Category Archives: music

Rest In Peace: Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse (9/14/1983 – 7/23/2011)

Wow, there are so many things I want to say about Winehouse’s death. The way I feel the media, society and yes even her fans were complicit in her destruction. I want to pull clips of her when she first broke in the U.S. and was more coherent and open about her use of marijuana. I want to pair it with articles and comments on her weight despite being only a size 10 at the time. The way she always seemed to perform with her gaze lowered as if looking at the audience was too much. The way I can’t help but wonder if her decision to give up pot to lose the weight also led to her decision to start using heavier drugs that are more destructive but also lead to weight loss. There is a lot we’ll never know and will constantly want to figure out.

I want to dissect the whole thing but it feels too soon and too raw. I’ve been a fan of Amy Winehouse since the release of her first album in 2003, Frank. I loved her style, her performance and her complete unconcern for others opinions. There was a lot to critique about her music and her personal life but very few would ever try to deny her talent.

In this moment though? All I wanna do is hear her voice:

Valerie

Fuck Me Pumps – the first Winehouse song I ever heard and I still have a soft spot for it despite some issues I have with message/lyrics.

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? – She never did an official video for this but such a great cover in any case and seems appropriate to end the post with.

Music You Should Listen To: CockNBullKid

So there have been plenty of amazing British imports when it comes to music. Just recently you have Adele, Duffy, Amy Winehouse and more. Reaching farther back The Sex Pistols, The Beatles, X-ray Spex, Dusty Springfield and more.

Currently everywhere I look singer Jessie J is being touted as the Next Big Thing(tm) from across the pond. Her song Price Tag is appearing in more and more places, other singers talk about her amazing range and voice. I have her album and it is very enjoyable but after a few spins I stopped enjoying the songs for what they were and started to try and figure out what 90s song she was channeling. I’m all for 90’s music, the beats were great and the lyrics awesome but you have to take influence/inspiration and make it your own not let it take you for a ride as an artist of any kind. She is certainly very talented and has an amazing voice but is perhaps not as original (in my opinion) as I would like.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered CockNBullKid only a couple of weeks ago. Another British singer-songwriter her album Adulthood is already out in stores and she’s versatile and fresh in a way that’s exciting to listen to. And I really wish her music was getting half the push that Jessie J is. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Jessie J is just outside of the norm enough to be edgy and interesting without really challenging anything. Anyway, on to the fabulous CNBK (CockNBullKid for those who don’t know)!

Hold on To Your Misery – A take on more 60’s girl group pop but with a bit of a twisted message. I love the use of children mostly because it doesn’t feel precocious and twee and it easily could.

Yellow – More indie-pop feel song with some really unique and interesting beats backing it up. All about fear and cowardice and love a song that sounds cheery then as you listen closer sort of isn’t.

One Eye Closed – A slinky rock song with a compelling and somewhat disturbing thready beat/rhythm that fits so well. And really worth it just for the video, it starts with her in a monster costume handing out fliers…then it gets weird.

Asthma Attack – Full blown dancey pop and I LOVE IT. An ode to London that is suitably tongue-in-cheek from a singer that calls herself the CockNBullKid.

Bonus Video: So CockNBullKid has started a series of videos called Covered Off where she duets on a cover with another artist. So far she’s done three: Plan B’s ‘He Said’ with Clare Maguire, Rui Da Silva’s ‘Touch Me’ with Gonzales but my favorite based on the staging as much as anything else (’cause they’re all amazing) is CNBK and Eliza Doolittle doing Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills,’ while checking themselves out in make-up mirrors.

Media Friday – Ming & Ping

I intended to post something else this week because I do want to try and keep to at least two posts per week but this particular week was a hard one so all you’re getting from me is the media post hopefully next week’ll be better. 

Since I talked about Masia One a couple of weeks ago I figured I should talk about another artist I saw at the same festival and immediately fell in love with – Ming & Ping!

