The latest nuisance is J. Freedom du Lac's analysis of why country music radio is so chock full of songs about small town America. To you and me, the answer might be obvious, but du Lac set out to paint the trend as "divisive" and reactionary. In this excerpt, du Lac sets out to discredit the professional opinion of a D.C.-area country music station programmer:
Says Meg Stevens, the WMZQ program director: "It's a global theme: Wherever you're from, that's your place. You see what's happening with the economy and what's going on in the world, and people are getting in closer to their roots and their community, whether you're from rural Virginia or downtown D.C."
But the Atkins song and others of its ilk -- from Jason Aldean's "Hicktown" and Miranda Lambert's "Famous in a Small Town" to Zac Brown Band's "Chicken Fried" and Josh Turner's "Way Down South" -- are narrowcasting to a specific community: the core country audience, whose roots aren't exactly in America's urban centers.
The symbolism and prideful sentiments of the songs are intended to create a sense of belonging among people with similar backgrounds and lifestyles, or at least people who romanticize life in the rural South. (It's not a place; it's a state of mind.) To some listeners, though, it might sound as if the artists are closing ranks.
Nobody wants to be mocked. And if you’re a rock star, surrounded by sycophants for the better part of 35 years, it must be especially hard to deal with being mocked. It makes sense, then, that Don Henley does not like the parody of his song “Boys of Summer,” penned by Chuck DeVore, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and Justin Hart, his advisor. But Henley’s copyright-infringement lawsuit is far bigger than one rock star or his feelings. Henley’s lawsuit undermines the First Amendment right to speak freely.
Don Henley makes no effort to hide his political leanings. In addition to performing at scores of fundraisers, Henley has given about $750,000 to partisan, liberal causes, including $10,000 to Barack Obama and $9,000 to DeVore’s soon-to-be opponent, Barbara Boxer. Henley also exploits his music to advance a liberal, political agenda.
Barack Obama’s inauguration was an enormous magnet for the stars of stage, screen, TV, and the radio, the celebrity-stuffed culmination of the goals of the Sixties civil rights movement. Some of the most prominent stars were black musicians. This is an opportunity to raise the question: Whither goest black popular culture, especially hip-hop music, under the new president?
1. Will the Obama presidency drain the swamp of hip-hop hate? Can he remake the dividers into uniters? On Tuesday night, the rapper Jay-Z performed on the ABC Inaugural ball special in a tux and nerdy glasses, toning down the thug-rap with a song called "History." ABC didn’t have to bleep a single word, even if the older demographics in the audience were still wondering why this is called music. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the pendulum of rap music swung away from glorifying the "thug life" of drug dealers, pimps, and gangsters? With a black man in the White House, could rappers be less pessimistic about authority? When talking about The Man, there is no more powerful man in Washington than the black man just sworn in as our 44th president.
On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia. Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:
CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.
MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.
Read it and weep, Dixie Chicks. Shove it Bruce Springsteen. Put a sock in it Johnny Cougar Mellencamp. Because, in a refreshing change of pace for the entertainment industry, Kid Rock is telling CMT Insider via People Magazine that entertainers should stay quiet on matters political.
How many times have you seen the uninformed blather of some goof from Hollywood, or some crank from the music industry filling your TV screen or oozing from your radio? How many low brow maestros have had your eyes rolling when they imagine themselves to have some prescient insight into matters of politics? Apparently rock singer Kid Rock is signing onto your piquancy because he has said that singers should just shut up about politics.
As the city of Denver prepares for this week's Democratic convention, numerous Hollywood celebs are planning to attend in support of Barack Obama and to advocate for pet issues. Gushes Variety,
When Barack Obama accepts the nomination before some 75,000 people at a Denver stadium on Thursday, he'll be surrounded by a contingent of average Americans from all walks of life --- just not Hollywood performers, musicians and other famous figures who have so publicly championed his candidacy.
So what, exactly, will be the role of celebrity during the week of the Democratic National Convention?
n case you missed it with the Olympics going on, Russia invading Georgia, and the campaign for president in full swing, pop star Madonna started her much-awaited tour in Wales Saturday.
Amidst the requisite autoerotic writhing and gyrating, Madonna managed to bash John McCain -- actually equating him to Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe! -- while comparing Barack Obama to Mahatma Gandhi.
I kid you not.
