the mainstream, but in the NYC queercore scene, they were legendary.

Like the Velvet Mafia, the Bay Area based band Mon Cousin Belge is a band with great talent, hypnotic songs, and magnetic stage presence. Also like the Velvet Mafia, MCB is gayer than a handbag full of rainbows.  So when they were offered the opportunity to have one of their songs featured as the theme song for a gay porn made by Falcon Studios, they naturally agreed.  The result is, I would venture to bet, the best porn music ever.  As thanks, the pornmakers played fairy godfather and lent their film equipment and some clips from their movie so that Mon Cousin Belge could make a music video of their very own for the Velvet Mafia Theme Song, also known as “Going Down.”

So which is the real Velvet Mafia Theme Song?  Only the gay mafia knowsfor sure.

Yohan John

M*A*S*H – Suicide Is Painless

What is the purpose of Iron Clef? Is it to prove one’s ability to remember corny, bizarre, obscure songs? Is it to establish one’s pop culture credentials? Or is it just an excuse to share good music? Perhaps all of the above…

At some point a few months ago I downloaded several theme songs from “classic” television shows. Remember Gimme a Break? All In the Family? The Fall Guy? Mr. Rogers? I haz it. These songs are interesting, and induce nostalgia and cringing in equal measure, but I want to choose a theme song that’s just plain good.

M*A*S*H was one of the greatest television shows ever made. Funny, profound, warm, and true. The theme music for the TV show was without lyrics. I heard the original song relatively recently, when I saw the movie (on which the TV show was based). Here’s an excerpt from the lyrics.

The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

No wonder the TV show left the words out!

[Also: Manic Street Preachers did a cover of this song.]

Just vote for the one that’s still stuck in your head.


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Filed under James Boo, Nicotina Chevrolet, Response, Yohan John

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


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

Accio Internet!


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Filed under Himanshu Mhatre, Jeff Blake, Megan Costello, Response

Results: Commercials

Rich Bunnell

The Brave Little Toaster Soundtrack – Cutting Edge

The retail realm is a harsh mistress to the products it peddles, with one-time technological marvels subject to sudden replacement whenever the Next Big Awesome Thing hits store shelves. That reality forms the core of the 1987 animated film The Brave Little Toaster, in which five old-timey appliances set out into a world that, they soon discover, long ago decided it was no longer in need of its services. Who needs a clunky upright vacuum cleaner when you can just pick up a DustBuster? The hell is the use of an electric blanket when you’ve got central heating? Why toaster, when toaster oven?

The film’s musical numbers repeatedly underline this bleak reality, ranging from a B-movie vamp crooned by pawn-shop Frankensteins to a Don Henley-esque plea for help sung by junked cars on their way to being crushed into cubes. Toward the film’s end, our heroes encounter their technological successors, who employ the language and aesthetic of commercials to rap to them about how much more suited for the modern world the next generation truly is. The comforting part is, beyond all of the endless references to the “edge,” to a 21st-century audience, the phrase “I’m micro-solid state, and that’s no static!” is fifty times more dated than a toaster could ever fear to be.

C. Shaw

Modest Mouse – Gravity Rides Everything

To my mind, the appearance of this song in a Honda Odyssey commercial early in this decade was really the beginning of a massive movement within advertising to recruit indie (meaning “cheap”) song licensing for their commercials. The benefit to this gamble is obvious: they come cheap, and if a band makes it big, the car company or whoever can claim some of the credit for breaking out the artist and use this as a recruiting tool for future song rights. And if the band doesn’t make it big, who cares, no one will remember that ad in a month anyway.

From a music perspective, this is not quite so positive – thenceforth comes the indie backlash. For Modest Mouse after 2002, it went:

1. Be an awesome band with a devoted cult following
2. Have your song in a Honda commercial
3. Appear on the OC
4. Release a new album (Good News for People Who Love Bad News) to chart success (!)
5. Get modest (pun intended) reviews, and be seen as rich asshole sellouts
6. Release another album (We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank); collaborate with other NPR-whore sellouts (James Mercer of The Shins); get kind of bad reviews but sell lots of copies
7. And now you’re basically Metallica. Good luck getting a positive review in Pitchfork ever again.

