Lilly Allen vs. Paris Hilton

January 21, 2008

Lilly and ParisSo Flava Dave and I were out drinking the other night and, invariably, a heated debate sprang up. No one knows exactly how these things happen, but one of us makes a bold statement and the other responds that the statement-maker is an idiot.

So the bold statement I made – I think I made the statement, but the fog of beer clouds some of the arguments details – was that I would much rather hear Paris Hilton’s album “Paris” than Lilly Allen’s “Alright, Still” album. As if it weren’t bad enough that we were discussing the music of pop tarts, we both had deep deated opinions about each pop tart.

Which leads us to this debate: Who would you rather listen to, Paris Hilton or Lilly Allen? Discuss.


Flinchbot Says: I have to go with Ms. Hilton here. (And yes, I’ve listened to both albums several times). Maybe it’s that the “Paris” album has the bigger booming beats. Perhaps I like it more because the beats are more banging. Or maybe it’s because Paris Hilton’s personal life is a legitimate mess while Lilly Allen is just a whiney kid who says things to be sardonic.Look, Paris has done a sex tape, mounds of coke, jail time…lord knows what. So when she puts out an album of pop silliness you can at least feel that there may be something she is trying to get off her chest (Other than Rick Salomon’s spooge). This album isn’t the work of some bratty kid. It’s the album of someone who, for better or worse, has actually done the things that Lilly Allen secretly wishes she could do but she’s not bad ass enough to do it.

And the music reflects this opinion of mine. Lilly Allen’s album is reggae-lite, the kind of reggae that UB40 pawned off on a far-too easily impressed musical landscape. You listen to the weak reggae and ska lilts throughout the album and if you’re not bored yet by song 5 then you either aren’t paying attention or you are a sucker for reggae-lite. Meanwhile, Paris also mined the caribbean vibe for her album (at least on lead single “Stars Are Blind”) but also pumped up the dance floor beats an extra notch or 6. Pumping up the beats doesn’t inherently make the music better but it makes the album better for what it is: A throwaway summer pop record to be played on sunny days while cruising down the highway with the windows rolled down. You just have to have the beats and this album fits that need neatly.

The other night I ended at a bar that was offering Karaoke. Some chick got up and limped through a tepid version of “Stars Are Blind”. Who knew you could karaoke Paris?

Kate NashWhile Lilly Allen’s album certainly has it’s moments (and it’s worst songs are better than Paris’ worst songs) it’s a tad boring on the whole. Listening to the whole thing sure takes concentration. Listening to Paris’ album all the way through is a tad easier, because when I get bored with it, I can always imagine her naked – not that much imagination is needed there.

So anyway, I’d much rather listen to Paris over Lilly Allen. Except right now, I really want to hear that Kate Nash album. It shouldn’t take much to be better then either Paris or Lilly.


FlavaDave Says: Okay, a few things before I start:1) Welcome back. It has been awhile.

2) Do you realize that we are getting over 1,500 hits a week? Who is reading our blog? If you are out there, leave a comment or something.

As for the subject at hand, this is impossible for me to argue. Again, I offer two reasons:

1) I have absolutely nothing interesting to say about Paris Hilton. Zero.

2) I’ve never heard Paris Hilton’s music.

So I can hear the retort already: How can I criticize something I am ignorant of? And you know what, hypothetical retort? You’re right. I can’t.

But I would like to remind everyone of something: We are not discussing who is the better artist. We are discussing who we would rather listen to.

And in light of this fact, the answer is Lilly Allen. But really, it could be anybody.

Even with the most vapid musical artists, curiosity is part of the equation. I wonder what Timberlake is like in real life? I wonder what Kelly Clarkson looks like naked (glorious, I suspect)? Is Mariah Carey batshit insane?

But I have no interest in Paris Hilton. How could anybody? Without trying, I know her name, where she’s from, what she does both professionally and for recreation, who her friends are, likes and dislikes, etc. I never wanted to know, but I do by cultural osmosis. I’ve even seen her naked and having sex. So what could I possibly want to know about her?

So Lilly Allen wins by “de-fault! de-fault! de-fault!” because I at least want to nail her (and therefore have, at minimum, an inkling of interest in her music, in case I meet her).

But I’ll spend a paragraph defending her music because it is actually really good.

