Saturday, December 29, 2007

Inside the CMJ Vault: Vol. 1

Upon leaving my old job, I made a point to grab as much music on our company network server and copy it onto an external hard drive. While doing this, I discovered a folder on the network where someone had thrown over 1200 songs from various College Music Journal CDs. These CDs were a lifeline for me in college - Each month they were sent out with about 20 tracks per disc of new music, and while not all the music was specifically college radio oriented (I remember tracks from Korn, Michelle Branch, and even the Rolling Stones popping up on compilations) they were usually a good starting point for finding new bands, or new tracks from bands you already liked.

With that in mind, I decided to dig into the vault and post some selections. Some I already had heard, some I hadn't, but it's always interesting to look back at what the editors of CMJ deemed worthy of checking out from 1993-2003. Some tracks I remember liking at the time and now being embarrassed about; most tracks that I liked at the time I still like. And there are a decent amount that I never heard and am checking out for the first time now. With that, I present the first of hopefully several installments into the CMJ compilations vault. Our first round of random selections include:

Band: Gay Dad
Song: Joy!

CMJ Volume: 74 (October
, 1999)

I remember this band solely for their name, naturally. They were attempting to ride the tale end of the Britpop revival in the late 90's, but didn't quite make the splash they hoped for. This song is fairly unremarkable, but still a solid pop song with 70's-style glam hooks. And I've always had a predilection for song titles containing punctuation marks. This song also fades out at the end - the fade out has truly become a lost art of studio production hasn't it?

Band: Guster

Song: Airport Song

CMJ Volume: 57 (May, 1998)

Before I heard their music, Guster always seemed like a band I was predisposed to hate. My friends who were fans of the band would say over and over, "Their shows are so fun! They are so funny and they have all these traditions within their show!" In my experience, bands who rely on the wacky stage-presence gimmicks usually do so because the music itself can't get the job done (Hello Barenaked Ladies!) But this was the first Guster song I heard, and it's stellar. It's also rather dark for a band who made their mark with shiny jangle pop songs. But apparently things have lightened up by the end of the song as a calming game of ping pong breaks out.

Band: P
Song: Michael Stipe

CMJ Volume: 28 (December, 1995)

The song title piqued my curiosity. Who writes a song about hanging out with Michael Stipe? And who names their band simply P? And who expects that either of these decisions would be met by the listening public with anything other than judgment and ridicule? The answer - Johnny Depp and Gibby Haynes, who apparently put out an album under this name in 1995. The guitar intro and verse riff sounds suspiciously identical to Jewel's "Who Will Save Your Soul" but since both that song and this one were released the same year, perhaps it's just a coincidence. Who would have thought that Am-C-G-D would be such a common chord progression?!

Band: Paw
Song: Jessie

CMJ Volume: 12 (July, 1994)

The following is an actual conversation that took place between customer and owner at Barry's Music in 1994.
Dave Nelson: Do you have the CD by the group Paw?
AndyAlan Berry: [Looking perplexed for 3 seconds of silence] Uhh....yeah...I think so. [Still looking bewildered, then paging through CD racks]
AndyAlan Berry: Here you go. [Handing the CD over dismissively]
Dave Nelson: [Looking at the CD, stunned] No! I asked for the CD by the group Paw! Not the CD by RuPaul!

Band: Ruth Ruth
Song: Condition
CMJ Volume: 61 (September, 1998)

The verses here reference a murder in a bath, possible molestation by a landlord, a rabbit in one's mind, a penguin, and a hunchback midget band, all set to an uninspiring droning bassline. If that doesn't do it for you, wait until the chorus kicks in, providing salvation to anyone who has ever thought to themselves, "I really like Matthew Sweet, but I'd rather hear something that sounds like a mediocre imitation of him instead."

