Thoughts, notes, observations on the everyday nonsense of American Pop Culture from one of the most not-hip people on the face of the planet...

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Post-Modern DJ: This week's mix CD

Hot off the burner:

1 DJ Kool - Let Me Clear My Throat

How can we all forget the old school anthem featuring jone other than the Digital Underground. "I say 'Oh,' you say 'Ah.'"....Feel free to sing along in the car.

2 Holiday Inn - Chingy feat Ludacris and Snoop Dogg

This song may be a rap throwaway, but it has a lot more wit than "Air Force Ones." I mean, any song that starts with Snoop dropping the p-word so melodically has enough "bump" appeal to make a city cruise with these bad boys of rap.

3 Request Line - Black Eyed Peas (Feat. Macy Gray)

A bit of a cleaner take from the Ivory-scrubbed Black Eyed Peas. These kids drop a mean beat, and they have the guest stars to keep their latest releases interesting. Not to mention Macy's back and she's got that Eartha Kitt purr going on full force. "Hey DJ....hey DJ..."

4 Stacy's Mom - Fountains of Wayne

The best of recent ear candy. Put in in, turn it up, sing along as if you were personally serendaing this MILF beneath her bedroom window.

5 The Hardest Button To Button - White Stripes

As good as Jack an dMeg get: heavy drums, great guitar line, solid beats and just enough bop to get your head bobbin' Play that steering wheel drum set!

6 Over The Hills And Far Away- Led Zeppelin

All hail Zeppelin, the masters of rock! Big guitar riffs, the usual rock-out segment and slow segment. This particular tune, off of "Houses of the Holy," represents all the best elements of this endlessly appealing band.And it is easily their best driving song.

7 12:51 - The Strokes

In a diverted road from "Is This It?," the first song off this new album is neo-80s garage rock reminiscent of the Cars. From the droning electronic keyboard to the murmured lyrics, you'll feel like you're a fetus again.

8 a.d.i.d.a.s. - Killer Mike feat Outkast

This should be Outkast's song, as they make up the best parts. All the best Outkast elements are in da house here, from Andre's falsetto to Big Boi's deep belongs on "Stankonia," but you can sample it solo.

9 Tom's Diner - Suzanne Vega

From Vega's hypnotizing voice to the observational lyrics, this song ranks as one that will never leave your head once you hear it. "Do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do do..."

10 Harder to Breathe - Maroon 5

Rock out to this little pop-rock bit. Heavy guitars, nonsensical rock lyrics, big drums...just bang your head.

11 House of the jealous lovers - The Rapture

Neo punk in a weird little package. A little bit of White Stripes and a bit of 2001 Strokes, mized with a tinge of the Pixies. Add eerie guitar. Stir.

12 Its Tricky - Run DMC

It's been over a year since old-school legend Jam Master J was murdered. Honor him with a bit of cruising to Run's dance party classic.

13 Im Still In Love With You Boy - Sean Paul Ft Sasha

The dancehall invasion contues. With a string of hits that borders on overexposure, Paul has made a number of Spanish-tinged booty shakers. This one's no exception to the rule with enough hot beats to get your rump shaking.

14 Waiting for Somebody - Paul Westerberg

Westerburg, who can be credited with/charged with creating modern indie rock, on his best movie moment song.

15 What's the Frequency Kenneth? - R.E.M.

With the release of their hits CD, REM is at the top of their game. This song, based on an on-air outburst by Tom Brokaw, is a staple in the alt-rock collection.

16 Chloe Dancer-Crown Of Thorns - Mother Love Bone

Beauty incarnate. A bit of rock-em-out early grunge and a stirring ballad all in one. The precursors to Seattle rockers Pearl Jam, this band was the very start of 90s wonder.

17 Minority - Green Day

Forget Blink, Good Charlotte and Simple Plan. these guys had pop-punk brattiness down when today's wannabes were in diapers.

On granting Pop Immunity

While today’s pop music is generally throwaway garbage, once in awhile, society collectively grants immunity to a song that lingers in the collective consciousness throughout that generation’s lifetime.

This happens because every now and then, a pop song comes along that is just sinful. Like a bit of chocolate or a fifth of vodka….fun while it lasts, but very, very bad for you. These songs are total candy pop. The cheesiest songs ever recorded, but they endure.

Like Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” in the 1920s or “Let the Sunshine In” in the 1960s…some songs are just so catchy, or so unbearably lame—or both—that they just never go away.


That’s the mystery.

Why is it that everyone groans about Aqua’s “Barbie Girl,” but the moment it plays, everyone sings along? You may blush at the mention of Vanilla Ice…but guarantee that if you’re between the ages of 19 and 30, you know every word to “Ice Ice Baby.”

These songs have appeal for a variety of reasons. These are “fun” songs…songs that encompass the era in which they were made. Seriously, that defines the early 1990s than the early pop breakthroughs of rap? Or the disco era with “Disco Duck?”

It is difficult to know when a new song will fit into this elite status of candy pop. But I think, from my esteemed pop culture spider-sense, that I have found a current pop hit that will fit into this candified status: Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom.”

It has all of the elements of sugar-coated fun: catchy tune, funny lyrics, great video and the almighty Monkees-esque repeated backup chorus. This song embodies all of the wannabe punk/indie status of this era in pop music…but it doesn’t take itself so seriously.

Like all great pop staples: It defies new pop by spoofing it. Genius, I say. Genius.

But who knows what else form this day is music will be remembered with a whispered singalong or drunken chant ten years from now? Who will be this era’s Billy Joel, Canned Heat, Peter Frampton, Go Gos or Dick Dale?

Will it be Britney with the still lingering “Baby, one more time”? Or Avril’s ‘Sk8r Boi”? NYSNC’s “Bye Bye Bye”? Or will they all simply fade into pop oblivion?

No one knows how or why some songs get chosen to go to that mix CD in the sky…but mark my words…in 20 years you and your washed-up friends will hear “Stacy’s Mom” in the rundown dive bat you call home…and you’ll along like a kid again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The Source VS Eminem: It's all about the Benjamins

No one would seriously call Eminem a "racist"...he's an equal opportunity destroyer, he hates everyone, right?

Not according to The Source magazine, which, in its continual quest to bring Em down, has recently released a scratchy cassette tape of a 1991 rap battle, in which Em is allegedly "reciting racial slurs targeted against black women."

Actually, he is rapping about breaking up with his black girlfriend, but that doesn't matter to The Source. After all, this magazine has been gunning for blacks to hate Eminem since he came on the scene.

Magazine founders Raymond "Benzino" Scott and David Mays held a press conference today for no reason but to release this tape. Sounds a little fishy for a magazine that dares to think it is real media. They are calling for this man's blood by releasing something they aren't even sure is true. In doing so, they are losing any sort of credibility the magazine may have had as an impartial, truth-telling part of modern media. Now, they've proven themselves again to be nothing more than a platform to promote friends and take down enemies. Even Rosie wasn't so biased.

Not that they had much credibility anyway. Benzino also happens to be a rapper...a rapper with a long-standing vendetta with Eminem. *sniff sniff* Smells like a conflict-of-interest to me.

How can we forget Benzino, who is credited with timeless tunes such as "Pull Your Skirt Up" (in which he referred to Em as a "2003 Vanilla Ice") and "Die Another Day" (the "rap Hitler" this time)? How can we forget? Because they weren't very memorable. This guy isn't even a has-been...he's a run-of-the-mill rap act that never made a big impact musically.

He also called Eminem a "culture stealer."

In a 2002 interview with MTV News, Benzino said, "You think I could grab my crotch and put my ass in people's faces the way he does? No way. But as long as the color of his skin and his eyes fits what America's all right."

Now, who's racist here? If Em said that publicly about ANY African-American singer, he'd be strung up by the mainstream media.

Since Benzino uses the pages of his own magazine to discredit Eminem and his record label (including rapper 50 Cent) whenever he is painfully obvious what is going on here. Somebody is jealous of a white boy's fame in the black media. He has tried repeatedly to take Em, who is arguably one of the most successful rappers in recent history, down in efforts to boost his own popularity. He knows Eminem is not a racist...but he knows this is the only way to get black rap fans to turn.

We can only hope the African-American audience at large doesn't fall for the bait. Benzino isn't acting in anyone's best interests but his own. Don't fight his pathetic little battle for him.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Matrix: A colossal failure

Matrix: A colossal failure
After seeing the third and, we can only hope, final, chapter of the Matrix Trilogy, I have to say: Wow, what a colossal letdown.

With four years of hype behind us, the collective sci-fi audience had a lot of hopes riding on the movies absolutely everyone in entertainment media had heralded as either "the next" or 'bigger than" Star Wars.

