Why 7 Rings Rings So Many Bells

This month’s New York magazine features a set of articles about popular music today and why questions of plagiarism seem to dog so many hit songs. I was happy to contribute an article teasing out the controversies around Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” by taking a musicological deep-dive into the disputed musical figure in question, a

Representing Dembow Dominicano

As I wrote back in 2011, If I were writing my mega-essay on reggaeton today, I’d want to make a lot more space for the Dominican Republic’s local take on the genre. And that has only gotten truer in the 8 years since, as Dominican dembow has continued to grow, change, and gather steam, including

AfrodiasporaPOP!

In October, I spoke to Rolling Stone (always wanted to say that!) about how, in their words, “reggaeton, dancehall, baile funk, afrobeats and other diasporic styles are mixing faster than ever — without much help from the U.S. music industry.” The topic has been a sustained thesis on this blog and in my work, of

Prisma Tropical Liner Notes

As I mention below, I’ve been a Balún fan for over a decade, so I was utterly thrilled when the band wrote to me earlier this year and asked if I would write the liner notes for their stunning new album, Prisma Tropical. It was a dream(pop) assignment, especially since it’s their best work to

Música Negra to Pop Reggaeton

I think the jury’s still out on whether the so-called “Despacito effect” will translate into a sustained presence of Spanish-language hits in the Hot 100, in regular radio rotation, on top-level pop playlists (and not just reggaeton / Latin ones), and so forth. I’m sure the “YouTube factor” will continue to make these decisions increasingly

YouTubology, Spring 2015

As you may know, I think the mini-mega-montage is the method, and I’ve been asking students to make them for a few years. One of my biggest inspirations for assigning students to make YouTube-sourced montages is the fact that musical supercuts are already an ordinary practice, whether we’re talking about the best Nae Nae Vines

Technomashicology Spring 2015

My students have been hard at work in this spring’s session of Technomusicology at the Harvard Extension School (which I’ve just realized marks 10 years since I first started teaching there!), and I’m eager to share some standout projects. We recently turned to the mashup as a media form to grapple with, thinking about the

Rolê – Novos Sons Do Brasil (review)

I reviewed Rolê – Novos Sons Do Brasil, a new compilation from Brazil’s Mais Um Discos, for Issue 365 of The Wire (July 2014). Given my prolix proclivities, I was glad to get a little longer leash (i.e., wordcount) for this one. Nice to be able to stretch out a bit — and dig in

YouTubology Summer 2014 Edition

For their 4th etude of our summer adventures in technomusicology, my students produced their own YouTube montages (as I’ve discussed here and there), and, as usual, I’m smitten by the results. I even shed a few YouTubeTears in class as we screened them together. I’ve rounded them up in playlist form, but allow me to

Where’d the Beef?

No one does radio (by which I mean, audio storytelling) like Benjamen Walker. You may know him from his incarnations as the host of Your Radio Nightlight, Too Much Information, or Theory of Everything, which has recently become one of the flagship programs in PRX‘s new podcast network, Radiotopia. I feel very lucky to count

Megamontage Is the Method: Mozart to K-Pop

an utterly awesome eight-year-old diva, via YouTube This past week I’ve whipped up another couple YouTube montages in the vein of Gasodoble, Bump con Choque, and my students’ projects in last year’s technomusicology class. Unlike my previous efforts, which not too surprisingly involve reggaeton, these new mega-montages engage repertories that I don’t generally mess with:

Boston Mashacre

On the 243rd anniversary of the Boston Massacre (bigup Crispus Attucks!), I’m reposting the merely titular-pun-related mix of Boston-associated songs I cooked up for the Somerville Art Council back in 2005. This is also (barely) germane to the day given the currently flaring debate over Massachusetts’ official rock song. (As they say around here, I

The Montage Is the Method

Last week the students in my technomusicology class submitted their video études. The assignment was relatively straightforward: make a montage of YouTube-sourced videos interlinked by some (musical) subject, theme, or tune. One additional challenge, if made far easier by Ableton’s video capacity, was to attempt to bring the various performances into a kind of musical

Is “Africa” “Actually” African?

Africa Is a Country, a wry but passionate blog devoted to “Africa” — the idea, not (simply) the song — in contemporary media (but “not about famine, Bono, or Barack Obama”) has been threatening to make a weekly series out of the genuinely remarkable resonance of Toto’s 1982 soft-rock anthem. It’s a begrudging tribute of

& Found! (But Still a Little Lost)

Not long after my last post went public, a savvy searcher quickly proved that what I thought was fairly ungooglable (at least without knowing Arabic) was, in fact, waiting for me on eBay. And beyond simply locating & IDing the music/CD in question, this kind commenter hit Arabkidsmusic paydirt. First, I want to take back

Ghe20 G0th1k Meets Hatsune Miku Uptown in Cambridge

A little more about this Monday’s special edition of Beat Research… I’m thrilled to report that Venus’s partner-in-rave, $hayne (pic’d above), will be joining her on the trip. That means we’re gonna be treated to a tag-team/4-handed Ghe20 Goth1k performance the likes of which Greater Boston has not yet been party to. So get ready,

Unauthorized Oz Wizardry

Tip of the virtual cap to “sharebro” and jazz wiz Josh Rutner for these — c/o MOVIEBARCODE c/o pughtube – The Wizard of Oz + Dark Side of the Moon…. many folks have tried to put these two together and succeeded, sort of. The people that even know about this probably still argue on which

More SoundClowning Around

Thanks for the continued conversation re: the limits to your love. I enjoy plotting to create better possible futures with y’all, and I “Beat Me Back” — or, more precisely, what makes one loop hackish (and hence disrespectable) and another inspired (and thus tolerated). Note how this commenter on another instantiation attempts to tease out

The Journal of Popular Music Studies, and Me, and You

I’m happy to announce that I recently joined the team of associate editors at JPMS, or the Journal for Popular Music Studies, which is the quarterly publishing venue of IASPM-US, or the United States branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Now that I’ve got that mouthful out, let me tell

Todo Mundo Musikeando

When I was in Mexico recently, I gave a lecture-demo on how one might express ideas about music through music. (Readers of this blog will be familiar with these approaches, especially via my excursions in riddim meth0dism.) Although I want to keep the concept as open as possible, believing there are myriad ways to do

Other Sides!