As reported by the Associated Press Saturday (emphasis added, photo courtesy Getty Images, h/t RightPundits via Marc Morano):
Young black activists roared their approval when Barack Obama recently greeted criticism on the trail by dusting off his shoulders, a reference to a rap song by Jay-Z called "Dirt Off Your Shoulder." The media covering the moment went crazy, too. Washington Post reporter Teresa Wiltz hailed Obama’s moves and called it a "seminal moment in the campaign, the merging of politics and pop culture," and noted the lyrics suggest "If you feelin’ like a pimp...go and brush your shoulders off."
So Barack Obama is feeling like a pimp?
Online at "The Root," a Washington Post website for African-Americans, Obama supporter and Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell was sky high. "Like every other hip-hop generation voter in America I went crazy when he did it," she wrote. "I almost couldn’t believe it. It was a perfect moment."
Harris-Lacewell read that moment as a sign of racial swagger and solidarity with "his base of young urban brown and black voters" and they loved it. "He displayed all the familiar self-assurance and bravado of the hip-hop emcee. The people who got it went nuts, while those who don’t know hip-hop just thought he was being funny and confident."
The video went viral and became a YouTube sensation.
If you've always thought her music was hackneyed and dull now you may have another reason to dislike Alicia Keys: she's apparently a racist conspiracymonger:
There's another side to Alicia Keys: conspiracy theorist. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter tells Blender magazine: "'Gangsta rap' was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other."[...]
Keys, 27, said she's read several Black Panther autobiographies and wears a gold AK-47 pendant around her neck "to symbolize strength, power and killing 'em dead," according to an interview in the magazine's May issue, on newsstands Tuesday.
Another of her theories: That the bicoastal feud between slain rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. was fueled "by the government and the media, to stop another great black leader from existing." [...]
Though she's known for her romantic tunes, she told Blender that she wants to write more political songs. If black leaders such as the late Black Panther Huey Newton "had the outlets our musicians have today, it'd be global. I have to figure out a way to do it myself," she said.
Showing that the left doesn't have a monopoly on political music or political videos, a rapper going by the handle DJ Clayvis released an anti-Barack Obama video, inspired in part by Rush Limbaugh's Operation Chaos.
Here it is:
I'd shorten it up a bit but this is a very good effort, compares very well to the Obama "Yes We Can" video. H/t: TechRepublican.
I am hard pressed to call anything that happens in the Entertainment media "news," but Rolling Stone is reporting that singer John Cougar Mellencamp has told John McCain to stop using his music during McCain's campaign rallies.
At some recent John McCain campaign rallies, John Mellencamp’s “Our Country” and “Pink Houses” have been booming out over the speakers. Uplifting heartland rock must have seemed like a smart pick, but there’s just one problem: Mellencamp is an ardent Democrat. And, until recently, he supported John Edwards – who had been playing “Our Country” and “Small Town” at his rallies. Mellencamp hasn’t yet made a public response, but his reps are quietly reaching out to McCain and asking him to stop playing his tunes.
Aside from the general "who cares" of this incident, it is just one more example of the intolerance of the left in America today.Then again Johnny Cougar always was a guy that took himself waaaay too seriously.
Will this rap song with a positive message get any play in the MSM? Will a rapper that is telling kids to quit acting like a punk and grow up resonate?
Okay, I'm a nearly 50 year-old white dude, so you won't catch me trying to be "all that" with the kid's rap music. In fact, I hate the stuff. [I was listening to Beethoven, Glenn Miller, U2 and The Police today, if that helps pinpoint me] HOWEVER... and this is a big one, too... I am compelled to pass on the latest tune from Mr. Bomani D. Armah, the self-proclaimed "not a rapper" rapper.
You may recall the last time Mr. Armah appeared on Newsbusters? He wrote a tune that appeared on BET TV called "Read a Mo F***ing Book". It was a tune that featured Mr. Armah seeming to attack the thug lifestyle and telling black kids to read a "Mo F'ing" book, brush their teeth, wear deodorant and to raise their own children, etc. It raised quite a stir last year.
Rock musician Todd Rundgren hasn't been prominent as a performer since the 1970s, but his Sunday concert at the Birchmere here in MRC's hometown of Alexandria drew a mixed review in the Washington Post. Tuesday's review by Stephen Brookes ended with this strange paragraph about Rundgren's failure to offend people:
And for a guy pushing 60, Rundgren still works hard, digging into the vocals and closing most songs with a leaping scissors kick. But his promises to "offend each and every person in the room" didn't quite deliver, starting with a tame "Fascist Christ" and ending with a listless jab against -- yawn -- neoconservatives. Sorry; if you want to talk politics in this town, you have to hit a lot harder than that.
Since when is a song viciously attacking American Christians as fascists considered "tame" and inoffensive? The only arguments in the Post's favor: The song is old (from 1993, hardly the zenith of Christian conservatism), and it's a very lame white rap song.
