Thursday, 27 February 2014

Billie Jean/Gangnam Style - Music Video's that represents 80's and contemporary America

'Billie Jean' - 1983

Michael Jackson often referred to as ‘the king of pop’ was a major influence within 1980’s America and across the globe. His contributions to music, dance, and fashion, along with his publicised personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.

"Billie Jean" is a song by the American recording artist Michael Jackson. It is the second single from the singer's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). It was written and composed by Michael Jackson and produced by him and Quincy Jones. "Billie Jean" became a worldwide commercial and critical success; "Billie Jean" was one of the best-selling singles of 1983 and is one of the best-selling singles worldwide. The song topped both the US and UK charts simultaneously. In ‘Billie Jean’ Michael's black leather suit, pink shirt and red bowtie were imitated around the world. The popularity of the video helped push Thriller towards becoming the top-selling album of all time and eventually garnered Jackson induction into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame in 1992.

Choosing the landmark "Thriller" the No. 1 video of the 1980s would be obvious. However, it was the video "Billie Jean" that put Michael Jackson on the map along with the MTV the emerging television channel, two major popular culture icons that represented the 80’s.

The reason why I chose Billie Jean to represent the 1980’s is because it was this music video that significantly changed the music industry in America and many other countries (mainly western).

 Hard to believe today, given the pervasiveness of Black culture in contemporary’s music industry, but back in 1983 no Black artists were played on MTV. "Billie Jean" broke the colour barrier not just in music videos but for the music industry in general. This is further reinforced with Micheal Jackson meeting Ronald Reagan in the White House on 14t May 1984. It was also this music video that triggered the usage of music videos as originally MJ used the video to present his dancing moves to his own songs. But ever since Billie Jean the video footage in music videos play a huge part in the individual songs, the artists  and the music industry as it strongly portrays the representation of the respective artist.

Therefore Billie Jean remains a seminal moment in music video history, as well as its respective album Thriller being one of the first albums to use music videos to as successful promotional tools.

'Gangnam Style'- 2012

On December 21, 2012, "Gangnam Style" became the first YouTube video to reach a billion views As of February 8, 2014, the music video has been viewed over 1.9 billion times on YouTube. By the end of 2012, Gangnam Style had topped the music charts of more than 30 countries. The song and its accompanying music video went viral in August 2012 and have influenced popular culture worldwide since then.

As the song continued to rapidly gain popularity and ubiquity, its signature dance moves were attempted by many powerful political leaders such as the British Prime Minister David Cameron and Barack Obama, the  President of the United States. Gangnam Style also became a source of parodies and reaction videos by many different individuals, groups and organizations.

Through social networks like Facebook, many small, unofficial fan-organized flash mobs have been held in universities and colleges throughout the world. The earliest flash mobs were held in Pasadena, California,12th September 2012 Times Square in Manhattan was filled with a dance mob dancing to the music of "Gangnam Style" during ABC's Good Morning America.Major flash mobs (those with more than 1,000 participants) were also held in Seoul (South Korea),Sicily, (Italy) and Milan (Italy),and Paris (France).

The reason why I think ‘Gangnam Style’ represents the contemporary is because of several reasons. First It represents the growing globalisation of the world as a song of non-Western origin could top the charts in its own region and many other countries around the globe. Second it represents the contemporary’s usage and reliance on the internet, hence the reason to its ‘discovery’ and its influence upon popular culture (flash mobs, parodies and internet meme). Finally due to the internet Gangnam Style represents the contmeprary change in the music industry. Looking back upon the 1980’s music videos were accessed on TV leading the songs to sell well on the charts. However Gangnam Style ‘changed the music industry’s Billboards ranking methodology’ as argued in The Harvard Business review (Kevin Evers). Instead of relying solely on radio plays and paid purchases, Billboard started to place a heavier emphasis on digital sales and YouTube views As a result of the change, Gangnam Style moved up to the top position in music charts in many countries

Music in the 1980s Whitney Houston vs Beyoncé

Whitney Houston vs Beyoncé
Her debut album Whitney Houston released in 1985 became the first ever album by a female artist to have 3 no 1 selling singles, it also spent 14 weeks at the top of the charts. With hits such as 'how will I know' 'greatest love of all' and saving all my love for you' Houston became a international superstar with a career of no 1 hits well into the 1990s and 2000's.  Her performances earn't her the title of diva something which she arguably embraced. Her success on the industry inspired a generation of African American women to follow in her footsteps and I feel Whitney Houston put African American female artists on the map! The soulful diva performances from Whitney Houston can be traced back to legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin and also seen today through the Artist Beyoncé.

Beyoncé is an artist I feel pushes the boundaries in terms of music and has embraced the image of the diva and gone further than any previous African American female artist in terms of success. I think Beyoncé with be remembered in 30 years for her amazing talent. I think that is what is key about Whitney Houston despite her personal drug problems and her untimely death her music is what is remembered and still enjoyed by many today. Beyoncé's music has the same appeal; people pay less attention to her personal life and focus on her music I think that is what makes and artists work stand the test of time.

