Entries in NBC (2)

Wednesday
Nov302011

'Billboard' and Everyone Else Need to Stop Announcing When Music "Drops"

MUSIC-SEMANTICS REVIEW: Traditional and indie music-media alike need to stop overusing one specific bit of industry slang.

By Kenny Herzog

The only thing Stanley Hudson routinely drops is his crossword pencil. (Credit: YouTube)

 

Yesterday evening, Billboard.com was among the many entertainment sites embedding The Office's latest viral video. Namely, fictional salesman Stanley Hudson's (Leslie David Baker) parodic R&B track, "2 Be Simple." The song and clip themselves are, like their parent sitcom of late, silly and not very funny. But Billboard's headline, which boasted that, "Stanley from The Office Drops" his new single, may have finally signaled a nadir for one of contemporary music-journalism's most overly abused bits of jargon.

Chances are, the headline scribe opted for "Drops" with tongue in cheek, given the ensuing video's sending up of R&B tropes. But the term's still lost its ironic cache in the wake of countless white-bred magazines and blogs awkwardly, earnestly appropriating its usage while reporting album-release news on vanilla indie rock, teen-pop and even adult-contempo. 

So let's all show a little appreciation for the language, even and especially in its modern varations (shorthanded offspring are its future, after all), and respect the proper time and situation for declaring that music drops. And in return, here's the S-Hud video in question, in case that's your thing.

 

 

IN OTHER WORDS: To invoke generally accurate, self-appointed cultural arbiter Bill Maher: New Rule—No more referring to albums by country stars, indie rockers, pubescent pop stars or comedic TV personas as about to "drop."

STANLEY HUDSON'S DEBUT "SINGLE" RATING: 4/10

THE NEUTERING OF PERFECTLY GOOD POP-CULTURAL SLANG RATING: 2/10

NEUTERING RATING: 9/10

 

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Tuesday
Oct252011

Pentatonix Kills it With Kanye West's "Love Lockdown" on 'Sing-Off'

MUSIC REVIEW: Pentatonix, the L.A.-based a cappella quintet with an underground swag, not only hips up the NBC show The Sing-Off, but they reinvented Kanye West's already-cool "Love Lockdown," in what had to be one of the best performances of the season.

By Robbie Woliver

Pentatonix can take the Glee kids in New Directions when it comes to out-of-the-box vocalizing. (Credit: NBC)

The Sing-Off is actually a pretty damn cool music competition. It not only embraces the purest of musical styles (a cappella, vocalizing with no musical instruments), it turns what could be a dull glee-club fest into one of the most intricate and current musical showcases. 

You can't cheat when performing a cappella. It's bare, but not spare. Every note, every breath is out in the open, exposed for any flaws. The singers (and "musicians") have to be perfect, not only with their own vocalization, but their harmony, choreography and showmanship. Every band member (one group, the entertaining Yellowjackets from the University of Rochester has 15 members) is providing a unique bit to the overall sound, whether it's the lead, harmony or one of the instrumental sounds. We've heard them mimic violins, basses, drums, and guitars. And each kid can sing better than most of these X-Factor or Idol clowns.

I would be remiss in not mentioning how good the judges, all performers, are on this show: R&B superstar Shawn Stockman (Boyz II Men), Sara Bareilles and Ben Folds, who is astonishingly well-informed about music, in general. They are all endearing, likable, funny, and incredibly knowledgable. They are the best judging team on any TV competition. And really, how cool and how un-TV is Ben Folds?

From the start, Pentatonix has proven to be one of the most interesting bands on the show. Up against larger groups like the Yellowjackets, they have more to prove, and they usually prove that they are more intricate and complex than the other groups. But this week they outdid theselves with an extraordinary rendition of Kanye West's "Love Lockdown." It was a gripping performance, the kind that when it was over, you realize you didn't breathe for a minute. 

This fivesome (four guys, one girl) do it all--sing, dance and bring a swagger to acapella that most singing groups tend to lack. They can wail, harmonize, dance, and brilliantly arrange their material, and considering that they're a fairly new entity (three were a trio in high school in Arlington, Texas who added two more members who they found on YouTube, including the beatboxer, of course). Unlike many of the other contestant groups, Pentaonix's influences are less Glee, and more underground, incorporating dubstep, garage house and electronic music. Add that eclectic and very contemporary mix to stellar and often dramatic performances, and you have a winning team here. 

Pentatonix is comprised of Mitch Grassi, Scott Hoying, Avi Kaplan, Kirstin Maldonado and Kevin Olusola. 
Watch their stunning performance of "Love Lockdown" below, and you'll see how they make a cappella as hip as any underground hip-hop show.

 


IN OTHER WORDS: I want to download this on my iPod now.

THE SING-OFF RATING: 8/10

PENTATONIX RATING: 9.9/10

The SING-OFF JUDGES RATING: 9/10

AFRO-BLUE'S ONE WHITE GIRL NEVER GETTING THE SPOTLIGHT RATING: LOL/10

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THOSE TWO GUYS IN THE BACKGROUND RATING: 20/20

 

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