January 29, 2011

Essentially Condensed Reviews: Michael Jackson - Thriller.

Today I'm looking at the album that spawned half a dozen hits--including "Beat It," "Billie Jean," and "Human Nature"--and jump-started the solo career of the youngest member of Jackson 5. I'm talking of course, about Thriller.

It's, uh...it's got a great beat. Really danceable.

Next week I'll take a look at an album that featured a plain, white cover, and went on to sell millions.

January 18, 2011

interREview with Nickelback's Chad Kroeger.

Thanks for logging onto Pop Farce, your home for the best in music reviews. I am sitting here with Chad Kroeger, lead singer for the world-famous hard rock band Nickelback, for a special feature called "interREview." This is where we talk to artists for a collaborative reviewing process and let them share some of thoughts on their past work. This week, we’re looking at the album that gave Nickelback their breakthrough into the mainstream, Silver Side Up. Chad, it’s good to have you here. 

Chad Kroeger: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Pop Farce: Now, Silver Side Up was no doubt a defining moment in your career. It certainly broadened your audience, and with that, allowed for many future successes. But it also opened the floodgates to detractors who felt that you had gotten too big too fast. One critic said that you went "from relative obscurity to radio leeches in less time than it takes to shave a pubic mane."

What did you think when you first heard these types of criticisms?

Chad: Well, actually, I'd never heard that particular one. And I think the term "radio leeches" is totally unfair. We didn’t go to the radio, the radio came to us. But as far as becoming one of the top-tier rock acts of this decade--everyone in the band knew it was just a matter of time. We worked hard and played even harder, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when we climbed to the top of the charts.

PF: When the radio "came to you," some critics said they also "came all over the ears of the listening public" by making you guys the Most Played Rock Artist of 2002. Tell me, in your opinion, do you think that title was a blessing or a curse?

Chad: It opened all the doors for us, so it wasn't a curse. It gave us a lot of exposure. People got to see our faces, which made them go out and buy our records.

PF: Speaking of the people who went out and bought your first album, let’s talk about Never Again, the first track on the album.

Chad: This is one of our heaviest songs to date. We start with these crunching power chords and then I rip in through the chorus with this howl that just sets your ears on fire.

PF: That's a stunningly accurate description. Did you actively try for a harder sound or did it just kind of happen like that?

Chad: We never try to be hard, it just happens. We’re a hard group of guys.

PF: …right.

Ya know, I've heard trying too much can make it more difficult to be hard. But then again, staying hard can be just as difficult sometimes. How long do guys plan on staying hard? Because I've heard some say that once the hardness goes away it can be a very long time before it comes back.

Chad: ...This is making me uncomfortable. Can we talk about something else? 

PF: Next on the album is the uber-mega-super-smash hit, How You Remind Me. Was the intention there to create a radio-ready single?

Chad: People ask us that a lot, but I always have the same response: if we knew beforehand how huge that song was going to be, we would have made an entire album full of songs like it.

PF: Mm. And...you...you didn't...do that.

Chad: Every song on Silver Side Up represents a unique side of Nickelback. If we want to play fast, we do it. If we want to scream loud, we do it. And if we want to do both at the same time, all we have to do is check with the label to see if that’s all right, and then we do it. And we do it our way.

PF: How did your label, Roadrunner, feel about this next song, Woke Up This Morning? You drop a few curse words in that one. Did they ever put up a fight?

Chad: No way man, this album was raw Nickelback, and the label got that. 

PF: Can you speak a little more about the "raw" sound? What does that mean to you?

Chad: It's just unrefined, razor-edged rock and roll! You know? Like shards of glass in your whiskey! Fuzzy, heavy, distorted rock with a small bit of tweaking once it came time to mix the album. Then a little bit of layering with the guitars, some spicing up on the drum track, a little overdubbing on the vocals. And of course, we eventually had to teach my brother how to play bass guitar so we could add that in when it was all said and done. 

Ha! That last part was a joke.

PF: The whole album was...

