Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Goodbye R.E.M.

This sucks. R.E.M. broke up today. They've always been around. I'm 28, so they've been a band for as long as I've been alive, plus three years. They were maybe the only transcendent rock band of their era, along with U2. They were the one sure thing in life, along with death and taxes. I took them for granted for so long because their existence was a given. Now they're gone and I'll never get to see them live (at least not until the washed-up reunion tour in 10 years). It sucks whenever a band you've loved and followed for years comes to an end. It's like losing a friend. Surely everyone has had it happen to them at some point. Today it's my turn.

(I know some of you don't like them, so I posted some of their best songs below. If you don't like these, there's nothing else I can do. If you do like them, there's plenty more where this came from. I could easily fill up several more posts with their stuff)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My videos

Like everyone else in this ridiculous generation, I've made a bunch of videos and stuff and posted them on youtube. Here are some that I am not ashamed of:

1. A DATE (this is me following my brother-in-law Randy around with a camera while he goes on a date with his then-girlfriend, Suzie. I also asked them intrusive questions and they answered them or didn't.)

2. THE MOVIE GOERS (a short film directed by and starring my friend Pierce Barney. I worked as director of photography and 2nd unit A.D. or whatever. The movie got accepted to Radio From Hell's first short film festival, which means a lot of people have watched it all at once)

3. BORING POLITICAL CRAP (Michael Steele town hall, health care, blah blah blah. Homework assignment)

4. OMG LOL WTF (The amazing Alex Caldiero making noise and movement)

5. CARTOONIST SEMINAR (The guy who created the webcomic Schlock Mercenary came to my school and I made this video out of it. He then proceeded to post it on his blog because he's a very nice man, and that is why it has more views than anything else I ever did)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rules for songwriters

1. No song should go on longer than 5 minutes without a good reason

If you've got a killer coda ("Hey Jude"), a multi-part epic (Pink Floyd's "Echoes") or a whole bunch of different lyrics to sing (some Dylan and Joni Mitchell songs), go ahead and stretch it. Otherwise, you're wasting everybody's time. The human attention span isn't meant to listen to the same melody forever.

2. A chorus should sound like A CHORUS

After all, the word "chorus" derives from "choral" singing, implying a sense of unity and plurality. If you can't imagine 120,000 people singing the same words in unison, your chorus is a fail. Keep it simple, but inclusive. In other words, make us want to sing along.

3. Sometimes notes should be held, for eeeeeeemphasis

I always knew Chad Kroger of Nickelback was a lousy singer, but I just recently figured out why. The dude doesn't hold his notes for shit. Sing one of their songs in your head ("How You Remind Me" or something) and notice this. He's just talking a bunch of words in a raspy monotone. Dude might as well be rapping. If your melody has nothing in it that's held longer than a quarter note, your song will sound stupid.

4. Lyrics are important

They don't have to be smart or make any sense. They just have to sound like you care, one way or another, what you're singing about. You can get away with totally stupid lyrics if it's just a fun party song, but not if you're trying to make us feel something. In other words -- write lyrics that are appropriate for the situation.

5. Don't be a drag

You can tackle serious subject matter without bumming everybody out. All the best songwriters know this. We are doing you a favor by listening to your song. You owe it to us to show us a good time. Or at least trick us into thinking we had a good time.

6. Don't write the song "Hallelujah"

Just don't do it.