365 Day Song Challenge: Day 140 – “A”

Day 140: The first song alphabetically in your iPod/iTunes.

“A” – Barenaked Ladies

Maybe You Should DriveAs you may know, I try to balance out the number of posts written about songs by my favorite bands, otherwise Genesis and The Cars would be in about 62 point font in the tag cloud below. Barenaked Ladies wouldn’t be far behind. But, there’s nothing I can do about this one. My hands are tied.

“A” came to my attention when I acquired Rock Spectacle (pronounced like “Rock Spectack” for some reason), which is their first live album. BNL were one of the first bands to embrace the fact that people were listening to CDs on their computers (God, that’s so… 90s), and thus they were among the first to put CD-ROM exclusive material on their CDs. Continue Reading

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 73 – “Shopping”

Day 73: A song from a band that you wish you could hang out with.

“Shopping” – Barenaked Ladies

ShoppingToday’s post didn’t take much thought. Although I would love to hang out with Genesis, they seem like they’d be on the serious side outside their inner circle. I love Tony Banks, but I think that he’d be pretty stoic until he got to know you, and that could take years.

In some cases, there are people who would be very interesting to watch doing their work in the studio, but that’s not the same as hanging out. For example, I think it would be a great learning experience to be in the studio with Jeff Lynne (from ELO) or Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), but I’m not sure it would be fun.

When it comes to fun, I think of bands like Rush and Fountains of Wayne. I certainly don’t know these guys, but based on what I’ve seen and read, they seem like they’d be fun to hang with. But who knows? Maybe they wouldn’t. It’s difficult to really know how people are outside of their public personas (personae?).

Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click the > button above to hear samples.

Having said that, I do think it would be a blast to hang out with the guys from BNL. They all seem to have great senses of humor and they all seem just goofy enough that I’d be able to fit in with them sorta-kinda (in a way I probably couldn’t with Genesis or Rush). They joke around on stage, they joke around in interviews, and they joke around in the studio (this video is really what convinced me to pick them; I think it’s freakin’ hilarious).

They take their work seriously, even when the subject matter is lighthearted, but they don’t seem to take themselves too seriously, and I think that’s the key. It’s a good combination. It would prevent the whole experience from being a drag.

“Shopping” is an example of a tune that seems to showcase this light-heartedness. It comes from their 2003 album Everything To Everyone. The germ of the idea for the song came when, immediately after 9/11, George W. Bush said that people should keep going with their lives, like going shopping and so on. Everything will be all right, when we go shopping.

The lyrics are a bit silly, and the music goes along with it; it’s happy and silly, too. And I like that. I’ve liked it since I first heard it. But for those who can only handle so much silly, fear not, the rest of the album isn’t really like that. Songs like “Aluminum” and “Take It Outside” (which are also favorites from this album) have more serious topics to discuss, even if their veneer has some humor.

So, that’s my pick for today. And on the off-chance that someone from BNL reads this and wants to take me up on it, just let me know. I’m available.

Ty preps for “Shopping” backing vocals…

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 69 – “Hole In My Head”

Day 69: A song that you wish someone would cover.

“Hole In My Head” – Human Radio

Human RadioRemember yesterday when I said that I used to turn my nose up at music a lot more easily?

So one day in 1990 my roommate Pete comes in and says “I heard this great song called ‘Me & Elvis’ over the weekend, so I bought the single.”

Um. What?

I’m not an Elvis fan (Presley, not Costello, whom I do like), so the thought of a song talking about someone’s adventures with Elvis did not thrill me. But he insisted on playing it. My nose was summarily up. I insisted on dismissing it and saying I didn’t like it. And I’m not sure I was just being obstinate at that point, I’m not sure I cared for it much.

He proceeded to insist it was good and play it a lot more. And then he showed up with a whole friggin’ album (CD, really). Are you kidding me? I was having none of it.


Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click the > button above to hear samples.

And then something strange happened. Over time it became apparent that the music on that CD (including “Me & Elvis”) was good. Some of it was really good. So good, in fact, that I went out and bought the album (CD, really) myself.

While I’d love to put the whole album in the post, just to do my part and promote the band (who seem to be trying to make a comeback), I do have to pick a single song, so I’m going to go with “Hole In My Head.”

When looking for a song to pick, I decided that the song had to meet at least one of three criteria:

As Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman said, “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad.”

“Hole In My Head” fulfills the second and third criterion quite well, but fails miserably at the first. (I think Human Radio did a great job with it.)