[Clearing throat] Your second hit single, Too Bad gets my vote for the least awful...best song off the album. I uh...I really almost love that chorus. It screams "we have an aggressive male vocalist and know about rhythmic syncopation!"  

Chad: I get the feeling you're mocking me. 

PF: I wouldn't dream of it.

...I heard you asked Eddie Vedder to come in and do a few guest spots on the album. How did that work out?

Chad: That never happened. What...what are you talking about, man?

PF: No, I just heard he turned you down and that's why you chose to impersonate him throughout the album, just to get his goat a little.

Chad: All right, this is bullshit. I'm done.
[Stands up and marches out of the room.]

PF: Didn't see that coming. Who knew the lead singer of Nickelback would leave when he realized no one wanted to listen to him? 

[Long pause] Hey, does anybody know the lead singer from Fuel’s phone number? I've got a few questions for him...

January 11, 2011

Blockbuster Says 'Fuck It,' Charges $500 Per Rental

Executives at Blockbuster Video, once the nation's largest distributor of the Leprechaun movie franchise, announced Tuesday their plan to finally run themselves out of business once and for all by increasing the cost of movie and video game rentals to $500 per night.

James W. Keyes, Chairman and CEO of Blockbuster Inc., said the company has been considering drastic measures since it filed for bankruptcy in September of 2010.

"We understand that we're no longer relevant as a business," said Keyes at Tuesday's conference. "And we have no delusions about digging ourselves out of the hole we're in. But if we're going down, we're going down with our middle finger in the air and our genitals exposed."

The long, slow decline in business, resulting in $900 million worth of debt, could be considered just another casualty of the current recession. But it's worth noting that the company's biggest losses coincide with the rising popularity of Netflix and Redbox.

The face of considerable debt.
Blockbuster has made several attempts over the past year to remain competitive, recently adopting their own brand of self-sustaining kiosks--which are blue, and therefore much different--and advertising that they stock stock select titles 28 days before Netflix.

A representative from Netflix, while literally wiping his ass with a hundred dollar bill, said "there is no concern about Blockbuster's past or future ploys." Meanwhile, when reached for comment, one Redbox kiosk simply spat out a copy of Inception in exchange for a freaking dollar!

Keyes, along with most of his management team, believes competition was the least of their problems and places the blame squarely on internet piracy.

"We have copies of The Bodyguard that haven't moved off the shelves since early 2004," said a sobbing Keyes. "Now, I hate to jump on the anti-file sharing bandwagon like this, but if Kevin Costner and the incomparable Whitney Houston can't move product, then what excuses are left?"

Before Blockbuster goes the way of Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video, execs are hoping to recoup some of their lost assets with a bold move, upping the cost of nightly rentals by more than 10,000 percent.

"I know for certain that some people would willingly shell out a few Benjamins to watch Matthew McConaughey woo Sarah Jessica Parker," Keyes cackled. "And those people should pay."

At the beginning of February, Blockbuster will launch their new campaign, creating a tiered pricing system in the process. For example, a 3-day rental of a new release will increase from $4.99 to $1,499, while older titles will cost whatever the store clerk decides to make you pay. In conjunction, Blockbuster kiosks will only be stocked with movies directed by Tyler Perry, which will cost you one portion of your soul per night.

Keyes added, "Oh, and game nerds, that new Halo game you've been dying to play? Two grand per night, you pirating assholes!"

The campaign is tentatively titled "Bring Home the Magic For a Stupid Sum of Money, Just Because We Can, You Cheap Motherfuckers."

They still won't charge any late fees, though. So there's that.
David Cook, founder of Blockbuster, says he saw the "Block-pocalypse" coming for years, but chalks it up to personnel issues. "Since day one, we've painstakingly sought out the snobbiest, most socially inept employees we could find," said Cook. "It just caught up with us."

He added, "Also, we don't offer any free movies to watch online. So that's pretty shitty."

Outside a Blockbuster store in Pomroy, Ohio, frequent customer Marty Dellaford explained he would probably continue to rent from the chain even after the new pricing system takes effect.

"I dunno," said Dellaford. "I don't have a computer and those Redbox machines always have lines."