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AM Survivor: Week 18

Bubbles have burst:

35. Curtis Mayfield (32)
34. PJ Harvey (29)
33. Bob Marley and the Wailers (28)

Still on the good side of the bubble: Aretha Franklin (27), Sonic Youth (23), Beck (23), Tom Waits (23), Nirvana (19).

(“Bubble” is a term from the “real” version of bracketology, related to the annual NCAA basketball tournament selection—which took place yesterday. One of my favorite days of the year.)

32 left on the island:

The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Beck, David Bowie, James Brown, Johnny Cash, The Clash, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Jimi Hendrix, The Kinks, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Pixies, Elvis Presley, Prince, Radiohead, Otis Redding, R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Sly and the Family Stone, Sonic Youth, Bruce Springsteen, Talking Heads, The Velvet Underground, Tom Waits, The Who, Stevie Wonder, Neil Young.

And Week 18 starts now.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

The saddest outcome of survivor so far. I surely didn't have any of those three in my list, so here I go again:

1. The Who
2. The Clash
3. Otis Redding
4. The Kinks
5. Led Zeppelin

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

As last week

5 points Sonic Youth
4 Springsteen
3 Aretha Franklin
2 Tom Waits
1 James Brown

Dear Sonic Youth,

Please go away.


Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1) Beck
2) Nirvana
3) Sonic Youth
4) Jimi Hendrix

5) Aretha Franklin - I still haven't had to vote for artists I really love, but we're coming fairly close. I quite like Aretha Franklin, especially some of the more obscure (I think) songs of hers, but all in all she doesn't have what it takes to enter the top 30.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1. (5p) Marvin Gaye - Overrated.

2. (4p) Sly and the Family Stone - I just don't care about it.

3. (3p) James Brown - His music was funky in more than one way.

4. (2p) Neil Young - He's got the voice of a steel guitar.

5. (1p) Tom Waits - What's with the throat cancer sound? He needs to clear his throat and eat some mints.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Still wanted dead or alive:
5 pts - James Brown
4 pts - Miles Davis
3 pts - Jimi Hendrix
2 pts - The Kinks

Blacklisted as of this week:
1 pt - Sonic Youth

A difficult choice between Sonic Youth and Aretha Franklin, but if I leave my strategy to look at albums only, and compare their songs, I give Aretha a free pass to next week. Furthermore, with PJ Harvey gone (shame on you, voters), she's the only female artist left on the island.

Back in the 80's, I was quite fond of anything experimental or alternative, e.g. The Fall, The Residents, Coil, Mark Stewart, Foetus ... I could go on for an hour ... and Sonic Youth. And I didn't like any 'soft' stuff from the 60's, like the Byrds, Beatles, Beach Boys and so on. Nowadays that seems to be the other way around: Yes, let's face it, I'm getting old ...

Recommended albums: Daydream Nation and Bad Moon Rising. My favorite Sonic Youth song: Death Valley '69.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

No more artists that I dislike on the island now

1.Talking Heads
3.E Costello
4.A Franklin
5 NEW ! Sly & F Stone : I love Riot (especially "Runnin' Away" and "Smilin'"), I appreciate their influence and their creativity, but I don't really get their early singles.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Sonic Youth is clinging to this island like Hurley from Lost to an oversalted pretzel. They just better be gone before Nirvana.

1. Sonic Youth
2. Prince
3. Elvis Presley
4. Aretha Franklin - The best way to explain this would be me reaction to her Grammy performance: "She's still alive?!"
5. The Beach Boys - I'll probably be stepping on a few toes with this one but this is one of the last groups who I feel is simply mediocre. They're great singers and Pet Sounds is a solid album but too often they sound like they belong in an Archie comic.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1. Aretha Franklin
2. Sly And The Family Stone
3. Sonic Youth – IMHO, they have one great album and one spectacular song (Teenage Riot), but I never listen to them anymore.
4. Nirvana – Same answer as Sonic Youth (change song name).
5. Radiohead

Bubbling Under: Otis Redding, Talking Heads, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I have the feeling I'm not gonna change my vote the next week either...

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Sad exits this week. I can't complain too much, though. At this stage, I still have nine of my top-ten artists sticking around. (Pavement having long ago cemented its place as this forum's most underrated artist in the top-100.)

Same votes as last week:

1. Tom Waits
2. Elvis Presley
3. Aretha Franklin
4. Miles Davis
5. Pixies

BTW, Andre, as I'm sure you know, Aretha is merely the only remaining solo female artist. We still have Kim Gordon, Kim Deal, Mo Tucker, Tina Weymouth, Cynthia Robinson, and Rose Stone kicking around. As a feminist anthem, give me SY's "Swimsuit Issue" anyday over Aretha's "Respect."

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Like relatives who've overstayed their welcome...


Heading up north for a few days - the land of grizzly bears and "nah, we don't gotst the interweb here." Later, gators!

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Holy crap, R.E.M.'s still around?! This definitely needs some fixing. Aretha's gonna get kicked off pretty soon with or without my vote anyways.

1. Sonic Youth
2. Prince
3. Elvis Presley
4. R.E.M. - If there has ever been a more pretentious, vague or boring frontman as Michael Stipe he/she still isn't as popular. His 30 year search for meaning has left him more confused than when he started.
5. The Beach Boys - I'll probably be stepping on a few toes with this one but this is one of the last groups who I feel is simply mediocre. They're great singers and Pet Sounds is a solid album but too often they sound like they belong in an Archie comic.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Henrik, I feel like I should kick off one of your choices just on general principles. I'm rooting for you, man! (Well, except for the Clash.)

