Monday, March 17, 2014

The Author's Playlist Feat. The Author's Friends

First off, an acknowledgment: I couldn’t have pulled this particular issue together without the contributions of my dear friends Clyde, Hilary, Dolph, Alex, Karen, Sheldon, Hal, Keith, Bill, Bonnie, Brock, and the Middle Dude.

Actually, that’s a lie.  I could easily have done it without Clyde, Hilary, Dolph, Alex, Karen, Sheldon, Hal, Keith, Bill, and Bonnie, as I was forced to do in the end.  The punch line of this particular post was to feature a lot of my friends writing reviews of features, but only three of those I emailed ever responded and Brock and Middle Dude (who recently started to publish a newspaper called The Com. Poste which I highly recommend) were the only ones to ultimately send me anything, so please give them a huge shout-out for their community service.  I really couldn’t have pulled it off without them.  No, really.  I couldn’t have pulled it off because one of my ears blew out Katniss-style in the course of listening to Timber for the 44th time.

The challenge of this post is a slight variation of those written previously; to my knowledge, all the notes contained herein are honest in content but some are flagrantly misleading in attribution.  Point out which reviews are forgeries of the Author’s style or forgeries of forgeries of the Author’s style (I tried my best) and you may direct where we take this series next.  If you can point out which identity thief wrote which sections or if your name starts with L and ends with G, you may direct where we take this entire website next.

The Hunger Games soundtrack feat. a lot of nobodies –

If any single album could convince me of digital media’s advantages over traditional CDs, vinyls, or cassettes, The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond makes a pretty compelling case.  Of the sixteen temperamentally diverse songs compiled on the film’s soundtrack, only three actually appear in the movie’s credits, and for good reason, as the other thirteen tracks are either mediocre, boring, bad, or all of the above.  While I no more favor the concept of plucking a select few digital parts from a physical whole than I approve the regrettably surging preference for text databases over book libraries, this $18 bunch of crap may possibly have made an iTunes convert of a really stodgy technological conservative.

As an “Inspired” album, the soundtrack consists of tracks by unassociated, predominantly indie-leaning artists that are supposed to unite under common themes related to the source material or setting, which in this case is heroine Katniss’ rural homeland of District 12.  Accordingly, most of the songs have some kind of half-baked country or folk tinge to them and encompass feelings of hope, fear, and desperation, or at least I think they do, as it’s rather hard to discern just what they’re saying in the seeming absence of a lyrics booklet (see Figure 1), which is almost a prerequisite of CDs in any other circumstance.  Instead of that helpful resource we get a crumpled-up, unfolding poster of Jennifer Lawrence’s face, something that’d only appeal to fangirls who aren’t buying the disk in store anyway and would probably end up hating the music collected herein even if they did because it has far less than the industry standard of synth and bass to which they’re hopelessly attuned.

Figure 1: A possible use for the lyrics booklet.

Sorry, I digress.  Having slogged through this rubbish twice, I was only drawn to two tracks especially, those being Safe & Sound by Taylor Swift with The Civil Wars backing and Kingdom Come by the latter duo. The first stands out as an alternately calming and harrowing lullaby, sharply contrasting visuals of a blazing, hostile world with a pledge by the speaker that the coming dawn will wash away all troubles.  It opens softly before escalating into a broodingly beautiful chorus of ooooohs that probably owes more to Joy Williams and John Paul White than to Swift, whose style is generally much cheerier and carefree, at least vocally.  Even this top-selling song of the album is unfortunately weighed down by subpar recording or weird production choices that leave the artists’ voices sounding distant and grainy, if that makes sense in a non-visual sense, which it doesn’t really.  The Civil Wars’ contribution evokes some of the grittier folk songs from their first album, carried only by John Paul’s acoustic guitar, some drums near the end, and the pair’s chilling harmonies.  Like Barton Hollow, it’s written as a dramatic monologue about fleeing from some unseen demons, impelling the listener to “fly high across the sky from here to kingdom come”, and like the vast body of their work, it uses mesmerizing images to establish dark mood (“A cold wind’s whispering secrets in your ear / so low only you can hear.”) and is sung with an emotional intensity that’s altogether unfitting for a concept album based on the screen adaptation of Hunger Games.  Regardless of its excessive merits comparative to the movie, it makes a worthy addition to The Civil Wars’ already fabulous repertoire and marks itself as the most captivating song of the album.

Unfortunately that’s not saying much, as all the songs besides these two are discardable.  Granted, a couple of them can be appreciated within their own niche genres, but the appeal of these few rarely extends beyond the usual fans of these performers.  The opening tune by Arcade Fire is a bit of an oddity on the album overall, mixing synth, percussion, slow guitar strings, and almost indiscernible vocals by a young girl in a way that shouldn’t sound good but somehow works. This more than anything else on the album captures the action of the arena and spectacle of the Capitol processions that precede it.  Entitled Abraham’s Daughter, it tries to imagine just how this nameless daughter of Scripture would have reacted had she witnessed her father preparing Isaac for the altar at that “lonesome hill”.  Having surveyed the theories of various Hunger Games nerds online, I now suppose the daughter is meant to stand for Katniss, Abraham for Snow, Isaac for the tributes, and the mountain for the arena, but none of that makes a whit of sense given that Abraham was sacrificing his son out of piety rather than malice, that Isaac was ultimately spared in lieu of a ram, and that the Bible says nothing of a daughter present at this scene.  Hence this is essentially the musical parallel of that upcoming Noah disaster for which Paramount has already stooped to doing damage control [“we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity (of the Biblical story)”], but you can hardly make out the lyrics, anyway.

