Thursday, January 31, 2008

Too much time online. I am at my parents' house watching TV and suddenly my mother says, "Ooh, let me show you the photo of you, it's really quite scary!"
"What photo?" I say, slightly alarmed.
Ignoring me, she says to my dad, "Look at Melissa's profile, do you see it?"
I am panicking, oh my god she's found me on Facebook, when I realise.

She means the side view of my head.

The "photo" turns out to be a picture of my great-grandmother. Apparently I look a lot like her. I check out the picture and it's the spitting image of my grandmother (this woman's daughter). But then my mother has always insisted I look (and even walk) like my grandmother.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Svengali Smackdown! I've noticed recently in the course of my work that a lot of hitmaking producers start their own labels and 'discover' new acts that they hope to make into stars. They are generally very good at discovering talented young producers like themselves (Teddy Riley apparently discovered both Rodney Jerkins and the Neptunes), but they don't seem to be very good at accurately spotting talented performers.

So I decided to stage a little contest to see which producer has been the best Svengali. It is important to note that these are not existing acts who approach the Svengali for a hit. They are previously unknown performers that the Svengali selects, betting that they'll hit the big time.

Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins:
The Phil Spector of the mid-to-late '90s (Michael Jackson, Destiny's Child, Brandy, Toni Braxton) started his own label, Darkchild Records, with a roster of people who make you go "Who?" Shamari Fears (formerly of R&B group Blaque), female MC Asia Lee, dancehall artist Atiba, gospel singer Anesha Birchett and, rumouredly, R&B singers Megan Rochell and Natasha. The most successful artist so far is Anesha Birchett and that's pretty much because of her songwriting credits rather than recorded output. He also started a gospel imprint for his wife Joy Enriques, JoyFul Child, and her record didn't do too badly. Christians are a huge market.

Robert Clivilles (of C+C Music Factory):
In the first few years of the '90s Clivilles and Cole dominated the pop-house scene, not just with their own stuff, but producing and remixing Taylor Dayne, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson, etc. After Cole died in 1995, Clivilles continued the brand, but was also in a group called MVP. Their big hit was the R&B/dancehall cut "Roc Ya Body (Mic Check 1 2)", which is REALLY AWESOME. I have it on a mixtape and I had no idea Clivilles was involved. But they never really broke.

Justin "Just Blaze" Smith:
Started Fort Knocks Records pretty much in order to sign Saigon, who is a pretty good rapper except that he chucked an absolute spazz and posted a MySpace blog with the title "I QUIT". (It's been taken down now because he was worried about offending Just Blaze, who in turn was puzzled about the tanty.) Apparently he's not retiring any more. Whew.

Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo (The Neptunes):
Started Star Trak with heaps of promising artists, including Pharrell, Kelis and Clipse. I've got their compilation CD Clones (2003), released when I genuinely thought the Neptunes couldn't put a foot wrong. Except Star Trak ended up being shuffled around between host labels and a lot of its artists (like Vanessa "Talk to me boy" Marquez and Rosco P. Coldchain) fell between the cracks. Pretty much if you wanted to have a career you left Star Trak, as Kelis and Clipse did. It's now padded out with nobodies who don't even have Wikipedia pages and perhaps the most successful of its stable is Robin "When I Get You Alone, And Also I Am The Son Of Alan" Thicke.

Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley:
Everything he touches seems to turn to gold... except Beat Club, the imprint he started, whose roster includes Tim's younger brother Sebastian, Bubba Sparxxx, Ms Jade (who guested on Missy Elliott's "Funky Fresh Dressed"), and "Who?" fodder Kiley Dean, D.O.E., Attitude and Shelby Norman. Of these, Bubba Sparxxx is probably the best known, although Ms Jade apparently has an album coming out this year.

Scott Storch:
Self-appointed "Tuff Jew" beefed with Timbaland over Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me A River". His label Storch Music Company features NOX, Charli Baltimore (the dirt Remy Ma, which is really saying something) and... wait for it... Brooke Hogan, HULK HOGAN'S DAUGHTER. Jesus Christ, Scott.

The winner: Tough call, but I'd say Just Blaze (juuuust inching out Timbaland)
The loser: Scott Storch

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Add this to your iPod Shuffle. This morning as I was lazing about in bed waiting for James and Pat to finish up in the bathroom, I started to make an imaginary playlist. I do this all the time - for me there are few greater joys than themed mixtapes, and it's an eternal annoyance to me that I don't have regular access to a computer that can download songs and burn CDs so it's difficult for me to make that shit come true.

Anyway. My playlist was of songs with a swing or shuffle beat. (While I was looking for an explanation of what I mean, I discovered this Wikipedia page. Seriously, Wikipedia has been giving me huge amounts of joy lately.) I have never formally studied music theory, but what I mean here are songs with a swung rhythm emphasising the downbeat. Here are the ones I could think of at the time - can you think of any others?

EDIT: I have since added more.

Underworld - Underneath the Radar
!!! - Yadnus
Goldfrapp - Strict Machine
Goldfrapp - Ooh La La
T-Rex - Metal Guru
Smiths - Panic
Wham! - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
Billy Joel - Only The Good Die Young
Thin Lizzy - The Boys Are Back In Town
Marvin Gaye - How Sweet It Is
Abba - Waterloo

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Separated at birth.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

On domesticity. I have had some really shit share-house experiences, and also some share-houses that I never enjoyed spending time in. But right now I am content just to hang out at home. I take pleasure in making it look beautiful (well, as much as a gracefully decrepit share house can look) eating food I've prepared at home, enjoying doing very little at home. In fact, over my Christmas holiday I spent a week at home doing pretty much nothing.

Today I went shopping. It made me extremely happy to stare at this arrangement of pink roses on the kitchen table, cup of tea at my elbow, the weekend papers in easy reach for my leisurely perusal, knowing that in the bathroom was a fresh cake of my favourite soap, plenty of toilet paper, and a new can of air freshener in "Clean Linen" fragrance to replace the hateful "Orchid Garden" that puffed a disgusting fruity smell throughout the house. Meanwhile in my bedroom, two pillows in new white pillowcases lurked plumply on my bed, and a bottle of Palmer's Cocoa Butter availed itself for my emolliation.

I am conflicted over the issue of domesticity. In a way it is a pornography of time - not so much the luxury of being surrounded by 'nice things', but the ability to take the time to appreciate them. Which I definitely do. I have written before about the hedonism of domesticity; in a way it replaces the other things that are missing in my life. Missing the large pleasures, I take time to appreciate the small ones.

In much the same way, I was thrilled on a recent flight when I was upgraded to business class, and at a recent film screening for work which took place at a Gold Class cinema, and was catered with espresso coffee and croissants filled with ham and brie. If I did these things regularly, I would become the kind of awful chump who finds no joy in simple things because they become baseline living standards. So I am happy to cherish the small everyday flourishes of domesticity that I can provide.

Nestled back in my jaunty electric boudoir. I have decided to come back to this blog. For some months following the Vagina Luv wet-newspaper fight (thok! thok!), I just couldn't be fucked defending my opinions to some Princeton palaeofeminist, so I crept into the warmth of Facebook, where my Notes became ersatz blog posts.

In one way Facebook has made me feel more secure about what I write, in that I can control exactly who reads my notes there. But on the other hand, I was getting maybe 100 visitors a day to this blog, who may or may not know me but needed to seek my blog out in order to read it, whereas my Facebook notes have potentially around 300 viewers, who get notifications about each note regardless of how well they know me.

I am also keen to avoid hosting my intellectual property with Facebook. But let's get something clear. I don't subscribe to the stoopid conspiracy theories and sooking about how Facebook is run by evil right-wing neocons, used as a CIA surveillance tool, and dominated by intrusive advertising and inane applications. I think that, used judiciously (rather than with a sense of helplessness and bewilderment: "these applications just kept sending me stuff and I didn't want to get that stuff so I deleted my Facebook account!"), Facebook is great and I will continue to use it until my networks move elsewhere.

Even though I am uneasy about Web 2.0's tendency to commodify intellectual property, pretty much every kind of successful online community is run on these capitalistic terms nowadays, and I think the benefits (for me) of being able to archive files and ideas online outweighs the cost of doing that in privately owned public space. Even though I recognise that Blogger is probably just as 'bad' as Facebook (ideologically speaking), at least it is an outward-looking interface compared to the gated community of Facebook, and at least it is a single-purpose interface that enables blogging and nothing more, forcing you to create your own online community through your commenting practices and blogroll, rather than plug it into an existing framework.

I know I will need to be on my best behaviour here, and aside from pseudo-independence, that discipline is probably becoming more attractive to me than the urge to communicate my ideas to others, which was always my primary motivation for blogging. So, until I can be bothered registering a domain name and wrangling with Wordpress or such, I am back here. So you can all suck it.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter