really important one oh eight


really important one oh eight
Spring 2015
Table of
3 Blurred LineS: is Miley Crus the New
Hip-Hop Legends: Tupac & Jay-Z
Courtney Wiegand
Anna Schwab
To Pimp A ButterFLY: Challenging
Stereotypes With ArT
Stefan Brown
The Beatles’ Role In Shaping the
Music Video Will Moss
David Geffen’s Legacy
Alex Kamisher
AAron Stagoff-Belfort
Alonda Munoz
Alex Kanisher
John Valett
Andrew Jacobs
Andrew Rodriguez
Stefan Brown
Courtnney Wiegand
Trinity Russell
Davis Reid
Nick Marraffa
Blake Valenzuela
Syed Ayman Kabir
Sean Regan
Justin Goldman
Theadore Kim
James Hamilton
Alec Corazzini
Anna Schwab
Sam Furnival
James Wilson
Piracy In The Music Industry
Andrew Jacobs
The Rise of a New EDM
Alec Corazzini
J-Cole: The Other Side of the Story
Davis Reid
Alison Mann, Copy
Elena Mehlman, Arts &
Layout Editor
Kanye West: Empowerment
Through The Wire
Blake Valenzuela
808s to MPCs: Evolution of
Hip-Hop Production
Sean Regan
A Critique of MK-JAG’s Latest
Cover: “weak”
Alondra Munoz
Rage Against the Machine: Rages
against the Machine James Wilson
Is Bigger Always Better?
A closer Look at Woodstock
Andres Rodriguez
The Boss: Bruce Springsteen
Nick Marraffa
The Second British Invasion
Syed Ayman Kabir
The Beach Boys
John Valett
Snoop’s RebirtH: From Dogg
to Lion13
Justin Goldman
K-Pop’s Ugly Abuse
Theodore Kim
James Hamilton
Crowdfunding: What we can learn
from Amanda Palmer
Richard Fessler
Spotify, Resurrected for a Moment
with Forgotify
Sam Furnival
When Science Meets Music
Trinity Russell
A Conversation With Roger McGuinn
of The Byrds
Aaron Stagoff-Belfort
Hip-Hop Legends:
Tupac & Jay-Z
By Courtney Wiegand
Rap music stems from the cultural roots
of hip-hop. As Bennun describes, “hiphop was and is a style that encompasses
music, clothes, graffiti, [and] dancing.
Therefore, rap music draws its influences
from a culture that encompasses several
aspects of everyday life for many people.
Although initially considered a “fad,” rap
music has penetrated the music industry
since the 1980s. Over time, rap music
progressed into two opposing stylistic
forms. While many rappers have sought
to maintain a greater message in their
music, plenty of other rappers have
sought to present an image of wealth and
luxury by talking about expensive cars
and clothes. Consequently, many rappers
have formed links with the fashion world
and marketed their own merchandise
for profitable gain. The tension created
between commercialization and emotional rawness has affected the careers
of hip-hop legends, such as Tupac and
Jay-Z, in many diverging ways.
Despite his early death, many
still remember Tupac’s unapologetic
lyrics and lifestyle that represented a
change from the emerging commercialization aspect of hip-hop during his
time. Tupac spent some of his childhood in Baltimore suburbia, where he
attended ballet and acting classes at the
“School For The Arts,” while also reading and writing poetry. These artistic
influences probably had an effect on his
appreciation of emotional intensity and
lyrical authenticity. However, another
major impact on his rap style stemmed
from his move to California, in which
he ran away from home because of his
“drug-addicted mother” and found an
apartment with his friends who were
heavily involved in drugs and gangs.
Tupac’s history of violence and toughness probably stems from his early
experiences with this gang culture.
When Tupac obtained a record
deal, his first album, 2Pacalypse Now,
sold 500,000 copies. A year later, in
1992, Tupac starred in the film Juice,
which further increased his visibility and
popularity. While achieving this success,
Tupac did not shed his violent persona
and accumulated several arrests pertaining to drugs, sexual assault charges,
and even the accidental shooting of a
six-year-old boy. While this notorious
image incited many people to criticize
Tupac’s behavior, no one claimed that
Tupac had sold out to the commercialization aspect of hip-hop because he
lived up to his reputation. For example,
when filming for a movie in New York
City, gunshots erupted nearby. Instead of
seeking shelter and protection like most
of the film crew, Tupac went into the line
of fire and commanded the gunmen to
stop shooting. In this moment, as Dalton
explains, Tupac demonstrated his “iconic
power” as a “fearless ghetto emperor,
king of the slums.” Thus, although Tupac
rose to great fame and fortune, he did
not attempt to increase his profits by
promoting merchandise, such as clothing and sneakers. Instead, Tupac sought
to elevate his persona of violence and
street toughness by acting unafraid of
death and confronting challenges head
on. As Dalton explains, Tupac had “a
boiling internal rage, a secret sensitivity and an almost messianic sense of
sacrifice.” As this description demonstrates, Tupac’s popularity and success
stemmed from his emotional rawness
and intensity of living conditions, not
from commercialization of his products.
Although one could argue that Tupac
attempted commercial success through
his role in movies, these films shed light
on some of the brutal realities of inner
city living instead of promoting a specific brand. Tupac’s musical popularity
stemmed more from his prolific writing
and intrinsic rage than actual lyrical
content. Dalton describes Tupac’s style
as “ghetto naturalism” and that, although
not lyrically witty, attained emotional intensity. This lyrical style further
reaffirms Tupac’s reputation of emotional authenticity. Unfortunately, Tupac’s
career ended early when he was gunned
down on September 7th, 1996. The death
of Tupac brought the demise of gangsta
rap and a mixed opinion on his career.
While considered a martyr by some for
his unapologetic portrayal of street life,
many considered his career destructive
for younger audiences. However, no one
makes the claim that Tupac shamelessly
sold out to the commercial market to
reap greater profits.
Another famous rapper, Jay-Z,
had a similar early lifestyle to Tupac
in that he befriended drug dealers at
an early age. However, many praise
Jay-Z for going a step further than just
bragging about his street cred. Instead,
Gonzales remarks how Jay-Z’s lyrics “displayed a three-dimensional side of the
hood.” In this respect, Jay-Z has achieved
an arguably more profound lyrical
reputation than Tupac due to his ability
to showcase the many aspects of living
in the ghetto besides just Hollywood’s
portrayal of ghettos as violent-ridden
areas. As Jay-Z described, “I’m not going
to record a song about people getting
killed every two minutes. That’s not real.
We have cook outs, family picnics and
our friends. All of us are just trying to
maintain our balance in the anarchy that
surrounds us.” Due to his lyrical skill
that depicted the realities of living in
the ghetto, one could argue that Jay-Z
escaped commercialization in that he
did not sell out and portray the popular
image of cities as only filled with drugs
and shootings, while talking excessively
about cars and money, but instead painted a more fuller picture of everyday life
through his lyrics.
Jay-Z did not escape all aspects
of commercialization, however. In 2004,
he became the president and CEO of Def
Jam records, a major hip-hop label. In
this position, Jay-Z must focus on finding and promoting new artists, which
makes commercialization of product a
major priority for Jay-Z now. Instead of
producing authentic music that exposes
the realities of inner city living, Jay-Z
now spends much of his time helping
artists like Rihanna and Ne-Yo produce
more pop-inspired records. Furthermore, Jay-Z planned on retiring after
his third album, explaining that he had
nothing left to rap about and how his
fame, richness, and happiness did not
provide much material for hip-hop
albums. However, Jay-Z eventually came
out of retirement to continue creating
albums, although this dearth of new
experiences needed for new material
had not changed. Thus, Jay-Z could be
seen as selling out to the commercial
industry because of his desire for profits
coming from producing more albums
over his desire to maintain his reputation as a rapper who spoke of emotional
hardships of everyday life since now
Jay-Z must rap about money and women
since he has no hardships left to rap
about. While both Jay-Z and Tupac are
incredible hip-hop artists in many ways,
the commercial aspect of the hip-hop
industry influenced both of their careers
in widely divergent ways.
1. De La Soul, The Fugees, Grandmaster Flash &
the Furious Five, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, N.W.A.,
Public Enemy, Puff Daddy, Run DMC, The Sugarhill
Gang, Tupac Shakur/1999/David Bennun/Hot Air/
Hip Hop Don’t Stop/08/05/2015 13:40:29/http://www.
2. Tupac Shakur/2000/Stephen Dalton/Uncut/
Tupac Shakur/08/05/2015 13:49:30/
3. Tupac Shakur/1996/Sonia Poulton/Muzik/Tupac
Shakur 1971-1996/08/05/2015 15:22:05/http://www.
4. Jay Z/2007/Michael A. Gonzales/Stop Smiling/
Jay-Z: Change the Game/08/05/2015 14:04:24/http://
5. Jay Z/2003/Ted Kessler/Guardian, The/Jay-Z: Get
Carter/08/05/2015 14:04:43/
Sonic Youth: A Profile
By Anna Schwab
Sonic Youth is a post-punk, experimental
rock American Rock band from New York
City. They were founded in 1981 by guitarists Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo and
bassist Kim Gordon. Both guitarists were
performing with avant-garde composer
Glenn Branca at the time, who largely
influenced Youth’s sound. The band’s lead
vocals alternate between Moore, Gordon,
and Renaldo on most of their tracks.
They have been praised for the distorted,
dissonant, avant-garde sounds that they
achieved from their guitars, the band is cited as redefining the sound of rock guitar—
heavily influencing the American indie
bands that appeared later in the 90s. The
band designed their own custom guitars
and effects for their distinct sound, such
as “The Sound Destruction Device” which
is gated fuzz pedal with two gain stages to
create oscillating distortion sounds.
Sonic Youth used open and irregular tunings to give their guitars harsh, discordant
sounds that tend to drift between sounding
major and minor—a sort of “atonal guitar
clangor.”[1] In his book about Sonic Youth,
Michael Azerrad says of their guitars:
“[Sonic Youth] could only afford cheap
guitars, and cheap guitars sounded like
cheap guitars. But with weird tunings or
something jammed under a particular fret,
those humble instruments could sound
rather amazing – bang a drum stick on a
cheap Japanese Stratocaster copy in the
right tuning, crank the amplifier to within
an inch of its life and it will sound like
church bells.”
Youth’s experimental sound was
heavily influenced by artists like the Velvet
Underground, the Stooges, and John Cage.
Moore and Ranaldo employed bizarre
tunings in their music to deviate from a
standard sound and break down the conventions of song structures. Many of their
songs required heavily specific tunings
and prepared guitars (with a screw wedged
under the fret board or the like), forcing
the band to switch guitars ever one or two
songs. Sonic Youth was heavily praised
from the sounds they got from preparing
their guitars, which caused strange string
resonance effects, echoing, and buzzing
that contributed to their wall-of-sound
To Pimp A Butterfly:
Challenging Stereotypes With
by Stefan Brown
Youth’s LP Bad Moon Rising was
released in 1985 and received much praise,
its sound described as: “feedback drenched
experimentations within relatively
straightforward pop song structures.”[2]
Their rise to critical claim arrived with
their album Daydream Nation, which was
released in 1983. The album opens with
the band’s anthem “Teenage Riot.” After releasing Day Dream Nation the band signed
with DCG in 1990, and released Goo that
same year. Many of the songs on Goo,
such as “Tunic (Song for Karen)” are about
women. In an interview with the New York
Times, Kim Gordon said “It just seems like
there’s not enough songs about women.”
“Tunic,” features Chuck D of Public Enemy
who raps about, “Fear of a female planet,”
while Gordon chimes in: “Are you going to
liberate us girls from male white corporate
oppression?” In the summer of 1992 the
band released Dirty, which featured some
more pop-oriented and accessible songs
than those on their earlier records. The
album was produced by Butch Vig, the
producer of Nirvana’s Nevermind. You
can tell—this album has some of Nirvana’s
straightforward grunge sound.
The band kept making music well
through the 1990s and early 2000s until
Gordon and Moore announced their
divorce in 2011 and the band’s dissolution shortly there after. Gordon recently
released a memoir this year, Girl in a Band.
All four musicians are continuing to be
active members in the music scene. Lee
Ranaldo released a solo album with Nels
Cline, Between the Times and Tides (lead
guitarist of Wilco) in March of 2012.
Sources : *
Kendrick Lamar’s third and most recent
studio album To Pimp A Butterfly has
been one of his best music projects
to date. Recent recipient of the Generational Icon Award from the state
Senator of California, Lamar’s album
cemented his role
as a top dog in the
It has commercially
been his most successful album selling
324,000 copies in its
first week. To Pimp
A Butterfly comes
with a new, fresh
sound and a different outlook from
the artist. The album
title, albeit strange,
carries a powerful
meaning for Kendrick Lamar and he
uses the album to
portray this meaning to fans all over
In Kendrick
Lamar’s previous
work, the albums
mainly focused on
his growth as a person from childhood
to adulthood in Compton, California.
“The overall theme, for me personally,
for this album is really leadership. How
can I use it for better or for worse? With
money and with my celebrity, how can I
use it? How can I pimp it? Can I pimp it
negatively or can I pimp it in a positive way?” explains Kendrick Lamar to
MTV’s Rob Markman. The answer to
Kendrick’s question, of course, was To
PimpA Butterfly.
Having fully established himself in the upper echelon of current rap
artistes, Kendrick’s new album now
longer focuses on himself as much, but
on the black community in its entirety.
Kendrick understood the many negative
stereotypes associated with his art, and
chose to use his latest album to be a new
wave of positivity within the industry
and the black community as a whole.
Originally the album’s name was Tu
Pimp A Caterpillar, which was homage
to the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Kendrick explains the name switch by saying,
“Me changing it to Butterfly, I just really
wanted to show the brightness of life
and the word pimp has so much aggression and that represents several things,”
he said.
“For me, it represents using
my celebrity for good. Another reason
is, not being pimped by the industry
through my celebrity (status).” Kendrick Lamar uses this album to bring
positivity to every aspect of the life he lived
growing up; he was
not glorifying what
Tupac would call the
‘thug life’, but instead
showing the youth
that after hardship,
the most beautiful of
butterflies can emerge.