On to my ballot:

5. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. The most misunderstood rock icon of them all; he even manages to misunderstand himself. Although he’s one of rock’s all-time great bandleaders, he’s tried instead to be some kind of field-hollerin’ Woody Guthrie…which is not advisable for someone who grew up beneath the Atlantic City Expressway. Too bad.

And I still think The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle is the pinnacle of his career.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Before this week started, there were four remaining artists who had never received a vote: The Beach Boys, David Bowie, R.E.M. and the Rolling Stones.

I realize I’m the only person keeping track of this (and maybe the only person who cares), but jonmarck has now cut that list in half. jonmarck, on your first ballot, you included the Beach Boys. Fair enough…I’m kind of surprised by how close they are to my own ballot. Then, on your revised ballot, you suddenly “noticed” that R.E.M. is still on the island.

That’s weird. Nobody has ever voted for them until now. That’s like not noticing that George Clooney is still making movies.

Still, I will duly, but sadly, tally up your 2 points for R.E.M. But I decided a few weeks ago to carefully rebut any criticism of my favorite band that I thought was unwarranted. So thanks for helping me to begin that project…now then (sound of cracking knuckles), your criticisms are all about Stipe. I’ll take them one at a time:

Pretentious: Well, yes, but not in a bad way. “Pretentious” is only a negative if it’s ONLY a pose, if there’s nothing behind it—which I don’t think is the case here. And Michael ain’t Morrissey…he spent all of the 1980’s trying to hide behind his microphone. More crucially, I defy you to name two lead singers remaining on the island who are NOT pretentious.

Vague: No, “Elliptical.” Seriously, yes, it usually takes me four or five listens to figure out what even 30% of an R.E.M. song is about. Who cares? Dylan made a career out of that.

Boring: I guess this is a subjective judgment, but my defense would be that they’ve been in the public eye for 25 years, and they’ve released 12 albums (13 on April 1). You don’t do that if you’re yawnworthy. What you’re saying is that YOU are bored by them. Well, I find the NFL boring, but if I said so in public where I live, I’d just get strange looks.


PS: By the way, about the Tragically Hip? They’re a good band.

PPS: What is it with you and Archie comics? The first week of bracketology, you blasted Chuck Berry for being Archie music.

PPPS: But thank you—somebody around here (besides me) finally made a Lost reference.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

What is NFL?

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Argh...not letting R.E.M. go down without a fight, are you? I've just never seen their value. At their best they've thrown out a couple competent ballads (Nightswimming is my favourite). At their worst they're coffeehouse filler. I think it's much easier, less effective and less impressive to write oblique lyrics than straightforward ones. If I realized they were still around (those three letters blend way too well into a full list of artists) they'd have been getting votes for the last month or so. But I am glad that you're keeping track of who hasn't gotten any votes yet.

"PS: By the way, about the Tragically Hip? They’re a good band."

I don't understand, did you recently start listening to them?

"PPS: What is it with you and Archie comics? The first week of bracketology, you blasted Chuck Berry for being Archie music."

Easy reference I guess. How about "...they belong in an episode of Full House"

"PPPS: But thank you—somebody around here (besides me) finally made a Lost reference."

Aye cap'n!

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

By the way, I think the NFL's boring too, I'll take Stipe over Morrissey any day (though I don't like either for the same reasons), and remaining frontmen who I don't think are pretentious are: The Pixies, Elvis Costello, Aretha Franklin, Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding and Tom Waits, more if you don't count those who used pretension tongue-in-cheek.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Sorry for the third post but I got thinking about what I really don't like about R.E.M., specifically Stipe's lyrics, and it's a slow day at work.

Schleuse, you say that it takes you about five listens to figure out what even 30% of an R.E.M. song is about. First of all, I don't consider that good writing, in fact it's the opposite. Sometimes it takes five listens to figure out 30% of what my five year old sister is saying! I don't like being spoonfed messages, but there's a difference between being demanding because the material is so complex there is no easier way to describe it (which is what Dylan does, and still manages to put it frankly), and being demanding because the lyricist is too lazy/incompetent to put it in plain terms. As a lyricist I find my strongest work is the straightforward, down-to-earth stuff, and my laziest is the airy, indeterminable type and I think Stipe has made a career out of the latter.

Second, I've listened to many R.E.M. songs more than a few times and I still have no idea what they're about. In fact, other than the songs with obvious meaning (Everybody Hurts, Shiny Happy People) I don't think they're about anything. The meanings are secondary, the lines are just strung together to evoke a mood. That's as valid a style as any other, but it's just one style. Dylan doesn't just have his vague songs. He gets fun, carefree, judgemental, self-righteous, historical, etc. Stipe can do one thing, and it's probably the easiest for all rock lyricists to do. I know R.E.M. fans applaud the fact that he's probably the least likely candidate for a rock vocalist, but my response is, "So why should I care about him"?

I really think the popularity of raw, oblique bands like R.E.M. and The Smiths are a reaction in disgust to the candy-pop and in-your-face hard rock of the 80's, which explains why both bands' careers nosedived once grunge took over.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1. Bob Dylan
2. Bruce Springsteen
3. Pixies
4. Elvis Costello

Last week Bob Marley was my new number five, just in time to leave the island. So let's see if it happens again this week

5. The Clash. I had a safety pin in my ear in 1977, and I didn't much like The Clash then. Only the Sandinista album has since found its way onto my fave listening lists.

Bubbling under:
Nirvana, R.E.M.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

5)The Kinks : I like alot of there stuff. But they have never made what I consider a great album.
4)Aretha Franklin : Just don't dig her voice.
3)Prince : Never liked him, His persona or his music. Someone lock this guy up in a zoo.
2)sly and the family stone : Let not STAND for another week. Good but not great.
1)The Who : Good but not great. Not a big fan ofrock operas.


Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I really think the popularity of raw, oblique bands like R.E.M. and The Smiths are a reaction in disgust to the candy-pop and in-your-face hard rock of the 80's, which explains why both bands' careers nosedived once grunge took over.

I'm just somewhat of a fan of both bands, but this is not a true statement. The Smiths broke up long before grunge. Meanwhile, R.E.M.'s most popular years were '91-'93, just when grunge hit biggest. (Incidentally, Morrissey solo was doing pretty well during the grunge years, too.)

Just had to put facts straight...

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1. Prince
2. Beck
3. Marvin Gaye
4. Led Zeppelin
5. Sly and the Family Stone - just not a fan of their music.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1. Beatles
2. Pixies
3. Nirvana
4. Radiohead
5. Sonic Youth

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1) Bob Dylan (5 points)

World used to be great. No one ever died at all, and if they did, it was always in good humor.

Then Bob Dylan's bad albums came out.

2) Beck (4 points)

I wonder what he's doing here.

3) Sonic Youth (3 points)

Generic to the point of great turmoil.

4) Led Zeppelin (2 points)

The apotheosis and standard of all schlock-rock.

5) Bruce Springsteen (1 point)

Some grrreat songs, but too many average ones. Too often cutely, masochistically, ridiculously overblown in the worst way.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

5 points. Tom Waits
4 points. Johnny Cash
3 points. Bruce Springsteen
2 points. Sonic Youth
1 point. Aretha Franklin

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Sinder, I'm not a Sonic Youth fan at all but I don't think there's anything generic about them. Where are you coming from on that one?

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

They're dull.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Those two words mean different things. Generic means typical or ordinary.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Ordinary = dull.

I'd offer an explanation with at least some half-cooked semblance of detail, but I'm not functioning so well right now, so maybe it'll suffice to say that I just don't see what the proverbial Big Deal about them is. (Whereas the Pixies, for example, have not only a Big Deal, but a Kim Deal as well.)

Nice guitar, but I can't hear anything else.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Wow! Two artists gone in one week! A double knockout. Everyone is respectable at this point, so I don't mean to gloat. They will be missed.

1. Elvis Costello
2. Otis Redding
3. Stevie Wonder
4. Aretha Franklin*
5. Elvis Presley*


Now it's getting pretty easy. I have at least one album from every remaining artist on the list minus the above 5. Aretha has such a powerful voice, but there is other music I'm more attached. As influential as Elvis was, his sound is probably more dated than anything left on this list, at least for music fans where "oldies" begin with Phil Spector and the Beatles.

Now it gets interesting, because with the remaining artists it will no longer be an issue of what I'm not familiar with but what I like to hear.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

What is NFL?

Henrik, this is about American football, it stands for National Football League.

Schwah, thanks for reminding me that Aretha still has quite a few sisters on the island to do it for themselves (this might be crooked english again, but I'm just trying to refer to a song of her with Lennox). Doesn't look like she's gonna make it to the next round, though ...

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

What is NFL?

This was half joke, half serious. (I didn't know whether it was American football or baseball.)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Oh, I get it! Baseball is NBL, right?

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Jonah, get Stevie Wonder's "Songs in the Key of Life"!

I promise you'll love it, or at least be fascinated by it.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

How did Bob Dylan climb to the top spot there all of a sudden Sinder?

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

What's baseball?

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

OK, jonmarck, let’s see if I’ve got this straight:

1. You find it very easy to write oblique lyrics that don’t mean anything.
2. Michael Stipe only writes oblique lyrics.
3. Therefore, Stipe is only doing something easy, and his lyrics don't mean anything.
4. Therefore, he’s lazy and/or incompetent.

Look, I don’t know if Stipe sweats bullets over his lyrics or knocks them off in the cab on the way to the studio. And I don’t really care. But if I had to guess, I imagine sometimes the lyrics come very easily to him, and sometimes they don’t. But I don’t know, and I suspect you don’t, either. Whatever the case, surely we can agree that arguing from anecdotal personal experience isn’t enough to convict someone of artistic dishonesty (which is what an accusation of laziness comes down to, after all).

True, Stipe only writes oblique lyrics. Except when he doesn’t. It seems to me that you just really don’t like elliptical lyrics, or at least Stipe’s elliptical lyrics (you’re in some good company, here—Elvis Costello feels the same way). Fine, although I think Stipe’s range is actually very impressive. I could give five or six examples of songs wildly divergent in tone and subject, but time is short, and I must start making dinner. Maybe someone else would like to tackle that one.

In short, I get that you don’t like the guy, but that’s no reason to mischaracterize him as a hack. (Or to compare him to Morrissey…that’s just mean.)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1973's self-titled "Dylan" album:

1) castrated my cat
2) made me so depressed that I had to stay in bed for 3 months
3) raped my step-sister
4) stole all of my underwear

I have already mentioned the deeds of 1970's "Self Portrait" in another thread.

I don't think I can forgive things like those.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

But surely the good heavily outweighs the bad? When you have a career spanning across five decades while releasing 32 studio albums as well as doing countless other things, you're bound to release something bad.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Extreme good + extreme bad = averageness

I think his missteps are the worst of those left on the list. (Though The Beach Boys are a close second. But at least they're funny in a retarded way.)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

(In other news, Dylan's not gonna get kicked out anyhow. So no need to worry.)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I know, but 10 points at this point seems like a lot to me.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Thankyou Sinder, finally I'm not the only person voting Dylan. Surely he'll be queueing at the harbourside soon?

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I knew you would get emotional once I started badmouthing Stipe, Schleuse, but I'm standing by my opinion. If not me, then Costello, because he used to be a computer programmer and those guys are really smart.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

sorry, that should be, "If you won't listen to me, then listen to Costello..."

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Oh, I'm not "emotional," jonmarck; I just like a good argument, and I felt like I ought to defend something.

I love Elvis Costello, by the way. If I want oblique, I go to Michael, but if I want arch, I go to Elvis.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I'm not liking the appearance of Prince on some of these lists! If he doesn't make the top 20, something's wrong!

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I don't like the appearance of Bruce Springsteen in these lists
If he doesn't make the top 20, something's wrong

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Moonbeam, I wish I could paraphrase you as well...

I'm not liking the appearance of Bob Marley on some of these lists! If he doesn't make the top 20, something's wrong!

But it turned out he didn't even make the top 30. No hard feelings, but I'm surprised that you voted him out. Most of my friends are fans of both Prince and Bob, so I thought their music had a lot in common.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Prince should be alright for another couple of rounds at least - hopefully Springsteen too...

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

If Prince, Springsteen, Costello, Young, R.E.M., Dylan, Bowie, Radiohead, Stones and Beatles don't make the top 20, something's wrong. These 10 artists would even make a nice top 10.

Bob Marley definitely deserved a higher spot than 33. Well, as mentioned before Survivor started: It's a evil and cruel game.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I suppose that nature of the beast that is Survivor is that it rewards acts that are inoffensive, to some degree at least. While many acclaimed acts are wildly divisive, others may slip through the cracks without much of a fuss either way. It will certainly be interesting to compare the results of Survivor to the results of the artists poll, once that is undertaken.

Henrik: As for Bob Marley, I don't really see much connection to Prince, if any. That may be showing my ignorance of Bob's catalogue, but Prince's ventures into reggae have (thankfully for me) been few and far between.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Ahoy there, Kevin!

I need a clarification. I've been entering votes in my spreadsheet, and I'm trying to figure out--are you giving the Who 5 points and the Kinks 1 point, or vice versa?

Based on your voting history, I assume the Who gets five points and Sly gets four (those are the only two acts on your ballot you've ever voted for before). If I don't hear from you by Sunday night, I'll assume this is correct.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

If the Kinks don't make the top 10, something's wrong.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

If Jimi Hendrix doesn't make the top 10,something's wrong

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Moonbeam, I think the correlation is caused by the fact that someone adventurous enough to appreciate Prince could very well be adventurous enough to appreciate Bob Marley. Supposedly, there's some nuance of a branch of adventurousness that links the two in a parablastic kind of way, in the form of a contiguous apartness.

(I don't know what the parablast has to do with any of this, either.)

But really. How come The Doors have been kicked out so long ago? They were the greatest American rock band. (Anyone who can take their pretentiousness less than tongue-in-cheek is just so no fun.)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

How come The Doors have been kicked out so long ago

Classic example of me changing a tense and forgetting to change the rest of the sentence.

My kingdom and a horse for an edit button.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Sorry man. Your right. Thw who get's five and so on. sorry bud

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

If Pink Floyd don't make th....oh buggrit!

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

You guys do realize that Pink Floyd left in Week 17, right?

Cause I saw them bubbling under in Paul's list and thought that was cool.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

This is my first try, so I'm sorry if I did anything wrong.

#1 receives five points, #2 gets four and so on.

1. Led Zeppelin- Kind of like Pink Floyd, but instead of science fiction they do fantasy inspired songs. They are sometimes tolerable when they keep it under four minutes, but then, how often did they do that? Furthermore, I think “Stairway to Heaven” is atrocious.

2. Neil Young- I understand that Neil is a well respected songwriter, but he has always bored me. Even his Crazy Horse records put me to sleep.

3. Pixies- I love the Pixies, but they do not sound like a top tier act to me. Very fun, but too rigid to compete with the upper echelon of pop musicians.

4. The Who- Their mod period is great, but the rock operas are really embarrassing.

5. Jimi Hendrix- Jimi’s cool, but I prefer his persona to his music. Also, I feel that he is partially to blame for all of the overblown guitar solos by lesser players that followed in his wake (see Page, Gilmour, Van Halen, etc.). A solid vocalist though.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18


Re: The Who. I agree that Tommy is embarrassing (the goofy concept, at least), but Quadrophenia has some good songs, such as 5:15 and Sea & Sand. It would have been a great single album if they had edited out the filler and not promoted it as another damn "opera."

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Jeff, welcome to the island.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Jeff, buckle up gracefully.

(Pink Floyd science-fiction cracks me up.)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Well, I'm not happy to see any of the latest batch voted off the island, and I even had Curtis on my list. But that's where we're at now, so I'll be voting for artists that I'm less sad to see depart. And there's no disgrace in finishing in the top 35. On the Michael Stipe issue, I find a majority of the songs on Automatic for the People very lyrically straight forward.

