19 September 2012

The Long Halloween Vol. III - Talk Like a Pirate Day

Well folks, it's the end of another long year of The Long Halloween. During this past year we've taken some time each month examining a Holiday and the associated movies, music, or other activities we can partake to celebrate. Not content with the boring old Christmas and Valentine's Day, though, this year we went real obscure, highlighting such National Events such as Moon Day and Puzzle Day. It's been weird. We conclude our series this year with an oldie but goodie - National Talk Like a Pirate Day.

This day emerged mostly out of a desire that everyone has from the time they are little babies, to growl and arrgh like the salty swashbucklers of the seven seas of old. Note that although this day honours Pirates, one of the 12 Fabled Signs of the Geek Zodiac, it only requires its celebrators to speak in a tongue akin to the seadogs, not to dress or act like one.

Fuck it, let's go for the whole shebang. It's time to glue on some beards, or just will one into existence like our friend, Chuck does. After that, rip up a shirt, throw on a bandana, skip the shower and oranges and you've got yourself a pirate. For the ladies, you may follow the exact same routine, or go the more popular route, which is to just slut up into a saucy wench. I don't really know why women do this. Keira Knightly is a damn sexy pirate, who somehow got sexier as she got dirtier, and hardly dresses slutty at all. Needless to say, you can get your pillaging on with a minimal change of attire.

Now to get into the pirate mindset you have one simple task to do. Grog. Drink lots of grog. There's only two steps to make and it's real simple - 1) Have Water. 2) Add Rum. Presto! Drinking that will not only make you irritable, but get you drunk enough to fight your mates and fuck fat chicks in no time. See, the seafarers of old would have these giant barrels of water for long voyages, but they'd go bad sitting around the hulls for weeks on end. The obvious solution was to just alcoholify them. No more bacteria, and hell, a lot more fun on the high seas.

With all of this fun, you may ask yourself, what should I be watching to get me in a mood for all this rape and plunder? Obvi it's one of the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, but which one? Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) immediately comes to mind as one of the major instigators of the mid-2000s Pirate Trend. It has all the classic elements of a swashbuckling pirate tale (and few imitators). It also heavily involves an ordinary blacksmith learning that he is in fact, a pirate. Oh to wake up and learn that through your veins pumps Pirate Blood. It's like Wanted (2008), but not shitty. This is the feeling every mortal should have on this day - not to become a pirate, but to realize that they've always been a pirate.

What about Dead Man's Chest (2006)? To me this is really when the Pirate Love peaked in this country, as Pirate Parties swept across the land and the grog flowed like the surf at Isla de Muerta. Each Pirates film takes a step further into the lore and mysticism of the seas, and here we're introduced to Davy Jones and an unstoppable army of Undead Fish People. While this is a fun ride and we get to see the beginning of the end as Commodores fall into piracy and the Powers that Be try to control the uncontrollable, it's still a Middle-Journey tale, one that is bookmarked by Pearl and At World's End (2007), so that it doesn't have a great place here.

We could easily say that At World's End is the most pirate-y of all the Pirates films. I mean, it features oodles of pirates defending their way of life at the Home of All Pirates, Shipwreck Cove. It also contains the greatest pirate in all these flicks, Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbossa in a lengthy heroic role. Finally, it expands its breadth to acknowledge Chinese, Indian, French, hell, any kind of pirate you can think of. Also Keith Richards. The only thing really holding it back is how shitty of a film it was.

So what's the best solution? Hell, why not all three and throw in runs of South Park's "Fatbeard" (S13;E7) for good measure. After all, pirates are not wholly a thing of the past. In two hundred years do you think little kids will dress up and play Somalia? I can't think of a better note to end the year on.

Avast ye, Somalians - anchors away!

06 September 2012

Summer Jam 2012: THE THRONE IS YOURS

Well, it's been one long and crazy summer, folks. Here we are now, a few days into the new school year and it's time again to name an Heir to the Summer Throne. Yes, Summer Royalty is upon us - what will be that one Jam that this Summer will always be known for? Let's look at some past winners:

2007 - "Umberellaella" by Rihanna
2008 - "Keep Bleeding in Love" by Leona Lewis
2009 - "I Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas
2010 - "California Gurls" by Katy Perry
2011 - "Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO

What does 2012 have for us? Let's look at the Final Top 10:

Guy Pierce's Backing Band: "We Are Young" / "Some Nights" by fun.

I lumped these two big tracks together. fun. has arrived, folks. It's only to be determined now whether this band will be a two-hit wonder or their momentum will fizzle out. Their songs tend to have big youth pride themes that are easy to cling on to, but also easy to get sick of. How many optimistic "get drunk and party but change the world by doing so" songs can you really have? According to this Summer, at least two.