The Wachowski Brothers were obviously given too much pop culture credit too soon.

The first Matrix film was monumental in its special effects and its engrossing story. The philosophy was intriguing, not muddled, and the characters of Neo, Morpheus and Trinity were actually worth caring about.

These three simultaneously represented mythological heroes and comic book heroes. They were caricatures, sure, but they were meant to serve as metaphors. In the second and third movies, they resembled little more than video game animated characters. Perhaps the whole "Enter the Matrix" game went a bit too far?

The characters' tics, fighting moves and constantly repeated dialogue were tired after the first film, as nothing new was added to their interest arsenals. I know, personally, I was halfway through the second film and I noticed that I no longer cared about Neo and Trinity. On the contrary, I was hoping Trinity would die at the end of Reloaded. Disappointed, I resorted to laughing hysterically with glee as she finally kicked it after an excruciating hour of Revolutions.

It seems the Wachowskis let all of the hype of the first movie go to their heads. They had to make the final two films even more philosophical, even more over-the-top CGI and, as an added craptastic bonus, filled with a lot of saccharine sentiment from Neo and Trinity.

The story was barely discernable at this point, in favor of special effects and meaningful glances between the lead characters. The creators decided to dig through every bit of useless philosophical trivia to toss in characters, references and scenarios for "hip" professors to assign as theses for years to come. Too bad all of the references were way too convoluted and disjointed to form any sort of coherent story.

Instead, the Matrix's return this year was little more than a series of distracting images, meant to flash enough for audiences to say, "Ooooh, shiny." All style, no substance.

The reason why George Lucas' trilogy has endured as a pop culture phenom is because the movies, initially, didn't take themselves too seriously. But most importantly, the movies were about CHARACTERS, not about fight scenes and deep philosophy. No one would accuse Lucas of being the best at dialogue, but at least his two trilogies (don't forget Indy!) are lovably quotable. I'm sure no one will know, or care to know, any of Keanu's monosyllabic and verb-less lines from these final two films.

All in all, the Matrix was simply too big of a dream put into too rushed of a package. It is almost as if, in a marketing-induced high, the Wachowskis decided to end the "explosive trilogy" with an after school special-esque whimper instead of the blockbuster bang it deserved.

So, we're led to believe that because the main robot guy (who was....?) just led Neo reenter the Matrix to defeat Agent Smith, and because he wins the oh-geez "climactic battle," the robots are going to play nice with the humans?

What? It's just like, "Oh, well, I guess you're alright. Okay, peace, dude."

I know I didn't realize the war was allegedly over until the token fresh-faced youngster in the human city started crying, "The War's over! Neo saved us!" What is this, a WW2 propaganda movie (or Iraq, for that matter)?

Just like that, four years worth of build-up and hype is reduced to the war being over JUST BECAUSE THEY SAY SO. No reconciliation. No defeat of the machines. No mention of what will happen to the humans of Zion, or those in the pods (don't the machines need them?). As if they'd just let the humans off easy!

This ending was such a cop out and, easily, the biggest letdown in history. This was evident in the faces of the moviegoers. Instead of applauding happily (even Star Wars prequels got that), the audience starred in slack-jawed disbelief at the credits on the screen. One said, "It's over?"

Following this cinematic debacle, the entirety of Matrix fans worldwide is left in a collective state of "huh?" if they are waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out and say they'd been punk'd.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Indie rock's worst enemy? Its fans.

You know, indie rock? It isn't all that bad.

Some indie rock is "indie" only because it isn't good enough to "make it." But there's a lot of good stuff to there that just hasn't been discovered yet.

When you think about it, almost all really good bands were once "indie" just waiting to be discovered. I'm sure at one time, there was a group of for boys in Liverpool considered "indie" for their era, and look at what happened to THEM.

But indie rock gets no widely-held respect. Why? It is simple: Their fans ruin it for them.

It used to be that when a real tune hound would find an unknown band he or she liked, they would tell all their friends, "Hey, this band is great! You should check them out" Then, if you REALLY like them, you support that band to help them "make it."

But today's indie rock fans don't want bands to "make it." They want them to stay unknown...if only to make them seem cool.

Why? Because today's indie rock fans are more about the indie image than the music itself.

