Intensities in Ten Suburbs

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Archive for July, 2009

10 Years, 100 Songs: #64. “Wir Horen Ein Singen Im Raum…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 31, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

Nothing in dance music this decade was cooler than what Kompakt Records brought to the table from 2001 – 2004. Considering that the most of the last half of the 90s was stuffed with Bigger, Faster, Louder-type subgenres like big beat, drum and bass and trance, and that the most popular form of underground dance for the first few years of the new millennium was the at-times unlistenably obnoxious electroclash of Peaches and Fischerspooner, it was certainly time for something different. As is so often the case in life, the Germans were on top of things, and the Kompakt roster–artists like Justus Kohnchke, Superpitcher and co-owner Michael Mayer–brought a subtlety, a sophistication, and most importantly, an impeccable sense of melody to music that was still plenty high-energy enough to own the right kind of dancefloor. It was exactly what we needed, and for a couple years, it was as fun as anything in music to follow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s) | 8 Comments »

I Sez: A Moment of Re-Evaluation for Mischa Barton

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 30, 2009

In one way, Benjamin MacKenzie and Mischa Barton were very, very lucky individuals. Both were at best marginally talented as actors, capable of disaplaying just a limited range of emotions, within an even more limited number of character frameworks. They were both attractive, but not in a way that was irreplaceable. Yet despite making Priestley and Doherty look like Gandolfini and Falco, they were the nominal stars on The O.C., the most important (and for about 18 months, most popular) teen drama of the decade. But in another way, they were both somewhat unlucky, as despite their show being a gigantic hit, each was upstaged in nearly every way conceivable by their sassier, more charismatic, and arguably better-looking sidekicks, played by Adam Brody and Rachel Bilsson. It was entirely deserved, of course–with just about any actors playing Seth and Summer, that show goes nowhere–but I did feel a little for Marissa and Ryan, as the clumsy, ill-fated romance between the two that was supposed to define the show got increasingly pushed to the side for the misadventures of Ryan’s geek friend and Marissa’s occasionally bitchy girl pal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in I Sez, TV O.D. | 6 Comments »

10 Years, 100 Songs: #65. “We Do What We Like, And We Like What We Do”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 30, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

(Once again, I pre-empted myself on this one a couple years ago, as I wrote an ode to Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard” as the #100 entry in my regrettably aborted “100 Years, 100 Songs” project. Nonetheless, it was one of the list’s better entries, so if you were sadly unaware of this blog’s existence in its earliest months, it is copied and pasted for your convenience here–albeit edited slightly, as double-checking was not a regular practice of mine in those days. Do give it a gander.)

I really couldn’t think of a better song to kick off my top 100 [of all-time] with than this. In fact, the words “kick off” could probably be used to sum up the entirety of Andrew W.K. It’s entirely arguable that no performer in the history of pop music has ever been as single-minded in his subject matter as AWK, and “Party Hard” is his most focused anthem ever–if Andrew W.K. is the God of party music, then “Party Hard” is His Ten Commandments, or at least his Commandments 1-8 (”We Want Fun” and “She is Beautiful” being #9 and #10).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s) | 12 Comments »

10 Years, 100 Songs: #66. “Wait a Minute, This is Too Deep, I Gotta Change the Station…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 29, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

It’s almost impossible to underestimate just how much Mariah Carey owned the 1990s. She hit #1 for the first time with “Vision of Love” in the summer of 1990, and from there, her dominance was as thorough for the next decade as any other artist to put mouth to microphone. In fact, she had at least one single on the top of the charts in every single year of the decade–the only artist to ever accomplish such a feat. And she did it in all forms, with balladry (“Vision”), sticky-sweet dance-pop (“Heartbreaker”), hip-hop hybridization (“Honey”) and classic soul (“I’ll Be There”), and on all frequencies, including blissful (“Fantasy”), nostalgic (“Always Be My Baby”), grieving (“One Sweet Day”) and heartbroken (“My All”). Not all of her songs were great, but many of them were, and the ones that weren’t could still skate by just on the sheer wonder inspired every time she sang, cooed, cried, sighed, belted or gasped a single note’s worth–quite possibly the greatest voice to ever grace modern pop music.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s) | 1 Comment »

10 Years, 100 Songs: #67. “Meet Me in Outer Space…”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 28, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

Incubus’s “Pardon Me,” released around the turn of the millennium, is about as good a marker as exists for the point when 90s mainsteram rock ended and 00s mainstream rock began. It carried vague semblances of the previous decade’s sound–mostly from the 311 school of So-Cal hybridization and The Deftones’ emphasis on production and dynamics–but it pushed it into distinctly modern territory, with the atmospheric guiar tones and scratching sounds on the intro, streamlined heavy crunch on the chorus, and trippy, loose bass work throughout the verses. It was a veritable road map for the myriad directions the genre would take over the next few years, indirectly presaging the rise of everyone from Linkin Park to System of a Down to Queens of the Stone Age–even the way Brandon Boyd’s hair looked in the video seemed to provide a template for future generations. It was probably the most important Incubus song, but it wasn’t their best, and it wasn’t the one that ensured their status as one of the decade’s rock superpowers. That would have to be the follow-up, the gorgeous love song “Stellar.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s) | 2 Comments »

10 Years, 100 Songs: #68. “I Won’t Rest Until I Forget About It”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 27, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.


