TBT~ Homage & Music

Well well well. Look who's come crawling back offering opinions and seeking approval! For our first blog post for the new theme (Homage) we saw it fit to write about our favorite song covers. Nothing says "I'm paying respect to your music and talent" like improving upon a revered artist's work in a cooler, more culturally relevant way. Enjoy~

Rebecca's Picks

2017 has been a big year for me and covers. I've listened to Smash Mouth's cover of I'm a Believer every day this year at least once a day, and guess what? I'm not sick of it. Not one bit. And guess what else? You can decide whether or not that's a true fact about me. I'll never tell. Regardless, that would be a pedestrian choice for a blog as prestigious as this, so it is not an official pick. Here are my picks: 

Don't You (Forget About Me)- Smash Mouth

This is a deeper cut from the world of Smash Mouth covers, and a very important one at that. I mean, come ON. Just kidding. That isn't my real pick. Here are my REAL picks: 

Lola - The Raincoats

This is a case of a cover that has usurped the original in my book (Walkman/iPod/Streaming service). Rarely do I listen to "Lola" as performed by The Kinks. Often do I listen to "Lola" as performed by the Raincoats. It's more fun, and feels fresh and modern despite being released in 1979. Give me a low-fi girl band from any era in musical history and I am bound to eat that shit up.

On a slightly deeper level, I love the gender bending lyrics of the song, which are made even more poignant when sung by a bunch of punky young women who chose not to change any of the genders/pronouns from the original in their cover, because that would have been an incredibly SQUARE move. "Girls will be boys and boys will be girls" takes on a deeper meaning, and I'm bringing back the term "square." Get used to it, America! 

Baby I Love You - The Ramones

I went on three month Ramones binge this year, which has made them my number one played Spotify artist of 2017. For a band who's songs rarely exceed 2 minutes, I'd say that's a tremendous feat, and definitely not a reflection on my shortening attention span.

In honor of that, they're my #2 pick. The Ramones have done MANY covers, but this remains the one I go back to again again. It's so corny, but I think I just love the idea of one of the leading banks of the punk scene covering a fun 60s girl group's love song. These are the guys who inspired the Clash to pull themselves together, and they're singing a Ronnette's song! With a voice like Joey's the whole thing could easily read as sarcastic, but honestly whether they intended it or not, the cover feels pretty reverent to me. I will not deny that it's dopey, and I will not deny that the Ramones allegedly hated it, but I will also not deny that I love it. And that's all I have to say about that.  

PLUG: Check out my Spotify playlist of covers featuring many more songs I wish I had time to write about. Curated with suggestions from a variety of people, including Shefali.  

 

Shefali's Picks

Covers make me think of YOUTUBE. Wow there are so many good ones. I used to watch all of these Kurt Schneider and Sam Tsui ones growing up. I used to also actively look for covers of my favorite songs regularly, but nowadays I just stumble across fun ones once in a while.

My current favorite is Julia Jacklin's cover of "Something" by The Strokes. Its got a slowed down beautiful vibe, that maybe I like more than the original?? Or like they're just totally different from each other what am I saying hahaha don't @ me !!!

Back to Kurt and Sam--this was one of my first ever Youtube cover discoveries and it is a cover of Nelly's "Just a Dream" by Kurt, Sam, and Christina Grimmie. I am a huge fan of hers to this day and still want to continue to promote her work. Rest in peace <3

Last one is just an all time favorite--Adele's cover of Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love." 

#TBT ~ Light and Dark Music Videos

We’re switching things up this week and adding Music Videos into the mix.

Shefali’s Picks

Havana, Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug

II asked Rebecca to change the theme to Music Video this week purely so I could write about the Havana video Camila Cabello dropped Tuesday. It is visually very stunning and also follows a crazy, meta plotline--similar to an episode of Jane the Virgin (and not just because of the Telenovela opening!)

What I love about this music video (and Jane the Virgin, Mindy Project, other TV Shows about modern romance) is the idea that it subverts the classic romance story that we grew up seeing. In past films/shows/telenovelas people have gone to extremes to display their affections to each other--even the so called 'realistic' romances are highly stylized unrealistic depictions of what 'love' actually is.

I picked this video for Light & Dark because its reveals the light and dark of romance while also showing what can happen if you hide behind a screen and never go out and experience the world for yourself. What makes this video even better is that it DOES have highly stylized/theatrical moments where the main character is watching herself on her TV at home and in the movie theater--blurring the lines between her imagination, what she wishes she could have, what she wants, and what she really needs/gets in the end.