You know who I mean. These are the kids who brag about their music tastes to absolutely everyone. They always have to mention how "no one has heard of this." Or, "You have to be a certain kind of person to get this." Or, worst of all, "Radio would never play this...and people who listen to radio suck, anyway."

Yes, they preach anti-corporate (even though they shop at the way-overpriced Hot Topic for that special homeless look). They preach about how THEIR bands won't be "selling out" (aka "making it"). They preach about how you just wouldn't get it.

I see them where I work, wearing their trucker caps and entirely too-tight tees, bragging to each other loud enough for everyone to hear about some no-name band they like. When someone says, "Oh, who's that?" They smirk and say, "Oh, you've probably never heard of them."

These are college kids, primarily, but you see them a bit older and younger. What they are doing is making independent music into a fashion statement. What they don't realize is that they are killing the music they claim to love.

Simply put: The snobbish posturing of these indie kids turns off popular music fans so much that they don't WANT to try this new music. Everyday music consumers call bands this group embraces "pretentious." They don't want to try it because they are constantly told that their tastes and opinions are not good enough to appreciate it.

At a recent party, I played my record of the White Stripes' "Elephant." As a couple of us rocked out, one of my real music-loving friends said, "You listen to this? I thought they did pretentious music." Upon a listen, he really liked their sound. Because so many of our indie friends liked the White Stripes, he had made the band guilty by association of pretentiousness.

Of course, later at this same party, someone (without asking, mind you) unplugged my laptop and plugged in their iPod. My Outkast was gone, replaced by some scratchily-reproduced, barely intelligible guitar rock. When I asked the perpetrator why he turned off my music at my house he said, "Because your music sucks. You just can't appreciate MY music."

Needless to say, I unplugged his iPod and he left, but that is an attitude that keeps the stereotype alive.

This new breed of indie rock fan is also fickle. While some of their favorite bands will never make it because they just aren't very good, the ones that do become shunned for "selling out."

Take Weezer, for instance. They were indie once. They had a unique sound that was just waiting to be discovered, and when it was, some of their "fans" decided they were too cool for it now that it became mainstream. Once, Weezer was the indie kids' gods, but then they became popular. The same fans who once preached the Weezer gospel are now crying because Weezer "sold out."

They complain about their music video with the Muppets (which was genius, by the way) and the fact that they play large arenas. There was an entire letter sent to Spin magazine about a year ago complaining about a neon representation of the band's "W" symbol in the show.

Yes, indie rock fans are killing indie rock. If you stuff the attitude and simply talk up the music you like, maybe someone will listen to you. Stop acting like you're so great just because you like music no one else does. It doesn't make you special, it doesn't make you only makes you different.

And while you're at it, stop it with the "vintage" t-shirts, perfectly mussed hair and straight-leg pants. You're not fooling anyone into thinking you aren't a rich suburban kid, slumming it with a thrift boutique t-shirt and $50 Diesel jeans.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Ewww! John Mayer

Oh, how I hate the marketing impact of this pale impersonator. While the world of male singer-songwriters is already a carbon copy bunch — Mayer stands out as the next level of post-modern Dylans...the copy of a copy of a copy.

At one point, John Mayer may have been individual and special in his music. If that is the case, that special something went right out the window when he became a pop star.

While I must give him props up front for being a more-than-manageable guitar player, his songwriting is absolutely atrocious. The only people who would listen to his songs and swoon over the "deep and meaningful" lyrics have the emotional menatality of 13-year-olds.

Mayer writes to the lowest common denominator in his bid to sell out to the teen masses. As a younger, more attractive (and thus, more marketable) Dave Matthews, Mayer gets to write whatever drivel he wants, so long as he holds his guitar the same way as Dave and looks meaningfully into the camera. The curly "sensitive boy" makeover really helps.

But no amount of marketing and celebrity makeovers can change the fact that John Mayer writes about love like he's in 8th grade poetry class. There's no reality here...and obviously no sense of experience. This is the choirboy aching to prove he's a man by describing "making love" the way I talked about sex in middle school. He's all flowers and promises and happy little similes...It is utterly disappointing to hear well-played songs whose lyrics sound like they were scribbled down during study hall.

Admittedly, I liked "Your Body is a Wonderland"...but I recognized it for what it was. I assumed it was the token pop single off the album "Room for Squares". It was, but the others weren't much different. But, nonetheless, the music industry and the music press continue to laud him as some sort of revolutionary new thing. As if this white boy-with-a-guitar thing hasn't been around forever. He is a pale comparison to the gritty and sometimes overly obtuse lyrics of a Dave Matthews, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty or Jeff Buckley...and his guitar, good as it is, isn't enough to save him from himself.