Now, please stop and listen to the song before you read further. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Hey, welcome back. So, now that you’re intimately familiar with the song, listen to it again, and tell me you can’t hear Barenaked Ladies doing a great cover of this… I know, right?

No matter that it was released two years before BNL got a record deal, in some ways it seems like it was written for them. It has the right feel. It “fits.” I suspect BNL would do a great job with the rest of the songs as well. Except, ironically enough, “Me & Elvis.” I’m not sure anyone else could really pull that one off.

“So,” I hear you asking, “what happened to Human Radio? Why have I never heard of them?” Well, I’ll tell you. We kept waiting for a follow-up album, but alas, none appeared. For years I had no idea why. And then this little thing called the Internet (you may have heard of it) showed up where you can always find the information you want. (And many things you don’t.)

It seems Columbia Records, in their wisdom, did a crappy job of promoting the first album. So it didn’t sell. Since it didn’t sell they decided that the band must not be that appealing (because how could it possibly be Columbia’s fault?) and dropped them. And the other labels figured if Columbia couldn’t make it work, how could they? (This is really how labels operate, it has nothing to do with the music or any sort of logic whatsoever.)

I tried to find a list of albums Columbia released in 1990 so I could point out some hit album(s) that were God-awful that Columbia did promote, but I couldn’t find one. At least not easily. At least not in the first four Google search results. (The Internet sucks! You can never find what you want!) Further searching, however, uncovered a prime example: Step By Step. By New Kids On The Block. Yep. This is how record labels work.

At any rate, if you’re interested, you can have your very own copy of the Human Radio album (CD, really). Multiple copies are available here. (I recommend you go for the used ones.)

Don’t turn your nose up. I’m telling you, it’s really good!

And for those that are curious, here’s “Me & Elvis”…

365 Day Song Challenge: Day 34 – “Odds Are”

Day 34. A song that you try to get stuck in your head to replace the one that’s currently stuck there

“Odds Are” – Barenaked Ladies

Earworms. We all get them. Songs that you hear and they get stuck in your head, no matter what you try to do. And more often than not, it’s a song you don’t even like.

Wait a minute… That seems awfully familiar…

Oh yeah, yesterday’s post was a lot like this. So, now that you’ve got a song you hate stuck in your head and need to get it out? As a I mentioned in yesterday’s post you need to pass it on to someone else. But what if no one is around? Then what?

Well, since I feel bad about getting yesterday’s song stuck in your head, I’m going to give you a good song to replace it.

Actually, I still don’t feel bad about yesterday, because I continue to be “Lovin’ You”-free, but I will honor my promise to give you a good song to replace it. Because I’m nice like that. All right, fine, it’s because I have to for today’s post. Be that way.

The easiest choice, of course, is the theme to “I Dream Of Jeannie.” You laugh, but I guarantee it’s already stuck in your head. But you’re really no better off, are you? So the key, then, is to find something catchy but not annoying.

In truth, there are a lot of choices. But one I’ve come across recently is “Odds Are” by Barenaked Ladies.

Some quick answers to your questions about BNL:

And with that, let’s talk about “Odds Are.” (Rest easy, Kevin Hearn does not sing lead.) I was first introduced to it via the video, which is hilarious. BNL’s humor is one of the things that drew me to them in the first place. Songs like “If I had $1,000,000, “Pinch Me,” “Who Needs Sleep?” and “Shopping” always make me chuckle, but their last few albums (after 2003’s Everything for Everyone) were full of bland songs with bad melodies. It was like they were in a bit of a funk. And I suppose if you’re not getting along with one of your band members, your output will suffer. Their previous album (their first post-Stephen Page) was a Wings-esque democratic exercise trying to show they were a band, but it was uneven. But with their most recent effort, Grinning Streak, they seemed to have righted the ship.

“Odds Are” is a catchy tune with lyrics that talk about how terrible certain deadly possibilities (being struck by lightning, plane crashes, etc) are, but the whole point is that odds are in our favor that those things are just never going to happen to the average person. “Sure things go wrong, but I’ll take my chances/Odds are long, so why not play?”

It’s a nice counterpoint to the doom and gloom we hear from the media every day in the name of ratings. (Hmm… seems like I also wrote another post about a song that sends up the media.) And it’s catchy. A good song to replace “The Macarena,” “Lovin’ You” or whatever horrendous song happens to be stuck there.

Buy it (I give you a handy linkabove), listen to it, let it get stuck in your head for a little while.

Or you can stick with “Lovin’ You” or go with “I Dream of Jeannie.” Your choice.

For a chuckle or two: