Nerdcore challenge

I got on a nerdcore kick a few months back, and have been unable to exorcise several songs from looping in my head (particularly Rock Out With Your Hawk Out, Nursehellamentary and Mountain Kind). This genre has fallen off the radar a bit, it seems to me, but several films are about to be released about it, so maybe it’s on the upswing.

Like anything else, nerdcore obeys Sturgeon’s Law, so much of it sucks. It’s been around long enough that the creme has risen to the top by now. One of its flaws is the same geekier-than-thou theme over and over, mostly to really bad beats. Tracks that are actually about something are usually more interesting.

For a very brief moment, I caught the bug that makes someone want to try to do this, but I don’t really have the talent or the time. Maybe someday. Meanwhile, a bunch of random ideas for songs floated through my head, so I thought I might as well mention them and challenge any passing nerdcore artists to see what they can do with them:

  • Some sort of ranting, hardcore blasting of Uwe Boll. He really needs to be stopped before he does more damage to our collective psyche.
  • At various points in history, some scientist comes along with a theory that completely overturns the conventional wisdom. Songs are needed in the first person where such a scientist disses and degrades the conventional wisdom and its inventor. Bonus points if all the references are contemporary to when the scientist lived (e.g. muskets instead of 9mm).
  • Retro video games make constant appearances in nerdcore, but I have yet to hear a track dedicated to the massive time sink that is Civilization. It would probably be called “Just One More Turn”.
  • “Confession of a Tentacle”, from the point of view of an anime tentacle.
  • “Golden”, about φ.
  • You could do a whole album on Beastmaster.
  • “Identify 9”, a tribute to Wizardry cheat codes.
  • “E-mail Tourette’s”

By the way, you can add Optimus Rhyme to the list of perfect names.

The dump part

Over two years ago, I suggested a way to destroy a modern record company, using their “pump and dump” strategy against them. The prime example of the strategy at the time was the handling of Britney Spears. Unfortunately, no one has implemented my advice, but evidently with a recent performance, Ms. Spears seems to have entered the “dump” part of the pump and dump strategy, with one reviewer claiming “it’s clear no one is telling singer how to fix career”. I didn’t see the performance, so have no idea if that is actually true or just the media being the media, but if it is true, it extends the case study of the pump and dump strategy. In my previous post, I quoted a prediction from Chris Johnson’s analysis suggesting there is “considerable evidence to suggest that when Britney stops being pushed on the market by her record company, sales will fall off a cliff.” Chances are this will happen fairly soon.

On the other hand, if the performance really was that bad, it actually kind of contaminates the experiment, because it might mean that fans are leaving because of taste (i.e. the bad performance turned them off to the star) rather than because the hype train stopped. Then again, you might see a double whammy effect, where both taste and the lack of hype contribute to a sales disaster of epic proportions.

Update: No mercy, though it sounds like they weren’t really “representing” her before the performance either.

Unmined gold

I have very little acumen for business or music but, if I did, I’d be seriously thinking about starting a company that provides all the services for musicians that major labels do except manufacture and distribution of the final product. That is, this company would be employed by musicians to provide studio time, image management, promotion and tour coordination. The musician would be on her own to find a distribution outlet for their music (though, naturally, would owe the new company a cut of sales). If you were the first company set up this way, you stand to gain a significant portion of the world’s musicians as clients within two to five years, though probably not some of the very biggest musicians.

The reason this would work is Apple and iTunes. Large record companies have serious problems with Apple’s success. Some of them complain and threaten to stop providing their artists music to Apple. Some, like Sony, refused to do so in the first place. It seems likely, though, that the large media companies are playing a waiting game until current iTunes contracts expire in 2006. Meanwhile, artists prevented by their corporate overlords from making their existing music available on iTunes are getting antsy and are creating new material specifically for iTunes and iTunes only. Others are releasing entire albums via bittorrent.

Big media companies have shown a determined, nearly pathalogical, desire to maintain their bloated empires by any means necessary. There is no reason to expect they will suddenly become enlightened to the new possibilities of technology, but will, instead, try to sandbag Apple at the expense of both their artists and the music-appreciating public. This will provide a great deal of incentive for artists to ditch their labels. Some will strike out on their own. Most, however, will probably hold onto the “big label” idea, in spite of its drawbacks, because Apple and iTunes alone doesn’t provide them with everything they need to become superstars.

