Friday, July 20, 2012

Cruel Summer Music Mix 2012

What's my favorite summer song? Well, it depends on whether we're talking about a song that feels like summer, or a song that was actually released in summertime. For the former, I'd go with something like Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer" or Seals and Crofts "Summer Breeze." For the latter, I might choose Bananarama's "Cruel Summer" or Nick Lowe's "Cruel to Be Kind." But it's also hard to ignore the cheesy pleasure of "Summer Nights" from Grease, the country funkiness of Mungo Jerry's "In the Summertime," or the slick soul of Sly and the Family Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summertime." But probably the song I most associate with summer is Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough," primarily because I heard it on a radio at the beach way back in the summer of '79 and could hardly believe it was him.

So, here's a sample of what's going on this summer...

"Call Me Maybe" (The U.S. Marines Lip-dub Version). Canadian singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen has one of the biggest hits of the year with "Call Me Maybe." It's a worldwide phenomenon. No kidding. And it's inspired literally hundreds of spoofs, parodies and feel-good lip dub videos that you can find all over YouTube. (I posted Jepsen's original video earlier this summer - you can refresh your memory here.) Now, a group of U.S. Marines stationed in Afghanistan have made a playful (and kinda sexy) version. Okay, I'm just going to admit it: I'm a sucker for this kind of video. I love this one. Some folks can't seem to appreciate watching men and women in the military cutting up and having fun, but I wholeheartedly approve of something this harmless, especially if it keeps them sane over there.

"Wut"- Le1f
This is Le1f. I'm not sure how you pronounce that name. 
Openly gay rapper Le1f is flamboyant and crazy talented. "Wut" is dance-floor gold. I'm digging this video, which not only emphasizes Le1f's wicked sense of humor, hilarious fashion sense and stunning moves, but also features a rapid-fire second verse delivered while sitting on the the lap of an oiled-up hunk in a Pikachu mask. It's ballsy, provocative stuff with perhaps a bit of a message... something like, "I'm here, I'm queer and I rap. Get used to it." Yes, let's.

"Borrow and Bomb" / "I Got News For You" - OFF! Formed in 2009, OFF! is a hardcore punk band featuring members of other bands like Circle Jerks, Black Flag and Burning Brides. They specialize in aggressive songs that kick ass even if they only last about a minute. This video is a clever, funny lampoon of those public-access TV shows that were so prevalent back in the day. It's divided into two parts, the first features Kids in the Hall alumni Dave Foley as a befuddled teacher rapping with teens about punk, and the second is a workout program called Electracize that's hosted by a sweaty bear in a tank top and leg warmers. Even if you don't like punk, the video's aesthetic is genuinely hilarious.

"Want it Back" - Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra. Alternative rockers Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra have a dark, but energetic sound. Palmer's voice is distinctive and memorable. So's this video, a beautiful stop-motion animation piece that features the song's lyrics written on a variety of surfaces, including Palmer's naked body. Taking three days to shoot and featuring the skills of tattoo-graffiti artist Curran James, this is one of the most visually arresting videos of the year. (So let's be clear: This is uncensored and NSFW.)

"Warm & Easy" - The 2 Bears

These are The 2 Bears. They make music. It would be fine by me if they made porn, too.
The 2 Bears are a London-based duo made up of, um, two bears -- Joe Goddard and Raf Rundell. They flirt with a variety of styles in their music, from pop and hip hop to house and soul. They're working a summery groove with "Warm & Easy." The video features the Girl & Chocolate skateboard riders as they toured Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua earlier this year.

"Countdown" (The Snuggie Version). Ton Do-Nguyen, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania, is huge fan of Beyonce. So much so that he produced a low-budget shot-for-shot recreation of her video for last year's hit, "Countdown." It's a viral sensation that Beyonce has deemed "brilliant" on her website. It's called the "Snuggie Version" because  Do-Nguyen spends most of the video wearing a bright blue Snuggie, that soft fleece blanket with sleeves that you see advertised on television every winter. If you haven't seen Beyonce's original video - one of my top favorites of 2011 - you can watch it here for comparison.

"Somebody That I Used to Know" - Gotye. Gotye is a Belgian-Australian singer-songwriter whose name is derived from "Gauthier," the French equivalent of "Walter" or "Wouter" (which happens to be his real name). He sounds a bit like Sting, and you've probably heard this song hundreds of times by now. It's wildly popular everywhere, topping the music charts in 23 countries. Funny thing is, it was actually released in other parts of the world in the summer of 2011 and didn't hit the U.S. airwaves until January 2012. After 15 weeks on the American pop charts, it shot to number one in April following cover performances on Glee and American Idol. It spent 8 consecutive weeks in the top spot, all the way into June. The female voice on the song is Kimbra, a New Zealand singer-songwriter. Gotye and Kimbra appear naked together in the song's video (don't get excited; you can't see anything). The quirky clip features stop-motion animation and is rather haunting, like the song itself.

"I Love It" - Icona Pop. Finally, the song I'm crazy about this summer is "I Love It" by Swedish duo Icona Pop. Bratty lyrics, killer hook, throbbing Euro-disco beat; it's a bit like ABBA, with attitude. 

Sunscreen, people. Sunscreen.

Peace out,

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