All posts by alyssaknoop

Hi, I'm Alyssa and I'm an avid lover of music, beer, Stephen King and Harry Potter.

How Foster the People’s “Best Friend” is More Than Just a Catchy Tune

For my first post in centuries, I’m going to rant about how Foster the People addresses an issue I’ve been struggling with for a while.

In early 2014, indie/alternative band Foster the People released their second studio album, Supermodel. Much more focused than their debut album, Supermodel is a concept album that addresses common and heavy themes of negativity toward today’s consumer ideology and popular culture. Mark Foster described the album as dealing with “the ugly side of capitalism”, the theme that’s captured jarringly in their music video for the seventh track on the album, “Best Friend”.

Despite the song’s catchy, upbeat, and seemingly happy music, the lyrics tell a tragic story of substance abuse and consumption. Even then, the lyrics didn’t prepare fans for what they were presented with in the accompanying music video: a girl with monster teeth eating other girls.

The video features a supermodel that literally eats other supermodels in order to gain their attractive and enviable physical features. It starts with the protagonist—the girl who we hope to be the heroine, but who succumbs to societal pressure—passed out on a couch with a cigarette still clad between her fingers. She wakes up and begins the long and strenuous routine most girls are familiar with: applying makeup (which can take a while if you have someone to impress). The girl pops some pills (we aren’t told what kind, but I’m willing to bet they aren’t Advil) and joins fellow models to get dressed. After shooting envious looks at a flawless model, the girl heads to the bathroom and looks distressed and upset as she studies her reflection in the mirror. The flawless model walks in—perfectly placed hair contrasting beautifully with our “heroine’s” messy locks—and gets attacked. The girl eats the flawless model and gains her features. The video continues like this—the protagonist eating girls to gain their enviable legs, etc.—until she physically stretches her neck, makes her eyes massive, her waist tiny, and her cheekbones prominent. She ends up looking like an alien. The video ends with her walking the catwalk while the shocked paparazzi snap endless photos of her as she throws up a piece of clothing and passes out on the runway. The music video’s thesis is crystal clear: Society and pop culture should not be placing such unrealistic and virtually unattainable expectations on girls.

The music video plays out like a sort of horror movie—with a cast of models playing the demons and monsters. The entire time, we’re hoping that Mr. Hyde will turn back into Dr. Jekyll, yet we aren’t given that satisfaction. As a woman, I relate to the main girl. I sympathize with her because I’ve been in that situation—we all have—albeit probably (and hopefully) not to that extreme. I’ve been envious of people’s long, slim legs. I’ve been jealous of thigh gaps and perky, perfect boobs and flat tummies and long, Rapunzel-like hair—all features that modern pop culture has told me I should want and have, but why? The girl in the video is jaw-dropping to begin with, but like countless other beautiful and unique girls, she sadly succumbs to the pressure that society puts on women to achieve “the perfect body”.

The music video’s psychedelic and trippy visuals aren’t just for show; they get the point across—so strongly that the shocking and borderline horrific imagery seemingly smacks you in the face with the video’s thesis. The extreme and appalling comparison of the extent to which girls go in order to achieve a “perfect body”, with a beautiful model literally eating other girls is done so tastefully—no pun intended. The “Best Friend” music video grabs you by your shoulders and shakes you, yelling at you to open your eyes. Its unique and monstrous depiction of not only the modeling and fashion industries—but also modern society’s expectations as a whole—is empowering. It’s certainly loud enough to break through the silent and monotonous routine of impressionable girls getting bombarded by unrealistic expectations and consequently feeling less-than-enough.

After Mark Foster first listened to the album “Supermodel” in its entirety, he wrote a poem about consumption, with verses such as “…I ate it all; plastic, diamonds…” and “…but for beauty I will gladly feed my life into the mouths of rainbows.” That poem is featured on the album cover, placed so that it appears that the model is throwing it up. She’s throwing up the poem about consumption because she can’t keep it down anymore: the skewed values, the unrealistic expectations, and the metaphorical brainwash of girls that makes them feel constantly subordinate and insecure. Body image is a colossal public and social issue in today’s society, and Foster the People addresses it brilliantly. Their music video is unorthodox. It’s harsh. It’s loud. It has an extraordinary shock value to it—one that’s essential when it comes to a subject as prevalent and established in modern society as that of body image. Foster the People’s “Best Friend” video empowers women in the sense that it brings to light the absurdness of the expectations forced upon them by society, but in a way that’s indirect—without outright saying it.