Ming and Ping are twins born in Hong Kong but now based in San Francisco and their music gives me flashbacks to all the good parts of the 80s – the use of electronica, the make-up, the theatrics, the mystery (from their wikipedia article: Interest in the group is aided by many rumors that both twins are in fact the same performer. However, due to their rare public appearances, these rumors remain unconfirmed). Remember the days when artist wore masks and who knew who they were and it was all about the music and the crazy characters they were on stage? Yeah that’s what it reminds me of.

Plus their videos are visually beautiful as if the artwork from their album cover thanks in part to Bao Vo their producer/creative director.

“Legends of Nothing”

“City of Lies”

“A.I.”

Media Friday – Masia One

Masia One is a Chinese-Canadian rapper who I believe is pretty well-known in Canada.  In fact she was the first female rapper to be nominated for “Best Rap Video” in the MuchMusic Video Awards, which from what I can tell are like our MTV VMAs.

I became aware of her back in March during the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival when her video “Return of the B-girl” was shown during the Music Video showing which included musicians of Asian descent from America, Canada, Britain, HK and elsewhere. I was an instant fan and I thought I should share a few of her videos since she’s virtually unknown in America which is truly a shame.

Split Second Time

Return of the B-girl (which includes actual all-female breaking teams)

Neo-Soul Videos – Part 1

Related to last Friday’s post about the coopting of Neo-Soul by white artists with no connection to the community. Here are some other black Neo-Soul artists/songs you may not have heard of.

Leela James – Music

Jaguar Wright – Free (live, 10 minute version)

Lina – Not The Enemy

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Cree Summer – Savior Self

Res – Golden Boys

Media Friday – Singing With Soul [IBARW Edition]

Estelle is a rapper/singer/producer from across the pond who you mightknow because of her song “American Boy” featuring Kanye West.

I love her recently released album Shine I think it’s amazing but here’s the thing she’s nowhere near as heavily praised as some of the other “neo-soul” artists that have come out of Britain – Amy. Winehouse, Duffy, Adele. The difference is of course that all of those are white women who get cred for having throaty voices and singing “soul” music. There is a huge disparity in the way that the Music Industry treats white soul singers as opposed to black soul singers like Leela James, Jaguar Wright, Lina and more.

Estelle brought up the disparity herself in the Guardian, about Adele and white soul singers in general she says:

“She sounds like she heard some Aretha records once, and she’s got a deeper voice – that don’t mean she’s soul. That don’t mean nothing to me in the grand scheme of my life as a black person. As a songwriter, I get what they do. As a black person, I’m like: you’re telling me this is my music? Fuck that!”

And while I will say I have Winehouse’s and Adele’s albums I always feel uncomfortable listening to them, there’s a cultural appropriation happening that really bothers me. This is not to say white folks can’t sing soul, one of my favorite soul acts is Robin Thicke but there’s a way in which his music crosses the line to cultural appreciation instead of appropriation. It’s hard to explain but when he sings and performs it feels different, like he knows and cares about the community he’s interacting with as opposed to just caring about profiting from them. But Estelle hits the nail on the head, when listening to Winehouse, Adele and Justin Timberlake I can’t help but think – “As a black person, I’m like: you’re telling me this is my music? Fuck that!”

Orson Scott Card & Media Friday

By now most of you have probably heard about OSC’s rabidly heterosexist rant in the Mormon Times. If you haven’t check out Yonmei’s deconstruction over at Feminist SF – The Blog. Yonmei’s blogged extensively about OSC’s bigotry over on FemSF but his rant against marriage equality really takes the cake. Bankuei over at Deeper In The Gamereminded me of OSC’s book Songmaster, it’s a relevant point in the discussion that OSC does have queer characters in his books they just always come to horrible ends or realize the way they are is wrong and live in unhappy marriages.


So Media today! I recently talked about Comic Book Tattoo, the almost 500 page comic anthology with over 50 stories all based on Tori Amos’ songs. Well I read the whole thing and it’s amazing and I recommend it to everyone even if you’re not an Amos fan. If you are an Amos fan then sweet jebus you have to get this book! Reading the book while listening to the song that inspired it is fascinating the two different forms inform each other so much that you end up catching nuances in both works that you didn’t notice before. In celebration of that here’s some Tori, a couple classics, a couple from her newest album and one from her hard to find early metal album Y Kant Tori Read: