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Old 10-18-2001, 12:50 AM   #1
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Bubba's Rants & Raves #3 - MJ and Coldplay

BUBBA'S RANTS & RAVES #3 - MJ AND COLDPLAY

Relating to you all my problems with Michael Jackson would take far too long. At this point, I believe it suffices to say this: if Michael Jackson's talent was in any way proportional to his ego, he would be the greatest artist in the history of mankind.

As it is, he's released "You Rock My World", a woefully mediocre single from his forthcoming new album, Invincible.

As an aside, his album titles have become delusional assertions that stray further and further from the realm of reality: "I'm bad! Not only that, I'm dangerous! And, hey, now I'm invicible, too! Really!"

In conjunction with the single's release -- and that television special, the first tribute in my memory devoted to someone who's still alive and supposedly relevant --Jackson's released what most people would call a music video. In the parlance of the self-proclaimed "King of Pop", he's released a "Short Film".

Elton John's called the video "disgusting", and I don't think he goes far enough.

First, the video seems to copy almost every major video in Michael Jackson's long career. He has guest stars, including Chris Tucker and Marlon Brando, not unlike having Magic Johnson and Eddie Murphy in "Remember the Time". He's wearing the light socks with his dark suit, just like "Billy Jean" and most of his earlier videos. There's the fedora covering most of his face, a la "Smooth Criminal". Jackson acts tough and gets in a gang fight, just like "Bad". And there's the dramatic pauses and film credits first seen in "Thriller".

Worse than that, the use of the cliches is heavy handed, obvious, and ineffective. The guest stars are there to attract publicity about the video, but they add next to nothing to the video -- unlike, say, Walken in "Weapon of Choice". The light socks seem like a vain attempt to hold onto youth while the hat seems to serve no other purpose than hide the fact that Jackson has become a walking warning of the dangers of plastic surgery. Finally, the "tough guy" act and dramatic fight come off as trying far too hard; rather than build tension, they do little more than break the monotony of the song itself.

As another aside, the overuse of completely halting a song within a video is intolerable. The first few showings of Weezer's "Buddy Holly" did it, but the effect was so jarring that it was removed. Now, Britney's "Oops" video (and the radio version of the single!) cut in with that tripe about the diamond on the Titanic. Sugar Ray's latest video cuts in for no apparent reason, as does Alien Ant Farm's "Smooth Criminal" -- which, while I'm on the subject, was only funny the first fifty times. Finally, I can't recall a single Jennifer Lopez video that wasn't so long and boring that it did not interrupt itself with a dance routine to the remix of the same song.

Overlaying videos with sound effects can be effective -- at least to a degree, as in the airplanes in "Beautiful Day" and the barrage of television in "Even Better Than the Real Thing". And pausing a song is not necessarily bad; Billy Joel's "River of Dreams" works better because of the tension in the pause before the last chorus. But randomly cutting a song is needless. It's enraging to see some one essentially press the "pause" button just because he fe-

<dramatic pause with some overacting or trite dance routine>

-els like it.

And as a final criticism, the "Short Film" also stars Michael Madsen. Who the hell is this guy? What character does he play in the video? And why is he even mentioned? Not to sound completely obtuse, but I looked him up on Yahoo, found three fansites, and still couldn't answer any of the above questions.

And, concluding my rant on Michael Jackson, I have to add that he's had three indisputably great songs: "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", "Rock With You", and "The Way You Make Me Feel". Not coincidentally, these songs are songs first and vehicles for Michael Jackson second. The concern is on the groove, and it shows.

Now, on to Coldplay, my choice for the best new band in the last few years. Their latest video -- see it now while MTV is actually playing it -- is for "Trouble", and it is as great as "You Rock My World" is average.

It is, first of all, so original that it is hard to even describe. Try to imagine a snowglobe world where everything was a cubical container holding flat images of the object in question. There are layers upon layers, snowflakes, trees, dandelion "fluff". The effects clearly involved the use of a computer, but the impression is very low-tech. It's a use of technology to create beautiful art that could have never been made before.

Beyond that, the song is simply beautiful (and quite a way to follow "Yellow" in the progression of their album Parachutes): "ice notes" reminiscent of the piano on U2's "October"; the response from an electric guitar; a simple, acoustic guitar in the background; an ethereal slide guitar toward the end; frail, heartbroken vocals; and lovely, melancholy lyrics:

I never meant to cause you trouble,
I never meant to do you wrong,
Well if I ever caused you trouble
Then, no, I never meant to do you harm


I naturally admit a great deal of personal bias for this song: it's the first song my love and I slow-danced to -- just her and me in the quiet of my computer lab. So, technically, this is probably "our song", and I hope the rest of the world sees the beauty in it.

