Is Selling CDs Selling Out?

The topic of “selling out” has always been a controversial one in the music industry, but it’s never been clearly defined. What does selling out really mean?

At its root, “selling out” is so loathed because it incurs a feeling of betrayal in the fans. In every case I can think of, an artist that’s accused of selling out is changing their sound from something more obscure to a sound that is more widely accepted, which leaves the original fans feeling unappreciated. Fans will accuse the artist of only caring about money, and not the music or integrity.

So is that selling out? Going over to pop music in order to sell more CDs? What if Katy Perry released an alternative folk album tomorrow — would she be a sell-out because she ditched her original genre? Fans certainly accused Liz Phair of selling out when she switched genres in the opposite direction.

And what if Muse, a rock band known for its instrumental experimentation, released an acoustic album with a folksy feel? Would they be sell-outs in the same way that the public said Bob Dylan was in the 1960s for picking up an electric guitar?

Although fans will claim that selling out is something that is wrong with the artist, I think that it’s actually something wrong in the fans. The problem is a sort of “hipster effect,” which makes the fans of a relatively unknown artist feel special to be part of the exclusive fandom. So when the artist becomes more well-known, the fans will feel less special.

I’m not saying that the fans of a “sell-out” artist should just deal with it. Of course it sucks when you can’t rely on getting the music you love from your favorite musician, but any feelings of betrayal are totally unwarranted. The artist has no obligation to be making the same style of music for the rest of their careers, and even if a genre switch is motivated by money, it’s their decision. The good news is that, almost always, an artist will return to his or her roots and put out some music in or influenced by the genre he or she is drawn to.

Advertisements

Netflix Dumps: A TV Addict’s Nightmare

In just a few short hours, “Orange Is the New Black” is releasing its second season on Netflix. And when I say that its releasing a season, I mean it. The entire second season of OITNB will be online at midnight tonight (6/6/2014), and the dedicated fans will commence their binge-watching right then.

While this may seem like a TV addict’s dream — no weeklong waiting periods between episodes, quick cliffhanger resolutions, immediate gratification — it’s my nightmare! I’ve already experienced this “Netflix Dump” style of release with season 4 of “Arrested Development” and season 2 of “House of Cards,” and both of those nights were some of the most overwhelming of my TV life.

The problem, put simply, is that it’s just too much! Giving me 14 or so episodes of a show I’m obsessed with (as I am with all 3 of these examples) at one time is like giving a recovering smoker with lung disease a Cuban cigar instead of her usual nicotine patch — I’m overjoyed but I’ll probably die.

What makes the Netflix Dump extra overwhelming is social media. It’s the feeling that if you want to avoid spoilers, you’re going to have to get through this season as fast as you can. Sleeping!? Forget about it! You’re only 3 episodes away from the finale! And it’s not just spoiler avoidance that make social media such a daunting force in this method — it’s also a need to participate. Sometimes the best part about watching an episode of your favorite show is to post about it online. If you see your friends tweeting back and forth about that thing that happened on episode 10 and your still on episode 5, you better believe you’re going to drop all your plans to get there and tweet back at them.

This also adds a “challenge” aspect to the Netflix Dump. As if finishing the season is a race, so that you can be sure that you’re the first to know all about it. The worst part is that it’s a race you didn’t sign up for, but feel forced into. And it makes you feel bad if you stop watching before you finish the season.

Finally, although tweeting and posting and blogging are some of the main reasons you probably want to rush through the new season, in the end it leaves you with only a few things to talk about. With weekly shows, you’re forced to take the 20 or 40 minute episode you’re given and have that sustain you all week. You dissect small lines, analyze expressions, and maybe read episode recaps that various media outlets post weekly. But you aren’t forced to stop between episodes of a season that’s been Netflix Dumped. You blaze right through and if you talk to someone else who’s seen the whole thing, you’ll probably talk about 5 or so big things that happened in the season, rather than in each episode. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I feel like I’m missing something (a lot of things) because of this.