The message is similar
to Tupac’s poem The
Rose that Grew from
the Concrete.
chose to use his latest
project to take the
rap industry in his
hands, and chip away
at all the negative
connotations so often
pushed by the media
in today’s society.
Kendrick Lamar’s new
album, and its title, is
a wake-up call for the
ball community and
the black community
leaders. Rap should inspire the butterfly
to emerge.
So how have you pimped the butterfly?
The Beatles’ Role in Shaping
the Music Video
By Will Moss
The Beatles are known across the globe
for revolutionizing the music industry. As
acclaimed culture commentator Steven D.
Stark has asserted, “They changed more
about both their discipline, and the other
disciplines around them through that, than
anybody else did.”[1] But what exactly did
this cultural and artistic upheaval entail?
For starters, their ingenuity and innovation
in the recording studio—ranging from their
backward audio loops in Revolver, to their
concept album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s
Club Band, to their seamless transitions
between songs on the B-side of Abbey
Road—opened the eyes of countless artists
and led to a domino effect of creativity and
experimentation. Additionally, as international icons, they redefined fashion norms
and helped “spearhead the hippie trend.”[2]
At the risk of reducing them to solely these
achievements, it is important to note that
these are but a few of their best-known
accomplishments. One triumph that they
are less well known for, however, is their
pioneering status in constructing what is
the present-day music video. In today’s
digital age, music videos have become an
essential marketing tool to help groups promote their brand and increase profits. After
all, one marketing agency has noted that of
the 118 billion music streams in 2013, 57.1
billion of them were music video streams.
[3] Accordingly, it is worth questioning
how and to what extent the Beatles shaped
this industry staple and whether or not they
have consequently molded contemporary
music consumption.
One can find fragments of the
music video as early as 1895. In that year,
Thomas Edison skillfully paired moving
pictures with his phonograph into a device
known as the Kinetophone.[4] Despite its
groundbreaking status, the Kinetophone
did not catch on commercially and died out
only a few years later.[5] It was not until
the 1920s that this phenomenon of music
and video combination would be revived,
but when it was, it met immense financial
gain. Theatres across the country presented
the first motion pictures with sound-onfilm, and artists began to release musical
shorts that would be played before movies.
[6] These musical shorts were played all the
way through the 1920s and 1930s up until
the 1940s when soundies emerged. Soundies were, as The History Channel describes,
“Three-minute films featuring music and
dance performances, designed to display
on jukebox-like projection machines in
bars [and] restaurants.”[7] These soundies
enjoyed substantial success and remained in
public spaces for decades after their birth.
After soundies, the next major music video
developments were to take place in the
1960s: Enter the Beatles.
The Beatles, like no musical group
before them, “harnessed the power of
film to market their records and express
themselves as artists.”[8] Their full-length
features A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, Magical
Mystery Tour, and Yellow Submarine,
which included seemingly random musical interjections that did little to advance
plot, achieved both great critical acclaim
and commercial profit. With these movies,
the Beatles not only cultivated their iconic
image but also disseminated their music to
a variety of audiences drawn to the theatres
by rave reviews. While previous music
videos—like those on soundies—displayed
musicians playing their instruments with
dancers bobbing around in the background,
the musical interludes in the Beatles promotional movies often showed footage of Paul,
John, George, and Ringo acting outside of
their musical careers;[9] this effectively gave
viewers a sense of the Beatles as personalities in addition to just artists. “Cant Buy Me
Love” in A Hard Day’s Night, for example,
presents the boys racing, jumping, and
spinning in an open field.
The Beatles’ next contribution to
the development of the music video came
with their promotional single-song shorts.
These shorts were initially, as music critic,
Terrance Canote, observes, “based more in
practicality than [they were] artistic expression.”[10] After years on the road, the Beatles were tired of touring, bothered by the
screaming that drowned out their performances, and unable to meet the demand for
their presence on television. To handle all
of these issues, they decided to simply shoot
videos of themselves with their music that
could be sent to television stations across
the world. As the Beatles’ website writes,
“Promo film[s] could be distributed farther
and wider, meaning that once [they were]
made they could continue spending much
more time in the studio and experimenting
with new sounds and ideas - as they had
recently begun to do.”[11] Their earliest
single-song shorts included straightforward
performances of “Ticket to Ride,” “I Feel
Fine,” and “Help!” Following these shorts,
the Beatles surfaced with what perfectly
resembles present-day music videos. Rather than just playing instruments in their
new videos, the Beatles “ventured into the
area of conceptual video” and used it as a
medium of creative expression.[12] Their
videos for “Strawberry Fields Forever” and
“Penny Lane” employed special effects and
other film techniques never used before in
promotional film.[13] With these advanced
and inventive single-song films, the Beatles
developed what contemporary consumers
would label with ease as music videos.
Though they certainly cannot
claim credit for creating the music video,
the Beatles’ can take credit for refining and
popularizing it as a marketing tool in the
rock and roll era. Their use of promotional
films, like so many of their other artistic
innovations, has had a widespread impact
and continues to influence music consumption today. While we would certainly have
music videos without the Beatles’ contributions, they nonetheless were at the forefront
of promoting the trend and paved the road
for MTV. Indeed, in 1984, MTV titled
director Richard Lester the “Father of the
Music Video” for his work on the Beatles’
promotional films.[14] Ironically, it seems
as if the band’s additions to the music video
as a medium are largely forgotten; perhaps
their list of substantial musical and cultural
accomplishments is too lengthy to make
room for one more.
[1] “When the Beatles Changed Everything,” CBS
News (February 2, 2014),
(accessed May 9, 2015).
[2] Joe McGasko, “We Love Them, Yeah Yeah Yeah:
7 Ways the Beatles Changed American Culture,” (February 7, 2014), http://www. (accessed May 9, 2015).
[3] David Bakula, “Behind the Music (Video): How
Important are Videos to Both Artists and Brands,”
The Nielsen Company (March 22, 2014), http:// (accessed May 9, 2015).
[4] “The Music Video, Before Music Television,”
The History Channel (August 1, 2011), http://www. (accessed May 10, 2015).
[5] “The Music Video.”
[6] “The Music Video.”
[7] “The Music Video.”
[8] “The Music Video.”
[9] “The Music Video.”
[10] Terrance Towles Canote, “How the Beatles Kinda Did (And Kinda Didn’t) Invent Music Videos,”
Black Maria Film Blog (February 15, 2014), http:// (accessed May 10, 2015).
[11] “Shooting The Penny Lane and Strawberry
Fields Forever Promo Films,” The Beatles’ Website, (accessed May 11, 2015).
[12] Canote, “How the Beatles.”
[13] Canote, “How the Beatles.”
[14] Brendan O’Neill, “A Hard Day’s Night: How
Director Richard Lester Invented the Music Video,”
The Big Issue (July 22, 2014), http://www.bigissue.
com (accessed May 10, 2015).
David Geffen’s
Legacy by Alex Kamisher
“I’d have to do more than three words, but
apt words are: smart, intense, passionate, and
loyal.”[1] This is Clive Davis, one of the most
well renowned American record producers, on
the ruthlessly intense David Geffen. Since his
mid-twenties, Geffen has had a major impact
on the music industry. His first record company, Asylum records, brought many of the most
well known artists to the forefront of the music
scene in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. These artists included the Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Jackson
Browne, and Metallica. After dropping out of
the University of Texas, Geffen was able to land
a mailroom job at the William Morris Agency,
which was one of the largest talent firms until
its recent merger with the Endeavor Talent
Agency, by forging a UCLA degree. This type of
tenacity and deep desire to become successful
ultimately led to his rise in show business.
David Geffen was born in Brooklyn,
New York on February 21st, 1943 to two Jewish
immigrants. With a 66 percent average, Geffen
barely graduated high school. He enrolled at the
University of Texas, but failed out after one semester. Geffen subsequently began taking classes at Brooklyn College, but also failed out after
a semester. Geffen began his entertainment
career in the mailroom at the William Morris
Agency, which he was able to get by lying about
going to UCLA. Geffen was able to intercept a
letter from UCLA to WMA, which stated that
he had not graduated from UCLA, which allowed him to modify the letter to show that he
had attended and graduated from UCLA. This
quick thinking allowed him to keep his job as at
the prestigious agency. Geffen quickly climbed
the corporate ladder and was able to become a
talent agent within his first year at the agency. David Geffen soon left William Morris to
become a personal manager for acts including
Laura Nyro, Jackson Browne, and Crosby, Stills
and Nash.
Geffen decided to start Asylum
Records because he was unable to find a record
contract for Jackson Browne. Geffen founded Asylum in 1970 with Elliot Roberts, who
worked with Geffen in the mailroom at William
Morris. The first act that they hired was Laura
Nyro, who was famous for her songwriting and
albums such as Eli and the Thirteenth Confession and New York Tendaberry. In its first year,
Aslyum signed big names in the music industry,
including Linda Ronstadt, John David Souther,
Judee Sill, Joni Mitchell and Glenn Frey. Geffen
later encouraged Glenn Frey to band together
with Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy
Meisner to start the Eagles, which led to one
of the best groups in music history. Geffen,
Asylum Records, and the Eagles changed music
Perhaps their biggest signing came in
the mid 1970’s when Bob Dylan switched from
Columbia records to join the Asylum team.
Dylan had been with Columbia since the early
60’s and recorded many hit albums in that time,
including The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, Bring
It All Back Home, and John Wesley Harding.
However, his falling out with Columbia led
to a great opportunity for Geffen and Asylum
records. During his tenure with Asylum, Dylan
recorded two albums on Asylum, Planet Waves
(which peaked at number 7) and Before the
Flood (which peaked at number 3.) In 1972,
Asylum was taken over by Warner Communications and merged with Elektra Records.
Geffen and Roberts each received 2 million
dollars in cash and 5 million dollars of stock in
Warner Communications. Geffen served as the
president and chairmen of the merged record
company until 1975, when he became the chairman of Warner Brothers Pictures. Since his
departure, Asylum has signed very prominent
artists in pop music today, including New Boyz,
Cee Lo Green, and Ed Sheeran.
Geffen was fired from Warner Brothers in 1978 and subsequently, in 1980, founded
watch?v=zpDurrDqByg (49 seconds)
his second record label, Geffen Records. His
second recording company proved to be an
even bigger success than Asylum and had an
even greater impact on the music industry.
The first person that Geffen signed was disco
star, Donna Summers. Her gold-selling album,
The Wanderer, was the first album released
by the new record label. The next famous
duo that Geffen signed was John Lennon and
Yoko Ono. Only two weeks after the release of
their album Double Fantasy, John Lennon was
murdered in New York City. Double Fantasy
sold millions of copies and was Geffen Records’
first number one album. From 1980 onwards,
Geffen Records signed many significant artists, many artists with platinum albums. For
instance, the label was able to sign Elton John,
Cher, Don Henley, Joni Mitchell, Aerosmith,
and Neil Young. Prior to signing with Geffen,
these artists all had major mainstream success.
However, these artists were able to grow in
popularity with Geffen. Geffen became very
popular among the emerging rock scene in the
late 1980s with groups such as Whitesnake,
Sonic Youth, Aerosmith, and Guns N’ Roses.
In 1990, just ten years after the start of Geffen
Records, the record company was sold to MCA
Music Entertainment. This deal netted David
Geffen roughly eight hundred million dollars in
stock. Geffen later founded DreamWorks studio
with Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
With his two record companies,
David Geffen was able to bring many inspirational and important artists to the forefront of
the music industry. Many of his singers and
songwriters have changed the music industry
forever. Without this innovative and relentless
man, the music industry may have been very
different from how it is today. Perhaps without
David Geffen, no one would have heard the
songs Doctor My Eyes, Hotel California, or
Take it Easy.
Piracy in the
Music Industry
by Andrew Jacobs
Ever since the Internet has become an
important part of our society, multiple
issues have arisen involving the illegal
distribution of copyrighted material. The
internet, and other forms of media that
have grown popular today, have made
it easier for individuals to share music
without properly compensating those
responsible for creating it. Whereas people
used to have to physically pirate the music,
either by copying tapes, records or CDs,
multiple applications now exist that allow
users to post their various songs on a free
public server, and download any posted by
other users with no regard for copyright
laws. Before the Internet, people often did
not think the risk of pirating music was
worth the reward—however, the internet
has significantly decreased that risk. Using
these applications hurts everyone
in the music industry who worked
hard to produce the very music
that users share without any regard
for copyright laws. Whether it be
songwriters, recording artists, audio
engineers, producers or publishers,
none of these various groups are
receiving the compensation that they
deserve when their music is illegally
reproduced and distributed.
An interesting part of piracy in the music industry is that many
individuals who partake in it don’t
realize the impact of their actions, or that
it is a crime. However, the numbers argue
that the effect of unlawful music sharing is
greater than many people could imagine.
The Recording Industry Association of
America (RIAA) states that some studies
estimate that the music industry loses
nearly $12.5 billion a year due to illegal
distribution, resulting in over 70,000 lost
jobs. The loss in income can be partially attributed to the fact that the music industry
is more reliable on digital formats of music, with the amount of revenue generated
by this format rising more and more each
year, accounting for 64% of the industry’s
revenue in 2013. Nevertheless, sales have
been declining since the turn of the century due to the emergence of music sharing
applications such as Napster, Limewire,
and uTorrent. Napster was the first of
these applications to be widely used by the
public. Since it’s creation in 1999, music
sales have dropped more than 50% in the
United States, without even adjusting for
inflation. In 2009, it has been reported that
only 37% of music obtained by consumers
in the United States was lawfully paid for.
At its apex of use, over 25 million people
used Napster, leading to multiple high
profile artists, such as Metallica, to sue
the service in 2000. They claimed that the
site was illegally distributing copyrighted
material that they didn’t own the rights
to. While Napster would eventually settle
these suits, it was shut down in 2001 due
to another lawsuit filed by various record
companies under the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act. The act, which makes the
production of technology and services
intended to avoid measures that control
access to copyrighted material illegal, was
the first major detriment to piracy in the
music industry.
