Blogthoven: My 5 Most Favourite Music Videos

This is a post I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but it’s been difficult writing it because it’s like picking your five favourite movies or ice cream flavours. I really just wanted to do this to share #1 with the world, because no one ever talks about it. Ever. I’m not saying these are the greatest music videos of all time, because honestly I don’t watch that many of them. These are just my favourites of what I’ve seen.

#5. Move Along – The All-American Rejects

This has always been one of my favourite music videos since I first saw it, because of how hard I know it much have been to make it (also, I’m easily amused). I’ve been told he just moves his mouth at random, but if you look he’s definitely correctly mouthing the words. I’m guessing they actually filmed him singing the chorus several times and just edited from that.

#2. Shut Up And Let Me Go – The Ting Tings

This one may seem like a favourite because of the transition effects, but I was actually able to semi-recreate the effect using Windows Movie Maker of all things, so that’s not really all that impressive. However, I loved this group from the moment I first heard this song. The video gave me some idea what to expect when I bought their album, We Started Nothing, and I wasn’t disappointed.

#3. Happiness – Goldfrapp

It’s on one shot, and I know for a fact that that guy had to have been in a bunch of pain by the end of it, because I tried it. Granted, it was years ago in my living room in one place, but I barely made it a minute before my legs gave up. Yet this guy is just smiling away the whole time and is energetic the entire video.

#2. Chasing Pavements – Adele

Like, seriously! This song is really depressing, especially when paired with the music video. When I first made that claim years ago, I had a couple friends ask me how, it’s just a bunch of dancing shadows. No, it’s a couple of dead/dying lovers, victims of a car accident. They’d recently had a fight. When I first saw this video I was seriously crying my eyes out.

#1. SOS – Abba

This may seem like an odd choice for #1, considering I said it’s the reason I even wanted to make this list. It’s not so much the quality of the video I want to point out. Abba is a group best known for upbeat, super catchy songs with lots of dancing. So to see them standing still, looking up at the camera, and singing sorrowfully as if the song was deeply personal to each of them just makes this video all the more powerful. The song itself is powerful, with lines line “Whatever happened to our love, I wish I understood. It used to be so nice, it used to be so good”. We’ve all experienced that before.

Blogthoven: Song Reader

Singer-songwriter Beck has been sharing his musical genius with the world for the past 25 years, when he recorded a cassette called Banjo Story back in 1988, and releasing his first studio album, Golden Feelings, in 1993. Even if you’ve never heard his name, you have heard his music, especially Loser.

Beck Hanson was born 8 July 1970 in LA. His grandfather was artist Al Hanson, his parents are Canadian composer David Campbell and musician Bibbe Hanson, and his brother is artist Channing Hanson. As you can see, he comes from a very talented family, so it’s no surprising that he is so full talent.

On 11 December 2012, Beck released his latest album, Song Reader, which he had been working on since 2004, Unlike a traditional album, where the artist writes then records the album, Song Reader is a book of sheet music. If you want to hear the songs, you have to perform them yourself. Or go on YouTube and see other people performing their takes on the songs.

Beck has set up a website for artists to upload their versions of the songs on the album.

Here is pianist Hanna Silver performing The Last Polka from the album. In the video, she discusses the album and even holds up her copy.


Blogthoven: Erhu

No, I didn’t put random letters as the title of this post. The Erhu (or 二胡) is a traditional Chinese musical instrument, and the sound you think of when you think of Chinese music. It’s a 2-string bowed instrument that Westerners often refer to as the “Chinese fiddle”. A traditional Chinese instrument, it’s also used in contemporary music.

The Erhu can be traced back over a thousand years, and were made of python skin and silk strings. In the 20th century, steel strings gradually became the professional way. In 1988, China severely regulated the use of python skin, as the snakes were becoming endangered. From 1 January 2005 onward, each Erhu made had to be certified as using farm-raised python skin and not wild python skin.

This makes them be very expensive. A few months back I looked into buying one, and the cheapest real one I found was over $300. Just the cloth to clean it was over $50. I became interested in the instrument last year, when I visited San Francisco in July 2011. I was walking through Chinatown when I saw someone playing one. It was something I had never seen before, and although I grew up hearing the music of China, I had never heard the instrument live in person, or even knew what made that sound. I was able to take a picture of the person playing it.

Here is a video that explains more


Blogthoven: Darby Crash

Born Jan Paul Beahm on 26 September 1958, Darby Crash had a bad start in life. When he was young, his older brother died of a drug overdose, and he spent a large part of his life believing his father had left them. He found out in his teens that his father was really a Swedish sailor. Crash lived with his mother most of his life. Accounts of this time of his life show that his mother was possibly mentally ill, often verbally abusing Crash.

In his school years, he attended a program call Innovative Program School (IPS), where students were allowed to form their own classes. He and his bestfriend, Pat Smear (born Georg Ruthenberg) formed a class for themselves call “Fruit Eating” where they would go to the market, eat fruit for an hour, then return to the school. Over time, the two became frequent users of LSD, and soon had a following of students who would also use the drug. The two were accused of brainwashing students, so they were dismissed from the school in 1976.

Shortly afterward, the two tried forming their own band. They originally wished to call it “Sophistifuck and the Revlon Spam Queens”, but they couldn’t afford to have the full name printed on a shirt, so they settled for calling themselves the much shorter name of The Germs. At the time, only Smear was good at an instrument. The band can be seen in the 1981 film, “The Decline of Western Civilization“. They quickly became known around Los Angeles for their chaotic shows. Onstage they had a ritual called a “Germs burn.”  Crash would put out a cigarette on some lucky fan’s arm, scaring them with the mark of his band.

The Germs split up in 1979, and soon after Crash moved to England, where he began using heroin. But he moved back to America, where he formed the unsuccessful Darby Crash Band. Shortly afterward, his new band split up, and he fell into a depression. He decided that the only way he would become a rock legend now was to commit suicide, which he did.

Darby Crash committed suicide on 7 December 1980. The very next day, former Beatle John Lennon was assassinated, which took up the headlines that Crash’s death would have occupied, so it went largely unnoticed.

Pat Smear later went on to play guitar in the band Nirvana, whose lead singer, Kurt Cobainalso committed suicide. He currently play guitar for the band Foo Fighters.

In 2007, a biopic about Crash’s life was made titled What We Do Is Secret.

Darby Crash