This is where this new company fits in. It enables musicians to embrace iTunes without losing the promotion and other machinery they need. It will completely eliminate any incentive that musicians might have to stay with a big label. The key to this is that, once it becomes clear what is happening, at least one and probably most of the big labels may eventually be forced into retooling to work like this as well. If that happens, it won’t happen quickly. Still, to be successful, this new company needs to strike very quickly, as widely as possible. Preferably, it would start now, before big media kills their iTunes deals. The company also needs to use the agility provided by its small size in ways the media giants can’t.

If you attempt to build such a company, best of luck to you. And invite me into the IPO.

Phallus fondue

Given that I’ve been on a lounge kick recently, it should come as no surprise that I’ve been listening to Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine. His shtick is to take modern songs and “loungify” them. One flaw with this kind of thing is that after you get past the gimmick, most of the music doesn’t stand up to repeated listening. For example, when Pat Boone was in a metal mood, his version of Crazy Train got the air time, but only his incredible version of Holy Diver did he really make his own, and therefore the only track of his still on my play list.

In general, I love unusual covers (like Tori Amos’ version of Smells Like Teen Spirit), so bear that in mind while I list the Richard Cheese tracks that have the legs to have been on my playlist for about of month, which is a long time for me:

Honorable mention: the following tracks are a cut above the others, but have some flaw that gets them tossed off the play list:

  • Longview, from I’d Like a Virgin. The steel slide-guitar and down-tempo of this Green Day tune give this version a cool sipping margaritas on the beach feel, but it’s lacking something I can’t quite put my finger on.
  • Welcome to the Jungle, from Aperitif for Destruction. Imagine the opening guitar part of this Guns ‘N’ Roses song being done on a piano. Totally amazing. The rest of the song, however, doesn’t work as well for me.
  • Hot For Teacher, from Tuxicity. Again, masterful piano work in duplicating the Van Halen introduction, but pedestrian thereafter.

How to destroy a modern record company

One of the reasons mainstream music has become significantly less interesting in the past decade has been the major label’s embrace of the superstar marketing model. In previous decades, studios expended effort in building “career artists”, bands that would build a fan base who would buy record after record. This has given way to a “pump and dump” strategy, where debut albums are marketed aggressively and milked for a brief period, then the artist is abandoned. Superstar marketing is the pinnacle of this business model, where a single star is massively marketed in every way possible, almost to exclusion of the label’s other acts.

This sells a lot of the superstar’s albums and makes tons of money for the label. For the superstar, there isn’t much evidence that this will lead to strong career. In an analysis of long term successful albums Chris Johnson observes that, in spite of making millions, there is…:

…considerable evidence to suggest that when Britney [Spears] stops being pushed on the market by her record company, sales will fall off a cliff.…There are very few acts post-1990 that can boast platinum certifications more than a year after release.…The promoters will just as happily push Hanson as Bob Dylan, Spice Girls as Aretha Franklin: they are completely agnostic on the quality front.…In effect, the record labels cannot afford to build artist careers anymore. They can only afford to milk the current promotional mechanism.

I think this is fantastic because it suggests a way to hasten the demise of such record companies, which have become relics clinging to outdated methods instead of offering me the products that I want. The strategy to do so lies in the answer to the following question: If, hypothetically, Britney Spears were to vanish in some way (sudden retirement, injury, plane crash, etc.) what would that do to the financials of her label and the company that owns it. If such an event were unexpected, it’s fair to say that Jive Records would need to scramble to survive and would have a fair chance of collapsing. Sony would, unfortunately, fair better, being more diversified, but would take a financial hit as well.

By putting their eggs in one basket, record labels leave themselves open to attacks aimed at destroying the basket that don’t cost very much. All a dedicated group of people would need to is target the major superstars of a label all at once and bring them down with smear campaigns and/or industrial espionage (e.g. stealing and destroying master tracks before they can be published, injecting random signals into a CD production, etc.). Since the media largely no longer check facts, they would be useful accomplices. A clever group could probably do the whole thing without even breaking the law.

