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Geek Out: A New Order for New Order Fans

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on November 11, 2008

I used to think that the day would never come

359_new-order

New Order are one of the greatest bands of all-time. They’re also one of the most heavily compiled, their 25+ year-long discography inspiring a seemingly endless stream of attempts to aurally pay tribute to their greatness. There’s Substance, of course, the 1987 double-LP assemblage of all their 12″s up to that point (including the b-sides on CD) and probably their most famous and well-loved musical document. There’s (The Best Of) New Order, the 1995 compilation intended as a compliment to Substance, including more of their late-80s/early-90s work and only overlapping with Substance on new edits of a couple tracks. Both are essential New Order documents. Less so are (The Rest of) New Order, the band’s largely useless remix collection, Retro, the band’s thoroughly incomprehensive and depressingly underwhelming four-disc box set, and Singles, the band’s completely superfluous third Best Of. Oh wait, fourth, I forgot about International. Don’t even ask about that one.

Point is, it would seem like the band needed no further tampering with its back catalogue. That’s not entirely true, though, since the band’s albums–you know, those 40-50 minute-long things where so many of those nifty songs originally came from–were in desparate need of revival. For despite their staggeringly impressive singles resume, New Order were also an incredibly underrated albums band, with no less than three stone classics, and with a solid run of second-tier LPs as well. And now Rhino has had the good sense to repackage the band’s first five, Factory-era albums–none of which are officially out of print, but many of which have largely since disappeared from CD shelves–with bonus discs of goodies from the albums’ time period that did not appear on the original albums.

Of course, this idea was much better when I envisioned it six years ago as The Perfect Kiss: A Monument to New Order, my 16-disc tribute to the band including all of the band’s albums, with the songs from their respective periods sprinkled around them, as well as a number of discs consisting of super-rarities, live tracks, remixes, covers, and other good stuff. But hey, it’s a start. And in case you’re wondering which of these, if any, you actually need, here’s how I break it down, one time:

  • Movement. Despite what a couple fanboys may insist, the band’s 1981 debut album is largely a miserable, gruesome chore of an affair, spare the slightly foreshadowing “Chosen Time” and the surprisingly sprightly “Dreams Never End.” However, when assembled, all the stuff that didn’t make the cut for Movement would have made for one of the most auspicious debuts of the 80s, songs like “Ceremony,” “Temptation,” “Hurt” and “Procession” remaining among the group’s all-time classics. Of course, all those songs can be found on Substance, which should be your first New Order purchase no matter what. What can’t be found on Substance (but can be found re-issued here), however, are “Mesh,” the group’s lost classic from the period (not the mislabeled “Cries and Whispers” from disc 2 of Substance), and the original version of “Temptation,” the group’s best song. Worth investigating for those two alone.
  • Power, Corruption & Lies. My personal favorite of the band’s, an emotionally stunning, ingeniously structured, shimmering synth-pop gem that permanently lifted the group out from under the weight of Ian Curtis’s suicide. The re-issue removes “Blue Monday” from the track list (it was never on the UK edition) and puts it on the bonus disc, which is a shame, since the song still makes the most sense as PC&L’s center-piece. Besides that, all the songs on the bonus disc, though largely brilliant (“Confusion,” “Lonesome Tonight,” “Thieves Like Us”) can be found on Substance, save the original version of “Confusion,” which is good but probably inferior to the Substance edit. Only worth purchasing if you’ve never heard the album before, in which case you better have bolted for your local CD store by the end of this sentence.
  • Low-Life. The most consistent of the bunch, and by far the group’s most confident, comfortable album, though possibly with lower highs than PC&L. Why “Lonesome Tonight,” “Murder” and “Theives Like Us” would make more sense on the bonus disc here, which instead features three of the band’s least memorable singles (“Subculture,” “Shellshock” and “State of the Nation”), which together make up the final corner to the home-stretch of Substance. You get a couple of unimpressive rarities with “Salvation Theme” and “Dub-Vulture,” and “Let’s Go,” which is pretty good, but available on (The Best Of) New Order. The main draw here is the 17-minute version of the album’s breathtaking emotional low-end “Elegia,” which somehow doesn’t end up as amazingly epic as you think it would. Once again, only for those who haven’t heard the album before.
  • Brotherhood. The band’s most enigmatic album, somehow both simultaneously underrated and overrated. Essential nonetheless if only for “Bizarre Love Trinagle,” possibly the most perfect pop song of the 80s, and interesting for the band’s first true ventures away from the post-punk/synth-pop molds. The bonus disc contains another version of “State of the Nation,” for some reason, but also has the little-heard 12″ version of forgotten classic “Touched By the Hand of God,” as well as the excellent “Blue Monday” remixes “Blue Monday ’88” and “Beach Buggy,” as well as “Evil Dust,” the superior version of Brotherhood‘s “Angel Dust.” Definitely worth buying, especially if you don’t have (The Best Of) New Order yet.
  • Technique. Many a fan’s favorite NO album, and indeed a great one, the band’s much-ballyhooed Ibiza record that most end up remembering better for the contemplative, guitar-led songs that showed that Bernard Sumner hadn’t turned into a completely shitty lyricsit just yet. The bonus disc here would be viewed by most as the least essential, since by this point in their career New Order stopped paying as much care to their non-album material, but you still get the little heard apocalypse anthem “Don’t Do It,” the deleted 12″ version of “Run 2,” and something called the Cabinieri Mix (never heard this one, I’m ashamed to say) of the band’s amazingly WTF World Cup anthem “World in Motion.” For the New Order fan who (thinks he) has everything, you could do a whole lot worse.

Here’s hoping Rhino gets around to reappropriating the band’s cruelly misunderstood should-have-been-swansong Republic at some point, and then deletes the depressing Get Ready and the utterly horrific Waiting for the Sirens’ Call from press alotgether.

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Posted in Geek Out | 5 Comments »

Geek Out: Working My Way Through Rock Band, Pt. 1

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on November 26, 2007

Oooh, she’s a killing machine, she’s got everything

Talk about a foregone conclusion. Put it simply–Shocker: Rock Band is awesome. Double Shocker: Rock Band is exceedingly expensive. I mean yeah, maybe you can get away with spending under $500 if you’re one of the lucky sons of bitches to have the luxury of already owning an X360, but that, uh, wasn’t me, so I’m already at least that much in the whole trying to get my hands on this game. Not to mention having to lug the fucking thing–unwieldy, to say the least–around New York all day just to make sure I wouldn’t get shut out from getting a copy. In the end, unless this thing ends up fixing just about every problem I have in my life, it’s gonna be hard to justify the effort and expenditure.