Despite this act, and its obvious
intention to reduce the illegal distribution
of music, other forms of pirate sites still
exist today through various loopholes in
copyright laws. The most notable of these
is the PirateBay. This site is not specifically designed for pirating music, despite
its name. It is a torrent site for all sorts of
digital media. However, the way the site
avoids prosecution by law is because the
site itself is not actually hosting the files—
rather it is providing various other places
that users can obtain and download the
music. Furthermore, the site is hosted by a
Swedish server, where providing a service
like this is not illegal.
The RIAA’s goal has long been to
reduce, and eventually eliminate, piracy in
the music industry. By lobbying for stricter
laws and punishment for those who partake in the illegal distribution of copyrighted music, their efforts have certainly
resulted in some progress. Additionally,
they aim to build a “thriving legal marketplace.” Accomplishing these goals would
ensure that the industry would still have
the ability to give rise to new bands and
different forms of music.
While music piracy was certainly
a big component of the industry in the
2000s, as we reach the mid 2010s, the role
of illegal music sharing seems to be significantly decreasing even if its effects are still
being felt. According to a Forbes article in
2013, use of music sharing sites was down
to 10% of the population by the end of
2013. Compared to a figure of 31% in 2008
and 60% in 2002, this is a significant drop. Furthermore, the rise
of free, legal sites that have access
to all sorts of music, like YouTube,
has likely contributed to this. According to one study, 64% of teens
consume their music through YouTube. Other amenities, like Spotify,
provide streaming services that are
easy to use and completely legal.
The bottom line is that the evolution of technology, which once
caused us to start sharing music
illegally, has now reduced our need
to do.
While piracy has certainly impacted the
music industry since the age of technology
has arisen, new, more advanced technologies, in addition to harsher legislation, has
helped reduce the illegal sharing of music
The Rise of
a New EDM
By Alec Corazzini
Electronic dance music, often termed
EDM, has finally made it to major
popularity after its over twenty years of
existence and escaped it relegation to the
underground scene of the 1990’s. The
electronic Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas
grossed over forty million dollars in 2012
and major headlining DJ’s are getting
performance fees on par with rock stars.
The genre has undergone a movement
away from the underground, illegal, and
hidden scene and has been reborn as an
entirely new spectacle.
The explosion of EDM originated in America in the 1990’s, and while
much has changed for the genre, it would
appear to a degree that history has continually repeated itself and not that much
has really changed form its roots. Classified by its huge gatherings of dancing
kids, crazy outfits, DJ performers and
drug overdoses. The new look EDM however, is not a déjà vu scenario, but rather a
rebranding of the whole genre. No longer
is the term “rave” used, the gathering of
people are now called “festivals”, the word
techno is now obsolete in describing the
music, and even the drugs have changed
that are associated with the music.
The most striking difference to
the change in he EDM genre is the sheer
size of the phenomena itself. The EDC
in 2012 drew almost 350,000 people to
Las Vegas over the span of three days.
Crowds are lured to these dance fests,
such as Ultra and Electric Zoo not only
for the massive headline of DJs but the
mind-blowing light show and cutting
edge visual technology tat accompanies
But what took so long for EDM
to take over the American Mainstream?
This same phenomenon is sometimes
compared to the fifteen-year window
before punk music broke into America
in 1991. There is a deeper history though
in the rise of EDM, as they made series
of attempts to rise to popularity with
numerous charting songs of the past
decades, only to be pushed back underground soon after. In the early 1990’s
KLF and C&C Music Factory, Deelite,
and Crystal Waters all had BillBoard Top
40 songs. Raves, the public gatherings
for EDM concerts, were both illegal and
commercial at the time. 1993’s Rave
America drew 17,000 people to California. There was lull in popularity for the
years after until MTV began to showcase
some popular DJs. In the next couple
years few DJs would gain a large following and music was featured in commercials and soundtracks, while resurgence
of raves drew nearly forty thousand
people. Once again the craze died dissipated as radio refused to play EDM tracks
unless it contained vocals and pop structure. Labels also couldn’t figure out how
to market and develop electronic acts into
album selling career artists.
EDM was able to achieve
mainstream status by shedding the term
“rave” and the negative connotations that
accompanied it. State laws made raves
and DJ parties’ illegal. The association
with EDM and ecstasy made getting
performance permits impossible and
often scared away clubs and authorities
from granting shows. The genre rebranded the shows as “festivals” to draw a line
between the 90’s rave culture and new age
EDM. The festivals like all genres of music still had drug and violence issues, but
now rid themselves of media stigma and
policing that targeted raves. Promotion
companies for EDM, such as Insomniac,
who host EDC, needed to function in
the new system and so enhanced security
highlighted these changes. The sites of
these shows are no longer hidden, but
hosted mainstream venues like sports
Perhaps the largest breakthrough
was with EDC 2010, which Insomniac
hosted at the LA Coliseum. This showed
the world that EDM had an enormous
following, yet still there existed a link
between drugs and the music, as a young
girl dies of drug overdose.
Festivals are meant to be
spectacles within themselves with their
elaborate light shows and dancers. The
light shows are cited as a major point in
the music’s popularity. Daft Punk’s set at
Coachella in 2006 began a craze to have
the most elaborate set up and now most
money is poured into LED panels and
beat-synchronized graphics.
There has been recent backlash
that new EDM does not serve its electronic roots. In a Wall Street Journal
article, it is called “Dumbing down of
EDM”, where now the whole culture is
about getting drugged up and not the
music itself. Also another huge negative
connotation of the music is that the DJs
simply press, “play” at their shows and
there is no live mixing of the music.
While current DJs can attribute
much of their success to the internet
and social media, most of the leading
and most popular DJs gained most of
their following through rigorous touring
schedules, which started a near grassroots type movement for the genre. This
was rather easy to do as EDM artist are
much more efficient touring operations
then other genres.
The rise in sub-genres within EDM itself
highlights the want for different styles
of electronic music. The hard-hitting
darkness and intense basslines were
drastically different from the escapists
and trancy sounds that were popular
before. The popularity of this style went
along with the increased energy audiences had due to pill use. Dubstep was
being shaped to replace rock, as there is
perennial demand for tough aggressive
forward-looking sound to provide a
release for frustration.
The current EDM scene is n
uneasy coalition of hard-hitting “rocktronica” DJs such as Skrillex and Bassnectar and the feel-good trancy-house music
from DJs like Avicii, Kaskade, and Tiesto.
There exists a division in promotion companies, such as Hard Events and Insomniac as to where the genre should go. Gary
Richards, founder of Hard Events, wants
to further push electronic music away
from the rave scenes infamous past and
invent new sounds. In contrast, Insomnia
founder, Pasquale Rotella, wants to persevere the “hands-in-the-air” euphoria
atmosphere of electronic music. “Without
the people, the music is nothing,” according to Rotella. The genre itself is all about
providing people with a forum to express
their creativity and experience a sense
of collectivity, along with total sensory
Deadmau5, Skrillex/2012/Simon
Reynolds/Guardian, The/EDM: How Rave Music
Conquered America /04:20:32/
2014/Joshua Glazer/Cuepoint/ Etymology of
EDM: The Complex Heritage Of Electronic Dance
2013/Naomi Claire/Poached/ A HISTORY OF
2012/Scott Plagenhoef/GQ/ Drop the Bass: How
the ‘90s Won Again/
2000/Ian MacDonald/Uncut/Various Artists:
Machine Soul: An Odyssey Into Electronic Dance
Music /
2014/Louis-Manuel Garcia/Resident Advisor/ A
Pre-history of the Electronic Music Festival/http://
By Theodore Kim
Snoop’s Rebirth:
From Dogg to Lion
By Justin Goldman
Even for those of us who aren’t rap enthusiasts, Snoop Dogg is one of the most
recognizable faces from the business.
Tall, lanky, and rocking his classic goatee-and-dreadlocks, Snoop is as unique in
appearance as he is in his music. If you’ve
ever heard him on a track, you’re familiar
with his distinct drawl, and laid back funky
style. After exploding into the scene with
his single, “What’s My Name?”, Snoop went
on to solidify himself as an iconic gangster
rapper, and unwittingly treaded a path that
would lead him to a Rastafari awakening
and reggae.
To get a sense of Snoop’s roots,
Doggystyle is the album to listen to. Released in 1993, it was Snoop’s debut album
and achieved great success, hitting number
1 on the Billboard and eventually becoming a quadruple Platinum album. While
the value of gangster rap and its perceived/
real effects are heavily disputed, there is no
doubting that Doggystyle had a lasting im-
pact on the rap scene. It typified not only
gangster rap, but west-coast hip hop, introducing a new, more melodic synth-based
aesthetic. With that said, sexism, violence,
excessive alcohol and marijuana consumption are not only prevalent in his lyrics,
but celebrated in them. Songs like “Ain’t
No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None)”,
“Gz Up, Hoes Down” and “Gin and Juice”
simply do not promote values that would
help shape young men and women into
better, kinder people - nor do these songs
have that responsibility, because this sort
of music is entertainment, not to be held
to educational or moral standards. The
music’s only obligation is financial success.
Snoop, after prolonged success, no longer
needed to prove his talent or carve out his
place. In his music, you could see signs of
him beginning to contemplate his messages with more gravity. In fact, Snoop Dogg’s
transformation into Rastafarian Snoop
Lion was foreshadowed in his song “Ups &
Downs” from R&G The Masterpiece. The
music video is in black and white, creating an aesthetic of the 70’s, while being
conspicuously absent of any gang colors.
Snoop expresses ambivalence about his
past and optimism for the future. With
lines like “I’m out with the bullshit // I’m
in with the real shit” and “He would always
tell me sometimes you gotta take the good
with the bad // You gotta do bad in order
to do good,” Snoop acknowledges his imperfections and seeks a new direction with
his music.
Snoop’s spiritual transformation
culminated in Reincarnated, a reggae
album released in 2013. While it can not
undo the negative influences of his earlier
music, the album represents Snoop’s search
for something more meaningful than selling albums, and humanizes Snoop.
Judkis, Maura. “Snoop Dogg Becomes
Snoop Lion.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 01 Aug. 2012. Web. 13 May
“Snoop Dogg.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia
Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
It’s flashy, it’s catchy, and it’s been taking over the world by the millions; it’s
none other than K-pop, a term used to
describe a musical genre that began in
South Korea. While the genre originally
included popular music from a variety of
genres, it has been narrowed down to a
more modern and smaller group of genres
such as rap, dance, ballad, and hip-hop.
K-pop has spread internationally, using its
K-pop stars’, such as TVXQ, SNSD, and
Girl’s Generation, international appeal:
performing in China, Japan, and other
Asian countries. In the more recent years,
K-pop has begun to cross over to American music, an obvious example being Psy’s
Gangnam Style. The music video was an
international fad with more than 2 billion
views that forced Youtube to update its
view counting algorithm. But while the
audience members are mesmerized by the
brilliance of K-pop’s stars and catchy tunes,
they are completely missing an uglier
side of K-pop that many are not willing
to discuss. Where do these K-pop stars
come from? What kind of training do they
receive and where? With its recent rise in
what’s known as Hallyu, or Korean Wave,
the number of teenagers who wish to join
K-pop groups have also skyrocketed. But
with so many young teens who are seeking
fame and not knowing any better, the
chance of abuse is too great.
They are called K-pop boot
camps, and they are where hopeful teenagers undergo intense training to become
K-pop stars. But these boot camps don’t
just provide you with dancing and singing
lessons; instead, they control your lifestyle.
They dictate your diet, the decide how
much you should weigh, they give you a
new Korean stage name, and they limit
the amount of communication you can
have with the outside world. In addition,
all students are expected to undergo a
basic cookie-cutter operation, in which
they perform plastic surgeries ranging
from botox injections to eye lifts to ensure
that they have the appearance expected of K-pop stars. They perform these
operations on teenagers who can be as
young as 10-years-old often without the
approval of their parents. At the very least,
these K-pop boot camps and the lifestyle
they force upon the students are openly
discussed by both the media and students’
But besides the grueling treatment that many trainees go through to become K-pop stars, the even less discussed
topic is the rampant sexual abuse that
occurs in these camps and entertainment
companies. In an anonymous interview
on September 18th, 2014, an ex-trainee of
XX-Entertainment gave a report on the
sexual abuse he went through;, such as
being raped by the CEO of the company
and being forced to strip and be touched
by girls. He explains why he couldn’t refuse
the inappropriate and sexual requests that
were made, “I have to do what I’m told by
my company, and if I don’t they will release
me. So all of us had no choice but to do it.”
Incidents like this are not isolated. On
April 12th, 2012, Open World Entertainment’s CEO, Jang Seok-woo, was
arrested on charges of sexually abusing
female trainees and coercing male idols
to partake in his actions. Three days later
it was confirmed that he had sexually
harassed six female trainees over ten times
and forced male idols to sexually harass
the trainees as well. These recent reports
of sexual abuse in the K-pop industry is
similar to the sexual abuse that occurred in
the Korean movie industry. In 2009, Jang
Ja-yeon committed suicide at age 26 due
to depression that was linked to the sexual
abuse that she wrote about in her suicide
note, including her management forcing
her to have sexual intercourse with the key
figures in the entertainment industry.
One could describe the current
situation as industrialized abuse, both sexual and non-sexual. We allow these K-pop
boot camps and entertainment companies
to continue to abuse children in their
hopes of becoming famous K-pop stars.
Although it’s not to say that all companies
are guilty of this, but clearly a significant
majority are. As audience members and
consumers of K-pop, is it not on us to stop
supporting a music industry that’s clearly
so rampant with child abuse? The question
seems to be an echo of a similar question
asked about the rap music industry. But
unlike the rap world, the artists in the
K-pop world have even less power and
say in what goes on in the industry. So it
becomes even more imperative that the
consumers of K-pop, the world, make an
adamant stance against the clear abuse in
the K-pop music industry.
Cain, Geoffrey. “K-pop’s dirty secret.”
Dana. “Open World Entertainment and the
Ugly Side of K-pop.” seoulbeats.