His latest album is named, "Heavier Things." What a laugh. The only way this album could be considered "heavier" is that it may have graduated to ninth grade lyrics.

John, your swooning little teenyboppers won't be pasting your picture up in their lockers forever. Live the dream while you can. After that, maybe you can finally allow yourself to truly grow up into a man. Then, maybe you can write about — brace yourself — real life. Good luck.

Monday, November 10, 2003

BNL: Geek rock isn't cool, but it should be respected

Wednesday night I had the pleasure to see Canadian pop act Barenaked Ladies
on the fourth stop on their small venue "Peepshow" tour.

This is a band that never gets respect, and it is easy to see why. Unlike
every other act in popular music: They don't take themselves seriously and
they actually don't believe they are out to save the world with their

Many artists SAY they don't take it seriously, but they do. I mean, even
Blink 182 thinks music can't live without them (and that, my friends, is a
horrible, horrible falsity) and all of those god-awful indie rock bands
think they're out for "the art" (if this is art, I'm glad I'm low class).

No, BNL gets no respect because they make music that is fun. Note the EW
review of their latest album, "Everything to Everyone." They garnered a
paragraph of commentary for a band that has a huge cult following across
the continent?.and they had two pages on Clay Aiken. In this review, they
said (paraphrased) that BNL is simply treading water, because they do the
same sort of thing they always have? and that their songs sound more and
more like Dr. Suess books.

Since when it is a bad thing for a band that has been around for more than
a decade to stick to a formula that works/ Ha sour music culture become so
ingrained with the idea of "reinvention" (a la Madonna, Christina, Justin,
Britney?.) for pop artists that somehow, growing in your original element
is frowned upon?

This is a band that writes in musical verse and is quite instrumentally
talented. The lyrics are much more sincere than the high-school-love-note
drivel of John Mayer...and they play instruments too (unlike the reinvention
popsters above).

In the course of the concert, only one band member, the drummer, Tyler,
kept on one instrument. Steve Page and Ed Roberts both are lead singers
(how many bands have that? The Stones?), yet both also played electric
guitar, bass guitar, acoustic and flute. Keyboardist Kevin Hearn plays a
mean piano, sure, but within the bands three sets, he played electronic
keyboards, eye-opening electric guitar solos, accordion and even the ukelele.

In addition to refreshing use of instrumentals, the band's music remains original. Why? Because they don't have to reinvent. They have no competition. Geek rock just isn't popular (with anyone but geeks).

These geeks are different, but they have music that is written with tongue-tying couplets and a lot of heart. BNL is a standout, even if they aren't cool and they aren't all that well-known outside of college.

EW and RS were wrong to simply dismiss this music because it doesn't fit with their highbrow indie rock bragging rights. This band has grown...they've grown up...and the music continues to become more experimental, more heartfelt.

Let's see where the Strokes, the Vines or the Rapture are in 10 years...then we'll see where the usual music reviewers can talk about "growth."

Friday, November 07, 2003

It's true: TV movies just got worse

This Sunday, the nation will be subjected to "Saving Jessica Lynch" on NBC. The network promo alone should tell you what this will be like: “This dramatic and inspiring NBC movie is based on the true story behind the ambush of the 507th Maintenance Company, and the dramatic rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, an American prisoner of war in Iraq. With the help and official story rights of Mohammed Al Rehaief, the Iraqi citizen who risked his own life to aid Lynch, the film follows Lynch’s heroic rescue on April 1, 2003. Her story of heroism provided hope to the nation and the world and proved an example of triumph despite great odds and affliction.”

It's almost as if the news media actually knows what happened (they don't, yet) or that the released story was actually true (it wasn't). It is almost as if the past few months never happened and NBC, along with the government, of course, wants the flag-waving viewership to feel inspired all over again.

Did everyone forget the feeling of betrayal when we found out that the story the Pentagon had told about Jessica Lynch's capture and rescue was a made-for-TV lie? Remember...the New York Times and CNN reported on it? Ring any bells, NBC? Or the fact that Lynch and her media handlers wouldn't give any interviews on what REALLY happened until her book came out (why give it away when you can sell it?). So, how would this movie be based on a "true" story that no one actually knows?

