“The Main Event”

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I know I disappeared for a couple of days after my last post.  I think I felt the need to distance myself from a decidedly disturbing musical experience.  Which would also explain today’s song.  Because the only way you’re going to be disturbed by this inconsequential Barbra Streisand tune is if you have a phobia about cheesy Disco-Pop.  Although since it’s sung by Barbra Streisand, this song does have one thing going for it.

Never let it be said that my taste in music is elitist.

Besides featuring Streisand’s powerhouse voice, “The Main Event/Fight” is also pretty darned catchy.  Too bad the movie the song is the theme for was so freakin’ terrible.  After the success of the screwball comedy What’s Up Doc?, Streisand re-teamed with Ryan O’Neal for the bland, unfunny, clichéd The Main Event.  Successful businesswoman finds herself nearly destitute.  Investment in not-so-great boxer is one of her remaining assets, so she makes herself his manager to ensure his success.  You can figure out what happens from there because it is painfully predictable.  I don’t think I even liked it when I was a kid.

But I did like this song.  It’s pure fluff, but it sticks with you–which would make it more like marshmallow fluff.  (FYI, my aunt makes the best fudge in the world using marshmallow fluff.  I have to get the recipe.)  One of my favorite things is the tempo changes that keep the song bobbing and weaving like a boxer, which not only ties it into the plot/characters of the movie but makes it a great song to dance to.  The best Disco gives the dancers time to catch their breath and get closer to each other on the floor.  There’s even an eleven minute extended version.  I also think the way the song is arranged, from opening to fade out, was also designed to make it easier for DJs to incorporate it into their sets at discos.  (That’s my guess anyway; it’s not like I’m an expert on how DJs do their jobs.)  Whatever the reasons for how it was made, “The Main Event/Fight” works as a song.

“I Can’t Breathe”

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I’m not entirely sure I should be starting the week out on such a dark note.  But this song demands attention.

I was going to make this a Freaky Friday post, but I decided to go with my Oscar picks instead.  (I went 0 for 2, but I’m not upset.  The music that won was good music.)  Really, I was just kind of avoiding exposing myself to this video again.

Pussy Riot’s first song in English is a good one.  They were in New York around the same time as the Eric Garner protests were happening, and they were inspired by that to write the song.  It is an oppressive song about oppression.  The electronic music and insistent drum beat give “I Can’t Breathe” a foreboding, ominous feeling–not surprising, given this band’s own experiences with oppression, censorship, and political imprisonment.  And I like the way fear and defiance balance each other out; they’re going to stand up for themselves even though they’re terrified about what might happen if they do.  That’s highlighted at the end by Richard Hell’s reading of Eric Garner’s final words.

But what makes this song indelible, and to me absolutely horrifying, is the video that features Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina being buried alive.  One of my major phobias is the idea of being buried alive.  It wigs me out beyond belief, and I found this video almost impossible to watch.  I started looking away from the screen as soon as I could see their faces.  It is massively disturbing and just as massively effective.  If you want to make a statement about the way people are being treated by law enforcement, you can’t do much better than this.

I recommend this song.  I suggest watching the video only in a well-lit, well ventilated place.  Outdoors works.  Outdoors, but only if you’re surrounded by concrete and other stuff that can’t be dug up and piled on top of you.

Oscar Music Picks

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I’ve been doing my research for the annual family Oscar party.  Here’s my choices for who should win for Best Original Song and Best Original Score.

Song: Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.”

Yeah, “Glory” is the front-runner, and a perfectly good song to boot.  But Glen Campbell’s last recording made me burst into tears.  It is one of the most heartbreaking pieces of music I’ve ever heard.

Score: The Theory of Everything

All the nominated scores are pretty good, to be honest.  I think The Grand Budapest Hotel is more original, but Johann Johannsson’s score is just so gorgeous.  Really good stuff.  And most of the pundits seem to be picking this one as the front-runner.

I won’t be sorry if I’m wrong on these.  If “Glory” wins, that will be fine; like I said, it’s a good song.  And if one of the other scores get the Oscar, that’ll be okay, too.  But I hope I’m right because there are prizes for the most correct picks.  I won a couple of years ago, and I’d like a repeat.

“That Was Your Mother”

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Yeah, I know Fat Tuesday is almost over here on the West Coast, and it’s long past in many, many other time zones.  I suppose it’s not really an issue for me.  I’m not Catholic and do not celebrate Ash Wednesday or Lent; I only celebrate Easter in the sense that I like hard-boiled eggs dyed pretty colors.  (I will also enjoy Filet-O-Fish sandwiches being on sale at McDonald’s every Friday for the next month or so.)  But here’s a little Zydeco stylings via the great Paul Simon for your musical enjoyment, anyway.

On a totally unrelated note, if you are in need of a giggle, please check out this tumblr blog.  It’s sick and dark and twisted, and I’ll bet it’s right up a lot of my readers’ alley.  You’re welcome.

Lesley Gore

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Lesley Gore was one of the classic voices from Rock/Pop in the 1960s.  She sang songs from a teenage girl’s point of view, songs about love and heartbreak as only a teenage girl could see it.  But what made Gore’s music different was that it was rooted in realism.  It wasn’t just melodramatic sap or fantasy romance.  It was the kind of stuff that girls dealt with all the time.  Her characters fell for boys, lost them to other girls, got them back.  They knew the truth about their guys’ flaws, but loved them anyway.  These were realistic relationships–the kind I still saw being played out when I was a teenager in the 80s, and that probably still get played out in high school hallways today.  Listeners could identify with Lesley Gore’s songs because they lived them.

Her biggest hit was “It’s My Party,” and it’s a cracker.  Catchy and emotional.  Name me one teenage girl who didn’t feel like she wanted to die when she found out her boyfriend was with her frenemy.  I love that song.  But Gore made a lot of other great music, too.  One of my other favorites is the plaintive “Maybe I Know.”  You really feel for this girl who understands that her boyfriend is pretty much a cad, but she just doesn’t want to give up on him.  Heck, maybe you were that girl.

When I was reading about Lesley Gore’s death today at 68, I found out that her life was richer than the teenybopper love songs she sang in the 60s, and that her career didn’t end with the end of that decade.  She had a degree in English from Sarah Lawrence (which means she was one smart cookie), and a 33 year relationship with her partner Lois Sasson (which means she had a better love than the ones she sang about).  I also found out that she co-wrote one of my favorite songs from the soundtrack of 1980’s Fame with her brother Michael.  It’s another touching song about a girl who feels lost and afraid, but won’t back down from the troubles in the world or in her heart.  I think it kind of sums up the kind of person Lesley Gore was.