A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

[MUSIC] Blondie, “Fun”

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Blondie’s new single “Fun” came out on the 1st of this month, but Towleroad noted yesterday that their outer space-themed video had come out just then.

I really like it. This song is one of the things, incidentally, that made me decide to buy tickets for Blondie’s show this July here in Toronto. (Garbage will be touring with them, too!)

Written by Randy McDonald

February 16, 2017 at 11:34 pm

[MUSIC] Roxette, “The Look”

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Roxette’s 1988 song “The Look”, the Swedish group’s breakout song, is something I’ll always have fond memories of. Is it a very 1980s song, full of synth riffs and guitar? Are the lyrics somewhat simple?

1-2-3-4
Walkin’ like a man
Hitting like a hammer
She’s a juvenile scam
Never was a quitter
Tasted like a raindrop
She’s got the look

Yes. It doesn’t matter. Their Look Sharp! is one of the first albums I ever bought–on cassette, even!–and this song, like so many of their other songs, is fun. We could even see Roxette in its historical context, as the first Swedish musical group of international stature to appear after ABBA, hinting at the era of Swedish pop dominance to come. Why not enjoy the music?

Written by Randy McDonald

February 9, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[MUSIC] Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft, “Der Mussolini”

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This live version of Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft‘s “Der Mussolini” has been playing in my head all week.

Geh’ in die Knie
Und klatsch’ in die Hände
Beweg’ deine Hüften
Und tanz’ den Mussolini
Tanz’ den Mussolini
Tanz’ den Mussolini

Written by Randy McDonald

February 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[MUSIC] Patsy Gallant, “From New York to L.A.”

Patsy Gallant is a Canadian singer whose reputation in English Canada is based entirely on her 1976 single “From New York to L.A.”

Her musical career is more storied than this, with Gallant carving out a career in music and theatre in Québec and France, largely unknown to an Anglophone audience outside of chance events like Gallant’s 2013 performance at Pride in Toronto. In this Gallant, a Francophone born in small bilingual town of Campbellton in New Brunswick, shares in a common experience of French Canadians in being overlooked.

What interests me most about the song is not the music but rather the deeply ambivalent lyrics. “From New York to L.A.” opens with the singer dismissing her love as less important than stardom.

In my mind there’s a face
On my lips there’s a name
In my life there’s no place
For the man that I love
Cause I’m livin’ my life
Just to sing and be free

Later, we hear the singer tell of a much darker world, one filled with sleaze and death and one where even her love may not have been all that.

The city lights are often blurred
By stories we’ve already heard
Booze and drugs now break my head
Cause all the shining stars are dead

I sometimes close my tired eyes
Look at myself, be hypnotized
Findin’ a reason of lovin’ you
The man I thought was meant for me
But were you really meant for me?

Honestly, I don’t think that the song does a very good job of handling these potentially interesting themes. The consistently upbeat music contrasts poorly with the much darker lyrics at the end. This song’s importance in Canadian pop music aside–one of Canada’s first, and biggest, disco hits–I wonder if it could gone through another draft.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 12, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[MUSIC] George Michael, “Jesus to a Child”

George Michael’s song “Jesus to a Child” was the first single off of his 1996 album Older, and it was the first of his songs that came out after I had begun listening systematically to pop music. Even at the time, this song though well-constructed seemed different, not like his earlier hit singles like “Faith” or “Freedom ’90”. Little did I know at a time that this song, like the album it came from, was probably the most high-profile tribute to queer grief in pop music at the time, perhaps ever. This song is a moving lyrical tribute to his lover Anselmo Feleppa, another victim of the pandemic.

Kindness in your eyes
I guess you heard me cry
You smiled at me like Jesus to a child
I’m blessed I know
Heaven sent and heaven stole
You smiled at me like Jesus to a child
And what have I learned from all this pain
I thought I never feel the same about anyone or anything again
But now I know

Johann Hari’s 2011 Huffington Post interview with Michael captures the signal importance of Feleppa in Michael’s life, the hugely positive impact of the relationship and the devastating impact of his death just two years after they met.

