Tag Archives: Music

Preview 8/20/13: Shakespeare, Hip-Hop, & Why Radio Sucks

Tell us how you really feel about radio, AT. I’ve been procrastinating on this particular series of mine, 16 Bars 3 Acts, because I know you may not like Hip Hop. So I’m going to let you in on a little something – you’ve been underserved by radio.

I really don’t like it. The only radio I listen to now is NPR, and I even start to get tired of that every now and then. I hate radio because it waters down every genre of music out there. Rock becomes contemporary, Jazz becomes R&B Lite, R&B becomes Hip-Hop Lite, and Hip-Hop gets hijacked by the masses of idiots. I kind of get it though. Quality work is quality because it’s rare, and popularity/sales has nothing to do with it. Mozart didn’t receive credit for his work until after his death, at least according to Amadeus.

With that being said, the radio is just serving its function, feeding bread to the masses, regardless of its nutritional value. Unfortunately Hip-Hop is the biggest victim of this system. Since the mid to late nineties the radio has been serving us less than bread; they’ve been serving us soylent green. It’s not your fault that you’re not a fan of the genre. You don’t need to be, but if I’m going to start my series (16 Bars 3 Acts) on Tuesday, I need you to be open to it. I’ll be exploring a modern Jekyll & Hyde in rapper T.I.’s TI vs TIP.

Look past the profanity and the questionable subject matter. If you can tolerate it in Movies and television, you can tolerate it here. If you can handle Mark Twain, you can handle T.I. Look past what the radio’s been shoveling into your ears. Here’s a bit of help.

P.S. I know I was supposed to tell you about the video game that made me cry, but this is taking a lot more time to put together than I thought. I promise I’ll have it up as soon as possible.

16 Bars, 3 Acts: A Preview of Stories Told Through Albums

I just did something amazing. I listened to an album all the way through. No pauses, no shuffles, no repeats. When was the last time you did that? Don’t feel bad. It had been quite some time for me, but it got me thinking about what seems to be rare in music these days, storytelling through the album. When we hear a single on the radio, we’re listening to a fixed point, and by that I mean a fixed key, mood, and subject. This is all in spite of a clear presence of a rise and fall in energy as the song progresses.

Most popular songs progress like so: an introduction, the rising action in the first two verses and the repeated chorus, the climax in the bridge, and the falling action as the song fades away. Artists, producers, and bands are well aware of this. Great vocalists save their best high notes, producers delay their best mixing, and bands hold off on their best solos until the right time. Many of them have and will tell you that they’re telling a story in a song, but when we look at lyrics that story is usually focused on a fixed point in time. They’re up to individual interpretation, but let’s take a look at some of Billboard’s top songs and see what they’re about.

1. Blurred Lines, Robin Thicke featuring T.I. & Pharrell

Translation – Those other guys will try to sexually tame you. I won’t.

3. Radioactive, Imagine Dragons

Translation – It’s the end of the world as we know it, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

4. Cruise, Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly

Translation… Baby, you a song! Okay, I’m being mean, but this one actually tells a story. The narrator, having already gotten the girl who inspired the song, is telling a simple story of when he first saw her, how he approached her, courted her, and won her over. Songs like this are still outnumbered by those with fixed point lyrics.

Now this isn’t a bad thing. An artist has three minutes to convey all of this, so I don’t blame Robin Thicke, Imagine Dragons or any other artist for doing what they gotta do. In this series I want to focus on the album, a grouping of several of these fixed points we call tracks, and those rare instances in which they are intentionally organized to tell a complex, compelling story. Yes, classical music and Broadway have been telling stories for quite some time, and while I’m a fan of both, I want to focus on the music that has saturated our daily lives. I’ve already put together a list of albums that I could ramble on about. They include (but are not limited to)…

The quintessential rock opera in Queen’s A Night At The Opera.(was that redundant?)

Their musical descendants, My Chemical Romance, and their tale of insanity in The Black Parade.

A disturbingly personal retelling of Jekyl & Hyde in southern rapper T.I.’s   T.I. vs T.I.P.

The crisis of life, death, failing relationships, and recovery in John Mayer’s Continuum.

The story of scandal, marriage and divorce in Usher’s trio (yea! trio!) of albums, Confessions, Here I Stand, and Reymond vs. Reymond.

Dave Matthews Band’s ode to late band member, saxophonist LeRoi Moore, and their grieving journey in Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King.

Actor/rapper, Donald Glover/Childish Gambino’s struggles as an African American born between two worlds and eras in Camp.

Each post of 16 Bars, 3 Acts will be my take on one of the above albums. It won’t be in any particular order, and given the research I’ll have to do, I won’t screw myself over and give you a set schedule. I’ll post this in addition to my weekly featured piece. I’m really excited about this series and hope to get started soon, but I want to hear from you! When was the last time you listened to an album all the way through and heard a unique, compelling and complex story? Hit me up on the blog or, better yet, via Twitter. A.T. Augustine

Another Blog? How Many More Do We Need?!

Ah Summer. It’s a wonderful time of year, is it not? The kids are out of school. Families all over are taking trips to the beach and other vacation hotspots. And others, like myself, are taking a reprieve from the muggy heat to start their own blog. That’s right. Right now, I’m sitting on the front porch, rocking seersucker pants, deck shoes, a white linen shirt and a Jason Mraz fedora, watching my niece and nephew play under the shade of a giant oak, and writing my very first post for the Crown Town Scribe.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Yes, this is yet another blog on an internet oversaturated by blogs. The only thing more numerous than blogs on the internet… dating websites and porn. I consider this the lesser of the three evils, and so I’ll try my hand at it. I’d also like to think that what I plan is a bit different from the norm. Crown Town Scribe will be an exploration of storytelling in it’s various forms, from the staples we know and love to the more unorthodox sources we may not expect. Stories are everywhere: in books, sports, music, science and everyday life (ie My everyday life). This all will be filtered through the lens of me, A.T. Augustine, an aspiring writer currently based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Some of my articles will have a local focus on them, but if I’m telling these stories properly, those of you tuning in from elsewhere will have no problem getting acclimated.

A little bit about myself: A.T. Augustine is a pen name, and I must confess I haven’t decided what the A.T. stands for, so maybe you guys can help me figure that out one day. In addition to writing, I dance (particularly Latin), act on stage and in film, and wait tables. For the sake of following the trend you must be catching on to, I’ve been known to sing a song here or there, but I don’t bring home the bread with that talent. My tastes are wild and varied, but there’s one common denominator among them all. I see a story being told. So in essence, Crown Town Scribe will be 1/4 analysis, 1/4 op-ed, 1/4 journal, and 1/4 writer’s platform.

Simple enough?

Too bad! :p That’s the best I can do. There will be at least one feature post a week, but I’ll occasionally get other entries in between. Be forewarned, I am an adult, who will use adult language where appropriate. The milestone widget to the right will count down to that feature post. The about page is self explanatory, and the projects page will preview and track the progress of some of my own work. All posts after this one will be categorized and taged, so that nonexistent tag cloud should start to take form in the near future. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Facebook (once the page is up). And check out my picks on Goodreads if you’re as much of a lover of stories as I am.

As I don’t consider this a real post, I’ll be putting my first feature up later this week. Until then…

Be Cool
A.T. Augustine