Cyndi Lauper VS Taylor Swift

At 22, All Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Cyndi Lauper is one of the most famous female singer/songwriters from the 1980's with hits such a 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun', 'Time After Time' and 'True Colors'. Her debut album 'She's So Unusual' was released in 1983 and became an instant commercial success. Even today I still hear her songs on the radio and her name
is known by so many people, even those who, like me, were not born or alive during the 80's. I chose Cyndi Lauper because I feel like she represents the bouncy, energetic and fun-loving side of music in the 80's as well as the vibe it brought out in youth culture during that decade. Her music is harmless as in, she presents the choice of having fun, without getting drunk or doing drugs or god knows what else, something that is often referred to in music, particularly today. Because of this, she and her music have a positive infliction on the younger generation of which her music seems to be aimed at around this time.

In this respect, I feel that Cyndi Lauper and Taylor Swift have this representation of innocence in common with each other. Taylor Swift, at only 24 is a 7 times Grammy Award winner, last year she was honoured with The Pinnacle Award at the 2013 CMAs (Country Music Awards). In total, she has won an amazing 221 awards for various singles and albums, as well as Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist awards. Going back to what I was saying before, Taylor Swift doesn't sing or write about going out and having sex or
doing drugs and so on. Each song she writes tells a story, a proper, comprehensible story and that is something that is rare in today's music industry. She has been an incredible inspiration for people across the world and will continue to for years to come. She is simple, down to earth and friendly. Swift has become EXCESSIVELY rich from her career so far and she doesn't misuse the money. She is one of the most charitable of celebrities. I think her ability to keep her cool whilst still being so down to earth will be something that will be remembered in years to come.

"Long live the look on your face and bring on all the pretenders, one day,
                                                  We will be remembered..."
                                                                   - 'Long Live' by Taylor Swift, Speak Now

"Purple Rain" - "Niggas in Paris"

 Prince - "Purple Rain" 1984 

Purple Rain is a music video, album and movie released by Warner Bros. Records on June 25, 1984, by titan of the 1980’s Prince.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked it the second-best album of the 1980s and 76th on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Zounds magazine ranked it the 18th greatest album of all time.  The two main songs from Purple Rain, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy", would top the US singles charts and were hits around the world, while the title track would go to number two on the Billboard Hot 100.”Prince’s style and music alone represents the 1980's through his take on of hard rock and new wave to his continuous creativity of moving on and trying new things. From embracing everything from hip-hop to Velvet underground, whilst having hits from “When doves cry” to “Purple rain.”  Purple Rain is an eight minute video filled with slow burning- red hot emo joy. It’s noted that within the each verse of “Purple Rain” is about a group of people in his life. For instance his parents, Appolonia (A Gangster Girl, who doesn't chill with a huge group,) and his Band mates. There has been loads of controversial regarding the meaning of “Purple Rain” some has said it’s something to with the end of the world as prince was very interested within that concept of the 1980’s and suggested that the apocalypse wasn't Far from his mind. But what makes “Purple rain” by Prince a representation of the 1980's? The context of purple rain represents the views Prince shared within that period in which reflected the song as well as in the movie. Stan Hawkins who wrote the book “Prince: The Making of a Pop Music Phenomenon” states that “The site of horror or monstrosity in purple rain is not within women and their sexuality but rather with their repression in the mid-1980's and how that power relationship was manifested in the cultural sphere.” In which defines the repression women was facing within the 1980's. Purple Rain is a song that still survives 30 years later after being released and will survive/ be a representation of the 1980's and classics of all time. 

 Jay Z ft Kanye West - "Niggas in Paris" 2014 

I feel the period I live in today will be represented as the era of provocative music. Especially the take on Hip hop music and some R&B the music is so provocative and that’s what people want to listen to and watch.  I feel this era is a contemporary and knew type of hip hop music compared to music within the 80s/90s that mostly related to political statements, poverty and real life issues that they witness or struggled and know in which made hip hop unknown outside of the United States in the 1980's. And today hip hop is recognized globally as its more focused on things artist have what they want e.g. money, fame and “Bitches” notice the plural in bitch. In which today whether you famous or not men need more than women to be complete noticeable within the marriage and divorce rates in contemporary society today. However I feel this music video is a representation of the 21st century and will be many years to come as it embodies the provocative nature of today through the use of language, visual sexual images and the change of  hip hop that’s reflects the next generation and current. It is a song by American rappers Kanye West who is known for his album college dropout which loads of college dropout students can relate to as well as Jay Z who is one of the most financially successful hip-hop artists and entrepreneurs in America deputed the song  “Niggas in Paris” September 13, 2011. It debuted at number 75 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the week of the album's release the song won for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 55th Grammy Awards. In an interview, Kanye West revealed that the song was inspired by his travels in Paris. 

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Week 7 - Madonna and Rihanna

Madonna was not only an important musical figure of the 1980s but her music videos helped her to become the established icon that she became recognized as. I chose the song 'Material Girl' released in November 1984 because of the impact it had on her image as an artist. The video revolves around Madonna's character, which links to Marilyn Monroe's performance in "Diamond's are a Girl's Best Friend". Madonna is shown ignoring and pushing away the several men that surround her while singing about living in a 'material world' and that she is a 'material girl'.

