April 23, 2015

"Problematic faves"

I remember when having a problematic fave meant you were into Culture Club despite the singer being a cross-dressing faggot.


  1. Well, Boy George sure was a lot more fun than Steve Sailor, so I feel ya.

  2. Shitlib millenial speak is so annoying.

  3. LOL! It was really disturbing when flamboyant gay singers appeared on the scene in the 80's. Boy George, George Michael, etc. I remember seeing videos of George Michael dancing like a woman, with both of his ears pierced, and it was like, WTF? How can they be showing this? What teenager wants to see this? Of course teenagers didn't want to see it, the Boomers were shoving that garbage down our throats.

    BTW Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was horrible. I rented it on Amazon Instant Video, don't waste your money. Zero insights into the culture and not funny at all.

  4. There were quite a few gay singers in the later 70's/80's, some of them pretty dang good. Freddy Mercury and Rob Halford are two of the greatest singers in rock history. Really, it just says a lot about how great the Boomers are at entertaining that so many of them made great music whether they were white or black or straight or gay.

    But there were very few gay actors to really gain any traction. I think there's a strong possibility that Travolta is bi (he obviously had enough charisma and charm to carry some movies that needed a strong lead) while Cruise has been desperately chaining the closet shut for eons at this point. And more so than with Travolta, it's seems like Cruise was in a lot of movies that succeeded in spite of him rather than because of him. Like the high concept FX of Mission Impossible and War of the Worlds, or the stylish aesthetics and cool soundtrack of Top Gun and some of his other 80's movies. I'll maintain that Top Gun would've been a better movie if the definitely straight Val Kilmer (or even Anthony Edwards) had been the lead rather than mugging pretty boy Cruise.

  5. I was thinking about Streets of Fire yesterday. Killer soundtrack. Dan Hartman who wrote and sang 'I Can Dream About You' not only was gay but died of AIDS. Crazy.

  6. Haven't seen Streets of Fire but it figures that, this being the 80's, the homos were allowed to sing in the movies but usually they didn't act in them. I know that the director, Walter Hill, had a great run in the 70's/80's. But his usually macho style just wasn't going to play in Peoria after the early 90's.

    With testosterone levels falling to abysmal levels and the public having a weak sense of right and wrong, action movies just don't really work the way they often did from about 1967-1992. It doesn't help either that modern movies usually have awful editing and camera work. Hard to care when you can't tell what's going on.

  7. I Can Dream About You is a great example of what made so many 80's songs great. It's bouncy, unpretentious, and pretty fun but it's also got something that just makes it stick with you in a good way. So it doesn't seem like forgettable lightweight fluff like so much pop music made before and after the 80's.

    I'm not sure what it is about 80's music. Was it greater vocal range or more passionate but still natural sounding vocals? Was it a greater sophistication of arrangements? More skilled and complex musicianship? A sense of dynamics? Whatever it was, you really long for that decade where tuning into a non oldies station meant that more than likely you'd hear a great song performed with skill.

  8. Something happened to music around '85-86. I think it was the move from analog to digital. The sound changed, music started to suck, and the great post-punk and New Wave bands I was listening to just a couple of years earlier seemed to fall into decline.

    Also, around '88-89, white American youth musical tastes seemed to change. Black acts like Bobby Brown and Tone Loc seemed to dominate, and black music showed up on MTV a lot more.

  9. Back in the 80s kids didn't use the gag-inducing word "problematic".

  10. Contaminated NEET4/25/15, 4:05 AM

    Agreed. The word "problematic" is problematic.

  11. "Also, around '88-89, white American youth musical tastes seemed to change. Black acts like Bobby Brown and Tone Loc seemed to dominate,"

    I think as people started to withdraw from each other white solidarity began to really decline. So a lot of white kids started to get into not just black acts per se, but black acts who were aggressively noisy and non-melodic. The popular Boomer black artists of the 70's and earlier 80's tended to be more jovial and melodic. But the Gen X blacks who saw more exposure around '89 were much more in your face with much more simple/repetitive music. That Tone Loc guy probably had the worst vocal timbre of any artist to get a hit in the 80's. By the way, blacks are charismatic and have famously loud voices but what's less recognized is that their timbre tends to be much worse on average compared to whites. Sailer has pointed out that African vocal cords are not at all designed for Euro languages so blacks tend to be less articulate in say, English, compared to whites.

    The grunge/alternative early 90's tends to stick out in people's memories but the reality of 90's music is that a great deal of people born from about 1975-1985 were subjected to a lot of obnoxious black music (rap most of all) in their youth. I do think that people born from about 1955-1975 have the best taste in music since they got the rush of all the great Boomer music and had aged enough by the 90's that they didn't get as much of an imprint from that decade's awful music.

    Agnostic likes to point out the comparatively classy music of the 90's but there's no defending the likes of MC Hammer. Stupid talentless novelty acts had very little success in the 70's and 80's. People were having too much fun to buy that junk. But by 1992 we had several hugely popular records by doofus rappers. Granted, some of those guys quickly became a punch line but the fact that anyone thought they were cool for even 5 seconds says a lot about how quickly the culture was going south.

    Yeah there were some rock groups making tolerable music in the early 90's but that doesn't excuse rap (90% of it worthless as serious art, even in the 80's they were "sampling" aka stealing) and death metal. Metal kids went from Judas Priest in '85 to Metallica in '88 to Cannibal Corpse in '90. Yikes. The decline in solidarity is obvious from the regression that kids went through in their tastes. Melodic, likable, skilled Boomer acts in the 70's/early-mid 80's and then increasingly harsh (or incredibly dull and safe) music (made by Gen X-ers or aging Boomers) after 1990.

  12. "Something happened to music around '85-86. I think it was the move from analog to digital."

    I think most records made made from '85-'91 sound fine. It was around 1993 that recording and especially mixing and mastering hit the skids. You could argue that as people were turning into bigger assholes in the early 90's there was a perhaps unconscious effort to make music sound uglier via worse production.

    Most music made from 1970-1991 will at least sound professional assuming it wasn't an ultra low budget record made by amateurs.

    CD's got a bad rap in the mid 80's because the greedy studios would sometimes take substandard sources (sometimes right off an LP!) and transfer them to CD. When CDs became more popular by about 1988 the studios began to use better sources and engineers would often master new releases to specifically take advantage of the greater dynamic range of CDs. Ironically, after 1992 they started making masters louder since extreme loudness is more possible on CDs than it is on LPs.

    Between shoddy early CDs and stupidly loud 90's CDs it should come as no surprise that CDs developed an awful reputation. And beware of modern re-masters that squash dynamics and/or botch the EQ. For example, Rush has released all of their old catalog several times since the mid 90's. But each remastering has actually made the music sound WORSE. The band is either too greedy or deaf at this point to care.

  13. Around the same time, around '88-89, industrial and cyberpunk music suddenly became very popular on the indie scene, represented by bands such as Front 242, Skinny Puppy, Clock DVA, Front Line Assembly, Meat Beat Manifesto, Revolting Cocks, and Laibach. Wax Trax! Records was the key label for a lot of these acts. Interest in these bands seemed to have declined by the mid-1990s.

    I had a friend who started a one-man act modeled after Nine Inch Nails around 1988. He released a few singles, and also worked as a DJ in the cyberpunk scene in NYC. Funny thing is, we grew up listening to Duran Duran, Cheap Trick, Japan, and ABC. But in 1987 or so he got a couple of Apple computers, learned MIDI, and started composing his own electronic music. The advent of digital music really changed the industry. Now anyone with a computer and some technical know-how could start a one-man act in his bedroom without having to join up with others in the garage, which further added to the individualization of white youth.

    Compare late '70s-early '80s analog synthesizers to the digital music that started to proliferate in the late '80s, and you can really spot the difference in sound. Digital just sucks, imo. Other people probably agree, which is why in the last few years instrument companies (Moog, Korg, ARP) have released updated versions of the old analog synthesizers.

  14. "Around the same time, around '88-89, industrial and cyberpunk music suddenly became very popular on the indie scene, represented by bands such as Front 242, Skinny Puppy, Clock DVA, Front Line Assembly, Meat Beat Manifesto, Revolting Cocks, and Laibach."

    "I had a friend who started a one-man act modeled after Nine Inch Nails around 1988. He released a few singles, and also worked as a DJ in the cyberpunk scene in NYC."

    What was the deal with the rash of obnoxious posturing that appeared around '89? In the 70's-early-mid 80's people hung out unpretentiously while listening to amiable music (relatively amiable in the case of more "underground" stuff like metal). Why the trendier/noisier than thou posturing? Harsh industrial/gangsta rap/death metal was unthinkable in 1984. It's not that it wasn't popular, it was that it virtually did not exist.

    For example, when people try to explain the roots of death metal there are invariably two albums cited: Possessed's '85 album Seven Churches and Death's Scream Bloody Gore from '87. But even those two records have a vibrant exciting energy in spite of the gritty vocals. Regardless, nobody listened to this stuff before the late 80's. Death's record company actually made fun of the band on the album sleeve because the joke was that some metal nerd writer talked them into signing the band.

    It seems too that San Francisco (where the two above mentioned death metal bands came from) and New York were the main centers of louder-than-thou music. Metallica actually left L.A. for Frisco because L.A. audiences wanted lighter music. The Bay Area's Dead Kennedy's were harsher than the popular SoCal hardcore acts while Metallica/Slayer were more popular in the Bay Area and ended up inspiring two dozen rip off bands in an entire scene that developed in the north.