I was surprised and delighted to learn last week (h/t Rizzla) that everyone’s favorite pair of singing Boricuas from Queens, Nina Sky, have released a handful of new tracks, all for free DL (long as you give them your email address, which, in this case, seems a fair exchange). Apparently, the release comes in response

version a version (riddim meth0d repost)

[Ok, while I’m grinding on non-bloggy things, let me keep things moving here by offering up another from the riddimmeth0d vaults. I’m happy to report that I’ve since discovered more info about the origins of “Bird In Hand” here, which points out that the female singer on “Milte hi aankhein dil huwa” (from the 1950

the lion seeps tonight (riddim meth0d repost)

[Well, the Riddim Meth0d domain has finally kicked the bucket, scattering our posts to the great Internet Archive in the ether, or elsewhere. I’m going to continue rehashing here certain posts that seem to merit the treatment. In that vein, here’s another bit of resurrected mashup poetics for you. I’m happy to report that the

Down Like the Economy

DJ Earworm offers up his latest year-end mashup retrospective, putting together the top 25 songs of 2009. For me, despite how remarkably well it all hangs together, this doesn’t quite have the magic of last year’s collage, but it’s still a great way — much as I would prefer to never hear those BEP songs

Radio Free Boston

Kevin Driscoll, whose work I mentioned at the end of the songs-as-shared post, is having me on his Todo Mundo radio show tonight on MIT’s WMBR from 12-2am EST (88.1FM or streaming here). Among other things “new, weird, and local” (sez Kev), I’ll be playing some newer versions of old but current things (Akon’s “Wanna

Songs as Shared Things

charlie sporting a hat bearing the name of his boat, a name inspired by some songs No doubt most readers of this blog are aware that my father-in-law, Charlie Nesson (aka eon), is also very much IN LAW. And he’s been making the news a lot recently, mainly for defending (pro bono) Joel Tenenbaum against

Pop Goes the World

There’s little I can add to all the tributes and reflections gumming up the web these days, but like so many others I feel compelled to say something. Inspired even. I found Andrew Sullivan’s and Jeff Chang’s posts pretty resonant, Jason King’s too, among others, and I’ve been particularly struck by all the MJ music

B-Boy = Book Boy, and Other Uprock Narratives

Some bookish things to report, including the latest re: Reggaeton — namely, that tomorrow, Wednesday May 27 (which happens to be my born day), I’ll be appearing alongside co-editor Raquel Rivera on WNYC’s Soundcheck.

Giving Away the Ending

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a mix with y’all (not incl that brief bit for Blogariddims 50). No good reason for that. I’ve been DJing every Monday night at Beat Research and I’ve got as many ideas for thematic, quasi-pedagogical mixes as ever. Blame time (or lack thereof). The time it takes

The Milksap Montage

YouTubemusicology c/o Phillip Tagg — who adds — This video is part of the ongoing feature-film length “movie” project “Fernando the Flute – The Film of the Book of the Music”. To find out what the I-vi-ii/IV-V matrix might actually mean you will also need to view “Fernando Museme 3 Part 1” and Fernando Museme

Earworms of 08

I know that 2008 is, like, totally over — but that doesn’t mean we can’t already begin revisiting it in ironic/nostalgia mode. And what’s the best vehicle for that? The mashup, of course. DJ Earworm, who put together a similar roundup last year, has not only spliced together — super seamlessly — the Billboard top

Blogariddims 50

Today marks the seeding of the fiftieth and final episode of the brilliant Blogariddims series, a near-monthly “podcast” with which many readers of w&w no doubt have some passing acquaintance. Indeed, if you’re omnivorous like me, you’ve likely downloaded every one, each time enticed by the loving, careful, idiosyncratic and refreshingly all-over-the-map episodes from some

Dancefloor Friktion, Almost From Any Font

The Frikstailers first came to my attn via DJ Ripley and Stu FatPlanet, both of whom seemed to admire their “fidget groove” (thx, stu!). I too was instantly enamored with their glitched-up, tech-housey (blog-housey?), syncopated dance traxx. They helped me to imagine Argentina in a different way, hearing Córdoba as another outpost of the EDM

Slim Pickins

Imagine being asked to open up for an old school hip-hop DJ. Y’know, one of the innovators, the originators, the architects. Pretty good deal, right? An opportunity not to be missed. Now imagine being given a list of tracks you can’t play. Fair enough, you think. Gotta leave some crowd pleasers and ol’ stand-bys for

Seven Steps to Human Nature

Tomorrow — that’s Thursday — I’m gonna be giving my second area performance as a recently transplanted Chicagoan. While the last one might have been described as lappy, this one’ll be more rappy. Jordan Davis’s Million Poems Show is coming to town, y’see, and I’ll be joining the fray by “reading” some “poems” (over beats