Maroon 5 does a decent, mostly stripped-down cover of Glen Harsand’s Come Away To The Water, which is basically a lyricized entreaty addressed to a lamb that’s due to get the axe.  “Come away, little lamb, come away to the slaughter / To the ones appointed to see this through / They are co-ooooming for you.” It’s a troubled little song, externally soothing and inwardly unsettling, and Adam Levine infuses it with just the right amount of creepiness.  It’s hard to picture a music video that would preserve the same effect (then there’s that whole sexy thing acting against his creepiness).  Devoid of the chipmunk notes and atrocious arrangements that permeate their mass-produced pop, it’s probably the best song of their whole career – no thanks to them because they didn’t even write it.

Miranda Lambert and the Pistol Annies show up in a collaboration called Run Daddy Run which is straight-up country for all intents and purposes.  Vocally it’s strong but clocks in rather short at under three minutes.  So too does it measure short in new content, as its central themes of outrunning the devil are virtually lifted right from the Civil Wars’ song that played two songs before.  The second massive single from the album is another Taylor Swift song called Eyes Open, but this has far more in common with her latest, more edgy hits from Red than with the country-crossover music that won her a following.  It’s straight-up bubblegum pop mixed to overly noisy electric guitars and set to vapid lines about standing tall, believing in yourself, and “keeping your ey-eyes open”.  Some people like it, but it all just sounds like empty volume to me.

I won’t even bother touching on the other ten songs because they’re so insipidly dull.  The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond is the kind of album that was made for sale in digital media stores.  Otherwise, in order to hear a brief eight or so minutes of artistic brilliance, one has to pay for 7X as many minutes of artistic blech.  Hey, Barnes & Noble, where do I go if I wasn’t completely satisfied with my purchase?

Singles Reviews
Timber Feat. Ke$ha –

“Swing your partnuh round and round / End of the night is going down. / One more shot, another round / End of the night is going down.”

Ah, romantic poetry at its finest.  To be honest, I’m actually diggin’ (that phrase is like totes current, right?) the harmonica jingle that opens this great American love song; in fact, I could probably listen to the isolated harmonica for an hour or half or a minute without succumbing to insanity.  It’s a terrific sound.  Then Ke$ha and Pitbull start blathering about taking their clothes off, twerking till the end of the night is going down, and I don’t really know what because it sounds like they’re garbling marbles.  Timber will continue to enjoy its 10 seconds of fame as society indulges the current fantasy that guy-girl rap-pop combos are cool, but we all know that trend will be felled when classical electronica conquers the world.  Or at least when we’ve heard the crap out of it in public, on television, through radio, etc.  That the song makes corny references to has-been Miley Cyrus and hails from an album entitled after a has-been crisis (it’s ‘Climate Change’, not ‘Global Warming’, Mr. Bull) is all the more testament to its thankful impermanence.

Tick tock goes the clock for this piece of junk and the junk singers behind it.  The end of its night is goin’ down, it’s goin’ down…  I don’t know what that means, but it sure sounds catchy enough to get me a couple million hits.  That and the word “diggitydogs”.  My authorial dictionary just grew a little.

I love how the way they spruce up these totally moronic hedonist hymns, making the most classless things sound so classy, which just shows it doesn’t matter what you sing so long as you do it with the right image and inflection.  That reminds me of debate.

The Monster.  Ain’t that right.  Feat. Rihanna. –

I wouldn’t even give this monstrosity the favor of my acknowledgment under ordinary circumstances, but the rancorous cacophony of “whur-hoooah, whuh-ooooh” all across the airwaves* has driven me over the edge of sanity, compelling me to face this bull by the horns.  Conspiracy theorists have always fretted about government elites controlling citizens’ behavior through chem trails and public television, but their most dangerous instrument of mind control by far is channeled through the radio.  In truth, I can’t suffer myself to try deciphering any of the Eminem speed-raps, which sound just like every other Eminem speed-rap and are about as legible as a typical college debater’s rebuttal, but the gratingly hypnotic Rihanna refrain about the monster that’s under her bed and voices inside of her head is more than enough to stir even my own, deeply suppressed zombie impulses.

Words fail me to describe the utter loathing I hold for this BS.  It even flubs the most basic of rapper songwriting standards: “you’re trying to save me / stop holding your breath” doesn’t need to be logically coherent, but it should at least rhyme with “head” or “bed”.  But then maybe it’s my fault for trying to pick apart the artistry of a self-indulgent rap by Eminem about other raps by Eminem where the hook has no logical, thematic correlation to the verses.  Does that make me craaaazy, do you think I’m craaaaazy?

I just thought of another song with the same chorus right as I was typing that.  A much better song. Probably…

Animals Feat. No Real Instruments, Voices, Rhythm, Or Anything Else –

As its title indicates, this song doesn’t have any lyrics, real instruments, or components one might generally associate with music, so why is it all over the map on my radio?  You can’t sing along to it, as there’s no singing, you can’t relate to it, as there’s no plot, message, or emotion to relate to, you can’t work or drive effectively to it, as it’s painful to the ears, and you can’t even hum it, as the whole thing consists of computer-generated sound effects that jump around in a mad disorder.  Dubstep killed the music artist.  What a senseless culture we live in where a teenager can punch a couple buttons in GarageBand and call it ‘music’ and actually get it picked up by FM channels.

Just Give Me A Reason Feat. Nate Ruess –

Unlike many songs littering pop culture today, Just Give Me A Reason is unique in its message.  Where most songs concerning the topic of love will be about the writer’s tragic break-up with his/her boyfriend/girlfriend, P!nk’s chart-topping hit told the story of a couple who decided to get back together and make up for their past troubles and arguments.  So it’s no wonder why I found this “make-up” song a nice relief from the monotony of failed romances being paraded on iTunes.

Just Give me a Reason is also different from many of P!nk’s own songs.  Instead of the customary swearing and severe sound editing, P!nk sings to a single piano, making use of the power of her voice rather than hiding behind voice editing.  Nate Ruess, known for, well, not much really, also performs well.  The gist of the song is that two true lovers begin to think the other doesn’t love him/her self, despite reassurances from the other.  The song sends out mixed messages, implying that both of them are subconsciously imagining things so as to be able to break up with one another, but at the same time it seems to say that they love each other more than anything.  I’m not usually much for love songs, especially ones concerning the troubles of one’s romance (although I did buy Red several weeks back, a review of which is forthcoming), but yet I found this song to be appealing, most notably because it didn’t any one message, but rather encouraged the listener to dissect the lyrics and emotions heard in the song.

Of all P!nk’s works, this is undoubtedly my favorite.  I had also enjoyed The Great Escape, and Try, although I still don’t prefer them to Just Give me a Reason.  But I’ve disliked some of her previous works, including Bad Influence and ****in’ Perfect, and I’ve had mixed feelings toward Sober and Who Knew. P!nk’s career isn’t broken, just bent, and she can learn to sing again… See what I did there?

Dark Horse Feat. Juicy J. –

“(Sirens blaring in background) Katy Perry.  Juicy J.  Uhuh… Let’s rain.”

Uhuh.  Bring the rain – sounds like a movie I’ve seen a tad too many times.  I must accede, that part’s kind of funny, mostly because this is the only song that “Juicy J” (why is it that all rappers insist on going by ridiculous stage names?) will ever make in his life, he reads about as many lines as Perry, minus the idiotic echo effects and vocal tuning, and he still gets stuck as a “feature”.  It’s also an appropriately awkward, contrived prelude to Katy Perry’s least worst album of her career, Illuminatipyramid Prism, which is full of D-songs like her past endeavors in the secular, bubblegum pop realm but stands apart for featuring a rare and refreshing C-song as its lead single that will make you want to stand up and roar in enthusiasm at your radio set.  Or in fury.

I’m joshing you, of course.  Neither Dark Horse Feat. Juicy J. nor Roar hold a candle to the hauntingly sensual vocals of Teenage Dream or Last Friday Night, nor do they retain the powerful symbolism and explosive energy of Firework, Wide Awake, or Hot And Cold.  But those are reviews for another time, as in never ever ever.  Like, ever.  Especially not after she pulled that Obama 2012 T-shirt stunt at various concerts.  Or that anti-Islam something or other in the Dark Horse music video that the Muslim thought police rallied so hard to remove that someone finally caved and digitally sliced it out of Youtube.  I don’t know what it was exactly, but supposedly it was hurting a lot of people’s feelings, so I’m glad they censored it.

Heh, did you notice how I said next to nothing about the song itself and passed it off as a review anyway?  Like a BOSS.

Can’t Hold Us Feat. Ray Dalton –

Say what you want about Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis’ shameless hijacking of a black art form for astronomical profits, pop-laced bastardization of the hip-hop name, intermittent misogyny, pompous rejection of objective, immutable sexuality, nutty interpretation of the 9/11 terror attacks, and inability to write or say anything that means anything (no, licensed music critics, Thrift Shop isn’t a pointed comment on rap luxury culture – it’s just stupidity for its own sake), but the dudes can sure as annual debt ceiling increases write a catchy beat, which is why theirs are the only raps on which I’ll ever bestow the honor of a place in these Files.  Mackelmore shoots off ‘verses’ like a military-style assault weapon of war, so blustery and rapid-fire that I can hardly isolate a single sentence in my mind; that’s a good thing. But I can still belt the chorus with the best of them – probably have in the shower on multiple occasions. There really is nothing so visceral and hypnotic to turn a guy on as this or the provocative sax tape of Thrift Shop, which incidentally is getting plundered all over the place by the likes of Jason Derulo.

I hear your groaning now: too much information, and none of it remotely trustworthy.  Only automated, church-going lemmings tuned into visual cues (“I’ll STAND / With ARMS HIGH and heart abandoned…”) could throw their hands up for this anthem to… something or another.  Fightin’ till it’s over, ’cause it’s the moment, and tonight is the night, and we give it to the people, or whatever New Age balderdash is currently trending in Seattle.  It all just sounds like: Na na nana / na nana na.

No-no-not that that’s bad, though.  In all seriousness, this is infinitely hummable with or without lyrics.  From the entrancing keyboard/piano part and unexpected trumpet solo to the seamless transitions between Haggerty and Dalton to the madly boisterous and cinematic music video that doesn’t reflect the words in any way, everything about it is superb.  This is the rap of all raps; if any single could vindicate its tradition against all critics and deliver its genre from the halls of infamy, it would be this, a testament to what “hip-hop” could be and, hopefully, an ambassador of what is to come.  That is, once we get rid of Eminem, Pitbull, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Derulo, Nicki Minaj, and anyone who’s “feated” on The Heist except for Ray Dalton.

This guy almost plays as well as Lindsey Stirling.

These guys don’t play half as well without Lindsey Stirling.

And these guys have nothing to do with Lindsey Stirling, thank goodness.  Maybe I should feel guilty for thinking this is the 38th best music video I’ve ever seen (I don’t really like the Starships, Pokemon, Eppic, or LMFAO ones; I’m still a little bewildered that the LMFAO one even exists).

SexyBack Feat. Timbaland –

When you write a song called something like “Sexy Back” that’s all about, um, bringing sexy back (to a woefully undersexed industry, I presume), you unavoidably set a very high bar for yourself to match.  While I can briefly commend Justin Timberlake for trying to reach such an ambitious goal, I can just as briefly close this review by saying he doesn’t.  Sounding sometimes like a songified Fifty Shades novel by Ayn Rand with its grueling portraits of love in all its torturous, sadomasochistic passion and other times like the clean edit of P!nk’s “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” with its awfully timed bleeps of certain four-letter words, it’s only depressing that “(Bringing) Sexy Back” does anything but that.  On the bright side, it no longer holds the distinction of being the most overproduced pop club song, having officially been bested by “Mirrors”.

Ready Or Not Feat. Lecrae –

If I were to hear this song on some random radio station, I would most likely not categorize it as inherently Christian.  I would probably call it either pop or hip-hop.  The only possible references to Christianity are a vague metaphorical reference to “this little light inside a me” and “showing the world where the love is”.  But, alas, it is generalized as part of the Gospel/Christian genre when it should be labeled as pop/rap.

The song is all around obnoxious, indulgent, stupid, and thoughtless garbage.  Britt Nicole sings alongside droning, stereotypical pop music and [C]rap “singer” Lecrae, whose inclusion is unnecessary and only included so as to fit in with the Christian rap sub-genre.  The song is blatantly stereotypical in just about any conceivable way, from the Christian/pop lyrics to the ridiculous switchboard sound effects to the incessant repetition of important lyrics.  The whole song falls into the typical four-line verse/insert chorus trend that’s so popular in pop music at the moment.  The writers also heroically managed to condense the words “I am going to” into “I’mma”, a feat that will be marveled at for centuries to come.

Drunk In Love Feat. Jay-Z –

There are a lot of really bad Beyonce songs out there, but all of them look relatively sober next to Drunk In Love, which is sung in quite the same tenor as you might infer from the title.  The Obama family’s perfect role model sounds completely intoxicated in this record, from the chorus’ overly processed and shrieky wails to the awkward, stuttery delivery of the verses to Yonce’s intermediary rap that’s terrible even by rap’s own standards, which the Jay-Z part in the conclusion proves demonstrably.  Hey, Magna Shawn Carter – whatever your stupid, made-up Latin pseudonym is –, why don’t you let your wife do the singing without distractions and stop trying (successfully) to up-stage her?  Yo the feature in this song, not the star, but no one could discern that by ear because you so monstrously out-perform the real starring act (keeping your clothes on in the music video and live shows doesn’t hurt, of course).  Then again, I suppose one can only sound so professional when singing along to such elaborate and poetic conceits as “grinding, grin-grin-grinding on a surfboard, swerv-swer-swerving on a surfboard”, “drinking awwauughall night”, and “Monica Lewinskying all over my gown”.  Oh, wait.  Sorry.  That’s a line out of the one you won’t be hearing on the radio.

As if it wasn’t already bad enough, it also plagiarizes the fake finger-snapping percussion from Royals, and not the infinitely superior Puddles version.  Did Beyonce just roll out of bed in the morning, go up in the club, drink beer with the guys, put together whatever she wanted, and go with it?  Alas, there aren’t any halos to see on this album – only skin.