Of course, this isn’t to say that I’m going to be waiting a week between each new OITNB episode — I don’t have the self-control for that. I’ll be binging on Piper’s delicious drama just like everyone else, but I’ll be wishing I was waiting between bites.

The 9 Types Of Pregames

Drinking is a lot like painting. It can be fun, but it’s also work — and there are rules. For both painting and drinking, the most important rule is that you need a good base coat. In order to be sure that your night out will be a success, you’ve got to prime it with a pregame.

For as long as there’s been drinking, there’s been pregaming. It’s an age-old ritual that is just as important as the actual “gaming” drinking itself. Actually, it’s more important, because the specific route you take from sober city to tipsy town will determine how the rest of your night plays out. Let’s take a look at the various types of pregames:

 

The Pre Party (FBO Pre)

The Pre Party is pretty much the assumed version when a pregame is mentioned. These are planned events in which a group of invited guests will gather to pregame a later event. While these lean to the formal end of pregame culture since invitations and BYOB are usually in play, there is a lot or variation in The Pre Party. For instance, uninvited friends of friends are a common — if not always welcome — occurrence, and drink sharing etiquette will vary usually based on who is hosting the pregame. The main characteristic of The Pre Party is that it is an event in itself, rather than just the thing that happens before an event, as it can often include music and games. A popular subset of The Pre Party is the FBO Pre (Facebook Official Pre, in case you don’t get common acronyms), which takes the event to the digital realm and solidifies its event-ness.

Restaurant Pre

The classiest of all pregames is the Restaurant Pre. These involve going out to a restaurant or bar before a planned event for your drinking needs. Since this is an expensive option, most would not get more than a little buzzed off a Restaurant Pre, and they mostly occur in conjunction with a meal anyway.

Power Hour

Like The Pre Party, the Power Hour is a planned and respected pregaming event. But the Power Hour differs from The Pre Party in that it is a highly structured and rule-based occasion. The rules differ based on the type of Power Hour being utilized, but usually a group will either consume a shot of beer each minute for an hour or consume 21 shots of alcohol before the hour is up. Either way the objective is the same: to be so shitfaced that you won’t need to pay for drinks later on. Power Hours are for those who are serious about their drinking and want to do away with the idle chitchat that usually comes along with The Pre Party.

Tailgate

A time-honored American tradition, the Tailgate is nearly always a pregame that is associated with large amounts of food, strangers, and sports. Usually held in large parking lots or clearings of grass, cars from all over congregate to play cornhole, grill burgers, and get wasted before a much-anticipated sporting event. The combination of openness, excitement, drunkenness also lends most strangers to be very sharing with their food and drink, although you should always be sure you have a home base.

Pre The Pre

Besides being one of the most beloved phrases in my vocabulary, Pre The Pre is the best way to ensure that you attain the level of drunkenness that you want to be at without relying on a more formal pregame. As the name suggests, the core concept of Pre The Pre comes from actively drinking before attending a pregame. Pre The Pres can come in forms as varied as planned Pre The Pre gatherings, to simply drinking alone moments before going to a pregame.

Precret

Many times paired with a Pre The Pre, the Precret is a pregame that isn’t told to a larger group. Sometimes, this is one person drinking alone and not telling others, but it can also be utilized by a small group. Precrets, much like secrets, never work in large groups — they simply become a Pre Party or a Pre The Pre party. Usually, the motivation behind a precret is to avoid either veiled or explicit judgement from preachy acquaintances witnessing you drink a large amount of alcohol. Another motivation for a Precret arises from its pairing with Primer Shots.

