John Schaefer appears in the following:
Thursday, June 04, 2009
I have to admit that I have not seen a single one of the Tony-nominated musicals in our listener poll - so I'm really relying on you folks to steer me in the right direction there. But I'm told this was a really good year for musicals, if you happen to like that sort of thing.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
There's a striking moment in Entertainment Weekly's interview with Moby when Moby says that not only did he like the unexpected success of his global hit record Play in 1999, but he actually wanted more, and found himself chasing after that kind of success again in his subsequent records. It's a telling quote, because it says a lot about the nature of pop success. You can study the formula, perfect the techniques, combine all the right ingredients - and discover you've just reinvented the wheel, to a collective shrug and yawn.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Susan Boyle and Adam Lambert might just be the two biggest names on television this year, the former in the UK, the latter here. Both are losers. In two apparently stunning upsets (the media in both countries had already anointed both the winners of their respective reality TV shows), Adam Lambert was NOT named our new American Idol, and Susan Boyle did not win in the final of Britain's Got Talent.
Monday, June 01, 2009
First he was Steven Georgiou, but he became world famous as Cat Stevens. Songs like "Peace Train," "Wild World," "Morning Has Broken," "Moon Shadow," and a host of others made Cat Stevens one of the most familiar names in music. Then in 1977, he became Yusuf Islam, converting to Islam and leaving the music world for nearly 30 years. When he returned, with 2006's An Other Cup, it was with a slightly shorter name - just Yusuf.
Friday, May 29, 2009
All this month on our series Sound Off we've been looking at Noise. We live with it, sometimes it feels like we live IN it, and it affects everything from the music we hear to the way we shop. But what if we literally could turn all the sound off?
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Now that Memorial Day has unofficially started the summer season, it doesn't take long for all the summer festivals to get their schedules out. Celebrate Brooklyn, in Prospect Park, has a particularly good-looking lineup this summer, but of course the usual suspects - Central Park SummerStage, the River To River Festival, and Midsummer Night Swing, to name just a few - have a wealth of concerts for the those who have a little less wealth this year.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Reggaeton might just be the most successful cultural export from Puerto Rico since Ricky Martin. But if Puerto Rican authorities had had their way back in the late 90s, this hard-driving style, with its often hardcore lyrics, would never have made it to 2004, when Daddy Yankee's out-of-nowhere hit "Gasolina" made reggaeton matter in the US. For years, reggaeton was seen by the authorities as a low-class, no-morals blight on society. It actually reminds me of another style of music... wait, which one was it again... Hip-hop? Jazz? Tango? Ragtime? The Waltz? Oh wait - I remember. It was ALL OF THEM!
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Rock has become so good at grand, anthemic statements - the kind that can fill a stadium with 60,000 screaming fans - that it already operates on a grand opera-like stage. So you might well ask, why would anyone bother to make a "rock opera." But rockers have been trying for over 40 years to do just that. Now, The Who's Tommy is marking its 40th anniversary as still the best-known "Rock Opera"; and Green Day is getting raves for the new 21st Century Breakdown, also billed as a rock opera.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Despite being a lifelong Yankee fan, I have not gone to a live game in several years. Yeah, it's too expensive, but it's also just too loud. You don't realize it when you're watching at home but the music blares from the speakers virtually anytime the ball isn't in play. That's traditionally when we'd get to discuss strategy and compare notes on who's doing well and who's not and how in our softball game last week we got a clutch hit in just this situation... I'm fine with "Enter Sandman" when Mariano Rivera comes in to save a ballgame, and "New York New York" when the game is over, but the music nowadays is relentless. This is all in an attempt to whip the crowd up, to convince us we're excited and having a good time - even if the game is a blowout. And most of the music is crap.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
It sounds like a joke, so it was no surprise that when we first learned of music being used as an "enhanced interrogation technique" there were lots of jokes to be heard. But we're not talking about being in a store and feeling like the music being piped in is going to drive you crazy. We are talking about music deliberately being used in way that can drive you crazy. You can walk out of a store; prisoners cannot escape from the loud onslaught of the music they're subjected to.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
You've probably never given a second thought to the page-turner sitting or standing unobtrusively behind the pianist at a concert - and that's the way it should be. Page-turners, and their opera counterparts, the prompters, are like offensive linemen in football: you only notice them when they do something wrong. Their job is to be invisible, and to enable the star to do his/her job, whether that's negotiating a long and difficult sonata, or surviving the murderous charge of a 300-pound linebacker clad in hard plastic armor.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I've liked Eminem since "My Name Is," his first real hit back in 1999 and a song which, while full of vulgar and violent imagery, also had something unexpected going for it - a sense of humor. With "Stan," his chilling tale of an obsessed and possibly murderous fan, Eminem ...
Monday, May 18, 2009
The opening of the 1983 film The Big Chill begins with a group of former college friends coming together for the funeral of one of their number. We don't yet know anything about him or them, but when the funeral organist launches into the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get ...
Friday, May 15, 2009
Most of us think we know the difference between music and noise. Bach, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Celine Dion, Youssou N'Dour... you may not like all of them, but they're clearly music. The garbage truck on a Saturday morning when you're not quite ready to wake up, or ...
Thursday, May 14, 2009
In 2000, I brought the Opus One Piano Quartet to Memphis to play at a public radio conference. Their cellist, Peter Wiley, and I got to talking about the various things he'd been doing - among them, playing the cello in the fabled Beaux Arts Trio - when he confided ...
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I've talked before on the blog about soundtracks, and how they can be more than simple background music - most recently, last week when Jim Jarmusch joined us. But Michael Giacchino's music for the hit ABC television series Lost is an interesting case. For one thing, we don't expect ...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
A restaurant tells you a lot about itself by the way it's lit and by the way it sounds. Bright and noisy, with pop and classic rock at full volume means eat your food (but maybe don't pay too close attention to it), have some drinks, and see who's at ...
Monday, May 11, 2009
I hadn't noticed a particular upswing lately in the number of country songs proudly and loudly proclaiming their creators to be Small-Town Boys. (And girls, I suppose, though this does seem to be mostly a dude thing.) But then, I don't pay attention to the contemporary country scene all that ...