Grandmaster Chu kicks off the new year and a new album with this music video for “Grace (ft. Priska)” off of his “Much Love” album. I often lament that dearth of conscious rap on the airwaves so it’s really great to hear the Grandmaster doing his thing. “Grace” is dedicated to everyone who’s come to a new land to create a new life.
You can download “Grace” for free in all sorts of formats.
Compressorhead is literally the most metal band in the world. That’s Fingers on guitar, Bones on bass, and Stickboy on drums. Fingers has 78 fingers specially designed to hit every note on the fretboard and pick strings like a whirlwind. Bones appears to be just as chill as a regular, meat person bass player. Stickboy has four arms and two legs to beat the shit out of his 14 piece Pearl kit with Stickboy Junior working the hihat. I’m actually kind of glad they don’t have a singer. We don’t need no damn Autotune fucking up our metal!
I am all for teaching Skynet how to rawk! It keeps her distracted from figuring out the most efficient way to kill us in the coming robot apocalypse. Australian metal fans are in luck. Compressorhead is coming to a town near you this month. Hopefully, it will be successful enough to kick off a world tour!
Happy New Year! I’m back at a computer which means nothing but horrible things for your ears. To kick off 2013, I bring you a song that will soon be worming its way into your ear holes. It begins with a humble fish seller.
Muhammad Shahid Nazir dreamed of a new life for his wife and four children. Leaving his family behind with the intent of sending for them when he had the money, he packed his things and moved to London’s East End. He found work in a local fish market where he was encouraged to come up with a call to get the attention of passing customers. Feeling that shouting at people was a bit rude, Nazir came up with a catchy tune.
Much like Otakon’s “Ice Cold Water” seller, Nazir became known as the £1 Fish Man. When this video of his signature call hit YouTube, it spread like wildfire. Singers Timbaland and Alesha Dixon covered his song. He auditioned on Britain’s X-Factor. And his studio produced single made it all the way to number 4 in the British Christmas song battle.
So, without further ado, I present to you “One Pound Fish.”
I don’t think it has the staying power of “Gangnam Style,” but it’s a lot of fun. More than anything else, I hope this song helps him and his family realize their dreams.
There is one final Christmas song that makes my blood boil. And I promise to stop after this one. This song is so bad that its writer, Bob Geldof, thinks it’s utter rubbish. Going after this song with full fury is a little difficult. It was written in 1984 and performed to raise money to feed the starving people of Ethiopia. But as they say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. At the time, Ethiopia was ruled by the militaristic Derg lead by Colonel Haile Mariam Mengistu. Though Ethiopia was experiencing a drought, it was Mengistu’s policies that created the famine. According to an article, “What Happened to the F***ing Money?”, written by Daniel Wolf for The Spectator in 2004:
As the governments would only deal with a recipient government, not with rebel movements, most of the aid–again, roughly 90 per cent–was channelled through Mengistu’s hands. In a grotesque irony, we found ourselves supporting the very government that was causing the famine we were supposed to be alleviating. This was certainly a ‘negative angle’, and therefore, unsurprisingly, it received hardly any attention at all.
What is this imperialistically entitled and slightly damaging song?
“Do They Know It’s Christmas.”
In 1984, I’m sure everyone who heard the song knew that they were singing about the Ethiopian famine. They may not have known about the Derg or Mengistu, but when people heard the line “Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears” they would have known that this is drought stricken Ethiopia they’re talking about.
When the song is played now, it’s devoid of that context. The DJ doesn’t come on to explain that this was a song meant to raise money to combat famine. So if you don’t know that history, you might mistakenly think that this song is talking about all of Africa. And if that’s the case, this stanza sounds absolutely preposterous
And there won’t be snow in Africa
This Christmas time
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
Of course there are rivers in Africa you entitled dolt! *TABLE FLIP*
The line that absolutely makes me rage is the big that Bono sings:
And the Christmas bells that ring
There are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you
Bono reportedly argued with Geldof over this line. In the end, Bono relented. This line reinforces the us vs. them dichotomy already set up by the song’s title. Thank God you don’t have to live like those people who don’t even know it’s Christmas, the time for buying shoes. This completely removes the listener from the plight of Africa which is a questionable tactic for a charity song. It would be far more uplifting if it was a message of unity, that we’re all in this together, and that we can lend a hand to our fellow man. Instead, we get a bleak guilt-trip that perpetuates some pretty damaging stereotypes about Africa. It’s dry. It’s barren. And only you can save them, you entitled prick.