Say Something Feat. Christina Aguilera –

I like that this song doesn’t use any rap segments or distracting instruments to gloss over weak voices.  I don’t like that it’s as slow and boring as any elevator music and has just three or four piano notes repeated over and over again.  Let’s retract that first statement: the piano in this drives me crazy.  Dun dun dun dun dun… agh!  Why is it even there if it only makes one sound?  If you’re going to incorporate such a versatile and evocative tool, at least do something with it.  The same goes for the human voice: with some of the least difficult and lyrically interesting melodies short of, um, Jingle Bells, it’s no large wonder why reality show contestants and cover artists the nation over flock to give their uniquely melancholy spins on Say Something, knowing that they can easily equal if not surpass the original recording. That the lead singer of Great Big World bungles all efforts to infuse his part with any audible emotion only makes his imitators’ jobs all the easier.  Dude, you’re losing/have already lost the love of your life or whoever the person you’re giving up on is.  Say something like you mean it!  Anything!  Your supposedly profound and heartbreaking ballad would be obnoxious even if it wasn’t playing everywhere and drilling the most rhymey of rhymes into our craniums. Notice to aspiring poets/songwriters: not every one of your lines needs to end with an “ou” or an “eye” or an “all”.

In the end, I think Tobuscus put it most succinctly when he said that “they wrote this song just to depress you / when this song is done you’ll need a tissue.”  Christina Aguilera and G.B.W. (never too late to change your acronym) probably “won’t be satisfied / until everyone in / the whole world has cried.”  Or everyone in the whole world minus one, as they won’t be getting any tears from this auth – wait a minute.  What’s this I just found?  Oh my…


NO, I won’t!  Keep it together, man.


Ah, what’s the use in holding it down?  So BEAUTIFUL.  That’s gotta be the saddest violin cover of Say Something in the universe.

Say Hey (I Love You) Feat. Cherine Anderson –

As similar as they may appear, Say Hey Feat. Cherine Anderson and Say Something Feat. Christina Aguilera couldn’t be more diametrically opposed.  Where the one is a deliberately dreary and down-beat adagio that takes a long time to ironically say just about nothing, the other is a delightfully joyous and upbeat song about a boy and girl that wastes no time in saying that most simple and beautiful something known to man: “It seems like everywhere I go / the more I see the less I know / but I know one thing / I love you.” This is the kind of (dare I use a clichĂ©?) uplifting, carefree tune that can only make you feel happyyyyyy… Who needs ghetto games or another love song for the world when you can listen to Say Hey instead?

Everything Is AWESOME!!! Feat. The Lonely Island –

I thought that Everything is Awesome was a socialist song with a line including working together.  It would have been much better off if it had Lindsey Stirling in it.  The song was so vapid that it should be remade by Puddles Pity Party.  It made as much sense as flambĂ© being a word.  The rap part was also extremely vapid.  I mean what is an awesome possum?  Well I presume I have insulted that annoyingly nonsensical song enough.  DON'T SPEND YOUR MONEY ON THIS SONG.

Wake me up when this post’s over, when I’m wiser and much, much older… Feat. Aloe “Bacon” Blacc –

Senior Executive Vice-Assistant of the editing board to the Chief Editor: Mr. Rex, you’ve fulfilled your critical quota.  The word count hit 4400 a while ago, and you’re just skirting the 1 MB limit.  Sir?  Hello?  Anyone home?  Mcfly?
Unpaid staff intern: My God, he’s sleeping on the job.  I never realized the toll that all this Top 40 trash can take on a guy.
The Author’s D.J.: I don’t think God cares about his sleeping patterns.  Hold on.  This’ll wake him up.

Shnaaaaughpheeew – whuhsthat?  Who?  Oh.  That video.  Transformers girl.  Meh, she’s ok.  For a moment I thought… never mind.

I suppose I have to review this one too, don’t I?  So tired of doing this unappreciated job… let’s get it over with, then.

The lyrics to Wake Me Up don’t make a lot of logical sense; for one, the act of waking someone up requires that the person aroused be asleep to begin with, in which state he is rather poorly disposed to grow in either age or wisdom, unless “waking up” is supposed to be some kind of trite symbolic image for discovering the meaning of life that the writers considered really insightful and novel and all that cal.  Nor do the bits about “finding oneself”, “carrying the weight of the world”, “being lost”, etc. ever achieve any real substantive import, and even if they somehow did, they would still be drowned beneath the out-of-place electronic track that follows.

Wake Me Up kind of feels like two respectable but radically different singles that a lazy, ADD-afflicted producer forced together without much care to tempering either’s extremes or adapting either’s strengths for the other.  Aloe Blacc’s voice is adequately soothing on its own with just a supporting guitar and the isolated dance beats of Avicii are perfectly passable as energetic workout-type fare, but the two never play off each other that well.  As a purely acoustic and lyrical song, Wake Me Up is fairly enjoyable by brain-dead pop standards, and as a purely synthy, instrumental song, it’s fairly tolerable by the standards of its similarly brain-dead genre.  When it stabs at being both old and new, traditional and liberal, natural and produced, it’s just kind of brain-dead.

