critics and songs about songs

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ok, not sure exactly how to phrase this, but do Art Brut, LCD Soundsystem & The Hold Steady et al have an unfair advantage with critics because they sing about the same things critics like to talk about?

i know "unfair advantage" is problematic - and it all kind of depends on what you think a critic's job is, so bear with me here...

i kind of tend to love this kind of stuff when I first hear it and then get bored kinda quick but i do like the very same timeliness that maybe ultimately makes it seem dated - i like the almost bumper-stickerish level of lyrics like "most people are DJ's" or "i heard your band sold their guitars and bought turntables/i heard your band sold their turntables and bought guitars" - or even more specific stuff like when jay-z talks about talib & common in "moment of clarity"

also who else fits this profile? and who did the songs about songs thing first? i can only think of "life is a rock but the radio rolled me" by reunion off the top of the dome which is like the "losing my edge" of AM gold

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 17:20 (fifteen years ago) link

or maybe someone can just point me to the thread where we already did this and be done with it

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 17:22 (fifteen years ago) link

Name me one song that has the word "rockism" in it.

mark grout (mark grout), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 17:23 (fifteen years ago) link

what?

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 17:24 (fifteen years ago) link

Fritz I think you're right, there's a likeable cleverness to some songs which is very easy to magnify.

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 17:27 (fifteen years ago) link

x post

Does "The Roc ism in the building" count?

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 17:28 (fifteen years ago) link

or "Rock ism dead, long live rock" the Who.

mark grout (mark grout), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 17:29 (fifteen years ago) link

You are absolutely correct. It's the same reason that critics loved the movie "Sideways" while the average moviegoer wondered what the fuss was all about. The most recent and absolute worst example of this type of track is "Indie Rock & Roll" by the Killers.

Read this and throw up in your own mouth out of embarrassment:

"Glamorous
Indie rock'n'roll is what I need
It's in my soul, it's what I need
Indie rock'n'roll, it's time
Two of us
Flipping through a thrift store magazine
She plays the drums, I'm on tambourine
Bet your, your bottom dollar on me

It's Indie rock'n'roll for me
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me
It's all I need
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me

In a clutch
I'm talking every word for all the boys
Electric girls with worn down toys
Make it up, break it up, what do you care
Oh what do you care?

I take my twist with a shout
A coffee shop with a cause, then I'll freak you out
No sex, no drugs, no life, no love
When it comes to today

Stay if you wanna love me, stay
Oh don't be shy, let's cause a scene
Like lovers do on silver screens
Let's make it yeah, we'll cause a scene

It's Indie rock'n'roll for me
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me
It's all I need
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me

In a clutch
I'm talking every word for all the boys
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me
It's all I need
Makin' up, breakin' up, what do you care
What do you care?
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me

Two of us
Flipping through a thrift store magazine
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me
It's all I need
Makin' up, breakin' up, what do you care
What do you care?
It's Indie rock'n'roll for me"

Ron Mexico, Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:00 (fifteen years ago) link

I thought ambivalence toward that particular Killers song was pretty universal.

Johnny Fever (johnny fever), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:07 (fifteen years ago) link

What label are the Killers on again?

js (honestengine), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:10 (fifteen years ago) link

Oh but I love that Killer song! It's so unabashed and unselfconscious.

Eppy (Eppy), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:14 (fifteen years ago) link

Having crit nods in your song is one of many ways you can get an initial boost with a certain community of listeners, but one of the reasons "Losing My Edge" has endured is that it's actually a fairly interesting critical standpoint, especially inasmuch as it's presenting a character rather than just doing straight criticism. It's also nicely ambivalent about its attitude toward the character. A remarkably well-written set of lyrics.

Eppy (Eppy), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:15 (fifteen years ago) link

That Killers song was the final step in the conversion of indie rock from a classification to a style, and good riddance, really. Plus it's fun to sing. And a lot more honest than the people who get pissy about it!

Eppy (Eppy), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:16 (fifteen years ago) link

That's a good point about people getting pissy, but it still makes me cringe. For me, bands must exist in a cultural vacum where they do not or did not listen to the same shitty music I did when I was in 10th grade. They should only be influenced by artists at least two generations back. I am certain that Jack White dug the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion but to admit it would dilute his efforts somehow. Why is this? Am I alone here? (PS I am not saying that the JSBX were shitty)

Ron Mexico (Ron Mexico), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:24 (fifteen years ago) link

OK, that's fair.

Eppy (Eppy), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:27 (fifteen years ago) link

is this too obvious?

sebadoh: gimme indie rock

marc h. (marc h.), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:36 (fifteen years ago) link

Who is "playing at my house" again ? The guys who did "Teachers" ? *staggers*

blunt (blunt), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:39 (fifteen years ago) link

Man, have you seen the video for that?