1) James Brown - I didn't realize he had enough support on AM to make it this far. He's got some from-the-gut funk and has been fairly influential, but he really wasn't consistent or diverse enough.
2) Tom Waits - I like ol' Tom, and he's had a pretty consistent career. He's just not as good as everyone else who's left.
3) Miles Davis - It's a genre thing, because I do appreciate Miles, I just don't enjoy actively listening to him very often.
4) The Kinks - When it comes to the British invasion, I consider them fourth string behind the obvious three, and it's not even close.
5) The Pixies - Although they're all good to great, I'm not sure I would declare any of their albums masterpieces. Their only song to make my top 200 was "UMass" from my favorite of their albums, Trompe Le Monde. A guess I'm an a-typical Pixies fan.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

AFTP is my favourite R.E.M. album, but I still wouldn't consider it better than anything The Band's done, or, heck, even Randy Newman. As for straightforward lyrics, let me just say, "Smack, crack, bushwhacked
Tie another one to the racks, baby". All you R.E.M. fans will know how hard I had to dig through the album for that gem. (For the non-R.E.M. fans it's the first line, and, no, it doesn't get better)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

It doesn't get better? Assuming you mean to say the lyrics are nonsensical, and therefor bad, then you'll be happy to know that from your viewpoint they do in fact get a lot better.

How about "Try Not to Breath," "Everybody Hurts," "Sweetness Follows," "Ignoreland," "Man on the Moon" or even "Nightswimming," just to name a few of the songs that come to mind? To slightly varying degrees these are all pretty straightforward songs lyrically, some of them even being quite obvious in their content.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Read the posts I wrote to Schleuse Raccoon. My problem isn't that they're nonsensical, it's that they're needlessly oblique. Everybody Hurts is a very simple song, and it deserves simple, straightforward lyrics, that's fine. How about complicated songs that tackle the issues that Dylan regularly addresses? How about Masters of War, Honey Just Allow Me One More Chance, Oxford Town, Don't Think Twice It's Alright, or Blowing in the Wind (and those were all on the same album!!)? Even when Dylan is goofing around he makes more sense than Stipe at his most coherent! Stipe gets so overwhelmed he ends up blabbering in meaningless metaphors. And, no, none of those (except Everybody Hurts) are lyrically straightforward songs. Some of them at least have interpretable meaning. None are straightforward.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

We'll have to agree to disagree. "Try Not to Breath" and "Ignoreland" are every bit as straightforward as "Everybody Hurts."

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Jonmarck - does it really matter if lyrics are understandable or not? A large portion of songs - no one knows what the hell they mean. Some,like the songs on Loveless,you can't even hear the hell what they're saying

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Jonmarck - does it really matter if lyrics are understandable or not?

I tought that a song was a combination of music and words....

If you mean by this that words don't count, I don't agree.

If you mean that lyrics can be good while ununderstandable, I agree. This is called abstract poetry, but it is a very tricky art. You've got to be good at it unless you want to sound pretentious.

BTW I think Michael Stipe is not so bad as a lyricist, even if some songs are hard to understand.
Some of the bands political involvments are clear enough.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I don't wish to pile on jonmarck any more for his dissenting opinion on R.E.M. (I notice, by the way, that nobody is discussing Mike Mills, Peter Buck, and sometimes Bill Berry--the guys who actually, you know, write most of the music).

But quoting the opening line of "Drive" as an example of drivel was funny. Maybe I've been brainwashed, but I don't think "smack, crack, bushwhacked" is un-understandable at all...I remember first hearing the song, and I got that one immediately. It's a clever juxtaposition of images which sets up the theme of the song perfectly.

Let me hint at what's going on: smack and crack both carry double meanings here (forms of assault/dangerous narcotics). Then, "bushwhacked" (just look at the first syllable) is the kicker. Why?
-Hint 1: Automatic came out one month before the 1992 US presidential election.
-Hint 2: "Drive" has remained a staple of R.E.M. live shows during the current administration.

If you can't connect the dots from there, then you just don't want to. I don't have a great deal of fondness for "Drive," actually--I think "Turn You Inside Out" did the same job more effectively back on Green. But it's hardly meaningless drivel.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

very interesting REM interview in the new Rock & Folk with Stipe, Buck and Mills
michael says "When young people start a group, they are first influenced by their heroes and try to sound like them. Then they find their sound, and that's when their music gets interesting. For us it happened with our fourth album, after six years of making records"
He doesn't say it, but if I'm not mistaken, he's talking about "Lifes Rich Pageant"
Note that "Murmur" is before that

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Murmur is a great album, but an odd one. In their first couple of years, R.E.M. had been making good but fairly standard new wave (including "Radio Free Europe"). But on the Chronic Town EP and then on Murmur, they made three changes:

-Michael started mumbling the lyrics. Whatever you think of that, it gave them a cache among critics who were put off by the bright primary colors of most early-80's pop.
-Like many, many acts before and after them, they discovered that the recording studio is a bottomless toybox of strange and wonderful ways to alter your songs.
-They were still doing new wave songs, really, but they...got.... slower.... and......... slower. Especially on Murmur.