This all misses the point – the song and the album it came from are incredible. In particular, Gravity Rides Everything sounds like nothing else in the Modest Mouse catalogue. The singing is reserved – it almost sounds laid back, as much as Isaac Brock’s wacky lisp and general craziness can possibly resemble relaxation. But when the sliding atmospheric merges with the acoustic foreground, it really sounds like everything will “fall right into place,” as the optomistic lyrics suggest.

Of course on the surface, it seems ridiculous to begrudge an artist a few dollars for an ad placement, and I used to argue about this with people all the time. But after “This is Our Country,” I would like to, ahem, begrudge the shit out of John Cougar Mellencamp. With a hammer and sickle. It’s just too bad that the indie backlash had to hit such a great band.

Vishal Trivedi

Regina Spektor – Music Box

If you’re an Iron Clef reader, you probably know that I don’t mind watching an artfully done commercial. But I admit that I had decidedly mixed feelings when I first recognized the strains of Modest Mouse’s “Gravity Rides Everything” in a commercial for the Nissan Quest minivan… Auctioning off your song for a TV commercial is pretty much the apotheosis of sellout behavior. Do you really want your bitchin’ tune to be forever associated with some product or brand you have absolutely no relation to and care nothing about? On the other hand, I understand the motivation. If you’re lucky enough that your art can pay the bills, why not let it? It’s not like Modest Mouse wrote the song with Nissan in mind. And even if they had, writing a good jingle is an art form in and of itself. Who hasn’t had a cleverly annoying jingle stuck in your head at one point or another? [I’d link you one of Vonage’s pernicious “Woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo” ads, but I think just this mere mention might be sufficient to ruin your afternoon] But I like Nissan all right and it wasn’t a bad commercial so it didn’t really bug me. Still, I was somewhat more disappointed to hear one of my favorite bands, Hum, get chosen as the soundtrack for a Cadillac commercial. Come on, I wanted to implore the band, Cadillac is for old people. And besides, the ad kinda sucks. I suppose this is something we’re going to have to get used to though, as people of our generation begin to grow up and inflict their tastes and aesthetics upon the marketing world. Already I’ve heard Lush, Minus the Bear, and Explosions in the Sky play as outro music for NPR programming. I guess I’d rather hear Hum abused than have to listen to the bloody Eagles or Rolling Stones everywhere I turn. Is it hypocritical to say that it only bothers me when the actual ad or product doesn’t live up to the song? Maybe.

However, this one totally does:

Yes, I believe they’re wearing items from the JC Penney catalog.

This vote is for sale.


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Filed under C. Shaw, Response, Rich Bunnell, Vishal Trivedi

Results: Prison

Lisa Xu

Silver Jews – Candy Jail

Avoiding rap music, for better or worse, has led me to accumulate a lifetime’s deficit of knowledge about prison, although this oversight is being partially remedied by the second season of The Wire. The Silver Jews’ “Candy Jail”, from their new album Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, however, is unlikely to help in that regard. Dave Berman, for example, sings of such amenities as “peppermint bars”, “peanut brittle bunk beds”, and “marshmallow walls”, as well as a warden who “keeps the data on your favorite brands.” With The Wire serving as a trusty point of reference to what it’s really like to be on the inside, “Candy Jail” might be interpreted instead as an homage to “Big Rock Candy Mountain” and other traditional land o’plenty fantasies.

Whimsy in a Berman lyric, however, tends to be more thought-provoking than your usual brand of whimsy. In Big Rock Candy Mountain, as everyone knows, the jails are made of tin (so that you can walk right out of them as soon, in fact, as you’re in)—a hobo’s dream. It gets even better in Candy Jail, where one’s surroundings could presumably be licked away. It would be the most delectable escape plan ever concocted, just like, actually, how it would be the most delectable jail sentence. But in that case, why would you ever want to escape? I think Berman sets it up, in the most poetical of possible terms, as a cost-benefit analysis. He notes, “Pain works on a sliding scale/So does pleasure in a candy jail.” So on the one hand, you’re in a jail made out of candy (with “made out of candy” being the operative modifier). On the other hand, however, “true love doesn’t come around any more than fate allows on a Monday in Fort Lauderdale.” Those odds aren’t good, but at least they’re probably better than they are in Baltimore.