Eppy (Eppy), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 18:41 (fifteen years ago) link

Not sure if this is totally on-point, but would the Pooh Sticks be relevant here? Stealing obvious (or less-than-obvious) little bits from "Tracks Of My Tears" and "Powderfinger" and whatnot, sometimes acknowledging it (gleefully) in the liner notes and sometimes not - and using those little bits not to be clever or ironic, but simply because a good hook is a good hook, it's its own reward, and well worth recycling.

Myonga Von Bontee (Myonga Von Bontee), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:14 (fifteen years ago) link

actually i was thinking about them too - but more for the lyrics about other bands in songs like "on tape" & "i know someone who knows someone who knows alan mcgee quite well"...

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:20 (fifteen years ago) link

"American Pie"!! which is not only talking about the things critics like to talk about but is doing it as a crossword puzzle, no wonder it's lasted aargh

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:21 (fifteen years ago) link

I took the time to transcribe Daft Punk's shout-outs despite the heavy accents & mispronunciation (sp?):

"Paul Johnson, DJ Funk, DJ Sneak, DJ Rush, Waxmaster, Hyperactive, Jammin Gerald, Brian Wilson, George Clinton, Lil' Louis, Ashley Beedle, Neil Landstrumm, Kenny Dope, DJ Hell, Louie Vega, K Alexi, Dr. Dre, Armando, Gemini, Jeff Mills, DJ Deeon, DJ Milton, DJ Slugo, Green Velvet, Joey Beltram, DJ ? (sounds like 'Ast'), Roy Davis, Boo Williams, DJ Tonka, DJ Skull, DJ Pierre, Mike ? (sounds like 'Damon'), Todd Edwards, Romanthony, CVO, Luke Slater, Derrick Carter, Robert Hood, Parris Mitchell, Dave Clarke, Van Helden, Armani, Surgeon".

Add assorted catchphrases "in the house" and "DJs on the low". I missed a couple but googling the pop-up ridden lyrics sites brought up insane results. Planet Earth, complete and use my list. That is all.

Oh and ! I have generally found this kind of practice involuntarily corny at best or cynically calculated at worst.

blunt (blunt), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:30 (fifteen years ago) link

wow, "american pie" is an interesting example except don't critics kind of sneer at it? at least anyway. I wonder how it was received at the time it came out.

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:38 (fifteen years ago) link

I guess if he was singing about Can and The Velvet Underground or something instead of Buddy Holly and The Beatles it might be a different ballgame

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:41 (fifteen years ago) link

I think they sneer at it now but back then, I dunno - I know that at school the 'rock heads' thought it was some kind of masterpiece, even if not a rock one.

Tom (Groke), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:44 (fifteen years ago) link

unsneered at back in the day, by lester no less:

American Pie
Don McLean
United Artists 5535
Released: October 1971
Chart Peak: #1
Weeks Charted: 48
Certified Gold: 1/3/72
Don McLean's "American Pie" has ripped out of nowhere and taken the country by storm both in its album and truncated single versions. It took exactly two weeks to shoot to the top of the charts, everybody I know has been talking excitedly about it since first hearing, and, even more surprisingly, it has united listeners of musical persuasions as diverse as Black Sabbath and Phil Ochs in unbridled enthusiasm for both its message and its musical qualities.

All of which is not so surprising once you've heard it, because it is a brilliant song, a metaphor for the death and rebirth of rock that's at once complex and immediately accessible. For the last couple of years critics and audience alike have been talking abut the Death of Rock, or at least the fragmentation of all our 1967 dreams of anthemic unity. And, inevitably, somebody has written a song about it. About Dylan, Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Janis and others. About where we've been, the rush of exhilaration we felt at the pinnacle, and the present sense of despair. Don McLean has taken all this and set it down in language that has unmistakable impact the first time you hear it, and leaves you rubbing your chin -- "Just what did that line mean?" -- with further listenings because you know it's all about something you've felt and lived through. A very 1967ish song, in fact, in the way it makes you dig for deeper meaning, but not the least bit mawkish.

It opens with a slow, mournful sequence abut reading the headlines about the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper while delivering papers as a child, then into the chorus: "Bye bye, Miss American Pie/Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry/Them good ole boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye/And sayin' this'll be the day that I die." Then all at once it rears up and charges through the years in a giddy rush: "I was a lonely teenage bronckin' buck/With a pink carnation and a pickup truck," the "Book of Love," sock hops in the gym and puppy jealousy, and then into the heart of the myth, where Dylan is a Jester "in a coat he borrowed from James Dean," laughing at the king "in a voice that came from you and me."

