I want my nickel back.

There is a good and a bad way to critique music, especially if you are trying to be a professional music journalist. The bad way would probably mirror the conversation you had at the pub slamming the untalented musician you are definitely NOT a fan of. While it’s okay to vent in this way at the pub, in a formal music review, you might be catchy and creative but not crude.

I hope the following serves as a decent and professional proclamation of why I detest the modern rock band, Nickelback.

Dear Nickelback,

I want my nickel back. I didn’t even pay that for an album or a single on iTunes. But I want my nickel back because I am not even remotely a fan of your music. First, the vocal strain your front man is putting on his vocals might shorten the life of your career. A travesty for you, a blessing for me. There is a proper way to achieve the grunting and straining “I’m trying to sound like a bad-ass rocker” without sounding like you’re in need of some Phillips Milk of Magnesia. Consider Axl Rose’s whine, for example. Doesn’t sound forced at all.

The backing instruments in your crew are not bad. Some people listen more to the music than the words, but as a poet and writer, for me, it’s impossible to turn away from the words. I value both with the same volition but even if the music is good and the lyrics are crappy, you’ve lost my attention.

Consider your track, “Photograph.” Granted, it’s not your fault that the radio has overplayed this until the speakers are begging for mercy. But I have to hand you the blame for writing a sappy, cliche, and wholly unoriginal song. “…and what the hell is on Jimmy’s head?” You may have thought people can relate to this, but you mislead us. What the hell is on Jimmy’s head? We don’t know and we don’t care. You’re bringing your listeners (God bless them) to a platform where they cannot SEE your sentimental life in a photo album. You’re telling us about what you see but not giving us any specific image to cling to. Give us something concrete, at least!

I can see where the retired cheerleader might hear your tune and think fondly on her days of shaking pom-poms now that she is the divorced mother of three, thanks to her high school sweetheart’s wandering eye. But to who else does this song find a place in their lives and hearts?

(I’ll take the long beat of silence as an answer.)

Further, the song goes on way too long without real any variation. People crave variety in a song, at least in a difference between chorus and verse. Throughout, the song just sounds the same: tired and cliche. Listeners want something fresh and new.

“In my day,” rock ‘n roll could encompass anything from Aerosmith to Cinderella to Blind Melon and R.E.M. The “new” rock shouldn’t really even be classified as such.

Do we always need fresh and unique lyrics in our songs? No. Sometimes you just want to bop your head or tap your steering wheel to something as nonsensical as “Oh-Bla-Dee, Oh Blah-dah.” Even there, the non-words trumph your tired and poorly written lyrics.

This is how you remind me that quality rock ‘n roll is harder to find these days.

You want a good song about a photograph? Consult Def Leppard.

Sincerely,

A True Rock Fan

P.S. The author of this post would like to apologize to her readers. She usually likes to keep a positive vibe in her writing; however, she positively dislikes that band.

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You’ve got the music in you…

On an okay week, I climb into my car and hit the wipers, clearing away the humidity that has assembled on my windshield and turn on 92.1 FM. Here’s a little plug about that station: it brings every awesome moment of my youth back to me. Finally, a 90s alternative station that doesn’t play (much) crap like the other “supposed” rock stations.

I get one song on my morning commute. Today, that song was “You Get What You Give” by one-hit wonders, New Radicals. For those of you who are searching your musical synapses for this tune, it’s the song that goes, “Don’t give up, you’ve got the music in you…” Even though the rest of the album kinda getsa thumbs-down from me, this one song redeems them.

This is one of those tunes that starts your day off right. As I sailed across the bridge, i found myself tapping the steering wheel and boppin’ my head. Normally, though I’m a huge music fan, I do not blare songs. I once was quoted saying, “I want my hearing until I’m dead. And then I still want it.” But I blared this song. It set the tone for my entire day.

Though the lyrics seem like a long list of cliche advice, the music buffets them into nuggets of wisdom. Either way, they’re bound to make you feel good, especially if you are a music fanatic like me.

“You Get What You Give”

Wake up kids
We’ve got the dreamers disease
Age fourteen
They got you down on your knees
So polite
We’re busy still saying please
Frienemies
Who when you’re down ain’t your friend
Every night
We smash their mercedes benz
First we run
And then we laugh ’till we cry
But when the night is falling
And you cannot find the light
you feel your dreams are dying
Hold tight
You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget we only get what we give
[I’m comin’ home baby]
[You’re tops, give it to me now]
Four a.m. we ran a miracle mile
We’re flat broke
But hey we do it in style
The bad rich
God’s flying in for your trial
But when the night is falling
And you cannot find a friend
You feel your tree is breaking
Just bend
You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget
We only get what we give
This whole damn world can fall apart
You’ll be ok follow your heart
You’re in harms way I’m right behind
Now say you’re mine
You’ve got the music in you
Don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up
You’ve got a reason to live
Can’t forget
We only get what we give
Don’t let go
I feel the music in you
Fly high
What’s real can’t die
We only get what we give
You’re gonna get what you give
Just dont be afraid to live
Health insurance rip off lying FDA big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they’re multiplying
Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson
courtney love and marilyn manson
You’re all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around
We’ll kick your ass in

And then he ends with a series of vocalizations that you hope the DJ won’t cut off.

That’s all for this one. But it’s time for me to rant about music that isn’t so great.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Music is everything

It goes without saying that music is everything, especially to those who are so passionate about music they can’t help but write about it, talk about it, obsess over it…it’s the fire that fuels us: MUSIC IS LIFE.

This morning, with one week to a final draft of an M.F.A. paper and a messy house (because of the M.F.A. paper) I decided to clean house. Or efficiency, I guess, would be the more appropriate term. Maybe there are some of you out there who are like me: I can’t function in chaos. I get distracted from my studies if the dishes aren’t done. If my CDs are strewn across the one room I rent, my head is in a state of disarray (I can’t hear that word without thinking of “Plush” (“these are the eyes of dissarray…would you even care?”-STP). Maybe I do have a touch of OCD. For me, housecleaning puts things in order in my head. Done with music (would you really want to do it without music?!) it not only puts things in order, but is, to me, a spiritual awakening.

I find the best way out of a funk (and I’ve been in a great big funk lately) is to pop on any of my three Pearl Jam concert CDs and pick up the duster, the vacuum, the Windex…

As I was cleaning the stove reflectors, the 2010 live version of “Black” came on. There is nothing to compare with a live version of “Black.” Sure, we may have all fallen in love with the studio cut, but most of the time, live music surpasses any greatness that can be accomplished in the studio. It’s more raw, soulful, and engaging. In the live versions, Eddie tends to hold the “be” in this verse: “all that I am, all that I will beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” (he’s held that sometimes for almost a minute) ending with a raspy and breathless, “yeah-eh-eh heah. Uh-huh.” During this interval of time it is impossible for me not to get goosebumps racing up my arms. When they start trailing up my flesh, they bring a great rush of adrenaline with them that usually pushes salt water to the rims of my eye sockets. But I’m not sad. I’m so alive (not a Pearl Jam pun :)) with music that I have to share my musings.

So I ran to you, my few and devout readers (thank you) to share this, and I’m sure you’ll understand. Music isn’t just sound. Music is better than love, (it is love) it’s better than sex (yeah, I said it!), better than any feeling in this world, and maybe even the next. It does not play our emotions; it IS our emotions.

From tapping on the outside of your car door at a stoplight, to steering wheel drumming, shower-singing, crowd-bouncing, self-forgotten dancing, singing aloud at the gym, but not meaning to…it’s everything. So, if you’re feeling dejected, alone, forgotten, stressed out, pissed off, happy, joyful,…you get the point. You’re never alone if you have music.

Go put on your favorite album and really let it take you in. Also, tell me what band or song that really fuels your fire…the one that can bring you back from anything.

Be well, rock on and many blessings,

Rachael

This is the song and version I’m referring to. But the sound isn’t so great as it was an upload, probably from a phone. Even so…