The reason this video played an important role in the 1980s is because it created a different image for women, through Madonna, by her making the decision to choose money and material goods over romance and relationships. It shows that female roles were changing during the 1980s and Madonna was a feminist icon of this movement. Although there has been some confusion about the exact meaning of the lyrics in relation to the video it is clear that the message that Madonna was trying to create was about female choice, whether the choice was being materialistic or choosing to reject the diamonds in the video. The legacy of the nickname "material girl" that surrounds Madonna's persona shows the cultural impact that the song has had. The phrase is still relevant today as Madonna has named her clothing line "material girl".

Similarly to Madonna, Rihanna's career is surrounded by the way she presents herself as a female. Rihanna is known for her provocative image and songs and the above song is a perfect example of this. 'Rude Boy' was released in February 2010 and has left a lasting memory of what kind of performer and artist Rihanna is. The song immediately caused attention because of it's explicit nature and in some ways creates a new meaning to phrase "sex sells" in music. The song was very popular because of it's musical style but it was clear that much of the attention was brought about by the image that Rihanna was creating.

The reason i believe that this song will be remembered in 30+ years from now is because it not only caused popularity and attention but it helped mold the persona and style that Rihanna has and it foreshadows the numerous similarly provocative videos that followed. I believe it will be looked back on as one of Rihanna's most iconic songs because of the influence she has in the music industry and how this song and this video helped shape the person she is perceived as.

Then and Now: The Boss and Hoodie Allen

In 1984 Bruce Springsteen released "Born in the U.S.A" which would go on to become one of the best selling albums not only of the 80s but of all time as well, selling well over 30 million copies world wide, and upwards of 15 million albums in the U.S. alone. The album also produced a string of 7 Top 10 singles, which ties the record with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814," with the lead single being Dancing in the Dark. The accompanying music video for the song (see above) was the first music video in which The Boss actually appeared, since the 1982 video for Atlantic City didn't actually feature Springsteen, it was in a non-representational form, just showing stark blank and white images of Atlantic City. The massive sales of "Born in the U.S.A" as well as other albums from the 1980's demonstrate the rampant consumerism that was beginning to come into existence, from Nike shoes to CD's people were eager to consume more and more.  

The music video features The Boss and the E Street Band simply performing the song on a stage during a concert, making his showmanship and stage presence the focus of the video. While the Thriller music video had been released a year early, demonstrating just how far the medium could be taken, the simplicity of the Dancing in the Dark video seems to be another form of experimenting, figuring out how best to sell a less theatrical non-nonsense musician to a wide mainstream audience. The music video flaunts Springsteen's new ripped physique, in the lead up to the albums release he'd been through a rigorous fitness regime in order to reinvent himself as a masculine and sexualised rock star, an image which would be easier to sell to the general public in an increasingly commercialised 1980's America. Tight blue jeans were used to highlight this new image, with The Boss wearing them in the Dancing in the Dark music video and more famously on the cover of "Born in the U.S.A."

However the realist lyrical themes of the album as a whole, and Dancing in the Dark specifically, dealing with the hardships and harshness of every day life, particularly for working class America, seen in lyrics such as "Man I ain't getting nowhere, I'm just living in a dump like this," clash with the success and prosperity of the era as portrayed by the Reagan administration in "Morning in America." In a 1984 interview with Rolling Stone magazine Bruce Springsteen stated "well, it's not morning in Pittsburgh," as the city was going through a process of industrialization, making thousands of people unemployed. 

Hoodie Allen (stage name of Steven Markowitz) is an American hip-hop artist from New York City. Hailing from a middle class upbringing on Long Island, his music, like other White Boy Rappers such as Sammy Adams, Asher Roth, Mac Miller, and Timeflies, fuses rapping with pop sensibilities, electronic music and lyrics not about life on the streets and gang culture, but about college, partying, broken hearts and references to pop culture, all influenced by their middle class backgrounds. A legacy of the birth of rap music during the 1980s, with the white kids who grew up listening to Public Enemy, Beastie Boys and Run DMC wanting to emulate them.

Now I'm guessing most of you haven't heard of Hoodie Allen before, until I went on the American Exchange I'd never heard of him either, he is however pretty popular in America, his music videos do have millions of views on YouTube, and his 2012 EP "All American" reached number 10 in the US charts, as well as number 1 on iTunes chart. While he isn't a massively successful artist, the reason I picked him as a representation of contemporary culture is because he's a very modern artist; he isn't signed to a label and self-releases all his music, you can download all his albums and mixtapes from his website for free (see above) and uses his fans to promote his shows in their cities, with Hoodie Mob offering rewards for fans who put up posters, hand out flyers, invite people to the event on Facebook. As a totally self-reliant artist he is the example of how the music industry is being evolved and revolutionised by the internet, partly out of necessity because of illegal downloads, and when people in thirty years look back trying to find why the music industry is the way it is, Hoodie Allen's success will surely be a turning point, perhaps paving the way for a world where without records labels. 

The hyper-sexualised nature of the Cake Boy music video, with the two women in the video wearing very short shorts and dancing provocatively, seems to be done with a tongue in cheek tone like its parodying a culture where sex is used to sell everything, even baked goods. 