Rock Band is off to a good start. Why I didn’t think to include it in my Five Reasons Why I Don’t Care About the Writers Strike is lost on me, since it pretty well nullifies all five–even if MTV suddenly decided to do a countdown of the 2000 best alt-rock videos released in the year 1995, I don’t think I’d be around to watch much. It’s given me an always-functional activity to do with my roommate (who usually opts out on Guitar Hero after an hour or so, but was drumming with me until 3:30 the other night) and a fantastic built in party excuse to lure friends and acquaintances to my Brooklyn abode. It hasn’t written my 20 page paper on John Donne yet, and it hasn’t quite assuaged my fear of an eternity of crippling loneliness, but then again, I’ve only gotten a good 20 hours or so with it so far (Thanksgiving, could you possibly have come at a less opportune time?) so let’s give it another week or so to work at those.

So yeah, pretty much everything you’ve already heard about this game is true. The guitar is kind of weak, and the axeplay isn’t as great as it is in the GH series (and it’s lame that they only give you one, meaning you need to buy another separately to have the bass and guitar working simultaneously–c’mon, $170 isn’t enough??), but that’s about where the game’s flaws end. The drumming is expectedly exhilerating. As my roommate pointed out, it’s nothing like playing the guitar–when you play the guitar, you’re fully aware that you’re playing a glorified controller, but when you’re playing the drums, you’re actually playing the drums, sort of at least. I worked through the songs on medium without much of a hitch, but now that I’m getting into hard, I know it’s only a matter of time before the game shuts me down completely, which I’m actually looking forward to.

The vocals are pretty great as well. Aside from the fact that some songs can get kind of boring with the extended vox-less sections (and no, adding parts where you have to hit the mic to simulate a tambourine or cowbell doesn’t help, unless you’re playing “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”), it’s a pretty successful Karaoke Revolution-type integration. I also like that you can adjust the volume of both your mic and the vocal track, so that you can get a leg up from the original singer if you have no idea how the song goes, but it feels more like karaoke when you actually know the song pretty well. It can be tempermental, and sometimes you have to sing against your better instincts to do well in the song, but generally, it’s pretty cool, when it could’ve been disastrous. It will be interesting to see in big groups if anyone’s going to want to actually step up to sing, though–especially on songs like “Mississippi Queen” or “Green Grass and High Tides,” where no one under the age of 50 could possibly know how all the vocals go.

The only thing I’m really not sure about with this game yet is the Band World Tour Career Mode. I only played it for three hours or so, but already, the fact that you end up playing a whole lot of the same songs over and over again was starting to be a nuisance. Meanwhile, the game expects you to really care about making your band feel like an actual band–gaining and losing fans, playing increasingly large venues, competing against other “bands,” etc.–but these games’ attempts at any sort of plot or narrative arc always feel contrived and sort of boring (and very, very silly), and I have to wonder why these “bands” wouldn’t just rather do quickplay.

But enough of this big picture stuff. Let’s get into the lists and petty squabbles:

Five Best All-Around Songs (Good for All Four Instruments):

  1. The Pixies – “Wave of Mutilation” (Just about any Pixies song would be)
  2. Jet – “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?” (Officially having gone from the good kind of ridiculously catchy to the unbearably annoying kind and back)
  3. Beastie Boys – “Sabotage” (Kind of unforgiving with that vocal part, though)
  4. Coheed & Cambria – “Welcome Home” (Believe me, I’m as surprised as you are)
  5. Rush – “Tom Sawyer” (But you knew this one, right?)

The Five Songs That Are Actually in My Vocal Range and I Can Sort of Sound Good Singing, Sort Of:

  1. Radiohead – “Creep” (that “runnnn…RUNNNN….RUNNNNN….RUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNN!!!” part is really a make or break)
  2. Faith No More – “Epic” (WHAT IS IT?)
  3. Queens of the Stone Age – “Go With the Flow” (Once I figure out how it goes, anyway)
  4. Soundgarden – “Black Hole Sun” (GRUNGE POWER BALLADS, motherfuckers. Where the hell are “Hunger Strike” and “Say Hello 2 Heaven,” anyway?)
  5. The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter” (Kind of. Old songs are harder to song, for some reason)

Drums, Please!:

  1. The Clash – “Should I Stay or Should I Go” (No other song quite matches the sheer pounding sensation of this one)
  2. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps” (Intro melts me)
  3. Metallica – “Enter Sandman” (Even better than the guitar part, somehow)
  4. Molly Hatchet – “Flirtin’ With Disaster” (So that’s where that intro is from, huh)
  5. Nirvana – “In Bloom” (Puts the Foo Fighters song into perspective, anyway)

Oh Man, That Riff:

  1. Weezer – “Say It Ain’t So” (Best part about guitar on Weezer songs? You almost always get the beginning and the end to yourself)
  2. Blue Oyster Cult – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (My #1 in the Top Ten Songs That Should Be Featured in Guitar Hero article I wrote for Stylus a year or so back)
  3. The Ramones – “Blitzkrieg Bop” (Still one of the all-time most perfect guitar songs)
  4. Bon Jovi – “Wanted Dead or Alive” (The song that makes you forget that there are no Guns n Roses songs to be found)
  5. Smashing Pumpkins – “Cherub Rock” (The one holdover from GHIII that fails to feel even slightly pointless)

Totally Pointless:

  1. The Hives – “Main Offender” (A particularly pointless song from one of the more pointless bands in recent years. Even “Walk Idiot Walk” would’ve been infinitely preferable)
  2. Sweet – “Ballroom Blitz” (Not a bad song or anything, but we already had to put up with the Krokus cover in Rocks the 80s, do we really need the original too?)
  3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Dani California” (The intro really does rip off “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” too)
  4. OK Go – “Here It Goes Again” (I had no idea there was a Surfer Rosa reference in the lyrics before, though)
  5. Aerosmith – “Train Kept A-Rollin'” (“Sweet Emotion”. “Walk This Way”. “Amazing”. “Love in an Elevator”. The number of classic Aerosmith songs–ones that would work beautifully–that have been stepped over in favor of the mediocre troika of “Last Child,” “Same Old Song in Dance” and “Train Kept a-Rollin'” in these games is utterly pathetic).