"Stop, hey, what's that sound?" Nuclear power getting put down. Again.
In 1979, musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Graham Nash, and Jackson Browne were hailed "the energy source everyone had been looking for" to fight against nuclear power. The result of their support was termed a "chain reaction." The group has returned, picking up where it left off nearly 30 years ago.
And what better to bridge the gap into the new millennium than YouTube. (Video after the break)
With Update- Welcome Wonkette Readers
The new album from The Eagles, Long Road Out of Eden, is just one long, sustained attack on the integrity of the United States and is as bad as any loud-mouthed Dixie Chicks diatribe. With songs prosaically about Global Warming and the evil American “empire,” seemingly the only one of the band who just wanted to entertain the fans was Joe Walsh, the others too puffed up with their own sense of superiority to bother. Unfortunately, what we have here just another exclamation from pampered rock stars that they are smarter, more environmentally friendly and more caring than the rest of us... but be sure and buy more albums for gifts folks! This album should have been titled “Long Trip to the Bank” because for much of it the band seems to be on autopilot and too much of it seems like a cynically geared ploy to sell plastic as opposed to a solid attempt to entertain. It seems that they consciously wrote this one to appeal to sectors of the radio market -- the country market, adult contemporary -- so much so that the album lacks freshness. Several of the songs are so obviously written to have a country sound in an effort to get airplay on America’s country stations, for instance, that it’s a bit hard to get past the obvious ploy to enjoy the tunes.
The radical-left Pacifica Foundation's radio stations -- in Berkeley, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, and New York -- draw about a million dollars a year in federal grants through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. What they put on the air can be some pretty strange brew.
On Friday's "Democracy Now" show -- as they led into a discussion of how viciously demagogic and racist were the opponents of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's plan to grant driver's licenses to illegal immigrants -- a rapper blaming the 9-11 attacks as government-detonated was aired. It caught my attention because you seldom hear the words "popping and locking" followed by "Wolfowitz doctrine." The rapper is named Immortal Technique.
Are profane, sexist, and violent rap lyrics harming America? That question was asked at a House hearing convened yesterday to examine the role of the music industry in public affairs:
Lawmakers, music industry executives and rappers disagreed Tuesday over who was to blame for sexist and degrading language in hip-hop music but united in opposing government censorship as a solution.
"If by some stroke of the pen hip-hop was silenced, the issues would still be present in our communities," rapper and record producer David Banner, whose real name is Levell Crump, said in prepared statements to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing. "Drugs, violence and the criminal element were around long before hip-hop existed."
Even when the Washington Post is covering a Marxist, they have trouble putting an ideological label in the headline. On the front page of Monday’s Style section is a profile of Marxist rock guitarist Tom Morello, but the headline was bland: "Tom Morello, on Tour and on Message: Folk-Rock’s Nightwatchman Plays True to His Roots." Inside, the headline was simply "Tom Morello, Refocusing His Political Rage." Neither headline reflected that he prayed for President Bush’s death:
Onstage, when the Nightwatchman sang, "I pray that God himself will come and drown the president if the levees break again," the Jammin' Java crowd's attitude was chilling. People were praying.
So why isn’t that death-wish directly reflected in the headline, instead of simply being vaguely "On Message" with "Rage"?
Don’t look now, but rock musicians are calling the president an idiot again. Rolling Stone’s latest issue is completely obsessed with promoting Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts, and includes interviews with rockers predictably trashing wars for oil and hailing the Goracle. Roger Waters of Pink Floyd stood out with the Bush-bashing:
"It would help if we could divert some of our resources away from blowing each other to bits and toward think tanks. Something has gone wrong with the democratic process when you can get idiots rising to offices of extreme power, like the presidency of the United States of America. George Bush – you could not make a worse choice in someone to lead the most powerful nation in the free world."
In the past, Washington Post music reviewers have made no secret of their disdain of country music star Toby Keith's patriotic homegrown quasi-conservatism. But now that Keith is shying away, almost apologizing for his political scuffles with the Dixie Chicks and the late Peter Jennings, the Post seems to have a new-found respect for Keith as a musician and artist. Below the fold you'll see what I'm talking about, but let's start with two prime examples of the Post's past personal swipes at Keith.
Take this November 5, 2003, review by Bill Friskics-Warren, which front-loads a begrudgingly positive review with the obligatory "I can't stand this guy's politics, but he's a damn fine musician" lede:
In the new 40th Anniversary Edition of Rolling Stone magazine, Editor Jann Wenner asks rocker-icon Bob Dylan, "Do you worry about global warming?" and Dylan responds: "Where's the global warming? It's freezing here."
