American Idol: Latin Load of Blah

If you’re like me, you are getting weary of the initial round of “American Idol” auditions, and ready to kick this thing into Hollywood gear. After a while, it’s really just the same thing over and over again.
You can sing, or you’re a freak. Last night, they took us to Miami, where the producers predictably shoved Gloria Estefan references down our collective throat. And the auditions, pretty much, were not that good. Let’s start with the freaks…

Shannon McGough was one of the oddest contestants ever…she was an 18-year-old girl with an Irish last name and fair skin, but with what looked like Latino parents. And those parents owned a meat shop that Shannon also worked in. What’s more, she was adept at belching. Yes, belching. It was pretty funny, really. Shannon tried to sing Janis Joplin, and as Simon eloquently put it, it sounded like “Hungarian Janis.” I can’t put it any other way…it was just weird.

Some dude sang Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” but inserted Paula Abdul’s name into it instead of “Rock.” Next.

Simon told this dude named Grant that he should come back in a dress, and it would make his audition better. Then this kid named Richard sang a Rascal Flatts song completely through his nose. The best part was when Randy Jackson attempted to imitate poor Richard.

Then there was Julie, Read the rest of this entry »

Man-About-MySpace: Professor Longhair

Few musicians the United States produced have had the multi-generational impact—yet are as little-known—as Professor Longhair. Pound for pound one of the most singularly ingenious and original jazz-blues-R&B piano players ever heard, ‘Fess inspired a gaggle of followers who evolved into titans themselves, players like Art Neville, James Booker, Dr. John, and Henry Butler.

He didn’t like leaving New Orleans; in fact legend has it when he was “discovered” on a national scale and was offered a cushy ride on a big coming-out tour from sea to shining sea, he declined, saying something to the effect of “If they like me so much they can come to N’Awlins and see me at the club.” Baton Rouge was about as far as he normally traveled to play out.

But why you bringin’ up this crusty old stuff today, Mojo, you ask? Lily Allen, man. You can’t get away from Professor Longhair. “Knock ‘Em Out” not only samples Longhair’s electrically charged riff from “Big Chief,” it makes it the cornerstone of the song. ‘Fess be universal, and a stunning fan MySpace celebrates his legacy with a quarter-cup of proper voodoo mysticism, which you can’t skip or logically ignore.

Play his cuts, read the books, celebrate the music. Get edumacated. Before you head on over there to MySpace, though, here’s a priceless vintage clip of ‘Fess on the piano jamming out to “Big Chief” with Art Neville on B3, Dr. John on Rhodes and a gaggle of other New Orleans musical legends like Earl King.

American Idol: All I See Is Corn

Last night’s “American Idol” auditions were held in Omaha, Nebraska for the first time ever, and it seemed like every other contestant was from some farm in Iowa with a town of 200 people…seriously. Anyway, Paula Abdul’s plane was delayed, so they started with just Randy and Simon judging. And just like last week, Fox gave me an hour of my life back, for which I genuinely thank them.

With that, here were the freaks from last night….

An effeminate dude named Chris started things off, and he carried a photo album with pics of himself and Kelly Clarkson. He also said he was a huge fan of Paula, who, lucky for Paula, wasn’t there yet. Anyway, Chris sang Kelly’s “Since You’ve Been Gone, ” and it was predictably horrible. He then asked if he could audition for the “Red Carpet” for the finale, and Simon took the liberty of giving Chris the gig, saying he just needed to contact his local Fox affiliate and tell them he approved. Hilarious.

Hard to believe, but aside from a medley of freaks singing Steeler’s Wheel’s “Stuck In The Middle With You,” they only showed one other dud last night. (Well, I think they did…our power went out for five minutes). That dud was Johnny, who was dressed in a gold jacket and said he was inspired by the great James Brown. Simon said he hated everything about it, and so did I. Paula, meanwhile, is drunk again! She even hiccupped during Johnny’s audition. Classic.

On to the good Read the rest of this entry »

Video Vault: Pineforest Crunch, “Cup Noodle Song”

Yes, I know: it’s a ridiculous song title. I don’t even know what it means. But it’s a catchy-as-hell nugget which continues to add credence to the theory that the water in Sweden possesses a chemical which enables the residents of that kingdom to write brilliant pop hooks. Lead singer Asa Eklund – who runs the band’s website as well as a label called Exergy Music – has one of those great little-girl voices that’s sweetly emotional without sounding too ridiculously cutesy. (I’m thinking specifically of Frente at the moment.) Dunno what’s up with the band these days, but makes it sound like there’s not much; still, if you’re as smitten by this track on first listen as I was, head over to the band’s MySpace page to check out a few more of their songs.

