Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pink vs. Christina Aguilera --- time for the next round?

I’m not the biggest fan of Christina Aguilera. She, of course, possesses singing talent, but in my opinion she rarely uses it. The needless screeching and the bellowing she adds in most of her songs just distract from the rest of what was good.

I don’t find her too annoying in her new single, “Your Body.”

The lyrics – which take being a “free” independent, without inhibition woman to a whole new level – are provocative. There’s no in between on this song. Ms. Aguilera wants it, needs it, and is going to have it.

I realized something about the song while it was playing over my car stereo yesterday. It’s very similar to Pink’s, “Slut Like You.”

Maybe it’s the questionable lyrics that triggered it. Or maybe it was simply because I just bought Pink’s new CD.

The songs don’t sound too similar, but they do send the same message. Pink’s version has more humor in it, but, without that, it’s a very similar song.

After reading a review of Aguilera’s new single online, I noticed that Max Martin and Shellback were the producers responsible for it. It turns out, they were the same team involved with Pink’s “Slut Like You.” I don’t know if the team had any writing involvement, but given Pink and Christina Aguilera’s history together and both releasing albums at the same time, I would think neither woman could be happy about the similarities.

After all, Kelly Clarkson got miffed at producer Ryan Tedder when her song, “Already Gone,” sounded too similar, musically, to Beyonce’s “Halo.”

Sometimes I wonder how the music makers can come up with such original content all the time. Apparently there's not always enough content to go around for everyone.

Related Content:
Reviewed - Pink's The Truth About Love

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Cars, cars, and...the Batmobile!

It was another gorgeous day in Charlotte today -- perfect weather for checking out the 2012 Charlotte Auto Show at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

It was actually my first time going to the Speedway. I've driven by it lots of times, but during the big races I'm usually working. I'm not sure I'd want to fight the traffic to be honest.

No traffic jams today though. I went to the auto show after lunch and things were just picking up. It was cool just walking on the track. Man, is that thing steep at places! People told me it was, but I didn't realize just how steep it actually is.

There loads and loads of cars, from all different eras. Some really cool paint jobs, for sure:

A few paint jobs that maybe need to be redone:

A few odds and ends, just like at a pawn shop...

Like I said, if it was on wheels, it was there...

No size too small...

This guy was smart. I walked all over the Speedway. Wore my sandals out.

Naturally, my favorite part was Batmobile Alley:

Check out the rest of the photos!

Related content:
• The Dark Knight Rises - reviewed
• Charlotte HeroesCon 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

P!nk: The Truth About Love - reviewed.

The day finally arrived. Pink’s new album dropped.

It’s been four years since she came out with a new album, though it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Maybe it’s because she had a couple pieces of new work on her Greatest Hits….So Far!!! album just two years ago.

Like most artists these days, Pink pulls from a lot of different genres and musical styles, creating an interesting amalgam of sounds on The Truth About Love. A lot has changed since Pink last wrote new music. She and her husband, Carey Hart, put their marriage back together. Pink had a baby. Her life has changed and so has her music.

It’s still pop rock with an edge of wild and crazy. There’s less swearing, though. There’s not a lot of angst in this album. There’s not a bunch of heartbreak either. It’s every bit as enjoyable as her previous work, but it seems like Pink has less to prove on this album.

While I wish her Katy Perry-like success with her upcoming singles, I’m not sure she’ll get multiple consecutive top 40 hits with them. It’s a great album with a lot of potential chart toppers, if the timing is right, but most of the songs don’t have the teen pop sound that is seems to make up so much of top 40 music these days. It’s more in the league of fun., Adele, and Gotye than Demi Lovato, Katy Perry or One Direction.

Are We All We Are – This track is definitely a different sound for Pink – something that can be said for a lot of the music on this album. Are We All We Are reminds me of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know.” Not so much in the vocals or the lyrics, but in the way it’s a very different ensemble of musicality. The lyrics, I think, were about asking yourself if you’re all you can be. They were a little messy to be honest – perhaps trying to be too much all at once. The song seemed to be about independence, freedom, being strong, and making a statement. I guess it could be the theme song for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but even though the message of the song was about strength and independence, it came off as a too preachy and Full House for my taste.

