Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fatuous But Possibly Thoughtful Game

Alright, the game is pretty simple. Turn on your music on shuffle and see how long it takes for the music that comes up to disqualify you from being a Presidential candidate.

1. George Carlin - Foole. Luckily, this isn't "Seven Dirty Words," and Carlin keeps his language decisively un-blue. It's an analysis of the history of comedy in general and Carlin in particular. Some of Carlin's most acceptible work, I suppose. So I'm still in the running. Maybe even a boon: showing I have a genuine sense of humor (rather than, for instance, having Seinfeld come up) without offending. Also, it plays to Carlin's blue-collar urban background.

2. The Section - Karma Police. A beautiful contemporary work rendered in the style of an old string quartet. I'm proud this came up: if it came up in an interview I'm sure I'd use it to mention about how art is enriched by being responded to by other artists. After all, if Thom Yorke and Radiohead wanted to rigidly enforce copyright, this song would be driven into the ground. Thom Yorke/Radiohead is rich enough. They don't need to. We're all better for having heard this song. I'm also proud of it aesthetically: Radiohead is a progressive, forward-moving band, and counter-pointing that with a beautifully nostalgic sense of tone like The Section really shows both sides of the equation.

3. Quincy Jones and his Swinging Orchestra - Soul's Bossa Nova . Well, normally I would have thought that Austin Powers is a little beyond the mainstream, but I heard this being played by a Jazz Band in Prague's Old-town Square the other day. The tourists really seemed to love it. It might raise questions about my hippy-ism and tie me a little too closely to the 1960s.

4. Hans Zimmer - The Might Of Rome. It's a good thing that this came up right after Soul's Bossa Nova. After all, this is a nice, manly, imperialist-expansionist right-wing sort of soundtrack, the sort of thing you might preemptively invade a foreign country for a valuable resource for. I might have alienated both sides a little.

5. RJ-D2 - Airbag. Radiohead comes into my playlist once again! Also, after having started out with the word-heavy Carlin, instrumentals have dominated the playlist. I love language, so it's a little rough that I'm being represented to tunes without words. I refer to the whole copyright point here; and I guess this further instruments my point by showing how different interpretations of the same artist can be if they come from different artists.

6. Rodrigo Y Gabriela - Tamacun. Fantastic guitar. Still instrumental. Dunno why Amarok is insisting on instrumentals, but it's keeping me in the game, I guess. The Tom Tancredo/Lou Dobbs crowd will probably grumble about me having latin-influence in my shuffle, but hell--I bet Lou Dobbs has some Ricky Martin on his iPod. Eh? At the very least, he has Cher. And to people on the other side, at least I'm interested in different musical styles and influences. Musicians will be happy to hear that, at least.

7. Me First And The Gimme Gimmes - Nothing Compares 2 U. Oh boy. Well, it won't put me out of the race (any more than ABBA disqualified McCain), but the retro song won't endear me to the young, and the less-than-aesthetic rendition will not endear me to the older. Ironic hipsters and illegal downloaders, on the other hand, will smile when they see it come up. It fits in with the earlier copyright point, but not in a very compelling way.

8. Thievery Corporation - Shadows Of Ourselves. Ah, some words. What are the words? French. Again, the Tom Tancredo/Lou Dobbs crowd might frown a little. This is a chiller, more electronic vibe--a little connected to RJ-D2--and it's on the border of being instrumental. I'm still in the running. I don't think this helps or hinders.

9. Lord of the Rings- Hope Fails. Ah, instrumentalism again. Another film score, which might have me pegged as a "Hollywood Elite," although if someone thought I was picking this music deliberately, it might look like a jab at Obama. Seriously, though, it's just another sorrowful, reflective song. If it wasn't for the George Carlin right off the bat, I'd look like a sad, pensive kind of President. Maybe an Abraham Lincoln, if I'm lucky, or (more likely) a Joe Lieberman.

10. We Are Scientists - Can't Lose. Ho boy. This song comes dangerously close to addressing teen alcoholism. I could try and cast it in the light of being a song that warns against alcoholism (it takes a very dour view of alcoholism), and the lines "I'm breaking my own rules/I'm turning into someone else" might not make good political fare. Still, since I don't drink, I have some plausible deniability. Close call? Also: the dour disposition continues to hang over the air. Can we go back to instrumentals?

11. Magnetic Fields - 10,000 Fireflies. Well, I'll stand by this song any day. Granted, it makes me sound like a wimp ("I'm afraid of the dark without you close to me") but it is among a compendium of witty and beautiful love songs, so I think that criticism will be muted. Maybe indie-rock folks will like me more?

12. Earth Wind And Fire - Touch The World. Hippy idealism strikes back! Alright, so I've lost anyone who doesn't want a sappy president, but this is something with a beat and funk, and nobody can take umbrage to it. Notice: this is probably on Obama's shuffle, and he's doing okay. It addresses social issues! "God gives hope and Jesus is the way!" with the choir effect might do something to some of my left wing; on the other hand, I'm not religious, and yet I'm willing to listen to religious-toned music. Open-mindedness is the key.

13. The Rolling Stones - Get Off Of My Cloud. Well, I guess this is 60s cynicism, to follow up on EW+F. But both of these bands are pretty solidly in the canon of music. If "Cloud" means "America", I guess this might be an attempt to reach out to the Tancredo-Dobbs Bloc. But otherwise, I'm still in the running.

14. Art Brut - Formed A Band. Moving swiftly from classic rock to indie rock. I'm proud of this one, and would make sure I say so. The tone finally has returned to tongue-in-cheek humor, after having left George Carlin so long ago. Absolutely harmless, and might pick up some of the young folks! "Yes, this is my singing voice/It's not irony/It's not rock n' roll/I'm just talking/to the kids!" Also: "We're gonna be the band/that makes Israel and Palestine gets along", thus putting peace on my agenda. Not seriously enough, obviously, but yeah.

15. The Darkness - Thing Called Love. The music itself is well within the mainstream, although a little too mainstream -- thank God Art Brut came first. The album cover, and its parental warning, might be a little leery with people, but this was a radio hit.

16. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Outta My Head. Eh. Really pop. Utterly inoffensive. Just a "meh" all around.

17. The Gorillaz - Punk. Thank God! The Gorillaz were well-timed. I have a high appreciation for Albarn, and I'm sure he'd take me far. It's completely inoffensive, although social conservatives may not like the music.

18. The Gorillaz - 19-2000. Oh man. This is a chill, positive vibe, but it's sooooo close to being about drug use. I can hear the social conservatives on Fox News mocking me now. Bill Clinton and "why didn't you inhale." Luckily, I can unequivically say I don't imbibe (I have quite the reputation as a Puritan when it comes to ingestion). Thankfully, "It's the music that we choose" is pretty apt here...

19. Bloc Party vs. Death From Above 1979 - Luno. There's something vaguely wrong about this song, but I don't know exactly what to make of it, and I doubt anyone who wants me not to run for President would have anything better to add.

20. Martin Luther King Jr. - I Have Been To The Mountaintop. YES! MARTIN LUTHER KING! I don't have to say how this works. The only people this alienates are people who I don't want on my side. Thank God! "I wouldn't stop there..." Hopefully this would tie into my love of good language and oration; this would probably bring up the whole Obama-"elitist"-style/substance kerfuffle again.

21. Better Than Ezra - Juicy. I like the song, but I think it wouldn't really bear on anything.

22. They Might Be Giants - We're The Replacements. Again, not a very insightful song. I'm being pushed more towards rock and roll.

23. Stan Kenton - Concerto To End All Concertos. A big-band jazz orchestra piece, in the Public Domain (discussing again how that's good--no need for Stan Kenton to keep making money). Seriously, don't I have any controversial music? This is a little ridiculous.

24. Toad The Wet Sprocket - Begin. Melancholic bland rock.

25. Barenaked Ladies - Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Tancredo-Dobbs might be mildly irritated by the Canadian band, but it's got a kind of heartlandy-feel without actually being stereotypical country. Eclectic, nostalgic, nature imagery. Not bad.

26. Lord of the Rings - Return of the King. Aside from the previously-mentioned Lord of the Rings stuff, I don't see much change. I'm doing really well for President! By now the public would have gotten bored scrutinizing my music, and gone and done something else. I'm kind of considering turning on the "More Cowbell" application and adding some Christopher Walken over it.

27. The Killers - Somebody Told Me. God, this got overplayed. I mean, it's good, but I got heartily sick of it. It's nice that Amarok reminded me of it. Again, I doubt it'll really move people one way or the other. Jeez, I'm tame. Of course, it scared the crap out of me after Return Of The King. Unless this song is actually about sex change, which I've privately considered it might be. But since even I'm not sure of that, I'll leave myself on the table.

28. Harry James - Ain't Misbehaving. One of the most standard of jazz standards. I could use it to make a cheap point about infidelity and public officials (I'm saving my loving for my wife, Spitzer!). It's instrumental, which again minimizes the impact.

29. Microprose - Heroes of Might And Magic Track ??. Eh... a song from a video game might lose me the Hilary Clinton crowd, but it's instrumental, it's old, and it's calm. I can't see people taking umbrage at it.

30. The Clash - Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Just a classic. I'm opening myself to the attack of "flip-flopper" but, c'mon, lighten up. It's a classic, and it links me to an older generation that might not get Art Brut or The Gorillaz, without losing me the people who do get Art Brut or the Gorillaz? There's a faint Spanish call and response, but I doubt Dobbs-Tancredo would even notice.

31. Louis XIV - Pledge of Allegiance. Allllllllright, well, that was a nice long campaign and I made it through the Primary season, but this is a dealbreaker. This is an entirely sex-obsessed song, with some women moaning, some light s+m, and a discrete tryst (which might hint at indiscretions in my private life). Also, a blasphemous invocation of the Pledge of Allegiance. The word "Bitch." "She said oh come on boy aren't you tired of talking about sex/I said little girl what do you really expect?"

Well, that was interesting. I made it surprisingly far, considering how much seedy music I've got elsewhere on my computer. But Louis XIV would get me out of the race any day. I guess this exercise has proven how contrived the "playlists" of our politicians are: if they were genuine, they would make a lot less sense than the playlists we are presented in magazines like Blender.

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