Yesterday’s winner: Picture E
Today I’m reviewing Tiger Tiger – an instrumental off of Seven and the Ragged Tiger. I think this might actually be the very first song that we’ve reviewed where there are absolutely no vocals of any kind, so hey – something new!
Musicality/Instrumentation: There are certain songs that give me immediate, inescapable chills, and this one is on that extremely short list for me. I simply cannot listen to this song without having them, and I can’t listen to this song without visualizing the beginning to Sing Blue Silver. (and if you’ve never seen Sing Blue Silver I want you to go to Amazon right now…right this very second in fact…and order the DVD. It’s worth the money, and every Duranie should have this in their collection. ) I love the opening – it sounds like an orchestra warming up (although I doubt that’s what it is) and then is silenced with the opening keyboard notes. That leads into the familiar notes where I see a convoy of semitrucks on the highway in my minds eye, along with hearing the beginning of the well-known keyboard melody. Now, what I truly love about this song is the soprano saxophone, played by Andy Hamilton – which certainly becomes the entire melody line for the song, backed up by synthesizer. I really appreciate that the band took the initiative to have the lead instrument in the song be the saxophone – an instrument that really is not in the actual band line-up, although to be sure it is included in a good many songs in the band catalog. Even in my youth, I grew to love Tiger Tiger on this album, likely because of the saxophone – but also because of the simplicity of the song itself. It is a head-clearing few moments for me as I listen. At 3 minutes and 19 seconds in length, the song is not incredibly long, but it flows beautifully and takes you on a short musical journey.
Vocals: No vocals here…so Simon gets a free pass…this week. 🙂
Lyrics: This song is so good it didn’t even NEED lyrics!
Overall: This song gets everything right in the way that the rest of this album falls short. The production isn’t messy, it’s not overdone – and while there is a lot going on in background tracking and melody lines, it sounds simple, yet finished. I love that there are no lyrics – because it allows the listener and the music to just BE..and on an album like Seven and the Ragged Tiger, where there is just layering upon layering, it’s really nice to have a song just take you away to a daydream. For me, the beauty in this song is it’s simplicity. Not only does it showcase the musical chops of Andy Hamilton and Nick, it also proves what Ian Little and Alex Sadkin are indeed capable of producing. By far one of the best tracks off of this album, if not *the* best track. second-to-last song, although I can see why it works there as well. I really cannot think of a single thing that could have been done to make this song better, music like this is why I became a fan in the first place.
Cocktail Rating: Five very well-deserved cocktails!
Today marks the beginning of semester finals for my oldest. She is a junior in high school this year (which means she is in 11th grade and will graduate from high school next year), and as she has been reminded over and over by various teachers and school counselors this year – this year’s grades matter most. Not at all coincidentally I am sure – this has also been the toughest year for her academically. I remember my own junior year of high school, and I don’t remember it being this stressful. Not at all. I went to school, did my work, played the football games (marching band), had a lot of fun, and my grades were fine. It was relatively easy with a few hair-raising moments in between. I wasn’t a straight A-student, but I did well, and I certainly did not burn the midnight oil while doing so.
For my daughter, and probably most high school kids these days, that would not be an accurate description of her high school experience. She has had several “almost” all-nighters, she bites her nails to the “quick” worrying about tests, essays, etc. She is involved on campus in the theater company for the high school – and the teacher who is the director of the company openly tells them that he “owns” them until June. He did not give them time off to study for finals (they practice every day from 2:30 to 4:50 pm), and it’s openly known policy that they don’t dare miss a single rehearsal for any reason, at any time. So they don’t. In the meantime, the kids struggle to keep their grades above water, and like every other high school in America, they’re told that they MUST take AP (Advanced Placement) courses in order to even be considered for college. Those courses are tough, even for me as an adult – and I certainly don’t have a zillion other extracurriculars going on. The pressure is enormous. There isn’t even time left to search for colleges, much less decide where to visit and apply, which is why she has left the initial search for me so that she has less to weed out later.
As a parent, there are two sides to this nightmare. (and really, should it BE a nightmare? This is supposed to be FUN for her!) On one hand, I push my daughter to do well. I know that in order to get into college AND get precious scholarship money (that we need) for her to be able to attend without taking out several hundred thousand dollars in loans (I wish I were kidding) – she has to have outstanding grades. She is not a straight A student – and to even keep the 3.7 she has currently, it is almost impossible. It just doesn’t come naturally to her as it may for others. I see many of my mom-friends talk about their 4.0+ kids and how they’ve gotten into prestigious schools with full scholarships, and I just wince…the peer-pressure alone is enough to break someone. On the other hand, I have started really asking myself if it’s all REALLY worth it. I mean, do I really want my daughter to stress herself out to the point of having anxiety issues all because she wants to go to college? Is it really worth it? What happened to working hard, doing well and keeping it all healthy? What happened to enjoying life? Are we losing sight of what it all really means to live without burn-out by 25?