Band: Bush Tetras
Song: Too Many Creeps

CMJ Volume: 29 (January, 1996)

I had never heard of this band before, but my research indicates this song was their biggest hit, originally recorded in the early 80's. They hailed from New York City, and seem to one of those "performance art" bands - the type that crank out dissonant guitar riffs while repeating one line over and over and over, and people talk about how amazing and real they are. They seem to have (or had) somewhat of a cult following, but I will not be joining said cult. I think this track is monotonous and annoying.

Band: The Cardigans
Song: Lovefool

CMJ Volume: 40 (December, 1996)

This choice is just an excuse to watch the following:

Stay tuned for Volume 2 into the CMJ vaults coming soon.

Friday, December 28, 2007

John Mayer Responds

So, remember when I wrote my homage/roast of John Mayer?

Well, it looks like he may have read it.

And his response only proves my point further. He actually agrees with me (and is quite knowledgeable on the science of linguistics).

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Best Music Videos of 2007

Get comfortable. I’ve got a clip play list and link-riddled blog entry that has been a year in the making.

When I started writing for Bad Idea Blue Jeans at the beginning of the year, I didn’t realize that the majority of my entries would deal with music videos. For the past 10 years, I had lived under the impression that music videos were dead. mp3 killed the video star. Or something like that.

Anyway, it’s the end of 2007, and there were many great videos that were released. And I don’t think any of them made their way to the screaming tweens at TRL. But in the world of youtube, that’s not necessary.

Before we get to the cream of the crop, I give you the Honorable Mention play list:

Mute MathTypical

They learned to sign the song backwards. Then they learned to play the song backwards. Then they learned to do it live on Kimmel.

Escort - All Through the Night

When Weezer used the Muppets in a music video, I predicted that the idea was so ingenious, it would make Buddy Holly Weezer’s 2nd most popular video. I was dead wrong about that. But, I do like that this video stays away from the mainstream Muppets and focuses on the most obviously drug-inspired furballs.

Daft Hands - Harder Better Faster Stronger

Just watch. And pray that carpal tunnel syndrome doesn’t ever strike this remarkable talent.

Justice - D.A.N.C.E. (live on Kimmel)

“This is gonna be weird.” Yes, Jimmy, but I commend you on allowing bands to mix up the traditional (boring) late night talk show performance. I get the Michael, Prince, and Rick James impersonators. But I’m a confused as to why Stevie Wonder is playing the drums and why anyone would think of impersonating Rod Stewart.

Pretty Ricky - Late Night Special

Relentless, X2C, Pipelayer, and Pressure are either training for the crew team, or making the weirdest way to ask someone out to prom in modern history.

Poor ottoman.

And now, without further delay, I give you my Top Ten Music Videos of 2007, in no particular order:


This is a graphically amazing video. So amazing that it won the European Music Award. So amazing that it prompted on of Kanye’s classic whine fest. So amazing that Kanye learned his lesson and snagged the director for his latest video.

Kanye West - Can’t Tell Me Nothin’(feat. Zach Galifiniakis)

I’ll simply direct you to my previous blog about the lip synching stylings of sir Zach.

FeistMy Moon My Man

I also blogged about Feist’s tendency to rip off other music videos. But I’m a sucker for choreography in videos. And I’m also a sucker for airport people movers.

WiselyThrough Any Window

The song sounds like James Taylor meets Elliott Smith. But the video has two things that I fall head over heels for: one shot filming and Jenna Fischer.

No More Kings - Sweep the Leg

This is starting to turn into a retrospective of my previous entries. Neato.

Ben Kweller - Penny on the Train Track

First of all, that’s Kweller’s actual grandmother. Second, she knows the words! Third, her friend can’t hang with her intense dancing. Fourth and fifth, she does both air guitar and air car washing!!

Bat For LashesWhat’s a Girl To Do

Another one-take wonder. This one has the feel Lily Allen on a bike meets Donny Darko BMX 80’s movie. And how can you go wr with that?!

