This is Music History Today the Weekly Edition 28. On this week’s show, we discuss stigmatizing music with kids, we review Queens of the Stone Age’s new album, and we make the case for putting the Eurythmics into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
First, the news, and there was actually some real news this week, aside from a major hurricane tearing up Texas or anything coming out of the White House. The Los Angeles band Allah-Las had their concert cancelled in Rotterdam last week after police learned of a terrorist attack plot against concert goers. Police later stopped a van that contained gas bottles and arrested the driver.
In other news, as predicted last week when Taylor Swift wiped her social media accounts, she released new music. The first single off of her upcoming album Reputation, called Look What You Made Me Do, was released last Thursday and of course, the Internet went wild. The album Reputation comes out in November.
As far as the MTV Video Music Awards go, they were not shown at the time of this recording so they’ll be covered on next week’s podcast. Here’s hoping everyone behaved themselves.
This next segment concerns something that’s near and dear to my heart and that’s the stigmatizing of music, especially hip hop music. A lot of different types of music have been blamed for different things over the years. Rock and roll was blamed for everything from juvenile delinquency to drug use when it first burst onto the scene. A lot of that had to do with the fact that it was Black music being played by and listened to by White kids and the establishment hated that. Heavy metal bands routinely have either been blamed for or even been taken to court for “influencing” suicides or violence. AC/DC and Judas Priest come to mind rather rapidly. Then, of course, there’s hip hop, which still gets blamed for gang violence, police shootings, among other things.
I bring this all up because of a commercial that I heard on the radio the other day. The commercial was for a worthy cause, which was a social program that helps minority kids become interested in math, science, and technology. The commercial stated that kids role models are rappers, sports stars, and drug dealers. That’s the part that I have a problem with. The guy wanted to put rappers and sports stars on the same level as drug dealers, in order to say that they’re all bad role models. That’s insulting and extremely wrong.
I get that it’s tough to succeed at rap or sports but if you have the talent, I say go for it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a rapper, musician, singer, sports star, artist, social influencer, YouTube star, comedian, or whatever the hell you want to be. Those who give their kids the excuse that it’s too tough to break into an industry or that the odds of making it are whatever, show that they have no faith in their kids. Plus, if you want to talk about drug dealers, why do people push their kids to be doctors? After all, don’t doctors push a lot of pills these days or did I miss something with this opioid addiction crisis that I find myself talking about every day on the Music History Today podcast (Prince, Elvis, Michael Jackson, anyone)? How many other musicians have died from prescription drugs that their doctors told them to take?
This all smacks of when I was younger. Parents would tell you to get off tv and stop playing video games with the usual “what are you going to do, play video games for the rest of your life? You’ll never make any money doing that.” Now, look at how much a lot of these professional game players make doing esports. There’s even talk of adding it as an Olympic sport in 2024.
My point is simply this. Practice your craft, whichever craft you choose, and go for it. If parents or anyone want to say that kids need more role models to go along with celebrities, musicians, and sports figures, then I’m down with that. Kids should look up to tech people, lawyers, government officials, business leaders, whatever. However, for the well meaning charity in the commercial to equate wanting to get into music or sports with something as bad as being a drug dealer speaks of how this charity feels about music and sports. Stop stigmatizing music as something bad because it’s not.
This week, I’m going to make the case for putting the Eurythmics into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This group burst onto the scene in the early 1980s and helped craft the music and style of new wave music that helped MTV become as popular as it did.
From the songwriting of both Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart to Annie’s amazing voice and Dave’s guitar licks, they stretched musical genres throughout their entire career. You want influence? Let’s start with how many times Sweet Dreams has been covered; both the song and the influential music video style. Plus, Annie’s crew cut and androgynous look influenced a lot of pretenders in the 80s.
Now, if you want to get your feet wet, start with their greatest hits album. If you want to deep dive, go with Sweet Dreams, Touch, Be Yourself Tonight, Revenge, and Savage. Any way you look at it, the Eurythmics deserve to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This time of the year is when you start to get the holiday season push for new music. Expect some big names to start releasing new material in the next 3 months. Also, starting next week, I think I’m going to start a new podcast with nothing but album reviews. I’m looking to not just do major label reviews, though. I’d like to review some things off of Spotify, Soundcloud, and Band Camp. If you are a musician or band and you’d like for me to review your album, drop me a line in the comments section. Realize that my reviews are honest as I see the album so come strong with your music. Don’t give me anything weak.
Having said all that, this week’s quick hit album review is the new one called Villains from Queens of the Stone Age. This 9 song album is pretty good with some great production. Some of the songs, like Head Like a Haunted House, are straight rock songs while a few of the songs, like Fortress, have a slight electronica feel to them. You can see a song like Fortress getting a Tiesto remix treatment somewhere down the road. Standout songs on the album for me are Fortress, The Way You Used To Do, and the Evil Has Landed.
All in all, though, it’s a slight departure from what you’re used to from them, which is very good. I like bands that slowly try different styles while still anchoring themselves to what has worked in the past. It means they’re growing.
This week’s number one single, Despacito, spends week 15 on top of the Billboard singles chart. If it’s there next week, it will tie Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s One Sweet Day as the longest running number one single in history. On the album front, Kesha debuts on top of Billboard’s album chart with Rainbow.
This week’s new music includes cover versions of Bob Dylan songs from Joan Osborne, Lil Peep, OMD, the Script, the Knife, and LCD Soundsystem.