(Correction: "Sparks" was the first song we slow-danced too. Both are very beatiful; I was just thinking of the wrong song.)

And if I ever make an album of "blue music", as Bono puts it, I'll be sure to include the following songs:

"Promenade" - U2
"Your Blue Room" - The Passengers
"Just My Imagination" - The Temptations
"Fields of Gold" - Sting
"Enter From the East" - Jewel

...and Coldplay's "Trouble".

Achtung Bubba

PREVIOUS ARTICLES OF BUBBA'S RANTS AND RAVES:
#1 - Britney and Jewel
#2 - Stevie Nicks and Garbage

[This message has been edited by Achtung Bubba (edited 10-19-2001).]
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Old 10-18-2001, 02:50 AM   #2
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Bubba, your verbal attacks are really quite verbous and entertaining in the lengths you go to to what I believe you would call or see as ripping into these artists. The only problem is you forget they are only your opinions, not truth. Truth doesn't exist in situations like this ie music, cos baby, its all about taste.

Anyways. I wont go on, it would be simply a case of me putting forward why I believe MJ to be an absolute genius and Coldplay to be as entertaining as roadkill or something. And that, my dear, is a waste of our combined efforts!

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Old 10-18-2001, 10:05 AM   #3
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Old 10-18-2001, 08:24 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

First, Angela, there's this comment:

"The only problem is you forget they are only your opinions, not truth. Truth doesn't exist in situations like this ie music, cos baby, its all about taste."

I consider myself an amateur student of philosophy; I am not that likely to forget that what I believe is not necessarily the truth.

But while my beliefs are not necessarily true, I believe that they fall under the judge of truth -- that they are either true or false, and not mere "tastes" or preferences.

I've actually asserted this belief many times in this forum, but I'll try again.

I believe that, when comparing two works of art, one work is difinitively and objectively better.

The reason I think this is that the alternative doesn't stand to reason -- proof by contradiction, if you will.

If one work of art isn't objectively better than another, if "truth doesn't exist" in this case, than the works of Shakespeare and DaVinci are no better than the works of a typical four year old. That strikes me as preposterous.

If you have a toddler, and he writes a story or draws a picture, you can certainly say that you like his work more than "Othello" or "The Last Supper". But if you say that the work is BETTER, I think I'm right in saying "you're wrong".

If our opinions dealt with nothing more than our preferences, then these discussions reduce to "X is my favorite" -- and I don't think people would care quite as much about the discussions.

The problem is, most cases are not so clear cut. It's not obvious whether The Joshua Tree or Achtung Baby is a better album. But, in this case, the problem is the works are of similar quality -- it is not that the idea of quality doesn't exist.

(Just because it's hard to determine which bowling ball is heavier, it doesn't mean that one isn't actually heavier.)

Granted, I may be wrong that Michael Jackson's new video is crap. But I'm either wrong or right.

But I would much rather continue these discussions with those who disagree with me than chalk up the discussion to mere tastes. So, do you think "You Rock My World" and its video are works of genius? Do you think Coldplay's music is boring? If so, can you give any reasons you think why?

Finally, Popmartijn, forgive me, but I have no idea what you're talking about.

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Old 10-18-2001, 09:43 PM   #5
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Damn AOL

Bubba, I had a huge thing typed out, and AOL logged me off (those bastards) but basically, I said, yeah, you're right.

Nice rant and rave. Always enjoyable

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Old 10-18-2001, 10:01 PM   #6
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Bubba,

Amen! to both reviews and accounts.

I find MJ to seem tiresome and monumentally slower (yes probably due to age), and is scary to look at. The placement of the fedora was interesting to me in that it harkened back to older videos, but also to slightly blur his intensely surgeoned face. Tis sad, really, because I grew up on "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" and it pains me to see him in such a state.

As for Coldplay, I think the "Trouble" video is absolutely astounding to watch. The song is wrenchingly gorgeous, and I commend them for bringing back depth, intelligence and non-vulgar songs to popular rock music.

Well done, Bubba!

[This message has been edited by HelloAngel (edited 10-18-2001).]
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Old 10-18-2001, 10:40 PM   #7
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MJ now is like " Joker " from batman ( in bad sence of course ) . Monster-multi-millioner with human soul .
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Old 10-19-2001, 01:28 AM   #8
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Bubba, dont get defensive. The only prob I have is the manner in which it appears. Its like "sit down kids, here's why you should hate MJ" etc. Even then I dont really care! Like I said once before, how ppl interpret things is the reader's choice.

Anyway, I like MJ for many reasons. I like his 80's stuff only pretty much. I like the throwaway pop kinda culture, the easy listening sound he had, the uniqe genre he basically created. I think his early stuff is pure genius. Especially when compared to a lot of 80's music, he really stood out. I wont go on about this too much as you have already acknowledged that of him. As for his new stuff, I can take or leave the new song, and film clip, you said seemed a rehash of his previous hits. I haven't seen it but MJ seems to be one to not want to reinvent himself with every album. Of course all long time performers have a natural progression for each album, and this song seems as if it could be from HIStory. Just like some of Pop could belong to Zooropa etc.

Moving along though. I dont like Coldplay for the same superficial kind of reasons. I dont care if music has lyrics that are meaningless or nonsensical. It matters not to me. But Yellow seems lyrically as bland as the music behind it. It to me is elevator background musak. I find it doesn't stand out terribly in any form. The film clip is dull, a man (lead vocalist or not) walking backward on a beach. Big Whoopee. No artistry, no talent. I've heard they have a new song out. I haven't heard it that I'm aware of, if it has been on the radio it hasn't stood out either.

Anyway, I hope you get my point now. Before I finish though, just on your comaprisons of previous posts, I dont see how you justify your argument by comparing 2 works of the same category but different genre? Art and written works have many sub genres.

A crayon drawing and an oil painting? That would be as useful as Monet and Drysedale. In music its like Mozart and Ramstein. Both artists, but not comparable. Same with the MJ Coldplay thing, even thought you weren't technically comparing those 2, I think the theory remains.

Oh and thnx pop martijn, I have no idea who you were talking to either, but that was a very interesting slant on things!
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Old 10-19-2001, 02:15 PM   #9
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Angela:

I can see how I've come off as a bit arrogant -- but, honestly, part of my efforts in this article of sorts is to pursuade others to agree with me. I think I'm right, and I want others to be on the right side of the argument with me.

I think the most interesting discussions come from a genuine desire to pursuade; it's what elevates the discussions from mere assertions of "I like this" and "I don't". I'm simply motivated to write theses like the one above.

Beyond pursuading people to agree with me, I want to spur interesting, thought-out debate about the current state of our culture -- a debate that often seems drowned out in this forum. And, I want to spur people to seek out new songs to see if they are as good or bad as I think they are.

I do agree that a lot of Jacson's earlier stuff is really, really good -- and I also understand that some artists evolve less than others. AC/DC hasn't changed an inch in 20+ years while David Bowie is still evolving. Heck, when it comes down to it, U2's core sound hasn't changed as much as Bowie's.

It can be okay to stick with your strengths, but sometimes it just comes off as silly. Bruce Springsteen being the working man's Dylan even as he grows older is fine. Jackson still dancing and wearing white socks just seems a bit desparate.

And I can definitely see the "boring" complaint for Coldplay. But rather than boring, I find the music simply intimate. Music to play when you're alone in the apartment as opposed to a stadium of 60,000.

There are also moments that remind me of Boy, October, and the Unforgettable Fire -- which is very encouraging.

Finally, comparing different genres can be a VERY difficult thing. Rather than comparing the weight of two bowling balls, it's like comparing the effectiveness of a bird's flight and an animals run. The differences may be too great to make legitmate comparisons -- or at least to say that U2 is definitively better than Beethoven, or vice versa.

But account for genre differences, and my belief still stands. Teach an average toddler what a poem is -- heck, teach him about meter -- and have him write a sonnet. I'm still willing to say that Shakespeare's sonnets are CLEARLY better.

In other words, debating quality of art isn't merely debating preferences.


One more observation about Michael Jackson that scares me:

There are a few artists that try to be aliens or superhumans and are really human on the inside. Scrape away the veneer of Ziggy Stardust, and the David Bowie inside seems like a real person. Or remove the Fly shades, and you find a family man who reads voraciously and seems genuinely concerned about the state of the world here and the world hereafter.

But with Michael Jackson, I see a genuinely bizarre man pretending to be normal. That's scary.


Finally, popkidu2, I've had the same problem, to the point that I sometimes copy and save the text of my longer posts just in case they don't make it to the forum.

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Old 10-20-2001, 12:00 AM   #10
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Old 10-20-2001, 05:57 AM   #11
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Hello,

I've just discoverd this forum, so I'm not used to checking it regularly. Sorry if I didn't reply sooner.

Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
Finally, Popmartijn, forgive me, but I have no idea what you're talking about.
Achtung Bubba: This is a quote from the movie Reservoir Dogs. In the movie the text is said by Mr. Blonde, played by Michael Madsen (yep, the same one as in the You Rock My World video).

C ya!

Marty (who BTW doesn't know any other movies by Michael Madsen and has only seen him in some B ones)

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Old 10-20-2001, 07:06 AM   #12
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Bubba, I was gonna come with the olive branch extended, but I offer the whole tree instead. Your arguments are very well written, thought out etc.

I think its fair to say we even share some views on MJ's 80's talent, and the more subdued aspect of Coldplay. Which I suppose gives us our respective views. The only thing I think we can agree to disagree on is the comparison of examples in certain things. Art for eg. All that being said, it might be possible to look at each, for example a poem. Critically anylise it, give it a review or something, then do the same on say a novel. Both are written works, diferent genres, and the quality of each can be compared. You get my point anyway I know.

I remmeber once in college we got an assignment to compare a landscape painting from an Australian artist, and had to compare it to a particular renaissance artist. From memory, most did pretty average on the essay. We then discussed it at length in class and were asked to compare Goya's 4th May to Picasso's Guernica. Again we thought this is ridiculous! Thats what I thought until I realised it wasn't about style or era, but content, subject and history. This point can probably lend weight to both our perspectives as they cannot be compared as artworks as such, but the theory behind each certainly could.

I really think we need an art forum here. No, I would love an art forum is more the point. Anyone agree?

Anyhoo, have a great weekend Bubba.
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Old 10-20-2001, 10:58 AM   #13
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Well i just bought Coldplay's album and i love it. The music is, like Bubba described it so well, intimate. Lots of acoustics, lots of piano. And a very interesting guitar player IMO, something about his style reminds me of Edge (especially in Yellow), but he has his own touch. Fresh, intelligent, original music. I really hope they will get big in the future.

Personally, i never liked MJ (except for the bass/bass drum in Billie Jean-classic!). I'll always admit he's a great dancer, but a terribly bad singer. And it's just horrible what he's done to his face. You rock my world? Typical MJ stuff-really nothing earthshaking-why do you think he has all the celebrity extras in it? Though i admit i liked the silent sequence (the water dripping,the sound of the broom etc...)-about the only good thing about it.
The thing that bothered me the most-when the bad guys and MJ guys build up tension, and they stand head to head
...
what's the deal with screaming "AAAAH" and "you rock my world"?!?
He could have just gone to the punch right away.

On a more general note to Bubba:
I think that i'm not qualified to say Coldplay is better than MJ. I'm not a music critic, and i know nothing about notes or techniques how to play instruments etc...and i'm probably biased to this issue because, well, i like Coldplay.
In general, i don't think music (or art in general) should be discussed as "good" or "bad". Because i think most of fans of music don't know enough about the techical side of music to talk about it (and i guess most art lovers don't either). So it gets down to a matter of taste. The music/art either "clicks" with you or it doesn't.

Sure, i guess that classical composers or famous painters are techically flawless-but that doesn't help me much: i don't know enough about that to judge their works based on technical quality. Instead, i have to go either with liking or disliking it.

ps: actually, i liked You are not alone and Will you be there from MJ.



[This message has been edited by U2girl (edited 10-21-2001).]
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Old 10-22-2001, 03:54 AM   #14
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After reading and re-reading the replies to this thread, I've realized that many of you see that I'm directly comparing Coldplay and Michael Jackson, which is -- at best -- a difficult thing to do.

The reason I'm doing these "rants and raves" is to just put out my opinions, and why I believe what I believe. I'm trying to include in each post something that I like and something I don't like, and I hope to pair the criticisms by the same art from (so far, I've limited myself to songs and videos, but I'll eventually include films, television, and books). I'm NOT necessarily critquing two works in the same genre.

Bottom line, the only thing I was saying was these two separate observations:

1) I really hate "You Rock My World"; the song is mediocre, and the video is cliched beyone reason.

2) I really adore "Trouble"; the song is beautiful and the video is really unique.

1) and 2) does not necessarily have anything to do with each other.

And, u2girl, none of us may not be qualified to be great music critics (I think *I* am, but I digress ). But, either way, it's a lot more fun to discuss our views, and I welcome everyone's opinions and the reasons for them.

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Old 10-22-2001, 09:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Achtung Bubba:
After reading and re-reading the replies to this thread, I've realized that many of you see that I'm directly comparing Coldplay and Michael Jackson, which is -- at best -- a difficult thing to do.

Bottom line, the only thing I was saying was these two separate observations:

1) I really hate "You Rock My World"; the song is mediocre, and the video is cliched beyone reason.

2) I really adore "Trouble"; the song is beautiful and the video is really unique.

1) and 2) does not necessarily have anything to do with each other.

And, u2girl, none of us may not be qualified to be great music critics (I think *I* am, but I digress ). But, either way, it's a lot more fun to discuss our views, and I welcome everyone's opinions and the reasons for them.

Yes, i thought you were comparing the two, hence putting them together in the same thread. But now i see where you're coming from.

What i meant was i for one can't say "MJ's music is bad" or "Coldplay's music is great" because i don't know enough about music technically-i leave that to people who do. However, i CAN say "i like Coldplay and i don't like MJ" or "i prefer Coldplay to MJ".



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