The sound is superb. Future mega-producer Mark Ronson really is on his game with this one. Calling it “reggae-lite” is erroneous. While two of her singles (“Smile” and “LDN”) are reggae influenced, the sound of the album is a bit broader. “Knock-Em Out” has a piano sample that sounds like the ending to the “Blossom” theme song; “Take What You Take” sounds like sugar-pop U2; and the album’s best song, “Everything’s Just Wonderful”, sounds like glossed-up 60’s pop (the kind of thing Austin Powers might dress up in crushed velvet to go-go dance to). The lyrics, while not ground breaking or deep, are at least witty. Lyrically topics like her lament for her loser brother (who sure sounds like a lot of guys I know) and being pissed because her bad credit blocks her from apartments she could easily afford are slightly outside the typical pop playbook. Combining the fun hooks with unconventional lyrical topics and smart production, and you get an excellent excuse for music snobs like me to indulge in some pop candy.

Oh, and because I work in a record store, just like “Lilly vs. Paris” I win by default.

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Nintendo vs. Sony Week: NES vs. PS1

May 14, 2007

(Note: Throughout the week, Flava and Flinch will be battling it out controller-to-controller, cartridge to CD as they determine which gaming company is best in the land: Nintendo or Sony)


When we decided to debate the merits of the Wii versus PS3, the argument quickly evolved into which gaming company was better overall. There are alot of terrific systems and classic games in the stable of both companies, so we decided to explore the studio space with this one by having an entire week of joystick goodness. And what better place to start than at the beginning?With that in mind, we kick off Nintendo vs. Sony week with the immortal Nintendo Entertainment System squaring off against the Play Station One. FlavaDave gets it started after the jump.


FlavaDave Says: Day One contains the biggest mismatch of the week, if not the biggest mismatch in ‘F versus F‘ history. The original NES versus the PS1? Seriously?Now, I know Flinch well enough to know that he is going to make a valiant effort and come up with some crazy angle to save a little face. But you (the reader) know as well as I do that this battle was over before it started.

But I’m not going to pull a Mayweather and just go through the motions. Let’s give the greatest gaming system of all time the respect it deserves:

The Nintendo Entertainment System was released on October 18, 1985. At the time, video games were mostly the domain of arcades. Home computers were not a common thing yet, and the Atari was only acceptable because it was the only thing available. However, all that soon changed.

I still remember playing Mario for the first time. I sat in my friend Nathan’s living room for about 8 hours every single day, only taking an hour break at 11:00 to eat some PB & J while his mom watched her soaps. It was so addicting because, at the ripe age of about 5 years, we finally got a little bit of control. We had grown up watching TV, but now we got to play it.

It is very telling that now, in the year 2007, the Super Mario Bros. theme song alone has a greater impact on our culture than all the games released for the PS1 combined. I don’t even really remember any of their flagship games. Crash Bandicot? He existed right, I’m not just making that up? I sort of can’t remember. I certainly don’t remember the game.

Conversely, I dare you to find anyone who loves video games who can’t remember every detail of the first level of Super Mario Bros. I bet I could draw a map of it that is accurate to at least 85% purely from memory. And you know what? I never even owned my own NES.

Speaking of owning, almost all of my friends still own and regularly use their NES. That’s right, these machines are almost as old as we are and they are still relevant. I still play Tecmo Super Bowl to this day. Seriously. On Saturday, Bo Jackson ran for 455 yards and six touchdowns as he/I led the Raiders to a crushing 55-7 victory over the once mighty 49ers.

And that’s only a few of the classic games birthed by the NES. The Legend of Zelda, Contra, Mike Tyson’s Punchout, Metroid, Mega Man, TMNT 2, Duck Hunt, Ninja Gaiden, River City Ransom, Final Fantasy. When you think of video games, these are the titles you think of.

I ate lunch with my mom and went with her to see Spamalot on Saturday. I was behind a girl in line that had an unusual purse. It was an NES that was hollowed out, and she was using a power chord as a strap. I said it was cool, but I asked her how she could bear to destroy her NES in the process.

“Oh, of course I didn’t,” she said. “I bought two more off of eBay. One so I could make the purse, and another one in case my original one breaks down before Wednesday NES night.”

Flinchbot Says: The NES sure did revive home-based video game consoles. The first major flurry, featuring the classic Atari and Intellivision models, was seriously fading at the time Nintendo showed up. Nintendo brought in a howl new generation for graphics, gameplay, and crappy controllers to the market. People bought the hell out of them and everyone played Nintendo. My roommate in college my sophomore year had one. I don’t think I ever beat Tyson but I got to him. I think the semester ended right at the point when I could consistently get my ass kicked by him.