Chandra Linnell

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried

I have never been to prison. I have heard a story or two involving baby oil, chocolate pudding and blanket parties from a very special former resident of the Iowa State Penitentiary, but that and attending a public high school are about as close as I’ve ever gotten to “the joint.”

If I ever went to prison, in between trying to make wine out of packets of grape jelly, I think that I would be singing the song “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard on repeat for the first year or so. It’s a short song, the words are easy to memorize, and it tells a beautifully simple story of a young man who finds himself in prison (ironically) because of his lifelong desire to be free. Haggard also alludes to the possibility that a life without a father may have contributed to his becoming an outlaw at such a tender age. However, the central theme of the song is the narrator’s assertion that despite how many chances he had, and all the Sunday learnin’ he was given, he still came to be 21 in prison doin’ life without parole.
Mama did, indeed try. There were lots of versions of this song on youtube. I chose the one that had the most dirt bikes and chainsaws.

On the subject of prison, I can’t pass up the chance to tip my hat to another related subject – the chain gang. The best kind of chain gang song for me is the one that makes me hear the rhythm while I’m out busting rocks and serving my time (and by “busting rocks” I mean e-mailing and doing admin, and “serving my time” refers of course to Americorps). The only song that really does this for me is Nina Simone’s “Work Song.” Of course, there’s a lot more style here, and i’ve never seen a chang gang with a kickass horn section, though I have seen one help get a playground built…go chain gangs! This one is a great version of Simone’s classic, the video is a tribute to boxer Sonny Liston.

Adam Gutterman

Out of Time!

All felons are restricted from voting.


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Filed under Chandra Linnell, Response

Results: The Comeback

Rob Baker

Player – Baby Come Back

Sugarblossom, what I’m trying to say is all men make mistakes.  We stay out late without calling, we forget important dates, we don’t take you out enough.  One time we set part of the couch on fire, which we apologized for as soon as you noticed.

The first time we forgot to pay the electricity bill, mmmm, yeah, turned that one around into an evening of romance.  By the fourth time the magic was gone, and you brought up that Sunday afternoon we came home with one less rear view mirror and blamed it on hoodlums.  You knew it wasn’t hoodlums, Honeypeaches, because we live in a district fortunate to have a low crime rate.  You always could see right through us, like the time you knew we weren’t sleeping in the fridge because “we didn’t want to wake you up.”

Listen, Giggleplum: we’ve figured out we can’t make it up by taking you out and letting you order something of equal or lesser value.  All the free breadsticks in the world can’t heal the hurt of explaining we taped over your period piece movie with Die Hard, Die Hard 2, and half a soft-core porno on Showtime.  We’re sorry, it was dark, it was 3AM, and light beer is delicious with the chicken salad you made for work.

And what guy hasn’t been here: She comes home from work, the door wide open, you lying in a puddle of Admiral Nelson Spiced Rum, which gave you the idea to tie her tiny dog to a plastic boat and set sail in the bathtub.  She asks how, if you don’t have time to find a job, you have time to craft a miniature pirate hat from an evening dress.  “‘Twas by the order of Captain BarkySnuggles,” but she ain’t having that.  No, sir.  She hates the sea and everytin’ in it.

Fellas, our ladies put up with a lot, but only so much.  So when things are at their worst, when the chips are down (literally, from losing $72 at the poker night you hosted and told her about 15 minutes before the guys showed up), there’s only one kind of comeback that matters.  When she’s leaving you, when your lady is walking out that door, you gotta say: “Baby, come back.”

Jake Mix

Arnel Pineda – Don’t Stop Believin’

For most people, the movies that stick in your head are the unlikely-but-true success stories of history. In Invincible, an average joe becomes a pro football player through perseverance alone.  In The Lord of the Rings, an unlikely young Hobbit defies an empire and saves all of Middle Earth against the odds. In Homeward Bound, a wayward pair of dogs and a cat traverse the American countryside and find their way back home to their owners. Then, in Homeward Bound II, they accomplish this unlikely feat yet again, defying the predictions of even the most theoretical statisticians.

