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kottke.org posts about music

Coldplay’s Tiny Desk Concert

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 27, 2020

Maybe I’m gonna get some guff for this, but I believe that Coldplay is an underrated band. Oh sure they’re popular, but they are also good, better than their reputation suggests. Brian Eno doesn’t work with just anyone after all. Their recent Tiny Desk Concert at NPR bears this out. Backed by a fantastic nine-person choir (who previously performed with the band at a prison-reform benefit), Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and guitarist Jonny Buckland joyously perform a few of their songs (like Viva La Vida and Champion Of The World) as well as a rousing cover of Prince’s 1999.

Iconic Art & Design Reimagined for the Social Distancing Era

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2020

While it predates the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying social distancing by several years, José Manuel Ballester’s Concealed Spaces project reimagines iconic works of art without the people in them (like what’s happening to our public spaces right now). No one showed up for Leonardo’s Last Supper:

Corona Art Design Reimagined

Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights is perhaps just as delightful without people:

Corona Art Design Reimagined

And Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus has been rescheduled:

Corona Art Design Reimagined

Ben Greenman, Andy Baio, and Paco Conde & Roberto Fernandez have some suggestions for new album covers:

Corona Art Design Reimagined
Corona Art Design Reimagined
Corona Art Design Reimagined

Designer Jure Tovrljan redesigned some company logos for these coronavirus times.

Corona Art Design Reimagined

Corona Art Design Reimagined

Corona Art Design Reimagined

Coca-Cola even modified their own logo on a Times Square billboard to put some distance between the letters.

Corona Art Design Reimagined

(via colossal & fast company)

Update: Some emoji designed specifically for COVID-19. The Earth with the pause button is my favorite. (via sidebar)

Italy Sings Together During Coronavirus Lockdown

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2020

People under quarantine lockdown in Italy due to the country’s COVID-19 outbreak have been singing and playing music out their windows and on their balconies to keep their spirits up while social distancing.

Here’s a Twitter thread with more videos from Salerno, Turin, Naples, Siena, Florence, etc.

No matter how much fear and panic and anxiety and negativity are on display during a crisis, it also brings out the best in people. Humans are social animals and we can’t help sharing with our neighbors, comforting one another, and coming together even when we’re physically apart.

Pandemic Advice from Wu Tang Clan

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2020

Wu Tang Covid-19

A message from Wu Tang Clan on Instagram about what to do about the COVID-19 pandemic. This is better guidance than we’re getting from the executive branch of our government. (via maria konnikova)

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 13, 2020

Most humans have been washing their hands since childhood, but I bet very few of us have been doing it correctly. Because of the effectiveness of hand-washing with soap in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the CDC and the WHO (and health professionals everywhere) both make it their top recommendation and provide guidance on how to do it properly: CDC hand-washing instructions, WHO hand-washing instructions.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

Here’s a video from the WHO on proper hand-washing technique (and a similar one from Johns Hopkins that has subtitles):

And a graphic from the WHO:

Wash Hands Instructions

And if you’re getting sick of singing Happy Birthday while washing your hands, a site called Wash Your Lyrics can help you make a hand-washing infographic with your favorite song’s lyrics.

A Joyful Flash Mob Plays Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 12, 2020

This is an oldie but a goodie. Watch as a single busking bass player grows into the Vallès Symphony Orchestra and a pair of choirs to perform a rousing rendition of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (Ode to Joy) in front of a delighted crowd. (via @victoriamia)

The Long Goodbye

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 09, 2020

British rapper and actor Riz Ahmed released an album last week called The Long Goodbye. It’s a breakup album with a twist — Ahmed is not breaking up with a partner but with a racist, post-Brexit Britain. A Guardian review describes it as “a conceptual work based around the idea that British Asians are locked in an abusive relationship with the UK and that the rising tide of racism spawned by Brexit might represent the moment at which they’ve finally been dumped”.