Linggo, Hulyo. “How to become a k-pop star.”
“Report: Interview with male ex-trainee who
was raped and sexually abused at company XX.”
Soh, Elizabeth. “15-year-old S’porean K-pop
hopeful: They tried to ‘fix’ my face.” SGEntertainment.
J-Cole: The
Other Side of
the Story
By Davis Reid
In 2007, Jermaine Cole debuted his first
mixtape, The Come Up, which caught the
attention of hip-hop juggernaut Jay-Z and
got Cole signed to his label, Roc Nation, in
2009. Cole would then go on to release two
more mixtapes (The Warm Up & Friday
Night Lights) before his first album, Cole
World: The Sideline Story, dropped and
debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 in
2011. Two years later, Cole’s second album,
Born Sinner, debuted at number two, only to
climb to No. 1 two weeks later. Cole’s latest
album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, was released
at the end of 2014 and again debuted at No.
1. With his commercial success, there is little
debating that J. Cole is one of the hottest
names in hip-hop, but there is much more
than record-sales that set him apart from the
stereotypical rapper.
Heaviness. That’s how Cole describes his music. “That’s my favorite,” he
says. “Things that are heavy in content… The
stuff that evokes emotion in me.” This already
may be different than what you expect from
a rap-star, and Cole acknowledges that his
upbringing has provided him with a different
He was born in Frankfurt, Germany while his parents were stationed in
the military, but moved to Fayetteville,
North Carolina a few months later where
his mother raised him. He fell in love with
rap at a young age, and moved to New York
to attend college at St. John’s University,
believing it would be the best spot for him to
break into the rap game. He graduated from
St. John’s Magna Cum Laude with a GPA of
3.82 and earned a degree in communication
and business. While this provides him with
a unique perception of rap world, it may also
hurt him in ways. “There is a certain appeal
to the hood rapper who sold drugs and didn’t
go to school.”
But this is what makes J. Cole such a standout. In a genre that is so often associated
with misogyny, homophobia, and violence,
Cole is able to step away and figure out ways
to influence a culture-shift. “I feel like I’m
doing everything the right way, you know
what I mean? I’m really going out of my way
to do it the right way. I’m taking very few
cheats — very few cheat codes that I’m using.
You know what I mean? I’m really trying
to stay true to the art form and just to the
craft — the craft of doing this. Because that’s
going to inspire the new generation to do the
same thing.” And he does this by trying to set
an example. Cole realizes these stereotypes,
and tries to tell the other side of the story.
“[We’ve had] 20 years now of rappers having
to be like the most coolest, most fly, most
macho. Like Biggie was so cool, he could do
no wrong. Biggie was what you wanted to be
when it comes to being a ladies’ man — or
how he talked. Like Jay-Z, same thing; Mase.
And even going back to Tribe — that was
more of a realistic way to talk to women.”
He continues, but “[I’ll explore] another side
that, like, I feel like a lot of rappers won’t
show, which is, yo, what if you’re just shy?
You know what I mean? What if you just
don’t really have the balls to holler at this
particular woman? What happens then? Why
is nobody talking about that? Well, guess
what? I’ma tell you about it ‘cause I know
what it’s like to be that, too. I know what it’s
like to be that person. So it’s a different level
of honesty that I feel like I have been trying
to bring to the game.”
This honesty came to the forefront
when the Michael Brown shooting took place
on August 9, 2014. Two days later, J. Cole
released a song entitled “Be Free,” with the
lyrics “All we wanna do is take the chains off,
all we wanna do is be free.” Two weeks after
that, Cole was in Ferguson, Missouri to visit
and be a part of the environment. He paid
for himself and twelve of his friends to be
down there, and only took part in one short
interview, making it clear that the purpose of
the trip was not a publicity stunt, but rather
to “be a part of history.” Cole would go on to
perform “Be Free” live on the David Letterman show in December, and was received
with praise for his genuineness and passion.
“The message, which is what, ultimately, all
this comes down to, is love. That’s the only
thing that can solve all of this. Like, I find
myself some days getting so upset and I forget about that part,” Cole says. “And I think
bigger when I think about love. I think about
the bigger solution.”
And with that, Jermaine Cole
continues to change the landscape of what
the standard is in rap music. While so much
of the rap we hear on the radio can seem
mindless and without lessons, J. Cole has
set his sights on being the socially conscious
MC who tells the other narrative. So often,
rappers feel the need to put on the persona as if they are the strongest, the hardest,
the toughest, and this has created a certain
culture around the entire genre. But Cole
sees it differently. “I realized that I gotta base
my happiness on what I have. Which is the
people I have in my life, the love I have in my
life, the – just the moments I have. You know,
the simplest things… I just feel like, with
rappers, there’s so much complacency. It’s
like, ‘Oh, I’m a rapper. I’m successful. I make
money. That’s all that matters.’ But there’s a
lot of stuff going on in the world. Whether or
not you’re aware of it, it’s happening.” So sit
back and let him tell that side of the story.
Flowers, Shaunee. “J. Cole, A ‘Mogul in the Making’” AXS. AXS, 7 June 2014. Web. 13 May 2015.
Kelley, Frannie, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. “J.
Cole On Competition And Writing Honest Songs.”
NPR. NPR, 23 June 2013. Web. 13 May 2015.
Kelley, Frannie, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. “J.
Cole: ‘Ain’t Enough Of Us Trying’” NPR. NPR, 12
Dec. 2014. Web. 13 May 2015.
Orr, Gillian. “The College Kid Shaking Up HipHop.” The Independent. Independent Digital News
and Media, 20 Sept. 2013. Web. 13 May 2015.
YouTube videos:
“J. Cole Talks For Nearly An Hour to the WSJ’s Lee
Hawkins | J. Cole Interview.” YouTube. YouTube,
n.d. Web. 13 May 2015.
“J. Cole: “Be Free” - David Letterman.” YouTube.
YouTube, 10 December 2014. Web. 13 May 2015.
Kanye West’s
Through The Wire
808s to MPCs:
Evolution of Hip Hop
By Sean Regan
By Blake Valenzuela
The modern day rap artist has seen a
transition from talking about their life
experience to portraying their narcissism
in a way that allows them to describe who
they believe themselves to be, what they
have, and in some cases, the problems that
are happening at that time. Rapper Kanye
West is no exception to this version of what
I deem to be the modern rap artist. Before
becoming a rapper, Kanye West gained
success as a Chicago producer. It was not
until after he was in a car accident that he
gained success through rapping. His first hit
single, Through The Wire was
created to share his experiences
and frustrations he felt while his
mouth had been wired shut due
to a broken jaw after he was in
a car accident. The first line is
an example of the struggles and
tasks that came with a mouth
wired shut: “I drink a Boost for
breakfast, an Ensure for dessert,
Somebody ordered pancakes, I
just sip the sizzurp, That right
there can drive a sane man berserk” (West, Through The Wire).
Shortly after this single,
Kanye West debuted his album,
College Dropout, which was a
reference to him dropping out
of college in order to pursue his
rapping career. Rolling Stones
Magazine ranks this album as
#19 out of 100 of the best debut
albums of all time. The song that
brought this album most fame
is Slow Jamz, which featured
Jaime Foxx and Twista and was the first #1
hit song for all three musicians. Not much
longer he released another album in 2005
titled, Late Registration, which had five
top hit songs from that album. His biggest
hit song from this album was Gold Digger.
This is arguably the song that presents us
with a snippet of who he’s transitioned
to become today. During this period, he’s
shown being courageous enough to share
the ways in which media perceive blacks
as ‘looters’ during a live Hurricane Katrina
relief telethon. He then ends his portion
of the telethon by stating, “George Bush
doesn’t like black people.” With another
song, Heard ‘Em Say, he shares his belief on
aids in relation to the government when he
says, “And I know the government administered AIDS/ So I guess we just pray like the
minister say.” Although many believe this
would be one of the last instances in where
he would have these random outbursts, it
wasn’t. Since then, it has been common for
Kanye West to speak his mind. Year 2005
can be seen as a marker in the steps Kanye
took to become who we have known him to
become today. It is now common to expect
Kanye West to speak his mind in any situation. The following year Kanye West poses
for Time Magazine, in where he dresses as
Jesus Christ with the thorn crown. This was
meant to promote his song Jesus Walks,
however, it was considered to be extremely controversial in that many people took
offense to it.
Another example of one of Kanye’s
outbursts is when he took the stage of the
Video Music Awards while Taylor Swift was
giving acceptance speech for the best music
video in 2009. He stated, “I’m sorry, but
Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all
time!” One would not have thought Kanye
West would have said something remotely
as blunt and straight forward when he was
an up and comer, but the media and music
industry seemed to have loved it. Fans of
Kanye West loved it.
It seemed that Kanye West no longer projected his experiences, through his
music but rather replaced these experiences
with what he believed or felt about
modern day issues. In an interview
on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kanye
states, “Anytime I spoke my mind,
whether it put my career in jeopardy, or whatever, it was always
what I thought was the truth… I
don’t follow rules of like a normal
celebrity… And for me to say I
wasn’t a genius, I would be lying
to you and myself.” This interview
happened in 2013, and showed the
reasoning for the way Kanye West
responds to the media the way he
does when given the opportunity.
He believes to be a genius, and
believes that not sharing his beliefs
would practically be a disservice to
society. This transition from being
someone who shares experiences
to sharing a biased form of beliefs
can be an example of what media
can do to people when they feel
empowered by it. Although this
empowerment may stem from
media, Kanye West had recently just found
a new form of empowerment a decade after
releasing College Dropout. That is, he has
recently obtained a doctorate degree at the
school of Arts Institute of Chicago.
Through the Wire:
Slow Jamz:
Gold Digger:
Jimmy Kimmel Interview:
Boom. Bap. One, two, three, four. Young
Chop on the beat. Jahlil Beats, Holla at
me. What may seem like simple onomatopoeia and two hype man phrases, are
actually some of the most recognizable
calling cards of artists in the world of
Hip-Hop. However, these aren’t the people
seen hooping around stage. These are the
calling cards of the producers of hip-hop,
the beat smiths, the people who would
rather “Lock [themselves] in a room doing
5 beats a day for 3 summers”[1]. Even
though most Hip-Hop producers are inherently out of the spot light, their musical
contributions have undoubtedly shaped
the growth and development of the genre.
Considering that rapping and beat making
are the core elements of Hip-Hop, it makes
sense that beat production found its roots
in the growing South Bronx Hip-Hop
communities. Following Kurtis Blow and
usage of the Fairlight Sampler, Afrika
Bambaataa embraced the newly released
Roland TR-808 that introduced the early
sounds of both sampled and synthesized
drum patterns into MCs and DJs repertoire of beats. Additionally, Fab Five
Freddy’s sample of “Ahh, this stuff is really
fresh” [2]became the early scratch sample
of choice as it not only provided ample
parts for beat slicing, it already had a
scratch in it allowing less than experienced
DJs use it as a crutch for poor timing.
Shortly there after, in 1983, Run-DMC
released itself titled debut “Run-DMC”
produced nearly entirely Oberheim DMX,
furthering raps current adherence to self
produced sounds. All of this changed,
however, once a producer by the name
of Rick Rubin got his hands on a trio of
Jewish Boys hailing from downtown New
York City.
The release of “Rhymin & Stealin”
by the Beastie Boys and produced by Rick
Rubin, marked one of the first times that
not only was a sampled song repeated as
a backing track but when another drum
break was used in lieu of a self produced
one[3]. Through out the song, Rubin sliced
the drums of Led Zeppelin’s “When the
Levee Breaks”[4] and layered other samples on top of this newly created pattern.
This created the trend often heard from
the gold age of hip hop of drums with a
“punch” or a crunch. Other producers
like DJ Priemer and the RZA continued
this style, making the sound becoming
largely associated with a New York style of
rapping. Additonally, groups like A Tribe
Called Quest and De La Soul began sampling classic soul records and looping them
into their drum breaks. Prince Paul of De
La Soul also pioneered the “chipmunk”
sound popularized by the productions
of artists like Kanye West. It consisted of
taking a sample, often of a soul or gospel
backing, and speeding it up until the pitch
was like that of a character from “Alvin
and the Chipmunks”[5]. The evolution of
hip-hop production remained split into
two branches: the self-produced and the
sampled. This schism even persisted into
the 2000s.
For the sake of simplicity, the
producer representative of the sampling
party in the 2000s will be Madlib while the
Neptunes will be the self-produced. Madlib
continued to the practice of sampled
older soul, gospel and funk records for his
breaks, melodies and bass lines. The efforts
of Madlib and other artists like J Dilla,
the Alchemist, or MF Doom, in combination with releases from record labels like
Stones Throw, have kept the golden era
sound alive into the 21th century under
the designation of “underground”. On the
other hand, the Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo) are characterized
by their less is more, self created approach
to production. Famous for combining
electro-funk with Eastern percussion, the
Neptunes rarely sample anything for their
arrangement and instead, record many of
a song’s parts live and then compile them
later[6]. On thing that I would like to note
is the development of modern Pop rap
production. Pioneered almost entirely by
DJ Mustard, Pop rap can be recognized
by a reliance on 808 claps, snares, and a
pronounced bassline. While such “ratchet”
style is certainly incredibly profitable, it
lacks much of the effort typical of hip hop
production, in favor of recurring, but artist
attributable, traits (DJ Mustard usage of
“Hey” in the background of his songs).
While the art of rapping itself
went through many ups and downs in
terms of growth and complexity, hip hop
production stayed mostly true to its uphill
growth. When people began seeing artists
like Sean Combs, Dr. Dre, and Biz Markie step out into the spot like, many put
down the microphone in favor of an 808
or MPC. Furthermore, this article is only
meant to be a brief introduction into the
world of production and a hope that more
people can try out this often forgotten art.
So, next time you and some buddies are
freestyling for fun, try being the boom
boxer or finger drummer. You might just
find an experience far more rewarding
than just spitting a few bars.