But the greatest, most uplifting tale of success has yet to be captured on film: that of Arnel Pineda, Journey’s new lead singer. Originally part of Filipino cover band Zoo Band, Pineda is a vocal shapeshifter, channeling his energy into pitch perfect doppelgangers of the greatest classic rock frontmen history has to offer. Be it Don Henley, Freddie Mercury, or Robert Plant, Pineda can nail them all.

Journey, a shell of a band after Steve Perry broke his sacred pop music oath and quit, caught a video of Zoo Band’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” and called Pineda in for a two-day audition. And now, you know the rest of the story.

The best part of this amazing comeback is that Pineda is coming back to a place he’s never been before. To paraphrase renowned Ghostbuster Winston Zeddemore, when someone asks you if you’re a rock star, you say “yes.”

Noah Schaffer

Candi Staton – His Hands

In recent years a strange subgenre has developed in both the country music and R&B fields: comeback music.

Perhaps it started with Rick Rubin’s series of “American Recordings” for Johnny Cash, or maybe with the disc Arthur Alexander squeezed out right before his passing. The formula is by now a familiar one: take a once-heralded star who is long off the charts, give them a batch of songs by “young” songwriters they’re never heard of – Elvis Costello and Tom Waits will probably send some if you ask nice – and, presto, you’ve got an NPR feature.

On the country side, Charlie Louvin and Loretta Lynn have managed to attract fans who’ve never even heard of the Grand Ole Opry. The Anti label basically owns this genre thanks to their releases by Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke, Porter Wagoner and Merle Haggard. Soul singer Bettye Lavette is a much bigger star now she ever was in the 60’s. Sharon Jones has gone from guarding the Riker’s Island prison to filling large venues. Even folks people assumed were dead, like Betty Harris and Howard Tate, have made comeback discs.

The ones that work well – namely just about all the Anti releases, as well as Lavette’s two recent rock-leaning albums – do so because the producer takes the time to actually find songs that work well and mean something within the context of the singer’s stage in life.

In the weaker ones, the aging star comes off as little more than a puppet of the producer . Burke’s Don Was-produced “Make Do With What You’ve Got” just departed too radically from his strengths to work, and the Blind Boys of Alabama’s “Higher Ground” tried to get too cute with its idea that Stevie Wonder, Prince and George Clinton were appropriate for a group that had steadfastly refused to record secular music during its long-running existence. And why anyone thought Charlie Louvin, his voice severely weakened, should re-record Louvin Brothers songs with indie rockers is beyond me.

But the guy responsible for that mess, Mark Nevers of Lambchop, also was the mastermind behind one of the best comeback soul albums in recent years: “In His Hands” by Muscle Shoals vet-turned-disco diva-turned televangelist Candi Staton. I’m not sure why this album never got its due – perhaps Staton didn’t take enough time away from her TV ministry to properly promote it.

Staton had a soul hit with a cover of “Stand By Your Man” back in the day, so there was no question that she could master classic country tunes like Haggard’s “You Don’t Have Very Far to Go.”  “When Hearts Grow Cold,” a minor southern soul hit for Bobby Bland, gets a delivery that shows Staton knows what it feels like to look back on a failing relationship. (Perhaps she was channeling the pain of her marriage to Clarence Carter, or one of her other 3 ex-husbands.)

But the most devastating track comes from Will Oldham. It’s the title tune, a look at domestic violence no one would have dared write in the 60’s. At the end, as the narrator finds solace in her faith, there’s no doubt that Staton means every word she’s singing:

Did I say you could stop believing?


