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Even if you don’t consider yourself an OK Go fan, chances are still good you’re familiar with their videos.

At last count, some 15 million people had downloaded the video for the Chicago pop-rock outfit’s single Here it Goes Again, an impossibly cool dance routine on six moving treadmills.

The clip — which nabbed a Grammy for best short-form music video, and a YouTube award for most creative video — is a perfect illustration of how little-known bands can become household names through the magic of viral marketing.

It’s also a good example of how the medium can overshadow the message, not that the band is complaining.

“The important thing to always remember is that this stuff would not even exist were it not for the songs on the records,” says bassist Tim Nordwind (the bespectacled gent seen lip-synching atop those treadmills). “But if the video is the entry point for someone to become an OK Go fan, well that’s fine with me.”

It’s rare for YouTube lightning to strike twice, but OK Go have seen two of their videos become worldwide phenomenons. The first — another dance number scored to the track A Million Ways — was never intended for mass consumption.

Choreographed by singer Damian Kulash’s sister, the routine was created so OK Go could carry on their tradition of using boy-band-inspired dance steps to close their show. They filmed a no-budget backyard video to see what their moves looked like, and the rest is history.

“We wanted to show our friends what was coming next, so we posted a link for like, 50 to 100 people,” says Nordwind. “Our friends started passing it around to other friends, and in a few months even magazines were picking up on it.

“A few months later, it had become the most downloaded video in Internet history, which was insanely f–ed up. We didn’t plan that, and we never imagined something could travel like that virally.”

The attention came in handy while the band was promoting its latest CD Oh No, and while Nordwind and his cohorts wrestled with concerns about “becoming that dancing band,” in the end, they decided to give the strategy another go.

The treadmill clip, shot in one take, took 17 tries to get right, and the bandmates found themselves having to learn the routine again a year later when they were asked to perform it at the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.

So after twice landing at the top of the viral video heap, you’d figure Nordwind and his bandmates would already be hard at work on the next one. Hardly.

“We’re making another record,” he says. “We’d like to go away a bit and create more songs that we can create a world around … Like I said before, all that stuff is inspired by the music, so there’s a lot more thought as to what the next song is going to be, as opposed to the next video.”

Sunday, March 18, 2007

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A History of the Music Video From the Beatles to the White Stripes

By Saul Austerlitz

CONTINUUM; 250 PAGES; $24.95

I watched many music videos in the ’80s, starting with “Video Killed the Radio Star,” the presciently titled Buggles one that launched MTV on Aug. 1, 1981. I stopped tuning into them in the mid-’90s, when family affairs shifted my interest from rock ‘n’ roll. Recently, however, that interest has revived, and I’m eager to take in fresh music videos, at least good ones like “Gone Daddy Gone,” from Gnarls Barkley. But the music videos I used to count on MTV for and, later, VH-1, are rarely found on those pioneering channels.Now, the outlet for them, as for everything else, is the Internet. That shift justifies Saul Austerlitz’s exhaustive, frequently entertaining but overly detailed “Money for Nothing.” Like rock itself, the music video is mature, though its history is relatively fresh. Praise is due Austerlitz for his diligence, open-mindedness and patience; watching as many videos as he has would have fried most others’ brains.

A New York critic who specializes in film and music, Austerlitz writes for publications mainstream, specialist and what started out alternative, like Spin. “Money for Nothing,” his first book, is a niche product. Its primary appeal will be to other critics; if it’s marketed effectively, it should also appeal to music, video and film fans, and those eager to break into those businesses. It’s a good book, though Austerlitz goes on too long; after a while, no matter how sharp and insightful his exegeses, one tires of them. Despite his regularly excellent interpretations and analyses, the mind freezes from reading one summary after another after another. The music video, after all, is a visual and aural experience, not a verbal one. And even watching them can become anesthetic.

Still, Austerlitz is a gifted critic; he’s particularly OK in my book because he, too, can’t stand Creed front man Scott Stapp or Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst. Austerlitz likes the genre once known as alternative rock, shuns heavy metal and “nu metal,” disses many hip-hop videos (for reasons similar to his dislike of heavy metal videos), considers Eminem subversive and powerfully political, and proffers kind words not only about music video auteurs like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry (his faves) but also about various musical groups. When band and video come together well, his interpretation can be dense, warm and illuminating, spurring the reader to seek out the clip:

“Spanning a century of popular culture, Dayton and [wife/co-director Valerie] Faris went from [pioneering French film director Georges] Melies to the Beatles to ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ tapping into the dynamism of video games for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Californication’ (2000). Dayton and Faris ape both the content and the style of a video game from the ‘Now Loading …’ graphic which begins the video to the Player Select screens, in which each of the Chili Peppers is a potential character. Because this is a music video, though, and not a game, the grounding rules of gaming coherence are not fully respected, and ‘Californication’ melds together four different adventures, one for each member of the band, cutting regularly between them.”