This brings me, of course, to the band. I know I’m not the only fan who has read more than one interview from them as they looked back on their time at the top of the charts. As successful as they were, there was enormous pressure to continue that success and keep going. I don’t think the band would disagree with me when I say that I’ll bet at one point or another, the whole process stopped being about creating music they really loved and enjoyed and started being about topping whatever they had done last. It is a vicious cycle – kind of like the roundabout that doesn’t stop, huh?
As a mom, I continually fight the urge to lecture her about grades and buckling down (this semester has really been bad for her, and I think we’re about to see a big dip in the GPA – grade point average – as a result), knowing that somewhere out there, resides a school that would love to have my daughter. Not just because she’s a good student (which she is), but because she is vibrant, vivacious, smart, a natural leader, incredibly talented, and would be a great fit for that particular school environment. I hope that I won’t be serving mac & cheese to my family for the next seven + years as we pay for that great college experience, too…. I think it’s safe to say that she probably won’t be attending Harvard or Yale, but instead a much smaller school – and likely one not many may recognize in name. (Just yesterday I came across a small college called Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. That was a new one on me!) It will be the right place for her to grow and mature, and the experience she receives will take her much farther than having a prestigious name printed on her diploma ever could. If I could only keep reminding myself that in the coming months….
I hope the band feels the same about DD14: they’re fighting that pressure and the urge to try that “magical formula” (not that one actually exists, of course) for instant hits, hoping to outdo everything they’ve accomplished prior; but instead they are writing from the heart and soul, knowing that authenticity counts for so much more. I really believe that if they love what they’ve written: it comes through in the music, and the fans follow.
I haven’t blogged about Direct to Fan marketing lately since the band is still in the studio (quiet as can be)…but I ran across something today in my mail that intrigued me enough to throw it out here on the blog, just in case anyone is reading!
We all watch videos on YouTube. In this day and age, I don’t really see how one can escape YouTube – we go there to listen to songs, see clips from various shows and TV, and yes, even the occasional music video. There’s a whole royalty payout system that goes on (or doesn’t go on, depending upon who you talk to), over there that I don’t really understand the full mechanics of – but in any case, it prompted a few folks to come up with a platform they call Audiam. Ultimately, Audiam seeks to help artists receive royalties from YouTube, as well as introduce new methods for exposure.
One such way they want to increase exposure for bands is by having the band encourage fans to take their music and create their own videos. The way it works is the band chooses one song and tells their fan base to make videos for it. That seems, well…like something that has been done before, but what’s different is that this time, the fan gets paid. *blinks* Wait a second, why on earth would a band want their fans to get paid for using THEIR music?!? Good question.
Here’s the scenario: Duran Duran comes out with their new album. They want videos for their music – so maybe the band decides to do a video of one of their songs, but there’s another song that they’d really love to use in order to gain more exposure. So they announce that they want fans to create their own video to the song. Granted, fans are going to get paid for these videos being viewed, but for the band – it’s about exposure. Maybe 10 fans who wouldn’t normally use Duran’s music decide that they want to create a video. They each upload that video and it gets viewed 1000 times. That’s 10,000 views the band didn’t have before, and if the band does it right, they can even have the fans direct viewers back to the original piece of music or another video of theirs from the fan-made video. It’s about numbers, and it’s very similar to doing an ad-campaign. For free.
The band has done a similar thing before when they did the Genero video contest for AYNIN, and TV Mania even allowed fans to create franchises and then submit videos and music in a contest. (Hey, did that contest ever end?!) This is simply another version of the same sort of promotion, once again creating a sort of “We’re all in this together” feel.
While I’m not at all sure of the economic viability in such a platform – for the artists or the company itself, it does seem that more and more these days, fans are being put in the drivers seat as opposed to being the passive passenger…or purchaser. There are still any number of annoying obstacles in the way for bands these days, as they stumble to figure out how to use many of these new platforms to benefit their bottom line and increase their exposure. I don’t envy those who make their living trying to figure out the answer to getting paid (from streaming, YouTube, etc.) or learning how to maximize the possible benefits to social networking. I see enough on SEO as it is – being told that we need links everywhere and so forth. My personal opinion is that while all of this is fine and good, the personal connection has to be there. People are far more willing to go out of their way for people/bands they like and who they feel respect them in return. The ONE thing I learned in sales was that people buy from people that they know, like and trust. It is just not possible for one band to know every single one of their fans…but they can certainly put themselves out there to try once in a while. It’s a good system for the people who are smart enough and sincere enough to put the time in to make it work.
