Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Airtel's SongCatcher service... such a letdown. I tried it with songs no. 7 and 5 from my previous post ...but all it says is that the songs do not exist in the database. what's the real point of the service then? If the songs had to exist in their database for me to use them, why wouldn't I just check on their website?

I Thought it was an opportunity for me to use whatever sounds I wanted...but, yes, in hindsight I guess it wouldn't really fall under "Fair use", since they're clearly making money off it as a commercial service...and thus would lead to all sorts of copyright entanglements. Sigh.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Ten Funniest Songs I've ever heard

While people have been writing “funny” songs forever, few of them last in public memory, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, lyrics alone might be enough to make people listen to a song a few times and laugh out loud, but for them to remember the song and listen to it over time, the music has to be great too. This combination of good music and lyrics becomes more important here than in other genres.

For “spoof” songs, however, the music is similar to the original song, so focus shifts solely to the lyrics – which is why they had better be really, really good.

Also, if you’re spoofing a song, the original has to be a really big hit, since your audience had better have heard the original one enough times to identify with your song. Which basically means that you’re pitching your song to fans of the original – making it very important that your song comes off as a “tribute” and not as a low-brow satire, or worse still, a knock-off. The song that’s number two on my list is a perfect example of how to tread this fine line of paying tribute and extracting humour, but let’s start from No. 10:

10) I Will Survive – Cake

One of the funniest cover versions. Ever.

9) The Bedrock Anthem – Weird Al Yankovic

Musically, this song was a spoof on Give it Away and Under the Bridge by RHCP, accompanied by brilliant lyrics based on the Flintstones. And, of course, a hilarious video, specially the “Bee Girl” intro, a spoof/tribute to Blind Melon’s No Rain:

8) Peaches – Presidents of the United States of America

For some reason, the line “Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man…in a factory downtown” just never gets old for me.

7) Thanda Thanda Paani – Baba Sehgal

So who said this was an English-only list?

Whether this song qualifies as a “Spoof”, “Tribute”, “Inspiration” or “Rip-off” is beyond me – I just love the free-flowing lyrics: “Main five-star hotel pehli baar gaya, maine dekha paani se bhara swimming pool aaya manager, bola baithiye please sir sir sir, aapki seva mein main haazir hoon, kuchh farmaiye, kahiye kya aapko chahiye?”

I don’t remember there being a video for this one – so no clip on Youtube, unfortunately.

6)Volcano – PUSA

Flowing, funny lyrics, a very catchy tune and a crazy video. Great recipe, well cooked.

5) You are my Chicken Fry – Bappi Lahiri (Rock Dancer OST)

One of the corniest songs I’ve ever heard, but what lyrics. What lyrics. What lyrics. And put to some really good music!

“You are my chicken fry,
You are my fish fry,
Kabhi na kehna kudiye bye-bye-bye…

You are my Samosa,
You are my Masala Dosa,
Main na kahungi mundeya bye-bye-bye…”

A search for “Bappi Chicken” on youtube yields no results. Ah well.

4) Baby One more Time – Travis

Yes, you got the name of the song right. The Britney song, this is – done by Travis on one guitar. It actually sounds really good, in fact – but just the fact that the source material is what it is, also makes this one very, very funny.

3) Bobby Brown – Frank Zappa

It starts off sounding like a regular, feel-good “I Love America” song – but that’s just the first two lines. Then it swings into action.

“Hey there, people, I’m bobby brown
They say I’m the cutest boy in town
My car is fast, my teeth is shiney
I tell all the girls they can kiss my heinie!”

2) The Saga Begins – Weird Al Yankovic

This is the closest thing I’ve ever heard to a perfect spoof song. Musically it’s a spoof/ tribute to a cult song – American Pie. Lyrically, it’s a tribute to a cult film franchise – Star Wars. Yankovic wrote this song, based on The Phantom Menace, without even knowing the actual story of the movie – he got everything from internet spoilers. And he followed it up with a video that has to be seen to be believed.

Don McLean:
“Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie,
Drove my Chevy to the Levee but the Levee was Dry;
Them Good old Boys were drinking Whiskey and rye,
Singing, this will be the day that I die…
This will be the day that I die…”

Weird Al:
“My, my, this here Anakin guy,
May be Vader some day later, now he’s just a small fry;
He left his home and kissed his mommy goodbye,
Singing, Soon I’m going to be a Jedi….
Soon I’m going to be a Jedi…”

1) Quite a few Monty Python Songs.

This one just had to be a tie. I can’t choose between Always Look on the Bright Side of Life , The Knights of the Round Table, The Lumberjack Song, the Philosophers’ Song or even I Like Chinese. I would heavily advise everyone to hunt for this album called Monty Python Sings – It’s the biggest laugh you’ll have all month.