Finally when people in thirty years look back on our culture the evolution of lyric videos, which are used to promote a single in the lead up to the release of the music video and often times weeks before it becomes available to buy as an extra way to hype up a song, as evidence of a culture addicted to consumption and companies finding more and more ways to sell their products to the mass public. The glossy high quality nature of these lyric videos, which have almost become music videos themselves these days, are designed to be eye catching and attention grabbing just like music video are supposed to be, but instead of being produced for circulation on MTV they are purpose built for the internet, often being used as adverts before other videos on YouTube. 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Thriller & Beyonce visual album


It was MTV's first world premiere video. Voted as the most influential pop music video of all time, Thriller proved to have a profound effect on popular culture and was named "a watershed moment” for the music industry for its unprecedented merging of filmmaking and music.

Thriller enabled Jackson to break down racial barriers in pop music via his appearances on MTV and meeting with President of the United States Ronald Reagan at the White House. The album was one of the first to use music videos as successful promotional tools—the videos for "Thriller” received regular rotation on MTV.
Using Thriller Michael Jackson transformed the medium of music video into an art form and promotional tool through the use of complex story lines, dance routines, special effects and cameo appearances by well-known personalities. When the 14-minute-long Thriller video aired, MTV ran it twice an hour to meet demand. Author, music critic and journalist Nelson George wrote in 2004,

"It's difficult to hear the songs from Thriller and disengage them from the videos. For most of us the images define the songs. In fact it could be argued that Michael is the first artist of the MTV age to have an entire album so intimately connected in the public imagination with its imagery".
Gil Kaufman of MTV described the
 "Thriller" video as being "iconic" and felt that it was one of Jackson's "most enduring legacies". Kaufman also noted that the music video was the "mini-movie that revolutionized music videos" and "cemented Jackson's status as one of the most ambitious, innovative pop stars of all time".
Thus when asked to think of a music video that symbolized or represented the 80’s there was no doubt that Thriller changed the way people listen to music, and allows for imagination to run free, but also for the artist to share what they think the music represents.


Similarly Beyoncé recently changed the face of music once again, with her self-titled album, that not only allows for the listeners to see how Beyoncé imagines her music to be portrayed, but for the first time in history she released a ‘visual album’ which featured often a longer video for each song on her album.
It consists of fourteen tracks, each having an accompanying music video. Musically, the album explores electro-R&B and pop elements, combining minimalist production, loose song structure and emotive vocals. Beyoncé revisits her common theme of self-empowerment, but takes on much darker themes previously unexplored in her music, such as postnatal depression, insecurities of womanhood and frank, often explicit, discussion of sex.
The album was unexpectedly released to the iTunes Store on December 13, 2013, with no prior promotion or announcement.
Beyoncé garnered acclaim from critics who commended its experimental production and her vocal performance. In the United States, Beyoncé debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with three-day sales of 617,213 digital copies, giving Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number-one. It became the highest first-week sales of her solo career, and the best-selling debut week for a female artist in 2013; six days after release it had sold one million digital copies worldwide. "XO" was chosen as the lead single for both the US and worldwide, while "Drunk in Love" was released to urban radio in the US only. The album has sold 3 million units worldwide as of January 2014.
the album delves into the motifs of futuristic R&B music: strong, emotive vocal performances, minimalist production and streams of consciousness.
The project's exclusive online release meant that that the videos could be shared through platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr. Jenna Wortham of The New York Times identified how this had created a "ripple effect"; the choreography and lyric "I woke up like this" from the song "Flawless" exemplifies a moment that became instantly popular with fans and thus generated a vast amount of attention.
"I miss that immersive experience, now people only listen to a few seconds of song on the iPods and they don't really invest in the whole experience. It's all about the single, and the hype. It's so much that gets between the music and the art and the fans. I felt like, I don't want anybody to get the message, when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it's ready and from me to my fans." Beyonce

On December 16, Apple announced that Beyoncé was the fastest selling album in the history of the iTunes Store, both in the US and worldwide. Which holds the key to the future of music, this is just the beginning of visual albums, something that may represent the next 30 years in the music industry.

remembering the Vietnam war (week 6)

Miss Saigon

   For this topic remembering the Vietnam war I have chosen the show Miss Saigon. The Musical is the story of an American soldier Christopher Scott who whilst in Vietnam falls in Love with a Vietnamese girl Kim. The couple have a child together Tam. The trouble is Chris is already married to Ellen who is back in America. The story ends with Chris taking Tam back to America with his Ameircan wife Ellen; Kim kills herself.
  This musical premiered on the West end in  September 1989 and then two years later on Broadway in 1991. According to Wikipeadia  'The musical's inspiration was reportedly a photograph, which Schönberg found inadvertently in a magazine. The photograph showed a Vietnamese mother leaving her child at a departure gate at Tan Son Nhut Air Base to board an airplane headed for the United States where her father, an ex-GI, would be in a position to provide a much better life for the child. Schönberg considered this mother's actions for her child to be "The Ultimate Sacrifice," an idea central to the plot of Miss Saigon'.
   This musical tells the story of a American soilder fathering a child with a vietamese women during the war, this happened many times with many children 'grew up as the leftovers of an unpopular war, straddling two worlds but belonging to neither. Most never knew their fathers. Many were abandoned by their mothers at the gates of orphanages. Some were discarded in garbage cans'.