Primer Shots

Primer Shots is basically someones attempt to squeeze an entire pregame into a 5 minute period in order to give them either courage or numbness for an impending situation that is less than favorable. In this case, the “game” you are pre-ing us something you desperately want to avoid but can’t. Whether it’s anticipating seeing someone you can’t stand, talking yourself into attending a career fair, or even being forced into a seeing a move you aren’t excited about, Primer Shots are meant to make the cringe-worthy moments into fun ones, or at least just cringe-worthy seconds.

Wasted Pre

The Wasted Pre cannot technically be called a pregame since there is never really a “game.” The name comes from the usual reason for this pre, which is that you or someone in your group got too wasted and now you can’t go out. It also refers to the fact that all the drinking you’ve done at the pre is wasted. The Wasted Pre could also arise from adverse weather conditions, an unexpected cancellation, or simply a change of heart.

Unintentional Pre

The final type of pregame is the most bizarre: The Unintentional Pre. Many times, this will occur after you’ve been drinking for a bit while sitting down, and then stand up to realize you’re drunker than you thought. Or it could arise in the form of a Restaurant Pre that you didn’t know was happening when you sat down to your first Applebees Ultimate Long Island Iced Tea. It can really sneak up on you in several different ways, and the end result is a need to cultivate and utilize this newly recognized drunkenness.

SONY DSC

Lindsay Lohan: Next Album Predictions!

Lindsay Lohan has made a name for herself as an actress, yes, and as a tabloid fixture, no doubt, but what her fans really love her for is her teasingly short music career. At the height of her career in 2004 (AKA the Year Of Lindsay), Lohan released one of the most groundbreaking and relevant albums ever: Speak. The simply titled collection showcased what the world already knew from her musical roles in “Freaky Friday” and “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” — that Lohan was a sonic genius. Her follow-up next year “A Little More Personal (Raw)” displayed Lohan’s more emotional and lyrical side.

Sadly, it has been nearly 10 years since we have heard new music from Lindsay, but a return to the recording studio is never out of the question. In a recent interview on “Ellen,” Lohan emphasized how important music was to her life and career. Could this be her dropping hints of a new album? We think the singular vague statement is a clear sign of a definite YES! And with a very tumultuous and life-altering decade between her last foray into singing and now, we have to wonder what style she will be drawn towards. Here are some possibilities as we see them:

 

Pop

The obvious choice. LiLo has proven her pop chops time and again in both of her previous albums. It would be no shock to discover that she returned to the familiar genre for a third studio album.

pop600600

Reggae

It may seem far-fetched to imagine Lindsay crooning to the island beats, but it’s not too bizarre once you break it down. Lohan is already known for breaking down racial stereotypes thanks to her role as a white girl from Africa in “Mean Girls,” plus her love for Mary J has been heralded time and again in the news. Reggae seems like the perfect way to translate her lifestyle into music.

Reggae

Alternative Folk

Don’t forget about her lesbian phase!

folk

Grunge

The ginger goddess is already known for her characteristically raspy voice, and she also learned to play guitar for her role as a punk rocker in “Freaky Friday.” Pair those two attributes with all of the shit she’s been through in her life that she can sing — who can forget “Confessions of a Broken Heart (Daughter to Father)” — and you’ve got yourself a grunge resurgence with Lohan at the forefront!

grunge

Family

LiLo’s family is already famous from tabloids and the iconic reality show “Living Lohan,” so why not capitalize on it and form a family band á la the Partidge Family? Sister Ali has already showcased her singing ability in the timeless Christmas album “Lohan Holiday,” and apparently mother Dina used to be a singer according to Wikipedia. It might also be a great way for Lindsay to happily resolve things with her antagonistic father Michael.

family

Traditional Americana

It’s an unexpected choice, but so was “The Canyons!” Lohan is nothing if not a patriot, and she has already shown she has the skill to command traditional ditties from her role in the “Prairie Home Companion” movie. Plus, the genre could be great PR for her bad girl reputation — what’s more squeaky-clean than “Yankee Doodle Dandy?”

lindsay_lohan_red_outfit

Music Swap: You Like This? Try This!

