iTunes Library…haters gonna hate

“There is no such thing as a guilty pleasure.” – Chuck Klosterman in an Esquire article (me paraphrasing him)

As usual I needed to charge my iPhone prior to boarding the plane…so there I was booting up my Mac laptop to get a little extra juice to my phone. iTunes popped up on the screen as soon as I inserted my phone’s USB cable…and there was Desiree’s iTunes library. I had no fucking clue who Desiree was…I don’t even know a Desiree, yet her iTunes library was one of the folders in my iTunes. I quickly called my wife to see if her or one of the kids had made a playlist called “Desiree”…but I knew damn well that wasn’t what had happened. Instead, the mysterious Desiree was actually some other airline passenger sitting at the gate waiting on a plane…and had not ensured that their iTunes was locked down. Here it was…Desiree’s complete iTunes library for the world to see…or at least other Mac/iTunes users.

Desiree’s iTunes library wasn’t that large…2,418 songs and in their alphabetized glory they arranged themselves A to Z. It started with Abba (Greatest Hits) and proceeded to be one boring (my opinion) song after another. By the time I got to Beethoven, I was extremely disappointed and removed my ability to see (and use/download) Desiree’s iTunes library. Between Abba to Beethoven and the bad security, all I could think was white girl problems. I was struck by the way I had so quickly judged Desiree and her shitty choice in music. I also knew that if I could have met Desiree I would have kept my opinion to myself but would have informed her of the bad security on her computer and suggested she fix her shit. I did, numerous times, say “Desiree” quite loudly while on the phone to my wife hoping that Desiree would hear me…alas no one turned their head or acted as if they were Desiree. Somewhere out there is a female (I am assuming Desiree is a female’s name) walking around with an iTunes library being shared to everyone…and in her wake leaving a bunch of people like me shaking their heads at the extremely boring music she listens to.

Now before you start saying “Hey Sublimemonkey, you ever thought that others might pass judgement on your selection of music?” Why yes I am sure they would and do. As a matter of fact my wife has done this numerous times. Like all things coming together in holy matrimony, my wife and I brought our iTunes libraries together and formed one large unholy concoction that not only starts with A-ha (mine)…but it also includes AC/DC (mine) to a bunch of Strawberry Shortcake songs (wife’s…actually wife’s daughter) to Thin Lizzy (mine) to songs from the show iCarly (wife’s). So we are not above reproach. As my wife likes to say…when you start scrolling our iTunes library from A-ha to .50 Cents, you get stuck in this endless desert highway of one AC/DC song after another…and this is a result of me owning the complete AC/DC catalog. Believe what you want…AC/DC kicks ass.

To be fair, I feel it necessary to share some dirty laundry…specifically some musical underwear that may or may not have some skid marks in them. If poor ol’ Desiree had to have her iTunes library examined by a very judgmental 43 year-old man, then it is only…in the name of cosmic justice…fair that I, at a minimum provide a taste of my iTunes library. Specifically, I feel like sharing what iTunes has determined and labeled my “Top 25 Most Played” songs. I offer no apologies, but am proud to point out that there is no Abba on it…even though there is some Abba in my iTunes library…but there is Nickelback, and for that I feel no need to apologize regardless of the number of people who deplore Nickelback. So here for your curiosity and amusement is Sublimemonkey’s iTunes Top 25 Most Played songs ranked from lowest to highest:

– “Revolver” by Madonna…not only is the song obviously about sex…it is also catchy as hell and I don’t care that this once pudgy Italian-American girl now has a British accent. I loved her when she was singing about virginity and love her now when she sings about being a whore.

– “Celebrity Skin” by Hole…Courtney Love, like Madonna, seems to cause people to either cringe or smile. As much as I like Nirvana (regardless of their killing heavy metal), I cannot and will not blame Courtney for anyone’s suicide…and yes I do feel that Courtney has talent and her critics may really hate her…but part of me thinks that those who disparage her are actually jealous of her ability to continue to hang around without overdosing. You go girl!

– “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness…another (somewhat) modern rock band harkening a 1970s sound…all campy and somewhat androgynous and when I hear this song I always think that The Darkness is probably of one the best bands to micmic Queen.