Less Talk, More Music: Peter Murphy on “The Jon Stewart Show”

To remember when Peter Murphy still seemed as interested in writing a memorable hook as being a gloomy gus, you’d have to go back farther than 1995′s Cascade, because as you can see from this performance of the album’s first single, “The Scarlet Thing In You,” Murphy was downright cheerful during this era…well, at least by his standards, anyway. It was the least of his solo albums up to that point, but it turned out to be the best we’d get out of him ’til 2004′s Unshattered. (2002′s Dust wasn’t just dark; it was deadly dull.) By the way, if you’re a longtime Jon Stewart fan, you’ll know that this is from the syndicated version of his show rather than the old-school MTV version from 1993…not that it really matters one or the other.

Video Vault – Ernie Kovacs

“Musical Office.” Kovacs was a genius whose inventive imagination made him a true pioneer of early TV. Missed greatly.

Mix Disc Monday: Call it a phase

We’ve spent more than enough time in this section blowing sunshine of the keisters of various lyricists – songs about dreaming, songs about being lonely, etc. – but not this time. Today, we tip our cap to the man in the producer’s chair and the use of a nifty trick called the phase, or a flange. Ever heard the sonic equivalent of an ocean wave engulf a song? That’s what we’re talkin’ about. We even included small snippets of the songs (accessible here) so you could hear them for yourself. Rock on, producer man.

“Out of the Blue,” Roxy Music (Country Life)
The ultimate use of the flange effect, in this writer’s humble opinion. Every time they hit that instrumental bit, boom, here comes a wave. And Jesus, that ending. I picture Bryan Ferry driving a roadster in the country as fast as it can go, only to careen off a cliff at song’s end.

“Evil and a Heathen,” Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have It So Much Better)
In an age where every pop and rock record is produced within an inch of its life (White Stripes, you are hereby excused from this discussion), how is it that Franz Ferdinand is one of the only new bands to use the most time-tested production trick in the book? Not sure, but it took this “Radar Love”-esque rocker to another level.

“Gods of War,” Def Leppard (Hysteria)
If we’re talking production tricks, then it’s a foregone conclusion that Robert John “Mutt” Lange is going to make an appearance. Mutt pulls out all the stops for this six-and-half-minute anti-war rocker, but saves something special for the very end: a giant flange to make the last explosion sound like it’s going down the rabbit hole.

To view the rest of the mix, click here.

Read the rest after the jump...

Britney goes bonkers…some more

When you’re on an out of control path down the crapper, why jump off? Indeed. The latest Britney Spears moment of madness found the pop star waiting outside a Beverly Hills school to pick up some kids. At first she claimed she was picking up her own kids, then changed her story, declaring “They aren’t my kids; I have a new attorney, and I came to pick them up for her.” Ooooooo K then. Could this chick go any further down the rabbit hole? You betcha. And she definitely will.

Road Warriors 49

Road Warriors 49

The 50th Annual Grammy Awards will air Sunday, February 10 at 8pm ET, and the first group of performers have been announced. Those are Beyonce, Carrie Underwood, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna and more. Stay tuned for more updates.

American Idol Season 6 champ Jordin Sparks will be singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl next Sunday in Glendale, Arizona. What makes it extra special is that her dad, Phillippi, played for the Giants in the ‘90s, and the Giants are taking on the Patriots in the big game.

The 2008 Honda Civic Tour has announced its tour dates, and it begins April 10 in San Francisco. Bands on the tour are Panic at the Disco, Motion City Soundtrack, The Hush Sound and Phantom Planet. Tickets go on sale February 2, and more information is available at

Singer/songwriter Tristan Prettyman is back with her new album, Hello, on April 15 on Capitol, and is heading out on tour with G. Love & Special Sauce, and then headlining some dates of her own. Here are the confirmed Read the rest of this entry »

DMed’s Video of the Week: Kate Nash, “Foundations”

All kinds of Lily Allen-type buzz surrounds Made of Bricks, the debut album from the latest UK pop tart Kate Nash. “Foundations” certainly holds up to the lofty praise, though consumers should know that Nash and Allen, musically, have very little in common. In terms of their attitude, not to mention their tendency to curse like drunken sailors, they’re peas in a pod, but where Allen’s music is closer to Madness, Nash appears to be a bigger fan of the Dresden Dolls, if her song “Mariella” is any indication. But if any song is going to draw comparisons to Allen, “Foundations” is the one, particularly the line about her sucking lemons because she’s so bitter, and her responding that she’d rather do her boyfriend’s friends because they’re much fitter. Oh, snap.

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