Today, Nine Inch Nails:
The semi-popular opinion about The Fragile, the two-disc set this song comes from, is that it wasn’t great (or it was the last time I bothered to check), but I honestly feel like, had Trent pared it down a bit to remove the filler and poor tracks, the end result would have been a pretty amazing piece of work. As it stood, the record did well in its first week before setting a “biggest drop from number one” record (at the time) because basically everyone kind of crapped on it outside of its first week. It’s kind of a relative thing, though; for as much as this record was a bit melodramatic and overly long, it’s worth pointing out that outside of the radio singles from NIN’s prior work, so was basically every other NIN record prior to this point; this one just drew more attention to that fact because of how long it spent in development and how big its release was.
Still, it’s worth pointing out that there were some truly great songs on this record, as starting with the next record, With Teeth, Trent kind of started going off into a quasi-experimental direction he’s not really looked back from since. It’s good to remember when he had a specific, directional vision, instead of the odd experimental vision he’s using now that kind of sounds like a less interesting Aphex Twin project.
Two things about this band strike me. The first is that the original band the lead singer, Alexx Wesselsky, comes from, Megaherz, never really did anything for me in the strictest sense, but Eisbrecher these days is a better Rammstein than Rammstein is, to the point where they’re almost constantly releasing records, and their specific sound hasn’t really gotten tired or boring yet. The second is that, as is generally the case with Neue Deutsche Harte bands, Eisbrecher tends to write a lot of really heavy quasi-romantic songs, but in in Eisbrecher’s case, as noted above, they don’t… always turn out well. I can kind of appreciate a guy who doesn’t feel the need to look cool in his own band’s videos and can show some ass to get a point across, and Alexx and company are generally really good about that.
So if you haven’t heard yet, let me get you up to speed: as a Superbowl stunt, Coke created a Twitter bot that had one basic purpose: if you tweeted something with the Hashtag “#MakeItHappy,” the bot would then pick it up and convert into Ascii art. It’s an incredibly simple concept, and one that should, by all rights, work quite easily. It’s also easily exploited; even if you have something in place to automatically discard profane tweets, someone, somewhere, is going to figure out a way to exploit the concept and fuck around with it in a way that makes it do something awful. That’s essentially an expectation at this point, and right about now you’d be expecting me to follow up with an assessment about how Anonymous or 4chan figured out how to make it reblog Ascii shitting dick nipples* or something.
What you probably weren’t expecting is that the trolls this time around were Gawker.
Today, Etro Anime:
Back in the days before Atlus basically changed from a mentality of “converting titles for a Western audience,” to “fuck you, you LOVE Japan,” they would try to at least partially make their games palatable to a US audience, with variable success. While there were a few missteps along the way, there were a couple of notable successes. One of those was the conversion of the character Masao Inaba in the original Persona into Mark, who was one of the very few black characters in RPG’s in specific and gaming in general at that point; while the Americanization of the rest of the cast was kind of terrible, Mark was at least something unique, and not terribly racist to boot. Sadly the US release of the PSP remake left him as a stupid white kid, which (given all of the improvements to the game) is honestly the only reason I never bothered to buy it.
The other notable success was picking up Etro Anime to provide the title track for Digital Devil Saga.
While I generally love Atlus’ in-house band a whole lot, at the time Shoji Meguro was a few years out from putting together his current awesome in-house band, and it wasn’t until about 2006 with Persona 3 where he realized what he could really do with music. While his sudden revelation ended with him creating one of the best possible in-house bands imaginable*, prior to that he was making music that was fine, but aside from “Aria of the Soul,” he wasn’t really doing a lot to develop his music at the time Digital Devil Saga came out. Atlus opted to draft independent band Etro Anime into service for a title track for the game, which ended up becoming what you see above, “Danger.” I appreciate that, as I honestly probably would’ve never discovered the band otherwise, and that’d be a shame, as they’re quite good.
* Fun side-note: while researching this piece, I happened to find out that the rapper for the in-house band, Lotus Juice, was raised in New Jersey. So basically Lotus Juice, Jon Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Han Seung-yeon of KARA all spent at least some of their formative years in Jersey. I don’t really have a comment about that, I just find it interesting in a civic pride sort of way.
This is in no way random, but screw you, it’s my blog:
Yes, Persona 4: Dancing All Night has a theme song, and if you don’t think it’s rad we can’t be friends anymore. Or at all if we weren’t. Whatever.
Now we just need for the game to actually get beyond “here’s some renders of the cast dancing,” and we’ll actually be good to go.
Today, Michael Jackson:
While I didn’t watch the Super Bowl itself, I took a minute to check out the Katy Perry halftime show, because 1.) I tend to like the halftime shows for their sheer spectacle, 2.) I like Katy Perry somewhat, and 3.) I heard she dressed like Bam Bam Bigelow and I had to do a double-take. The show itself was fine enough, though whenever I see a Super Bowl halftime show these days, I inevitably compare it to Jackson’s ’93 halftime show in my head, as that one was… well, it was basically the high point of Jackson’s eclectic showmanship, and few people can pull off what he did as one person, even with several guest stars and callbacks to classic hits.
This song was one of the cornerstone songs of that performance, and because my brain works like a Wikipedia clickhole, I ended up going back to watch it. It’s interesting because, while I wouldn’t argue this is Jackson’s best song overall (“Thriller” is almost certainly it), the video is an amazing thing, because it’s an amazing time capsule for its release period. Jackson himself is in this weird transition state, physically, though he’s still vital as a performer and it shows. Meanwhile, George Wendt and Makulay Culkin are both notable parts of the video, with Culkin showing up a couple times throughout, for some odd reason or another. The video is also very much a weird sort of call toward racial equality that does so by showing stereotyped examples of races, which is probably a bit insensitive now but comes across as sort of childlike on consideration. The end result is, honestly, one of the more amazing videos Jackson has produced, and outside of the video for “Scream,” this is probably the last really memorable video Jackson produced.