Blow, Beyonce

Two sexy videos for very early on a Thursday. Be prepared. This is one of my all time favorite videos and is also very visually stunning. I picked it specifically for its insane lighting, but also because of the outfits, visual style, and incredible dance sequences.

I also just wish I could hear the conversation that went down in the Knowles household before: Beyonce to Solange “Hey we’re going to wear 80s clothing and ride mini bicycles” Solange “I’m in.”

Rebecca's Picks

Hello!! I've been feeling a little witchy considering Halloween is right around the corner, so that influenced my picks this time around. S p OOky! 

Wuthering Heights - Kate Bush

Leave it to Kate Bush to take a simple concept (her in a white dress in front of a black backdrop) and make it weird and beautiful just by the way she moves her body. On paper it seems very 80s and corny: she's awash in a glowing light, and she's miming being trapped in an invisible box for a good portion of it, and yet she transcends all of that in a way that other artists at the time just can't. This is true for pretty much all Kate Bush videos I've watched.

There were 2 versions of the video for Wuthering Heights. The one above is literally light and dark, which is why I initially picked it, but I'll include the "red dress" version too because I like it more, and to heck with the rules. It's hard to describe, but both versions present a version of beauty that just feels a little off kilter, which makes it more beautiful and entrancing. Kate Bush in general always gives off vibes that play with the mix of light and dark. Her voice is ethereal, but she's singing about gothic literature. She seems witchy, but she's a good witch. 

I Don't Care - Eartha Kitt

 

This video is a straight up hoot! It never fails to make my day. Again, this is visually light and dark, but it's also a play on good and evil in the sense that Eartha Kitt is a man eating catwoman, but she DOESN'T CARE, and that's why it's so delicious. It also flips the script on the male gaze, sexualizing all the men in the video, who strip down and dance at Eartha's will. 

Eartha Kitt was unapologetically herself, independent, and sexual in a time when that wasn't so acceptable for women, to the extent that her outspokenness got her blacklisted for years. I love that a song that's a big "F**k You" to the haters is accompanied by a completely bonkers music video. Society might label you a witch, a temptress, a monster, but you turn those men into cats and ENJOY IT. 

#TBT ~ Light and Dark TV

Yet another week of Shefali and Rebecca forgetting to write this until the day of. And with that I give you “Light & Dark” TV Shows.

Shefali's Picks

Bojack Horseman

Okay anyone who knows me probably has heard me talk about these shows WAY too much. But here we go. Clearly, this show has taken some of the darkest turns in T.V. history, but before I get to that do ya’ll remember when this was just a hilarious topical show about a horse in season one?? No you can’t?? Because I was delusional and too okay with the dark stuff that happened season one.

I actually just re-watched the entire first two seasons and there are definitely dark undertones from the get-go--but I remember the first time watching it and one of the things I really admired was the fact that the writers were able to build intricate pop culture embedded commentary about life and death and then moments later a ridiculous physical comedy bit where a character trips and falls and spurts out silly puns like “un-Jessica-bielievable.”

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The best part of this show is that no one is good or evil. Everyone makes mistakes and it's about learning to deal with your consequences (or shove them under the rug until they blow up in your face and **eventually** you have to do something about it). But THAT is what makes the show, at its core, so empowering. Because it has started and gone to such dark places and yet we still feel for the characters because they are us.

You're the Worst

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SAME. While this is based in a little more realism (although this current season has already taken some wild turns), this show revolves around two people who are “the worst” at relationships. The cast of characters is a bit smaller than Bojack and it is live action instead of animation, but this show touches on a few similar themes including living with yourself and your poor decisions.

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You’re the Worst spends time focusing on each character individually and this season has started doing more “one off” episodes where it explores one character for the entire episode. Similarly to Bojack you get extremely light and fun moments--and then mid-episode something dark might be revealed about how the characters true fears keep them from being together.

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Something I love about this show is the way that it portrays mental illness. Not in a dramatic light, but in an average everyday fashion that doesn’t glorify it. The main character, Gretchen, (slight spoilers) it turns out, has been battling clinical depression for as long as she can remember. And while the show takes us to dark turns in her life--we also see her strengths, the good and the bad which is more than you can say about all those stupid horror movies that come out each year depicting all people with schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder as monsters.

The Good Place

Okay last one. This show is so freaking good. All of them are. How do I get you all to watch these?!?!!?! HOW?!