(Note: Clip is not an officially sanctioned video, and is not necessarily endorsed by IITS)

The older I get, and the more music I stuff into my ears and eventual long-term memory, the more willing I am to overlook flaws in the face of true originality. Now, I usually hate statements like the one I made right there, because the implications of it are generally three-fold: 1) That music that is unique is automatically better than music that is cliched, 2) That music today isn’t trying very hard to actually be new, and 3) That there was a time, however long ago, when a much higher number of people cared about breaking new musical ground and saw it as their central ambition to do so. I agree with none of those sentiments. I just have come to realize the degree of difficulty it takes to make music that sounds and/or feels like nothing that came before it–there’s a whole lot of people making tunes out there, and it takes a truly talented and profoundly strange artist to stand out so clearly from amongst them. So it feels only right to devote a place on this list to the man this decade for whom I can most definitively say was the first, only, and last of his kind, a musician who for better or worse (and usually both) was totally without peer–Jamie Stewart, the mastermind behind Xiu Xiu.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s) | 1 Comment »

10 Years, 100 Songs: #69. [Daaa-da-dum, da-da-dum, dum-da-da-da]

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 25, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

(I already wrote about this song at length, and I don’t have much to add, so unfortunately I’m just going to be re-running this one from an article I wrote in December of 2007. It’s actually an article I’m fairly proud of, minus perhaps the bit about the ticket, so if you haven’t read it before, please do. I also added a link to an mp3 of that Weezer cover, for whatever that’s worth)

I got a ticket last night, driving back from Maryland with some friends, listening to Alice DeeJay’s “Better Off Alone.” I kinda hoped that the guy would let me off for being a first timer (although the fact that it took me this long to ever get pulled over is sort of a miracle) but it was a legit ticket–I was going something like 30 MPH over the speed limit, aggressively passing cars, the whole bit. What really annoyed me about getting the ticket, though–arguably even more the financial loss and the indignity suffered–was that it interrupted our listening to “Better Off Alone,” just when we had a real groove going. The car trip never regained the momentum lost.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s) | 5 Comments »

10 Years, 100 Songs: #70. “I’m a Gangsta, But Y’all Knew That”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 24, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

Snoop’s career has reached an impressive longevity at this point, considering (or maybe because of) the fact that he’s basically just been a trend-hopper for the bast decade and a half. After Tha Doggfather flopped in ’96, he dropped the G-Funk sound that made him a star and never looked back. Since then, he’s signed to No Limit and collaborated with Master P when he was the hot name in rap, jumped on the autotune bandwagon as that was getting big (as previously discussed), and most notably, rode the Neptunes’ hot streak like there was no tomorrow back when everything Chad & Pharrell touched turned to platinum. The initial fruits of these labors were the fun “From the Church to the Palace” and the pleasant-enough “Beautiful,” for which Pharrell nonetheless kept the only really good part for himself. Luckily, they were mere preludes to the main event: “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” the instant classic that got Snoop his first chart-topper, and cemented his status as a once-again relevant artist in the 21st century.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 10 Years 100 Songs (00s) | 2 Comments »

Red Letter Day: Intenities in Ten Suburbs Joins Twitter, 21st Century

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 23, 2009

Twitter

I know, I know. What can I say? You can only fight the future for so long. Eventually, one must come to the realization that in today’s fast-paced, get-it-done-yesterday world, one simply can not take the time to devote an entire blog post to every idea, packed with inspiration and urgency, that bursts into one’s mind over the course of the day. Much of the time, 140 characters will simply have to suffice. Blog entries here will of course be as regular as ever, but in case one big un’s just not doing it for you anymore, you can also get shorter blasts (yeah, yeah) from us roughly five to ten times a day via our new Twitter page, the imaginetively titled Intensities. We’e got 11 followers so far, at least five of which are (probably) not spam, so things are looking up already, but we would certainly appreciate any additional subscriptions. Follow us and we’ll almost certainly follow you right back, so at the least, you can look at it as an opportunity to pad your no doubt already gaudy stats.

Upwards, not forwards.

Posted in Red Letter Day | 1 Comment »

Commercial Break / Eugoogly: Gidget, The Taco Bell Chihuahua

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 22, 2009

Taco Bell

Back in the day, Taco Bell was a second-class citizen in the world of fast food. We knew they existed, sure, and occasionally we even patronized their establishment (albeit under duresss), but we never really thought of them as being in the same leagues with the McDonalds, Wendy’s, or even the Subways of the world.The franchise’s primary claim to fame was being the only restaurant available in the post-apoclayptic world of the 1993 Sylvester Stallone classic Demolition Man. Then in 1997, a tiny little chihuahua named Gidget entered the picture, and suddenly, everyone and their mother was running for the border. With a mere four words–“Yo quiero Taco Bell,” which took about an hour to join the ranks of “Where’s the Beef?,” “You Deserve a Break Today” and “Time to Make the Donuts” in the ranks of truly iconic fast food catchpharses–Gidget was a national sensation. Soon she was trapping Godzilla, appearing on late night talk shows and even cameoing in Legally Blonde 2. The campaign was ended in controversy over racial stereotyping in 2000, but in her three years at the top, Gidget was Hallie Eisenberg, Wendy Kaufman and Lil’ Penny rolled into one. And Taco Bell would never be the same.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Commercial Break, Eugoogly | 2 Comments »