The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'pop culture'
The first two in a series of articles about the history of rock'n'roll-influenced pop music in Japan, through the 1960s and 1970s: Part 1, about the rise and decline of Beatles/Stones-influenced, tightly controlled "Group Sounds" bands and the rise of the psychedelic rock that followed, and part 2, about the rise of the Kansai underground protest-folk scene and its influence on Japanese rock:
In 1966, The Beatles came to Japan, playing a series of five concerts at Tokyo’s Budokan. In doing so, they transformed rock and roll into a phenomenon among Japanese youth. Within months, an unprecedented number of Japanese rock bands, each with their own take on the sounds of The Beatles or The Stones, were debuting. The Japanese press started writing articles about the new, controversial band boom, which they had termed “Group Sounds” (or GS). The Japanese music industry, however, was slow to adapt to Japan’s changing musical climate. Labels assumed a high degree of musical control, often forcing bands to record compositions by in-house songwriters instead of their own material. Only in live performances were the GS groups granted creative control. Many groups refused to preform their singles at all, instead playing from a repertoire of covers and original songs.
Okabayashi quickly became one of the most prominent members of the Kansai Folk movement. His 1969 URC debut demonstrates the level of freedom Takaishi’s label granted its artists. Watashi wo Danzai Seyo contained songs criticizing the Vietnam War (“Sensou no Oyadama”), Japanese labor conditions (“Sanya Blues”), and the perils of Japan’s capitalist aspirations (“Sore de Jiyuu Natta no Kai”). Okabayashi also wrote songs that explored taboo topics like the discrimination against descendants of Edo Japan’s pariah caste, the burakumin (“Tegami”). Although Okabayashi was often critical and sardonic, he expressed a great deal of hope for a brighter future in songs like “Tomo yo” and “Kyou wo Koete.” Okabayashi’s blunt lyrics about sensitive topics caused the JRIA’s standards committee to ban many of his songs from being broadcast on Japanese radio. The most infamous of these songs is “Kusokurae Bushi,” or in English, “Eat Shit Song.” Even after removing a verse concerning the Japanese Emperor, which centered around a pun between “God” and “[toilet] paper,” “Kusokurae Bushi” was banned from radio and recalled from record shops.In the second article, an interesting point is raised about authenticity, with many in Japan's rock scene regarding rock-style music sung in Japanese, rather than English, to be inauthentic, thus framing rock as a specifically ethnic genre (much in the way that one might argue that, say, Balkan folk songs in English would be inauthentic, or possibly in the way that rap not performed in an American accent was regarded as "wack" for a decade or two).
The Independent talks to the kid who was the baby on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind. He is Spencer Elden, now 17; his parents were paid $200 for the photo in 1991, though he has since had other record cover work, and has recently recreated the cover, this time wearing shorts.
Spencer, for his part, says the record helped bring about a typically choppy adolescence. He grew up with a platinum copy of Nevermind hanging on his bedroom wall and once confessed, in moments of hormonal frustration, to using the chat-up line "You want to see my penis again?" at teenage discos.
Last year, he was sent to a military boarding school to correct what his parents have described as a tendency to test authority. He's now hoping to either enrol at West Point Military Academy, or a local art school.
After the recent wave of films reprising 1980s films. such as Indiana Jones and Rambo, some speculation on other sequel possibilities we may soon see:
"Back to the Future IV"
The sequel: Teenage Marty McFly Jr.* (Michael Cera) and best friend/secret crush Madison Tannen (Evan Rachel Wood) discover Doc Brown's DeLorean hidden in a storage shed and take it for a joy ride, accidentally landing in 1985.
In this only-loosely-tied-to-the-originals “reboot,” the two nerdsters attempt to fit in by adopting the styles and lingo of the day. (Madison: “Seriously, 'Gag me with a spoon?' People actually said that?”) They try on various period clothing in a mall-set montage and crash a raucous high school dance featuring Huey Lewis and the News.