Okay sorry. I’m intense about T.V, but this show is bonkers. Like I can’t predict ANYTHING that’s going to happen. But (without any spoilers) I can tell you that the story starts with a few characters finding out that they have died and entered “The Good Place.” So there is constant debate about how they got there? And do they deserve it? But also this show is funny as fuck. Mike Schur kills it again. I don’t want to spoil it, but check out this show if you want to laugh your ass off, but also once and awhile linger on some philosophical thoughts.

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Rebecca's Pick

Well seeing as Shefali  beat me to The Good Place, I’ll just second everything she said, and move on. This is the cross I bear for turning in my homework later than she. Here's my other pick:

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

Quelle surprise. Rebecca picks another British show. But hear me out, because Garth Marenghi is a gem of television, and it even has “dark” in the title, so you know it especially belongs with this month’s theme. 

Darkplace is a show-within-a-show parody of 80s horror mixed with 80s medical drama. Each episode is presented by creator Garth Marenghi (Matthew Holness) as an unaired classic finally getting screen time after 20 years due to "worst artistic drought in broadcast history." The six episodes follow a team of doctors at Darkplace Hospital, which happens to be located directly over the gates of hell, as they encounter mysterious supernatural events.

It takes the “so bad it’s good” mentality, and makes something so good at being intentionally bad that it’s excellent. Purposely bad dialogue, purposely poorly acted, but played from a very genuine place which makes keeps it from being the sort of parody that’s just annoying (if that makes sense). It's not a show that offers any particularly hot takes, or scathing indictments on society, which makes it even funnier that the character of Garth Marenghi truly thinks each episode of his work is some sort of nuanced allegory. In that sense it also lampoons the hubris of authors, artists, and "dreamweavers" who think their creations are world-changing.

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It features a brand of weirdness similar to the The Mighty Boosh-- half-insect children, conscious decapitated heads, musical interludes, and Richard Ayoade. If you like weird, and if you’re looking for something funny with elements of horror to watch this Halloween season, give Darkplace a spin! It’s all on YouTube, and I need more people to talk about it with.

#TBT ~ Light and Dark Music

Our weekly sob sesh.

Shefali's Picks

Today I’m going to talk about two songs that sound very sweet and loving, but have a darker meaning or message then I had originally thought.

There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (The Smiths)

The original “I Will Follow You Into the Dark” as I like to think of it. This song starts off with the narrative of a man wanting to stay out all night with his “love” because he’s contemplating his existence and doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere, “driving in your car, I never want to go home, because I haven’t got one.” Classic sad boy stuff which at the time in my “Nobody-understands-me” stage of high school, I found very relatable.

At the chorus we realize he has been contemplating death this whole time and mentions that if something were to happen to the two of them it would have been a privilege “to die by her side.” Yeesh. Dark stuff. But as a teen I thought this was highly romantic.

The Graveyard Near The House (The Airborne Toxic Event)

Wow. I picked some w o r d y songs. This song has a very similar meaning and intention as There is a Light and is even more explicit about it. The song starts with the narrator describing his conversation with a girl about their relationship, “You asked me if I thought we would ever die, And if life and love both fade so predictably, We've made ourselves a kind of predictable lie.” As the song goes on, he reflects on their conversation and if their relationship means anything. He compares the living and the dead, “Half turned to dust in tattered clothes, Though we probably look just as silly now” remarking on how they are just fooling themselves by trying to be together in the present.

And so the song goes on in a depressing manner similar to the dark, introspective pattern of There is Light and I Will Follow You Into the Dark. What makes this song different is that it ends on a glimmer of hope and the importance love plays in our lives as the narrator realizes that despite what may happen in the future he still loves the girl now in the present. He says, “I'll defy everyone and love you still” and then goes on to explain that, “It's better to love, whether you win or lose or die.” Although a cheesy line outside of the context of the song, this line feels like a hopeful bookends to a rather contemplative thought that I have had myself from time to time and a good reminder to appreciate the loved ones still in my life.

Rebecca's Picks

Spiderwebs (No Doubt)

I’m experiencing a No Doubt renaissance in my life, and an appreciation for songs I didn’t pay much attention to when I was younger. One of these is Spiderwebs, a nice jaunty song about Gwen Stefani screening her phone calls. I’m ashamed to say I only recently started paying attention to the lyrics and the story behind them. It’s all about Gwen Stefani being stalked! By a creep! Who would incessantly call her up and try to read her his poetry! And that’s why she has to screen all her phone calls!