Austerlitz suggests that the music video is at an impasse, calls it an unrecognized subgenre of filmmaking and nails its draw: “Music-video outlets had to keep viewers returning for another fix, or another chance to crack the code, and with the necessity of repeat viewing built into the business model of MTV and its companions, it was necessary that the videos they played be ever-so-slightly beyond reach of total, immediate comprehension,” he writes.

Perhaps that explains the magic of videos like “Hey Ya!,” the great 2003 clip from Outkast in which Andre 2000 multiplies himself to fill out a band and evoke nostalgia for an era in which music meant community, or of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime,” a 1981 video in which chief Head David Byrne morphed numerous roles while remaining in character both incantatory and nerdy. Also, one can’t downplay the impact of Michael Jackson’s videos, particularly those that gave his 1983 album, “Thriller,” worldwide legs. Madonna and Bjork — even Britney Spears, for the fabulous “Toxic” — get their deserved props, too.

Now that the music video is old enough for history, it’s time to archive the field, Austerlitz says. The voraciousness and ubiquity of the Net, which has taken over the genre from TV, has reanimated it. That gives Austerlitz hope and tells us there are many music videos to look forward to — and back on.

Carlo Wolff is a writer in Cleveland and author of “Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories.”

Amy Winehouse

January 26, 2007

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Amy Winehouse
Background information
Birth name Amy Jade Winehouse[1]
Born September 14, 1983 (age 23)
Origin England Enfield, Middlesex, England
Genre(s) Soul, R&B, Vocal jazz
Label(s) Island/Universal (2003 – present)

Amy Jade Winehouse (born September 14, 1983) is an English jazz/soul singer and songwriter. Her debut album, Frank (released in 2003) was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and she won an Ivor Novello award in 2004 for her debut single “Stronger Than Me”. In 2006, after appearing in the British press for multiple alcohol-related incidents, she released her second album, Back to Black.




[edit] Biography

[edit] Early life

Winehouse was born into a family with a history of jazz musicians.[2] She grew up in the suburb of Southgate, North London, and attended Ashmole School. At around age 10, Winehouse founded a short-lived amateur rap group called Sweet ‘n’ Sour, as Sour. She described the group as “the little white Jewish Salt ‘n’ Pepa“.[3] She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School aged 12 but was expelled at 13 for “not applying herself”.[4][3] She later attended the BRIT School in Selhurst, Croydon.

She grew up listening to a diverse range of music (from Salt ‘n’ Pepa to Sarah Vaughan) and received her first guitar aged 13.[5]

After her friend, soul singer Tyler James, gave her demo tape to an A&R person, she was discovered and began singing professionally at age 16.[2] She signed to her current record label, Island/Universal, under management company 19 Management.[3]

[edit] 2003 – 2004: Frank

Winehouse’s debut album, Frank, was released on October 20, 2003. It was produced mainly by Salaam Remi with many songs having jazz-influences and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The album received positive reviews[6][7] with compliments over the “cool, critical gaze” in its (sometimes explicit) lyrics[8] and brought comparisons of her voice to, amongst others, Sarah Vaughan[9] and Macy Gray.[8]

The album entered the upper levels of the UK album chart in 2004 when it was nominated for Brit Awards in the categories of “British Female Solo Artist” and “British Urban Act”. It went on to sell platinum.[10] Later in 2004, she won the Ivor Novello songwriting Award for “Best Contemporary Song” with her contribution to the first single, “Stronger Than Me” (alongside Salaam Remi).[11] The album also made the short list for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize. In the same year, she performed at the Glastonbury festival, on the Jazzworld stage, and at the V Festival.

After the release of the album, Winehouse commented that she was “only 80 per cent behind [the] album” because of the inclusion of certain songs and mixes she disliked by her record label.[2] Upon the release of her second album, she stated “I can’t even listen to Frank any more — in fact, I’ve never been able to. I like playing the tracks live because that’s different but listening to them is another story.”[12]

[edit] 2006: Back To Black

In early 2006, demonstration tracks such as “Wake Up Alone” and “Rehab” appeared on Mark Ronson‘s New York radio show on East Village Radio. These were some of the first new songs played on the radio since the release of “Pumps” and were both to appear on her second album.

[edit] Album release

Back to Black, Winehouse’s second album, was released on October 30, 2006, a little more than three years since the release of Frank. In an interview, Winehouse explained “After Frank I didn’t write for 18 months but when I met Mark I pretty much wrote the album in six months — he was so inspiring.”[12] In contrast to her jazz-influenced former album, Winehouse’s focus is described as “shifting to the girl groups of the Fifties and Sixties”.[13] The eleven-track album was produced entirely by Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, with the production credits being split between them almost equally.

