Monday, July 13, 2009

iTunes Running Diary - Monday, July 13, 2009

This week's artists, a day late.

- “She Wants To Move” by N.E.R.D. Wondering whatever happened to one-hit wonder Pharrell after he was done “Frontin'”? (Girl, you know he wants you bad.)

Much like Danger Mouse of The Grey Album fame, who is now more known for being half of Gnarls Barkley, Pharrell is actually in N.E.R.D., a kind-of popular band known for this song and “Spaz.” Ironically, both are featured in commercials, but I knew of N.E.R.D. before then because of “Rock Star,” which got some alternative rock radio play. Like Gnarls Barkley, N.E.R.D. is a little hard to categorize; kind of like techno, alternative rap.

And because I brought up Gnarls Barkley, I'd like to take a second to talk about Charles Barkley, the greatest NBA player ever. I'm saying this for two reasons – I have an awesome poster of him that I bought in third grade, and he is by far the most quotable, funniest NBA player ever. Although I've already brought up this story once before in a comparison between Gnarls and Charles, his bar fight in Philadelphia bears repeating:

My favorite Charles Barkley story is about when he got into a bar fight in 1997 and threw a guy through a plate glass window. When the police asked him if he had any regrets, Barkley said, "I regret we weren't on a higher floor."

As Cigar sports reporter Pat Oullette said when he heard that story, "Charles Barkley is the man." Sports editor Matt Pavao said, "I wish Charles Barkley threw me through a plate glass window." Production manager Michelle Kirms said he was her favorite basketball player growing up.

- “Song 2” by Blur. The other night at trivia, the trivia lady asked an approximation of the following question: What British band, despite releasing seven critically-acclaimed albums, is best known as a one-hit wonder for their hit single “Creep”?

Now, the answer is obviously Radiohead, except that up until she named the actual single, it was Blur. And I'm saying this as a guy who actually likes more music by Blur besides “Song 2.” While I'm not crazy about the frenetic energy of “Crazy Beat,” it's still a good listen, as is “Tender (The Sweetest Thing).” And “Coffee and TV” is just an addictive, great song that is pushed over the top by the bittersweet music video.

If you're looking for a British band with one monster hit that conceals their underground credibility, then it's Blur. I think everyone is aware of Radiohead's virtues. Heck, I don't even like Radiohead that much – I find their music to be a bit like ambient techno, there and clearly good, but I'm just not interested – but I can name two hit songs by them. Obviously, “Creep,” but there is also “Karma Police,” which has gotten significant radio play.

- “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis. Back in the day, when I ran the Cigar entertainment section, I assigned this CD to someone to review it. They came back, raving about how great it was, and gave it a great review, but it didn't really stick in my mind to go download some tracks.

Flash forward to about two weeks ago. I got sent a copy of Guitar Hero: Modern Hits to review for the DS, and one of the songs was “Chelsea Dagger.” It is so rhythmic and awesome, and it makes me feel like a sad panda that I took so goddamn long to download it. Along the same lines, it took me forever to get into Girl Talk, and Feed The Animals now has the most plays on my iTunes.

- “Love Me Two Times” by The Doors. I didn't mean for this entry to highlight just music from Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but apparently iTunes had different ideas.

A couple entries ago, when talking about Everclear, I wrote that their lead singer's struggles with drugs and altered thinking on it probably gave the band a sort of obsession he couldn't match once he got clean. The obsession allowed him to create great music and survive long enough to eventually get clean. Without the music, I imagine that he would have succumbed even quicker.

I think the same thing about Jim Morrison and The Doors. I always feel like the music and lifestyle kind of get blamed as causing the drug usage, but given the background of Morrison – there are plenty of good books out there on his life – he would have been into drugs even without the music.

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