Sound of silence

A month ago, I posted a list of song lyrics with a challenge for my readers to identify them. My plan at the time was to post the answers after a month had gone by. In the interim, however, there have been zero responses, which means that some or all of the following are true:

  • I have no readers
  • The list was overly difficult
  • The list was overly long
  • My readers are lazy bastards
  • My readers are apathetic and grumpy

Whatever the reason, I’ve now resolved to never post a solution to the original list, but will leave it up for the intrepid. C’mon, surely you can at least guess one or two! As for the difficulty and length, I also offer the following, alternate list:

  1. I wanna rock and roll all night
  2. I am Iron Man
  3. It’s a small world, after all
  4. Silent night, holy night
  5. Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire

Ripping my CD collection

This has been done before, so it’s not an original idea, but it’s long. Identify the lyrics in the following list (without using a search engine). The only hint you get is that I either own the album containing the lyric, or have performed it live for an audience at some point. Oh, and no band is repeated, though some artists may be. Some of these may be overly easy, others are nearly impossible. Post your guesses.

  1. Impotence. Boomerang. I’ll stab you.
  2. I’m worse at what I do best
  3. Bein’ alone’s a nowhere state of mind
  4. Feel me in your bones
  5. And, every night, I shut my eyes so I don’t have to see the light
  6. But singers and songs will never change it alone
  7. But, I ain’t never punched a tourist
  8. If you can feel what I’m feeling then it’s a musical masterpiece
  9. Although we both lie close together, we feel miles apart inside
  10. There’s just five words to say as you go down
  11. The ashtray’s full and I’m spillin’ my guts
  12. Everything I want the world to be is now coming true, especially for me
  13. No matter the pain, he ought to be unwinceable
  14. I’ve been everything you want to be
  15. Since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse
  16. She says it’s lack of sex that’s bringing me down
  17. Here I lie, in a lost and lonely part of town, held in time
  18. But many came, to much for Cree
  19. Scabbed knees and rice
  20. Je veux aller au bout de me fantasmes
  21. I know you, little libertine
  22. Your prison is walking through this world all alone
  23. He moves through space with minimum waste
  24. I drip steam like a microphone fiend
  25. My energy’s spent at last and my armor is destroyed
  26. Help me, I’m flaming. I must be a hundred and nine.
  27. It took a rumor to make me wonder
  28. Don’t believe in anything that you can’t break
  29. There’s a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall
  30. I take things off to clear my head
  31. Hey, Mr. Moonlight wont’cha follow me down? I need the company.
  32. Your pride has built a wall
  33. Half my life is in books’ written pages
  34. Dressed for the battle but not fatigued, my hat’s made of metal to avoid debris
  35. Jenata iazdi samotna
  36. Got my pills ’gainst mosquito death
  37. Here come the planes. Please form a straight line.
  38. Mom, please flush it all away
  39. Picture this. Paint a picture. Picture perfect. Paint a perfect picture.
  40. I am losing my mind. My head’s on the floor, for evermore.
  41. Don’t think ’cause I understand, I care
  42. Next to her cheap silicone, I look minimal
  43. No serenade, no fire brigade
  44. His days of asking are all gone
  45. Won’t go to Harlem in ermine and pearls
  46. Reflections in the waves spark my memory
  47. It could be normal but it isn’t quite
  48. Giant, ape-like invaders swim the river to New York
  49. Funny how my memory slips while looking over manuscripts
  50. Two eyes from the east
  51. Who knows? Maybe you were kidnapped, tied-up, taken away, and held for ransom
  52. I’ve felt the coldness of my winter
  53. Cuius latum perforatum aqua fluxit et sanguine
  54. I’m working, but I’m not working for you
  55. When in doubt, I whip it out
  56. Back street hoop star, you’ve got it good
  57. Burns like a red coal carpet, mad bull lost it’s way
  58. Daddy’s got a new .45
  59. Wake in the world with a clear conscience and clean hands
  60. Some people stand like trees, without a word
  61. London, Hamburg, Paris, Rome, Rio, Hong Kong, Tokyo
  62. If I swallow anything evil, put your fingers down my throat
  63. Dorsum nudum fero tui sceleris
  64. Convenience is the enemy
  65. I’ll get home early from work if you say that you love me
  66. To leather, to dildos, to curry vindaloo
  67. You make a move, I’ll make you feel like a human target