The sequel: “The Big Chill” as envisioned by Judd Apatow. Screwball antics ensue when the original cast reunites at the funeral of Jake Ryan, tragically killed in a car crash. (In real life Schoeffling now makes furniture in Pennsylvania, so his character only appears in flashbacks.) Divorcée Sam has a teen daughter of her own and the father is—wait for it!—Farmer Ted.
Threadless has a new T-shirt titled "Music Snob", depicting a list of improbable obscurer-than-thou musical genres:Beastie Boys album, or possibly DJ Shadow. Goth-pop could be The Cure or Marilyn Manson, depending on how you interpret it. Gangsta lounge: wasn't Frank Sinatra said to have had Mafia connections? If that's not gangsta enough, one can imagine someone combining that style of music with a Chicago-gangster milieu. Indie klezmer: if by "indie" you mean "not on a major label", that'd be the FourPlay String Quartet; if you mean "indie" in style, surely some Jewfro-rocking hipster from Brooklyn has tried something like this by now; if not, perhaps it'll be the next Beirut album. Ambient metal: I heard that they were into that sort of thing in Norway. 60s Grunge: perhaps MC5 or The Stooges would qualify? And Neo-Honky-Tonk sounds like an offshoot of Country'n'Preston and/or folky indie.
Having said that, I rather doubt that Emo Bossa Nova could possibly work.
A preschool teacher is taking on bad music, one kid at a time. "Rupert", of New York state, has been playing his charges everything from Belle & Sebastian to P-Funk, from outsider music to " The New Politicians (Pornographers to you and I)", thus innoculating them against the manufactured "tween" pop other kids list among their favourites. I wonder whether this will end up sowing the seeds of a backlash against the homogeneous swill that fills commercial-radio playlists and major-label rosters.
The Graun's Mark Simpson on Morrissey and his influence on popular culture:
Most of all, it was men who never recovered from Morrissey - the last two decades of British masculinity have been shaped by him. Fathered, even. His Smiths period handsome androgyny and narcissism anticipated New Man; his early solo work, with its preoccupation with gangsters, boxers and "low-life" prefigured New Lad - albeit artistic and passionate, where what followed was cynical and commercial, and with the balls to acknowledge rather than disavow the aesthetic and homoerotic.
Little wonder then that his fans are mostly male, overwhelmingly heterosexual, and all are passionately, vehemently in love with him, wrestling beefy security personnel to the floor to hug and kiss him onstage. "I'd sleep with him if he asked me to," a hod carrier from Norwich once volunteered to me at a Moz gig, out of the blue. "My girlfriend would understand," he added. "She's a Morrissey fan too." Of course she would.
Apparently Simpson has a book titled Saint Morrissey coming out later this year. Meanwhile, there's a Channel 4 documentary titled The Importance of Being Morrissey airing in the UK soon. No news on an Australian date. I may have to ask someone to tape it for me and airmail me the tape...
In today's Onion: '90s Punk Decries Punks Of Today:
"Those so-called punk bands they listen to today? Sum 41? Good Charlotte? The Ataris? They're not punk. Back in the day, man, we used to listen to the real deal: Rancid, The Offspring, NOFX, Green Day. Those guys were what true punk rock was all about. Today's stuff is just a pale, watered-down imitation. There's no comparison."
"I saw some kid wearing a Sex Pistols T-shirt the other day--he couldn't have been more than 9 when the Pistols did their Filthy Lucre reunion tour," Tolbert said. "I was like, 'You can listen to the music, you can wear the T-shirt, but I was there.' I had fifth-row seats at that goddamn stadium, man, right up front, close enough to see Johnny Rotten's wrinkles. Did you see an original member of The Clash play during Big Audio Dynamite II's last tour? Did you see two of the four original Ramones play at the KROQ Weenie Roast in '95? You did not, but I did. I swear to God, they're like a joke, these people."