To accompany the album, Ahmed collaborated with director Aneil Karia to make a short film (embedded above). It starts out with a typical British domestic scene but after a few minutes, it becomes something else entirely. Be warned: this film is quite intense & dystopian. (via dunstan)

Hear How Choral Music Sounded in the Hagia Sophia More Than 500 Years Ago

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 06, 2020

When the Ottomans invaded and conquered Constantinople in 1453, the Orthodox Christian church Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque. As a result, the Christian choral music that had reverberated in this acoustical masterpiece for centuries was not allowed. But thanks to a digital filter developed by a pair of Stanford researchers, one an art historian (Bissera Pentcheva) and the other an acoustics expert (Jonathan Abel), we are now able to hear what a choir might have sounded like in the Hagia Sophia before the mid 15th century.

When they met, Pentcheva started telling Abel about the Hagia Sophia — how we couldn’t really understand the experience of worshipers there unless we could hear the music the way they did. And as she talked, Abel started to feel a prickling of excitement. They could recreate what that music would sound like. If only they could get in the Hagia Sophia and pop a balloon.

When a balloon pops, it makes an impulse, a sharp, quick sound that takes on the character of whatever space it’s in. So when a balloon pops, you’re really hearing the acoustics of the space itself, says Abel.

In this clip from 2013, the Cappella Romana choir sings a hymn passed through an early version of the Hagia Sophia filter:

The marble interior of Hagia Sophia was 70 meters long, while in height it reached 56 meters at the apex of the great dome. The vast chamber and its reflective surfaces of marble and gold resulted in unprecedented acoustics of over ten seconds reverberation time. As a museum Hagia Sophia today has lost its voice, no performances could take place in it. Using new digital technology developed at CCRMA, the second portion of Cappella Romana’s concert at Bing aims to recreate sound of what singing in Hagia Sophia must have been like. Each singer caries a microphone that records the sound transforming it into a digital signal, which is then imprinted with the reverberant response of Hagia Sophia. What you hear as a wet sound is the product of a digitally produced signal transmitted through loudspeakers placed strategically to create an enveloping soundfield. This digital signal may shock you with the way it relativizes speech, transforming its content into a chiaroscuro of indistinct but immersive sound. For the Byzantines, this sonic experience was associated with the water: the waves of the sea.

Last year, the Cappella Romana released an entire album of choral music recorded with the filter — you can listen on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal, or Pandora.

Needless to say, the album sounds better with the best pair of headphones you can muster. You can find out more information about the filter and the acoustics of the Hagia Sophia at Icons of Sound.

See also this online Gregorian chant generator.

Max Richter’s Tiny Desk Concert

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2020

This is lovely: composer Max Richter, accompanied by a string quintet, plays a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR.

Half way through this performance of Max Richter’s achingly beautiful On The Nature Of Daylight, I looked around our NPR Music office and saw trembling chins and tearful eyes. Rarely have I seen so many Tiny Desk audience members moved in this way. There’s something about Max Richter’s music that triggers deep emotions.

Richter is one of my favorite composers, so this was really fun to watch.

A DJ Mixes Songs That Sound The Same

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2020

From DJ Mike 2600, a YouTube series called Songs That Sound The Same.

My hit series of DJ videos exploring pairs of songs that aren’t direct covers or rip-offs, but have similar melodies, riffs, or chord progressions and just fit together nicely.

Each video is about a minute long and features him playfully mixing two or more songs together that sound very similar. Here’s one of the early episodes, featuring Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly & the Family Stone and Misunderstanding by Genesis:

T.I.’s Whatever You Like and Zombie by The Cranberries:

Whomst among us wouldn’t go nuts if the DJ laid this down at the club — M83’s Midnight City & Rihanna’s Diamonds:

And this one made me LOL — Draggin’ the Line by Tommy James mixes really well with the Baby Back Ribs song from the Chili’s commercial:

What a great combination of creativity and craft. Watching stuff like this always makes this non-musical person want to make some music. (via @hoodinternet)

We Interrupt This Brain Surgery to Bring You a Violin Solo…

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 20, 2020

This is the most metal shit ever: the doctors removing violinist Dagmar Turner’s brain tumor woke her up during the procedure to play the violin to make sure that she didn’t lose any parts of her brain vital to her playing.