SpoonThe Underdog

Ok. Now I’m even boring myself with these choices. But I think that only using one shot automatically impresses me, because we live in a 50 cuts-per-minute world. Also, this is probably my #1 single of 2007. So there. I also like this one because it reminds me of Weezer’s best video no one's ever seen.

RJD2Work It Out

I dare you to claim that crutch dancing isn't the next robot.

Paul McCartneyDance Tonight

This video has Gareth from The Office, Natalie Portman (hubba hubba), and mandolin-loving ghosts! And if that’s not enough for you, check out Sir Paul’s other video from this album (**warning** Paul’s music video acting has not improved since 1983).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


In a fitting twist, thoughts travel back to a Purdue vs. Penn St. football game in West Lafayette during my time at school. A Purdue player was streaking down the sideline, almost assuredly going in for the touchdown when a player off of the Nittany Lion bench (possibly a late coming 11th defensive player, possibly a Woody Hayes "There'll be none of that round here" guy) and tackled said Boilermaker.

The crowd went ape shit, and somehow one voice rang high above all others screaming with a pristeen decipherability, "CHEATERS!"

Out comes the report that the Big Ten has a lead football official on the books that has not only filed for bankruptcy in the past, but did it all while owing cash to multiple casinos. The bankruptcy is a troubling issue because most officials - at least in theory - are at least somewhat chosen for their ability to not succumb to financial pressures. Ever notice that a lot of NFL referees are lawyers?

With the NCAA being as vast as it is, there's no chance they can find enough six-figure guys willing to pull on the stripes. In steps Stephen Pamon, the offical in question, and the same guy who headed up the crew for this year's Purdue vs. Penn St. game in Happy Valley. The Boilers were driving late in the game when Purdue receiver Selwyn Lymon took a play out of bounds only to have the nearest official rule that the game clock should continue running - causing Purdue to use a timeout - rather than stopping the clock as most plays the go out of bounds tend to do.

Here's why I hate this situation: it actually gives me reason to look beyond reason.

Purdue fans tend to be more self-critical than their in-state counterparts. While there are the requisite odd balls determined that some Freemason led conspiracry is holding the Boilermakers down, most of us can see failure and call it what it is (take tonight's shit the bed performance losing at home to Wofford for example).

These revelations - details that still don't definitively point to a fixed game - actually give Purdue fans a reason to think some Vegas, mob-laced, point shaving conspiracy is in the works each time we lose. We're more than used to living with losing, but we'd rather do it on our terms by overestimating ourselves, being outmatched, or fumbling the game away.

Now, I'm not stuck wondering whether every questionable call is somehow tied to some back judge laying 13 points and his next mortgage payment. I'm just going to be stuck next to a guy at some future game who's certain that's the case.

Like we needed any more pain these days. We're in the Motor City Bowl for Purdue Pete's sake.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

"I've made more mistakes at 3 in the morning..."

Did anyone else catch the recycling theme of last night’s ep (that’s what the cool kids call episodes…eps)? I felt like it was NBC's Green Week all over again.

• The recycling of old clothes into new ones
• The premise of recycling old clothes into new ones beign recycled from the 1st Challenge of season two
• The recycling of sassy comments from Christian (“Who knows? The judges may die over it…or they may die of it! Mwahahaha!”)
• The recycling of Chris March! (because Jack turned into a chipmunk…..too soon?)

Alright. Let’s head straight to the designs, again ranked form my first to my worst:

Kit – You edged out Kevin for what I thought was the best. Part of that is because you were able to create a dress that distracted by your model’s weird face (apparently hot pink trumps ugly). The other thing that gives you the win in my book is your reference to The Corpse Bride.

Christian – Dammit, you had to go and win. At this point, you’re probably safe until the final four. But honestly, you did what is crucial in any challenge dealing with ordinary people (instead of models…those crazy skinny aliens). You made something safe. Ordinary people don’t like the experimental. They don’t like the statement-makers. They like the GAP. And that’s what you did. Dammit.