My roommate played Zelda a lot. Talk about the most boring video Yawngame of all time. And Super Mario Brothers? Yawn. It was like Pitfall for the Atari and just as boring.

I had another roommate with a Nintendo. We had epic battles with that little hockey game. It was a quaint little game.

That’s my whole deal with the Nintendo line (even through today). It’s so darn wholesome and family friendly. They even released one of the hockey games back then without the fighting. Lame.

PlaystationSo Sony rolls in with their Playstation. It features massively more complex graphics and game play. This is because they decided to ditch the quick-but-limited cartridges and go with the slow-but-high-capacity CD format. Sure, it took 2 minutes for a game to load but when it did it was totally worth it.

Do you really believe Tecmo football is better than any Madden version? The Madden series revolutionized football gaming. Did the Nintendo have a basketball game? Because anything they could offer was smoked by NBA Live. I’m sure the Nintendo had some gay Mario Karts racing game. Meanwhile the Playstation dropped Ridge Racer and Need for Speed.

Street Fighter, anyone? I’m sure the Nintendo had some really swell Mario vs. Luigi fighting game that involved hitting each other with bright red mushrooms.

Look the Nintendo came first and it changed the way people though about home gaming. But when the Sony rolled in, it changed what people thought home gaming could do. Instead of just being some mind-numbingly boring cute-as-a-rainbow game system, it was a complex system that really brought virtual worlds into the home that you could believe in. Plus, the games weren’t retarded.

FlavaDave called this one a mismatch, and he’s right. It’s just not fair to compare a cutesy little toy like the Nintendo with a solid machine like the Playstation.

FlavaDave Says: And there’s the debate in a nutshell. The NES is a legendary system that changed the face of home gaming and is still played to this day, and the Playstation is “a solid machine”. That’s a ringing endorsement if I’ve seen one.

No one is going to buy into you cutting down the NES. The sustained greatness of the machine is unquestioned. Any arguement claiming otherwise is based on a false premise and, therefore, wrong.

I mean, you might as well be arguing that Journey is the greatest band of all time because the Beatles were quaint and the sound quality of Journey’s records is better.

Flinchbot Says: You bringing up Journey is a freaking act of desperation. Are you serious? You have to play that card already?

As commenter OwningXylophone correctly stated, there was a time when Sony and Nintendo were working together to produce a CD-based NES. A combination of bad contracts and corporate politics lead to the dissolution of that and the beginning of the Playstation.

Young Girl Playing Video GameTaking that into account, the original Playstation was clearly a superior product than the original NES as it was designed to be an upgrade to the NES. Plus, the games that came out for it weren’t boring and made for girls. And what it really comes down to are the games. The Playstation had them in abundance for everyone. The NES had them in abundance for 6 year old girls. So if you’re a 6 year old girl, go at it with your NES. It’s a system that can’t be beat.

FlavaDave Says: And New Coke is clearly superior to Coca-Cola, as it was designed to be an upgrade to Coca-Cola Classic. (BTW, I’ve never heard of “the Journey card”. It’s called an analogy).

In all honesty, name me five people who still play Playstation One to this day. I can list all of the people I know who still play NES:

  • All of my friends except for you.

Do PS1 fans even exist? Have you ever seen a PS1 T-shirt? Is there a YouTube clip online of some Asian dude playing the Spyro The Dragon theme song on a tuba through his nose? Does anybody remember what games the PS1 launched with?

Here, I’ll tell you what. Go find me an active PS1 fansite. I’ll wait.

And as for the girl comment, I suppose the rest of us don’t get our masculine identity from a video game.

Flinchbot Says: You want PS1 games? Well, you can get them on your PS3 now and you will be able to play them on your PSP (over 7,000 titles expected to be available).

Yes, 7,000 titles.

I dunno, can all of those classic Nintendo games be played on a DS or a WII? Did Nintendo ever have 700 games, let alone 7,000?

And while there are plenty of PS1 forums alive and kicking (here, here, and here) most of the Playstation sites cover the PS1, PS2, and PS3 (with the PSP usually thrown in as well).

And I’ll back off on saying that all Nintendo games are for 6 year old girls. They did have the ultra-violent thrill-a-minute Duck Hunt which made 7 year old boys excited too.


Yo La Tengo Fan – Douchebag?

April 25, 2007

FlavaDave Says: At the Yo La Tengo show at the Vogue, a guy who looked just like character actor Kevin Sussman was not very happy with us.