After explaining concerns she had over losing the ability to play the violin, Prof Ashkan and the neurosurgical team at King’s devised a plan. Prior to Dagmar’s operation they spent two hours carefully mapping her brain to identify areas that were active when she played the violin and those responsible for controlling language and movement. They also discussed with Dagmar the idea of waking her mid-procedure so she could play. This would ensure the surgeons did not damage any crucial areas of the brain that controlled Dagmar’s delicate hand movements specifically when playing the instrument. With her agreement, a team of surgeons, anaesthetists and therapists went on to meticulously plan the procedure.

During the operation Prof Ashkan and the team performed a craniotomy (an opening in the skull) and Dagmar was brought round from the anaesthetic. She played violin while her tumour was removed, while closely monitored by the anaesthetists and a therapist.

Recording All the Melodies

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 14, 2020

In this recent TED Talk, lawyer, musician, and technologist Damien Riehl talks about the rapidly diminishing number of melodies available to songwriters under the current system of copyright. In order to help songwriters avoid these melodic legal landmines (some of which are documented here), Riehl and his pal Noah Rubin designed and wrote a program to record every possible 8-note, 12-beat melody and released the results — all 68+ billion melodies, 2.6 terabytes of data — into the public domain.

It’s interesting that the litigious nature of the music business and the finite number of melodies (and the even smaller number of pleasing melodies) has turned an artistic endeavor into a land-grab — whoever gets to a certain melody first owns it forever (or at least for dozens of years). (via @tedgioia)

Billie Eilish Interviewed by AI Bot

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 14, 2020

Collaborating with the team at Conde Nast Entertainment and Vogue, my pal Nicole He trained an AI program to interview music superstar Billie Eilish. Here are a few of the questions:

Who consumed so much of your power in one go?
How much of the world is out of date?
Have you ever seen the ending?

This is a little bit brilliant. The questions are childlike in a way, like something a bright five-year-old would ask a grownup, perceptive and nonsensical (or even Dr. Seussical) at the same time. As He says:

What I really loved hearing Billie say was that human interviewers often ask the same questions over and over, and she appreciated that the AI questions don’t have an agenda in the same way, they’re not trying to get anything from her.

I wonder if there’s something that human interviewers can learn from AI-generated questions — maybe using them as a jumping off point for their own questions or asking more surprising or abstract questions or adapting the mentality of the childlike mind.

See also Watching Teen Superstar Billie Eilish Growing Up.

One Guy Gets Entire Park to Sing Bon Jovi

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 01, 2020

(Wait for it, wait for it…) One guy, singing Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On A Prayer, gets an entire park to sing along with him. I know this was a tough week for many, but if this doesn’t brighten your day, I do not know what will.

See also Leadership Lessons from the Dancing Guy, which I swear is related. (via open culture)

Bach’s Prelude to Cello Suite No. 1, Deconstructed

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 31, 2020

The Prelude in G Major to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 is one of the world’s most recognizable pieces of music. You’ve likely heard Yo-Yo Ma play it — he’s been trying to master it for almost 60 years now. In a new episode of Earworm, Estelle Caswell and cellist Alisa Weilerstein break the song down to see what makes it such an effective and interesting piece of music.

In the early 1700s, Johann Sebastian Bach did something few, if any, composers had ever done. He composed six suites for the cello — a four stringed instrument that, at the time, was relegated to the role of accompaniment in larger ensembles.

Each suite consists of movements named for various dances, and they all begin with a prelude — an improvisatory movement meant to establish the key of the suite, as well as reoccurring themes and motifs. These suites are all masterpieces in music and considered a rite of passage for cellists to study and master.

But there’s one movement in particular, the Prelude in G Major, that has taken on a life of its own in the minds of musicians and music lovers alike.

If you hear the first few measures you’ll likely recognize it. A simple G major arpeggiated chord played expressively on the cello opens a short, but harmonically and melodically rich, 42 measures of music. Bach makes a single instrument sound like a full ensemble. How does he do it?

