365 Day Song Challenge: Day 20 – “Gangnam Style”

Day 20. A song you know most or part of the choreography to:

“Gangnam Style” — PSY

If it weren’t for my wife, Laura, my life would be a lot more sheltered than it is. Not only wouldn’t I know “Ça Plane Pour Moi,” have tried Goat Cheese or been to Aruba, my connection to many things pop culture would be much more tenuous. At the very least, I would discover things a lot later without her. (She, in essence, keeps me from being a complete square, the result being I’m only mostly square. I’m one of those squares with rounded corners.)

Such is the case with “Gangnam Style.”

We were watching an episode of “Saturday Night Live” in September 2012 (which, itself, is an example of something I would probably rarely watch if we weren’t together). It was not actually on the Saturday night, because we TiVo just about everything we like to watch and view it later. In the case of SNL, TiVo makes it so much easier to watch. As anyone who watches the show with any regularity knows, most episodes are hit and miss, but with TiVo, you blast through the misses. Especially the (typically) really lame skits that show up after Weekend Update. Yay! Technology!

Anyway, this particular evening there was a skit set in a “Lids” store, and at one point, the employees press a button and Bobby Moynhan comes out dressed like PSY is in the “Gangnam Style” video, and does a snippet of the song complete with dance moves. I was so completely lost; I had absolutely no clue what just happened and why it was funny. So, Laura paused the show (another benefit of TiVo*) and we went to YouTube, where we watched the video. (I’ve conveniently embedded it at the bottom of this post for your viewing pleasure)

Now suitably educated, I could enjoy (read: actually understand) the skit much more, especially when PSY himself came out. (To view the skit yourself, click on the picture above.) Seemingly minutes later the song was everywhere and you couldn’t avoid it, but for a little while, I had no idea.

But back to the video. You know, if you’ve seen it, that it’s really messed up. It jumps from scene to scene in a seemingly random way, the locations are bizarre (A beach? A sauna? Under a bridge? Huh?) and weird things just… happen. (For a laugh, check out the girl on the right starting at about 0:40. She is so happy to be there!) And then, the horse dance starts. I think that’s where people start to get fascinated. I did.

As was obviously the case with many people, the song (and video) stuck in my head. Some time later, as we were planning our wedding and subsequent reception we considered surprising people and doing “Gangnam Style” during our first dance, but we ultimately dropped that idea. I’m not sure why. But, before we dropped it, I went to the trouble to learn the moves.

Well, learn might be a bit grand. I noted them with some interest. I watched a YouTube “how to” video and practiced for about 90 seconds. So it’s not to say I could actually do them. But I know them. However, if Bobby Moynihan can do it, I bet I can too, with a bit of practice. But, much like “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop”, the world may never know.

And now, for the one person left on earth who has not yet seen it, I present “Gangnam Style”:

* I am not a paid spokesperson for TiVo, nor affiliated with the company in any way. Which is not to say I wouldn’t take their money. So TiVo, if you’re reading, feel free to send a check.

Did you know…

Pretend it’s 1986! The songs from days 1-20 fit perfectly on a 90 minute tape! It’s a perfect breakdown! Songs 1-10 (Side 1): 45:27! Songs 11-20 (Side 2): 44:45!
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365 Day Song Challenge: Day 19 – “King Of The Mountain”

Day 19. A song that you love from a band that has since broken up:

“King Of The Mountain” — Midnight Oil

Midnight+Oil+-+King+Of+The+Mountain+-+3-+CD+SINGLE-535674Midnight Oil was a bit of a one-hit wonder here in the United States. Which is a shame, because they were a really good band that put out a lot of really good music.

Today’s song comes from their 1990 album Blue Sky Mining. That was the studio follow-up to Diesel And Dust, which contained their only US Top 40 hit, “Beds Are Burning” (although I always felt “The Dead Heart” was the stronger song). They did get a number of songs into the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, including “King Of The Mountain,” which reached #20. But still, most people know them for only the one song, if at all.

In their native Australia, of course, it’s a bit of a different story. They had a number of Top 10 hits and albums during their career and had a large, somewhat (okay, very) rabid following. Heck, as I mentioned in my dance post, “Blue Sky Mine” even got played at dance clubs, and it wasn’t at all a dance song. Good beat, yes. “Who Let The Dogs Out”, no.

While I had discovered them before I went to Australia, I certainly came to know them better as a result of being there. They were strong advocates for Aboriginal rights and many of their songs addressed political, and sometimes controversial, topics. (“Blue Sky Mine,” for instance, is about the abuses of big business.)

I was able to see them live twice. The first on the tour supporting the Blue Sky Mining album. I remember driving to Springfield, Massachusetts from Worcester to see the show. I actually remember the drive home better. It was September, I believe and the driver’s side window of my car had shattered and was missing. That was a cold, cold ride home. The second time was in 2001, when they were supporting what turned out to be their final studio album, Capricornia. The second time was better. Mostly because, thanks to my friend Pete, I was three feet from the stage.

I remember that show fairly well, but two things stick out:

  1. It was 6 weeks after 9/11, and Peter Garrett, the always-political lead singer of the group, talked about how we as a country were handling it.
  2. I got sweated on by Peter Garrett.

Yes, you read #2 correctly. It was gross and somehow cool all at the same time. (But mostly gross.) The man sweats profusely during shows. Couple that with the weird, almost epileptic, movements he makes and us being so close to the stage, and I guess it was bound to happen.

Anyway, I picked today’s song (rather than “Beds Are Burning” or “The Dead Heart”) for three reasons:

  1. You’ve likely heard “Beds Are Burning” and I’m trying to broaden your horizons.
  2. “The Dead Heart” was also on Diesel And Dust, their most popular album in the US, so there’s an outside chance you’ve heard it, too, even if you don’t recognize it by name. (For those of you not reading this on a mobile device, I encourage you to check out the song preview on the Amazon Widget.)
  3. I do really love the song. It’s my favorite on Blue Sky Mining, which is saying something, because it’s a very strong album.

After the “sweat” tour, Midnight Oil broke up, with the exception of a couple of reunion shows. Peter Garrett ran for Parliament, and won. He’s recently retired from that, so fans are hopeful that the band will reform and record a new album.

That would be cool, not only for the new music, but because I wouldn’t mind seeing them again. I can’t decide whether I would or would not want to be sweated on again. Maybe I’d just settle for an autograph.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 18 – “Bye Bye Love”

Day 18. A song you would consider part of the “soundtrack” of your life:

“Bye Bye Love” — The Cars

Although Genesis is my favorite band, The Cars’ debut is my favorite album. I’m not exaggerating in the least when I tell you that I’ve listened to this album at least a thousand times. So, if the challenge was an album that you consider part of the soundtrack of your life, I’d be done. (I better not hear you saying “I wish it said album.”)

But it did say song, so a little more work is involved.

It’s funny the things you remember. In 1978, my brother drove a 1971 Plymouth Valiant. It was a bizarre red-orange color, and so far as I recall, looked pretty similar to the car Dennis Weaver drove in the movie Duel. (I don’t have enough parenthetical space here to talk about just how mind-blowingly horrible that movie was, so I’ll save it for another post.) Looked similar, that is, until the front fenders rusted out and were replaced with blue ones. This was not a car you could “blend in” with to outwit cops if you were speeding at the outset, much less after the repairs. And I believe that’s the way it stayed at least as long as we had it.

The Valiant had been outfitted with an aftermarket 8-Track tape player, and in 1978, that 8-Track player was delivering The Cars through to the speakers on a very regular basis. It is here that I first remember hearing the album. And I have a specific memory of hearing today’s song in the front seat of that car, too. (This was in the days where no one cared about children enough to make them sit in the back seat, or even wear a seat belt. Ah! The good old days.) The reason this one sticks out over the others is that remember mishearing the lyrics for a long time, thinking Ben Orr was singing “Vi, my love”.