Women in the 1980s (week 4)

For this blog post I chose to focus on the potrayal of women in 1980's films. This 1980's saw women srtive for equality and this is reflected in the film industry.
The 1986 film Aliens shows the female character Ripley being a strong independent woman. One article suggests this film was one of many 'Productions that enhanced the female independency and strength' and that these feisty female characters 'were produced in genres that only men had been presented in before, such as action and science fiction.' This is perhaps reflective of  how women were impacting the corperate and other male dominated worlds and therefore films were developing in order to portray the new era of equality as the article says 'American film, from its creation, has frequently mirrored the contemporary American society'; the film industry had to evolve with the changing attitudes.

 Although the character Ripley challenges the female sterotype she doesn't actually appear altogether female; she appears to be representing a male sterotype. Even the use of her surname makes her appear masculine. Personally this makes one feel that attutides towards women in the 1980's were not equal; in order to enter the male dominated world women had to become more masculine which does not appear to be equality. This is also present in the corperate world with the example of the shoulder pads and trouser suits women would wear, again in order to look more masculine.

website used

The Buggles and Katy Perry

The Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star and Katy Perry - Dark Horse

Both The Buggles and Katy Perry say a lot about the time in which they were produced not only in so much that they represent the genres of music prevalent but also because they indicate the cultural context of each songs production. 

The Buggles song is more overt in it's presentation of it's era, its own title 'Video Killed the Radio Star' illustrates a sense of cultural description as it alludes to the technological progression that was occurring. The song and it's accompanying video than are crucial in conveying the 1980's as a time of transition. There was a generational divide, a divide that brought about the MTV era during the 1980's. The video explores this sense of progression, visually portraying a detachment from the older generations and the way of life and values they stand for. An old fashioned TV set explodes, a young girl transforms into a sexualised futuristic woman. All of this works together to illustrate of sense of changing times as the 1980's began and brought with it a change in society and cultural values.

Katy Perry's most recent video 'Dark Horse' is not as overt as The Buggles, ut it is none the less key in illustrating the state of the music industry today. MTV in it's 1980's guise may not still be relevant today but that has not taken away the importance of the music video. Increasingly the visually aspect to the music industry has become more and more important,  lot of money is poured into music videos and artists no longer stick within one industry. The themes of the video itself might not be about the state and importance of the music video but nonetheless is tells the audience a great deal. New videos now are hyped and promo-ed, they have teaser trailers and clips released to build anticipation, much like a feature length film. Great emphasis is put of storytelling, design and effects and the videos themselves are meant to be much more than just fodder for the music channels.

The Past and the Present | Queen v Lady Gaga

The Past and the Present | Queen v Lady Gaga

For the early part of the 1980s music videos were still a new form of visual art especially for the music industry, therefore if there was the slightest indication of anything provocative , the television network would duly restrict and caution the video’s producers. To which, many music artists saw their work being banned from the television.

MTV as we now know had been established in the 80s, and with it being relatively new, they were always cautious when showing new music video to the nation. So when the British formed band Queen released their song ‘Body Language’ and the music video that accompanied it being released in 1982, MTV had only been running for a few months. Queen’s accompanying music video to ‘Body Language’ caused a considerable amount of controversy. Due to its erotic suggestions plus lots of skin and sweaty bodies, it was deemed unsuitable for a television audience in 1982; despite their being no actual nudity shown. Therefore it was not accepted by MTV, and as a result it became the first ever music video to be withheld from that television station.

These views have changed considerable today, because just by turning on MTV we are greeted with a plethora of scantily clad, pretty much naked people, and even more the language and violence that are shown would make ‘Body Language’ look tame. 

Queen - Body Language (1982)

On another note, what I found is that even though I did not live in the 80s I still knew plenty of songs and artist from that decade; well I don’t think anyone whose parents listened to the radio in the 1980s could not have heard of Queen! For one my house was always playing their music so for me Queen had already impacted my life and their songs would be very well known. This, for someone who was born in the 90s, the music of the previous decade might as well have been what was heard in the present

For artist to be remembered, I think it depends on if any band/ artist had played a major role in the music industry but also within their specific genre; whether Pop/Rock, Grunge, Country, etc. One artist in particular that I think would stand the test of time, and could still be remembered in thirty year’s time is Lady Gaga. Despite her obvious impact in music and being known for her outlandish fashion choices, I think that because of these, this makes her the perfect person to be remembered. Not only that, it could be possible that she will still be producing music in thirty years. Her music just like Queen in the 80s resonates with her audience; the messages that she puts across from her lyrics have been used by her fans to make them feel better, take inspiration from and sometimes live by. For example ‘Born This Way’ has had a massive impact for my generation because she speaks about loving yourself no matter who you are because just as the title insinuates; you were ‘born this way’. All of which is representative of the contemporary decade, what with the increasing movement in gay rights; such as trying to overturn the constitutional Proposition 8, where it amended that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. [Information about Prop 8

Lady Gaga - Born this Way (2011)

On the other hand, even though artists from my decade, such as Lady Gaga, could still be remembered in thirty year’s time. I still think that artists that have stood the test of time like Queen, could still be thirty years from now, because I believe that when people look back in time, and into specific decades they will look to find those people that they loved, and also if those people have children or grandchildren then they would show them music from when they were their age. Therefore, just as it has happened to me, musical artists will get shown to a new generation, thus carrying on their legacy. 