Barshard, Amos. “Rude Boys.” N.p., 24
Apr. 2011. Web. 12 May 2015
Brown, Ethan (April 1999). “My Name is Prince...And
I Make Beats” (PDF). The Source: 136–143
Daley, Dan. “Recording The Neptunes.” Recording
The Neptunes. Sound on Sound, July 2005. Web. 12
May 2015
Daly, Steven. “The Sole Track That Launched Commercial Hip-Hop in 1979.” Vanity Fair. N.p., Nov.
2005. Web. 12 May 2015
D’Errico, Mike. “Off the Grid: Instrumental Hip-hop
and Experimentalism after the Golden Age.” The
Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop (2015): 280-91.
Rivers, Patrick, “The Mad Science of Hip-Hop:
History, Technology, and Poetics of Hip-Hop’s
Music, 1975-1991” (2014). Dissertations and Theses,
2014-Present. Paper 467.
Segal, Dave. “The Origins of That “Aaaaahhhh...
Fresssshhhhh!” Sample.” The Stranger. N.p., 2 Nov.
2010. Web
West, Kanye, Evidence, Syleena Johnson, Glc, Consequence, Jay-Z, J. Ivy, Talib Kweli, Common, Twista,
Jamie Foxx, Ludacris, Mos Def, and Freeway. Spaceship. Kanye West. Roc-A-Fella Records/Hip
Blurred Lines:
is Miley Cyrus the
new Madonna?
By James Hamilton
Madonna, from the moment she burst
into the pop music scene with her eponymous album in 1983, has been known as
a trendsetter, constantly reinventing her
image and pushing the limits of the socially constructed normative evaluation of
gender and race. A little over two decades
after Madonna’s first album, a young Miley
Cyrus distanced herself from her acting
career and broke into the music industry.
As a rising star, the dichotomy between the
innocence of Miley’s early acting career on
Disney’s Hannah Montana, and her sexually explicit musical persona was jarring for
witnesses of all ages. Similarities between
the sexuality and ‘shock value’ of both Madonna and Miley Cyrus have led some to
implicate that Miley Cyrus is, in-fact, the
next Madonna. However, a closer analysis
of the careers and performances of these
two artists implies otherwise.
One of the central reasons that
some music reporters like Daniel D’addario contest that Miley Cyrus is the next
Madonna is because of their shared tactic
of ‘shock value’. Both artists use this tactic
by incorporating shocking and provocative
behavior into both their personal lives and
their performances. Examples of these
behaviors and performances include Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” VMA routine, the
creation of The Sex Book, and her “Justify
My Love Video”. For Miley, these actions
include her sexual 2013 VMA performance with Robin Thicke, pole dancing
at the TCAs, her nude “Wrecking Ball”
music video, various nude photo leaks and
various drug charges. Despite the fact that
both artists have increased their popularity
through provocative behavior, the motivations behind these shocking acts and the
starkly different receptions of these acts are
key factors that help to distinguish the ca-
reers of these artists as markedly different.
Although Miley and Madonna
both use provocative behavior to increase
popularity, the roots of their behavioral
tendencies are starkly different. Miley,
when discussing recent press coverage of
her hyper-sexualized persona and questionable abuse of drugs and alcohol in the
city club scene was quoted saying, “how
can you sing about partying if you never
go out”. She goes on to describe how she
engages in the party scene so that others
will find her music relatable. This sort of
outside-in persona construction finds itself
in opposition with Madonna’s identity.
While Miley constructed her
identity to cater to perspectives of the
current pop climate, Madonna did just the
opposite. Madonna not only challenged
pop culture, she reshaped it. Madonna’s
personality was self-constructed. On
the subject, she discussed her mother’s
untimely death to breast cancer and how
it impacted the strength of her voice.
Madonna’s haunting memories of the
emptiness and weakness of her mothers
voice in her final passing days motivated
her to find the strength in her own voice.
Additionally, Madonna is quoted as attributing her raw and unshackled attitude
to her lack of a mother figure. She noted
that mothers normally teach their children
manners, and she grew up without one.
Hooks and other musical analysts describe
Madonna’s ability to construct her own
identity outside of normative culture and
to direct the attention and direction of pop
culture as one of her defining characteristics. In this sense, Miley’s subjection of her
pop-identity to the confines of popularized
hyper-sexuality and club scene behavior
does not echo the identity of Madonna,
but rather opposes it entirely.
The careers and performances
of Miley and Madonna also differ greatly
how they were received by culture during
their times. It is true that both Madonna
and Miley employ sexual and provocative themes to snatch the attention of the
public and pull them in. However, the important distinction between the receptions
of the two artist’s work is the value of the
substance and meaning of the works. Both
artists are dominant performers, however
Madonna not only attractions attention,
but she keeps it with her powerful messages. Conversely, Miley’s ‘shock tactics’
are effective not because they direct the
attention of the audience anywhere substantive, but, instead, simply because they
can catch the attention of the audience
at all. Often, those who claim similarity
between the artists will point to the sexuality and popularity of Madonna’s Like a
Virgin performances and compare them
to the likes of Miley’s VMA performance
with Robin Thicke. However, this comparison only highlights the differences in the
actual effects of the artist’s performances.
Madonna’s Like a Virgin performance not
only captured the audience with sexual
and powerful dance imagery, it also left the
audience with a feeling of female sexual
empowerment and pushed the envelope of
conventional sexual norms. Debbie Miller
from Rolling Stone noted Madonna’s voice
“doesn’t have the power or range of, say,
Cyndi Lauper, but she knows what works
on the dance floor.” The performance was
critically acclaimed and socially powerful. These reviews stand in contrast with
Miley’s. Miley’s VMA performance was
received overwhelmingly negatively, noted
as being “raunchy”, “hyper-sexualized”
and “inappropriate”. There are an extremely limited number of articles within the
music industry that even address the performance in the frame of substance or art,
those that do consider the performance to
lean toward a misogynistic message that
sexualizes woman, far from the empowerment that Madonna fought so hard to
The careers of Miley and Madonna are drastically different. Madonna
changed the face of pop, what Elvis did
for performance art, what the Beatles did
for bands, Madonna did for the female
pop-star. She used powerful performance
art and dance in combination with
provocative and socially daring messages
to reinvent pop-culture and to empower
the female artist. Although the tactics
used by the artist may seem similar on the
surface, they differed greatly in the purpose and reception. To consider Miley the
next Madonna is to conflate sexual action
and shock tactics with sexual progressivism and a lasting shock to the pop-culture
that redefined the role of a female pop
Scaggs, Austin (October 29, 2009). “Madonna
Looks Back: The Rolling Stone Interview”.
Rolling Stone (San Francisco: Jann Wenne
Miller, Debbie (January 17, 1985). “Madonna:
Like A Virgin : Music Reviews”. Rolling Stone
(Jann Wenner)
Like a Virgin (7-inch Single liner notes). Madonna. Sire Records. 1984.
Holland, Jessica (November 8, 2009). “Miley
Cyrus: The Time of Our Lives”. The Observer.
Guardian Media Group.
“Miley Cyrus to make “Dirty South Hip Hop
Album””. Fist in the Air. November 10, 2012
Kahn, Robert (August 10, 2009). “Miley Cyrus’
pole-dancing performance sparks criticism”
“VMA 2013: Most Talked About Moments:
We Can’t Stop/Blurred Lines/Give It 2 U
(Medley) | Miley Cyrus | Music Video”. MTV
News. Viacom.
Lawrence, Jesse (January 24, 2014). “Miley
Cyrus Bangerz Tour Could Learn A Thing Or
Two From Lady Gaga’s ArtPop Tour”. Forbes.
Fritz, Ben; Kaufman, Amy (April 18, 2012).
“OMG! Miley Cyrus’ ‘LOL’ gets no love from
Lionsgate”. The Los Angeles Times.
We’re No. 1 · The A.V. Club Madonna’s Like
A Prayer remains a provocative, substantive.
Electronically Published: November 04, 2014
Das, Lina (May 23, 2006). “Madonna concert
review: ‘Even the bouncers looked scared’”.
Daily Mail (Associated Newspapers).
A Critique of MK-JAG’s
Latest Cover: “Weak”
by Alondra Munoz
Earlier this year, MK-JAG made a
brilliant cover of Etta James’ Cry. Unfortunately, MK-JAG’s most recent cover of
SWV’s Weak hasn’t been as much of a
MK-JAG consists of three
performers. Both vocalists, Manyata and
Kadijah, have remarkable voices. Manyata’s lower voice meshes well with Kadijah’s
high pitched sound. They chose Weak to
compliment their different vocal ranges,
however, the song ended up not sounding
as cohesive as its original.
Manyata was first to sing on the
track. She had an outstanding beginning. The audience can identify with the
lyrics because of the soul in the song.
Similar to the original song, she holds
the notes skillfully. Despite having an
incredible voice, Manyata had to sing
louder than usual and project into the
microphone and she didn’t have the same
tone throughout her verse. Sometimes
she would sing in one range and at other
points she would sing in a lower range.
The second vocalist, Kadijah,
also starts off strong. The melody in her
voice, for the first two lines of the verse
captures one’s attention instantly. However, afterwards, the singing becomes
very pitchy. The singing should have
been more fluid. Rather than singing to
emphasize talent and singing range, the
singing should be mellower.
Gernald harmonized and rapped
on the track. The rap was well written.
Referring to the theme of the song,
Gernald, the rapper, says, “You make
me weak” and “I feel so incomplete,” to
highlight the message of the song. In
addition, to underscore the importance
of the lyrics, the rapper lowers the tone of
his voice.
MK-JAG represents musical
evolution. They have the capacity to take
an R&B record and satisfy a younger
audience. While Weak is not representative of the group’s talent, it is still a great
cover. What MK-JAG didn’t do well was
arrange the song to fit the voices of the
performers. Because of their distinct
voices, changing the lyrics around and
changing several notes to compliment the
vocalist would have improved the cover.
Great singing is not enough to produce a
great record.
All of the people involved in
producing a record contribute to its
success, or lack thereof. Vocalists play one
of the most important roles in the latter.
However, as seen in MK-JAG’s record,
having a team to arrange the song was
needed. Producers, composers, engineers,
etc. are all important; an arrangement
team made up of these key individuals
help “work the other ear.”
Cry’s success can be attributed
to MK-JAG’s acquaintance with the song.
MK-JAG’s cover of Weak demonstrates
that great records involve multiple individuals, not just the talents of vocalists.
While covers can be successful without
a team, that success is not granted at all
Rage Against the
Rages against the Machine
By James Wilson
How does one describe Rage Against the
Machine? RATM is one of a kind with a perfect
balance of things that at first thought shouldn’t
go together: metal and rap combined with a
punk attitude. Similar to Sex Pistols in demeanor, RATM did and said whatever they felt like
doing and saying. However, RATM decided
to take their show in a completely different
direction promoting a style of political activism
in order to rage against “the machine”.
RATM was very powerful in its voice to call out
against government and corporate wrongdoing.
Lead singer De La Rocha was especially vocal
about anti- war sentiment and anti- censorship.
La Rocha famously said, “A good friend of ours
once said that if the same laws were applied
to U.S. presidents as were applied to the Nazis
after World War II […] every single one of
them, every last rich white one of them from
Truman on, would have been hung to death
and shot—and this current administration is
no exception. They should be hung, and tried,
and shot. As any war criminal should be.” This
sparked major backlash from the news and
media which claimed that he had called for the
assassination of the president. However, this
was clearly not the case. La Rocha thought that
everyone in power should be held accountable
for their crimes of war.
This is what started to interest me so
much about Rage Against the Machine. RATM
didn’t necessarily believe themselves to be perfect or without fault, but they wanted everyone
to have an opportunity to be themselves without infringing on the rights of others. RATM
did this while being a part of the culture, but
not fully in the culture.
RATM also heavily fought against
the use of censorship whether that censorship
was through the use of force or warning label
and radio broadcast. This was very important to RATM because much of their music
was censored. Even some of their scheduled
performances were unexpectedly censored by
the police expecting that something bad would
happen. In protest to the PMRC, RATM stood
naked on the stage of Lollapalooza with PMRC
and tape over their mouths and refused to play.
RATM was later even censored by cops when
they were not allowed onto the stage where they
were going to perform. In response to the act of
censorship by the police, RATM responded by
singing their token song “Killing in the Name”
through megaphones as a show of rebellion.
When SNL again tried to censor RATM’s display of upside-down American flags Da Rocha
was tired of it saying, “Our contention that
American democracy is inverted when what
passes for democracy is an electoral choice
between two representatives of the privileged
class. America’s freedom of expression is inverted when you’re free to say anything you want to
say until it upsets a corporate sponsor. Finally,
this was our way of expressing our opinion of
the show’s host, Steve Forbes.” RATM wanted
freedom of speech to be true for everybody in
all contexts, not just sometimes when certain
people were okay with it. This championing
of freedom of speech was a large part in why
RATM fought so hard and so frequently against
Many people critique RATM for
being fake and that they only adopted a certain
persona to gain a following and get attention.
This seems like a plausible thing to do when
examining the lifestyle of these artists. RATM
signed with Epic Records, a very big recording
company, and live in Beverley Hills just like all
of the other superstars and lifestyles. However,
the members of RATM believed in what they
were touting to others very much. They used
their position to of wealth and power to be able
to spread their message. PATM wanted to show
as many peop
RATM was very special because they
were so different from anyone else that came
before or after them. RATM did not care what
people thought about who they were, but rather
cared about the example that they set for others
and how people in power used their authority.
If they abused their power, RATM was not
afraid to call them out on it. RATM, although
not the most talented musicians that ever lived,
they lived their lives in a certain way that made
them feel like they were absolute rockstars that
towered above authority.
Is Bigger Always
Better? A Closer
Look at Woodstock
By Andres Rodriguez
The Woodstock Music and Arts fair,
most notably known as the Woodstock
Festival of 1969, goes down in history
as one of the most epic music festivals of all time. The festival drew in
an estimated 500,000 people and was
headlined by iconic artists including
Jimi Hendrix and Jefferson Airplane.
Having attended many music festivals myself, however, I could not help
but notice numerous similarities and
differences between these festivals and
Woodstock. Specifically, studying the
Woodstock Music Festival made me
aware of its many unique social and
economic qualities. By comparing
my own experiences with what I have
learned about Woodstock, I hope to
determine whether a festival of Woodstock’s magnitude would be possible to
replicate today.