I didn’t watch the Grammy’s last night. I realize that for most of you, this is probably not groundbreaking news. Maybe you stopped watching after Nick was there presenting an award in what…1986 or so? For me, I was hardcore. I watched all of those cheesy damn award shows every single year, cringing through much of it, but insisting that I had to keep trying. I kept that up right through 2013, up until Miley did her deal at the VMA’s. Something else happened that night though, something far less visible, far more subtle…and probably a lot less important to everyone in the world but me. I stopped caring.
There is a part of me that would like to kick myself this morning, because out of all the years to stop caring – this doesn’t seem like it should have been the year. I actually tolerate Macklemore…sort of. (for me, this is a miracle, as I am not a fan of Rap or Hip-Hop) I really enjoy Daft Punk. (Enjoy is probably not the right word – Nile is amazing and without him, they’d likely just be a gimmick. You can’t help but hear his wonderful influence all over that album, which is why I love it so.) I love Lorde – she reminds me a little bit of the teenager that lurked within (me) back in the 80s, and I think her music has integrity – something that tends to lack these days. And, I did miss seeing Ringo and Paul onstage together – even though they didn’t perform a Beatles song, instead doing a song off of McCartney’s latest album. That said, I’m glad I didn’t sit around to watch Madonna continue her attempt at keeping up with the “younguns” and staying cool – that ship sailed a few years ago, and now it’s just getting sad. I didn’t need to see Beyoncé and Jay Z – quite frankly they bore the hell out of me, no matter what the rest of the world says.
The only question I’m really asking myself this morning is why I stopped caring. I’ve always loved music. Still do. I think though, I got tired of watching the dog and pony show. I miss the days when talent spoke louder than gimmick, when the music made the hair on the back of my neck stand up or when I’d get goosebumps from something I heard. Maybe though, those days only existed in my head. I suppose gimmick has always played it’s part – but the question is whether or not gimmick outweighed the music or the message. I find myself looking for the music that’s off-the-beaten-path nowadays. I’m much more apt to buy the music I can’t hear on the radio than I am to buy songs that I hear every time I get into the car. I like supporting the little-known, the obscure, the new. There is absolutely nothing like the feeling when I hear music that speaks to me – the hair stands up on end, the goosebumps still wash over me, and I feel like I’m being taken on an escape.
So perhaps it isn’t that I’ve stopped caring, perhaps its just that right now I want more than the spectacle or the show. I want something to savor, to contemplate. It doesn’t have to always be that way. Sometimes fast food works, and other times, I want the well-thought out, slow-cooked gourmet.
Of course, it wouldn’t hurt much if Duran Duran happened to hit an award show one of these days, either!
Last year, I wanted to take the time to showcase different means of expressing fandom outside of what Rhonda and I do or are super familiar with. To that end, I asked for volunteers to complete a questionnaire to tell all of us how s/he expresses fandom. I have posted some questionnaires from fan artists, fans in tribute bands, fans in other fandoms, fans who have webpages about Duran and more. Today, I take the time to show Joel, a collector and Facebook using Duranie!
How do you express your fandom? Art, Fic, Remixes, Webpage, Message Boards, Facebook group, etc?
Describe exactly what it is that you do.
Probably like a lot of people I reply to posts and comments, post pictures and videos. Sometimes, I will post Duran Duran stuff on my Facebook page, but that’s it, really. I do not use Twitter, run any pages or fan groups, or have a personal blogs, either.
Why did you choice this means of expressing your fandom?
Facebook is easy and fast. It is the best way to communicate with fans worldwide.
Tell me your fandom story. When did you become a fan? What drew you to Duran Duran?
How else do you participate in the fandom? Attend shows, meetups, conventions? Discuss the band on message boards, facebook, twitter?
Now, I’d say I participate by networking via Facebook, youtube, and the message board. Then, it was by being penpals with lots of people, writing articles in fanzines…I wish there were fan conventions closer to home. I haven’t attended any conventions or meet-ups yet.
What has the reaction been to your expression of fandom? What do you people think of your work?
Well, I’m a Duran Duran collector. Fans react well to the pictures I post of the stuff I buy. Otherwise, in real life, I keep it pretty low key. I, sometimes, wear Duran t shirts at work or at home, but that’s it. My full-on fanboy self comes out when I go to the shows, or related events like John Taylor’s book signing.
Do you use your means of expression outside of fandom?
Can you share something that you are most proud of?
Hmm…it could be my Duran Duran photos I personally took at shows or my Duran autographs. It could be some of the rare t-shirts, magazines, and books I have collected over the years