As a side note - I realised that whilst researching for this blog I ended spending hours upon hours of watching 80s music, and I found myself saying; “Oh My God, I remember that song!” or “I used to love this”. Why, why was I saying this, I did not live through that era, it more of my parents, although I still consider listening to that music was rather nostalgic – more likely for personal memories rather than remembering the decade. But, what I think is that the music from the 80s for me personally was much more lyrically superior; they had meaning, and the accompaniment and the instrumentals show just how talented the artists were. They did not have to rely on using computer editing software to add electronic beats or crazy fast rhythms and also they were not adding auto-tune to vocals so that they no longer sound like themselves and people cannot understand what they are saying – unlike what you see now in popular music where music and instrumental sounds are often, but not all the time created by technology and a computer rather than being physically played.

Bruce Springsteen v Eminem

The two artists/videos/songs that I believe represent each era the most adequately, while both being similar in their lyrical meaning are Bruce Springsteen (1980') and Eminem (2000's-present). These artists are polar opposites in most aspects, although these two particular videos carry a similar meaning; Bruce Springsteen's song protesting the Vietnam war and Eminem protesting the Iraqi war.

Bruce Springsteen's video 'Born in the USA' written in 1984 represented his opposition towards the Vietnam war; what it had cost him personally, as well as both countries as a whole. It also tells of his own personal experiences with the war (i.e. friends experiences) and the hardships that Vietnam war veterans had faced as they returned to the US, on the back of the defeat in Vietnam. The fact that Springsteen was revered by many in the US, gave his opinion extra emphasis, allowing others to hear and relate to him  and the Vietnam war as a whole much easier. It was an example of the opposition against the US government (against the Vietnam war) that had been practiced almost 20 years previously via protests and marches during the 1960's and 70's. The song deals with the negative effects of the Vietnam War on Americans, but is often misunderstood to be a patriotic or nationalistic anthem. The misunderstanding of the lyrical content might have increased Springsteen's number of fans.

The song represents the 1980's in America due to it's reflection upon the Vietnam War. As the war had been over for nearly 10 years when this song was released, the memorials had been built, and the stigma attached to veterans that had served was beginning to lessen, this song was a perfect representation of that time. A time of 'anti-establishment' agains the government, summarised with lyrics regarding the countries' mistakes and poor care for their population/veterans. 

The success of Eminem during the early 2000's was unprecedented. Hip Hop/Rap music had been created and performed predominantly by black people over the previous 20 years. Being white, Eminem broke the stereotypes surrounding this genre of music, meaning any individual could perform this type of music regardless of colour. The reason I chose this particular music video/song was because of the message put across in it, namely; to encourage young people to vote to defeat George W. Bush. While the song is a generalized attack on the Bush presidency, most of the specific complaints are related to the Iraq War. Here are an example of the lyrics:

"Let us beg to differ
As we set aside our differences
And assemble our own army
To disarm this Weapon of Mass Destruction
That we call our President, for the present
And Mosh for the future of our next generation
To speak and be heard"

The comparisons between both songs between two generations is similar, both referening their unhappiness over the wars that are being fought by the US (both in the past and present). 
Eminem will be looked back on in 30 years time and seen as a pioneer in the musical industry. Breaking down 'barriers' and stereotypes associated with genres of music, allowing a different 'American Dream' for white men wanting to produce hip hop/rap music. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Run-D.M.C Vs. Beyonce

In 1986, Run-D.M.C revived the 1977 Aerosmith hit “Walk This Way” and became the first Rap/Hip Hop song to crack the Billboard Top Hot 100 Chart.

"In 1986, the hip hop group Run–D.M.C. performed a cover of "Walk This Way" with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry guesting on vocals and guitars. While working on Raising Hell, Rick Rubin pulled out Toys in the Attic (an album they freestyled over) and explained who Aerosmith were. While Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels had no idea who Aerosmith were at that time, Rubin suggested remaking the song. Neither Simmons nor McDaniels liked the idea, though Jam Master Jay was open to it. Later, however, Run–D.M.C. covered the song. D.M.C. called it "a beautiful thing" in a trailer for Guitar Hero. The 1986 version of the song is often credited as helping break hip hop music into mainstream pop music as it was the first hip hop song to hit the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the remake demonstrated how elements of hip hop music can be part of rock and pop songs."

The 1986 music video for "Walk This Way" symbolically placed Aerosmith and Run–D.M.C. in a musical duel in neighboring studios before Tyler literally breaks through the wall that separates them. The video then segues to the bands' joint performance on stage. The highly popular video was the first hip hop hybrid video ever played in heavy rotation on MTV and is regarded as a classic of the medium

In 2008 Beyoncé released one of her most popular singles to date, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).  