As of today, there has been no
music festival as large as Woodstock.
The larger festivals in the US today
accommodate at most 100,000 people.
The main reason Woodstock was so
large was because of lack of security.
Due to a late change in location, Woodstock staff was unable to fully barricade
the event before it started. Consequently, nearly 50,000 people camping out in
front of the main stage days before the
event began. This caused the founders
of the festival to make the festival free
to the public. Today there has yet to be
any major festival free to public, and
ticket prices have been increasing every
year in order to make profit, provide security, pay for a venue, and pay artists.
As stated by an article about the economics of Electronic Dance Music,
multiple day-passes for the Ultra Music
Festival held in Miami every year cost
$400 while VIP tickets have a starting
price of $850. This price would have
been unimaginable in 1969, and before
the event was made free, 3-day tickets
that were bought in advance only cost-
ed $18 and if you bought them the day
of the event, they would have costed
$24, which today is an estimated $120
and $150 respectively. One of the main
reasons why festivals today are so expensive is because popular artists/DJ’s
are expecting more and more money
for them to preform. According to the
LA Times, booking fees for headlining
artists often exceed six figures while
non-headliners earn at least $15,000.
Compared to The Woodstock Festival
of 1969, the maximum an artist was
able to earn was $15,000, however Jimi
Hendrix who can be considered the
headliner earned $18,000 because he
played 2 sets.
Another reason why music
festivals today are so expensive is
because the promoters need to be able
to cover anticipated damages to the
property and build massive stages for
the performers. This is something the
promoters of the Woodstock Festival
did not take into account. Max Yasgur,
the dairy farmer who agreed to host the
festival on his land, was paid $10,000
for his cooperation, but resulting
damages to his property exceeded
$50,000, and he nearly lost his business.
Additionally, the promoters of Woodstock did not have enough money to
build another stage and were forced to
allocate the rest of their money to build
a stage rather than building a barricade
around the entire venue.
Besides the very apparent economic differences, music festivals today
have many social similarities to the
Woodstock Festival of 1969. The main
similarity is that just like the iconic festival of 1969, music festivals today also
attract many people from across the
country that are interested in the same
thing. Additionally, music festivals today attract people of all ages, especially
young adults in their 20s. A festival of
Woodstock’s magnitude would have
many of the same social benefits as the
iconic festival of 1969 did, as well as it
bring in money to the area’s economy.
After deep analysis of the Woodstock
Festival of 1969 and music festivals today, I have come to the conclusion that
re-creating a music festival as grand
as Woodstock is not feasible. Socially,
a festival of Woodstock’s magnitude
would please every young American
out there and festivalgoers would have
stories to tell for generations to come.
However, economically it is not feasible for the average American. Music
festivals such as Governors Ball in New
York and Coachella in California are already pushing the limits of ticket prices
and these events aren’t even half the
size of the iconic Woodstock Festival,
which would increase the costs exponentially. Having the success festivals
are having today, it would be beneficial
to keep them the way they are. Unfortunately for now we are going to have
to leave Woodstock in the past and
cherish the legacy it has left on music
festivals for years to come.
Bray, Ryan. “Faking Woodstock: Why The 2019
Resurrection Is A Bad, Bad Idea.” Consequence
of Sound. Consequence of Sound, 06 June 2014.
Web. 12 May 2015.
Crockett, Zachary. “How Much Did the Musicians of Woodstock Get Paid?” How Much Did
the Musicians of Woodstock Get Paid? Priceonomics, 12 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 May 2015.
Godard, Thierry. “The Economics of Electronic
Dance Music Festivals.” SmartAsset. Insights,
27 Mar. 2015. Web. 12 May 2015.
Parker, Chris. “The Economics of Music Festivals: Who’s Getting Rich, Who’s Going Broke?”
BROKE? Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr. 2013.
Web. 12 May 2015.
Rosenberg, Jennifer. “The Woodstock Festival
of 1969.” The Woodstock Festival of 1969. Jennifer Rosenberg, Feb. 2015. Web. 12 May 2015.
The Boss
Bruce Springsteen
By Nick Marraffa
October, 1974. New York City, Avery Fisher Hall. A collapsed stage and the sounds of
“Rosalita” still echoing through the venue. The
result of another explosive performance by
one of the last great rock stars, The Boss, Bruce
Springsteen. At the time of this performance,
Springsteen had yet to come close to stardom.
He had two albums under his belt since he had
started recording nationally in 1972: Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ and The Wild,
The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle. These
two albums had then only sold about 100,000
copies combined, yet his fans were just that;
fanatics. Fans of rock and roll could feel the
emotion and energy elicited by Springsteen in
his performances, and as Dave Marsh of Let It
Rock Magazine wrote, “He can do everything.
He writes lyrics that put Dylan’s recent work
to shame” (Marsh). The pride of New Jersey
would not be denied, as critics and those in the
business knew he was destined for stardom,
seeing him not as just another Bob Dylan, but
as Bruce Springsteen. In 1975 he released Born
to Run which ended up six times platinum,
and by 1980 his next two albums combined for
another eight times platinum. It was abundantly clear by the time he reached London in 1981,
overselling a crowd of 105,000 at Wembley
Arena, that Springsteen WAS rock and roll.
Bob Dylan was to play in less than a month, but
many were skeptical as to how well he would
be received, because “No one, the feeling goes,
can follow Springsteen” (Williams). In 1984
Born in the USA went fifteen times platinum in
the US alone and all who followed would now
be compared to the success of Bruce and his
extremely gifted E Street Band.
Born September 23, 1949 Springsteen
grew up in Freehold Borough, New Jersey. His
life and times spent “in the swamps of Jersey”
had a significant impact on his musical content.
The main inspirations for him to take up music
were seeing Elvis perform on the Ed Sullivan
Show and the success of fellow New Jersey
native Frank Sinatra. At the age of sixteen,
Springsteen played multiple venues, most
notably at Café Wha? in Greenwich Village. At
the time of Bruce’s performances the café was
owned by Manny Roth, the uncle of David Lee
Roth. Many of his songs reference back to New
Jersey and his time spent living a life on the
boardwalk. He told Jerry Gilbert of Sounds in
1974 that he missed being able to write songs
on the boardwalk and that the road was really
no place to write for someone of his caliber. It
helped for him to write in familiar places, since
his lyrics were often composed of aspects of
his own life. Bruce said of his lyrical content,
“I see these situations happening when I sing
them and I know the characters well…they’re
probably based on people I know” (Gilbert).
He describes the stories he tells in his song as
just like walking down the street, noting that
“there’s lot of activity in my songs, a whole mess
of people,” and most of his songs were written
without any music (Gilbert). Though they can
be related to aspects of his life, Springsteen was
never one to pump his own ego and said of his
songs “The mistake is when you start thinking
that you are your songs” (Gilbert). With this
attitude, he continued to write songs about
places and events that were familiar to him, but
usually tried to make sure he was not the focus
of the song. Also, his songs had an attitude
that the working class American could relate
to and could put themselves inside of instead.
Through this, his work became truly patriotic,
encapsulating what it meant to be an American
at the time.
This attitude persisted in his later
work as well. He never stopped making albums
or performing, but after hitting three times
platinum with Tunnel of Love in 1987, he
didn’t have as much success in his record sales
as previously. He has had multiple platinum
albums since, but the only one to reach more
than one was The Rising which he released in
2002 as a response to the September 11 attacks.
Also, The Rising was the first album he did with
the full E Street Band since his peak with Born
in the USA. Songs like “Into the Fire” “Countin’ on a Miracle” and “My City of Ruins” really
spoke to how the American public was feeling
in the aftermath of the destruction. In a move
that many saw as unprecedented and may have
even been upset about, Springsteen teamed
up with Asif Ali Khan, a Pakistani musician,
to make music for “Worlds Apart” and give it
a middle-eastern flair. In an interview with
Adam Sweeting of Uncut in 2002, Springsteen
was asked about this possible criticism and
responded, “Anybody can say anything, nothing
surprises me at this point…it was just great Pakistani musicians and they sang beautifully…it
just worked really well musically and they were
great people and great musicians” (Sweeting).
Springsteen wasn’t “teaming with the enemy,”
he was simply making great music to comfort a
nation that needed it more than anything.
Even with his monumental success, he never
allowed anything to go to his head or change
his personality. He remains a Jersey kid, living
there with his family on a farm in Colts Neck.
Springsteen expresses his attitude of how he
lives currently in a very simple way, “I think
you have to make a point of behaving like a
human being” (Sweeting). Many who have
had his level of success feel a need to live with
a huge ego, but that means nothing to Bruce.
The Boss remains a man of the people and true
to his American and New Jersey pride, and
though his chart success is not what it once
was, he still packs a stadium better than any
other rock star.
Bruce Springsteen/2002/Adam Sweeting/Uncut/Bruce Springsteen/10/05/2015 23:52:41/
Bruce Springsteen/1973/Steve Turner/New
Musical Express/Was Bob Dylan the Previous
Bruce Springsteen?/10/05/201520:28:51/http://
Bruce Springsteen/1974/Jerry Gilbert/Sounds/
Bruce Springsteen/10/05/2015 20:22:28/http://
Bruce Springsteen/1981/Richard Williams/Sunday Times/Bruce Springsteen: A responsible
Bruce Springsteen/1974/Dave Marsh/Let It
Rock/Bruce Springsteen: Shouldn’t He Be
Famous?/10/05/2015 20:19:28/http://www.
The Second British
By Syed Ayman Kabir
The Second British Invasion started in the
summer of 1982. The launch of MTV was
one of the main reasons for the resurgent
popularity of British groups in the US. The
New Wave of British Heavy Metal and New
Wave(not heavy metal) were the two main
Music videos were very popular in
Britain, unlike in America. MTV, realizing
their commercial potential, began airing
them. Record sales by the acts played on
the channel skyrocketed, baffling the music
industry. In dance chart Rockpool, only 7 of
the top 30 groups were of American origin
in 1981.
In July 1982, The Human League’s
‘Don’t You Want Me’ spent three weeks
on the Top of the Hot 100, largely due to
extensive airplay from MTV. The New
York newspaper ‘Village Voice’ described
it as “pretty unmistakably the moment the
Second British Invasion, spurred by MTV,
kicked off ”. Duran Duran and Culture Club
were some of the most popular acts of this
new ‘video era’. They had created a hype
similar to that of the ‘Beatlemania’ in the
60s. “It was like somebody had given the
entire audience drugs. We couldn’t hear
the monitors. We couldn’t hear ourselves
play” recalled Duran Duran co-founder
and bassist John Taylor, referring to a 1984
show in Seattle. “The clones were out in
full force: ‘Boy mania’ had hit the States in
a big way. Dreadlocked fans filled the front
rows of every gig and lobbies of every hotel”
wrote Culture Club vocalist Boy George in
his autobiography. Established British acts
such as Queen, Elton John and David Bowie
also experienced a surge in popularity. The
album ‘The Game to the Works’ by Queen
topped the Billboard 200 for five weeks. The
synthesizer, a key element in the British new
wave acts, was featured for the first time in a
Queen album despite their previous albums
having a “No Synthesizers” sleeve note,
highlighting the influence of the invasion.
The New Wave of British Heavy Metal(NWOBHM) was a movement that started in
the UK in the late 1970s. It was an attempt
to rejuvenate Heavy Metal, a genre which
stagnated with its biggest acts (Black
Sabbath, Led Zepellin and Deep Purple) all
moving away from the genre and leaning towards a more ‘bluesy’ sound. The
NWOBHM toned down the blues influences, and incorporated elements from punk
and progressive rock of the 70s, and sped up
the tempo. What was left was a very ‘heavy’
and ‘tough’ sound that was meant to only
appeal to underground metal fans. Long
hair, denim jackets, leather and chains became the image of NWOBHM. Iron Maiden, Def Leppard and Diamond Head were
some of the biggest acts associated with the
early movement, with older acts like Judas
Priest and Motorhead also joining in.
Soon after 1984, the popularity of British
artists started declining, due to several
reasons. Culture Club split up over Boy
George’s legal issues regarding drugs. Duran Duran had split into two side-project
groups. “I think most of those groups, as
so often happens, started to make worse
records and accompanied them with really
bloated, absurd and pompous videos. It was
the combination of success and touring and
astronomical demands on your time affecting your creativity, but also success bloating
egos and destroying any sense of perspective” said Simon Reynolds, author of ‘Rip It
Up And Start Again: Postpunk 1981-1984’.
Meanwhile, American artists were beginning to catch up on the video era. “The reality was that Madonna, Prince and Michael
Jackson did it better, bigger and more global
than a lot of British acts” said Martin Fry
of the British band ABC. “The whole music
scene changes every 15 milliseconds.”
The most popular NWOBHM
acts meanwhile, ironically, began to clean
up their sound. Def Leppard refined their
sound and started making glossy MTV
videos. They even did a collaboration with
childhood fan Taylor Swift recently. Iron
Maiden moved towards a more progressive
sound. Meanwhile American metal acts influenced by the NWOBHM bands started to
dominate the charts. Metallica, Megadeth,
Slayer and Anthrax, known as the Big Four,
were the most popular, with Metallica even
topping the pop charts.
British acts still continued to
achieve chart success but their popularity
slowly waned as the 80s drew to a close.
Hip-Hop, Hair Metal and Dance became the
most popular genres. Later British trends
such as The Spice Girls, Blur and Oasis
never caught on with the US comparatively
to the early 80s acts. In April 27 2002, the
Hot 100 had no British acts for the first time
in four decades.