And then, the front page has the following useful wardating tip:
SPRINGFIELD, MO--Wanting to add something special for new love Danielle Welter, Andy Mansfield, 24, burned three personalized tracks Monday onto his standard new-girlfriend mix CD. "Danielle loves that No Doubt song 'Running,' so I threw that on there just for her," Mansfield said. "And she doesn't really like rap, which [previous girlfriend] Erica [Hollings] loved, so I took off [Salt-N-Pepa's] 'Whatta Man' and replaced it with two Aretha Franklin songs, because Danielle loves the oldies." Mansfield said he expects Welter to love the mix "even more than Erica did, maybe even as much as Christine."
The Mod scene is big in Japan, with many young Japanese donning Union Jack-emblazoned army parkas and tightly tailored suits and cruising around on chromed Lambretta scooters, like extras from Quadrophenia. (via rotten.com)
Hoizumi counts at least three Mod revivals: The Neo-Mod movement inspired by ``Quadrophenia'' (and which eventually led to the Skins); an early 1980s resurgence built around the British group Style Council (the Japanese Mod scene remains a huge milkcow for Paul Weller); and a unique-to-Japan revival in the mid-1990s created by teenage photoceleb Hiromix, whose snapshots of herself and her friends in undies became an international artworld sensation.
But in some ways, whilst the scene is a knockoff of 1960s British youth culture (and also of subsequent "revivals" of Mod)
. Until recently, Japan's Mods have overwhelmingly come from the ranks of hairstylists, overworked, underpaid and image-conscious, who leave the suburbs and countryside with big city dreams of grooming stars and cutting it as ``charisma stylists.'' ... But the stylists have moved on with the Hiromix boom, and the Mods of 2002 are a cadre of college art students, graphic designers and apparel professionals. Many have had their parents buy their first bikes for them, and quite a few own several bikes. They seem more sure of themselves and aren't as interested in making a class statement as an aesthetic one.
Sounds a bit like Melbourne's Mod scene, which is mostly rich private-school kids using their classicist style of youth rebellion to differentiate themselves from the plebeian rabble north of the Yarra. I.e., like the Young Liberals only noisier and more stylish.
A big list of fallen popstars of the 1980s, from Steve Strange and the recently institutionalised Adam Ant to the likes of Rick Astley and Jason Donovan, along with whatever happened to them. (Thankfully, 80s pop stars don't seem to share the 1970s-glam-rocker tendency to molest children.)
I didn't realise that Guru Adrian was American; I thought it was one of those ABC/JJJ yoof-programming things. (I could have sworn I saw his grinning mug on some ABC yoof publication in the 80s or early 90s; and given the anti-American streak of the trendy-leftie set there at that time, I'd have placed him as the creation of a punk-squatter-turned-graphic-designer in Melbourne or Sydney somewhere, and not from New York...)
US Republican wiseguy P.J. O'Rourke has written a guide to US pop culture for unhip oldsters who wish to not appear, like, totally lame-o when talking to Gen-Y kids. Well, it's what passes for pop culture; mostly packaged products like Eminem and Jennifer Lopez and boy bands, incubated in tall glass buildings in LA and handed down to the masses like manna from heaven via MTV and Wal-Mart. (link via bOING bOING)
According to the latest Onion, teen-goth idol Marilyn Manson is now going door to door, trying desperately to shock Middle America.
"I just stood there thinking, now there's a boy who tries way too hard," Binford said. "I mean, come on: Homoerotic sacrilege went out in the late '90s."
Also, Alessandra Coletti, the 22-year-old mezzo-soprano sensation, who is said to be the finest opera singer of her generation, is control, is completely unknown amongst members of her generation.
Yesterday I had occasion to be in PolyEster Books, and picked up a volume titled The Sharper Word: A Mod Anthology. This is a series of essays about the origins, evolution and decline of the original Mod subculture in the early 1960s. I've read most of it, and it has gotten me thinking about the memetics of subcultures, and the principles by which they evolve, recombine and mutate. (Mod is a very good example of memetics at work, having evolved out of a variety of different memes and favourable social conditions, and subsequently mutated into more virulent strains, the most recent of which being 90s britpop; it may also be argued that a lot of component memes of Mod ultimately found their ways into things such as the rave culture (possibly via Northern Soul).) Hmmm; I think there may be a PhD thesis in here somewhere...