Rami – Another quiet and strong performance. You just keep your head down and push forward. Thank you for not draping anything.

Kevin – I’m not so sure about the leggings, but your model seemed ecstatic with what you made here. As I was watching the show with my bros, we all decided you probably boffed her too. Actually, we’re going to go ahead and assume that is the case throughout the rest of the show. I mean, who can resist spiky facial hair outlines? Come on!

Sweet P – You are creeping up in the ranks. You didn’t do anything to hurt yourself, and that’s usually a good day’s work. But please, stop crying. That’s Ricky’s job.

Ricky – Your cry count stands at 6, and your baby doll designs stand at 2 (in 5 episodes). Actually, you sort of lucked out that this challenge was for normal people, because it’s clear when you’re asked to design something new, you freak out. My only hope is that next week they ask everyone make dresses out of mesh hats, and you refuse. In the meantime, I suspend my habitual picking of you to go home. Don’t cry. **Addendum** I somehow (and unforgivably) forget to mention Ricky's belly-button showing, stiletto-wearing, denim capri-strutting ass, as he was trying to find the right fit for his client. Apparently Ricky is a middle-aged woman who dropped 100 pounds just waiting to bust out! What we didn't see was the inevitable smackdown of Ricky from Christian for stealing the uberfeminine gay 20-something spotlight. Talk about god awful hideous!

Victorya – You made that woman wear a velvet dress more typically seen at midnight mass on Christmas Eve on a sleeping 6-year-old girl. And of all the designers, you did the least to change the original clothing. You shortened it. Neato. You’ve dropped way down in my book.

Chris – Did they track you down at the airport? Had you even left yet? And why, in God’s name, did you come back and make a sailor suit. Seriously, all of your outfits look like they were worn by Motherboy contestants (see picture below).

Elisa – The judges summed it up well. You forgot about the client. And the more challenges that require you to work for a specific person, the worse you’ll be. Hopefully the remaining challenges ask you to design for your inner hummingbird moon spirit or something.

Steven – I won’t even dignify that outfit with a critique. Your slow-talking, eye-squinting, seam-gluing ass should be ashamed of yourself. Now, I will say that this is the 2nd week in a row that I feel a one contestant was given specifics that made it impossible for them to win (Chris’ shoulder pads last week being the other). How do you turn a wedding dress into everyday attire? And Michael Kors, you shut your mouth about the great fabric. That beading was hideous and you know it. It wasn’t MOB. It was B! And you can’t wear B everyday.

Jillian – What? You think it’s a mistake that you’re at the bottom of my list? What’s that? The judges had you in the top three? Well, my saucy little contestant, I say nuts to that! The challenge was to make something out of a previously-existing outfit. You make a brand new outfit. You didn’t complete the challenge. And when the judges put you in the top 5, that only proved one of the problems with this show: the Tim Gunn challenge parameters do not dictate the Heidi/Nina/Michael/random designer judging. It’s all separate. But still, you can’t just ignore the challenge. I mean think about it. What if this Sunday, the Dolphins say “Ok, we know we only get 4 downs to gain 10 yards, but these yards are just too tough to gain. So we’re just gonna take 6 downs. Sweet, thanks.” Jillian, my bros may be crushing on you, but I am not.

Random observations:

• In my head, Heidi Klum is starting to sound a lot like Elmer Fudd. Or maybe my impression of Heidi Klum is starting to sound a lot like Elmer Fudd.

• I am vehemently opposed to Tim Gunn adopting any catchphrase employed by Christian.

• Tim’s comment that he’s made more mistakes at 3 in the morning than he can count….truly disturbing (though, actually, I’m glad he has a social life)

My current top three: Kevin, Rami, Kit

The next to go: Elisa (just a hunch)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

"Project Runway Perfume: a mixture of tears, sweat, and Chinese Food"

Now that's was a challenge I could get behind!

Most of the challenges this year have been unimaginative to say the least. “Design whatever you want with top-of-the-line material!” “That toga is brilliant!” “Make something for a man!” “That striped shirt is brilliant!”