Blow Me (One Last Kiss) – Her first single off this album is definitely the most dance-friendly track. While there are other songs on here that are full of energy, BM(OLK) is the most proudly pop and fun track one you’ll find.

Try – This track is the first of several songs that mix rock with a bit of mystical-ness (for lack of a better term). It’s kind of like a song by The Police or Annie Lennox, with an upbeat, fast tempo, but an edge of rock as well.

“Where there is desire, there is going to be a flame. Where there is a flame, someone is bound to get burned. But just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re gonna’ die. You gotta’ get up and try, try, try.”

Just Give Me A Reason – It’s an incredible song – exactly what you’d expect in a collaboration between Nate Ruess, the lead vocalist of fun., and Pink. I didn’t even know Nate Ruess’ name before I Googled it to write this review, but I knew, right off, that it was ‘the guy from fun.’ when I heard him chime in on this track. I’m hoping this one hits the radio because I think it’d do really well. Let’s hope those in charge strike while the iron is hot and fun. is popular. Once again, it's something totally different from what Pink usually delivers.

True Love – This is Pink’s version of a Carly Rae Jepsen song. That’s not a knock either. I, along with most others, was foot-tapping and secretly singing out loud to Jepsen’s famously contagious “Call Me Maybe” this summer. Lily Rose Cooper’s vocals were a nice addition to this bittersweet love song.

How Come You’re Not Here – This is quite possibly my favorite track on the entire album. My foot started tapping the moment the music started. It’s old, jazzy rock and a whole lot of fun. The background whistling is something you’d expect to hear from a group of scouts at a summer camp in the 1950s. Not only is the music fun, but so are the lyrics: “I’m like a stoner babe without my bong.” This one was so catchy that I repeated it three times before I moved to the next track.

Slut Like You – Let’s start off with the fact that the main chorus in this tune is a total copycat of from Blur’s "Song 2" that featured two very memorable words: “Woo hoo.” It’s a lot of fun, though, and it’s a different sound than Pink normally delivers, so I won’t complain about the borrowing. This song really melds what you’d expect from Pink with, “Song 2,” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”

The Truth About Love – there was nothing wrong with this song. It’s a nice addition to the CD. Overall it was a solid effort. It didn’t blow me away though. The theme of the song was a little too similar to "True Love." Even though the two songs have different sounds, the message was pretty much the same. Hate, passion, laughter – it’s all mixes into the equation that equals out in love.

Beam Me Up – This one starts off folksy and turns into a very vulnerable track – probably the most vulnerable she has this time around. It’s a nice change of pace on the album. Pink has always had incredible vocal abilities, but unless you track down all of her performances (I’m talking the B-sides and live performances…you know, like a hardcore fan), then you may not always get to hear her range. Her vocals are captivating. The singing is really on display in this song that’s about wanting to take a trip to Heaven and reunite with a loved one.

Walk of Shame – At the start of this track, I had to do a double take and make sure my iTunes wasn’t replaying one of the previous songs. It has a similar beat to them. I liked it, overall. As you could probably surmise, it’s about the walk of shame, so the topic provides Pink with some entertaining writing material.

Here Comes The Weekend – It’s easy to tell which song Eminem lends his voice to, just by the listening to the first 10 seconds. Even though his part is actually very small and doesn’t come until ¾ of the way through the song, the entire song has an edgy element to it. It’s a nice follow up from Pink’s appearance on Eminem’s “Won’t Back Down,” from his album, Recovery. It’s a track about getting ready to party. It’s pretty generic pop stuff, but it comes off as authentic – perhaps simply because Pink is convincing in her delivery. It doesn’t seem like it’s a Disney actress/dancer/whatever singing off a page of lyrics. Eminem’s contribution isn’t groundbreaking, but he returned the favor well enough.