Are They Gonna Have Synths in the Next One?:

  1. The New Pornographers – “Electric Version” (Surprisingly effective choice on the whole)
  2. The Killers – “When You Were Young” (Getting to work on my Brandon Flowers imitation is one of the game’s more priceless joys)
  3. Deep Purple – “Highway Star” (I always thought that was a guitar solo–who plays the keyboard like that??)
  4. Boston – “Foreplay / Long Time” (C’mon, the best part of the song!)
  5. The Who – “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (The two minute-long sections where the band on stage is just standing around doing nothing while the keyboard part goes on and on is pretty funny, though)

Gameplay and Packaging Gripes:

  1. “Energy”? Just fucking call it Star Power, guys. Either that, or change the concept a little.
  2. The pieces of trivia listed before some of the songs, dear lord. Does knowing that Michael Stipe once released a book of Patti Smith phots really illuminate gameplay on “Orange Crush” at all?
  3. I wish they had included some sort of carrying case for all the game’s equipment–as it is, it’s almost entirely untransportable, which is kind of unfortunate.
  4. If there’s a way you can play with the guitar or drums without unplugging the USB hub and plugging it back in each time you start the game, I haven’t figured it out.
  5. Not making the intro to “Maps” available to play on the guitar part seems kind of cruel.

More to come, surely.

Posted in Geek Out | 2 Comments »

Take Five / Geek Out: My Five Most Monetarily Questionable Music-Purchasing Decisions

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 10, 2007

For the love of re-issues and pointless box sets

Unless you’ve been living under a rock (or slightly more pratcially, an extremely well-isolated and cable-less apartment) these last ten days, here’s some BREAKING NEWS for you–Radiohead are releasing a new album tomorrow morning. Not to stores, mind you, as the ‘Head have become far too progressive and high-minded for such measures. Rather, they will be releasing it in download-only format, ten tracks for which fans can pay as much as they want, down to pennies, if that’s the amount of money for which you deem a new Radiohead album worthy.

Brilliant manouever on Radiohead’s part pretty much now matter how you look at it, but naturally, it’s not quite as simple as all that. For those cheeky bastards have also set a snare trap for their more gullible fans in the form of a box set that costs 40 pounds, which comes out to over 80 bucks for you Yanks out there. The box set contains the album in CD form, an extra disc of new music, 2 LPs with the same content as the CDs, and some photos and art work. So essentially, assuming you would’ve gotten the download for free anwyay, you’re paying $80 for about eight songs worth of new music. And it’s not even shipping for at least another month.

I had to buy it. I felt like an asshole doing it, because I was an asshole for doing it–no amount of financial security could possibly justify spending that kind of money for something with that little practical use. But I knew I had no choice in the matter, because as great as it’ll be to download that album for free tomorrow, it just doesn’t feel like a new Radiohead album without the distinct feeling of product, something I can hold in my hands and pore over and snuggle with at night if necessary. And for that feeling, $80 is entirely too reasonable a price.

Despicable, certainly, but hardly without precedent. Here are the five saddest examples I could think of where my geekiness exceeded my monetary grasp–probably not as bad as some more weathered music geeks out there, but certainly enough to mark as a sound “NEGATIVE” in my Karmic check balance.

RealPlayer Plus

Estimated Cost: $50

What the Deal Was: My computer media player of choice, RealPlayer itself came for free as a download, but for all of the available features to be usable, you needed to buy RealPlayer Plus separately.

Why Buying it Was Probably a Bad Idea: My friends never cease to give me shit for using the intrusive and relatively unsafe RealPlayer in the first part, especially after the part it played in The IITS Great Hard Drive Crash of ’04. To actually willfully spend money on it, for really only a handful of new features, probably bordered on the unconscionable.

Why I Did It Anyway: Well, a couple of the features were sexy, but what I really wanted/needed it for was the Crossfade function. I couldn’t possibly explain it if I wanted to, but listening to two songs that overlap by five seconds is just something I find disgustingly preferable to listening to ’em strictly consecutively, especially when no crossfade means RealPlayer usually pauses for a whole second or two in between tracks. As for why I still use RealPlayer at all–it’s just what I use, and I can’t see anything changing that in the immediate future. Stand By Your Media Player.

Was it Worth It?: Sadly, probably yes. The only possible deal-breaker is when I got a new computer a few months ago, with a whole new RealPlayer to go with it, and I had to buy Plus all over again. That sent a shiver or two down my spine, though not enough to keep me from punching in the credit card info, of course.

The Hip-Hop Box

Estimated Cost: $60, maybe a little less

What the Deal Was: The Hip-Hop Box was quite simply that–a four-disc box set chronicle of the first 25 years of hip-hop, from “Rappers Delight” up to whatever the last track on it was, who remembers.

Why Buying it Was Probably a Bad Idea: Well, as far as genre overviews go, it wasn’t the most efficient or well-organized of hip-hop box. For starters, it ran a mere paltry 51 tracks. Some of ’em were long, sure, especially on the first disc, but over four discs, they certainly could’ve squeezed in at least another dozen tracks–especially considering the conspicuous absence of artists like Eminem, Missy Elliott, N.W.A., and other no-brainer inclusions. And what was there was often completely non-sensical–“Until the End of Time” as the sole 2Pac song? Notorious B.I.G. only showing up on Junior M.A.F.I.A.’S “Get Money”? MC Hammer?

Why I Bought it Anyway: I was young and impressionable, and my knowledge of hip-hop history was woefully incomplete. And to be fair, there were a fair number of revelations for me to be found on The Hip-Hop Box (DJ Quik’s “Tonight,” Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks,” the non-remix version of Craig Mack’s “Flava in Ya Ear”). Plus, disc three, which covers 1991-1994, is about the best and most succinct summation of why the period is my favorite in hip-hop history that I could ask for.

