Who’s Number One?

I lost track of popular culture sometime in the 80s, and now I’m permanently stuck with big hair and thin ties.  It’s not that I don’t like contemporary stuff; I do (pick and choose) but I have no idea who does what or even when.  For example, I was shocked to hear Destiny’s Child on my Classic (read — Old Man) Rock Radio station — so I looked it up.  My God! That was 20 years ago!  Anyway, I said all that to say I’m no expert on anything in the 21st century, but that’s not going to stop me from having an opinion.

So…  Last week, YouTube announced that it has a new “Most Watched” music video.  More people have clicked, looked and listened to this 2 minute track than any other song in human history.  It’s “Baby Shark!”  Just when I thought it was safe to finally come out of the closet and admit I actually like “Let it Go,” the mega-annoying tweenie hit from Frozen, apparently, two-year-olds have taken over the world.  (What next?  Womb music?)  Okay, okay, okay!  It’s a phenom: over 7 billion hits is nothing to sneeze at, but there’s a bigger question going on here.  Why is “Baby Shark” even in the conversation?  It’s not real!  It’s a novelty babysitter song for stressed-out parents who need a minute to sneak away and eat a candy bar or have a pee – in peace.  Here’s the deal.  Millions of chubby little fingers tapped this redundant little ditty to Numero Uno in the universe — even though most of those little fingers haven’t even mastered a knife and fork yet.  Unfortunately, that pushed all the good stuff out of the way.  “Despacito” (one of the best videos I’ve seen in years) got knocked off the top spot, and Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was moved to third.  (BTW, how did that guy become a heartthrob?  Yeah, he can sing, but if he’s sexy, I should have girls lined up around the block — and I’m old.)  Meanwhile, “Uptown Funk” in its original incarnation is 6th and the mighty “Gangnam Style,” the video that started it all (first to one billion!) is now 7th!  My point is, these are all recognizable songs, musical renditions of something — even if it’s only an aging K-Popper leaping around as if he has an unfortunate itch.  Putting “Baby Shark” in that mix is like including Velvet Elvis in the National Portrait Gallery because it’s on so many trailer park walls.  Face it, folks!  Sheer numbers are not always the best way to rank things.

Way back in the day (1958, to be exact) when Perry Como got the world’s first Gold Record for a million sales of “Catch a Falling Star,” that number actually meant something.  It meant people were willing to take the time and trouble to leave the house and go to a record store; and, more importantly, it meant they were willing to shell out some hard coin to take Mr. Como home with them.  That’s a lot different from showing your kid how to click “play” cuz you need time to fold the laundry.  These two should be treated differently.

I understand that a million isn’t what it used to be, and even a billion won’t get you into the top 20 on YouTube.  However, I do think if YouTube wants to be taken seriously, they shouldn’t be rolling out those numbers quite so promiscuously.  Quite frankly, more isn’t preordained to be better.  If you’re using that flawed logic, sheep should be running the show in Australia.  After all, there are 3 times as many of them down there as there are people. 

Let’s Write Something

moon

Okay, okay, okay! We’ve all been stuck with our four walls and families for an eternity, and it’s beginning to wear thin.  We’ve cleaned out the fridge, we’ve cleaned out the garage, gone through 8 years of emails and binge-watched 6 years of television.  We’ve organized the towels by fluffy, the food by expiration date and the underwear by number of holes.  We’ve done all those stupid patio exercises and gained 5 kilos (11 pounds.)  We’ve taught the kids all the math we remember and nobody normal cares how long the 30 Years War was.  The dog is refusing to go “walkies,” and somebody stole the chocolate you hid in the tampons box (Steven, you bastard!)  So, now what?

This is the perfect time to write a national anthem for The Moon.

Think about it! You definitely have some time on your hands.  You wrote poetry when you were young, “moon” rhymes with everything (“swoon,” “June,” “raccoon”) and you can just steal the music from the public domain (“Moonlight Sonata,” perhaps?)  Plus, how cool would it be to be the person who wrote the national anthem for The Moon?  Like Way Cool!