Where Did The Beat Go – This song really reminded me of something you'd hear off M!ssundaztood. It’s the first time Pink has delivered this kind of sound since Family Portrait. Moody, a little bit R&B, with a lining of rock. While that wasn’t my favorite time period for Pink, this song is a welcome addition on the album.

The Great Escape – Like “Beam Me Up,” this one is softer and slower. It’s mostly Pink and the piano. A little too slow though. You’re listening to it, waiting for the hook – waiting for it to pick up, and just when you think it’s there, it isn’t. When the song finally gains some momentum, it seems to end too quickly.

My Signature Move – I got vibes of Kelly Clarkson’s “I Want You” from her All I Ever Wanted album, but this song has the harder edge that fans have come to expect from Pink. It’s like a little bit of the 50s, with the backup singers, partnered with contemporary alternative pop rock, creating a successful track.

Is This Thing On? – I only listened to this one once and I can’t really remember what it was about. That’s not a negative though. This song moves right along, putting you into a happy place as it does so. I’m not sure what it was about, honestly. It’s a song about love. I know that much. It was one of those sad, but happy, but still sad, but, deep-down, happy songs.

Run – I’m not sure why this one was only included on the extended album. It’s definitely worthy of being on the main listing. Lyrically, it’s a, ‘I’ll always love you and you don’t ever need to doubt that’ kind of song. Somehow Pink, once again, takes it up another notch, delivering an entirely different kind of sound than she usually does. It’s a mystical feel-good combo. You’d almost expect to hear this in an epic movie, like Avatar, as part of a montage where the main characters are falling in love with each other.

Good Old Days – vocally awesome song. It’s light and bubbly beat (something you’d expect from Colbie Caillat) with lyrics that have Pink reflecting on her path into learning, growing and finding content and happiness. It’s a nice closing track to another very good outing for the singer who was once typecast as the white girl who sang like a black girl.

It’s been a fun journey, listening to Pink evolve the music she makes.

This album is yet another development in what I think is going to be a very long career. I don’t know which direction Pink will go in next, but I’m along for the ride.

I figured it out long ago, but in case you haven’t yet, let me let you know: Pink is a keeper. 20 years down the road, I have no doubt she’ll be continuing to make great music. I look forward to the musical development that is yet to come.

Check out my other reviews:
The Dark Knight Rises
Pink - Blow Me (One Last Kiss) single
Pro Wrestling Xperience show in Charlotte
The Avengers

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A little YouTube-WWE clarity

Got this message from YouTube a couple of days ago:

Today, I checked out Lords of Pain today.

"WWE announced late Thursday that it was removing "dated and edgier" footage from its official website and media platforms, a day after co-founder Linda McMahon's political opponent used clips in an attack ad.

"To better reflect our current family-friendly brand of entertainment, WWE is removing some dated and edgier footage from digital platforms," said Brian Flinn, WWE's Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, in a statement. "Some of this footage has been misused in political environments without any context or explanation as to when it was produced. This damages the corporate reputation of our company. WWE is well within its rights to protect its intellectual property for fair use."

Flinn said the footage removal is not related to an ad released Wednesday by Rep. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat running for Senate against McMahon, which featured WWE footage while slamming her for allegedly off-shoring profits to avoid taxes and failing to provide health coverage for their performers. Rather, it is part of a re-branding effort.

While WWE held a PG-14 rating for much of the late 1990s and early 2000s when she was running the organization with her husband, Vince McMahon, its current content is rated PG or G."

Well, my videos being taken down makes a little more sense now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

YouTube Termination

Got some disappointing news today.

I logged onto my kingrandor YouTube account and saw a message that my account had been terminated because of several copyright claims put forth by World Wrestling Entertainment. I got one from TNA about a month ago (again claiming I used their video content without permission). I deleted that video from my account and my YouTube status was back to normal.

Well, WWE hit me with five copyright claims over the past two days. I’ve been busy and hadn’t logged into my account for a few days. YouTube terminated the account and, well, that’s that I guess.

I’m sure this probably has something to do with the fact that, in the last year, WWE entered into a deal with YouTube to provide original content to them on the official WWE YouTube page. WWE has finally jumped on the social media bandwagon, as is evident by the constant social media plugs on any of their current programming.

It’s just a shame that fans, like others, and myself get the short end of the stick. I’ve been uploading music videos since 2004, each one featuring various wrestling content from a variety of televised promotions, and it’s just now, when they want to make money, that WWE decides, ‘That’s not okay,’ for me to do.

I used clips from the dozens of years of programming and video content that exist. See, I’m one of those hardcore fans.

I taped hundreds of episodes of Raw, Smackdown, Nitro and ECW, starting back in 1997 when I first became a fan. I purchased several pay-per-views and then, in addition to that, I bought those same pay-per-views in VHS format. When WWE switched to a DVD format in the early 2000s, I purchased those as well.

After I got my Mac in 2003, I thought it would be a good time to convert the home-recorded video tapes to DVD. I captured the VHS footage using eyetv . I figured, if the VCR ever went out of style, I had my hundreds of hours of wrestling to watch on a DVD player.

Then, in 2008, I set up my kingrandor YouTube account. I was taking a social media class in college and we were required to publish some journalism videos to YouTube.

After I graduated, I didn’t log onto my account for about 6 months.

One day, in the fall of 2008, while I was converting some of my videos to DVD, I came up with the idea of creating a little music video – a tribute video if you will – featuring some of the wrestling clips I was converting.

I tried to arrange the clips in a way that meshed with the music that I chose, and then I published the video to YouTube. A few people commented on it. I made another. Then another.

That was in the good, old days of YouTube, when there weren’t any copyright claims on music or video content.

Little by little, my kingrandor channel developed into a little community, with over 700 video subscribers and close to 1,040,000 views. A few other YouTube users posted my videos on their own channels, getting over 250,000 views of their own.

I developed a style of my own – a music video meets documentary feel. A lot of my subscribers gave me positive feedback on that and sent requests for me to make videos on certain wrestlers.

In the last four years, companies, one by one, have put their foot down on YouTube content.

Their stance seems to be: ‘People can’t just put our video content and our songs on YouTube without us being compensated for it. They’re fans of our product? Who cares?! We need to make money!’

That’s sure what it seems like to me.

Now I get that companies have to make money. If I was taking money out of WWE’s pocket with any of my videos, I could understand them putting a copyright claim forth. I take photos in my spare time and I’d be upset if someone was selling them, profiting off of the work, the time, and the effort I put into them.

I wasn’t doing that though. I didn’t take their DVD releases and put them directly on YouTube in multiple parts, like some people do.

I took bits and pieces from years of wrestling footage that I recorded, put them together into 10-minute documentary-style pieces, and added some music. Using all of those elements, I tried to tell a story.

Videos from WWE’s official YouTube account showed up in the ‘Related Content’ section of my uploads, so they were very likely getting views after people got done watching my video.

I never chose to monetize my account (despite several e-mails from YouTube telling me I could do so). I figured since I was using footage aired on WWE and TNA programming, it wasn’t right to be profiting off of it. It was simply a way for me to practice my video editing skills on something I enjoyed.

In the end, my account still got deleted. For what – because I used some footage that aired on national television?

I guess that’s how the current copyright law works.

Personally I think it’s absurd and, in the end, it only hurts WWE itself. It just doesn’t make sense to me. Fans are providing free promotion for WWE and TNA by uploading music videos to YouTube. It’s free advertising!

That’s how it goes, though.

I want to thank all my subscribers, and all the people who helped my 88 video uploads reach the 1 million views mark. It was a fun ride while it lasted.

The download link for "These Are The Days," one of my videos that no longer has a place in cyberspace: