Post-literate media

“The true catastrophe of Babel,” says Steiner, “is not the scattering of tongues. It is the reduction of human speech to a handful of planetary, ‘multinational’ tongues… Anglo-American standardized vocabularies” and grammar shaped by “military technocratic megalomania” and “the imperatives of commercial greed.” 

…. keep reading….

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/23/post_literate_media/singleton/?mobile.html

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Favorite commercial..

Although I do watch television, I usually don’t pay attention to commercials. As a matter of fact, my boyfriend and I always criticize the lack of imagination of the American advertising agencies. So when Prof. Dunphy asked us to post our favorite commercial, I couldn’t think of any. Lately, I did enjoy this one by Fiat.. however; I believe ads with babies are just too easy to like.

Finally, I remembered a really good commercial of Nike. I’m a huge soccer (football, futbol) fan, so I could say this is my favorite…

Ron Paul in The Daily Show.

Credit to blog.masslive.com

I chose Ron Paul’s extended interview with Jon Stewart from the Daily Show, because I was interested to know a little bit more from him. During the national debates, I always thought he was a respectable republican.  Some of Paul’s proposals were really interesting, and the fact that he was the only who actually believes in what he preaches attracted me. I do not in any way support Republicans, and although I admit I prefer Democrats, I wished there were more than two political parties in the United States. (Can someone explain me why, a country of 300 million people is governed by bipartisan politics? Please?)

Ron Paul’s opinion about the war on drugs really impressed me. During the last months, some Latin American presidents, (Including Colombian’ president Juan Manuel Santos) have declared that the war on drugs has failed. That the huge amount of money spent in attacking drug traffickers has been useless. Nowadays, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia continue to be the major producers of cocaine, and even though their internal trafficking problem has decreased; countries like Mexico have seen the increase of violent drug-related crimes. To be a Republican, Paul opposition to the current management of the war drugs, left a really good impression in me. (Actually, after Obama’s futile trip to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, the White House released a new plan to use preventive measures to fight drug abuse which is really interesting. You can read more about that here.)

Back to Ron Paul, I was interested in the way he uses words such as civil liberties and freedom of choice. I believe those are strong and appealing words, especially in modern society. No question he is so unpopular in his own party.  His position about overseas jobs, environmental laws were also attention-grabbing. As Stewart pointed out, Ron Paul his consistency is remarkable and that something that seems to be missing in current politicians; (well that, and common sense.)

I really felt that Jon Stewart could have asked stronger questions. He did give a chance to Paul to answer about things he definitely knew he could connect with the young viewers of The Daily Show. Maybe if Stewart had asked Paul’s opinion about important and controversial (which actually, they shouldn’t be controversial at all) such as abortion, gay marriage or immigration, we could have been able to see the real Republican version of Paul. Even though, I’m studying journalism and I love Stewart’s show, I believe that Stewart sometimes fails in making a little more uncomfortable his guests. This is where I believe journalism and satire separates from each other.

In overall, I enjoyed the interview but I feel it could have been better.  You can see the extended version here. 

The only band that matters…

Credit to blareshare.com

I remember being asked what album I would bring to a deserted island. The fact that I questioned the use of electronic gadgets in an island without electricity didn’t make my interviewer happy; however, I knew the answer already: Ok Computer by Radiohead.

My friends and family know that for a long time I was a huge fan of Linkin Park, a mainstream band completely different to Radiohead. I actually consider them to be my two favorite bands, one next to each other because they influenced me in different ways throughout my life. However, Radiohead has a more deep emotional attachment; it’s not just about lyrics and innovative music, it’s also about the memories of a sad stage of my life.

Personally, Ok Computer is still relevant. Musically, it should be the same.  In a world of gatekeepers, hollow entertainment and lazy minds, Radiohead modifies its structure constantly, representing a challenging puzzle: uniqueness, meaningfulness and innovation set to the real artistic factor of music. Ok Computer was born in the early beginnings of a technological revolution which affected the music industry ;( negatively or positively, I’m not sure.) But I think Ok Computer was ahead of its time. By taking diverse human conditions and mixing them up with electronic sounds (truthful resemblances of a “modern” society, ) and basic rock based instrumentation (guitar-bass-drums), Radiohead successfully represents the evolving mindset of a globalized world.

Thom Yorke’s personality is plastered all over Ok Computer but the effectiveness of his voice and lyrics falls into the power of absorbing the listener to the point of making him/her believe that his problems (or his characters) are our own, and equally our own are everyone’s.

Airbag is a song (which I should have explored more) I relate it directly to the car accident in which my family was involved and my father was killed. Literally, it marked a breaking point in my life… (“I was born again.”)  Paranoid Android is eccentric but magnificent.  Subterranean Homesick Alien and its out-of-space atmospheric feeling and the undeniable allusions from someone who feels that doesn’t belong to this planet. Let Down, a song that accompanied me during the most relevant cultural adaptation of my life.  Karma Police, the most extraordinary song I’ve ever heard. Fitter Happier, a how-you’re-supposed-to-live-your-life list that should be taken as a criticism to the organized structure of occidental thought… (“a pig in a cage on antibiotics.”) Electionering is my rebellious jamming song. Climbing Up the Walls was my musical obsession for long time. A song which talks about our darkest fears.  No surprises is a basic song but it’s a harmonious little piece of heaven. Lucky and its references to death, reminds me of something that has followed me all around and I still can’t accept it. And finally, The Tourist a soft engaging song that actually talks about our fast-paced ways of living.

Ok Computer is a construction of emotive and challenging lyricism along with memorable fine musicianship. The words behind each song, the capability of adapting your own meaning to each track and the shocking beauty of Thom Yorke’s voice is what makes me passionate about Radiohead music.

For this, I rate Ok Computer: 5 out 5. / 10 out of 10 / 100 out of 100 … just take your pick!

Update:  While finally finishing my album posts, which were more challenging that I previously thought… I’m looking for affordable tickets for which it will be my first Radiohead concert experience… (Well, I hope so!) I also read again a book I bought a while ago called Radiohead and Philosophy in which the band’s cultural and social significance is looked at thoroughly from obsessed (but better writers) fans like me. If you’re interested, you can find it here.

….and someday… I’ll be here:

Exit Music… For a film.. (Really?)

I always found Exit Music (For a film) to be an unfitting song for Ok Computer. It’s a hate/love relationship. 13 years ago, I’ll simply avoid it. I suppose the darkness of the song was too much for me to bear at that age. I felt it was too scary and creepy. Nowadays, I value more its composition and melodiousness but I find the lyrics a little too simplistic. Plus I have a problem with the use it was given. But first, I’ll talk about the song.

The musical simplicity of the acoustic guitar introduction and Thom’s voice is as always, a perfect match. The chorus with its haunting voices and conflicting noises in the background is disturbingly spine-chilling. It’s followed by a steady and soft cymbal sound that inevitable hints a discharge of sadness and grief with drums, a distorted bass and the loud dynamics of Yorke’s voice. This monumental and emotive moment is my favorite part of the song; it does it what is supposed to: wrap your brain with a sheet of profound misery.

Lyrically, it’s beautiful in its most gloomy and sinister way possible, but it doesn’t really attract my interest until the last couple of lines:

And you can laugh a spineless laugh,
we hope your rules and wisdom choke you.
And now we are one
in everlasting peace,
we hope that you choke, that you choke,
we hope that you choke, that you choke,
we hope that you choke, that you choke.
 

I believe that this part encapsulates perfectly the allusion to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet’s tragic story. However, the fact that Thom wrote Exit Music for the 1996 film version starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes, it’s what I hate the most about the song. First, I believe that movie is a piece of crap. I don’t understand why Radiohead allows their songs to be used in films as bad as this one. One of their latest examples is their song 15 step from their In Rainbows album. They allowed that song (which is awesome) to be part of the Twilight film. (Don’t ask me how I know.) I just think it is a bad idea because I’m a huge fan of movie soundtracks, and when I listen to a song in a film, my mind always make the connection between the two. I know it’s my stupid personal problem, but that’s the way I feel.

For its great musicality, the average lyricism and its unacceptable use, I give Exit Music… 3 out 5.

Lyrics found in the CD Booklet of  Ok Computer- 1997.
Credits also to greenplastic.com 

Never lets me down..

Going back to 1998, this song was my favorite one. Once again, I was 10 years old and Let Down charmed me in a very strange way. The combination of melancholic singing along with unbelievably appealing instrumental work and the energy of Thom Yorke’s voice captivated every single brain cell I had. (At that age, they weren’t that many…really.)

Fast-forwarding to 2005; I rediscovered this song in the middle of a huge cultural transition in my life. I went from living in a small Colombian town to live in one of the biggest cities in the world. The personal meaning of Let Down changed totally. All of the sudden I was “hanging around” in a world of “transport, motorways and tramlines,” invaded with the “emptiest of feelings:” disappointment and alienation. My nostalgic thoughts were connected to my initial perception of this polluted and overwhelming environment of cold buildings and cold souls.  It was depressing but inevitable.

However, Let Down lyrics might talk about dissatisfaction but it simultaneously revitalizes the listener with the energy of its dreamy music. It is contradictory but it works perfectly. Without noticing it, you are singing a really sad song as it was the most beautiful thing ever. (You could call that “The Radiohead Effect”) There are two sentences that I think matter the most in the song: “You know where you are,” a conscious realization of the atmosphere around the listener, which it is the psychological version of “identify the problem, first.” Then, “One day I’m gonna grow wings, a chemical reaction;” which is the hopeful idea of leaving it all or disappear instantly.

Let Down’s last minute and a half is not the type of high dynamic discharge Radiohead makes us used to.  Among the beautiful arpeggio of the electric guitar, the background acoustic sound, the soft bass and drums and the appearance of a computerized beat this part is unusually optimistic.  Somehow, that mechanized computer sound always makes me think of spaceships and UFOs. I believe that there are other songs in Ok Computer that have certain hints to these motifs, such as Subterranean Homesick Alien and The Tourist. So, maybe at the end, one huge extraterrestrial ship will take the listener away from all the chaos he or she is living. Not exactly wings… but close enough.

Once again, for my personal meaning, the beautiful instrumentation and Thom Yorke’s addicting voice… I rate this song 5 out of 5.

Now check this really cool video:

Lyrics found in the CD Booklet of  Ok Computer- 1997.
Credits also to greenplastic.com 

Radio-head…but what kind of radio? and whose head?

Credit to Joey Kilrain.

During the last years, Radiohead has been accepted by the mainstream and underground music scene as one of the most influential bands in music history.  Time magazine named it “One of the best bands in the planet.” (That list also includes my fellow Colombian band “Aterciopelados” which you should definitely listen to.) Radiohead has been in the cover of hundreds of music magazines such as the upcoming Rolling Stone… and it has lead musical festivals such as Glastonbury and more recently Coachella… (Full video of the concert.)

In spite of been recognized almost everywhere, Radiohead music is not your typical mainstream radio material.  Before Ok Computer was released in 1997, Radiohead had achieved some success thanks to singles such as “Creep,” “Fake Plastic Trees” and “High and Dry” from their previous albums Pablo Honey and The Bends. However, many radio stations believed their music to be “too depressing” and in the middle of the popular grunge movement they were seen as outsiders.   

Back in 1998, I would have guessed that Radiohead were a huge band.  I remember watching the Karma Police music video in the Latin version of MTV, in an age where rock music was more popular than today.   If I was to play Ok Computer on the radio back then, some singles might have made it to top 40. Nowadays, I think Ok Computer belongs to alternative/college rock radio stations… and I actually think is better that way.

Remember when I talked about Beach House and the sense of exclusivity I felt towards their music? I kind feel the same way towards Radiohead. (Even though the thought is absurd, seeing their whole sold-out shows in North America) I wished I was the only one who knew them. (And maybe every fan does, in their own way.)  However, at the same time, I wish people around me were more involved with Radiohead’s music. (That way, I wouldn’t be the only one faking falsettos while singing out loud in my car.)

For years I’ve tried to introduce my boyfriend to Radiohead’s music without success.  I suppose that Radiohead music is more about connections; either you love them or you hate them.  That’s why before listening to Ok Computer I would advise to first give it a listen to their previous albums (which personally, I think they are pretty good) … and then be ready… to listen  something different but awesome at the same time.  Maybe you could being with this…

Paranoid Android – The best track of Ok Computer.

Credit to covershut.com

A masterpiece. Personally, I think is one of the most amazing songs of all time. The shifting musical structure, the seemingly non-sense lyrics and probably one of the best vocal performances by Thom Yorke make this track memorable.

First, the instrumentation is beautiful. A steady strumming of an acoustic guitar accompanied by a subtle electric guitar introduces us to the voice of Yorke. During the first two minutes, the song is soft and calm but at the same time it is loaded with strange allusions to annoyance, paranoia, revenge and disdain:

Please could you stop the noise, I’m trying to get some rest
From all the unborn chicken voices in my head
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but not an android)
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but not an android)

When I am king, you will be first against the wall
With your opinion which is of no consequence at all
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but no android)
What’s that…? (I may be paranoid, but no android)

 The line “I may be paranoid, but no android” is almost imperceptible, and it is said by a robotic voice which actually gives the sentence a sarcastic tone. After this tension-building introduction, heavy guitar riffs and distorted sounds take the lead, giving us that powerful feeling of despair, angst, and chaos all done by using a most prominent guitar riff/solo… It’s brilliant and unforgettable.

Like many Radiohead songs, the contrasting musical game of tranquility versus restlessness can easily be compared to any Beethoven symphony. It holds a steady and charming feeling but then, it releases all its power. It’s challenging but addicting at the same time.

The rest of the song efficiently builds momentum. After the storm has passed, Yorke enters in a really dark and depressing mood. Background hunting voices sound along with a guitar and solid beat drum, while Yorke’s “raindownraindown come on raind down on me” line is repeated many times with different accentuations. It sounds creepy, but right there it’s where an anxious feeling absorbs the listener, just to be followed by another epic and massive discharge of clashing guitars, drums, and electronic sounds.

I really wanted to analyze the musical composition of the song because it has this classical structure but at the same time it’s modern and challenging. And even though, Paranoid Android was written in the 90’s, I think it is a milestone inside the rock/alternative genre.

The lyrics uses so many different metaphors, that I think anyone one can adapt his own personal meaning to the song.  The fact that bassist Colin Greenwood described Paranoid Android as “just a joke, a laugh, getting wasted together over a couple of evenings and putting some different pieces together” makes you question the real meaning of the track; however, knowing Radiohead and especially Thom Yorke, I know there has to be more substance behind it.  Yorke said in an interview that the line “kicking squeeling gucci little piggy” was a reference to an event in a bar, where a woman (probably high on coke) became violent after someone spill a drink on her. He was afraid by the look of the woman and the theme of inhumanity came to him. (Read article here.)

Personally, I think Paranoid Android is about humans becoming egocentric machines. The best example I can give, is the materialistic minds of certain individuals attached to their technological atmosphere and luxury. Those are some of the “gucci little piggies” I see walking through the streets of New York. Those, to my disgust are the paranoid androids; empty, blindfolded scavengers, glued to their iphone, well-deserving victims of the king’s punishment. (Or in this case, queen.)

For its musical excellence, its awkward lyricism and video (I forgot to talk about the video!!!) I give Paranoid Android…. 5 out of 5.

Lyrics found in the CD Booklet of  Ok Computer- 1997.
Credits also to greenplastic.com 

Karma Police, arrest this reader…

Am, D, F#, Em, G, Am, F, M.  Those were the chords that led me to the highest point of my musical career. My crappy acoustic version of Karma Police by Radiohead was the result of a huge excuse to buy a guitar and pretend to rock the world.  That guitar is still in my living room, and in fact, it was my little brother who ended up learning how to play it. Nowadays, he is majoring in music so I can easily argue that one thing led to another. And it’s always fun to listen someone other than myself killing a song.

Anyway, Karma Police in its simplest form of piano and guitar still captivates me until today. It belongs to my personal pedestal of favorite songs. Back in the day, I did recognize the musical similarity of Karma Police to Sexy Sadie by The Beatles. (Because thanks to my uncle; I used to listen to them all the time.) I remember thinking both songs were related somehow. But hey I was 10!

Karma Police is one of those songs I rediscover all the time. Different situations make me appreciate it even more. It is a track that is magnetic to the ear but it is also capable of making you sing to the top of your lungs. Thom Yorke’s unusual way of singing makes this track profound. You can feel his intentions behind his voice inflections. It is almost like he is acting the words. And the situation is not pretty.

The lyrics constitute a vital part of my liking for the song. I’ve always believed that when you do something bad, something bad will happen to you. That’s karma. But who are the police? Is this a reference to some authoritarian view of government control? Or it is in fact, a philosophical question of self-culpability, an unforgettable feeling of a pricking conscience?

The character of the song complains about a man who “buzzesLikeAfridge” and a girl with “her hitler hairdo” – Things that seem not enough to grumble about. Still, in everyday life we are constantly taking negative positions for things that don’t go according to plan. (Or people who make your life just a little harder to live.) Jonny Greenwood, guitar player of the band, said that Karma Police was a “band catchphrase for a while on tour – whenever someone was behaving in a particularly shitty way, we’d say, ‘The karma police will catch up with him sooner or later.”

There are two sing out loud phrases that can’t be separated from one another. “This is what you get / this is what you get when you mess with us;” is loaded with an overwhelming feeling of revenge and hate. However, that mood goes away in a matter of seconds, when Yorke sings: “phew, for a minute there I lost myself, I lost myself;” the character rearranges himself and tries to maintain control.

I think the concept of the video perfectly conveys the meaning of the song. To me there are three characters in the song: Thom Yorke, the I’m-being-chased man and the anonymous driver of the car.  The point of view of the camera in the driver seat places the viewer of the video in the situation. Thom Yorke acts as the conscience of the driver, pushing him to punish the man outside.  The persecution keeps going until the man being chased falls to the floor and the car stops, reverses and waits; (all of these, synchronized to the last lyrics of the song.) However, the hunted man sees the opportunity to set the car in fire, and without a doubt he does. The driver now faces the consequence of his act. To his surprise; his conscience (Yorke) disappears. (Which it could mean that the driver is in fact Yorke but that will tear down my hypothesis!)

The topics of guilty conscience and karma are what I love about this song. Those are things that are part of our lives constantly. When I wrote before that I’m always in a process of rediscovery of Karma Police is because sometimes, when I do have a really bad day and everything tastes sour, this song reminds me that if I do something based on my emotions only,  everything is going to ended up being worse.  For all of this, I rate Karma Police 5 out of 5. 

 
Lyrics found in the CD Booklet of  Ok Computer- 1997.
Credits also to greenplastic.com