So, while, let's say, their first three albums are already unmistakably R.E.M., they still had a lot in common with Pylon and the dB's and the Buzzcocks and the Undertones. But, yes, I guess it was on the five albums from 1986 to 1992 (Pageant through Automatic) that they made the music that "sounds like R.E.M." to most people.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I think you're reaching on that interpretation Schleuse, mainly because smack and crack have nothing to do with Bush and because those themes don't show up anywhere else in the song. Maybe you're right, but it would be just another example of Stipe approaching an issue as if he were about to say something relevant and then leaving it up in the air. This is what drives me nuts. He's not saying anything meaningful! At best he's referencing something that deserves to have something said about it!

My #1 problem with R.E.M. is Stipe's lyrics. The music is pleasant enough so I don't fault the other three guys. And even though I don't like Stipe's lyrics he could be a lot worse. He could be Gwen Stefani.

Midaso, the reason I go after R.E.M. rather than MBV is that R.E.M. puts so much focus on their lyrics. Stipe acts as if he's some great sage then fills his songs with nonsense about "men on the moon". He's pretentious, and he doesn't deliver. The only line of his that I agree with is "Now I've said too much."

Try Not to Breathe is not a straightforward song. The Hokey Pokey is straightforward. Try Not to Breathe may be straightforward when compared with the rest of R.E.M.'s catalogue, but that's like saying I'm a great runner compared to a cripple.

Again, it's not that I think Stipe's ambiguity is a bad style. I think it's all he uses, and that's bad. It gets reeeeally boring. When I think of how often Neil Young, Stevie Wonder or David Bowie change, Stipe's inertia seems retarded.

I think R.E.M. was a band that was important for its time and once grunge hit they lost relevance and were rightfully relegated to a dinosaur act. Automatic for the People was a great album, but by the time Monster came it was all over and we were introduced to R.E.M. the Adult Contemporary mainstays. They are DEFINITELY not one of the top 30 bands of all time. Especially now that U2, a much better band in all aspects, is gone.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I second that, schleuse. Lifes Rich Pageant was a real turning point after the somehwat dark Fables. Stipe started to get less mumbling there and the sound in general got more transparent, at the same time broadening their style.

As for the heroes you want to sound like as a young, starting artist: I remember watching an interview with the band, where Stipe mentions that he used to be fond of Grateful Dead and Aerosmith. This might explain their well-known cover of Aerosmith, Toys in the attic. The only other song I know, where Stipe comes close to Aerosmith's 'screaming', is the more punky song Just a touch.

Some of their lyrics I never quite understood right away, I had to read some books about it for clarification. So, my feeling is, it's not all that straightforward.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I'm a pretty big fan of early R.E.M., but I have to say that I never really got any enjoyment out of the lyrics (except for maybe a few stray phrases). I like the sound of Stipe's singing--especially the mumbly stuff (who knows why?) and the sound of Buck's jangly guitar and the sound of the rhythm section.

When I first heard Reckoning and Murmur is just sounded so fresh. I don't know why, but they took a step back, in my view, when Stipe's diction got so much clearer on Life's Rich Pageant.

So I guess I agree that the lyrics are pretty much drivel, but that's true of most rock music. What makes R.E.M. pretty great, in my opinion, is that they put together a fairly simple, but very pleasing and interesting sound in the early 1980's that hadn't really been heard before.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Ach. I should let it lie, but this argument’s like a bit of food stuck between your teeth that you can’t leave alone…

My interpretation of the opening of “Drive” may be a reach, jonmarck, but I’m far from the only one who’s made it. Just two points: first, juxtaposing unlike things for effect is very, very common in poetry (which is what song lyrics are). Second, the theme of “Drive” is a crowd’s willing acceptance of abuse from a charismatic figure in power. If the connection seems far-fetched to you, fine. But declaring that “Drive” is “meaningless” or that “Try Not to Breathe” is “not straightforward” is making you seem wilfully obstinate. What do you want, a road map?

(Your favorite R.E.M. ballad, “Nightswimming,” incidentally, is their only song that I know of where the music was written to fit the lyrics, rather than the other way around.)

I think your objection to R.E.M. comes down to a distaste with Stipe’s personality, which is, of course, your prerogative (I feel the same way about Morrissey). Quoting chapter and verse of lyrics to prove a point is a mug’s game in the end, anyway, and perhaps I was wrong to back you into a corner to defend your views.

As for the assertion that grunge killed the band, I think sonofsamiam effectively refuted that upthread. More likely, I think, is that most rock musicians peter out after their mid-thirties (although I have high hopes for Accelerate).

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

:Your favorite R.E.M. ballad, “Nightswimming,” incidentally, is their only song that I know of where the music was written to fit the lyrics, rather than the other way around."

That could be why I like it so much.

R.E.M. might have petered out in the 90's but their output didn't. They released as many then as in the 80's. The only difference is they were running on the fuel on past success. Like I said, their popularity only makes sense when put side by side with Michael Jackson and hair metal. R.E.M. is actually one of the few bands that I've listened to for most of my life. My Dad was a big fan of OOT and AFTP so they were played around the house quite a bit. I always found them pleasant and passable but nothing to write home about. Then when I heard that they were considered one of the best bands of the 80's I was floored. It didn't make sense then and it doesn't now. Point being? It's all about context.

As for Drive, what does this:

"What if I ride? What if you walk?
What if you rock around the clock?
Tick-tock, tick-tock
What if you did? What if you walk?
What if you tried to get off, baby?"

have to do with "a crowd’s willing acceptance of abuse from a charismatic figure in power."? It could just as easily be about calisthenics. Maybe you're right and it is about that, but there are soooo many other artists who have tackled that issue so much more effectively.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

jonmarck: This debate isn't getting anywhere. We're done.

