profile of TimByron

Music Dump - Taylor Swift's Massive Attack on Kendrick Lamar's Hologram

Music Dump - Taylor Swift's Massive Attack on Kendrick Lamar's Hologram

A recurring weekly feature where we look at some of the most interesting music articles from across the web.

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Blue Lines: Massive Attack's Blueprint For UK Pop's Future by Sean O'Hagan (The Guardian): Someone born the same year that Blue Lines came out is a proper adult now, and is even able to drink in the USA now! And in those 21 years, Blue Lines has changed the landscape of British pop - it's hard to imagine Radiohead sounding quite like they do without Blue Lines, let alone the XX. And so it's fascinating to read behind-the-scenes stuff looking at how the band made the record and how they dealt with fame. What I notice is how different the music world was in 1991. This is a band who were a terror to interview, who gobbled up a $60,000 video budget with nothing to show for it, and which seemed likely to fall apart at any time. Basically, it's hard to imagine them surviving if they were a new band in 2012.

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Electronic Musicians Shouldn't Feel Bad About Hitting 'Play' by Matthew Perpetua (BuzzFeed): Rumour has it that one very big electronic band - the kind that'd regularly headline medium-size festivals - has pretend musicians up on stage and  that the music is all coming from a laptop. Does this matter? Perpetua argues that it does - it's lying to the fans - but that it ultimately shouldn't. After all, the thing that makes seeing music live great is the energy you get from hearing it really loud, surrounded by lots and lots of people who love the music too. Right? Well...I dunno.

I'm reading The Doors by Greil Marcus at the moment, and Jim Morrison was by all accounts someone you couldn't take your eyes off because you didn't know what he'd do next - part of the attraction of seeing a live band is the illusion, at least, that it's unpredictable. Anything could happen, the band can go with the feeling, they can stop here, extend there. When they're just pressing play, this illusion is shattered. But hey, if you're in a field somewhere dancing to music, you don't care to look at the stage, you care to dance.

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Cold Facts by Lindsay Zoladz (Pitchfork): We now live in a world where most of our cultural experiences are mediated by the internet. We download shows off the internet, we listen to music on the internet, we talk about them on social media with our friends, and we read about music on the internet when we click links that some dude has linked to on TheVine (ahem). And it's not surprising that a new crop of music has started to reflect this - Zoladz identifies stuff like Azealia Banks and Frank Ocean as music of social media, which is a reaction to the cold facts of the way we live now. 

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In Japan, Anyone Can Be A Holographic Pop Star by Patrick St. Michael (The Atlantic): Can't sing? Can't act? Can't dance? Why let that stop you! These days, the technology for creating your own pop star aren't that hard to use. In Japan, in fact, there's a big market where people create songs using 'Vocaloid', a program that lets you input lyrics over a melody, coming out with a vocal that sounds a bit AutoTune-y. And so people take characters from official franchises, and bend them towards their own desires, using Vocaloid to create fan-songs they then animate and put online for their fellow fans. You can imagine a future where there's a Lady Gaga Vocaloid plugin, where you can put in words and melodies, and it comes out in Lady Gaga's voice. Combined with an easy to use computer animation suite that you can make a video for. Give it a decade. If that.

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A Chat With Ted Leo About The Weird Small Business Of Indie Music by John Lingan (The Awl): Ted Leo is bemused by the fact he even has a career; when his 90s band Chisel broke up, he figured he'd have to get a real job, and was surprised to find he didn't have to because his solo career took off. Except, pretty much, now he does have to get a real job. The music industry is tapering off, he's in debt, and touring doesn't pay the bills. He still wants to make music, but he's not going to be able to do it as often. Them's the breaks, he says. And that's music in 2012 for a lot of your favourite artists, I suspect.

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Dark Red: The Smart, Sexual And Suddenly Mature Taylor Swift by Molly Lambert (Grantland): There's a game people play with each new Taylor Swift (pictured) album which is along the lines of "who is this break-up song about? And this one?" And that's still there on her new album - which is one of the few huge successes this year, selling over a million records in the US in its first week. But this overlooks one big thing: Swift is growing up. Her music has more shades of grey says Lambert, and she seems less preachy, more willing to understand the other side. 

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Storytelling Rappers, Cool And Hot by Jon Caramanica (New York Times): One thing that has perhaps been missing from (popular) hip-hop recently is good storytelling. Caramanica identifies Kendrick Lamar's new album (the one getting lots of buzz and record sales) and one by Meek Mills as being two very different albums which nonetheless both rely on storytelling. For Lamar, the story is his own; his struggles to deal with growing up in Compton despite being a sensitive kid; in contrast, Mills' music is more like party music. It's perhaps the difference between a literary novel and an airport thriller, but there's a place for both.

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Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Grease by Marcello Carlin (Then Play Long): Grease is an odd beast. Underneath its shiny surface, it's assembled out of bits and pieces pulled in different directions. Originally, the musical that the movie was based on was a racier, more sardonic beast than the movie ended up being. And Sandy was only from Australia in the movie because Olivia Newton John wasn't going to pull off a convincing American accent. The movie was originally going to star Henry Winkler (the Fonz) and Marie Osmond, but Osmond didn't want to wear leather, and Winkler was probably famous enough to say no (as per usual, Carlin's deconstructions of the albums that got to #1 in the UK over the years are expert).

Tim Byron

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