In a concert in Brazil one night, he spotted “a really cute guy” in the crowd, and “he was so distracting I actually avoided that end of the stage.” But afterwards Anselmo Felleppa, the Brazillian dress-designer face-from-the-crowd, came to George’s dressing room – and changed his life. “It’s very hard to be proud of your sexuality when it hasn’t given you any joy,” he says, “but once you have found somebody you really love… it’s not so tough.” Anselmo “broke down my Victorian restraint, and really showed me how to live, how to relax, how to enjoy life.” It was his first slow, tender sexual relationship with a man, he explains: “I was shagging around but I had so little experience with men that my sex life was so ridiculously inadequate for me, right until I met Anselmo really.” But it was more than that: “He was the first person I had ever loved, and I discovered he loved me too.” Even now, there is a hint of quiet incredulity in his voice.

But then – six months into their relationship – Anselmo discovered his blood was infected with the HIV virus. The sour grief that gripped George gave him – he winces at the irony – one of the best performances of his career, when he played the Freddy Mercury Tribute Concert as Anselmo began to die. “Can you try to imagine being any lonelier than that?” he asks. “Try to imagine that you fought with own sexuality to the point that you’ve lost half of your twenties. And you’ve finally found a real love, and six months in it’s devastated. In 1991 it was really terrifying news. I thought I could have the disease too. I couldn’t go through it with my family because I didn’t know how to share it with them – they didn’t even know I was gay. I couldn’t tell my closest friends, because Anselmo didn’t want me to. So I’m standing on stage, paying tribute to one of my childhood idols who died of that disease… the isolation was just crazy.”

The day after Anselmo’s brain haemorrhaged away, a stricken, incoherent George finally told his parents he was gay. “They didn’t even know he existed. The thing that really killed my mum was the idea that I had gone through that without anybody,” he says. While George’s life had always been shot through with depression – “it runs in my family, I’m sure it’s genetic” – it was only now, in the early 1990s, that he descended into “a deep black hole” he thought he would never escape. He made the classic depressive’s mistake of trying to warm himself with cannabis and ecstasy. His mother’s sudden death from cancer floored him, and “it got to a point where I was smoking 25 joints a day”.

Jane Moore’s 2004 GQ interview goes into more detail, quoting Michael’s fears that Feleppa did not seek the best possible treatment for his infection because he feared the negative publicity. Feleppa died, far from Michael, when Michael was scarcely 30. I can barely imagine.

I swear I remember mentions of the press of Michael having something to do with Feleppa at the time of the release of “Jesus to a Child”, even mentioning how this was a tribute to the man without mentioning the significance of the man. The significance of the song, though, is clear: Michael was paying tribute to the man he loved, the man who aved him and the man whose loss prostrated him. Of all the early music groups active in the first half of the 1990s, only the Pet Shop Boys come close to this, in their faintly elegiac cover of “Go West” or their powerful “Being Boring”. Their approaches, though real and definitely meaningful, were more oblique than Michael’s.

What else can I do but congratulate him? Michael mattered.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 5, 2017 at 11:59 pm

[MUSIC] Luba, “Storm Before the Calm”

Luba, a Canadian musician of Ukrainian descent, attained non-trivial success in Canada during the 1980s as a pop musician with a New Wave background. “Storm Before the Calm” was track 9 off of her 1984 album Secrets and Sins, and one of her half-dozen most memorable singles.

For me, this song is filled with associations of childhood, of listening to songs produced by the first generation of CanCon artists being played over the radio. These are good associations, let me state clearly. They’re feelings of comfort.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 22, 2016 at 11:59 pm

[MUSIC] Röyksopp with Robyn, “Monument” (The Inevitable End Version)

This official remix of “Monument”, one of the five tracks off of the Do It Again EP released jointly by Röyksopp and Robyn in 2014, is probably the poppiest official release off the album. It’s a remarkably chill song, the Norwegian duo’s music and the Swedish pop stars melding nicely to produce something superb. This song will last, appropriately so since this song’s lyrics are all about creating something enduring, something that outlasts the life of the individual creator.

Make a space
For my body
Dig a hole
Push the sides apart
This is what
I’m controlling
It’s a mold
The inside that I carve

This will be my monument
This will be a beacon when
I’m gone
Gone, gone
When I’m gone
Gone, gone
When I’m gone

Written by Randy McDonald

December 15, 2016 at 10:58 pm