Rehab single cover

Rehab single cover

The first single released from the album on October 23, 2006 was the Ronson-produced “Rehab“, a song about her past refusal to attend an alcohol rehabilitation centre after it was encouraged by her management company.[12] She left the management company after this incident.[14] On October 22, 2006, based solely on download sales, it entered the UK Singles Chart at No. 19 and when the CD single was released the following week, it climbed to No. 7. On 14 January 2007, the album rose one spot from #2 to reach the #1 position on the UK Album Chart.

In early October 2006, Winehouse’s official website was re-launched with a new layout and clips of previously unreleased songs.[10] She appeared in an interview with Jools Holland on BBC Radio 2 on October 2, 2006 and was a guest on Later with Jools Holland on November 3, 2006. Winehouse performed three headline gigs in September 2006 and in November 2006 performed another ten across the UK, including headlining one of the Little Noise Sessions charity concerts at the Union Chapel, Islington. She is scheduled to headline another fourteen gigs over February 2007 – March 2007. On November 9, 2006 Winehouse announced she had been approached by one of the producers of the James Bond movies to sing the main theme of Bond 22.[15]

The second single from the album was “You Know I’m No Good“. The single was released on January 8, 2007 with a remix featuring rap vocals by Ghostface Killah. It made #18 in the UK singles chart and, in the same week’s chart, “Rehab” climbed back up to #20.

On the December 31, 2006, Winehouse appeared on Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny and performed a cover of Marvin Gaye‘s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” along with Paul Weller and Hollands’ Rhythm and Blues Orchestra. She also performed Toots and the Maytals‘ “Monkey Man”.

[edit] Personal life

During the promotional phase of the album, Winehouse appeared repeatedly in the British press over personal issues. In September 2006, Winehouse was reported to have dropped four dress sizes because of comments made to her about her size.[16] In an interview in The Daily Telegraph Magazine (September 16, 2006), when asked if this was the cause she replied “No. No. I don’t listen to anyone except my … inner child anyway. If someone had said to me, Amy, lose a stone – which they wouldn’t – I don’t think I would have listened anyway.”

In the same month, The Independent published Winehouse is a clinically diagnosed manic depressive who refuses to take medication.[17] In October 2006, Winehouse admitted to have previously been affected by eating disorders. “A little bit of anorexia, a little bit of bulimia. I’m not totally OK now but I don’t think any woman is.”[18]

Over the next two months, Winehouse made multiple appearances in the British tabloids over alleged alcohol-induced behaviour. This included a ‘drunken’ appearance on The Charlotte Church Show (which appeared on YouTube),[19] heckling U2 member Bono during an acceptance speech at the Q Awards,[20] and incidents where she allegedly assaulted a fan after a concert[21][22] and an attendee at her album launch party.[23] When questioned during an interview about being violent when drunk, Winehouse responded “I have a really good time some nights, but then I push it over the edge and ruin my boyfriend’s night. I’m an ugly dickhead drunk, I really am.”[22]

On November 16, 2006 she appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and faced repeated comments from host Simon Amstell that she should get a grip on what he claimed were her alcohol and drug problems. On January 7, 2007 Winehouse ended a gig at G-A-Y part way through her first song after vomiting, reportedly as a result of being intoxicated.[24]


January 21, 2007

Yes, it is sad but true.

The MSG’s highly anticpated, scrotum-smashing album “Hard Money” will be delayed. The Chinatown flag will be flying at half-mast today, in observance of this temporary reprieve.

While this may seem to be devastating news, in reality it is a sign of greater things to come. Due to a last-minute menu change The MSG are now going to be releasing “Hard Money” in two halves, much like the halves of your buttocks. This is to maximize the overall flavor. The first serving, entitled “Lunch Money“, will be a rectum-ripping EP, due to egg-drop in early February (seriously this time). This will be followed by a ferocious “Lunch Money” college tour, where The MSG will be educating the future of America on the Chinatown thug-life.

Following their blistering live assault, the full-length, full-scale, full-blown album “Hard Money” will drop JUST as your posterior is about to recover. You will have no choice but to sprinkle what’s left of your pulverized ass into your ramen noodles as seasoning. And it will taste good.

In the meantime, to get you though the holidays, the Current TV MSG Documentary is now available online! This is an exclusive doc once only available on Current TV, featuring previously unreleased footage. A must-see, inside look on The MSG’s rise out of the Chinatown hood! Watch it HERE:


The new MSG track “Pimp It” can now be heard in its FULL GLORY – check out to experience maximum MSG pimpitude, NOW.


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the sounds

January 21, 2007