* I don’t even listen to the airwaves that much, even to hear a select few talk radio hosts. There are around three or four stations available in quick succession on a handheld radio that I impatiently flip through as “research” for this series, and there are times when two of them are playing the exact same junk simultaneously, one being introduced by Ryan Seacrest or a fill-in and the other by hopeless Seacrest-imitator Mario Lopez.  One Direction’s Story Of My Life fired on each just a minute ago, for instance.  Oh, the pains I subject myself to for my readership.  (This is where an obligatory “I love you guys” is due.)

** Half and hour later, it just happened again with that gahforsaken Katy Perry Feat. rap song. Ack.

*** And the third channel is doing some kind of Beatles marathon.  Hashtag Overrated.  Is this what hippie easy listening sounds like, and am I really to think these guys are the best band ever?  Ha!  Maybe in a yellow submarine.

**** And guest-host Demi Lovato summed up her Neon Lights tour in one word as “AWESOME”.  A really intellectual reformed coke addict, she is.  There’s just one concert I’m looking at this year, girl, and it’s not yours.  But you all know what I’m talking about, right?  It’s not like I have to spell it out or crystallize it for you.

… What’s that, George?  Miley Cyrus “Bangerz”?  The hell… Have you even been reading this website?  Gaaaw.  What do I pay you idiots, again?  Oh right – nothing.  Well, I suppose that’s the kind of imbecilic commentary one gets for free around this joint.


  1. Author, your next move on these Files shall be to actually, literally author something, not to comment on something that some other b_____d has come up with but to stop hiding behind your giant ____ and produce something uniquely and entirely your own. If you refuse to comply, I grant you are a brave man, but I'll have to come and strangle you in your sleep. I imagine that I'm at least twice as clever as you with my witty, profanely inventive comebacks -- you can't even write a ______ short story.

    In any case, I think the Monster and Hunger Games reviews are the forgeries, firstly because you should have a lot of sympathies with the former and secondly because, hot damn! Who wouldn't want a crumpled-up, unfolding picture of Jennifer Lawrence's face to ogle all day long? Aaaaah! Oh ho ho!

    Excuse me. I have many heads to sever and people to ravish. I'll be back the sixth of April to check on your progress. Don't displease me.

  2. Maybe I should have clarified that you must also be a real person in order for me to take any of your recommendations into account. Due to the immense volume of requests we receive from actual readers, we are unable to individually acknowledge those made by fictional characters, even if their names/titles start with L and end with G per my conditional promise.

    On the other hand, I am rather fond of the mind that God has given me and would dearly like to keep it situated above my shoulders for a little longer, so I may make an exception in your case, Lannister.

  3. I think that the review of "Cant Hold us" is one of the ones done by other people, because I know that a God-loving young man can't possibly truly believe that any of those videos is the 38th best music movie you've seen. I also think that the review of "Everything is Awesome" is fake. I've never actually heard the song myself, but I know that it was in an animated movie, and that means that it has to be good. Look at all the other great songs that are featured in animated movies like Frozen, Tangled, Mulan, and all the other ones. I also think that Mr. Lannister's comment should be removed due to unrespectful conduct, and inappropriate commentary.

  4. Misty, I can identify at least five problems with your feedback. 1. After making the same error on at least three occasions leading up to this post, you still haven't caught onto the underlying challenge of the Author's Playlist series, which is to single out the reviews that I disagree with, not the ones with which you do. Moreover, you seem to have entirely overlooked the clause in the preamble which pretty explicitly denied your assumption that any of the pieces are "fake" or dishonest, including the Everything Is Awesome!!! Feat. The Lonely Island review. 2. Your inductive reasoning that said song has to be good because Frozen and Tangled also had great songs is predicated on the false premise that Everything Is Awesome was original to either of these films, which it was not, being the main single from the non-musical The Lego Movie. 3. It's also predicated on the false premise that every animated film has a soundtrack comparable to Frozen's and Tangled's, a flatly ludicrous generalization with no foundation in reality. 4. It's also predicated on the false premise that Frozen and Tangled even had a smattering of great songs to call their own, when in fact those movies have collectively featured the two worst soundtracks in the history of Disney Studios aside from maybe that Princess Frog debacle. 5. You wrongly presume that you wield the authority to dictate who comments on my website and what they comment, two decisions which are reserved exclusively to the Author. If Tyrion leaves a disrespectful and inappropriate hate note/death threat on your own website, by all means feel free to remove it, but we at the Files pride ourselves on our support of free speech and intellectual diversity, both of which compel us to open our forum to Lannister's uncouth, lascivious, and somewhat confrontational rhetoric.

