Monday, January 19, 2015

the king of retro




Or perhaps the prince of retro, would be nearer the mark....


Why, "Uptown Funk" is as good as The Time!


Neither as good as



earlier thoughts on Bruno Mars, who I don't mind at all really, indeed this song might have been my favorite radio thing of its year

i suppose he's a  21st Century Lenny Kravitz (racially indeterminate pop star, racially inbetween pop) except actually hugely successful

11 comments:

  1. First time I heard Happy wasnt sure if I liked it, but over time when I heard it around every corner here in Mexico City i resented the force-feeding. It got Orwellian, I even tought it was like the grown up version of Barney´s Happy so the kids (or people) clapped along and didn´t made trouble. Hard to avoid that impresion if you are hearing the news, getting full doses of them, like I was, and then just go anywhere and here the song.

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  2. The Kravitz analogy is kinda interesting. Both grew up in show biz households, both did extensive work as writers/producers for others before their own careers took off. Both are essentially entertainers - which is fine.

    One question: If Kravitz had launched his career 20 years later than he did (i.e. now)*, would he have been far more successful than he was**? In the early 90s, his fastidious retro recreations were appealing but a little out of place. Now they would fit right in.

    *Yes, a counterfactual that does not involve Hitler winning WWII.
    **And it's not like he was SeeFeel.

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    1. I doubt he'd have been as popular now as he was then: he was pretty big in the UK back then because he was something you could market to older or less adventurous listeners who couldn't make head nor tail of what was going on in contemporary music (rave, hip hop etc having long since gone overground and dominated the charts). I knew a few people loved his first album because it was like a safe haven for them.

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  3. (My point being that in 90-92 we were awash with new music, and he stood out in contrast; but in 2015, he's one of many many other retromaniacs, so less likely to capture attention.)

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    1. But he would sink or swim as a mainstream pop star rather than a retro oddity. He would be popular in a different (& potentially bigger) way - i.e. with the people buying Bruno Mars music rather than an alternative for 90s Ocean Colour Scene fans.

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  4. I think the difference between then and now is that Kravitz was perceived as retro, and thus suspect. Whereas I don't think many people even think of Bruno Mars as retro, and even if they do, they don't think it's a black mark, something that makes his work "lesser". So that kind of Kravitzian pastiche approach to retro-eclectism has become normalised. It's just an option for pop. I guess it was something that pop / rock stars in the 80s might do, but very much as a departure, an exercise -- Billy Joel circa Uptown Girl, or Robert Plant doing the Honeydrippers project, or Phil Collins with the cover of "You Can''t Hurry Love" and the Motown styled video. Then they'd go back to their main artistic direction, and keeping up with the latest (usually black) sounds, studio techniques etc. Plant did stuff that was vaguely informed hip hop informed; Collins with a very modern, snazzy R&B styled music a la Hall & Oates, with the Earth Wind and Fire horns etc.

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  5. Kravitz did have one moment I think where his commitment to retro was so total and fierce and full-on that it was great - the Jimi Hendrix Experience replica / reenactment of "Are You Gonna Go My Way". Even going so far as to have a bassist with Noel Redding hair!

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    1. Altho 2 points against it:
      - The drummer in the vid is a chick - which is very un-60s.
      - The guitar part is least interesting part of the song - which you couldn't often say about JHE.

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  6. And back to "Uptown Funk" - there's big dollop of Was (Not Was) in there as well. Esp. in the use of voices. Anyway moving on...

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  7. Or perhaps it's stealing from the same place Was (Not Was) are stealing from?

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  8. Or perhaps it's stealing from the same place Was (Not Was) are stealing from?

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