– “I am the Highway” by Audioslave…former Rage Against the Machine musicians who I feel got in touch with a softer and more meaningful side and this song specifically seems to be one the most beautiful love songs or one of the best lost love songs ever written…these two types of “love” songs seem to go hand-in-hand and always dependent on a listeners situation…falling in love and losing love are the two sides to the sharp razor which is what we call “love.”

– “Cavalier” by Shovels & Rope…a husband and wife duo that are from Charleston, South Carolina…probably one of the best bands I have heard in the past 2 years. Saw them in DC last year and was amazed how it is just the two of them and how they alternate between playing the guitar and the drums. Their lyrics are quick and smart…plus who doesn’t love a song with the following: “Well, ice cream, soda pop, bourbon on top/Some people call it rock and roll and some people call it pop/Some call it country music every time you use a fiddle/How am I supposed to know if that’s a fact or just a riddle.”

– “Rockstar” by Nickelback…haters gonna hate…but if you have ever been a person who has listened to a lot of rock music and NOT imagined what it is like to be an actual rockstar, then I would argue that you have never really listened to rock music. Every thing Nickelback sings in this is not only tongue-in-cheek…but completely true. Let’s face it…to get to the pinnacle of your profession requires a bit of selling of one’s soul.

– “Electric Worry” by Clutch…like all Clutch songs, I really don’t know what the fuck they are singing about…but this song kicks fucking ass. Pretty sure this pothead metal/rock band doesn’t give a shit whether we know what they are singing about or not.

– “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen…one of the few redeemable songs on his “Born in the USA” album…and if you thought Sting was a stalking freak with “Every Breath You Take”…then you need to listen to this obsessive ode by Bruce. This short simple song is nothing but pure obessiveness.

– “Tainted Love” by Marilyn Manson…as a huge fan of Soft Cell’s original version…I believe MM hits it right for a modern take on how love can go so bad. Just like The Darkness, MM is nothing but camp and theatrics and if The Darkness is today’s Queen, MM is today’s David Bowie. Is MM weird…yes but who gives a fuck…and if you thought MM’s “Tainted Love” video was weird, click on Soft Cell’s version…now that was weird back in the day.

– “So Good” by B.o.B. …and just like Nickelback, here is another artist talking about how wonderful it is to be rich and famous. I heard this song for the first time a couple of years ago while driving in England and if you want to know what the next big club hit is going to be…go to Europe and turn on the radio to a pop station. Another worthless song about self-importance and how wonderful it is to be rich and famous…but hey B.o.B. is rich and going to take you places all over the world.

– “High On a Wire” by Black Box Revelation…another modern post-punk/rock band that sounds like a mix of Ramones and Black Crowes. My wife and I heard this song and band for the first time while having an afternoon beer in a DC bar. We found the lead singer’s voice has an odd Tom Petty edge to it…which may the result of this band being from Belgium and English not being their native tongue. Others have said they sound like a mix between the Beatles and the Kinks, but I am going to stick to my original reference to the Ramones and Black Crowes, or at a minimum Jet (who I think is another one of those typical modern post-punk bands that sound like every other one).

– “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes…like Shovels & Rope, Alabama Shakes is one of those rare finds that I stumbled across a year or two ago and immediately struck by their musical prowess and how their sound didn’t seem to match their obvious youth. Sometimes a song doesn’t have to say much to mean something…sometimes it says volumes by the way the vocals and instrumentals strike you hard in the soul. This band and this song hit you hard in the chest.

– “Gravity’s Gone” by the Drive-By Truckers…one of my favorite bands and one of my favorite songs by them. DBT may appeal to me because of the fact that they are from northwest Alabama and sing about things that make complete sense to me. Have to say that I have identified with so many DBT songs that is almost impossible to keep count. This song and “Let There Be Rock” are songs that I so quickly and easily identify with that I feel that I not only know the DBT’s personally, but they were guys I hung out with in high school and college.

– “Jailbreak” by AC/DC…a cover of Thin Lizzy’s (who was one bad muthafuckin’ band) song and as always…AC/DC nails it. I can’t imagine there is any man who is older than 35 who doesn’t turn up the volume when AC/DC comes on. No band, other than maybe Aerosmith, has sung as much about pussy as AC/DC. When we turn up AC/DC we are not only listening to great rock n’ roll…we are also turning back the clock and picturing ourselves as 16 year-olds. We don’t listen to AC/DC to make our wives or girlfriends happy, and we sure as shit don’t listen to them to impress you…we listen to them to be 16 again.

– “Shake Your Hips” by the Rolling Stones…the Stones didn’t want to be a rock band and definitely didn’t want to be a pop band (Beatles)…they wanted to be a blues band. The British Invasion was nothing more than British bands coming across the Atlantic and showing us that they had been listening to our music. This song is one of my wife’s favorites and I am proud to have introduced her to it.

– “Nth Degree” by Morningwood…another retro sounding song from another one-hit wonder that is nothing but toe-tapping fun. Obviously, a 3rd grader could have written the lyrics since it is primarily nothing more than the lead singer (with her boobs bouncing out of her shirt in the video) spelling out the bands name “M-O-R-N-I-N-G-W-O-O-D”…and yeah we get it…you’re talking about the affliction most of us guys have when we get out of bed in the mornings and spend ten minutes trying to piss. Nothing important here, move along.

– “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People…yep, a song about a school shooting…inappropriate yes…is unrealistic for us to expect musicians not to sing about things going on in society…yes. The endless loop of the chorus leaves no doubt that this song is meant to drive home the point that what happens in society is reflected in pop culture/music.

– “Bad Girlfriend” by Theory of a Deadman…had to go with an unofficial video since I couldn’t find an explicit and official version on YouTube…but if you are going to listen to this song censored…then you are completely fooling yourself and missing the point of the song. This song is what it is…and all of us know a woman who is like this and if you are fortunate enough to dated her then you completely get this song. Also be aware this song sounds great in a strip club.

– “Fire Woman” by the Cult…before Theory of a Deadman were singing about their girlfriend, the Cult had already established the point that there are some woman out there that steal your heart with their energy and presence…and yes this song also sounds great in a strip club.

– “Salute Your Solution” by The Raconteurs…another song by Jack White and whomever he adds to play behind him…and let’s be honest it is Jack White who is the genius here and it will never be you. As much as I respect him and his talent, I always come away feeling I wouldn’t like him in person. But props are due where props are due, however, I will always listen to Jack White (in whatever version he is today or tomorrow) with a bit of hesitancy because there is so much anecdotal evidence pointing to the fact he is a raging dickhead.

– “Air Force Ones” by Nelly (and a bunch of other rappers you have never heard of)…I have said it before and I will say it again…best song about shoes EVER. I identify less with obvious Nike shoe addiction than the fact that a good beat and an almost comedic take on fashion commercialism is nothing less than low, sweet, and cool. This song is my ringtone and alarm. My personal taste in athletic shoes, however, is Adidas…but “I need two paaaaaar” of Air Force Ones.

– “I‘m On A Boat” by the Lonely Planet…yes it is comedy…yes it is stupid…yes it is juvenile…but it is one of the greatest songs ever. I claim this strictly on the fact that I have never met anyone who has listened to this song and then not immediately being able to sing it. If nothing else, its lyrics are memorable…and when we hear it, all we do is laugh. It has to be good if it makes you smile and laugh…and it is nowhere as dirty or rough as “Natalie’s Rap.”

– “Leaving Tennessee” by Cross Canadian Ragweed…seems there is a whole group of artists out there that have a made a living out of bad mouthing the record industry in Nashville, and just like Robbie Fulks’ “Fuck This Town” it seems easy to hate Nashville. This song, “Leaving Tennessee,” coupled with their ode to weed “Boys From Oklahoma” pretty much surmises the depth of Cross Canadian Ragweed.

– “Bad Dog” by Neon Hitch…basically a lesser version of Lady GaGa and definitely one with a smaller catalog than Lady GaGa…however, this song and her “Fuck U Betta” pretty much puts her in running for the next Madonna. Neon Hitch is far more attractive than Lady GaGA…but the battle of the dirty-mouthed fashionistas won’t end until either Lady GaGa or Neon Hitch have had as long a run as Madonna.

– “Bad Luck” by Social Distortion…simply put, Social Distortion is rock n’ roll that pays respects to the early days where men looked like James Dean or Elvis, yet were able to play Marlon Brando. This is what the definition of rock n’ roll sounds like in the dictionary.

Now, what I find interesting is that none of these songs would really make my top 25 list if I was actually making the selection. Instead, iTunes uses some algorithm and it has to be more than how many times the song has played…because I have listened to these songs and so many others in my iTunes. This is a question a lot of people are asking because there are whole discussions at apple.com about how iTunes counts the number. Doesn’t seem there is a legitimate answer out there. I am just glad Abba or Beethoven aren’t on my list…even though both exist in iTunes library.

Desiree may not have had a very large iTunes library and it may have been a little vanilla, however, I cannot really pass judgement. I am just going to be thankful that I have my iTunes (and the rest of my shit) locked down cause I would hate to know that someone is sitting somewhere seeing my iTunes library and wondering who in the hell would have a whole collection of Kazakh folk music AND Metallica’s complete catalog. Desiree, you just go on and rock your badass self out and don’t let anyone tell you that your taste in music sucks. Haters gonna hate.

 

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Quit Watching the Show…me and television

I am not bothered by How I Met Your Mother ended…nor do I really care how any TV show ends. I can say it is about brain rot, I can say it is about my superior intelligence, or my mature tastes in entertainment, but in reality I don’t like TV because it bores me…or it makes me so fucking mad that I spit across the screen while screaming at it. I’m not even talking about political or media -related shit, I’m talking about prime time television and how it drives me absolutely stark raving mad. Really it is about how I don’t have a relationship with my TV thus I get bored or mad out of total disconnect. I am going to blame my dad.

From 1975-1978  and 1981-1983, I lived in Germany as a dependent. “Dependent” is now called “family member”…the US military is trying to sound less depressing or aggressive or dominant. So dependent meant that I was a child of and dependent on my dad. Because my dad was in the Army…we moved to wherever the Army sent us. For six years of my childhood, we lived in Germany. Yes it was cool, yes I have a strange adult addiction to Haribo gummis…yes “gummis” cause that is how it was written and pronounced in German. One couldn’t find Haribo gummis in the US until the late 1990s but I remember being a child in Germany and getting this fantastically delicious nastiness for a treat. Along with European gummi treats, I remember growing up on AFN TV…Armed Forces Network…and AFN was known during the 70s and 80s for being seasons behind on American prime time TV shows and extremely stupid commercials that today are seen as highly entertaining on YouTube. Because AFN was an extension of the US military specifically, and the US federal government generally…AFN wasn’t allowed to run ads by any commercial company…thus growing up for 6 years of my childhood, I never saw an ad for a new toy, a new hamburger1, or a new movie. Instead AFN used old B-grade movie scenes or bad animation to inform to ensure my dad had filled out his forwarding address paperwork before we PCS’d2, or that my mom had a power of attorney while my dad was deployed, or to think OPSEC3 while traveling about Europe…and these were the types of commercials that I saw on Saturday morning while the old, but still great, Warner Bros cartoons ran for 2 hours…Saturday morning cartoons didn’t get more than 2 hours because we only had one channel on our TV and that was AFN…so AFN had to attempt to please everyone…and usually failed to please anyone. So when it comes to TV and my childhood…it was pretty much old re-runs, bad government-made commercials, and odd cult shows that never really caught on here in America like The Prisoner which was this very weird and scary (to me at age 7) British spy show that includes the line “I am not a number, I am a free man” and this odd and horrifying white ball that chased the main character around…I can remember having nightmares about the big white ball…the Rover…as a child.

So yeah, me and TV aren’t exactly best of pals because during my formative years I spent more time outside…eating gummis and avoiding terrorists4 than watching the latest episode of the latest hit on TV. If I was watching TV…it was a season or two behind what was being shown in America and then only of the shows that the US military could afford to buy and show on AFN. Along with weird and outdated shows…there was the lack of choice…basically I assumed everyone as a kid spent time wondering if their dad’s ball cap would signal the Red Brigade to our Americanism while we were getting ice cream on a warm summer afternoon in Bad Nauheim, Germany.