Was it Worth It?: Well, it might have been, but I lent it to my friend Akiva over two years ago, and I haven’t seen him or it since.

Assorted New Order 12″ Singles / LPs

Estimated Cost: Probably between $75-$85 total

What the Deal Was: The summer between my Junior and Senior year of high schools, I decided to become a Vinyl fetishist. As such, one of my first orders of business was to collect as many records by New Order (my all-time favorite band) as possible, especially their 12″s–New Order’s music was more or less custom-designed to the format. I probably bought about ten records of theirs altogether, found in various used record stores in Boston and Philadelphia.

Why it Was Probably a Bad Idea: My house only had one record player, in our den, connected to what were the most petulant speakers I’ve ever encountered–you had to twiddle with the volume knob for about a minute before you could get the record to play out of both speakers, and you’d just have to do it all over again when it inevitably shorted out a few minutes later. Not to mention that our den was hardly a regular hangout spot for me and my friends–I had to keep on generating activities condusive for us to go there to listen to my records (study groups, poker games, cooking, etc.) Eventually I got a record player before I went away to college as a birthday gift, but the gift didn’t come with compatible speakers, and I’ve been too lazy/poor to buy new ones since. Consequently, my records haven’t done much besides gather dust for me the last four years.

Why I Did it Anyway: A couple reasons, but mostly just because of two words: Peter Saville. New Order’s go-to man for their single and album artwork designed some of the loveliest, most enigmatic and most sound-appropriate record covers in history, and even if these things didn’t end up doing too much for me musically, gosh darn were they fun to look at.

Was It Worth It?: Probably not, but wait till I get around to buyin’ me some speakers…

Assorted Sonic Youth Deluxe Editions

Estimated Cost: ~$100 total
What the Deal Was: Over the last four years, Sonic Youth slowly rolled out two-disc “Deluxe Edition” re-issues of arguably their three most popular albums–Dirty, Goo, and Daydream Nation. These Deluxe Editions came in fold-out cases with slip-covers, essay-extensive liner notes, and bonus tracks including b-sides, demos, non-album cuts and live shit.

Why It Was Probably a Bad Idea: Uh, did you see that estimated cost? Each time, I was essentially paying $33 for a bunch of leftovers–I’d heard all these albums countless times before, even though Daydream was the only one I had ever actually bought.

Why I Did It Anyway: Oh dear lord, were these things sexy. I practically scratched my Dirty DE beyond recognition with the number of times I folded and un-folded it. Plus, as far as bonus tracks go, the SY re-issues really brought the goods–lost classics from soundtracks and compilations, revelatory early versions of future standards…even the original albums sounded better than they ever had before.

Was It Worth It?: The first one, probably–it was so good that it made me appreciate Dirty in a way I had never even come close to before, and remains one of my favorite albums of all-time. The other two had lesser bonus stuff, and didn’t expand my appreciation of their original discs quite as much. Split decision I suppose.

Blur’s 10th Anniversary Singles Box Set

Estimated Cost: ~$225

What the Deal Was: For the tenth anniversary of their debut single, Blur released a limited-edition box set that inlcuded all 17 of their singles, in separate cases with their original b-sides and original art-work.

Why It Was Probably a Bad Idea: I’d wager the average American probably doesn’t spend as much money a year on music as I did on what boiled down to a set of a whole lot of b-sides (roughly 70 entirely non-album songs, I think, plus a few dozen more remixes and live cuts). And Blur weren’t even a particularly strong b-sides band–they have about one disc’s worth of great ones, sure, but for that, there’s at least three discs’ worth of pure crap.

Why I Did It Anyway: Well, first off, I bought it with the monetarial backing of my Grandparents (birthday present? Graduation? Something like that), bless their hearts. Second off, Blur are one of my all-time favorite bands, or at least they definitely were while I was in high school, and the thought of getting to hear 70 songs of theirs for the first time was beyond tantalizing. And third…shit, do you even need to ask? 17 SEPARATE SINGLES WITH THEIR OWN ARTWORK IN ONE BOX SET. It wasn’t even a box, it was this nifty little carrying case that zipped up and probably could’ve passed as a toiletries case if it didn’t have the little “Blur” insignia in the corner.

Was It Worth It? Absolutely. It was worth it for the memories alone–the weeks that summer I spent waiting for the fucking thing to arrive (it shipped from Britian, from some ridiculously unprofessional website, took forever), so excited to hear the doorbell ring to signal the delivery that my friends started randomly yelling “DING-DONG!” to taunt me. And then, finally, the night I came home and found it waiting for me outside my bedroom door, and I listened to it straight through (over the course of the weekend, naturally), in a total state of geeked-out bliss. Point is, when it comes to music, the actual music is often only half the picture, and nothing represents the sweetness of that other half like my Blur Box, still my most prized possession. Kinda hard to put a price tag on that, no?

Posted in Geek Out, Take Five | 7 Comments »

It’s All About Me / Geek Out: The Single Greatest Moment of Intensities in Ten Suburbs’ Existence

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 5, 2007

Oh I had a dream, for a moment I believed it was true

Being an unpaid internet pop culture writer is often a thankless, tiring job, replete with perpetually impending deadlines, pressures over finding more and more synonyms for the words “jarring” and “shiny” (without using a thesaurus, because that would be CHEATING), and the constantly nagging feeling that no one’s reading anything you write besides your parents and one or two of your internet enemies, praying for some grammatical error to further evidence your incompetence. It’s enough sometimes to make you want to go outside and take a walk or something.

But then, there are occasional moments of such unbelievable beauty, such intense and fulfilling validation, that any other career path would be totally unthinkable. One of these moments was when I received an e-mail from bizarro early 90s one-hit wonders 2NU thanking me for making a thread on the I Love Music webboard about their semi-hit “This is Ponderous“. Another was when an IITS article of mine on sci-fi cult series Firefly got posted on a Joss Whedon board, inspiring a swarm of pissed-off Browncoats to note my misspelling of the show’s invented swear words. And the very best was certainly when my Stylus article on the top ten worst lyrics on Interpol’s first album was briefly mentioned on the blog of well-respected/despised SPIN writer and internet personality Sarah “UltraGrrrl” Lewitinn’s blog.