Paul: A lot of people my age (and yours) feel that way about R.E.M. I think of this as the striptease theory. They started out with a lot of mystery, but the mystery has decreased with every successive album...which, for many, makes them less interesting. I'm sympathetic to that view, although I think they've evolved enough as a band to remain appealing.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

There, now you've conjured up alarming images of Stipe undressing. Hope you're happy.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Schleuse, ending it like that is just rude. You're the one who started it. If you don't want to talk about it anymore then leave it alone, don't scold me for responding.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I agree with Jonmarck,as far as 80s bands go,R.E.M. don't even come close to The Smiths - nevertheless,I'm not voting for them now:
1)Nirvana - Just still can't understand why they are so revered
2)Pixies - Not good enough,not talented enough for the top 30
3)Beck - Decent enough - hardly enough classic material to get any further
4)Talking Heads - I like some of their stuff,but most of it bores me
5)Tom Waits - Impressive catalogue,but mostly,not my cup of tea

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

jonmarck, I'm sorry you feel that way.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Schleuse, I think you're right about the "mystery" element. I like a lot songs off of their later albums, especially Automatic For The People, but the first three stand out for me. The later stuff is not as unique as compared to the rest of the musical world, probably due in part to the number of imitators that R.E.M. inspired.

And I also like The Smiths. Maybe even a little more than R.E.M. The sound of Johnny Marr's guitar playing on their early stuff is great. Example: "Girl Afraid" from Hatful of Hollow.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

It's cheap and dirty Schleuse. First you make me defend my vote because it's your favourite band then you act like I'm pressing the issue. I would've happily left it at my original comment but you insisted on arguing about it.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I'm pretty sick of this game. Every week I vote for who I think should be the next to go and every week some jerk gives me hell about it and treats me like a fucking asshole for even defending myself, while the rest of the idiots around here say stupid shit like "Neil Young - He's got the voice of a steel guitar." I'm done.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

5 Points - Aretha Franklin
4 Points - Pixies
3 Points - Beck
2 Points - Sly & The Family Stone
--At this point it's just ordering all the artists and taking the ones I like the least
1 Point - Talking Heads
--Too New Wave for me, almost spoken word-ish

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

In the immortal words of Monty Python's Meaning of Life:

"Well, that's cast rather a gloom over the evening, hasn't it?"

No, I shouldn’t make light of it. Obviously, jonmarck’s feelings are hurt, which is absolutely not what I intended. If you’re still out there, man, I hope you’ll cool off. But, frankly, I hope you develop a thicker skin...because, as you must know, I think you just burned this bridge.

I probably shouldn’t say this, but I think my reputation on this forum is that I’m a ridiculously nice guy. Except for today, I doubt I’ve seriously pissed anyone off…in fact, I feel like I apologize every time I disagree with someone here. I always, always try to respect other people’s points of view, even when I disagree with them. I’m not saying this to brag, only to show that I do not have a history of treating people unfairly. I hope.

So, when I’m insulted six times ("rude," a “scold,” "cheap," "dirty," "jerk," "idiot") in the space of three posts...well, I'm actually kind of flattered. Makes me seem much more like Lester Bangs than I actually am.

It’s music nerdery. Try not to take it personally.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

It's really too bad to see this sort of thing happening. And I'm not about to take sides; heck, I don't even think R.E.M is the issue here - it seems to me that it's just a catalyst for the real issue, which jonmarck has touched on.

The real issue, I believe, is that too often this forum (for whatever reason) punishes those who make valid contributions, and conversly, rewards those who don't. And I think this survivor game has, unfortunately (and unintentionally), magnified the problem. By that I mean, the people who generally make intelligent, thoughtful, and valid arguments/criticisms/posts seem to often be condemned, as opposed to those on the other end of the spectrum, who tend to come out unscathed (and are almost exalted somewhat). In my time on this forum, this is certainly a trend that I've noticed - and really, shouldn't it be the other way around? (Quite honestly, sometimes this forum seems like the world in Atlas Shrugged; it's the difference between the Hank Reardens and the Jim Taggarts).

I'm not going to flatter myself by claiming membership in the former group, but on occasion I've made a few thoughtful posts (in my estimation, at least) and have been made to feel like I've had to answer for them more than necessary. I'm not saying that those who make thoughtful arguments should be granted an automatic immunity from criticism, but maybe this forum could benefit from taking the finger that is often pointed at thoughtfulness and directing it at the more "obtuse" comments - the ones that seem to slide under the proverbial radar. Even if someone makes a point that may run counter to another's opinion, if their argument is sound (ie. intelligent, linear, well-constructed), a mature approach would be to reward and encourage that type of presence by acknowledging it, rather than taking it as a personal attack and arguing the crap out of it.

For what it's worth, schleuse, jonmarck - you guys are like AM's Galt and d'Anconia. It's bumming me out to see a riff come between the two of you, especially since you're both of value to this place.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

jonmarck wrote: " the rest of the idiots around here say stupid shit like "Neil Young - He's got the voice of a steel guitar." "

Thank you for quoting me. I'm not so fond of being called an idiot, but that's allright.

The reason I've written such stupid shit is that I don't take this game so seriously. It's just a game, and it's not important to me. It's just something I do for fun. I try to write something fun, or silly or a little bit rude as a comment, and because of that, I'm probably regarded, by you and other people, as not so serious. And that is fine, because I play this game like I mean it should be played. For fun. And most of "the other idiots" notices that I'm only playing. That's why I'm left alone.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Calling me an idiot?!

But seriously, don't go jonmarck, I need help protecting Dylan from these nitwits.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

Jonmarck, I'm seconding schleuse in saying that I'm sorry to see you offended like that.

But please don't take things that seriously. And try to be a little more diplomatic (is that English ? heck, I 've no time to check) in you assesments.
But we would miss you a lot if you decided not to take part in this game anymore.

And Anthony, what you say is true. A problem in this forum is that more than once, as posters, we come up with something that we feel is thoughtful and intersting to say, and the only reactions we get are negative ones.
More than once, we read a very thoughtful and intersting post and we think to ourselves "what a wonderful post" but we don't post back.

In my old job we used to congratulate each other on a regular basis with mimicking loud cheers and applause when somebody said or wrote some interesting thing or even without reason. (that was a joke we shared, of course, not some fucking management thing coming from above)
We should do that here sometimes

For why are we here ? To learn things about music, yes, but also to find a sort of solace from the worries of everyday life with people sharing the same passion. So :

schleuse, that's true you're nice, even if sometimes we have absolutely opposed tastes (I prefer Stipes when he's singing properly and shows his wonderful voice. Experimentation for the sake of it in music is definitely not my cup of tea).
But 2 AMers have always a common ground (here, the '50s)

jonmarck, once again, your point of view is interesting

This was Brother Nicolas live on on WWAM

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I knew that, sooner or later, this had to happen in this game. Sad to see that the game organizer and a valuable contributor are affected.

This game is supposed to be playful and informative at the same time. In my opinion, most of the participating 'idiots' focus on the negative side only, why they don't like an artist. It is the combination of this negative thinking and making playful - to a certain extend stupid - metaphoric comments, that gets other people triggered to jump on it in an emotional and mostly negative way as well.

Sometime in January I tried to stop being negative about the artists that I vote off. The formula didn't work out from the start and I still feel somewhat uncomfortable about what to write, but it's the only way I want to continue participating.

jonmarck, if you're still reading this, please try to put things in perspective: Schleuse's reaction may not have been at all times the wisest, but if you blaim him for starting the fire, I disagree. Imagine I would post something like this:

"Holy crap, Prince is still here. Need to fix that and revote, let's see 5 pts Sonic Youth, 4 pts Prince, etc. I've always had a big problem with this oversexed and overpretentious guy, he clearly must have some ego-problem, he should have stopped right after Sign 'o' the times, etc. etc.". Guess who would react on that? Right!

Don't you agree just a little bit that your post was provoking schleuse such, that he HAD to react on it? And don't you agree just a little bit that you both started the fire?

Get over it, man, shake hands and let's move on with this game!

P.S.: nicolas, you and schleuse have something else in common: Anybody who likes Down Under from Men At Work, must be 'ridiculously nice'.

P.S. 2: Moonbeam, no offence, but Prince seemed to be an excellent example to illustrate ...

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

That makes me ridiculously nice AND an idiot. A good day for me.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

1. Sly and the Family Stone
2. Otis Redding
3. Aretha Franklin
4. James Brown
5. Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen is definitely cool, but still, hard not to hold the god awful "Born In The U.S.A." et al against him. Not so much the new Bob Dylan; more the slender Meat Loaf.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

A fairly common trait of music snobs is to believe that nearly all others are idiots. That comes through on this forum quite a lot, but I suspose it is part of the territory.

And I disagree with the premise that off-the-cuff/foolish statements go unmocked while only the deep thoughts of the music literati are challenged. I've been mocked for my foolish statements.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

I don't wanna step on any toes here, but schleuse, I don't think you're being too fair on this thread. I mean, let's look at the facts:

(1) You put in the RULES for this game that people have to explain their choices for them to be valid.

(2) When R.E.M. receives their first nomination, you tear the poster's explanation to pieces (something which, let's be fair, could be done to anyone's reason's for voting ANYONE... there's no right answers here).

(3) When jonmark doesn't concede to your viewpoint and gives ample personal experience to support his own, you - having started the argument in the first place - turn things around by being the one to declare that it isn't "getting anywhere", and thus you're "done". (What's wrong with a good, old-fashioned non-snotty "Let's agree to disagree"?).

(4) You weren't insulted six times. You were called out on being rude (I respectfully agree), and those other five words you've just randomly plucked from jonmark's posts! Show me where he called you an 'idiot'!

Anyways. I don't like sticking my nose in, and know my word hardly carries much weight around here anyway, but I think you could stand to re-read this thread a fresh and re-evaluate your position. :-)

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

PS. I love R.E.M. - and personally consider Michael Stipe to be a damned fine lyricist. So believe me when I say it's not the content of the posts I'm taking issue with; just general conduct.

Re: AM Survivor: Week 18

twister (and everyone else), I've given a lot of thought to how I could have handled this dispute differently.

In my now-infamous "we're done" post, yes, I was being snotty, which I regret. I was frustrated by the argument, which seemed to be spinning its wheels, but I should have just shut up.

Although I think jonmarck overreacted, I feel badly about his being upset, and about the awkwardness on the forum which has followed our exchange. For my part in that, I apologize to everyone reading this.

Fair enough?

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