Out of Nothing: "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye

This cat has over 300 million YouTube views somehow. Considering that young people get their music more from YouTube than any other source, you can bet that this dude made his way onto a ton of playlists this summer. Though he really blew up over the spring, it's clear that carried on to the early Summer Months, making a good jam for the Heat in his own right. It was such a unique new sound (the rest of Gotye's efforts have been garbage) that it really caught on. It's also one of the greatest music videos ever, and it would be a travesty if he didn't sweep the VMAs.

Do the 'Do: "Boyfriend" by Justin Bieber

This will be remembered as the Summer where Bieber arrived. Between the excellent timing between the releases of this track and "As Long as You Love Me" he's really trying to enter the mainstream like many pop idols before him. Can he be the New Century's version of Michael Jackson? He's still got a lot of PR to do to enter the hearts of everyone who isn't a 13-year old girl, but this is a nice start.

Folk Rock is Back: "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers

I didn't expect these guys to make the Final List here, but hey ho here they are. This track didn't really blow up like Mumford & Sons in 2010, but it still had a nice little presence this Summer. It's a nice happy song, great for Summer Chilling. I'm not sure the Lumineers have great potential as a band, but this was nice for them.

Guerrila Guetta Warfare: "Titanium" by David Guetta ft. Sia

I have an uncontrollable seething hatred for David Guetta. He's just such an enormous talentless douchebag. His beats are repetitive, uninteresting, shallow, and hollow. Let that not distract us from Sia, who has a nice voice that tends to fit more on tracks like this, as well as singing Flo Rida hooks than jumping out on her own (though you could have argued the exact same for Ke$ha early in her career). Should Sia start dressing like a prostitute? Please don't.

Make Out Anthem of Summer: "Tongue Tied" by Grouplove

This was a great track to have a nice run this summer. It's fresh, jammable, and is all about hooking up - quite possibly the perfect Summer Message. Grouplove has had a handful of mild hits now, and tho this didn't really hit mainstream as much as some other songs here, it was still heavily featured just about everywhere this Summer, and we're glad for it.

Cooter Blowing Anthem: "Whistle" by Flo Rida

Flo Rida was constructed in a secret government lab to combine hard rapping with a pop friendly demeanor and competent beats to become the perfect Summer Jam producer. He sure is ugly, though, huh? "Whistle" is the best fellatio-themed anthem in recent memory, and an absolutely chill song - a perfect Summer masterpiece.

Anachronistic Anthem: "Payphone" by Maroon 5

Do Maroon 5 fans know what payphones are? This track got huge this Summer, despite the high levels of irritation it deposits on all its listeners. The decline of Maroon 5's talent can be tied directly to their astronomical rise in popularity as well as Adam Levine's obnoxious presence on NBC's The Voice. They are certainly Overexposed, as their new album suggests, and we're all worse off for it.

The Break-Up Anthem: "Wide Awake" by Katy Perry

Somehow Katy continues popping out hits, though this Jam didn't exactly reach the extreme levels of ubiquity of just about every hit she put out from 2010 - 2011. I ranted at long lengths this summer how hypocritical this song is, as if Perry truly abhors all the fame and attention she has gotten since she Kissed a Girl way back when. It's largely bullshit, but people eat it up and tend to buy into her faux-messages. Another one in the can.

The Final Anthem: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen.

Rihanna. B.E.P. Carly Rae? Out of no where this chick ruled Summer 2012, even taking over the Olympic Games. I think her likeability has to do with her supposed innocence, flirtatious nature, and the ridiculous simultaneous stickiness and stupidity of this track. Carly Rae joins the ranks of many of the great Summer Hit-makers, and this one, I'm sure no one could have predicted. Except for Justin Bieber, of course.

Close Calls

There were plenty of other great jams like Nicki Minaj's "Starships" (Nicki seemed like she put out a dozen songs this summer, none of which really caught on), No Doubt's "Settle Down," Pink's "Blow Me," and Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which ought to be a good Fall Jam. We can add The Black Keys' presence in every commercial from May to June. There wasn't really a huge ubiquitous rap song, but Rick Ross, Kanye, and Wheezy all made some great efforts. Wiz Khalifa and Big Sean also popped up everywhere, and if they don't soon become the new Superstars of Hip-Hop I'd be astounded. Even if they tend to not have much more behind their lyrics than insanely clever phrases.

So that's it, folks. I hope your Summer was as great (or let's go with much greater) than this - we'll see ya next May!

03 September 2012

Summer Jam Week 17: Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and ICP close out Summer 2012

It's pretty unbelievable. As it's now Labour Day 2012 and all the little children skip on back to school we can officially close out this, our Last Summer before the End of the World. All Summer Long we've been looking at the greatest hits each week and tallying them up. This week we'll announce a Final Tally and finally crown the Winner of the Summer Jam 2012. We've still got this last week, though, so let's have at it:

Hot Jam of the Week: "I Can Only Imagine" by David Guetta ft. Chris Brown & Lil Wayne

When Wheezy is the classiest bloke of your group, you know you've got a problem here. Douchebag Hack of the Century, David Guetta, and woman-beater Chris Brown try their all here, and Wayne is really just going through the motions. Still, as with many Guetta beats, it's pretty fresh, if not really exceptional. I was close to putting a Nicki song here, but really couldn't decide which crappy track she's put out off of the overrated Roman Reloaded in the last few months to highlight. Also, why are people still working with Chris Brown, including Rihanna who is supposedly shacking up with him again? Has she never heard of a couple named Whitney and Bobby?

Actually Not Bad: "One More Night" by Maroon 5

I think that sums this track up pretty well. Maroon 5 continues to live up to the name of their latest album, Overexposed with another rising single this summer. This jam is way radder than "Payphone," though, and even has a bit of a 2004 feel that made them so strong in the Alt-Pop World in the first place. The rhythm is engaging and Adam "Hawk Attack" Levine croons his way into more smoothness than selling out. The lyrics are still close to meaningless, but this is a good jam.

Jammin on Drank: "My Homies Still" by Wheezy ft. Big Sean

Big Sean is starting to be everywhere, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. This is a fabulous jam, though, and the video is off-the-wall insane. It's got a bit of an "A Milli" feel to it, with the addition of Sean, who is quickly establishing himself the only way rappers can these days - appearing on every single track ever. It is nice that they are learning how easy they can combine for some killer collabos and reap some huge benefits from it. Wheezy's clever lyric writing, and use of metaphoric puns is par for the course here, and exceptional. Sean's already repeating himself, but it hasn't gotten old yet.

Exclamation Point: "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)" by P!nk

I'd rather call her Pink. I'm going to. As far as Pink songs go, this is actually pretty good, but even if it's starting to blow up this week, it's still not really an exceptional pop song. I still don't understand how Pink's persona, and to some extent her lyrics and appearance try so desperately to buck from pop trends, but her melodies and fans don't differentiate her at all from the Katy Perrys and Carly Raes of the world. I think she makes her fans feel special by listening to her, but really, she couldn't be more mainstream. Someone like Lana del Ray - now that cunt's truly the inverse of a Pop Princess.

Boy-Man: "As Long As You Love Me" by Justin Bieber ft. Big Sean

This track is actually an even more interesting move in Bieber's career than "Boyfriend" was. It's as if he's truly attempting to make his transition from tween idol to worldwide pop king. It's the kind of maturation that took Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake from tweaky teen heartthrobs to Global Superstars. The difference is that Justin Bieber isn't setting himself apart from a band and creating an individual identity, he's just trying to change perceptions of himself. He's also far younger than MJ and JT, which calls his credibility in authoring a song like this into question. Big Sean appears here again. No one knows why. I think Scooter Braun jumped the gun a bit and tried to morph the Bieb's career while it was still hot, and his impatience will come back to wreck him. We'll see.

Boobzilla: "Wide Awake" by Katy Perry

Let's begin the part of this post were we start talking about ICP. Yep. Insane Clown Posse released a couple of Mystery Science Theater 3000-style vids where they critique some pop vids. Okay, Fuse is clearly behind it, but they're kind of entertaining. If anything though, it's mostly ICP proving themselves to be some of the dumbest human beings alive on the planet, but watching them watch Katy tends to fill every comment I could add to this video. Take a look.

The Reign Continues: "Good Time" by Owl City ft. Carly Rae Jepsen

I think "Call Me Maybe" has finally had it, but not if ICP has anything to say about it. I do really enjoy ICP, not their music so much, but just how insane and devoted their fanbase is, along with all the crazy shit they do, from revealing themselves to be Christian somehow, to suing the FBI, and of course, "Miracles." It almost just makes my job far too easy. What does any of this have to do with Owl City? Nothing, but it's far more interesting. Anyone know if Owl City is a reference to Futurama? If they aren't, that's terrible.

The New Queen: "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift

This ought to be the big jam of the Fall, and it closes out Summer nicely. Taylor is ridiculously more likeable than she should be, and this is the kind of affirmative song you can get behind. With a new video it's also everywhere suddenly and though it's certainly not going to be counted very high among the other great Summer Jams of 2012, she's got yet again a bright future here. It's actually a pretty good video, too.

Next week...

We're done - go home. But later this week, we'll announce the final, most Jamworthy Track of Summer - stay tuned, folks!
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