By the way, it took me forever to Google him because I didn’t remember his name or any movies he had been in, so I’m very proud to present to you:

Kevin Sussman

 

Anyway, this guy was a few standing rows in front of us. For some reason, YLT decided it was a good idea to play one fucking note for four whole minutes. I love indie rock sometimes.

Naturally, you and I get bored and started to chat. We were talking about how the show was going so far and the fact that the Vogue at the moment literally smelled like shit (I think a sewer line broke).

Obviously, the music is kinda quiet and we are kinda loud. Kevin Sussman keeps looking half backwards and nodding in exasperated disapproval. He did this about eight times.

So, was he a douchebag? I say yes.

Flinchbot Says: You think someone is a douchebag? Really? Man that’s out of character. Look, this Kevin Sussman guy was obviously a music geek who buys into the whole Yo La Tengo thing. I bet he’s got an autographed copy of the Trouser Press Record Guide (first edition) autographed by Ira.

And here we were talking about whatever it was when dude was just trying to enjoy the show. I’d have been the same way when Justin Sullivan, one of my musical heroes, played a mostly acoustic set at Radio Radio. I didn’t pay my money to worship at Mr. Sullivan’s alter to hear some dickheads talk all night through the show. If you want to talk, go to the back of the bar or go outside and smoke. But I paid my money and the entertainment is on the stage, not standing behind me.

Sure, we were getting bored (and “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind” was freaking absurdly long and horrible). Sure we were talking. But ultimately, we were out of line.

FlavaDave Says: Out of character? I may be a nice guy, but I’m still a snot-nosed 22 year old kid. It’s not me man, it’s the language of my generation.

Look, I know the horrors of the talker. I was at a Ben Folds show with a dude screaming about what autographed limited edition vinyl EPs he had in his Ben Folds collection. Dude, it’s Ben Folds. That doesn’t count as being cool.

To me, the level of acceptable talking is dependant on two factors: the room and the quality of the show.

If you are at the Murat, you paid 30+ bucks to see a national band that, chances are, you can’t see very often. That’s a quiet show. Well, usually it is loud as fuck anyway, so conversations are typically drowned out. But the Vogue is a club. It’s not a shut-the-hell-up kind of place. It’s a drink-beers-and-hang-with-friends kind of place. If Yo La Tengo didn’t want to have that kind of show, they should have booked the show elsewhere. Any venue that has $1 You-Call-Its Retro Rewind nights does not foster a quiet, respectful atmosphere.

My other point has been made for me by Steve in the comments below. The band earned the chatter by sucking.

Could we have been classier? Yes. But we are not the ones on trial here. Kevin Sussman is.

Why does Sussman suck?

a) He didn’t realize the context of the show (as explained brilliantly by myself already).

b) He never made eye contact with us.

c) He never said a word to us.

What kind of spineless ass-cat* uses non-confrontational passive aggression at a Yo La Tengo concert? What were we going to do, stab him with our glasses or choke him with a scarf? What’s wrong with simply turning around and saying “Hey guys, sorry to interrupt. I’m having trouble hearing. Would you mind keeping it down until a louder song comes on?”

But he didn’t. He vaguely twisted his head to the side, paused, and then shook his head like we were uncivilized cro-magnons who didn’t deserve to breathe the same air as the Gods of Ambience onstage.

I agree with you, we could have been kinder to our fellow sulkers. Fine. But two sinners don’t make a saint. That guy (pardon my french) was a douche.

*Thanks to Rasheed Wallace for one of my favorite putdowns ever.

 

Flinchbot says: Dude, the scarf is the new black t-shirt for the hipster set. Next show we go to, I say we both wear a scarf. sure, it might be 85 degrees outside and we’re heading to Punk Rock Night at the Melody Inn, but dammit, we’re wearing scarves with our torn black t-shirts, shorts, and sandals. Hey Ladies!

BTW – When you type “Scarf Rock” into Google Images, the first hit is from Indianapolis’ own Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s. So that something.

So you admit that you were being a douche. Thank heavens I was talking less for a while which makes me less douchy than you (I know, I eventually jumped in a little later on and was probably responsible for at least one “Sussman Glance”). So I’m less of a douche than you and that’s all that really matters at this point.

The only real problem with the Sussman kid was his complete lack of balls. If we were so damn annoying, just man up and say “Hey – move to the back or go ouside, will ya”? But this dude was all weasely and ball-less. That’s not worhty of him being a douche. Throwing a beer at us would be douche-worthy. Whipping his dick out and telling us to lick his little acorns would be douche-worthy. Pulling his pants down and farting in our general direction would make him douche-worthy. Or French.