Sure, you love that band or singer more than life itself and you gobble up their music like movie theater popcorn. But popcorn get stale, and after a while, so do your favorite songs. But never fear — you don’t necessarily need to wallow in jam-deprived replays until your fave comes out with new music. Instead, you can check out some lesser-known singers with a similar sound and get back to your belting choruses and awkward dancing!


You like: Robyn

Try: Betty Who

If you fell in love with Robyn, the Swedish pixie that got the world to dance, then you are definitely not alone. The pop star scored a massive hit with “Dancing On My Own,” but has been relatively quiet recently. Thankfully, Betty Who is here to fill Robyn’s shoes as we wait for her comeback. The Australian singer-songwriter has come out recently with big dance tunes that you can’t help but dance to.

 

You like: Lady Gaga

Try: Natalia Kills

“Artpop” was released almost a year ago, which is more than enough time for Gaga’s fans to grow antsy for new synth-pop anthems. But the “little monsters” don’t have to look too far for their artsy pop fix, as a Gaga-esque singer actually shares her label. Natalia Kills has been a part of the various Interscope imprints since the mid-2000s, and has been churning out dark pop gems for years. Gaga fans with a penchant for her insanely imaginative videos will also love Kills’ stylish and artsy music videos.

 

You like: The Black Keys

Try: Reignwolf

The Black Keys have been rocking fans with their up-tempo bluesy hits for a while now, and newcomer Reignwolf is hoping to do the same. His most popular track “Are You Satisfied?” sounds like something right off of a Black Keys album!

 

You like: Sugarland

Try: Lucy Hale

Yup, that’s the girl from “Pretty Little Liars.” Shockingly, Lucy Hale is also a sweet-sounding country singer! Fans of Jennifer Nettles’ sunny twang will fall in love Hale’s all-American sound.

 

You like: P!nk

Try: Fefe Dobson

P!nk’s aggressive pop-rock songs have had fans screaming along for years now, and Fefe Dobson has been giving her smaller number of fans some similar-sounding songs for almost as long. Despite 3 albums worth of radio-ready pop-rock, Dobson has yet to really break into the mainstream.

 

You like: Karmin

Try: Holychild

Fans of the pop duo Karmin are sure to love Holychild: another rising pop duo that specialize in what they refer to as “brat pop.” Lead singer Liz Nistico’s high, chanting voice is perfectly punctuated by Louis Diller’s percussive staccato beats. You’ll be singing along in no time!

Why “Girl Meets World” Will Probably Fail

Cory and Topanga, the absolute paragon of television love, are back as parents in the new spinoff show Girl Meets World. Unfortunately, we still don’t know very much about show, but a newly released trailer does give us what is probably a fairly representative first look:

Fans of the original Boy Meets World probably feel pretty conflicted after seeing this trailer. On the one hand, viewers rejoice that they will be reunited with characters they grew up with — and other BMW favorites have signed on to reprise their popular roles (Rider Strong’s Shawn, Corey Fogelmanis’ Minkus, and William Daniels’ Mr. Feeny). On the other hand, the show seems to be a far cry from the comedic but poignant trials and tribulations of growing up. Filled with bright colors, heavy-handed moralisms, and the weird layered and glittery style choices for young girls that Disney Channel always has for some reason, the trailer seems to threaten just another cookie-cutter show for Disney. In fact, if it weren’t for Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel’s famous roles, I wouldn’t be able to tell this scene apart from the blur of neon colors and chirping pre-teen overacting that populate the channel.

Girl Meets World is doomed to failure because it is forced to cater to two different demographics. Consider it’s options: Either the show could appeal to Disney Channel’s very young viewers by focusing on the “girl” Riley and show how she relates to friends and classmates as almost every other show on the network has done, or the show can try to cater to the older BMS fans by focusing on the middle-aged characters that are the sole reason a twenty-something would be tuning in to the Disney Channel anyway.