Like, short for “Violet” or something, I dunno. Don’t ask me why I would have thought those were the words over the actual “Bye Bye Love.” I was eight. My brain was barely big enough to fill my skull at that point.

From there, the album (and song) has followed me throughout my life. I’m not sure how many copies I’ve owned on different formats over the years. At least one “official” cassette, a homemade cassette recording of the vinyl, the vinyl, and two CDs. There may be more in there. Ric Ocasek has a beach house that I paid for, I think.

The point is, this song shows up at all the important points in my life. Adolescence, high school, college, working life, home life. It’s everywhere. And, that’s why I chose it for the “soundtrack.” It’s there, in the background, providing color for all the things that happen without being too overpowering. It makes you feel what’s going on that much more without really knowing why. That’s a good soundtrack song.

Now, if I could just figure out who “Vi” is.

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 17 – “Who Let The Dogs Out”

Day 17. A song you remember dancing in public to

“Who Let The Dogs Out” — Baha Men

These challenges seem to fall into two extreme categories: “What the hell do I pick?” and “What the hell do I pick?”

“Huh?” you say? Let me be more specific, they fall into “I can’t think of anything” and “How do I pick just one?”

Today’s challenge falls into the latter class. Most people have danced to any number of songs in their lifetime, even if it was “The Alley Cat” with crazy old Aunt Sally at a wedding back in 1982. (Modify as appropriate for your own life circumstance and crazy Aunt… or Uncle. Everybody has at least one.) How do you narrow it down to a single selection?

I have literally danced to “The Alley Cat” at more than one wedding (although I don’t have an Aunt Sally), as well as the other usual wedding suspects. “Chicken Dance.”“Old Time Rock And Roll.”Love Shack.”You know the ilk. And then there’s my favorite wedding dance: “Shout.” (The version from Animal House.)

I’m not much of the dance club type, but even so, I’ve been to a few. Even at Shelly’s (read yesterday’s post for an introduction to Shelly’s) I did some dancing, although the mix was way eclectic. It included things like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long,” John Cougar [Mellencamp]’s “Hurts So Good” and “Blue Sky Mine” by Midnight Oil, as well as dance tunes of the period like “Dizzy” and “Wiggle It.”

But I’m going with improbability and stupidity.

I missed the “Who Let The Dogs Out” bandwagon (as I typically do with hit songs, because I don’t listen to the radio). I knew of its existence, but didn’t really know the song. Although, when it was popular, I had a bizarre experience at a Hollywood Video store one night: I was the only customer in the place, and when I went up to the counter, the clerk, who I didn’t know from Adam, looked at my membership card, looked me straight in the eye and said: “Joe, I have only one question for you… Who let the dogs out! Woof woof woof woof woof!”

And yes, he sang it.

Up until my friend Pete’s wedding, that was the extent of my interaction with “Who Let The Dogs Out.” It was at that wedding that I first heard the dance mix of the song, and it immediately struck a chord with me. I’m not one who typically enjoys dancing that much (at least in public), but, for reasons I cannot explain, that one had me out on the floor, dancing like a maniac.

I have not had the opportunity to dance to the song in public since. To the relief of people everywhere. It sort of came and went from the playlist at most places.

And that, my friends, is why iPods were invented.

I really hope there are no secret cameras in my house. Because if that song comes on, I can’t help but start to jump around in whatever room I happen to be in. (This can be dangerous if I happen to be in our small bathroom when it comes on.) Cameras would capture this lunacy and the floodgates of blackmail would come rushing in. All hopes for my political career (if I actually had aspirations for a political career) would be over immediately.

Or would they? Dancing-like-a-maniac-to-Who-Let-The-Dogs-Out Joe has to be a better candidate for… well, anything really, than this guy, right? Right?
Please feel free to use the comments to tell me I’m right. And perhaps to tell me about your crazy Aunt Sally.

God, I hope you say yes.