British artists however, would
once again begin dominating the charts. In
2011, British artists accounted for 11.7% of
the US. market, equivalent to one in every
eight albums sold. This was a record year for
British acts in the US, and this record would
only last till 2012 when they accounted for
13.7%, one in seven of all artist albums sold
in the U.S. This prompted BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor to officially call it a ‘Third
Invasion’. “British labels are discovering
unique talent and using social media to help
build fanbases right around the world, in
particular in the U.S., where fans have such
an affinity for British music.” Sound familiar? Once again the British began enjoying
success due to them being more media
savvy than the US. Amy Winehouse’s new
album Back to Black in 2007 paved the way
for Adele, One Direction and Mumford and
Sons to break through and achieve enormous success. It also made more established
British acts such as Coldpay and Muse more
popular. Some other significant acts include
Rod Stewart, Ed Sheeran, Florence and The
Machine and Bullet For My Valentine. British indie music also started gaining a large
fanbase with the likes of Franz Ferdinand,
Bloc Party and The Arctic Monkeys. I mean,
are you really a Wesleyan student if you
don’t listen to the Arctic Monkeys?
Overtime, we have seen British
artists gaining success in America through
better usage of media (MTV and social
networking). The American charts are set
for more ‘invasions’ to come.
The Beach Boys
By John Valett
Known as “America’s Band,” the Beach
Boys had enormous success and became
one of the greatest bands in American
history. Their music is timeless and has
multigenerational appeal; songs such as
Good Vibrations, Wouldn’t It Be Nice,
Surfin’ USA and others are well known
by people of all ages. Not only did this
five-man band produce a long string of
hit songs and timeless classics, but also
they contributed to the hippie subculture of the late 1960s. They raised the
profile of California and pushed the
boundaries of music. They even influenced bands as big as The Beatles to
produce some of their greatest work.
The band was formed in 1961
in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne, California. It was a family band;
brothers Brian, Dennis, and Carl Wil-
son formed the band with their cousin, Mike Love, and their friend, Alan
Jardine. Brian Wilson was considered
the most musically gifted and became
the group’s leader. He wrote the music,
produced the recording sessions, and
even orchestrated the harmonies. In the
beginning, their music mainly focused
on three things: surfing, cars, and teen
romance. Songs such as Surfin’ USA,
Surfer Girl, and Little Deuce Coupe embraced the aforementioned themes and
reached the Top 40 in 1963. Although
there are many songs about surfing
by the Beach Boys, Dennis Wilson
was ironically the only member of the
group that actually surfed. Nevertheless,
singing about these themes brought
the Beach Boys major success. From
1962 to 1966, twenty-two of the Beach
Boys’ singles reached the Top 40. In
comparison, the Beatles had thirty-one
songs reach the Top 40 by 1966 and the
Rolling Stones had twelve. The pace that
the Beach Boys were recording at was
astounding, in 1964 alone, they released
four albums. By 1966, the Beach Boys
had established themselves as one of the
greatest bands alive.
The impact of the Beach Boys
at this time was immense. Their hit
songs about surfing, cars, and love,
idealized and romanticized California
to many across America. California was
seen as a state full of laid-back surfers,
hot rods and beautiful weather. Even to
this day, a little over 50 years after these
songs were released, California is often
known for its beaches and surfing culture because of the songs that the Beach
Boys wrote. Due to the idealized and
romanticized perception of California
created by the Beach Boys in the mid
1960s, many restless youth in wanderlust migrated to California. These
restless youths would eventually help
establish the hippie culture that rose to
prominence in areas like San Francisco
in the late 1960s.
In January of 1966, the Beach
Boys (more specifically Brian Wilson)
began to work on Pet Sounds. Brian
worked non-stop for four months. Although, today, their album Pet Sounds
is seen as a huge success, innovative,
and contained one of the most popular
Beach Boys songs of all time, Wouldn’t
It Be Nice, the album was a huge
commercial disappointment. However,
Brian continued with his next project:
Good Vibrations. Brian Wilson referred
to the song as a “pocket symphony” and
the Beach Boys spent $50,000 dollars to
record the song in 17 sessions. The impact on the musical and cultural world
that followed after this song’s release
was enormous. Due to the success of
this song, the phrase “good vibrations,”
and its shorter version “good vibes,”
became a part of the 1960s hippie vocabulary. Even today, the phrase “good
vibes” is still occasionally used. However, a single phrase is not the only impact
that this song has had. After the release
of the Beach Boys’ album Pet Sounds
and Good Vibrations, the Beatles, the
world’s most famous band, sought to
challenge the Beach Boys’ success. This
competitiveness drove the Beatles to
create their first concept album: Sgt.
Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
After their highly successful
chart-topping song Good Vibrations,
the Beach Boys saw a decline in their
success. However, in 1974, Capitol Records released a two-album collection of
the Beach Boys’ greatest hits. The album
was called Endless Summer and quickly reached the top of the charts and
Rolling Stone even named the Beach
Boys “Band of the Year.” In the following years, the Beach Boys continued to
release new music but it achieved little
commercial success. By the 1980s, new
music released by the group declined
rapidly. The group released their last
number one hit, Kokomo, in 1988. The
band soon after separated. Dennis Wilson drowned in 1983 and Carl Wilson
passed away in 1998 due to lung cancer.
Brian Wilson pursued a successful solo
career and continues to make music to
this day. Al Jardine formed the band Al
Jardine, Family & Friends, and Mike
Love still tours with Bruce Johnson as
the Beach Boys Band. The Beach Boys
gained massive success and popularity within a span of a few years. They
actively competed with the Beatles, who
are considered to be one of the greatest bands of all time, and their music
is considered classic today. They also
helped define California and establish
the hippie culture that flourished in the
late 1960s. The Beach Boys reached superstardom and will go down as one of
the greatest American groups in history.
“Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys
Songfacts.” Good Vibrations by The
Beach Boys Songfacts. N.p., n.d. Web.
12 May 2015.
“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame +
Museum.” The Beach Boys Biography.
N.p., n.d. Web. 12 May 2015.
What we can lean
from Amanda Palmer
By Richard Fessler
In April 2012, Wesleyan alumnus Amanda
Palmer launched a Kickstarter campaign to
fund her album, Theater is Evil. She asked
for $100,000 and raised almost $1.2 million.
In the video she posted on her Kickstarter
page, Amanda Palmer held up a sign that
declared, “This is the Future of Music.” Was
she right?
Before that question can be answered, it’s worth looking at the traditional
model of album production that Palmer
rejected. Traditionally, an artist looking to
make an album would pitch it to a record
label (when Palmer was a member of the
Dresden Dolls, she was signed to Roadrunner Records), which would front the
money needed to record, mix, manufacture, promote and distribute the album.
This can be incredibly expensive; Palmer
claims that Roadrunner budgeted over
$200,000 just to record one of her albums.
In return, the label would get the rights to
a large share of the profits from the album
sales, an exclusive contract with the artist
and sometimes even proprietary rights to
the artist’s music. In this system, the label
risks investing lots of money in an album
that might not sell, but can also reap massive profits from a successful artist. The
artist signs these potential profits away, but
gets to make a record without worrying
about any of the costs and gains access
to the label’s professional staff of recording
engineers, producers, marketers and distributors. Ideally, the artist and the label are
able to work together in a mutually beneficial relationship that helps everyone make
money. In reality, labels are often able to
sign unknown young artists to contracts that
favor the label, creating problems down the
road if the artist makes it big (this is more or
less what happened to Amanda Palmer; in a
2012 interview with the AV Club she called
her relationship with Roadrunner “abusive”).
Before the Internet and the MP3,
signing with a label was the only viable way
for an album to get made. Even if an artist
could afford to rent a studio or buy equipment to independently record their music, it
would be impossible to make and distribute
the physical albums without the label’s infra-
structure. Pre-Internet, the only way to get
music to customers was to manufacture vinyl
records, tapes or compact discs, which was
very expensive. The Internet and the MP3
made physical albums obsolete and made
distribution as simple as uploading a file,
thus making a world without labels possible.
But even though the Internet made it possible to function without a label, labels hung
around. Remember, Roadrunner budgeted
over $200,000 just to record one of Palmer’s
albums. The Internet made distribution
cheap, but the other costs associated with
making an album stayed high. Additionally,
no matter how successful an artist is, they
have no guarantee a new album will sell.
Paying to make an album is a gamble that
comes with risk. Labels survived the advent
of the Internet because they are still willing
to take on the financial risk of paying for an
album, something that would be impossible
for most artists.
However, Amanda Palmer did not
claim that the Internet is the future of music
(though it remains necessary for the future
she envisions). She claimed that crowdfunding is the future. Crowdfunding is a
appealing to artists because it passes all of the
financial risk associated with album production from the label to the fans. The artist gets
to make their album without paying anything
out of pocket and keep all of the money the
album makes. Fans get to directly support
their favorite artists and the cost is spread out
among the backers, making the individual
risk very small. In theory, the only losers are
the record labels.
In practice, crowdfunding is much
more complicated. Artists essentially have
to sell a product that doesn’t exist yet. This
wasn’t much of a problem for Amanda
Palmer, as she has a large and rabid fan base
that gave her ten times what she asked for.
But artists who are trying to make it big don’t
have the kind of fan support that it takes to
raise $1.2 million. They could try to raise
their profile by posting music to Youtube or
taking advantage of social media. Additionally, they could sign the contract that Roadrunner Records is offering them, make an
album now and worry that it might turn into
an “abusive” relationship later. The crowd
can also be unforgiving to artists who take a
few albums to find their stride. Bob Dylan’s
first album tanked. Even if he had managed
to get that first album crowdfunded, no one
would have come back to pay for “Blowin’
in the Wind.” Nor would he have been able
to raise money from his fans to pay for his
switch to electric that lead to “Like a Rolling
Stone.” This is not to say that labels are run
by saints who stick by artists they believe in.
Labels go where the money is or where they
think the money will be. The advantage of a
label is that it only takes one executive who
believes that Bob Dylan’s second album will
be better to get that album made. At Kickstarter, it takes a crowd.
Ultimately, crowdfunding will
probably turn out to be the future of some
music. Established stars like Palmer, who
can sell their fans on their future production, will be able to take advantage of new
funding, while labels will continue to play a
large role in the music industry, especially in
regards to young talent. Crowdfunding is not
THE future of music, but it is a future for the
limited number of artists who are able to take
advantage of it.
Spotify, Resurrected for a
Moment with Forgotify
By Sam Furnival
The current era of music is one of streaming, and the key player is Spotify. While
Spotify may be controversial in many ways,
particularly in its treatment of artists and
songwriters, few beyond diehard “Swifties”
and Beatlemaniacs can complain about
the size and scope of its collection. Spotify
gives access over 30 million songs, with
over 20,000 more added each day. A New
Yorker profile of the founder, Daniel Ek,
described “His vision, that Spotify is a force
for good in the world of music, is almost
Swedenborgian: salvation in the form of
a fully licensed streaming-music service
where you can find every record ever
Around every corner is the
promise of musical discovery and ecstasy,
dredging up something lost to time that
gives you a breath of “pure serene.” The
phrase comes from Yeats, who in “On First
Looking into Chapman’s Homer” compared such artistic discovery to
… stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.[2]
However, Spotify’s library is not just large,
it is Borgesian in scope. Like the infinite
choices in the Garden of Forking Paths, the
endless bookshelves in Library of Babel,
or the ever-growing pages of the Book
of Sand, the vastness of Spotify is almost
paralyzing. To listen through the back
catalogue would take two centuries, and
each day brings with it another month’s
worth of music. There are a few common
reactions to this tyranny of choice. You
can follow the crowd, by streaming what’s
most popular on Spotify and what your
Facebook friends are listening to. You can
“lean forward” and seek out the music you
like, or “lean back” and let human curated
or algorithmically customized playlists that
have replaced the DJs of old.
However, these ports of entry
have left an enormous amount of music
terra incognita. Superstar artists can earn
a comfortable living off of Spotify streams,
but small or midsized artists report miniscule royalty payments. This is a problem
only for artists who are listened to in the
first place. For a year-end report in 2013,
Spotify revealed that over 4 million of
its (then 20 million) songs had not been
played a single time.[3] Perhaps the only
way to reach these islands is to use Forgotify, a Charon to the land of dead music.
Forgotify was created in early 2014, after
“art director and music aficionado” Lane
Jordan heard about these unplayed millions.[4] With some friends, he ran a search
for any music with a popularity of 0 and
then built the results into a database. The
team “set out to give these neglected songs
another way to reach your ear holes, and
Forgotify was born.”[5] has a simple webpage, with only two buttons, “Next” and
“Share.” There are no filters or customized
algorithms, only random chance, queuing
up a “forgotten song” for you to play. This
serendipity, Jordan said in an interview, is
in part to expose users to genres and eras
they wouldn’t otherwise consider.[6]
When they first built the web app, the
total number of tracks was four million.
However, the list changes every day, as the
database adds some of the newly uploaded
songs and drops those that people have
listened to. For now, this churning seems to
be largely stable.
The most poignant part of Forgotify is its ephemerality. While writing this
article, I went on a musical journey stretching back decades and around the world. I
heard Gulf Coast Blues, 70’s Bulgarian pop,
a Canadian Neil Young rip-off, Greek Folk
songs, and a Punjabi-Norwegian singer.
After listening to enough, one can pick out
certain patterns. All of the songs are relatively old; the most modern track I’ve ever
found was recorded in 2003. A contemporary band would get at least a perfunctory
listen-through from friends and family, but
the artists of earlier decades have either
heard enough on Vinyl or CD. Much of the
music was recorded by defunct groups or
retired artists. Others, such as the Soviet
military choir and the Czechoslovakian
Progressive Rock band,[7] hail from countries that no longer exist. Still more come
from intensely musical nations like India or
Iran, where millions of potential streamers
await reliable Internet access and licensing
Just as the artists and these musical traditions are in danger of disappearing,
so is the music they left behind. After a
person listens to a song, it will disappear
from the Jordan’s list the next day. If no
one has managed to stumble upon “Kill
Me Dead” by Daddy Screw before, what
are the odds that someone in the future
will?[8] I have streamed it for the first time,
and probably last. The onus is on you, the
listener, to either save the track or consign
it to an even deeper oblivion.