Both paths lead to cancellation: Losing the youth means that less of the network’s target demo will be tuning in and that means they will likely be switching to a competitor, like Nickelodeon. But making the show appeal to kids like any other Disney show won’t work either, as the show’s “hook” is that it appeals to BMS fans. Disney Channel has found that they can churn out the same story lines for all their shows by adding in only one nuanced “hook” to the show’s premise — such as Hannah Montana‘s secret life of fame, Wizards of Waverly Place‘s magic, and so on. These shows each have similar episodes, but are slightly varied so that audiences won’t be bored and writes can be lazier. Since Girl Meets World‘s “hook” is based on it’s appeal to an older crowd, the show won’t provide enough exciting variance from the rest of the channel for the regular young viewers unless it makes that its focus.

In the end, I could easily see how the show could appeal to loyal Boy Meets World fans and I could also see how it could appeal to kids and teens who have never seen an episode of Boy Meets World, but the fact is that it needs to do both. While I have the utmost of faith and love for all things Boy Meets World, this spinoff is going to have a lot of work to do to avoid a swift cancellation.

rs_1024x759-140402093641-1024

The 4 Biggest Ways “Divergent” Diverged From The Book

DISCLAIMER: This should be pretty obvious, but this post will contain spoilers from both the movie and book “Divergent.” I will only be discussing the first book in the series, which the movie is based on.

1368631178_tris-knife-throwing

Having finished the three-book “Divergent” series just a week before the first movie was set to premiere, I had grown ravenous for a visual depiction of the factioned future Chicago that could go along with the made-up one that was taking over my mind. What was the choosing ceremony going to be like? How will Caleb be portrayed? What will Dauntless headquarters look like? These questions and more flooded my mind as I entered the theater and I prayed that what I was about to see would be an accurate portrayal of the exhilarating and emotional journey that had kept me flipping the pages of a young adult book for hours on end.

Overall, I was not disappointed. Shailene Woodley perfectly portrayed Tris’s struggle to be selfless and brave, and Theo James (although considerably older than his character) managed to embody the brooding Four to a tee. The supporting roles were mostly well-cast too, particularly the perfectly steely Kate Winslet as villainess Jeanine Matthews and Ashley Judd who seamlessly transitioned from loving mom to kick-ass soldier in seconds flat as Natalie Prior. I also loved the setting and costuming, which presented the world of the book earnestly. What the film really excelled at — and probably what most fans assumed it would excel at — was the depiction of the mind-altering simulations that confront individuals with their biggest fears in quick succession.

However, as much as I enjoyed the film, there were a number of points I noticed in the movie that were different from the book, and not in favorable ways. Of course I understand that the movie had to make cuts to make the film a reasonable length and get the PG-13 rating that would allow their target demographic to actually attend, but a few decisions still strike me as bizarre.

 

1. Peter was too likable.

Image

In the book, Peter is the scum of the earth, and the reader can’t help but despise him for the whole process. I mean, he has been tormenting Tris since the first moment he set eyes on her and plotting ways to get her kicked out of Dauntless — even going so far as to kidnap and attempt to murder her! So why the hell did they cast Miles Teller, who literally only plays the most likable characters in the universe (see: “Footloose” and “The Spectacular Now”)!? Of course, Teller brings charm and humor to Peter that is never present in the books. In the end, audiences find themselves liking Peter and even laugh along when he tells Tris to “put it back on” after she removes her jacket for the first time. In the books, Peter is only supposed to be funny to his group of violent and immoral friends as he mercilessly ridicules Tris, so why are we laughing along with him in the theaters? Maybe if the film had added the scene where Peter stabs out another initiate’s eye in order to move up the ranks we might kind of hate the lovable Miles Teller. Just maybe.