Until now. My Stylus article on the wonder of Icehouse’s 1988 pop classic “Electric Blue” had in the past attracted some extremely minor controversy (as in I think one person liked it and maybe two or three thought I was insane), but today I got an e-mail that seriously puts that in perspective. It reads as follows:

Andrew, just read the Stylus article on ” Electric Blue” Really appreciated the slant and your perceptive understanding of the power of the “hook”. There is a story behind the writing of the song and I won’t go into it here, but suffice it to say that I did write the chorus of which you so pleasantly rapsodise about…for that I thank you.

As songwriting is the most important aspect of all the things I’ve accomplished in my career, one can never have too many compliments ! Electric Blue is one of those songs that when I do my solo shows and perform it, everyone alwasy says, “Wow, I know that…I never realized you wrote it”… now considering your article I may just edit myself in the future and just play the “hook”. Mucho thanx.

John Oates

Yes, that John Oates–the relatively silent partner in possibly the greatest duo in the history of pop music, who also happened to co-write “Electric Blue”. I didn’t make the connection myself until I got to the signature, and even then I had to re-read the e-mail a couple of times before it really clicked in my mind, and then I just stared blankly at the computer with my jaw open for about ten minutes. This is the pop culture internet writing equivalent of Jonathan Brandis’s character getting to fight the final tournament of Sidekicks with Chuck Norris on his team, or Peter Griffin realizing that his wife had fucked all four members of KISS. When I woke up this morning, I expected the highlight of my day would be catching up on season four of Entourage. Instead, my life just got made.

Now all right, I do have to take a moment to acknowledge that I do in fact realize that the chances of this letter actually coming from John Oates himself are…well, they could really be a lot higher. But I can’t help but wonder–who would take the time to fake such a response from John Oates, to an article I wrote over a year ago? Does Intensities in Ten Suburbs really have internet enemies out there who would resort to such unthinkable villainy? And while I imagine most people of Oates’ stature don’t spend the time scouring the web for articles mentioning them, if you were John Oates, wouldn’t you appreciate an article that took the time to isolate an achievement of yours that had absolutely nothing to do with that other guy? Maybe enough to write the author about it? Maybe?

Maybe not. But if it was in fact someone besides John Oates who wrote me this e-mail, and you are reading this blog post and cackling uncontrollably over how thoroughly you put one over on me, I just have one favor to ask you: Don’t tell me about it. Ever. Laugh at me as much as you want, tell all your friends and family about your prank, fine, but let me live on never knowing completely for sure that it wasn’t blue-eyed soul’s greatest second-in-command who contacted me this afternoon. Please?

Posted in Geek Out, It's All About Me | 6 Comments »

Geek Out: Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s Finally Released

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 25, 2007

“Do you wanna play with me?”

Say what you will about Guitar Hero II (and really, if you have anything negative to say, I’d be curious to hear what it is) but it definitely succeeded in making its fans feel loved. The character selection, the inclusion of in-jokey songs by Dethklok and Strongbad, the coupious Spinal Tap references, even the much-needed correcting of the formerly inferior face-off modes–the game’s creators clearly understood their audience, and did a great job of giving them exactly what they wanted.

Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s is a blast–playing through the setlist on hard tonight with a couple of friends was nearly as exciting as my first time playing through II, and probably just as much fun. But dammit, it just doesn’t make me feel loved the way the other games did. Despite a song selection filled with good tunes and good times, the entire thing feels phoned in–with virtually no new features, no correcting of whatever flaws II had, and an abridged (merely 30 songs), and largely incomplete track selection (among the missing: Def Leppard, Rush, Motley Crue, Van Halen, Slayer, Ozzy, Metallica, and of course, Yngwie), it has been correctly pointed out that the game plays more like an expansion pack than a new entry in the series.

Which should be all well and good–after all, III is only a few months away, and it looks to be everything a new Guitar Hero should be and more (not to mention the similarly imminent release of that other music synchronization game, which looks to be the most exciting thing ever). A new expansion pack should be just what the Doktor ordered to tide fans over until then. However, Rocks the 80s is retailing for up to $50 at some stores, and that’s without even another guitar–and I’m sorry, that’s far too much to pay for 30 new songs, most of which aren’t even that challenging.

Well, that’s actually a fairly blatant lie, considering I knew that going into it and bought it anyway. Fact is, Guitar Hero freaks like myself are completely at the mercy of Harmonix and Co.–when it comes to new GH material, we’ll take what we can get, for however much we can get it. And I can’t say I even regret buying it–one play of X’s “Los Angeles,” or The Police’s “Synchronicity II” or Anthrax’s “Caught in a Mosh,” and financial considerations just go straight out the window. Hell, I bought an entire system just to play I, I’m getting let off easy here.

And as for the actual quality of the songs’ gameplay in comparison to I and II, I really need to play on Expert before properly judging. Unfortunately, all the progress I made on Hard tonight counts for naught, as it wasn’t actually my copy (or memory card) I was playing with. But, as one of my friends failed to sympathize, “Yeah, poor you, you have to play a whole lot of a game you love.” Fair enough.

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Geek Out: Shoegaze Doc To Be Released

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 13, 2007

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I remember how nuts I got when I heard about the existence of Live Forever, the John Dover-helmed documentary about the Britpop movement in the UK in the mid-90s. Released in 2003, when I was a Junior in High School and at the very height of my Anglophilic phase, it drove me crazy that it wasn’t released to theaters in this country, and when it finally came out on video, I scoured the rental stores of Lower Merion for a copy–I even went to the TLA in the city, where they actually had a copy, but wasn’t allowed to set up an account there without a credit card (my friends talked me out of paying strangers $20 to let me rent on their account). Eventually, I found a copy at a Best Buy–it wasn’t quite as amazing as I’d hoped, but hell, it was Noel Gallagher, Jarvis Cocker and Damon Albarn talking about Britpop for two hours. I regret nothing.