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Filed under Jake Mix, Noah Schaffer, Response, Rob Baker

Results: Child Vocalists

Jeffrey Markowitz

The Shaggs – My Pal Foot Foot

I have a secret to tell you: my pal foot foot is sitting right next to me, and he would like to say “hello stranger, I will hug you, love you, and haunt your dreams and turn them to nightmares for the rest of your days.” He looks strange, like a foot fucked a tiger and someone slapped a googly eye on it. Isn’t he just the most precious thing you’ve ever seen? Don’t you think so, I mean for true? Someone gave foot foot to me, some strange person named Dot from some group called The Shaggs. She looks a bit homely and I think she wants to put my pet rabbit in a pot of boiling water, or maybe she just wants to watch the latest episode of Cop Rock with me, I can never tell these days. In any case, I have this little foot foot and this little tribute to this little foot foot that is just so wonderful in a not-so-little way.

When I play with foot foot I hear its feet go pit-pit-pit-pat-pat-pat in 57/128 time. You may not have heard 57/128 time before, maybe because you don’t have a foot foot of your own, idiot. Don’t dismay though, I have the perfect solution for your dilemma to the tune of a tune with a cartoon that has pictures of my lil’ foot foot pit-pat’ing to the bluesy 57/128 beat. Really, isn’t a pit-pat’ing foot foot in 57/128 the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen? No? Then may foot foot live in your dreams and nightmares for the rest of the days.


Chris Lucas

Notorious B.I.G. – The Sky’s the Limit

A child’s vocal ability lies in their ability to mimic the sounds of their parents. But a true child vocalist needs more than vocals – he or she needs skills. What Spike Jonze found and what you are watching is perhaps the most gifted child vocalist of our generation. Sure, we may not catch a single sound from this kid’s voice, but you hear this shit, don’t you. He is tapping a deeper level of mimicry – beyond sound – that recreates and taps the very soul of a (now dead) man. I concede that he’s got a bit of that child obesity that was going around in the late 90’s, but physical resemblance only goes so far. For example, the kid who plays Puffy looks a thousand times cooler than Puff. For authenticity’s sake, he should have been much douchier.

This video not only features the greatest child vocalist, it is a metaphor for the entire child vocalist experience – be a child entertainer but act like an adult to successfully operate in the adult world. The cruel irony is of course the adult world is playing a child’s game of make believe.

And for you parents out there, I made sure to find the censored version of this song. It’s got a positive feel, but we wouldn’t want our kids to learn any bad words or anything.

Th McCaffrey

Smoosh – Rad

Months ago, the Iron Clef lottery first tasked me with selecting a song about puberty. That was fine. In anyone’s personal cannon there is bound to be some musician performing some interpretation of that horridly embarrassing time zone of youth, right? But Child Vocalists? Since I do not even like children (save for family and friend’s kids), never mind not having any music in my library by children, I had no idea what to select. The song I finally picked is technically not even sung by a child (the singer, at the time, was 13), but is sufficiently childish enough to qualify.

Smoosh is, as far as I have read, beloved by many esteemed indie rockstars such as Kim Gordon and Cat Power (the latter of whom actually covered the song). “Rad,” from Smoosh’s second record, She Like Electric, is a song my roommates found a couple of years ago on a cable On Demand music channel. When I first heard it it was horrifying. I demanded its execution by remote control firing squad as soon as I saw one of the two punch the On Demand button. But despite my consternation, both roommates continued playing the song while I was in attendance. I don’t know if it was the “Uh huh, Uh huh / Yo, yo” vocals or the awkward lyrics about soccer practice and being able to “go anywhere,” but the song felt menacing to me.

That is when I realized it was my problem. Sure, the song is not written for my demographic (28, male, lush), and while there is nothing in me that recommends Smoosh during the morning commute, it is still somehow amazing. It remains a song I could never write, being too old. I have too many guards up, too many blinders, to write with abandon. Maybe that’s why so many established acts support them. In that youthful abandon lies potential for a future artist. All the years we spend growing up, there are areas where musicians don’t have to. They get to dance and swagger on about whatever it is they want while the rest of us grind along in the stuttered, banal requirements of life. We’re too entombed to do anything about anything ourselves. But the kids don’t give a shit. They haven’t lost interest. They’re alright.

Voting age? Hell no.


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Filed under Chris Lucas, Jeffrey Markowitz, Response, Th McCaffrey