The truth is, even though The Moon is central to the tides, the calendar and romantic love, humans have always treated it badly.  For example, there are 181 moons in our solar system — from Ganymede (bigger than the planet Mercury) to Deimos (smaller than Liechtenstein) — and every one of them has a name — except ours.  Ours is just “The Moon.”  C’mon folks!  Make an effort!

Meanwhile, people always say weird stuff happens whenever there’s a full moon.  Hey, that’s celestial profiling.  Venus doesn’t get that kind of abuse, and it spins backwards, for heaven’s sake.

Then there are the million and one songs supposedly written about The Moon that aren’t actually about The Moon, at all.  We have blue moons, harvest moons, moons hitting your eye like a big pizza pie and even bad moons rising — but nothing about The Moon itself.  You never hear lyrical lines like, “From thy rocky cratered majesty/Across your lifeless plain.”  Nobody ever sings that stuff.  No, Moon songs are always about love or lonely, or “My God, you make me horny.”  We look at The Moon and gush our emotions all over the place like water from a runaway garden hose, but when it comes to praising our shiny little friend, suddenly everybody’s mute.

However, even though we’ve treated our closest neighbour despicably for centuries, that isn’t the reason we need a national anthem for The Moon.  Here’s the deal!  The way things are going here on Earth, we’re probably going be living up there sooner than we think.  So, rather than getting caught with our pants around our ankles like we did with Covid-19 — let’s get prepared!

God save our gracious moon
Long live our shiny moon …

How am I doing?

Stuff I Learned From Music

music

Music is to culture what Doctor Watson is to Sherlock Holmes: you really can’t have one without the other.  It is a universal language that connects people everywhere around the world.  Even the grumpiest curmudgeon can’t help but move their shoulders just a little bit when they hear “Despacito.”  So it’s natural that, in my many years on this planet, I’ve learned a lot of things from music.  Here are just a few of them.

Musically, nobody really knows what to do with a drunken sailor.

There’s a reason symphony orchestras seldom feature bagpipes.

It’s no contest: the #1 favourite female vocalist of old people is “What’s-her-name.”

Disney could make a 2 hour live action movie about paint drying and people would pay to see it, download the sound track and set up a Twitter account to complain that the songs weren’t as good as the original.

Even though we sing it every year, nobody understands the words to “Auld Lang Syne.”

Oddly enough, ever since the Everly Brothers sang “Wake Up, Little Susie,” the go-to name for women in pop songs (and one country music mega-hit) is Sue.

Oddly enough, ever since the Beatles sang “I Saw Her Standing There” the optimum age for women in pop songs is 17.  Is that even legal?

And speaking of legal, “Happy Birthday to You” is still under copyright, so every time you sing it, you’re technically breaking the law.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart did not write “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”  That’s just a “fact” pompous asses mention in conversation so you’ll think they’re smart.

It’s never a good idea to teach children those monotonous, multi-verse songs like “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Baby Shark” — especially right before an extended road trip.

Everybody’s favourite song has one good verse and a very loud chorus. After that, it’s mostly mumbling ‘til the chorus comes around again.

When you’re driving and you’re either lost or looking for an address, you automatically turn the music down because … I don’t know … ears?

And speaking of ears, the Germans have a word for that song that gets stuck in your head – ohrwurm – ear worm.

Whether they’re waltzing with Mathilda or tying their kangaroo down, Australian folk songs have some totally strange lyrics.

If you’re the subject of a country music song, unfortunately, you’re pretty much screwed.

For pure sex, nothing beats 70s-going-on-80s pop music.

Keith Richards is proof that there is life beyond the grave.

Taylor Swift has written so many songs about bad relationships that – uh – maybe she’s the problem.

Nobody is ever going to love you as much as Kanye West loves … Kanye West.

And finally:

Old people spent most of this year bragging about how uber-wild and crazy they were back in the Woodstock era, circa 1969.  However, they’ve conveniently forgotten that Billboard’s Single of the Year, that year, was “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies.  (Not so counterculture cool now, are ya, grandpa?)