The halycon days of Sgt. Pepper are brilliantly caught: "The half-time air was sweet perfume/As Sergeants played a marching tune," but suddenly the Jester is on the sidelines in a cast, the stage is taken by Jack Flash ("Fire is the devil's only friend"), and Altamont, the Angels and the despairing resentment the Stones left many fans pass in a dark panorama. Finally coming down to the levee again, where the good old boys are draining the bottles and talking as if it's all over, as they did when the plane bearing "The Father, Son and the Holy Ghost" fell and as they will again and again through the years. It's just the old Calvinist sense of impending apocalypse and perdition, but they're good old boys anyway and we can't resent them because we too "believe in rock 'n' roll/And [that] music can save your mortal soul." Because they're us.

"American Pie" is a song of the year, and its music is just as strong as those lyrics, propelled with special resonance by the piano of Paul Griffin, who played with the Jester when his myth was at pinnacle. If you've ever cried because of a rock & roll band or album, or lain awake nights wondering or sat up talking through the dawn about Our Music and what it all means and where it's all going and why, if you've ever kicked off your shoes to dance or wished you had the chance, if you ever believed in Rock & Roll, you've got to have this album.

- Lester Bangs, Rolling Stone, 1-20-72.

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 19:57 (fifteen years ago) link

Lester Bangs? Jesus Christ.
Will future generations scoff at today's critics' darlings, Wilco?

Ron Mexico (Ron Mexico), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 21:08 (fifteen years ago) link

"also who else fits this profile?"

Destroyer big time

Pavement did some of this, too ... the Smashing Pumpkins / STP lyrics in "Range Life" (which definitely feel dated now) and that one b-side that was all about R.E.M. ....

Renard, Wednesday, 4 January 2006 21:44 (fifteen years ago) link

Will future generations scoff at today's critics' darlings, Wilco?

if so, they've been beaten to it by more than a few people

Matos-Webster Dictionary (M Matos), Wednesday, 4 January 2006 21:46 (fifteen years ago) link

Ahh! Another opportunity to mention my favorites, Prefab Sprout. Their song "Cars and Girls" is a clever-as-always, snarky-yet-sympathetic comment on Brooocie Springsteen's favorite metaphor for life, the universe and everything:

"Brucie dreams / Life's a highway / Too many roads bypass my way / Or they never begin [...] But look at us now / (stop drivin) / some things hurt more much more than cars and girls"

Herr Fahrstuhl, Wednesday, 4 January 2006 23:21 (fifteen years ago) link

waylon jennings' "are you sure hank done it this way?" surely fits this mold, and i can easily imagine critics going apeshit over that one before they even heard a note. of course actual country fans went apeshit over it, too.

where do answer songs like kitty wells' "it wasn't got who made honky-tonk angels" fit into this? that's certainly a song about a song, though i'd argue she's not talking about "wild side of life" the way a critic would; she's talking about it the way an average woman would. for whatever that's worth.


fact checking cuz (fcc), Thursday, 5 January 2006 06:52 (fifteen years ago) link

"it wasn't god..." d'oh.

fact checking cuz (fcc), Thursday, 5 January 2006 06:54 (fifteen years ago) link

(Mike ? (sounds like 'Damon') = Mike Dearborn). One to go

blunt (blunt), Thursday, 5 January 2006 19:41 (fifteen years ago) link

wow, the idea of prefab sprout mocking bruce springsteen makes me unreasonably mad for some reason

Fritz Wollner (Fritz), Thursday, 5 January 2006 21:02 (fifteen years ago) link

Nick Lowe, "They Called It Rock."

The group cut the record
The record hit the charts
Someone in the newspaper said that it was art
Disco Casanovas had it heavy on their breath
The local teenybopper band was playing it to death

They called it rock

xxx
The boys are getting hot
They're jetting off to Rio and some other sunny spots
Some senorita said "The singer sounds terrific"
Their personal appearances are stopping the traffic

They called it rock

Hey long distance, it's a rock and roll romance
CBS are gonna pay a great big advance
Hey Atlantic, come on and take a chance
Arista say they love it but the kids can't dance to it

They cut another record
It never was a hit
'Cause someone in the newspaper said it was shit
The drummer is a bookie
The singer is a whore
The bass player's selling clothes he never would've wore

They called it rock

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Thursday, 5 January 2006 22:41 (fifteen years ago) link

xxx = "The telephones are ringing"

Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Thursday, 5 January 2006 22:44 (fifteen years ago) link

Bob Mould, "I Hate Alternative Rock"

Tired epileptic charade
Get on the plane and fly away
I knew you when
I knew you when
You had something to say
The Twentieth Century
Has not been particularly kind to me
So when asked to define
You feign the benign
And you decline to answer properly

You feel threatened now
There's other icons flying higher now
As you grab for the past
You know it won't last
There's no need to describe it

I hope someone else is driving you
I hope someone else intelligent
is driving you
Now the myth disintegrates
Nothing else is permanent

Terrible Cold (Terrible Cold), Thursday, 5 January 2006 23:00 (fifteen years ago) link

fifteen years pass...

Image search results for Robert Smith(?)

apparent beef squash (morrisp), Monday, 22 November 2021 03:44 (one week ago) link


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