"Single Ladies" peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been certified quadruple-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), having sold more than 5 million paid digital downloads as of October 2012. "Single Ladies" won the Grammy Awards for the Song of the Year, Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. It received many other awards and nominations between 2008 and 2010, and was named one of the best songs of 2008 by media outlets including MTV News, Rolling Stone, and Time magazine. It was also included on many critics' list of the best songs of the 2000s.
“The-Dream conceptualized "Single Ladies" after Beyoncé's secret marriage to hip hop recording artist Jay-Z in April 2008.[1][5] Stewart commented that the song was "the only public statement that [Beyoncé and Jay-Z had] ever made about marriage",[1] and that while in the studio recording the song Beyoncé had remained tightlipped, even to the point of removing her wedding band.[1] Beyoncé's marriage inspired The-Dream to compose a song about an issue that affected many people's relationships: the fear or unwillingness of men to commit.[1] In an interview with Billboard magazine, Beyoncé added that she was drawn to the song because of the universality of the topic, an issue that "people are passionate about and want to talk about and debate".[6] She stated that although "Single Ladies" is a playful uptempo song, it addresses an issue that women experience every day.[6]”
The song is relatable and addresses a popular issue of our current culture. Another reason this song is widely talked about, is due to Kanye West's outburst at the VMA's, after he grabbed the microphone out of Taylor Swift's, whilst she accepted the award for best music video, and proceeded to tell the audience that he felt Beyoncé should have won and that "Single Ladies" was one of the best music videos of all time.
Beyoncé opted for a simple style of music video, there was only one costume, a few cameras to capture each angle and was shot in black and white. The choreography combined urban street and 1960's Fosse jazz and was created with the idea that any viewer could attempt the movement if the wished.
Both videos represent popular culture very strongly in both eras, and also show the progression of Hip Hop music. We see strong male roles in the 1980’s music video, and then in the music video from 2008 it is time for the female to take the stage and rival the power and success of men. Run-D.M.C and Beyoncé and idols from their respected time periods and ruled the music scene of the time.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Helicopter War

The United States first employed helicopters in warfare during the Second World War. Recognizing the immense potential of the helicopter, military planners focused on developing a rotary wing force to buttress the American arsenal. During the Vietnam War, the United States relied on the helicopter as never before. The helicopter's role in combat expanded enormously in this conflict as thousands of "choppers" rapidly transported personnel throughout the war zone. Mobility and firepower would be the keys for American operations in Vietnam, and the helicopter provided an abundance of both. The role of the helicopter in support activities in the Vietnam War must also had big impact, as thousands of missions were flown to resupply and reinforce troops on the ground, to evacuate American and South Vietnamese wounded, and to offer countless other services in pursuance of the war effort.

Perhaps the most enduring symbol of the American war in Vietnam is the UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, or "Huey." This aircraft was the ‘workhorse’ of American forces in Vietnam, allowing the United States to employ its airmobile concept on the battlefield. Combined with the lethal firepower of close-air-support attack helicopters such as the AH-1 Cobra, American and South Vietnamese forces were able to exploit this distinct advantage on the battlefield in countless victories.

The helicopter's role in the Vietnam War wasn’t just confined to its benefits on the battlefield. Search-and-rescue operations, medical evacuations, troop and supply transport, and the efforts of Air America would not have been possible without the constant presence and reliable support of the helicopter in this war. Some of America's bravest and most daring pilots risked being shot down daily in the pursuance of their mission to support their ground forces, and their experiences speak to the powerful presence of the helicopter in Vietnam. Employing  nearly 12,000 helicopters during the Vietnam War, including over 7,000 UH-1 ‘Hueys’, and an estimated 40,000 helicopter pilots served in the war. Of these, over 5,000 helicopters were lost to enemy fire and tragic accidents throughout the conflict, and over 2,700 American Huey pilots and crew members were killed in the war. These sobering statistics are a reminder of the danger these men faced when they answered their country's call to war.

The immense success of the helicopter in the Vietnam War set an important precedent in the years following the conflict. The numerous benefits the helicopter provided to the American military proved to militaries around the world that rotary-wing technology would continue to shape warfare, both in combat and support activities. Helicopter technology has continued to evolve over the decades, producing some of the most advanced aerial weapons platforms in existence, And serves as a continual reminder of the Americas innovative/forward thinking approach to weapons in combat, and served as the US biggest war weapon that may have saved the US from defeat in the Vietnam War.