Along the lines of bizarre casting choices, why did I watch a preview for a film where Tris and her brother Caleb are making out just 5 minutes before “Divegent” began? Oh right, because someone had the brilliant idea to cast Woodley and Ansel Elgort as carefree young lovers in “The Fault in Our Stars” and also as complicated siblings in “Divergent.” Besides this little bit of creep factor, though, Elgort was great in his role.

Finally, the film also presents Eric as a bit more forgiving than book-Eric would be, I think. Let me first get out of my system how much film-Eric looked like Macklemore trying to join a biker gang. Okay good, let’s move on. In the scene where Tris finds out she has been kicked out of Dauntless but decides to hop the train and join the activities anyway — which is not in the book — Eric allows her to stay and even seems to admire her ambition. I couldn’t imagine book-Eric ever allowing her on that train if he kicked her out.

 

2. Wistina was not explicitly stated.

Image

While not really a part of the main plot, the development and fulfillment or Will and Christina’s relationship is one of the most joyful, and then later heartbreaking, arcs of the book. The film points to their relationship a bit by showing them smile at each other more and actually embrace in the corner of the screen during their final scene together, but these subtle clues are not enough to let the non-readers know they are an item. And while Tris having to shoot Will was definitely emotional in the movie, it was not nearly as traumatic as it could have been if we knew that he was not only her good friend, but also her best friend’s boyfriend.

On a similar subject, Al’s affection towards Tris was never mentioned in the film either. That layer of unrequited love made his suicide much more emotional in the book than in the move, although it was still very shocking and sad.

 

3. Jeanine and the Erudite were present during the final fight scene.

four-divergent-clip-jeanine-tris

The biggest deviation from the book is centered around the final scene. In the book, Tris must fight a brain-controlled Tobias in order to turn off the simulation, and she succeeds by ceasing to fight him and trusting him to shake the simulation off in the name of their love. Once he does, he turns off the simulation and the pair makes their escape.

In the movie, it’s no longer just Tobias and Tris in the control room. Instead, a few dozen Erudite scientists and Jeanine Matthews herself are present to run the simulation. So when Tobias gets his clear head back, they don’t have a clean getaway. Instead, Tris and Tobias massacre the scientists and use the simulation serum on Jeanine to force her to turn off the simulation. It’s pretty obvious that this new ending was invented to add some more action and give Kate Winslet some more screen-time, but it kind of intrudes on the central relationship in my opinion.

 

4. Tris’s fear of intimacy became a scene of sexual assault.

TRIGGER WARNING: This section discusses rape and sexual assault.

divergent-tris-and-tobias

This change is pretty complicated to talk about. I think most readers will agree that when they were reading through Tris’s fear landscape, they didn’t quite imagine the scene that James and Woodley acted out on the big screen. In the book, Tobias begins kissing and undressing Tris, but it is never described as aggressive or antagonistic. Rather Tris realizes she has a fear of intimacy and affection and has to tell Tobias to stop because she isn’t ready for that level of intimacy yet. However, the movie portrays this scene as Tobias attempting to rape Tris, as he forcefully pins her down and thrusts himself onto her as she screams her objections. Movie-Tris manages to stop him by fighting back physically.

On one hand, the movie version does a good job of showing a female character with agency successfully fight off unwanted sexual assault. This is an important message for many girls, who may think that they have no power or agency during a rape. Although I also want to make the explicit point that a girl (or boy for that matter) is not to blame for a rape just because she or he did not fight back — the blame falls squarely on the rapist that initiated the heinous act. With that caveat in mind, this scene did a good job of showing girls that they can and should fight back in that situation.

On the other hand, the very sudden scene can be traumatic for some viewers and is also not at all necessary. The film seems to confuse Tris’s fear of intimacy with a fear of sexual assault, which are two very different things. Rather than portray Tris as a girl who is afraid to be close to another person, the film probably decided throwing in a rape scene would be more flashy and interesting.

 

Despite the length of my criticisms, I was mostly impressed with the film adaptation and look forward to the sequels.