Category Archives: Music/Popular Culture

The 2016 Asshole of the Year is … 2016 itself

2016 isn’t a person or a monster, but the collective assholery of all we experienced transcends the normal rules. Here’s to you, 2016 – and good riddance.

asshole-of-the-year-2016

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Continue reading The 2016 Asshole of the Year is … 2016 itself

Advertisements

Remembering 2016: the year when everyone died

No, famous people won’t stop dying on January 1. But we lost too many bright lights this year and we hope that 2017 will be better. Here’s a list of noteworthy people who died in 2016.

For the past several months a lot of us have been saying we can’t wait for this damned year to be over.

2016 gave us the worst election season I can remember, and every ten minutes or so another beloved artist would die, it seemed. Any year that gives us Donald Trump and takes Muhammad Ali, David Bowie, Prince in return has done more damage than some decades.

No, people aren’t going to stop dying at the stroke of midnight tomorrow. Continue reading Remembering 2016: the year when everyone died

The darkest song ever sung: "Coventry Carol" (Saturday Video Roundup)

Remembering the blackest moment of the entire nativity cycle is an odd way to celebrate.

For a couple weeks now I have been assembling my “Dark Christmas Melancholy” playlist, a process I described in a post a few days ago.

While I have listened to (and sung) a lot of holiday music through the years, my little project introduced me to a classic that somehow I had never encountered before, the English traditional “Coventry Carol.” This version, by Darkwave artists Nox Arcana, is by far my favorite for the way in which it captures the interwoven beauty and horror of the Massacre of the Innocents story.

Continue reading The darkest song ever sung: "Coventry Carol" (Saturday Video Roundup)

A dark holiday playlist – and one man's melancholy war with childhood

There is beauty in the darkness. This is all I have ever known.

Beauty doesn’t work the same for me as it does for most people. I first started realizing this in Mr. Booth’s (excuse me, Dr. Booth’s) English V class at Ledford High School in 1978 and 1979. I remember two moments distinctly. First, we read “The Eve of St. Agnes,” by Keats. I recall being overwhelmed by a) its darkness, and b) its beauty. This was not a traditional sunny pastoral. It’s a poem of the night, one of mystery and compelling seductive splendor.

Later we read Tennyson’s equally marvelous “The Lady of Shalott.” Again, I was struck by the way in which beauty was interwoven with dark, even sinister themes.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of my reactions to these masterworks, but something was afoot, and when I started writing poetry on my own (as long as we’re on the subject of darkness and doom) it began with a piece called “Octoberfaust,” which I tried to infuse with as much mystery and passionate nocturne as I could muster.

Of course, looking back, my melancholy aesthetic didn’t begin in high school. Continue reading A dark holiday playlist – and one man's melancholy war with childhood

Love is not a victory march: Saturday Video Roundup

My favorite versions of the greatest pop song ever written – goodbye, Leonard

2016 took Leonard Cohen, one of popular music’s true iconic geniuses, from us this week. I have said before that I think “Hallelujah” is perhaps the greatest popular song in history, and as evidence I would simply note that it has been covered countless times by an array of brilliant musicians. And nobody, I have learned, recognizes and respects musical genius like another musician.

Today for SVR we offer you some of the very best takes on that amazing song. Some you have probably heard. Some are likely new to you. All are the soul of reverence for one of the most compelling talents who ever walked among us.

We start with Jeff Buckley. Most people I know regard this as the definitive version of the song.

Continue reading Love is not a victory march: Saturday Video Roundup

Election Day. #HopeTuesday. TunesDay.

Three videos for Election Day. Who do we want to be?

Some years ago Sean Kelly of The Samples penned what has to be the election day anthem. It acknowledges what we all know, it notes the reasons we have to abandon hope, and still it insists that we carry on.

It’s Election Day 2016. What choice will you make about the world you want to live in?

Carry on. (Lyrics below.)

Continue reading Election Day. #HopeTuesday. TunesDay.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can eat every dick in the bag

With each passing year, the R&RHoF further distances itself from any pretense at credibility. Artists who haven’t gotten the call should be proud.

It’s that time of year again, when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (aka, the Mistake by the Lake, part 2) reminds us of the depth of their corruption and irrelevance.

That’s right – the annual list of nominees is out. Let’s have a look, shall we?

Category 1: Wait – you mean these people aren’t in already?

  • ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA (ELO) – Should have happened years ago.
  • JOAN BAEZ – Hugely important for that branch of the R&R tree.
  • MC5 – I can’t believe the committee is even acknowledging the existence of a band with such utter lack of commercial appeal.
  • PEARL JAM – I’m not a big fan, but absolutely worthy.
  • THE CARS – I’d have bet the farm they were already members in good standing. How in the hell have they not made it in by 2016?
  • THE ZOMBIES – Again, I’m stunned they’re just now being put forward.
  • YES – Fucking Yes isn’t in yet? Oh well, at least Rock pioneers like Madonna have been duly enshrined.

Category 2: Really? Okay, I guess.

Continue reading The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can eat every dick in the bag