But last night, there were a few curveballs that worked will with this challenge:

Curveball #1: It’s always fun to have a good model sweep. Any designer that switches models is immediately labeled a fiendish cutthroat who will do anything to win (and by anything, I mean take Ricky’s long-nosed model…good work Jack). And of course, it’s the only reminder that apparently the models are apparently contestants too.

Curveball #2: I liked that the teaser from Heidi stated that they’d see some “old” friends, which made the contestants imagine making clothing for senior citizens, which led to the reveal of…Nina Garcia (you old bag)! Having to use the old trends of pleather, cut-outs, fringe, and all the other evil spirits of clothing trends past is a great idea…in theory (more on that later).

Curveball #3: Pick your own teams! The team challenges guarantee friction, and to have an unorganized group formation seemed to assure that someone would be standing alone in a corner, toes pointed in, head lowered, wondering if this is why they don’t have anyone to sit with a lunch. And I assume that because of time issues, Bravo edited it out. I will go ahead and assume that Ricky cried during this process.

The teams:

Christian, Kit, Jack: My favorite contestant teams up with what I hoped would become her arch rival (for the love of God, Christian: please stop twirling in the dresses you make!)? And then teams up with the guy that probably leaving the show next week (based on the emotional Tim Gunn huddle promoted for next week)? Luckily they didn’t drag her down too much. They giggled their way through the two-day design. Christian gave them a ridiculous nickname (with an even more ridiculous 14-year-old-girl explanation of said nickname). They did an admirable job of incorporating their three ugly trends into each outfit, but they were toned down so much they became boring. Boring colors. Boring lines. Boring silhouettes (sounds like I know what I’m talking about, huh?). Still, none of them hurt their rankings.

Jillian, Rami, Kevin: Well, this only proves what I have suspected of Jillian from the beginning. She’d probably be better off as a model. She obviously inspired the two top guy designers to create solid outfits from really difficult ugly trends (overalls, poodle skirts, etc.), and since she was the “leader,” it definitely advanced her position. Kevin’s work-til-the-buzzer approach only shows that he has the talent and calm nature needed to deal with the pressure situation that will come in the future. He’s my LEAD PIPE LOCK for the final three. That said, I thought all their outfits looked like costumes from Oklahoma!, which only goes to once again prove that I know nothing about the subject I’m criticizing.

Chris, Steven, Sweet P: Alright. First of all, Steven, your Tim Gunn impression sucks. It’s nowhere near Santino's, and I bet our good friend Ross McLochness would blow you out of the water. You belong on some horrible impersonation show. Now, this group’s fatal flaw came when they chose to have color unite the three looks. Apparently that was a bad idea. I would have done that. But I completely disagree with Chris being eliminated. Now, truth be told, he wasn’t going to last much longer, and would be back to making drag queen dresses for himself (I’m assuming) in no time, but most of their criticisms for his shoulder pads were that shoulder pads weren’t stylish. They looked weird. Obtuse. Out of place. Really? Huh. Then why did you tell him to use them? Out of all of the ugly trends, shoulder pads had the least amount of flexibility or room for interpretation. You can’t tone them down. I suppose you could exaggerate them, but that would have a Legion of Doom-like outfit. Anyway, they probably just eliminated Chris because he was the fat chick.

Ricky, Victorya, Elise: Who knew Victorya could end up being the passive aggressive bitch of the season? I didn’t see that coming. But maybe she just seemed like a passive aggressive bitch because Ricky is just a little bitch (can you tell I’m angry that I’ve picked him to leave for three weeks straight, and he’s been in the bottom two, only to survive because the judges disregard the inherent difficulties of the challenges?). But as much as Victorya obviously thinks Ricky is a moron, she saved him from leaving when she gave him shout-out during judging regarding the change in fit on her model. Personally, I thought Elisa’s dress looked like a doll dress made of construction paper that was four sizes too big for the doll. But the fact that she’s still around and hasn’t done anything to rival her “pooing fabric” dress of the first episode is the biggest surprise.