Well, we knew would happen someday... TV movies "based on REAL news events" are now TV movies "made to give us the warm fuzzies about PR events". The truth doesn't matter anymore to the real media or this secondhand media cashing in on it. All that matters is the good story. And sadly, that's all the public wants too.

They want to believe so badly that they can just conveniently forget the truth and tune in to watch a movie that is just as fictional as the Matrix (but with much lamer special effects).

As it is, we in the media jumped on the Lynch story and ran with it so hard that no one cared about the truth anymore. Now, we're left to deal with the consequences of letting patriotism and sales drive our business: We have to watch the lie get furthered in the scummiest form imaginable...

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Gagging on USA Pride

Country freedom fighter Toby Keith released his latest album "Shock and Y'All" today. No big surprise, most of the album is centered on country music's latest money-making schtick: selling patriotism.

After his hugely-profitable single "The Angry American" last year, not to mention the absolutely God-awful "Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley (can you say "one hit wonder?"), patriotism sells. And flag-waving idiots buy up this hapless drivel like bottled water for the impending nuclear holocaust. These are most likely the same jackasses that have flag stickers on their gas-guzzling Japanese-made SUVs.

Besides my (obviously liberal) viewpoints, Keith seems to continue to sell out despite the country's growing doubt about the war. But, by God, as if on the president's payroll himself, Keith tries hard to reignite the fires of hippie/Arab hatred.

Just check out the track titles. With name slike "American Soldier" and "The Taliban Song", it looks like somebody's still milking that red, white and blue cash cow.

The truth is, Keith is much more in his element with fun-loving country boy tunes. I really used to like his music before he went all militant on us.

On his last album, the song "Whiskey for my Men (Beer for my Horses)" with Willie Nelson was a much better song than the patriotic pap. Even here, the songs "I Love This Bar" and "Weed with Willie" are better crowd-pleasers.

Of course, that would mean Keith would have to drop his crusading cowboy game and just go back to being a super-rich singer.

People, wake the hell up and stop buying this stuff. Whether these artists believe in this cause or not, the only reason you're getting these songs is because our foreboding music industry knows that you will buy it.

If you want sentiment and shared opinions on the war, pick up a damn newspaper every now and then and check the headlines...don't rely on a country singer who will pummel you with good news as he laughs all of the way to the bank.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Too dirty for TV?

It is a blessing from some unknown God of Pop Culture that the short-lived animated series "The Family Guy" has found a home on Cartoon Network's adult swim.

After being critically lauded in 1999 when it debuted on Fox, this animated creation by Seth McFarlane was taken off the air in 2002. It could be because they moved the time slot around like crazy...or the show was simply too hot for even Fox to handle. I think the latter is most likely.

Although "The Simpsons" can have its crude moments, "Family Guy" goes above and beyond network acceptable (at least at that time) with gags about race, sex and booze.

And that's a shame, too. Characters like these are priceless and simply can't be found anywhere on TV today.

Peter: This guy could give Homer Simpson a run for his money as the stupidest TV dad ever. His fantasies and misadventures are absolutely hilarious...and he isn't loveable like Homey, which, for some reason, makes his all the more funny.

Lois: You have to wonder how a woman this cute could get a fat slob like Peter as a husband. Lois holds down the fort and always ends up saving the day...and it seems that she's quite the man-magnet as well. Not to mention the fact she manages to keep herself alive despite Stewie's attempts on her life.

The older kids: Meg and Chris are such everykids. Meg is the series' own combo of Lisa Simpson and Ghost World's Enid. She's smart, hates her body and is distrustful of absolutely everyone. What girl can't identify. Chris, her brother, is the resident "slow" child. His father's son in every way, Chris is the one who eats crayons at the age of 14, sucks his thumb and is the only one who laughs at his own jokes.

Stewie: This little baby is anything but innocent. Stewie is hellfire in a diaper, trying to kill on a daily basis with big plans to rule the world. Stewie talks, but only the dog can understand him. At least, the dog is the only one who listens. The rest of the world is oblivious to his evil plans and deadly plots...they just think the little maniac is cranky.

Brian: My own personal favorite character, Brian is the smartest character...and he's also the dog. Rarely spotted without a martini in hand, Brian is a loyal friend to Peter, secret admirer of Lois and the only one who has caught onto Stewie's evil nature.

There are so many classic episodes to be found on Cartoon Network. My personal favorite is the one where Stewie has a dream in which he kills every character on "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood." Mr. Rogers takes a look inside the puppet land to see his cloth friends meeting their demise.

Rumor has it that the powers that be may begin making new episodes of the series for Adult Swim. Let's hope that pans out...TV needs this show, even if it can only be found after 11 p.m. on cable....

Let's take a moment to appreciate...Ludacris

Oh, Luda, you make me laugh. He may not be the raunchiest rapper and there are plenty better songs to dance to...but honestly the man from County Park, Md. may be the most clever lyricist in rap these days (yes, I'm even including Eminem).

Instead of just being outwardly funny, it is Luda's unique ability to use pronunciation and root words to his advantage. That's right, the man learned his Oxford Dictionary well and he uses it all over the place. For instance: How many times do you hear "ho" or "whore" in the song "Area Codes"? Plenty...but the word itself is not really in the song outside of the chorus. Instead, he sneaks it into phrases like, "Eat some WHORE-dervs (hors d'vors)" and "every day is a Ho-ly day." Genius.

Try to pick a song of his that isn't quotable and doesn't just drip with double entendre...all this, and his delivery isn't bad either. He's a rapper that little white girls like me can sing along to...and feel naughty doing so.

His newest song "Stand Up" is no exception of using common phrasing and pronunciation to make a good song. Hell, his "don't be skerred.." is enough to get me going. "Let's use mouth-to-mouth and bring the party to life.." is another clever turn. Of course, the best part is the mental image (that actually gets played out in the killer video) is "my diamonds are reckless...feels like a midget is hanging from my necklace...". Way to pick on a rap clique.

Honestly, looking back, Luda has made some great guest appearances as well. His part in Missy Elliot's "Gossip Folk" really took the song from being a usual Missy fun-fest to an absolutely perfectly matched duet. (Missy and Luda are practically soul mates) And he has the bets line in the song anyway. "I've got a headache and its not a tumor.."

And in Chingy's latest, "Holidae Inn," Luda takes the song from being an "Air Force Ones"-esque dance clunker to something a bit more amusing. From "some call me Ludacris, some call e Mr. Wiggles" to "I swing it like a bat, but these balls are not wiffle"...his verse is much better than Chingy and (gulp) Snoop.

Let's not forget his videos. And he wears a mean Afro. And he was in "2Fast 2Furious." What's not to love?

Yes, Luda, I salute you in all of your salacious glory. Please keep coming back with fresh ways of saying, "Ho."

Sunday, November 02, 2003

The Latest in Bad Covers

The world of cover songs has gotten just a little bit more crowded lately as Mandy Moore release her latest CD "Coverage." That's right, one of those many post-Britney pop princesses is singing again--on an entire album of covers! Woo-freaking-hoo!

Unlike her pop peers, who have either gone dirrty (Christina), become TV stars (Jessica) or sold their souls to fake lesbiansim (Britney)...Moore is better known for being, essentially, a star-fucker of sorts. Not that she fucks stars so much as hangs out with lots of them. As a singer, well...who remembers "Candy"? I thought not.

Anyhoo, the first cover I heard on the radio today was of John Hiatt's "Have a little faith in me." Originally, this song was such a heart-stopper. I remember it especially for its role in "Benny and Joon"...which is more than I can say for Aidan Quinn, who was allegedly the star.

As great as the lyrics are, Moore kills this song. It isn't that she sings poorly, per se (but she does) is primarily that the popified pseudo-electro backbeats and her Mariah-Carey-karaoke-tape rendition just cheapens the overall effect.

Jewel remade the same song in 1998 for the "Phenomenon" soundtrack. While the movie was a lesser part of the John Travolta glut of the times, this particular cover was really soulful...especially for Jewel. Keep in mind, this was before she reworked her image from peasant shirts to leather pants...this was when she had the soft voice still, instead of the wannabe Blondie sound.

Speaking of Blondie, Moore also has a cover of "One Way or Another." I'm tempted to hear it. Actually, I'm surprised at the range of artists she covers here...I'm just hoping she didn't turn the works of Cat Stevens, Elton John and other classics into pop drivel too.

The Ataris did that enough for one year, anyway, with their blasphemy-on-disc "Boys of Summer" cover. *shudders*


I don't claim to be hip. I'm just a fangirl.