Category Archives: Music / Lyrics

Listens and flaws are found at Spotalike

It’s easy to come to a dead end when you’re trying to find more music of a certain sound, temp, or variety. I’ve posted requests for song suggestions before as proof of that. Suggestions can lead to other people’s tastes from a wide variety of performers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into you willingly following through on suggestions… Especially if you don’t know the artists.

There’s a tool out there on the web that I crossed last weekend, called Spotalike. It’s got a winter holiday motif that you need to ignore, that and it’s powered by way of Spotify. Simple directions: if you put a song/artist in the entry field, it’ll produce a list of what it considers similar songs. The first three entries tend to be by the same artist while what follows is a variety from other artists. What sold me on the entire tool is how I would enter songs from an easy-listening playlist that I have, and some of the first suggestions would be other songs from the list. The right similarity was there.

I also know it’s not perfect, though….

I like Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen; throw it in that easy-listen playlist because of the light music (side note: I need to find Bruce’s Oscar performance of the song where he played piano).

The problem here is Spotalike’s first suggestion. Born in the USA is a rocker with a strong beat, heavy lyrics and of course the famous chorus chant that people fixate on. There are others produced in the top 10 results that fit the bill (Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, One by U2) and others that make me shake my head and say “no” (I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith).  I guess this list is just proof no playlist suggested can be perfect, but some songs fit while others just seem to be a reach.

Yet the results for “Streets” aren’t what led to this post, no, no. I went with an early 1990’s rocker by one of the top axe men in music, Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz:

That was off a top album in 1993 (but failed to crack the Billboard Top 100). The attitude, the energy, the guitar work by Lenny, it’s just fantastic. Is it a one-of-a-kind ode? Arguable; there are plenty of songs that could be suggested just for guitar work and early 90’s popularity (Green Day and Basket Case as well as Longview immediately come to mind).

Yet one-of-a-kind is how Spotalike seems to be looking at it as it stands. Upon entering the song and going for the results, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is the only song result. No playlist gets generated. It’s one thing for that to happen with an indie band (Pretty Voices are on Spotalike, for example, but don’t generate results) but for someone who has been so prominent in popular music and rock and roll to get brushed off? That’s either a flaw in the system, a business conflict between the powers-that-be and Kravitz’s camp or just an outright disrespect towards a musician someone at Spotalike doesn’t like. I’m going to side with the flaw factor. I’m sure it pops up with some other songs by popular artists.

This shouldn’t hold sway over you using Spotalike or not; there’s too much music out there to get hung up on flaws and misgroupings. So much music and so few quality suggestion tools exist. The system can’t be perfect but it seems like Spotalike is sound to one decree or another.

 

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The Beatles video, “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, missing in action no more

It’s arguable to write that the greatest song the Beatles ever recorded and didn’t release as a single was “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, which was released in 1965 on the album “Help!”. It’s a standard Lennon/McCartney scribed ode that has ties to “She Loves You” as if it were a sequel. I write that point here but I don’t link because trying to find the source I read has been fruitless (this line will be deleted if I do find the link). There are only two words on record for any member of the Fab Four speaking about the song: John Lennon told Playboy in 1980, “That’s me.” You can find more in-depth coverage of the song here. There are touches on other facts about Lennon / McCartney and history that may pique your interest.

I was introduced to the Fab Four in 1985 when my father won a VHS tape of “Help!” from 101 WCBS FM in New York. I was skittish and disinterested at first in watching as the tape opened up with the black-and-white trailer to “A Hard Day’s Night”, the film the Beatles made in 1964. Black-and-white film and disjointed snippets of Beatle songs from the movie just didn’t win me over (and what would you expect? I was 5 or 6 years old at the time). I fidgeted, I tried getting up, but my father put his hands on my shoulders and sat me down.

Then “Help!” started, with actor Leo McKern reciting cult tidings in what amounted to an execution ceremony. Though it was a dark setting, the color blazed (in comparison to that “A Hard Day’s Night” trailer and my interest ticked up. One thing led to another in the film and McKern’s character of Clang bellowed to his cult sect that surrounded him, “Where is the ring?! Search her! What has she done with the ring?!” The cult cried repeatedly “The ring?!” in response and then… then…

Then you see the fabled ring, a large red gemstone on a standard gold band. It just so happens to be on the hand of drummer Ringo Starr as a performance of the song “Help!” gets underway (in black-and-white… which meant nothing to me at this point) and truly the movie began as the Beatles performed “Help!”.

There were seven songs performed in the movie, with “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” being my favorite. Heck, viewing the film a second time, I remember my brothers and I rewinding the video to replay the song and sing along with it. We were won over. That’s not to say “Help!” didn’t win us over, or “Ticket to Ride”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, “I Need You” (George Harrison’s first composed song), “The Night Before, or “Another Girl”. It’s just the memory of this song in particular.

Director Richard Lester played with lighting but did a simple in-studio scene with John, Paul, George and Ringo. The hues and colors vary and smoke plays into scenes (hey, smoking was hip back then Ringo is doing it in some scenes of the song). I’d put this song, as a video; well ahead of the majority of music videos that also play the studio scene. And seeing it’s been 52 years since the damn thing was recorded, that should tell the music video director sect out there to raise their game.

You can’t find the song on YouTube though, and the simple Google search (which now produces extensive info results for most songs) only shows you amateurs playing.

Is there a business contrast playing out between Apple Corps LTD (the Beatles company) and Google? I don’t know. What I do know is that I started this write up fixated on not being able to find the videos from “Help!” on YouTube. Only a fraction of the movie performance of “You’re going to Lose That Girl” can be found.

A re-worded my web search just a tad (with quotation marks: “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” video, Help!) and lo and behold I found what has been missing via Vimeo.

“You’re Going To Lose That Girl” from Merritt Mullen on Vimeo.

Will it remain on the site? Dunno, though it’s 4 year lifespan tells me that it’s going to stay. You can find a low quality version of “Ticket to Ride” on there, as well as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (standard quality). The other songs are missing / have mixed in content.

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by | March 8, 2017 · 12:33 PM

The Pretty Voices – “Haircut” (with lyrics)

From the Tampa Bay area indie rock group the Prety Voices, “Haircut” is off of their 2016 album Jangular:

Goin’ out to see a band, by the stage is where I’ll stand
You look good standin’ next to me in a white t-shirt and blue jeans
A pretty face and crooked frame, I just wanna know your name
Swallow hard, what to say?  I don’t even know your name

I just like your haircut
Blue black hair contrasts porcelain
It’s too much!
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual (you make me fuckin’ miserable)

Let’s get a drink after the show, where do you wanna go?
I don’t know, I don’t care, she tilts her head and flips her hair
Where you been, all my life, do you wanna be my wife?
“I’m a vegan, so you know.”  Hipster chick is status quo…

I just like your haircut
Blue black hair contrasts porcelain
It’s too much!
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual (you make me fuckin’ miserable)

I just like your haircut
Blue black hair contrasts porcelain
It’s too much!
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual (you make me fuckin’ miserable)

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by | March 1, 2017 · 9:12 PM

Lyrical hopes and poetic dreams for the immediate future

I’ve been going through older poems that don’t appear on the site, I’ve been going through a collection of my works over the decades . Things I wrote as poetry sure sound like songs (or at least look like them, and I can imagine melody to go along with them). I’m no musician though, no composer, or I’d try to put together a full song and get things on the market (not me as a performer, me as a composer).

I will admit right now that I do have a poetry/lyrical verse manuscript and am hoping to have a self-published book out in 2017. That’s still in the process of being honed out though. There are aspects I haven’t even explored yet with that, and those I have asked to review my work (as editor types) have yet to get back to me with any input.

All of that said, here’s an example of that lyrical-verse/poetry that I had a habit of doing in the past. It’s something that is not going to be included in the book as it stands, but that could change. I’d appreciate feedback on this too. It has been on the web before, when my personal home page was on Tripod ages and ages ago. Different title then.:

Continue reading

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Filed under Music / Lyrics, Poetry, The Life, Writing

Reviewing lyrics and Living on the Edge

As a young teen, I was pretty fixated on Aerosmith’s 1993 album release “Get a Grip” and the hits that came from it. It was such a mix of Hard Rock and Pop, along with a mix of Steven Tyler’s attitude (which was most shown off during video performances – but that’s acting in part; lyrically it showed up in songs like “Flesh” or “Crying”.

The song that won me over was track #5 on the album, “Livin’ on the Edge”

In 10th grade I wrote an essay about the song and how it seemed to be an overall view of life and how we “live on the edge of sanity and sobriety”.  From the viewpoint of a 15 year old, that seems to fit just fine. And in a way, it’s still something that goes with the song.

The thing is, sitting here oh-so-many years later and thinking about the music (and listening to it), I’ve gone a few more inches regarding the song’s overall meaning. It’s fitting now with how we’re all reacting to things in the political world or social sphere…. But it’s been that way for a long, long time. Hell, its human life.

There’s something wrong with the world today
Don’t know what it is
Something’s wrong with our eyes
We’re seeing things in a different way
And God knows it ain’t his
It sure ain’t no surprise…
We’re livin’ on the edge

[Chorus]

Something wrong with the world today
The light bulb’s getting dim
There’s meltdown in the skies
If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister, you’re a better man than I….

Those are the first two verses of the song and they give an overall view of an honest, everyday life in US society. We’re always pushing for something or seeing a wrong transpiring with the news of someone else’s accomplishment or met benchmark. And while we strive to achieve or right a wrong, we feel or see more wrongs, more doom and gloom that make us wonder just where the hell we’re going as a world.

Perhaps the most profound and murkiest line of these two verses is the wise-man declaration. The statement irons down the fact that this is everyone. Not just groups you prefer. That fact and we all have high points that need to be seen instead of where we came from.

This is the last verse of the song:

There’s something right with the world today
And evrybody knows it’s wrong
So we can tell’em no or we can let it go
But I would rather leave it hanging on

We’re all living on the edge. It’s life. And life itself – having it, experiencing its achievements, pitfalls, horrors, celebrations, comics, remorse, adventure, frustration, etc… It’s what’s always been there. It’s also society; it’s the social sphere of humanity. Its life, and it’s damn well better lived than mourned as if the end was here.

I think it’s a middle verse, sung twice, that nails this down:

Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complications, aggravations, it’s getting to you
If Chicken Little tells you that the sky is falling
Even if it wasn’t, would you still come crawling
Back again?
I bet you would my friend
Again and again, and again, and again and again…

For everything you see as wrong, for every doom that tells you the end is nigh, you’re going to keep going. You have things to accomplish, social gains to achieve or to support, political gains or protests to vent.

And while we’re Livin’ on the edge, the backing vocals of the chorus seem fitting:

Livin’ on the edge
You can’t help yourself from falling
Livin’ on the edge
You can’t stop yourself at all

… With a double-deep vocal simply repeating everybody behind the “You can’t” lines.

We see peril, doom, and upheaval. You might be on the political left or right, you might be a vegetarian or a meat eater, you might be a guy, girl, transgendered, gay, bisexual, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, militant, pacifist, etc, etc… We’ve all got our places to go, people to see, things to do, and items to achieve. It’s what’s driving us and dividing us all at the same time. It’s the edge of life – it’s the world happening. And happen, it’s going to do. That’s living,

 

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Filed under Entertainment Industry Thingies, Music / Lyrics, The Life

Musical Demo: Picture Perfect (aka Picture Perfect Love Affair)

In the late 1990’s I was a poet and lyricist first and foremost. You can find some of the poetry I wrote and have written over the years on the site (click the writing tab above and move down to the poetry selection). That’s not the point though. One poem I wrote, just a lyrical mash-up inspired a bit by Green Day, was “Picture Perfect Love Affair”, a crazy guy in love with a girl in a photo. In fact, that story sort of mocks me at the time, as girls from High School still mattered, and I only had their photos to look at.

Years later, I forget when exactly, I had a little edit of the poem.  “Edit” being the addition of a chorus to use between stanzas:

It’s a picture
Picture perfect

Picture perfect love affair

It’s a real simple build up and filler but it does the job that is expetec of it – it moves you forward and transitions you.

The summer of 2016 had me meet (online and off) Nick from the Pretty Voices. At one point or another I ran lyrical verse past him in a conversation and lo and behold, Nick delivered a demo of my work.

As it stands right now, I don’t think the Pretty Voices are going to record this thing, but it IS nice to have something I wrote put to music.

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Airplay and fans for a certain band

Since August 2016 the Pretty Voices have been available on Jango to listen to. It’s already a subject that’s been touched on around here but what I’m going for now is to note something about the site that better reflects listening habits: Popularity.

There have been 17 total tracks made available from two albums; the pretty voices ep and Jangular. The latter album was released in May of 2016 while the former was released in December 2010. The band has really been pushing Jangular pretty consistently and my inclusion of their debut EP album wasn’t requested but I did feel like the rock fans wouldn’t mind hearing the whole enchilada and not just the most recent album.

I can’t say airplay has been consistent on my part. Two tracks have over 600 airings (Radishes and Control) while there’s one track that has only gotten 10 airings (Nancy Boy). Popularity does have a bit of influence over airings though; Radishes has 12 “fans” while the song that leads Pretty Voices on the network is El Camino with 14 fans (fans or the more common Facebook “Likes”).

I could keep sharing information here but let’s just go to the data and work from there. Note, this is listed by popularity order (most popular).