Full Metal Jacket (film) 1987

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket is a 1987 (released in the US June 26 1987) war film directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was based on Hasford's 1979 novel The Short-Timers. The story follows a platoon of U.S. Marines through their training and the experiences of two of the platoon's Marines in the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War.  Also the film’s title refers to the full metal jacket bullet used by infantry riflemen. The film gained positive reviews from critics and gained over $46 million in the box office. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes retrospectively collected reviews to give the film a fresh positive score of 94/100%.
This film is significant to the Vietnam War as it strongly conveys general reactions about the war. For example the Vietnam War has been featured extensively in television, film, video games, and literature. In American popular culture, the "Crazy Vietnam Veteran", driven mad or otherwise disturbed by his experiences in Vietnam, became a common stock character after the war.
Full Metal Jacket plays upon this stereotype as, a large proportion of the film focuses on the damaging mental effects the war had on US troops, which in turn stresses the moral consequences of the war.
The film portrays the negative metal effects the war had on its troops in several ways. An example would be the film stressing the military brainwashing themes in the boot camp training. It does this with usage of the character Leonard Lawrence or his nickname "Gomer Pyle". He is an overweight, clumsy, slow-witted recruit who becomes the focus of Hartman's (the sergeant) attention for his incompetence and excess weight implementing a collective punishment policy to motivate him. As a result Pyle is beaten by his fellow recruits and then begins to show increasing signs of obsession and mental breakdown, such as talking to his rifle, which eventually causes him to kill Hartman and commit suicide.
Another example of Full Metal Jacket portraying the negative mental effect the war had upon soldiers is the significant focus of the thousand yard stare throughout the movie. In the middle of the film Joker is mocked for his lack of the thousand-yard stare, indicating his lack of field war experience. While at the end of the film Joker finally manages to kill a Vietnamese sniper a (teenage girl who had taken out nearly half of the squad single handily) which results in him displaying the ‘thousand yard stare’. This scene also manages to portray the Vietnamese as strong opponents which in turn also promotes the bravery the US soldiers had to experience.
Colletive Punishment method:
Pyle's beating:


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Deer Hunter

The Deer Hunter is one of those masterpieces that are forgotten, ignored or underrated by those who make Top 100 lists it is a movie directed by Michael Cimino, Released on the 8th of December 1978, based in Western Pennsylvania during the late 1960s. The story follows three Russian –American friends, Michael, Nick and Steven, living in the steel mill town of Clairton. In which there life consists of hanging out in a local bar and enjoying weekends of deer-hunting.The title refers to the passion for deer hunting shared by Michael and Nick . Michael and Nick have both found a love interest with Linda, in whom she’s uses, their love as an advantage to juggle both men. But their placid life is soon to be changed after they are enlisted in the airborne infantry of Vietnam. (The use of helicopter-borne air mobile troops by the United States in the Vietnam War was widespread, and became an iconic image featuring in newsreels and movies about the conflict.) They all celebrate a goodbye at Steven's wedding and they leave to Vietnam, where they are captured by the enemy and forced to play a game of Russian Roulette. They escape and return home, but their lives are forever changed. Nick stays in Vietnam, Michael returns to Linda, and Steven is handicapped after losing a leg in the war.

I choose this film because of The “Russian Roulette” portrayed to an extent showed the physic logical, mental brutality of the soldiers involved within Vietnam War. Not only through being sent to war and not excepting the reality of what the term  Vietnam war or the vivid imagery that it proclaimed, but the unexpected of being captured by the Vietnamese and then being face within a life or death situation. This only gives an inside to the uncovering of the Vietnam War whilst adding on to why the Vietnam War transformed very quickly from a supportive war to a negative war especially being covered through the media. The characters played by actors De Niro, Walken, and Savage in the deer hunter being forced to play the game Russian Roulette which has a sense of irony to it considering both solider ancestry consisted of a Russian background. However the director Michael Cimino shot the Russian roulette scenes were shot in real circumstances, with real rats and mosquitoes. Also that “The woman tasked with casting the extras in Thailand had much difficulty finding a local to play the vicious individual who runs the Russian roulette game. The first actor hired turned out to be incapable of slapping De Niro in the face. The caster thankfully knew a local Thai man with a particular dislike of Americans and cast him accordingly. De Niro suggested that Walken be slapped for real by one of the guards without any forewarning.” To an extent some viewed the Russian Roulette as partially truthful.

The game Russian roulette comes from Russian prison guards forced inmates to play and bet on the outcome. Within the Vietnam War it was a game played when a single bullet is put in the chamber of a revolver, the chamber is spun and participants blindly pull the trigger. The game ends when there is only one contestant remaining. 


Vietnam War - Hamburger Hill (1987)

This 1987 American War film written by James Carabatsos and directed by John Irvin was very successful making over $13.8 million at the box office. The reason I chose this film is because of the success it had during the late 1980s.
Critics such as Hal Hinson of the Washington Post called the film "deeply affecting, highly accomplished film". As well as this, Hamburger Hill is one of the few films that has been rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Due to the success of the film, Hamburger Hill was made into a novel written by William Pelfrey showing the popularity of the story of brave men fighting for their country.

The history of the battle of Hamburger Hill shows that the battle was an significant part of the history of the Vietnam War. The battle was fought between the United States and South Vietnam against the North Vietnamese in 1969. Due to the nature of the command to capture the hill and then to abandon the mission it left a lasting impression on America. The battle resulted in 72 US soldiers being kileld and 372 wounded.

This is important for the significant of the film because it takes a significant element of the Vietnam War that directly outraged America and uses this to represent the Vietnam War showing, as the tagline of the film states, "War at its worst, Men at their best".The film manages to represent the Vietnamese as strong competitors which adds to the praise and attitude toward the men that fought during the battle.