  5. "Feat. No Real Instruments, Voices, Rhythm, Or Anything Else" - Not like Lindsey Stirling. Her songs are just brimming with beautiful vocals, lyrics, and real instruments. Well okay, one real instrument… and no vocals, unless you qualify that one line in "Stars Align"… What's that? Rhythm? Okay, okay, there is ONE rhythm… MORE than one rhythm? In your dreams.

  6. Heh, I like the way that you try to backpedal and qualify all your assertions immediately after making them because you know that they're so factually off-base. "That movie Gravity was so overrated. It didn't have any human actors, dialogue, good special effects, or a plot. OK, it actually had two actors for a good chunk of the run time, but they weren't very good anyway. Oh, and there was quite a bit of dialogue, but it all sucked. Come to think of it, there was a ton of special effects throughout the whole thing, but it was all CGI, so that doesn't count. And there may technically have been a plot, but it was soooooo boring – just floating around in space for four hours! I still think that movie was overrated."

    If it matters at all to you, Mr. Astic, Lindsey has in point of fact produced several songs with lyrics and is going to include a couple more on her new album coming out this May (I bet you're dying to know how I acquired such precognition). For example, there was the one in which she sang part of LOTR's When In Dreams alone against the lush hillsides of New Zealand (that was my favorite). Or the one that went, "When the daylight comes I have to go / but tonight I'm gonna hold you so close." (that was not my favorite) Or: "Dovahkiin, Dovahkiin, naal ok zin los vahriin / Wah dein vokul mahfaeraak ahst vaal!" Furthermore, why should we automatically condemn any particular composition simply for its absence of words? If it's something like club or pop music, as in the case of Animals, then lyrics are something of a given, but are we to indiscriminately dismiss Beethoven and Mozart, John Williams and Ennio Morricone simply for declining to write vocals for all of their symphonies and scores?

    But you probably don't care to be corrected on this or any of your other contentions, since you obviously aren't as hopelessly enamored of Lindsey and her art as… some other people. You haven't even bothered to address the matter of the "anything else" which I esteemed Animals to be sorely lacking and which Lindsey has in glorious abundance. Why don't you get back to that Katy Perry or Daft Punk album you were listening to before you you accidentally found this blog and save your mockery for someone truly deserving of it. Maybe if you keep lining the pockets of those real artists you'll someday blossom to become as gifted a musician and gracious a person as Lindsey Stirling is.

    HA. "In your dreams." Now there's some sarkasm for you!

    1. Ha, I like how in two of your examples Lindsey wasn't even the one singing and not even one was an original piece. They were covers of other people's work. And I must apologize for not giving Ms. Stirling the credit she deserved for all her everything else... *Laughs derisively*

    2. Well, that addresses one of my three responses to your response to my 4th contention tagged Animals. On this I have five responses and you can tag my first response as "Wrong". Wrong. If you carefully listen to the evidence from cited in my speech, you will conclude that Lindsey was obviously singing in no fewer than two of the videos I referenced as proof.

      My second response you can tag as "More". More. If I had taken the time to enumerate every single video in which Lindsey Stirling sings or accompanies someone who's singing, my reply would have been dreadfully boring at two or three times the length, would only have further confused my readers by bogging them down in extraneous details, and would have consumed all my time to make additional responses…

      … which is a good lead into my third response, "Dropped". Dropped. You have dropped both my second and third responses, which were "future album" and "lyrical condition absurd" respectively. You dropped those points, and since we are now into the rebuttals of the rebuttals and it is impossible for you to legally answer them, let the record show that these responses flow to the affirmative side.

      My fourth response is "So what?" So what? So what if these examples are secondary takes on another artist's original work? Why should that fact in any way delegitimize the achievements of Lindsey and her collaborators? Adam Levine shared the writing credits of Daylight with, LIKE, three other dudes and In Dreams wasn't even performed by the same people (Howard Shore and Fran Walsh) who wrote it. That you would derisively laugh away any musicians who might share their unique interpretations of the words is more risible than anything else. I don't suppose that you would stoop to such ridicule and spite for, say, Yo-Yo Ma, who mostly covers pieces by classical composers other than himself.

      My fifth and final response you can tag as "Credibility" and you should put a little star by this on the sheet you're using to track the debate, because it's really important and stars are symbolically indicative of importance. If you take the ratio of hours dedicated by the Author to admiring, er, researching Lindsey's work to the hours squandered by you, Mr. Astic, in being a bitter, envious, sneering jerk on the internet, I think the winner of this discussion is more than sufficiently clear.

    3. Mr. Rex, if sarcasm was the art of argument, homeschool debate would be stand-up comedy… Oh, wait.

  7. I used to be an adventurous reader like you, but then the Author took a Cupid's arrow to the knee. If I see another gushing, sycophantic love letter like the one above, I swear I'm gonna scream "FUS RO DAH!" at the top of my lungs.

    1. I tell you, I tell you, the Trey Gunn Bourne comes.

      Why don't you try exercising a little more respect for the diverse skill trees of other classes and attempt to appreciate the poetic beauty in my comments? To ask a romantic Breton Bard like myself to renounce his love songs, of which this was only a brief teaser, and epic rebuttals is akin to hoping that a spirited high-elf girl would sever her detachable point-ears. Or that an orc might give up the crutch of his teleprompter.