    I guess by the 90's So Cal was feeling left out so they made up for lost time with the numerous Nu-Metal and Gangsta rap groups.

  15. With regard to technology, the artists who got popular in the 70's and early 80's were great artists and entertainers. They knew how to write songs, play instruments, and sing well. A change in technology doesn't explain the diminishing of art quality and taste that started in 1989.

    Agnostic has pointed repeatedly that modern groups who use synthesizers (even analog ones) still come up short since most of these artists don't understand how to integrate them into a song to exciting effect.

    I'm glad that I'm not the only one who appreciates synths. It's annoying when people play the "it's a crutch for hacks" card. Folks, it ain't the technology it's having the right talent and mood that counts.

  16. The industrial and cyberpunk genres just represented the old punk attitude (hence the name), but with added new technology. Problem is, they tried to substitute cool technology for actually writing decent songs.

    What I found at the time was that the music--not just cyberpunk but punk, indie, and metal in general--became less melodical, less musical by the early '90s. Grunge was f*cking awful. The appearance of Britpop in '94-'95 was like a breath of fresh air, brief yet sweet.

  17. Speaking of synths, I enjoy pointing out to fans of rap music that rap in large part derived from the work of white acts such as Kraftwerk. The '70s synth pioneers like Gary Numan, Ultravox!, YMO, Eno, and of course Kraftwerk were all highly influential.

    Incidentally, apparently Gary Numan was a big influence on NIN. If you see a Gary Numan show today it's obvious how much NIN has influenced him in turn.

    Something very ugly entered the cultural scene in the late '80s-early '90s period.

  18. Part of the shift during the late '80s and early '90s was generational -- the creators were changing from late Boomers to early X-ers.

    Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson were X-ers, and so were the guys in Nitzer Ebb way back in the '80s. Others in the Wax Trax era were late Boomers, but they were more pioneers than perfecters of the angry, aggressive, gritty sound of industrial music.

    Before industrial, it was "dark wave" and goth, and all those guys were late Boomers. Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, even Ministry before Al Jourgensen went all emo-industrial. His best album was his first, With Sympathy, which despite the angsty vocal delivery was straight up new wave and synthpop. Not a dull moment on the whole album.

    An earlier post about the generational divide among musicians of the grunge era:


  19. I don't recall any Sailer posts on African vocal chords.

    Metal did get harsh past the point of diminishing returns, but I don't think Cannibal Corpse was as popular as Judas Priest or Metallica, or even Lamb of God.

  20. I distinctly remember Sailer pointing out that another embarrassing thing about blacks that people shy away from is how inarticulate they can be. And it's not just ebonics; Sailer pointed out that blacks don't seem to have the physical equipment for precise English speaking.

    I also remember somebody on his blog pointing out a study which found that black people's voices show a higher "error" rate (e.g. they were breathier, raspier, and more inconsistent in tone and volume). Of course ebonics don't help, mid century blacks sounded better.

    Given this problem, i guess it's yet another reason Hollywood tended to avoid black actors before the PC 90's. Blacks are also hard to photograph.

  21. Metal got progressively nastier, but the key factor is the age of the performers. Sure, Metallica and Slayer were gritty but they were late Boomers so they could make that grit compelling.

    The extreme metal bands who gained fairly sizable fame and a long lasting following were popular late Boomer thrash acts who made much better music than the Gen X death metal acts. The reason Cannibal Corpse never attained the level of popularity of the earlier groups is because they Gen X-d their music to the point of draining any sort of exciting life from their music. To this day everyone in their current line-up is under 50.

    All of the death metal pioneers (Trey Azagthoth, Chuck Schuldiner, Glen Benton) were born in '65 or later.

    There's just a certain spark, a soul, a resonance to the music made by late Boomers. Most Gen X artists seem embarrassed to really let their guard down and just have a little fun. Slayer might not sound too fun but they are compared to say, Napalm Death.

  22. Something that sticks out to me when reading about relatively young (basically post '65) artists is how they usually cite Boomer artists when asked about their favorite bands and influences.

    Especially in terms of music, we've had a big gaping hole in the culture since the mid 90's when the Boomers seemed to run out of ideas. X-ers and Millennials couldn't pick up the slack.

    I guess there was some okay stuff as late as 1998. The Offspring had a decent album that year. And guess what? Their guitarist was born in 1963 with the other members being very early X-ers. No wonder the guitar work kicked ass by late 90's standards. There wasn't exactly much competition by then.

  23. Wow! I'm always impressed by the music the commenters listen to here. Very nice to see all these industrial bands listed. In my real life, I know very few people who listen to some of the things I do, and the ones I do know are Generation Xers.


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