I can’t even imagine how crazed it would’ve made me to have heard about Beautiful Noise, a new documentary by Eric Green reported on by Pitchfork today, back when I was in High School–I might’ve swam to the UK on the release date just to be on the safe side. Taking on the Shoegaze scene of the mid-80s to early-90s, the movie boasts a list of interviews with pretty much all the scene’s movers and shakers. Seriously, check this shit out:

“To help tell that story, then, Green went straight to the sources, interviewing on camera pretty much anyone who’s anyone in the genre: My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields and Debbie Googe, JAMC’s Reid brothers and Douglas Hart, and Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde, as well as Robert Smith (the Cure), Neil Halstead (Slowdive), Mark Gardner and Andy Bell (Ride), Emma Anderson (Lush), Adam Franklin (Swervedriver), Toni Halliday (Curve), Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream), David Pearce (Flying Saucer Attack), Ian Masters (Pale Saints), Martin Carr (the Boo Radleys), noted producer Alan Moulder, and Creation honcho Alan McGee.

Green also sat down with noisemakers who owe a debt to shoegaze– such as Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor, and Wayne Coyne– as well as contemporary bands still tapping into the genre’s essence, like Asobi Seksu, Serena-Maneesh, Ladytron, and Autolux, among others.”

C’mon, how many movies have you seen in the last few years with interviews with the dudes from Swervedriver, or Alan fucking Moulder? The prospect is totally insane. There’s no release date yet–supposedly it’s not even done editing–but when it’s out, it’s going to be orgasmic for anyone with even a passing interest in the last 25 years of underground rock/pop.

The most amazing thing about this, though, is that it’s even getting made at all. Unlike Live Forever, and the great majority of rock docs that get made, there’s barely any undercurrent to the shoegaze movement–social, political, geographical, really anything–there’s no real arc to it, there’s no huge behind the scenes drama, there are no gigantic egos, and there are no big stars. It’s just great, forward-thinking, occasionally perception-expanding music, music which never got its due in the mainstream but which created a sort of sonic ideal for thousands of music fans in the two and a half decades since the Cocteau Twins started the blueprint.

Title’s kind of boring, though. If the thing gets delayed for years like I fear it will be, hopefully they can at least use the time to come up with something more creative.

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Geek Out: Fred’s 2044 Essentials Countdown

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 25, 2007

What do normal people do during the summer anyway?

Fred, Channel 44 on your XM dial, has always been one of my preferred satellite stations, but this Memorial Day weekend (or week, really) it’s gone above and beyond the call of duty. Fred is counting down the 2044 Fred Essentials–generally covering the best and brightest in pre-Nirvana alternative rock (roughly dating back to the punk era, but I heard Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain” and Lou Reed’s “Satellite of Love” already, so clearly there’s some leniency there). It started on Tuesday, and we’re currently in the low 1100s, meaning we probably still have at least until Monday until it raps up.

What criteria, if any, Fred is using in compiling this countdown is entirely unclear. Though I would consider each benchmark alt-rock tracks, I heard “Psycho Killer,” “Don’t You Want Me” and “Temptation” all in the 1400s, lower than forgotten album tracks by Oingo Boingo and the Hothouse Flowers. Maybe it’ll get clearer once it gets to the top, but for now I’m trying to just enjoy the countdown at face value–it’s really cool hearing all these 7th-tier songs from A-list alt-rock bands (I’ve heard three tracks from The Clash’s Sandinista!–two of them from the second disc!) and all these notable-at-the-time (maybe?) one-offs from bands that would go on to have no future whatsoever.

Anyway, give me a countdown longer than a hundred and I’ll drive myself crazy trying to hear as much of it as possible (and given that, like the History of Pop Music marathon XM runs once or twice a year, the list runs 24 hours a day, I’m pretty much guaranteed to only hear half of it at the very most). Here’s a semi-representative sample of what I’ve heard so far, taken from what’s been played in the last hour or so. As them Pixies might say, it’s educational.

#1173. The Tubes – “Talk to Ya Later Always liked this song more than their actual big hit, “She’s a Beauty.” I never really understood these guys, though–they’re supposed to prog or art-rock or something, right? Then why do all the songs I know of theirs sound like Rick Springfield?

#1172. Katrina & The Waves – “Walking on Sunshine How exactly this falls into the alt-rock bloodline is totally beyond me–did these guys actually have cred or something at one point? In any event, it’s shameful that this song should show up on any Memorial Day countdown I deem worth listening to. One of the ten or so most annoying songs ever written, easy. At least it’s not higher.

#1171. Alphaville – “Flame” This is the sort of song that’s provided the countdown’s bread and butter so far–raise your hand if you knew that Alphaville (of “Forever Young” fame) had more than one song? This one’s all right, I guess, but at this point I can’t help but thinking “this is higher than ‘Temptation’?” for just about every bizarro song I hear.

#1170. Depeche Mode – “Big Muff So awesome. Depeche Mode, along with The Cure, The Clash and Elvis Costello, has been the artist I’ve heard the most on this list so far, and it’s crazy to hear this weirdo instrumental from the group’s first album on the channel at all, much less this high on a countdown of “essentials”. Can’t imagine what gets this to rank higher than “Leave in Silence” (which I heard somewhere back in the 1700s I think, reminding me of its extreme underratedness), but whatever.

#1169. Cocteau Twins – “Carolyn’s Fingers Another good call. Definitely one of my favorite Cocteau Twins songs, though it makes me wonder why I haven’t heard much in the way of dreampop or shoegaze elsewhere on the list thusfar–surely they can make room for a couple MBV or ealry Jesus and Mary Chain songs, at least.

#1168. Morrissey – “Tomorrow There’s been a fair amount of solo Moz on the list thusfar, but to my surprise, it’s been some of his a-listers–“You’re the One for Me, Fatty,” “We Hate it When Our Friends Become Successful” and “The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get” have all already passed. Maybe it’s an anti-90s prejudice, I’m sure “Suedehead” and “Everyday is Like Sunday” will be pretty high, at the least.

#1167. David Bowie – “Fashion Strange to see a new wave classic like this go so low (especially considering that the infinitely inferior “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” was only a couple hundred lower), but I think they might prefer weirdo Bowie to disco-y Bowie on a list like this. There’s definitely an anti-mainstream bias going on in this list, which I guess is only appropriate for such a station.

#1166. The Chameleons – “Soul in IsolationAlready the third track I’ve heard from The Chameleons’ classic 1986 album Strange Times, which is pretty fucking cool. Personally don’t like it as much as the already-fallen “Swamp Thing,” but I’m kinda surprised The Chameleons were deemed essential enough for any placement on this list, so I’ll take it.

