clap clap blog: we have moved

Monday, July 07, 2003
Purchased over the weekend:

Jay-Z: Life and Times of Shawn Carter Vol. 2...Hard Knock Life - Very very good. The Timbaland beat on "Nigga What" is particularly mind-blowing. The Swizz Beats loop on "Money, Cash, Hoes," though, is possibly the worst thing I've ever heard. It sounds like a stoned, tone-deaf sixteen-year-old running his hands over an organ at random. And it loops through the entire song. Yoinks.

French Kicks: One Time Bells - Found in a used bin still in its shrink-wrap! Haven't listened to it yet, though I like the song "White" quite a bit.

Electric Light Orchestra: Greatest Hits 2-disc set - Now this, my friends, this is the shit right here. I'd heard an MP3 or two before, but it just didn't match the true stereophonic majesty of the real thing. And then I listened to the Flaming Lips "Soft Bulletin" later in the day and, well, you're going to have a real hard time convincing me hereinafter that the Lips aren't doing a serious ELO homage. Which is great--perfect Beatles-esque pop instincts + lush arrangements = me likee--but also kind of unspoken, or so it seems to me. Sure, the Lips put the drums higher in the mix, do a bit less vocal theatrics, and deemphasize the synth (at least on Soft Bulletin) but the melodies and the arrangements and the pacing just seems very, very similar.

The different critical reactions to these two bands, though, is interesting. No doubt the major salient fact in this regard is that ELO sold a lot more records and had a lot more hit singles, but the one more likely to be pointed out is that Wayne's songs are weirder and they've stuck to their vision, etc. This seems a bit backwards: ELO sure stuck to their weird vision for a long time, they just happened to have more success with it. What seems more salient, then, is the mainstream acceptance, and on that note it seems more like times have simply changed. I mean, what reason is there for "Waiting For a Superman" not being a huge hit? Or "Do You Realize??"

So it's interesting that decreased success (along with a healthy dose of experimentalism, which may admittedly be the cause of said decreased success) makes it easier to like a band. It's silly that losing respect for a band would cause you to like their songs less, but it's also pretty true. On the flip side, this might mean that it's actually a better time to be a pop fan than in the past, since the music isn't entirely mainstream; having weird great pop bands like the Lips and the Danielsen Famile and, hell, Neutral Milk Hotel be around and be respected instead of "bubblegum" (I mean, no critical judgment implied, the Danielsen Famile does pretty much sound like weird children's music) strengthens pop and welcomes more talented, weird people into its sound. Will it ever really come back? Can we seriously hope to hear joy-core, or even just a predominantly major-key song (c'mon, name me a major-key chart hit in recent memory that wasn't power-pop) in the mainstream again? Well, here's hoping.

Incidentally: the Lips? Total joycore.