Recommended Soundtracks from Mobile Games

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 30, 2020

I am always on the lookout for good music to write, design, and code to and video game music is definitely one of my go-to genres. Chris Gonzales wrote up a pair of guides to Mobile Games with Fantastic Soundtracks (part 2). Represented soundtracks include those from Monument Valley, Alto’s Odyssey, Gorogoa, and Stardew Valley.

Andy Cheung made a Spotify playlist of all the recommendations:

One that I listen to a lot that’s not on either list is Ben Prunty’s Ftl soundtrack (on Spotify).

YelloPain: My Vote Dont Count

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 29, 2020

In his new music video, My Vote Dont Count, rapper YelloPain provides an excellent 4-minute summary in the sprit of Schoolhouse Rock of the importance of voting, particularly in midterm elections and with a focus on Congress and state legislatures.

So you know how back in ‘08, when we all voted for Obama? We was all supposed to go back in 2010 and vote for the Congress. Cause they the ones that make child support laws. They the ones choose if your kids at school get to eat steak or corn dogs. The state house makes the courthouse. So if the country fail you can’t say it’s them, it’s your fault, cause ya ain’t know to vote for Congress members that was for y’all. And they don’t gotta leave after four years; we just let ‘em sit. See, they don’t want to tell you this, they just want you to focus on the President.

The video was co-produced by Desiree Tims, a Democrat who is running for the House in Dayton, YelloPain’s home town. Tims appears in the closing seconds of the video to deliver this message:

Every time you stay home, someone is making a decision about you. Making decisions about the air you breath, the water you drink, the food your kids eat, and how much money you bring home every two weeks. So every time you sit out an election, every time you don’t show up because you think it doesn’t matter, someone else is happy that you didn’t show up, so they can make that decision for you. Vote!

Even though it’s not explicitly labeled as such, this might be one of the best political advertisements I’ve ever seen. It’s entertaining, informative, and authentic.

A Night at the Opera

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 27, 2020

One of my favorite video series is Estelle Caswell’s Earworm for Vox — you can check out my posts about it here. It had been a few months since the last episode, so I went to see if she’d made any other videos in the meantime and, lo, Caswell produced a video about the Metropolitan Opera’s production of the opera Akhnaten by Philip Glass, one of my favorite composers.

The video above gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Akhnaten. We follow Anthony Roth Costanzo, who plays Akhnaten, through the various phases of rehearsal, from working with his vocal coach in a Manhattan apartment to taking the stage for a dress rehearsal in a costume covered in doll heads.

I’ve only seen one opera at the Met (years ago) and was blown away by the production. I remember walking out of there thinking, “Do people know how good this is? Why isn’t opera a massive thing?” (Although I guess I answered my own question by not ever going back?)

The Radiohead Public Library

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 21, 2020

Radiohead

Let’s be generous and say that over the years, Radiohead’s web presence has been eccentric. Disorganized and scattershot maybe. In order to remedy that, the band have launched a massive online archive of stuff called the Radiohead Public Library. Stereogum has a nice rundown, including some rare stuff the band has uploaded to streaming services to celebrate the library’s opening.

Dubbed the Radiohead Public Library, the band’s official website Radiohead.com now contains comprehensive materials organized by album, starting with the A Moon Shaped Pool era and working backward. Among the treasure in this chest: high-quality concert and TV footage, B-sides and rarities, music videos, artwork, out-of-print merchandise, and playlists the band members shared during their recording sessions.

If you click on the ID card in the site’s nav bar, you can even download and print out your very own Radiohead Public Library card. It is still Radiohead though, so the library isn’t super easy to navigate — there’s a lot of clicking random images to see what’s hiding behind them — but it’s a start!

How to Please Elise

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 19, 2020

How to Please Elise

Christoph Niemann with a clever take on the Beethoven composition for piano, Für Elise. He’s offering it as a letterpress print — but supplies are low so order quick if you want one.

And according to Niemann, the chart has been factchecked and is accurate.

The First and Last Time Mister Rogers Sang “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” on TV

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 14, 2020

Including special shows, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood ran for 912 episodes and at the beginning of each one, Rogers sang “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” while putting his sweater on and changing his shoes. In the video above, you can compare his rendition of the song from the first episode (February 19, 1968) and the final episode (August 31, 2001). It would take a significant effort (and might actually be impossible because he sings the song at a different pace each time), but I’d love to see someone cut together a version of this that features all 912 openings strung together chronologically, so you can see Rogers get older as he sings (a la Noah Kalina’s Everyday).