So in summation, the Sussman kid was not a douche, just a ball-less indie kid who seriously needs to spend the next 32 weekends attending Punk Rock Night. He’ll come out a whole new man. And that’s what we’re all about here – providing a guiding light to those lost in their own dark mental wastelands.

 


Hilary Duff – Dignity

April 20, 2007

FlavaDave Says: Is this the most ironic album title of all time?

Flinchbot Says: Well, the most ironic title for a single of all time was obviously “Ironic” by Alannis Marmoset. But we’re not interested in Kevin Smith’s dogmatic she-God here. Rather, we are here to discuss the irony of the title “Dignity” as it relates to Ms. Hilary Duff. Had this been a just-released Britney Spears album, then I think you can’t help but say it’s the most ironically titled album. Personally, I think the next Britney Spears album should be called “2 Days In Rehab Is Enough For Me (Baby)”.

First, I must admit that I know very little about this Hilary Duff chick other than she was some sort of child actor. Excuse me for one moment while I reference her Wikipedia article. Hmmm. After skimming that, I think I’m going to have to resoundly disagree with the assertion that it is the most ironic album title of all time. This chick hasn’t done anything that would make me question her dignity. Based on that article, we’re still trying to figure out if she is a virgin or not (I’m guessing no).

My recommendation for most ironic album title of all time: REO Speedwagon’s “The Essential REO Speedwagon”. Nothing of theirs is either essential or necessary. Worst band ever.

FlavaDave Says: I think when you a) throw out your childhood to be a walking, talking ATM for Disney, b) date a member of Good Charlotte that, if consumated, would be illegal age-wise, and c) pose in Maxim with schoolgirl/Micky Mouse gear on, you are on thin ice.

But no one who has ever had a feud with Lindsay Lohan over a boy gets to use the word dignity. And as low as cat-fighting with anyone involved in the making of “Herbie Fully Loaded” is, this is the real clincher:

They were fighting over Aaron Carter.

And how can any band with lyrics like these be anything less than essential?

Do you know where your woman is tonight?
Do you know if she’s sleepin’ alone tonight?
Well, you might be right and you might be wrong
when you say you trust her alone.
But this rock ‘n roll road has led you far into the night.
Do you know where your woman is tonight?

That’s life on the road, baby. You wouldn’t understand.

Besides, without them, we wouldn’t have REO Speedealer. Making fun of REO Speedwagon’s name is a rite of passage into rock’n’roll fandom, which makes the band essential (albeit by proxy).

Flinchbot says: Hmmm. I’m still not sold that it is the most ironic album title ever. Let me offer a few counter examples and see if you still stick to your Duff-gun.

1. Kriss Kross released a second album (Exactly…who knew?) and called it “Da Bomb”. Isn’t it ironic that the album absolutely bombed?

2. Vanilla Ice – “Cool as Ice”. ’nuff said.

 

3. John Lennon and Yoko Ono – “Unfinished Music No. 1 – Two Virgins”. When were they last virgins? 1958?

 

4. David Cassidy – “The Higher They Climb, The Harder They Fall” Yes sir buddy. You fell pretty freaking hard.

5. Pat Boone – “In a Metal Mood – No More Mr. Nice Guy”. Note the glint in his eye. Isn’t that so nice of him? He covered “Crazy Train”. And “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock and Roll)”. Much longer than you could have possibly imagined. You and David Cassidy should release an album together.

Flinchbot says: OK, I concede…the Hilary Duff album named “Dignity” is the most ironically titled album ever. Yesterday I spent some time scouring for counter examples and came up with 5 that are every bit as ironic, if not more so.

However, that was before I went to the gym last night and worked out. After pushing some weights around for an hour, I moved over to the Cybex ArcTrainer for 35 minutes of interval training. The aerobic area at the gym faces this monster bank of TVs showing a bunch of different TV channels in an effort to provide some entertainment to the bored excerciser. Along with ESPN, local TV channels, and others, there is also an in-house music channel that shows music videos.

As I walked up to my ArcTrainer, the music video channel was showing a Hilary Duff video for some song I don’t remember or feel like looking up. But the real irony, the true “message from the gods” moment happened as soon as the Hilary Duff video was over. Take a wild ass guess as to which video came on after the Duffsters? Go ahead – guess. I’ll wait.

Son of a bitch if it wasn’t Ironic by Alanis Morrisette. I’m serious.

Totally happened. True Story.

I concede.

There are powers out there far beyond my understanding.

FlavaDave Says: Woo hoo! I win! I win one to nothin’!