The title makes me furious. Who cares if they know it’s Christmas? What makes Christmas so fucking special? Why can’t every day be a day of giving? Can you only spare time for others when it’s Christmas? Do you get some extra Jesus points if you give on Christmas? What if they don’t celebrate Christmas? Do they not get Jesus points? Are they not as a good as you because they don’t know? What if they practice a different religion? If they’re starving and running away from doom bells, do you think they give a goodly fuck what holiday it is? Can’t you just be nice and give and not shove your fucking holiday down their throat?
Fuck. This. Song.
I really hate that this song shaped the way I thought about Africa for a good long while. I heard it when I was seven and didn’t really understand what it was all about. All I knew is that it was a song about Africa and that Africa was a fucking desert with starving kids who had flies crawling on their eyes always. Now that I see how horribly stupid I was, I curse myself and this song every time I hear it.
Here’s the original music video from 1984. It was rerecorded in 1989 for Band Aid II and again in 2004 for Band Aid 20 but I haven’t heard either version and really, only the original ever gets any airplay.
Thank you for bearing with me and indulging while I ranted like an idiot over songs that ultimately impact my daily life very little. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll talk about some Christmas songs that I actually listen to on purpose.
As long as I’m demonstrating how much of a black hearted bastard I am, I might as well continue taking down Christmas songs. Commentor FMF reminded me of a song that makes me twitch every time it worms its evil way into my ear. I speak of the innocently titled, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.”
Written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, the song portrays a conversation between a woman who wants to go home and a man trying to convince her to stay because snow. I suppose in the 40’s, this was considered flirting. But heard in a modern context, it sounds more like a date rape.
From the very beginning, we have a woman desperate to return home despite the terrible weather. She opens with “I really can’t stay… I gotta go away.” Sounds to me that though she may have had a pleasant evening, sex with the gentleman is not on the table. Actually, maybe she didn’t have such a good time. Later in the song, we learn that the weather is so bad that the cabs have stopped running. She must have smelled the sleaze on this guy to want to go home in those conditions. Sure, a father’s wrath is definitely something to contend with. But if she really liked the guy, she could come up with an excuse that would placate any parental grumblings.
Instead of walking the lady to her car or offering to drive her safely home, the man pleads with her to stay. He uses safety as a pretense, but it doesn’t take long for him to appeal to her looks, “Beautiful, what’s your hurry? Beautiful, please don’t hurry.” He’s a charmer, for sure, because she somehow relents and asks for a drink. And here’s where a modern context completely ruins the song for me. She takes the drink, “Say, what’s in this drink?” Now in the 40’s, it was probably a double shot of his strongest whiskey. Today, who the fuck knows. My guess is roofies because her next few lines indicate the drink is strong enough to cloud her judgement, “I wish I knew how to break the spell.” He even recognizes that she’s intoxicated, “Your eyes are like starlight now.”
In a moment of lucidity, she protests, “I ought to say no, no, no sir.” That’s when the song should end. Whether it’s just alcohol or drugs, she’s clearly intoxicated. He shouldn’t be making moves on her in the first place. As soon as she says no, he should back the fuck off. Instead, he turns the creep level right up to eleven, “Mind if I move in closer?” This is usually the point in the song where I want to wash off all the dirty.
The song proceeds as you might expect, protests from the woman, predatory evil from the man including a line that makes me cringe, “Gosh your lips look delicious!” Now granted, that line can work very well in the heat of a very sexy encounter. However, in the context of this song it makes the man sound like a pervy lech. Of course, it ends with them both singing “Ah, but it’s cold outside.” And everything ends happily ever after. Because rape.
Unlike “Christmas Shoes,” the music is actually listenable. When I’m subjected to this song at the maul, I’ll find my self mindlessly humming and bouncing along. And then my mind slaps itself to remember how creepy the lyrics are and I run to the bathroom to throw up. Mmmm… regurgitated maul fooooooood.
Glee did a version between Kurt and Blaine, She and Him do a gender bent version with the dude playing the protesting part and Zoey playing the predatory rapist part, there’s the terribly cute version with Zoey and Will in Elf (which is also terribly creepy at the same time), and the Margaret Whiting & Paul Weston version which gets a lot of play on WASH-FM. And all of them, even the gender bent one and the countless others that I’ve listened to and haven’t listed, ALL OF THEM CREEP ME THE FUCK OUT. Of all of them, the Whiting/Weston version is the least creepy because it somehow fits with the period. But it’s still creepy.
In general, I’m a bit of a humbug when it comes to Christmas music. The local easy listening radio station, 97.1 WASH-FM, plays Christmas music 24/7 from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I don’t know what they’re Nielson numbers are, but I imagine they’re good enough during this month long jingle assault to justify bringing us holiday cheer for such a long stretch. Were you to chuck your car radio out your window on the Beltway, you’d still be subjected to the 24/7 Jingle Apocalypse because every store you go into will be playing 97.1 on their speakers or their own brand of holiday cheer from a CD sent over by corporate headquarters.
Now I will admit, there are a handful of Christmas songs that I quite like. The one that makes you feel guilty for living in a country that spends more on war than it does on children is great. The one about giving away your heart last year only to have it stomped all over is strangely cathartic for me. Oh, and the one that WASH-FM never plays about the guy who meets Santa in Hollis Queens is my fucking holiday jam! But there’s one song that I had never heard until this past weekend that makes me lose faith in the holiday entirely.
Yes, I speak of “Christmas Shoes.”
Somehow, in my thirty-five years of existence, I had never before been subjected to the horror of this sadistic evil. It starts out innocently enough. A humbug of a man stands in line in a shopping maul ready for the holiday to be over and done with. I can totally relate to the sentiment. He notices a small, dirty boy in front of him with a pair of shoes. When the boy steps up to pay for the pair with rolls of pennies, the humbug of a man regards the scene with curiosity. So far, so good. Since it’s a Christmas song, we can pretty much guess that the kid won’t have enough and that either the store clerk will take mercy upon the young lad and give him the shoes anyway thus melting the humbug’s heart or the humbug himself will step forth to pay for the shoes.
This is where the song takes a turn.
The clerk shakes his head and says he can’t help the little sir. Store policy dictates that even on Christmas Eve, the epitome of the season of giving, if you don’t have the cash, you don’t get the shoes. The child launches in to his sob story. He wants to buy his mom the shoes. Awwww. No no. There’s more. He wants to buy his mom the shoes so that she can look her best in case she meets Jesus. See, “she’s been sick for quite a while, and I know these shoes would make her smile.”
Wait. The. Fuck. Up.
What kind of fucked up values are these parents teaching this kid?! Oh shit, mommy’s got some nasty hammer toe. Her nails are all cracked and that athlete’s foot has rotted her skin something fierce. You know, Jesus don’t like a sloppy woman. You ain’t walking into them pearly gates without some new pumps! Jesus likes him some toes, if you know what I’m sayin’.
What a fucking crock! What a fucking evil emotionally manipulative way to sentimentalize capitalism! Mommy doesn’t want some fucking shoes. Mommy wants to see junior by her bedside before she kicks the bucket.
There are some alternate possibilities which don’t make this any better. One, mommy could have sent the kid out because she wants to have sex with daddy one last time. Two, this kid does this at every department store to scam people out of their money. Actually, the sex one isn’t too bad. But still, this is absolutely fucked.
Also, fuck the cashier. These busted ass shoes can’t be all that much, certainly not enough to break the bank for the cashier. Hell, shit gets stolen from department stores all the time. Write that shit off as a loss and give the dirty kid his magical fucking shoes. Spirit of giving, my ass. Spirit of heartless capitalism, more like.
So the humbug of a man pays for the shoes and sings the following:
I knew I’d caught a glimpse of heaven’s love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about
It’s not about the kid or the mom at all! It’s all about me! That day, my heart grew ten sizes bigger because I bought some dirty kid some fucking shoes so he could put them on the cold dying feet of his mother! I’m so awesome! God totally set up this fucked up situation to remind me that buying things for others is what Christmas is all about.
Even I, who has so little Christmas spirit that my heart is a blackened husk, know that the spirit of Christmas isn’t about buying things for others. It’s about giving of yourself. Capitalism is the furthest thing from the Christmas spirit. Consuming, material goods, Jesus cares not for these things. Don’t buy the kid the fucking shoes. Drive his ignant to the fucking hospital and make sure he spends time with mommy in her last minutes. And then call your mom or sister or brother or whoever else you didn’t spend time with this year because you were too busy standing in line buying shit THAT NOBODY WANTS! FUCK THIS SONG!
This song is absolutely the worst Christmas song ever. And what makes me lose faith in the spirit of the holiday is that not only did this dirty piece of filth hit number one on the adult contemporary charts, some dumb fucker over at CBS greenlit a made-for-TV movie based on this song staring Rob Lowe and Kimberly Williams. ARGH!!!!!
If you’ve read all of this, I feel that you have been properly warned at the utter filth that will fill your ears should you click on the play button. If there are people around you, please use your headphones. Unless you hate them. Or want to share the misery.
I present to you, sigh, “Christmas Shoes.” I’m so, so sorry.
I’d like to thank Danielle for exposing me to this terror. “Thank” may not be the proper word. But it’s her fucking fault for this.