The same YouTube channel also edited together the first and last times Rogers sang “Good Feeling”:

(via open culture)

The Final Chart Topper of the Decade Perfectly Summarizes the Current State of Media

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 07, 2020

The number one song on the UK singles chart for the last week of 2019 was Ellie Goulding’s River, despite it not being available on Spotify, Apple, Google, or anywhere but Amazon (with one important exception). How the heck did that happen? Chart Watch UK has the story.

River was simply a prominent part of just about every “Christmas songs” playlist curated by Amazon themselves, a default choice for everyone muttering “Alexa, play Christmas songs” as they basted the turkey and cursed the sprouts. People have been spoon-fed a contemporary hit single like no other before it, and the result of that has been to propel it almost by accident to the top of the charts.

This is a fitting choice for the final chart topper in the 2010s because it encapsulates a number of trends in media that have played out over the past decade. To wit:

  1. The song is a remake. Remakes and sequels dominate our viewing and listening.
  2. It is exclusive to a single platform. The entire media world seems to be headed in this direction.
  3. The platform is operated by one of the handful of tech behemoths that took control of more and more of the media landscape as the decade wore on.
  4. Amazon. Arguably the company of the decade. Led by the world’s richest man, a symbol of the decade’s growth in inequality.
  5. Ok, the song is exclusive to Amazon but is also on YouTube. YT has simply grown so popular for young people listening to music that media companies can’t ignore it, even when they’re direct Google competitors (and who isn’t these days).
  6. Voice assistant devices were instrumental in making the song popular. Since Siri was first released in 2011, voice assistants have become increasingly embedded in our homes and pockets.
  7. Amazon’s editorial team added the exclusive song to several of their Christmas playlists. Amazon has access to the song, compiles the playlists, and sells the devices to play them. This sort of BigCo “synergy” became standard operating procedure in the 2010s.
  8. There was an algorithm involved (Billboard’s). They increasingly determine what we read, watch, and listen to.
  9. And that algorithm was gamed. See also the role of Facebook’s algorithms in the 2016 US Presidential election (and many many other examples of “impartial” algos being manipulated).

It is tough to imagine a more perfect example of how media functions (or doesn’t) today. (via @tedgioia)

My Recent Media Diet, The Late 2010s Edition

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 30, 2019

Every month or two for the past couple of years, I’ve shared the movies, books, music, TV, and podcasts I’ve enjoyed (or not) recently. Here’s everything I’ve “consumed” since late October.

Uncut Gems. Watching this movie replicates very closely what it feels like to live in NYC (and not in a good way). This movie contains one of my favorite scenes of the year and Sandler is a genius. (A)

Seduce And Destroy with Josh Safdie, Benny Safdie & Paul Thomas Anderson (A24 Podcast). The best bits of this were fascinating but some of it was too inside baseball. Listen to this after seeing Uncut Gems. (B+)

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. The Iliad as a romance novel (of sorts). Loved it. (A)

Hustlers. Jennifer Lopez did not require fancy cameras or the de-aging CGI of The Irishman to make her look 20 years younger. (B+)

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon. Such a great alchemy of subjects — kind of a miracle how it all works together. (A-)

Jesus Is King. Boring. Christian hip hop isn’t any better than Christian rock. Born again Kanye? I miss the old Kanye… (C-)

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. Wonderfully creative. A couple of really disturbing parts though for kids. (A-)

The Dark Crystal. Watched this after Age of Resistance and it holds up really well. (B+)

Tunes 2011-2019. Gets better with every listen. (A-)

The Laundromat. Soderbergh and Streep? This should have been better. (B)

The Fifth Season by N.K Jemison. Liked this but it didn’t make me want to immediately start the next book in the series. (B+)

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari. Lots to chew on in this one but I ultimately didn’t finish it. But that’s more on me than Harari. (B+)

David Whyte: The Conversational Nature of Reality (On Being). “Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet / confinement of your aloneness / to learn / anything or anyone / that does not bring you alive / is too small for you.” Whyte sounds like a fascinating person. (A-)

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Re-watched the entire series over the past several months. Strong in the middle seasons but not a great ending. (B+)

The OJ Simpson Trial (You’re Wrong About…). Excellent multi-part reexamination of the OJ trial centered on the women, principally Nicole Brown Simpson but also Marcia Clark and Paula Barbieri. It took me awhile to get used to the sometimes-too-casual banter about distressing subject matter, but their knowledge and discussion of the subject matter won me over. (A-)

Ad Astra. The filmmakers couldn’t find a way to do this movie without the voiceover? Just let Pitt act…everything he says is obvious from his face. Beautiful though. (B+)

Dead Wake by Erik Larson. Engaging account of the sinking of the Lusitania, which eventually & circuitously led to the entry of the United States into World War I. (A-)

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read with my kids. (B-)

The Devil Next Door. Interesting story but I wanted more from this re: the nature of truth & evil. (B)

The Lighthouse. Sunshine x Fight Club. (A-)

Ford v Ferrari. Driving home from the theater, it took every ounce of self-control not to put the pedal on the floor and see if my car can do 120 on a Vermont county road. (A-)

The Crown (season 3). I didn’t like this quite much as the first two seasons, but I did like the overt and not-so-overt references to Brexit. There was a low-stakes-ness to this season which fits with other exported British media (Downton, British Baking Show) and the country’s rapidly dwindling status as a world power. (B+)

Menu Mind Control (Gastropod). Really interesting discussion of how menus are constructed to balance the needs of the restaurant and the desires of the diner. Buckle up though…Gastropod is one of the densest podcasts out there. (A-)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. A surprisingly trippy adaptation of one of my favorite magazine articles on Fred Rogers. Hanks is great as usual. (B+)

Coco. Another Pixar gem. (A-)

A Table for Two, Please? (Talk Money). From a new podcast by my pal Mesh — the first episode is about the business side of opening and running restaurants. (B+)

Knives Out. From the hype this got, I was expecting a bit more than a good murder mystery but it was just a good murder mystery. (B+)

Marriage Story. Great performances all around, but Jesus why did I watch this? It captures very well the feeling and experience of divorce. Total PTSD trigger though. (D/A-)

Galatea. Engaging short story by Madeline Miller. (B+)

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker. Impossible at this point for anyone to objectively review the ninth movie in a series which in some ways has defined culture of the last 40 years. I loved it, even the hokey parts. (A)

High Life. Not even sure what to say about this one. (B-)

Past installments of my media diet are available here.

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 26, 2019

I am fascinated with the sound of movies, from the soundtracks to the foley effects and even temp music. Making Waves is a documentary about this integral aspect of cinema. Here’s a trailer:

Directed by veteran Hollywood sound editor Midge Costin, the film reveals the hidden power of sound in cinema, introduces us to the unsung heroes who create it, and features insights from legendary directors with whom they collaborate.

Featuring the insights and stories of iconic directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, David Lynch, Barbra Streisand, Ang Lee, Sofia Coppola and Ryan Coogler, working with sound design pioneers — Walter Murch, Ben Burtt and Gary Rydstrom — and the many women and men who followed in their footsteps.

(thx, dunstan)

Every Sample from Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 23, 2019

This video catalogs every borrowed sample from Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, from the soundtrack to Car Wash to the Sugarhill Gang to the Eagles to the Ramones to the Beatles. They play the original first and then what they did with it on the album.

Somehow this video only has 31,000 views?! You can also listen to this remix of Paul’s Boutique on Soundcloud, which combines the source tracks with Beastie Boys vocals and some audio commentary.

Tim Carmody made a Spotify playlist of all the sampled songs or you can download zip files of the original songs sampled in Paul’s Boutique and five of their other albums.

They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore, mostly because clearing all of the samples would be prohibitively expensive if not impossible.

Hip-hop sampling began as a live technique, with DJs working turntables at parties and clubs. Whether it was strictly legal or not, nobody was going to try to sue anyone about it. As the genre’s popularity grew, people naturally started recording performances and releasing them as albums. Early sampling tended to come fast and furious. In the ’80s, short clips of existing recordings were the order of the day, often — as in the case of the Beastie Boys — lots of them, layered and shuffled in a clearly creative way. As hip-hop pushed further into the mainstream, however, the stakes got bigger and so did the samples.

1990 saw the release of both M.C. Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby.” Not only did both songs sample, they each relied heavily on one particular sample — the baselines from Rick James’ “Superfreak” and Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” — for their main hook. Both hits resulted in legal controversy.

Radiohead’s Entire Discography Now Available on YouTube

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 23, 2019

Radiohead have uploaded all of their albums to YouTube where they are available for all of your streaming needs.

The move comes after Billboard announced that album charts will reflect YouTube views.

Over at Open Culture, Josh Jones notes that the band has always been willing to experiment with technology and distribution, as with the pay-what-you-want release of In Rainbows:

As Yorke had predicted, Napster encouraged “enthusiasm for music in a way that the music industry has long forgotten to do.” The industry began to collapse. File sharing may have been utopian for listeners, but it was potentially ruinous for artists. 2007’s In Rainbows showed a way forward.

Released on a pay-what-you-want model, with a “digital tip jar,” the release was met with bemusement and contempt. (The Manic Street Preacher’s Nicky Wire wrote that it “demeans music.”) Two years later, the jury was still out on the “Radiohead experiment.”

(via open culture)

Almost Famous: “I Was in The Black Eyed Peas. Then I Quit.”

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 20, 2019

Actress and singer/songwriter Kim Hill became a member of the Black Eyed Peas in the mid-90s, appearing with the group on Soul Train and singing on their first two albums. After feeling pressure from management to sexualize her appearance and from the other members of the band to broaden their appeal, Hill quit the group and was eventually replaced by Fergie. In this video by Ben Proudfoot, she talks about that decision:

Yeah, they got rid of the black girl that they never made a part of the band and they got the white girl, they made her a part and they blew up and it’s like, no! That’s not how it happened.

I really really liked this video. Hill has such a great expressive face and a generous soul and Proudfoot makes the most of it by getting in close and just letting her talk.

Mashup of Radiohead’s Creep & All I Want for Christmas is You

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 16, 2019

This is a little slice of genius right here, a mashup of Radiohead’s Creep and Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You. It takes a little bit to get going but I LOL’d when the vocals finally came in.

I have to say though that it’s not quite as entertaining as this All I Want for Christmas / This Is America combo, which might actually be the best thing on the internet.

How the Succession Theme Song Was Composed

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 16, 2019

Sitting at a piano, composer Nicholas Britell explains how he came up with the theme music to Succession.

I’m constantly winding in these notes that aren’t part of the scale to just to kind of jolt the music in a different direction. So you see that things are always kind of off-kilter with themselves — like the family in the show.

See also The Succession Theme Works Over Any TV Show Title Sequence.

Tunes 2011-2019, Burial

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 12, 2019

On heavy rotation today: Burial’s recent compilation album Tunes 2011-2019.

Here’s the album for sale on Bandcamp and streaming on Apple Music. Pitchfork gave it a 9.0. I have also been listening to Ecstatic Computation by Caterina Barbieri (found via the Flow State newsletter) and Daphni’s Joli Mai. Daphni is one of Daniel Snaith’s stage names; he’s releasing a new album as Caribou in February 2020, a record I’ve been waiting very patiently for since 2014 (Caribou’s Our Love is a particular favorite album of mine). Here are the first two singles from the forthcoming album.

But so anyway, the dark tones of Burial are resonating with me today because I woke up in a bit of a funk. “Why the malaise?” the dumb part of my brain asked seemingly no one. The tiny clever bit of brain answered, “You ate a bunch of ice cream after dinner and then stayed up way too late dicking around on your phone and half-watching DS9.” Burial: The Perfect Music for Your Stayed-Up-Late-Ate-Ice-Cream-and-Watched-Star-Trek Morning Funk™.