The point is that Dylan was half-serious and questioning Wenner's liberal assumptions, as were a number of other 1960s rock icons who gave some startlingly sober answers to the hyper-idealized drivel regurgitated by Wenner and other questioners. (Hat tip to Cincinnati.com.) When asked his views about the 1960s, Director Steven Spielberg replied, "Just narcissism, a collective and personal narcissism."
I want my MTV! Somewhere a soldier or sailor in Iraq or Afghanistan is probably thinking that today. According to the AP, on May 14, the Department of Defense blocked “worldwide” the US troops who use its networks and computers from accessing 12 popular websites that include, YouTube, MTV, MySpace, Blackplanet and Photobucket. The Defense Deparmene which the DoD said“take up a large amount of bandwidth, and others that can open up department computers to hackers and viruses.” (emphasis mine throughout)
US Forces Korea Commander (USFK) Gen. B.B. Bell explained in a memo sent out Friday that the new policy will not impact the military's ability to send and receive email, but the “Department of Defense has a growing concern regarding our unclassified DoD Internet, known as the NIPRNET. The Commander of DoD's Joint Task Force, Global Network Operations has noted a significant increase in the use of DoD network resources tied up by individuals visiting certain recreational Internet sites.”
Brent Bozell's culture column this week follows up on how the world of rap music will change in the wake of Don Imus getting canned for his rapper's language against the Rutgers women's basketball team. Russell Simmons, one of the founders of Def Jam Records, made waves by endorsing some voluntary steps toward better self-control:
He doesn’t advocate dropping this language altogether, which is unfortunate. Simmons concedes that millions of adults listen to unexpurgated rap CDs, and is unwilling to condemn it. Still, the move to take this off mainstream radio is a significant start. On “The O’Reilly Factor,” Simmons declared, “I think that children, and parents, and everyone else who doesn't really understand the hip-hop community should have a choice....we want people to choose what they want. And if you turn on mainstream radio, you shouldn't have to hear these words.”
One positive result of the Don Imus imbroglio is a renewed focus on degrading, obscene, sexist, violence-endorsing rap music. Brent Bozell's entertainment columns offer a road map for anyone seeking a refresher course on nasty rap-music controversies over the last four years. Don't miss how media people (like, oops, NBC's Matt Lauer) make excuses for rappers:
In raising her two daughters, [Washington Post writer Lonnae O'Neal] Parker had one very definitive image in mind capturing what’s wrong with today’s dominant trend in hip hop. At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, rappers Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent added pomp to the song "P.I.M.P." by featuring black women on leashes being walked onstage. This past August, she added, MTV-2 aired an episode of the cartoon "Where My Dogs At," which had Snoop Dogg again leading two black bikini-clad women around on leashes. She explained: "They squatted on their hands and knees, scratched themselves and defecated. The president of the network, a black woman, defended this as satire."
No matter how deplorable and terrible you think Don Imus's remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team are, the fact is, that his statements pale in comparison to the stuff pumped out daily by the American music industry.
Michelle Malkin has a big list of the various vulgarities that are routinely tolerated by the same media that is currently up in arms about Imus. Here's just one song:
Rich Boy sellin' crack
F*k niggas wanna jack
Sh*t tight no slack
Just bought a Cadillac (Throw some D's on that b*tch!)
Just bought a Cadillac (Throw some D's on that b*tch!)
Just bought a Cadillac
This, along with Roseanne Barr's recent anti-gay remarks are yet another example of our "neutral" media's double standards.
Al and Tipper Gore just consented to an interview with Ryan Seacrest on the E! pre-Oscar festivities. (First question: Tipper's wearing Bill Blass, Al Gore reluctantly noted he's wearing Ralph Lauren.) The goofiest answer was when Seacrest asked Gore, "if you were to cast an actor to play the lead in 'The Al Gore Story,' who would you pick?" Gore quipped, "I don't know, maybe William Hung," the infamous "American Idol" reject who mangled Ricky Martin's "She Bangs." Seacrest laughed and said "I love it, I mean, the 'Idol' reference!" When Seacrest asked if that performance was one of his favorites, he said it was "right up there," and then said "no, no, no" and insisted that his favorite song is the lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge's song "I Need to Wake Up." Guess why? It's up for an Oscar for its inclusion in Gore's film. Lyrics, please:
And as a child I danced like it was 1999 My dreams were wild The promise of this new world Would be mine Now I am throwing off the carelessness of youth To listen to an inconvenient truth