  68. He hears the silence howling, catches angels as they fall
  69. Sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink
  70. And when I hurt, hurtin’ runs off my shoulders
  71. Breathe into me and make me real
  72. Put your straitjackets on tonight
  73. Have they lost their heads, or are they just all blind mice? We’ve heard all their stories one too many times.
  74. He’d give up all his comforts and sleep out in the rain
  75. Those not so blessed would be crying out murder
  76. Yes, I believe, but I’d rather not pray
  77. Give me your dollar whores
  78. Wider baby smiling you’ve just made a million
  79. You’re lucky to even know me. You’re lucky to be alive.
  80. Who will stay when the rain is fallin’ and won’t let it fall on you?
  81. Put the needle on the record while the drum beats go like this
  82. They’re borders and boots on top of us, pullin’ knobs on the floor of their toxic metropolis
  83. Night blooms will whisper to me “I’m lonesome as I can be”
  84. I will stand firm in the tempest
  85. Your CIA, you see I ain’t kiddin’
  86. I’m hard, but I’m friendly, baby
  87. I gave you a golden ring to show you my love, you went to stick it in a printed circuit to fix a voltage leak in your collector
  88. My fantasy has turned to madness
  89. I missed the bus and there’ll be hell today
  90. We are watered down and fully grown
  91. I left my body laying somewhere in the sands of time
  92. Please, I want a silver kitchen knife. I feel like taking a life.
  93. Your cotton ain’t rotten, just needs to be picked
  94. Snarling equinox among the rocks will seize you
  95. But the wind blows stronger, cold and long
  96. Like a drifter, I was born to walk alone
  97. You smile as I sip
  98. But look at Epitaph. He wins it by a half.
  99. The roar of guns and cannons almost made me cry
  100. I’m telling you, the tribesmen wouldn’t stand for this, man
  101. When I get through throwing it on you, you gotta come back for more
  102. Tied to machines that make me be
  103. Bought a beat up six string in a secondhand store
  104. This girl was in her working clothes
  105. I don’t like a thing about your sister
  106. A built-in remedy for Kruschev and Kennedy
  107. I got to laugh, ’cause I know I’m gonna die
  108. I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky.
  109. And where are all the gods?
  110. No, I’m not here to harm you; I only want to kill
  111. I had to tell them, baby, you were armed with all you’d need
  112. My favorite weapon is the look in your eyes
  113. …but first, take care of head
  114. It’s not so pretty when it fades away
  115. Run in the shadows. Damn your love. Damn your lies.
  116. The billions shift from side to side
  117. Like staring at the sun, such gorgeous destruction
  118. The doctor came in, stinking of gin, and proceeded to lie on the table
  119. I saw the seven phials open, the plague claimed man and son
  120. He gave his life for tourism
  121. I missed ten million miles of road I should have seen
  122. She obliterated everything she kissed
  123. It’s the same old theme since 1916
  124. The cutout magazines remind me
  125. You’ll be dead before your time is due, I know
  126. We have nothing here except ourselves
  127. The comfort you’ve demanded is now mandatory
  128. The great almighty dollar leaves you lonely, lost and hollow
  129. Give me my freedom, and then you lock me in a tomb
  130. I’m goin’ down in it three times but, Lord, I’m only comin’ up twice
  131. Past eight by tens in shattered frames
  132. In Bengal, to move at all is seldom, if ever, done
  133. Some balls are held for charity, and some for fancy dress
  134. And you, you are a victim of this age
  135. I’m about to ruin the image and the style that you’re used to
  136. Tell me: when did the light die?
  137. The soul I took from you was not even missed
  138. Hey, cool cat, does this apply to you?
  139. Trade in your hours for a handful of dimes
  140. I’m a five foot mirror for adoring himself
  141. Men drinking beer with the foam afloat heard…
  142. All this machinery making modern music can still be open hearted
  143. Later on, they discovered this would make a great way of life for them
  144. …only stupid people are breeding, the cretins cloning and feeding
  145. I’m gonna hurt you if it happens twice
  146. Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a leading role in a cage?
  147. I could change my life to better suit your mood
  148. I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become
  149. The dusty road that’s ahead will be my board and my bed ’til what I am looking for is found
  150. Keep smiling until then