Back in 1996 it wasn't so easy to know who was calling you. Gwen had to go through the emotional turmoil of not knowing whether or not a stalker would be on the end of the line if she picked up her ringing phone, so she had to let every incoming call go to voicemail. It haunted her (understandably). Honestly it comes through pretty strongly in the lyrics and I feel kind of dumb for not noticing sooner. 

For example:

You're intruding on what's mine and
You're taking up my time
Don't have the courage inside me
To tell you please let me be

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Suddenly it’s a very dark song about feeling powerless, paranoid, and scared (i.e. "trapped in a spider's web") of a manipulative man. It's an awful feeling that too many women are familiar with. I'm thankful for Gwen for proving that you can turn these experiences into bangers, and happy that she gets to scream "It's all your fault" over and over again, which I'm sure was cathartic. 

Dancing in the Street (David Bowie/Mick Jagger cover)

I feel an obligation choose something light to close everything out after all these other entries. I've been very into covers lately, and few covers bring me more joy than David Bowie and Mick Jagger's version of Dancing in the Street. The song is fine, but I really only like it because I can't separate it from the music video which is just fun and wacky and seasoned with Bowie/Jagger sexual tension. Mick Jagger's shirt has inexplicably gigantic and billowy breast pockets, David Bowie is wearing pajamas(?) with a belt and trench coat, and they still manage to be cool about it. (Sidebar: I've always thought this would make a great Halloween costume).

It has the feeling of being unplanned and thrown together because it was. They did everything in a matter of hours. It's pure lightness to me, though I suspect there was maybe some cocaine involved. 

It kind of speaks for itself. Enjoy!! 

#TBT ~ Light and Dark Films

WELCOME to our new theme: Light & Dark. For our #tbt Shefali and Rebecca each picked a film that treads the line between light and dark.

Shefali's Pick

Swiss Army Man

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This is the perfect example of Light and Dark that I can not take all the credit for thinking of (thank you my lovely roommate, Jocelyn Lee for the reminder). But the reason this film so perfectly encapsulates the theme is because it was literally built around one fart joke. Paul Dano, perfectly sums up how he was approached to do the project from creators 'The Daniels', “One of the earliest things I remember the Daniels telling me was, 'Is it possible to make a film where the first fart makes you laugh and the last fart makes you cry?'”

YA IT IS POSSIBLE. Although this movie starts about a farting corpse, Dano and Radcliffe bond in a truly ridiculous way and one emotional ride later--you can't help, but shed a tear. I don't want to give any spoilers though so go watch the film to see just how they do it!! Ahh I forgot how disturbing, yet emotionally cathartic this movie was. Let the rewatch begin.

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Rebecca's Pick

Perfetti Sconosciuti (Perfect Strangers) (2016)

There are few tropes I love more than a “one-room” dinner party gone awry. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Carnage, The Dinner Party episode of The Office...there’s something about watching a group of adults self-destruct within the boundaries of what is supposed to be the most civilized of social gatherings that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking, and wholly appealing to the anti-social part of my brain. Trapped by social conventions of politeness (don’t leave until after dessert!), the concept of a dinner party is claustrophobic. Add the pressure of pretending you actually want to be there/ are interested in the conversation/ wouldn’t rather be at home watching The Barefoot Contessa, and the dining room becomes a powder keg. And I AM HERE. FOR. IT. 

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Enter Perfetti Sconosciuti, a dinner-party-gone-wrong film for the age of modern technology. A group of 7 lifelong friends (3 couples in various stages of togetherness and one bachelor with a possibly non-exisitent girlfriend) come together for a dinner party and decide to spice things up by playing a game. Everyone puts their phones on the table, and every text, phone call, or alert that comes in over the course of the night must be read and answered aloud. As one can imagine, things get MESSY. Secrets are revealed, and drama ensues. Infidelities, misunderstandings, longstanding rivalries and insecurities are all brought to a head. It's heartbreaking at times, and farcical at others, just like life.  Perfect Strangers begs the question, is it worth it knowing everyone's secrets when we all lie? How private can our private lives actually be under the reign of the iPhone?

How many couples would split up if one looked at the other's phone?

How many couples would split up if one looked at the other's phone?

Bear in mind I watched this on an airplane so my appreciation of it might be inflated, but I really liked it at 36,000 feet. Added bonus: because it’s an Italian film, the food served actually looks amazing. Sorry Jan, but your Osso Bucco can’t compare.

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