Couple with the fact, that even though MTV and cable TV became fairly common by the mid-1980s, my dad moved us to a farm in Bum Fucking Egypt, Tennessee when I was 13 and my parents didn’t get cable (satellite) until I left for college…basically, I didn’t watch real TV (as we know it today) until I had basic cable in my dorm room in 1988. Follow that up with some time enlisted in the Army and then being stationed in Germany, as an officer, from 1995-1998…I have come to realize that TV…modern, up-t0-date television was not part of my life. Hell, AFN still existed in 1995 and the ability to get SKY satellite (a British satellite service) in your quarters in Germany wasn’t an option until I PCS’d in 1998 to Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Don’t get me completely wrong…I have seen The Simpsons…and Dallas…and ER. ER is really the most telling because it started in September 1994 and wasn’t a huge hit until the following year. I had never seen an episode of ER until a friend started getting the VHS tapes of the 2nd season (fall 1995) from a family member while we were stationed in Germany…thus I started watching ER in its second season, and by the time I returned to the states, in 1998, I was two full seasons behind. Obviously, I quit watching ER. This finding out about a TV show, then seeing old episodes and then returning to the states and missing whole seasons to the point of causing you to quit watching the show was very typical in the 80s and 90s. Internet and re-run specific TV channels were yet to be invented…thus if you returned to the states after a few to many years, you had to either go and “rent”…actually go in a store and get a copy on VHS…or hope that a friend or family member recorded all those shows for you while you were gone, or do as I did…and quit watching the show.

Quit watching the show is how I have gone about TV ever since. Not only did I not have a childhood full of McDonald’s commercials…or Big Macs, but I had a childhood that was absent of up-t0-date cartoons, and as an adult, I had a life that was disconnected from the cultural touchstones that were known as Friends and Seinfeld. Neither of these shows only [italics for emphasis only] ran during my military assignment in Germany, but they both seemed to be at their height either right before, during, or right after living in Germany…thus I had no particular interest or knowledge of them when everyone else then (and now) talk about them. I just didn’t watch them…I never really knew what anyone was fucking talking about…I never got the inside jokes. I was either working, working and living outside America, or watching something that seemed a little less needy.

Yes, sitcoms…especially sitcoms targeted at general American audiences seem needy to me. The characters are almost always completely stupid or full of faults that cause you to watch them make one mistake after another…thus the sitcom and the characters need you to watch…I guess to feel better about ourselves or something. I never felt the Simpsons or Family Guy were that needy…yet they are full of stupid characters doing stupid shit…yet because of them being cartoons, they felt almost harmless. I guess you could argue that I have a stunted childhood that lacked an overabundance of cartoons, thus today as an adult I seek solace in them…or I am a typical immature male and would rather spend my time watching somewhat well-written fart jokes instead of watching 20- and 30-somethings endlessly talk about their fake and mistake-prone lives. I didn’t spend my 20s or 30s like those characters…so why should I give a shit about them.

In the end, that is truly one of the reasons I don’t watch much TV and why I don’t watch (or stay loyal to) sitcoms…basically I don’t give a shit about them or their lives. I am not sympathetic to fault ridden characters that never seem to learn from their mistakes. I don’t give a shit about characters that find themselves solving “problems” in 30 minute blocks of time…to make a similar problem the very next episode. After awhile TV shows feel possessive of my time and thoughts. TV shows feel needy for my attention. I don’t like needy…and I don’t like mistake-making, but never learning, characters. Of course I could be doing nothing more than continuing my obstinate refusal to fully participate in American culture since a significant portion of my life was not lived in America…and now, as a point of pride, I refuse to watch this shit.

How I Met Your Mother may be a great show, I have actually laughed during a few episodes I have seen…but in the end I don’t give a shit how it ended nor do I care what will be the next big thing on TV. Oh and you Walking Dead fans…yeah I don’t give a shit about that either…I get the fucking zombie shooting thrill of it…but the fucking human tragedy/drama…almost Shakespearean…thing that all y’all prattle about…seriously, get a life. [<see that is me being obstinate and prideful]

 

1. Don’t even get me started on how strange it was to be back stateside (that is what we called America…stateside) and seeing the overabundance of fast food chains…on military installations the best you got was Burger King because they had a government contract…I still refuse to eat at BK due to the amount of nasty hamburgers I had to eat there as a child in Germany.

2. Permanent Change of Station…or moved because your dad got orders for another military base…hopefully stateside.

3. Operational Security…as in don’t go out acting all American or looking all American and not expect some terrorist or spy to notice you…this was the 1980s so not only was terrorist bombings expected…they were fairly routine. Thanks Red Brigade.

4. Okay, that is an exaggeration…bomb threats were so common that they became part of life…so really I spent most of my time not worrying about things that were common or expected.