Song Name Album Plays Fans  
El Camino Jangular 577 14
Radishes Jangular 613 12
Grease Fire the pretty voices ep 443 10
Haircut Jangular 581 10
Crackle Pop Jangular 574 8
Control Jangular 662 8
House Party Jangular 371 7
Britney Jangular 572 6
Senius Genius Jangular 513 5
Hush Yer Mouth the pretty voices ep 220 3
First Rate the pretty voices ep 110 2
Uphill Tack Jangular 147 2
Pin Prick the pretty voices ep 100 2
Lost Weekend the pretty voices ep 120 1
I Found the Essence Rare Jangular 124 0
Mean Song Jangular 140 0
Nancy Boy the pretty voices ep 10 0

 

With the exception of Grease Fire, the pretty voices ep’s tracks haven’t had its content played much. Pin Prick has only gotten 100 plays (despite earning fans), so keep that in mind with the lack of plays for Nancy Boy.

All of this is more airplay than what happens with people surfing around YouTube. While I recently added the pretty voices ep tracks to YouTube, the tracks from Jsngular have been out there for a while with scant use.  Does that hinder the songs? No, it just shows that people have different habits with listening than using YouTube.

Nancy Boy will get more airings, as will other tracks in time…  but for the meantime, El Camino is ruler (online) of the band.

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The missing hit: “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”

My first exposure to the Beatles, the most influential pop/rock group of the 20th century, came by way of a VHS tape. As a younger child before that, I’d probably already heard the group countless times on the radio; my father listened to oldies all the time on 101 WCBS FM in New York and I was exposed to a plethora of oldies through the first 6 years of my life while being driven around in the car. Dad also had a knack participating in call-in contests on WCBS and winning himself DJ autographs and other things from the station.

I don’t remember details of when and how, but I do recall my father sitting me and my brothers down to watch a VHS tape that he won from the radio. I also remember the fact it started with a black-and-white trailer for another movie and how it turned me off at the time… I mean, I was a kid! We had cable TV! I don’t remember what I wanted instead but I do think it was just expectations and that trailer didn’t catch my interest. That music-driven, black-and-white trailer was “A Hard Day’s Night”, the Beatles previous film.

Then the main picture started and my attention and interest was drawn in. I won’t go through the lead-in scene to Help! But between me and my two brothers who were watching, we got locked in with curiosity….and became enthused with the musical performances within the movie.

I could talk about Help! in-depth here as a film, but my focus isn’t on the entirety of the flick but a 2:23 performance that is, in my humble opinion, the greatest song not released as a single by the Fab Four in the group’s history (as an active band and after the breakup): “You’re Going to Lose That Girl.”

My brothers and I would rewind the movie and watch the performance of the band over and over again. John Lennon was on lead vocals, Paul McCartney and George Harrison backed him vocally in a harmonious fashion, repeating him and singing with him. Heck, the performance in the film itself was the band recording the song with the scene framing in-studio mystique (and before you ask: No, this was not filmed at Abbey Road).

I’d simply post the movie clip here but the powers-that-be (be it film industry or Apple Corps LTD) has removed the video from YouTube. In protecting copyrights and ownership, irrelevance is hoisted. It’s an ironic truth. Of course, if you know of the song and like the song, then that statement is not an attempted dressing-down of its value as-so-much an admission of where it has gone by being profit driven and thus hidden from the masses.

I don’t know how long covers of the song are going to be allowed to exist on YouTube (blame that on the powers-that-be if it isn’t long) but I post one of the covers of the song below. The biggest audio-difference between this and the original version is the depth of the sound and its richness.

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Filed under Entertainment Industry Thingies, Movies, Music / Lyrics

Mediocre instrumental marked as top rock…. again

I’m not against art as music or as pop music for that matter… The Beatles give society enough reason for that.  I’m not against fans voting for songs online either.

That being said, another installment of avantgardeaclue has christened a mediocre instrumental as the top Rock song on Jango / Radio Airplay.  Solar Wind by Michael Wark is art, at best.  Sadly, it’s proof of corruption on the system at its boldest. This ain’t Rock.  It isn’t nearly so.

 

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My dance with music and marketing

It really shouldn’t be that tough promoting a band on Twitter, should it? I’m talking Rock’n’Roll here (or just plain Rock as it’s referenced now) and a quartet in the genre since 2009….But who’s only had a full album since May of 2016 and who’ve only had a Twitter account since June.

It’s a project, that’s for sure, but I’m helping the Pretty Voices as best I can. On their Twitter account at the moment, they currently have 17 followers.  That’s a wee bit better than the 14 they had as a lasting number until a few days ago. I’ve already added plenty of new accounts to its follows list (avenues to help promote the group) but it’s a project, that’s for sure. Thus is the life of a band – trying to gain exposure. It takes some experience with the tool and in marketing. Something my time in the Boltosphere has brought me.

By the way, the group has 378 “likes” on Facebook.  That’s only a fraction of people who have experienced them and liked them on the radio, on the Internet, and in reality. If you’ve heard them, if you’ve enjoyed them, see what they have to offer here on Facebook.

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