#1165. The Cult – “Heart & Soul Along with Billy Idol, probably the closest thing Fred’s list will come to mainstream 80s metal (though yes, I am aware that neither is particularly close). I never really understood who provided the core audience for The Cult, college rock fans or hard rock fist-pumpers–probably the confusion which lead to their place in rock history being so uncertain. Regardless, song isn’t particularly impressive either way.

#1164. Bauhaus – “She’s in Parties Yeah, I should probably hear some more of these guys. Hope “Bela” is in the top 50.

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Geek Out: Next Seven Tracks of GH: 80s, First 11 Tracks of GHIII Announced

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 23, 2007

I’m in the mood, the rhythm is right

It’s been an exciting week for GH freaks. The leaks are slow but steady with regards to the Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s (now only about two superfluous words away from Coheed & Cambria-style titling) tracklisting, but now in addition to the recently released game cover (see above), seven new songs have been added to the soon-to-be-rocked list, in addition to the seven songs already announced.

Two of the new songs–Faster Pussycat’s sleaze-metal pounder “Bathroom Wall” and The Police’s twisty stadium-shouter “Synchronicity II“–I am tremendously excited for (the latter was even on my original 80s wishlist, and the former would’ve been if I had thought for a couple seconds further). Two others, the hair metal standards “18 & Life” by Skid Row and “Nothin’ But a Good Time” by Poison, are mildly enticing though not particularly challenging seeming. And the other three–Extreme’s “Play With Me,” Eddie Money’s “Shakin’,” and Billy Squier’s “Lonely is the Night”–I’ve never heard, and I don’t like listening to GH songs for the first time before playing them. Less revelatory that way.

So far, though a ton of fun songs have been announced, the tracklisting seems kind of narrow–mostly confined to relatively simple mainstream metal, mixed with a couple new wave classics. What I’d like to see announced in the remaining 16 songs is some more alternative stuff–if not My Bloody Valentine and Big Black, then at least Sonic Youth and Black Flag–as well as some more challenging heroic-type stuff. Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhoads, I’m looking in your direction.

But the really exciting shit announced recently wasn’t for Rocks the 80s–it was for Guitar Hero III, not due until Fall and now seeing an eternity away. Soon to be available on just about every major platform, the first 11 tracks to be available for the game have been announced, and are as follows:

* Paint It Black (by The Rolling Stones)
* Cherub Rock (by Smashing Pumpkins)
* Sabotage (by Beastie Boys)
* The Metal (by Tenacious D)
* My Name is Jonas (by Weezer)
* Knights of Cydonia (by Muse)
* Rock And Roll All Nite (as made famous by Kiss)
* School’s Out (as made famous by Alice Cooper)
* Slow Ride (as made famous by Foghat)
* Cult of Personality (by Living Colour)
* Barracuda (as made famous by Heart)

Really, it’s sort of inconceivable how shit-hot this tracklisting is so far. Of these 11, the only one I’m not aching to play is the Tenacious D one, and that’s just because I’ve never heard it. “Barracuda,” “Cult of Personality,” “Slow Ride,” “Cherub Rock“…I’ve been salivating to get my fingers around these each time I’ve heard them on the radio since I became a GH convert. A great mix of classic rock, 90s alternative, new stuffand left-field stuff…so far, so very, very fucking good.

And that whole “by” vs. “as made famous by” thing next to each of the tracks listed–the ones “by” the artists are all master tracks, meaning that SEVEN of the 11 tracks will be the artists’ original recordings and not shady Harmonix re-recordings. When compared to the grand total of two songs that were master tracks in II (and a whopping zero in I), it’s a damn good sign of things to come.

And with Rock Band details still to come? It’s gonna be a fun second half of the year.

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Geek Out: First Seven Tracks of Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s Announced

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 12, 2007

23 chances left to finally include some fucking Yngwie

At least twice a week since news about Guitar Hero: 80s Edition was announced last January, I’ve been Google Blog searching the words “Guitar Hero 80s” in the hopes of pulling news on the prospective tracklisting. Almost four months later, I’ve finally got my first taste–seven of the thirty tracks have been confirmed as avialable titles in the game, out of thirty total. It doesn’t make up for the fact that the release date was pushed from a definite-sounding June 13th to a much more irritatingly vague “Summer 2007,” but it’s a start. Here’s what I’m thinking about the titles announced (in alphabetical order).

  1. A Flock of Seagulls – “I Ran (So Far Away) This must be one of the Group 1 songs. Probably the least exciting song announced here–don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the Flock, but their hits are hardly remembered for their masterful fretwork, and though it’ll be cool to play the echoing opening riff at least, I don’t see this one standing up to repeat plays so much. Glad they’re at least trying to rep for some New Wave, though.
  2. Asia – “Heat of the Moment Sort of the same deal here. That opening five-note iff has deservingly become a classic, but between that and the solo-ish business at the end, there’s really not much six-string burning to speak of. Sure it’ll be a crowd pleaser regardless.
  3. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy I could see this one being a lot of fun, actually. The twisty-turny New Wave-cum-rockabilly riff could provide “Tattooed Love Boys“-style GH thrills. Playing that super-fast muted guitar part that goes throughout the song would be especially awesome (HEY!)
  4. Dio – “Holy Diver This is definitely more along the lines of what the game should be about. Personally, I prefer “Rainbow in the Dark,” but that song’s more about the synth line anyway I suppose, and really any Dio is good Dio. Should become a Guitar Hero classic in relatively little time, shame it doesn’t have some more soloing though.
  5. Quiet Riot – “Metal Health (Bang Your Head) Yes, yes and fucking yes. This was definitely on my GH: 80s wishlist, one of the best hard rock songs of the decade easy. Besides that immortal riff (way, way better than anything in “Cum on Feel the Noize“), this one has a pretty nifty slinky bass line going throughout it as well, so it should be a solid co-op choice. If that mode’s still available on the new one.
  6. Ratt – “Round and Round” Another solid choice–you get the riff of Van Halen’s “Unchained” while still leaving VH free to hopefully have one of their better songs available in the game as well (“Hot for Teacher,” please?) More hair-metal one-hit wonders (or second tier genre efforts, at least) should hopefully provide one of the game’s musical cores.
  7. Twisted Sister – “I Wanna Rock Like “Metal Health,” another band’s second-biggest hit that makes for a much wiser choice than the biggest. The a capella “ROCK! ROCK!” chant-along part is gonna be fucking awesome in a room full of GH enthusiasts.

Still on the wishlist for the remaining 23:

  • AC/DC – “Back in Black”
  • Accept – “Balls to the Wall”
  • Aerosmith – “Love in an Elevator”
  • Anthrax – “Caught in a Mosh”
  • Big Country – “In a Big Country”
  • Billy Idol – “White Wedding”
  • Bon Jovi – “Wanted Dead or Alive”
  • The Cult – “Love Removal Machine”
  • Def Leppard – “Photograph”
  • Dinosaur Jr. – “Freak Scene”
  • The Fixx – “One Thing Leads to Another”
  • Golden Earring – “Twilight Zone”
  • Guns n Roses – “Mr. Brownstone”
  • Iron Maiden – “Wasted Years”
  • Journey – “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”
  • Judas Priest – “Hellion / Electric Eye”
  • Living Colour – “Cult of Personality”
  • Magazine – “Because You’re Frightened”
  • Yngwie Malmsteen – “Black Star”
  • Metallica – “Master of Puppets”
  • Megadeth – “Peace Sells”
  • Ozzy Osbourne – “Over the Mountain”
  • The Pixies – “Vamos”
  • The Plimsouls – “A Million Miles Away”
  • The Police – “Synchronicity II”
  • Prince – “Let’s Go Crazy”
  • Queensryche – “Eyes of a Stranger”
  • R.E.M. – ‘Radio Free Europe”
  • Rush – “Spirit of Radio”
  • Scorpions – “Rock You Like a Hurricane”
  • Skid Row – “Youth Gone Wild”
  • Slayer – “Angel of Death”
  • Sonic Youth – “Total Trash”
  • U2 – “I Will Follow”
  • W.A.S.P. – “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast)”
  • X – “Los Angeles”

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Geek Out: MTV Movie Award Nominations Announced

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on May 1, 2007

Jessica Alba not to return as host, sticking it to Camp Nowhere fans across the U.S.

I still get excited for this shit. The MTV Movie Awards seems like the greatest gauge of where film pop culture is at at a moment in time, leading to bizarro Best Movie winners like Menace II Society in ’93 and Napoleon Dynamite in ’05. Plus, they tend to be a lot more fun than the Oscars, have better musical guests, cooler categories, etc. Let’s see how this year’s crop of nominees is looking:

Best Movie
» “300”
» “Blades of Glory”
» “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
» “Little Miss Sunshine”
» “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
Best Performance
» Gerard Butler, “300”
» Johnny Depp, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
» Keira Knightley, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
» Jennifer Hudson, “Dreamgirls”
» Beyoncé Knowles, “Dreamgirls”
» Will Smith, “The Pursuit of Happyness”
Breakthrough Performance
» Emily Blunt, “The Devil Wears Prada”
» Abigail Breslin, “Little Miss Sunshine”
» Lena Headey, “300”
» Columbus Short, “Stomp the Yard”
» Jaden Smith, “The Pursuit of Happyness”
» Justin Timberlake, “Alpha Dog”
Best Comedic Performance
» Emily Blunt, “The Devil Wears Prada”
» Sacha Baron Cohen, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
» Will Ferrell, “Blades of Glory”
» Adam Sandler, “Click”
» Ben Stiller, “Night at the Museum”
Best Kiss
» Cameron Diaz & Jude Law, “The Holiday”
» Will Ferrell & Sacha Baron Cohen, “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”
» Columbus Short & Meagan Good, “Stomp The Yard”
» Mark Wahlberg & Elizabeth Banks, “Invincible”
» Marlon Wayans & Brittany Daniel, “Little Man”
Best Villain
» Tobin Bell, “Saw III”
» Jack Nicholson, “The Departed”
» Bill Nighy, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”
» Rodrigo Santoro, “300”
» Meryl Streep, “The Devil Wears Prada”
Best Fight
» Jack Black & Héctor Jiménez vs. Los Duendes (Wrestling Match), “Nacho Libre”
» Gerard Butler vs. “The Uber Immortal” (The Spartan/Persian Battle), “300”
» Sacha Baron Cohen vs. Ken Davitian (Naked Wrestle Fight), “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”
» Will Ferrell vs. Jon Heder (Ice Rink Fight), “Blades of Glory”
» Uma Thurman vs. Anna Faris (Super Girl Fight), “My Super Ex-Girlfriend”
Best Summer Movie You Haven’t Seen Yet
» “Evan Almighty” (June 22)
» “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” (June 15)
» “Hairspray” (July 20)
» “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (July 13)
» “Rush Hour 3” (August 10)
» “Transformers” (July 4)
mtvU Best Filmmaker On Campus (vote now!)
» Robert Dastoli, “Southwestern Orange County vs. The Flying Saucers”(University of Central Florida)
» Maria Gigante, “Girls Room” (Columbia College, Chicago)
» Josh Greenbaum, “Border Patrol” (University of Southern California)
» Alexander Poe, “Please Forget I Exist” (Columbia University)
» Andrew Shipsides, “Bottleneck” (Savannah College of Art & Design)

I guess this is what I get for ignoring 300 and both Pirates of the Carribean movies. Fuck it, I still say they look boring.

Nothing particularly inspiring here, I suppose. Really I seem to remember there being more categories than this (Best Action Sequence? Hottest Performance? Funniest Line? Those weird one-a-year ones like Best Dramatic Pause or Best Frightened Performance? What’s the deal?), though I’m glad we still at least got Best Fight and Best Kiss, I suppose. Best Summer Movie You Haven’t Seen Yet is a good call, though–very with the times, MTV.

Eh, between the two movies I don’t want to see (300, Pirates), the two movies I have seen and thought were overrated (Borat, Little Miss Sunshine) and the one movie that I haven’t seen and originally didn’t want to see because the previews looked awful but kind of want to see now that people seemed to like it OK, I guess I’ll take, uh, that one. At least it’d make Jon Heder one of only a handful of elites to be in two Golden Popcorn winners for Best Movie. That’s something to put on your gravestone.

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