      But go ahead and scream if it makes you feel more masculine or whatever. Everyone knows that cry is purely aesthetic, anyway.

  8. Well, instead of arguing about some stupid violinist or another, I'd like to actually take a stab at guessing which reviews weren't the Author's. I had to read through the post about 10 times before I finally caught a pattern other than the "feat." theme. "Drunk in Love", "Dark Horse", "Just Give me a Reason", "Everything is Awesome!!!", "The Monster", "SexyBack", "Can't Hold Us", "Timber" and "Wake me up" all have strong connections to the Illuminati. It is my theory that the songs not related or connected to the Illuminati are those written by your friends and acquaintances. The fact that "Animals" isn't even truly a "feat." song gave you away too... I think that MiddleDude - with whom I am well acquainted - did the reviews for "Animals" and "Say Hey". And I also believe that Brock (what kind of stupid name is Brock anyway?) did the review for "Say Something". Nice try leaving that misleading review of Everything is Awesome, but your constant yet subtle Illuminati references gave you away in the long run. You did say that you would take recommendations from those who guessed correctly, and I wholeheartedly agree with Tyrion; you need to stop "hiding behind your giant blog and produce something uniquely and entirely your own." I don't know, write a short story, or a movie script, or something. ANYTHING!

    - Moe Ronnick
    politics & conspiracy journalist of The Com. Poste

    1. I don't think Lannister King was talking about my giant blog.

      In any case, you really must apologize to the Illuminati for insinuating that Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Pitbull, or Eminem are in any way connected to them. None of those people are remotely smart enough to be wound up in a conspiracy to institute a new world order. Nor is Katy Perry for that matter, even with all her desperate strides to feign allegiance; she's just playing us all for fools.

      Still, I applaud you for your logical process of elimination, which is more than I grant to the other 99% of those who engage in this game of wits.

    2. I really do hate to disagree with you Mr. Rex, but I do have to inform you that Jay-Z, Pitbull, Mackelmore, and just about all the other rappers are known to have strong ties to the Illuminati, and while I do agree that I don't believe Katy Perry to be a member (yet, anyway), I do believe she collaborated heavily with them on this particular song. And as a matter of fact, Ryan Lewis was spotted at an Orang County, CA Costco store just one week ago, and it is currently thought that the Illuminati are planning to begin psychological warfare - and possibly a total mind-sweep - with the citizens of Southern California. Anyway, perhaps Tyrion wasn't talking about your enormous blog, but it fit in the blank, so I just went ahead and rolled with it…

      - Moe Ronnick
      politics & conspiracy journalist of The Com. Poste

  9. For one not to see that the entire premise of this post is just a thinly veiled blog based version of the pop culture game known as 'Apples to Apples', they would have to be as blind as… a person… whose eyes stopped working.

    1. I do think you're onto something, Shirl. This Author is so exceedingly booooring, being on the side of the angels, and his article is so dreadfully ooooordinary, which just proves that all you need is a couple willing features to pull off the most impossible crime against blogging.

      Then again, I've read nothing but maggoty Divergent books for three stinking weeks, so I'll go with the side of the angels on this one.

    2. Surely you can't be serious. You don't seriously mean to imply that The Author is playing a convoluted game online game version of the card game do you? Besides, I think he's kind of cute… After all, brainy IS the new sexy. But I guess he's too into that pious violin chick.

  10. Feature reviews: Everything Is Awesome!!! and Ready Or Not. I don't know Brock myself, but I'm going to hazard that Middle Dude wrote the Lego review because his writing is gar page.

    I think I have to go with Lannister on this one. You keep picking these incredibly stupid songs that are really easy to knock down but rarely comment on anything of substance. Why don't you show us how big your brave is and review a Sara Bareilles album or all three, as I can discern from your subtitle that you are familiar with her artistry.

    ~ Diana "Di" Sarning

  11. I think it is high time you give some applause for the amazing artists in the Pop music industry. Maybe give a shout out to the brilliant minds behind the electronic and hip-hop genres also. I mean, ultimately you can do what u want coz it's your blog, but I really think you should review some more modern punk-style music.

    1. Lady G? Is that some weird kind of poker face for the Youtube Alex G? Because that's not a real name either, Lady is technically an improper noun, and I wouldn't consider that anyway as she hasn't even done a video with someone whose name starts with L and ends with G -- only videos with people who have done videos with such a person, which would make you an only mutual L_G homie if my far-out presumption is correct. But nice try, Lady G. Don't judge yourself too harshly for your real name; after all, you were just born that way, right?

      In any case, I don't think you even know what it is you mean by pop, electronic, hip-hop, or "modern punk-style" music, so it's hard for me to take your cryptic, universalist recommendation into account. Perhaps if you could be more specific and actually take a shot at identifying the features in this post I'd be more enabled to accommodate your request.


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