The site itself is cursed with a
similar mortality. Forgotify will not last forever. “If it’s successful, it shuts itself down,”
its programmer told Vice. “We heard
somewhere that it would take 200,000
people listening for an average of an hour
to knock out all the songs—which makes it
sound more attainable than we thought.”[9]
The very appeal of Forgotify is based on
the fact that the Internet is an enormous
ocean, where things of great value might
nonetheless lay submerged and undiscovered. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that
a year after its inception and a short buzz
of publicity, Forgotify itself seems to have
sunk beneath the surface, largely forgotten.
[10] Explore now, before the frontier closes
and there are no tracks left to rediscover:
[1]Seabrook, John. “Revenue Streams,” The
New Yorker. 11/24/14 http://www.newyorker.
[2] Keats, John. “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.” 1816
[3] Palermino, Chris Lee. “Forgotify Plays
Spotify’s 4 Million Unheard Songs” Billboard.
[4] ibid
[5] “About.” Forgotify.
[6] Palermino.
[7] Prague Rock (rimshot)
[8] Off the album Loverman.
[9] Benson, Thor. “Trolling the Unheard Depths
of Spotify with Forgotify” Motherboard. http://
[10] Its Twitter account tweets about once a
month, and its Facebook page has barely a
thousand likes, and Alexa ranks over half a
million websites above it by web traffic.
When Science
Meets Music
By Trinity Russell
Beginning with their arrival to America
in 1964, rock groups such as the Beatles
and Rolling Stones detonated a national
explosion that contributed to a reelin’ and
rockin’ American culture. They’ve added
style and energy to music and are often
accredited with commencing the American
Music Revolution of 1964. According to a
team of scientists in London, these stars are
not as culturally influential as we would like
to think. In fact, hip-hop artists such Afrika
Bambaataa and Public Enemy, appear to
have a farther reaching cultural and musical
The team of scientists, M. Mauch,
R. MacCallum, M. Levy, and A. Leroi,
published their findings in the Royal Society
of Open Science on May 6, 2015. The title
of their study, “The evolution of popular
music: USA 1960–2010” is the first of its
kind to provide empirical evidence by using
music recognition technology and text-mining tools to analyze more than 17,000 songs
between 1960 and 2010. They selected
music that comprised 86% of the United
States Billboard Hot 100 chart and analyzed
30-second clips of each song for themes,
such as harmonic and timbral properties.
Using this data, they produced a classification of the evolution of music.
Their scientific study identified three influential years in music history: 1964, 1983
and 1991. On February 7, 1964, the Beatles
arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New
York where they were met by 3,000 screaming fans. Two days later, they appeared on
the Ed Sullivan Show, a television variety
program. Their arrival commenced the
“British Invasion” and nearly 45 U.K. pop
groups, such as the Rolling Stones and The
Who, arrived in America. During the first
year of the invasion, the Beatles held the top
five spots on the Billboard Charts. In 1983,
music technologies such as drum machines
and the synthesizer created a new style of
music that was capitalized upon by the new
wave and disco genres. Popular songs such
as “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads relied
on these technologies. Lastly, in 1991, the
rise of hip-hop sparked a musical revolution
in America by further shaping the structure
of the American charts.
One surprising conclusion of the study is
that the British did not start the American
Music Revolution of 1964. It is popular
belief that the British Invasion is credited
with changes in music over time. However, according to this study, the trajectory
of American music appears to have been
determined prior to 1964. Therefore, the
arrival of the Beatles added fuel to the fire,
but didn’t ignite the match. The songs of
British boy bands were in line with music
trajectory, just one step ahead of everyone
The scientists also suggest that diversity in song topic declined to a minimum
in 1986 and then rose to a maximum in the
early 2000s. This finding stands in contrast
to the popular belief that popular music
has caused musical diversity to decline over
the years. The scientists attribute the lack of
topic diversity in the early 1980s to a lack of
timbral diversity. In the early 1800s, drums,
percussive instruments, and guitar dominated tunes. Most recently, these themes
have been replaced by energetic music with
sampling, hard beats, and speech. In terms
of styles, the increase in diversity over the
years is attributed to the diminishing popularity of genres such as new wave, disco and
hard rock, and the surge in popularity of
genres such as rap and hip-hop. According
to lead scientist MacCallum, they found “no
evidence for the progressive homogenization of music in the charts.” The rise of rap
and related genres appears to be “the single
most important event that has shaped the
musical structure of the American charts
from 1960 to 2010.”
Collaboratively the scientists have
concluded that hip-hop has been the most
influential development in music. According to music journalist, Dorian Lynskey,
“[hip-hop] redefines what counts as a pop
song and what elements you can use: the
rapping on one level takes you away from
the need for vocal melodies, while the
production on the other is more about loops
than chords and sampling.” For example,
Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” uses the
synthesizer melody from Kraftwerks’ “Trans
Europe Express.” Another example is Eric
B. and Rakim’s use of sampling in their song
“Eric B. is President” as well as Run-DMC’s
rendition of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”
As said by DJ Grandmaster Flash, these
songs were so catchy, they didn’t need to be
tampered with. They allowed him to do his
job easier—he was able to take a walk or go
get a drink in between songs.
This research is significant in that
it provides empirical evidence to the study
of music history—a field that has been
impeded by its lack of hard facts. However,
the researchers recognize a few limitations
of their study. Their measurements of music
only capture a “phenotypic complexity of
even the simplest song; other measures may
give different results.” Secondly, they have
sampled 50 years of music, which is a very
short period in the grand scheme of music
history. In addition, this study is unable
to account for the emotional significance
that groups such as the Beatles have had
on American culture. The Beatles arrived
shortly after the assassination of President
John F. Kennedy and greatly lifted America’s
The findings of this study may
disturb Beatles and Rolling Stones fans,
especially those who were teenagers during
the British Invasion of the 1960s. As stated
by Leroi, one of the authors of this study,
“Everybody thinks the best music was
produced when they were 17 years old.
We wanted to do something better than
that”. While the evidence is convincing, it’s
important to realize that science doesn’t
evoke emotions, it doesn’t move as powerfully as music. When it comes to deciding
which style of music has the greatest mark
on American culture, be subjective and trust
your heart.
Mauch, Matthias, et al. “The evolution of popular music:
USA 1960–2010.” Royal Society Open Science 2.5 (2015):
“The Evolution of Popular Music By Year (1950-2010)
(U.S.A.) (Source: Billboard “Hot 100”)” YouTube. YouTube, 13 December 2011. Sun. 10 May 2015.
Hapsis, Emmanuel. “New Study Suggests The Beatles
Aren’t As Important As You Think”. KQED Pop. 11May
2015. Sun. 10 May 2015.
“Study: Hip-Hop is Greatest Influence on Pop Music, Not
Beatles”. EurWeb. 12 May 2015. Sun. 10 May 2015.
The Early Edition, CBC New “Rap and hip-hop more
influential than rock n’ roll study finds”. CBC News. 10
May 2015. Mon. 11 May 2015.
Ali, Lorraine. “ Hip-hop, not Beatles, had greatest influence on pop music, study says”.Los Angeles Times. 9 May
2015. Sun. 10 May 2015.
Barnes, Tom. “Scientists Just Determined the Most Important Genre of Music of All Time”. Music.Mic. 7 May
2015. Sun. 10 May 2015.
Katz, Gregory. “Scientific study of pop music: Beatles,
Stones eclipsed by emergence of hip-hop in 1991”. Leader~Post. 8 May 2015. Sun. 10 May 2015.
Giles, Jeff. “New Study Suggests Hip-Hop Was More
Culturally Impactful Than the British Invasion”. Ultimate
Classic Rock. 7 May 2015. Sun. 10 May 2015.
A Conversation With
Roger McGuinn of
The Byrds
By Aaron Stagoff
ASB: After the Woodstock and Altamont
Festivals, was there a general feeling
that the peace and love generation of
the 1960’s was about to conclude, or was
there an unconscious shift?
RM: Yeah, it just kind of fell apart.
There was a great deal of optimism in
the early 1960’s that we were going to
change the world and stop hunger and
wars and all the bad things that go on.
But, gradually it just kind of dissipated.
I guess as people matured and grew
up and got jobs they stopped being so
idealistic (laughs).
ASB: How did your music respond to
this cultural transition?
RM: We purposefully changed genres.
When The Byrds first came out, we
were categorized as folk rock. Then,
we started dabbling in jazz, and they
called our music psychedelic. Later, we
transitioned to country music, and they
called that country rock. We purposefully didn’t want to get locked in any
one box.
ASB: What was your reaction to Bob
Dylan transitioning from a folk hero
to an electric sound with Subterranean
Homesick Blues and his album Bringing
It All Back Home?
RM: Well, I thought it was cool. Knowing Bob Dylan before that, he was a
folk artist and we got a hit with his
song Mr. Tambourine Man before he
went electric.
Actually, that’s not a well-known fact.
Most people have it backwards and
they think he started going electric
and then we followed him into that.
But that’s not the way it went, we were
doing folk rock before Bob Dylan.
And, he got the idea from listening
to The Beatles. I think everybody was
all turned on by The Beatles and The
Rolling Stones.
ASB: What elements of The Beatles phenomenon were most influential to rock
music? Did it start with Sgt Pepper’s?
RM: Actually, it was even before that.
They were a great band, and they had
played together for so long that they
were really tight. They were like a band
of studio musicians and were really a
great sounding band. That’s what got
people interested.
Also, they were really interesting song-
writers. They were combining elements
of different kinds of music from all
sorts of genres. They were using bossa
nova, Chuck Berry, The Everly Brothers
and folk music. They made a synthesis
of music that had not been done before.
They were a paradigm shift like Elvis
Presley had been earlier in the 1950’s.”
Around 1963, The Beatles changed
everything when they became self-sufficient. They wrote their own songs and
played their own instruments, which
wasn’t being done with rock & roll at
that time. It just changed the whole
scene. Sgt. Pepper’s was an amazing
concept album, but they were fascinating and really infectious right out of the
box with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”
and “She Loves You,” it was great stuff.”
ASB: How influential do you think
George Martin was on their creative
RM: Well, he was the guiding force,
because he was a professional musician
and he knew how to read, write and
conduct music. So, he was very influential on The Beatles, and I think he was
the one who pulled it all together. He
was also a great producer who had a
great ear for sound.
With the primitive equipment we
worked with in those days, it was just
amazing what The Beatles were able
to do. They had 4-track recorders and
Martin was able to get a great sound
out of a 4-track, which was unheard of.
I’ve got ninety-six tracks on my recording machine.
ASB: As the 1960’s progressed, and
music technology developed, did
production value and the skills of your
producer begin to become increasingly
RM: Well, actually, I think you didn’t
have to be quite as clever as the technology developed. First, we got 8 and
16-tracks and then 64-tracks and finally hundreds of tracks if you wanted.
And, now, we’ve got all these tools like
auto-tune and devices that can make
a voice really sound great even if the
performance isn’t that wonderful. We
can also copy and paste things. So, you
don’t really have to be that great of a
producer anymore to get a great sound
out of the equipment.
ASB: Switching gears, can tell me about
some of the best guitarists you ever
played with, and how they influenced
your style?
RM: Well, Clarence White [a pioneer of
country rock guitar and the lead guitarist for The Byrds from 1968-1973],
was the best guitarist I ever played
with. He’s up there on a level with Jimi
Hendrix. In fact, Jimi Hendrix came
backstage one night and ran over to
Clarence and shook his hand. Clarence
was an amazing guitar player.
I played a jam session with Jimi
Hendrix and Eric Clapton one night
in New York, and that was very cool.
George Harrison was a fine guitar
player, and his style was very melodic.
He influenced me with my lead guitar
work. The way I play lead guitar is up
and down the G-string on the twelfth
string, and that was something George
Harrison did. He and I shared a lot of
techniques on the guitar.
ASB: Why did you decide to use a moog
synthesizer after The Monterey Pop
Festival of 1967?
RM: I first encountered the moog at
Monterey and came back to LA right
away and ordered one because I was
enamored with it. It’s an amazing machine and, in fact, I still have it, and am
looking at it in front of me right now.”
“Although, these days, what it does isn’t
as good as what you can do with a little
synthesizer from the drug store. You
can go down to Walgreens and pick up
a ninety-nine dollar keyboard that will
do more than the moog, but the moog
was really great for its time.
ASB: What do you think about the way
synthesizer usage has evolved in rock
music today?
RM: I’m not sure I’ve heard a lot of
synth in rock music today. I know
they’ve got a lot of MIDI drums and
tools like that. But a sort of oscillating
theremin sound, I think I hear that
more in hip-hop than I do in rock.”
ASB: What was your reaction to the rise
of hip-hop in the late 1970’s?
RM: Well, it’s a form of music called the
talkin’ blues, and it has been around a
long time. It was kind of a folk tradition that became very popular. Dance
music has also always been very popular and it’s kind of cyclical. People will
get into dance music for a while, and
then get tired of dancing and get into
thinking music, and then they get tired
about thinking and go back to dancing
(laughs). So, it’s just a cycle.
ASB: When disco became really popular
in the 1970’s, and then punk developed
as a response, did you find yourself
gravitating towards or being influenced
by either genre of music?
RM: Well, we did an album with McGuinn, Clark & Hillman in Miami with
The Albert Brothers as producers, and
they didn’t want it to sound like The
Byrds. That meant I couldn’t use my
Rickenbacker Electric 12-String guitar
or sing very much. So, what it came
out being was kind of a disco album. I
never really got into disco, but I found
myself sort of a victim of it.
ASB: What are some of the similarities
or differences between pop music today
and the pop music of the 1960’s?
RM: Well, pop has always been bubblegummy. It’s pleasant melodies, simple
words, and a lot of repetition. I listen to
Taylor Swift and, you know, it’s interesting to compare. It’s pleasant and not
really meaty, and it doesn’t have a lot
of depth to it, but it also doesn’t have
the rebellion rock used to have. It’s just
kind of bubblegum for the mind.
ASB: Finally, surveying the state of current rock music, what are your views on
the way the genre has developed?
RM: I think rock music as a genre is
kind of dead. I think pop music is happening with Katy Perry, Taylor Swift
and Lady Gaga, but rock per se is over.
It’s been relegated to the shelf really.
Interview was conducted April 25th at
10:30 A.M

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