So, my current top three: Kevin, Rami, Kit

The next to go: If I say Ricky, he’ll stay. So I won’t say Ricky (but I’ll think it)

PS: Is it just me, or is the show so much better when Heidi isn’t pregnant with another baby seal?

PPS: Random side note: Jack’s boyfriend is Dale from Top Chef. Do you think Bravo has a commune somewhere that they pull all of their contestants from? Maybe that’s what’s really going on in Lost!

PPPS: Did you watch that youtube clip of the Legion of Doom wrestling earlier in the post? I counted at least 5 ugly fashion trends in that ring alone!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Go back and listen to "Daughters," bitches.

My friend Andy and I have a paradoxal theory:

John Mayer is the biggest douchebag in music and John Mayer is the coolest celebrity around.

Here's how we came to this conclusion. It's really quite simple. Anything related to John Mayer's music is evidence that he's a douchebag. His Dave Matthews impression (also known as his career). His weird guitar faces. His "I used these songs to get Berkeley girls to sleep with me, and then used them to get Jessica Simpson to sleep with me" lyrics. He's a douchebag. That much is clear.

But he's also the coolest celebrity. Almost any time John Mayer is on television, doing something not related to music, I love it. He's funny. He's cynical. He doesn't take his music seriously. If it weren't for that damn music career, he might replace Zach Braff as my man-crush.

And so, I submit video evidence of Mayer's appeal. It's mostly comedic, which makes sense since he's apparently an aspiring comedian.

Allow me to walk you through the playlist of his comedic stylings:

Clip 1: White People Dancing

The best part of this skit from Chappelle's Show is that Mayer doesn't talk. And even though he plays music, it's merely a prop for Chappelle's comedy. And Mayer clearly knows his role. He's a prop.

Clip 2: Kanye West and John Mayer recording "Bittersweet"

Now, here John spreads his wings. It seems that this was supposed to be some 2-minute blurb on Kanye's latest collaboration (that wouldn't make it on the album), and Mayer decided to narrate a fairly predictable "white guy/black guy awkwardness" skit. But it works well, especially when he grabs Kanye's necklace. My guess is that when the scene cut, he was bitchslapped for that.

Clip 3:Chocolate Rain remix by John Mayer

If there's anything I love more than Project Runway, It's Best Week Ever. And apparently John Mayer wandered onto the set just in time to make fun of that weird Chocolate Rain clip. The genius of this was mashing it up with a Nelly Furtado song. And lord know I'm a sucker for an ironic Nelly Furtado cover!

Clip 4: John Mayer speaks Japanese

It's just great to see a celebrity not pretend to be friends with the red carpet pests. The fact that Ryan Seacrest is the next Dick Clark (and will tell teenie boppers what music to listen to and when the clock has struck midnight for generations to come) does not require everyone to accept his meaningless and personally invasive small talk. As John says, "Be a man."

Clip 5: John Mayer on kazoo

Ok, again, there's a small connection to music on this one. And honestly, part of why I like this clip is how on-pitch his kazoo playing is. Have you ever tried to hit notes on a kazoo? Try it. I dare you. The one thing that could completely ruin this clip for me is the possibility that the Celine Dion request was planned, and not spur of the moment. Sadly, that's probably the case.

Clip 6: John Mayer on "The Paul Reddy Show"

It's a long clip, but it's worth it. Apparently it's some extra on a Mayer dvd, but if you like The Michael Showalter Showalter, you'll like this.

Clip 7: Alicia Keys and John Mayer commercial

This sparked the discussion that led to the theory. Andy and I were watching a show (it may or may not have been a bisexual reality dating show), and these Alicia Keys skits would start each commercial break. And when the person in the bunny costume was revealed, we knew we had something.

But yeah, his music totally sucks.