Obviously, I’ve missed out quite a few songs that should be there on the list – some which I’ve temporarily forgotten, and a whole lot that I haven’t heard. Do let me know!

Friday, February 9, 2007

Why Global Warming is not a Threat

From a comment left here by "Lukewarm the Snowman, professional debunker" at the Huffington Post:

"Nature always achieves a balance. Assuming that rising global temperatures are and will continue to lead to rising sea levels, nature will find a way to restore balance.

Here's how: As sea levels rise, the excess water will drip off the edges of the Earth. This dripping water will then cool the sun as it passes underneath the Earth at night.

Problem solved.

Hey, works for me!

(Discovered via The Conscious Earth)

Monday, February 5, 2007

Who do I blame...Kotak or Indiainfoline?

It's been 4 months since I returned to Delhi and got myself a sparkling new mobile number. Four months of bliss, uninterrupted by any pesky credit card salesmen.

Friday (all of three days ago...or working day ago) I called up Kotak and Indiainfoline, enquiring about opening a demat account with them.

And in the last four hours today, I've received *three* calls from HSBC asking if I want a credit card.

I wonder which of the two, Kotak or Indiainfoline, is the sleazy lowlife.

Friday, February 2, 2007

The “Death of the Album”, or the Revival?

Ever since Apple’s iTunes Music Service has become successful, I’ve been hearing opinions from all over bemoaning the “Death of the Album”. Here’s what people say: since it’s become easier to pick up music one song at a time, rather than having to buy an entire album of 12-15 songs, the album will lose relevance and die out, and singles will thrive. I’m not talking about the distribution model here (downloads vs. CDs), but the album as a concept. These people say that since I can download, say, “Vertigo” for 99 cents off an online music service, I don’t need to spent the 400-odd rupees that I would’ve paid otherwise to buy the CD of “How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb”. This, somehow, should worry the industry. To quote a Tribune article from December 2006:

‘Bob Merlis, a long-time executive with Warner Bros. Records and now a Los Angeles-based music industry consultant, said the iTunes phenomenon of purchasing individual songs "is not healthy for the music industry."

"It doesn't address something that albums and full CDs did, which is having a body of work from an artist," he said.

"It's so fragmented now. You get the song you like but you don't get to know the artist anymore. It encourages this rapid turnover," he added, pointing out that a band like U2 achieved its popularity because fans came to know them through a substantial body of work.

"If U2 came along right now, would they have the staying power? It would be very difficult to maintain that ongoing interest," Merlis said.’

I think they’re wrong – I think it’s great for the music industry in the long term. Somehow, when I think of the ability to download single songs off the net, I don’t think it’s the “Death of the album as we know it” – in fact, I believe the exact opposite is true. We’re in for a renaissance of the album as we know it – which is great news for music listeners.

The CD model as such promotes laziness on the part of the artist and the RIAA. Off-hand, how many albums can you think of where every song, or nearly every song, was great – and, given a choice, would’ve been worth buying stand-alone? The first few names that come to my mind are Dark Side of the Moon, the Wall, OK Computer, Ten, Dream Theater’s Scenes from a Memory…but a bulk of the albums I can think of from the last 20 years seem to fall into the following formula:

a) 2-3 “Star” songs – These get the most promotion, get videos made, etc, and are essentially meant to “carry” the album;

b) 4-5 mediocre songs;

c) Padding. After all, any CD has to have at least 12-13 songs, right?

So basically artists would sell $15 CDs on the basis of 3 songs, and everything was hunky-dory. Till iTunes came. Now, the Star songs will definitely sell – and fetch the band/RIAA $2-3. The mediocre songs will sell, but in fewer numbers. And the padding stays. Net income from the sale of the album: way lower.

So what happens? Bands are forced to innovate. They can either be satisfied with the $3-5 that the aforementioned formula would likely fetch them, or they can start working on making every single song good, so that people *want* to spend money on all 14-15 songs on the album. More concept albums will come in, with a theme tying together all the songs – and more concept albums, in my opinion, is definitely a good thing. There will also be more albums where nearly every song is a joy to hear.

I think the renaissance is already within striking distance. I can think of a whole lot of 2006 albums that I like listening to start-to-end, and not just a song or two: Belle & Sebastian’s The Life Pursuit, The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife, The Hold Steady’s Boys and Girls in America, RHCP’s Stadium Arcadium (coming after two very inconsistent albums, “By the Way” and Californication), Pearl Jam and quite a few more. Partly because of the reasons above and partly because of the rise of Indie bands, 2006 was a great year for music.

I’m hoping for even better in 2007.

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