In today’s society, music, and all that it encompasses—bands, genres, music videos, albums—is so influential in terms of defining yourself. Foster the People did a great job in not only depicting how nonsensical society’s standards are, but also how disastrous it can be if you lose yourself by trying to achieve those standards.

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Sorry About the Hiatus

Hey guys,

I know I haven’t posted for a while; I’ve been busy having a SUPER COOL grown up full-time job as an online marketing intern for Top Draw Inc. It’s a web development/design/online marketing company here in Edmonton. They gave me access to their website’s blog, and they haven’t taken it back yet so I took advantage and posted an article about what it’s been like to work here for the first week. If you want to check it out, here it is. If not, please be patient and bear with me and I’ll publish some awesome face-melting posts soon.

GWAR’s Dave Brockie

So back in 2012, I had the extreme pleasure of seeing GWAR live at the Edmonton Events Centre. I had listened to them before, I knew what they were all about, I knew that they dressed up and sprayed blood on people and put on a hell of a show. But nothing prepared me for what I experienced that night.

It was the weirdest, most messed up, most hilarious, most entertaining show I have ever been to, by far. The props alone were ridiculous. And their costumes — oh my god. For those of you who don’t know what they look like on stage:

Gwar In Concert - Los Angeles, CA

They’re basically borderline satanic orcs whose slogan is: “We’re GWAR and we’re going to kick the shit out of you.” The people I went to the show with made me buy a plain white shirt, which they assured me will be forever known as my “GWAR shirt”, and thank god I listened. That shirt is now basically 100% red.  I had to throw out my contacts when I got home because they were tinted red too. I had red teeth, red arms, red hair. They know how to put on a hell of a show. But sadly, on March 23rd, GWAR’s frontman Dave Brockie, AKA Oderus Urungus, died. The cause of his death is still being determined, but what is sure is that the metal genre lost a legend. I don’t know if GWAR is going to continue without him. It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t; they had been together since the very beginning of GWAR in ’84. I remember I actually saw Dave Brockie at the show without his mask or costume on. He was rocking out to Cancer Bats, one of the opening bands (and one of my personal favourites). I just thought it was so cool that he was able to enjoy the music without barely anyone recognizing him before he goes on stage and rocks everyone’s brains out. It was cool that he had created a sort of alter-ego for himself.

Rolling Stone Magazine released an article with previously unseen, rare photos of the GWAR frontman. Go take a look, it’s a really cool album. This one’s my personal favourite:

20140324-gwar-04-x595-1395757930

Him and his mask before a show.

RIP, Oderus Urungus. Thanks for the coolest friggin’ show I’ve ever been to.

 

 

All Images Courtesy of Rolling Stone Magazine

QOTSA’s “Smooth Sailing”

Queens of the Stone Age finally released the music video for their song “Smooth Sailing” yesterday. The song is from their 2013 album …Like Clockwork, and was the song that stood out for me during my first listen-through of the album.

The video is extremely weird, but what else would you expect from Josh Homme? Nothing less than a bunch of business men getting screwed the heck up, that’s for sure. I’ve watched it a ton of times already since its release yesterday. It’s just beyond entertaining and SO QOTSA.

Check it out!

 

All images courtesy of Google images.

Pono — Where Your Soul Rediscovers Music

“PonoMusic takes all the musical goodness of artist-approved studio master recordings and puts it at your fingertips. Nothing has changed, but everything is gained, with resolutions from 6 times that of an mp3 to more than 30 times that of an mp3, depending on just how great the recording quality was on that original “high resolution” master.”

That quote was pulled from the official website for Pono — Neil Young’s new music player. In case you missed it, Neil Young is now raising funds for a new music download service that focuses on “high quality” recorded audio. It’s supposed to launch this October.

Neil Young started with all this Pono stuff almost three years ago, but the topic didn’t get much awareness until his appearance on The David Letterman Show, where he showed off a prototype of the player and explained what he was trying to do. In a nutshell, Neil Young aims to turn digital music around by getting music lovers and listeners closer to the quality of music as it was created by the artist. He points out that even the CD is a dumbed-down version of the original master recordings, devoid of its dynamics and detail, never mind an MP3, which can have as little as 5 percent of the original information.

The “PonoPlayer” will cost about #399 with 64GB of internal storage. It also comes with an additional removable 64GB micro SD card. The Pono press release stated that the PonoPlayer can store 100-500 high-resolution digital-music albums. The PonoMusic online store will sell earphones and headphones suitable for the portable music player.

Trent Reznor said, “Anything that elevates music back to where it should be is inherently cool. I have great admiration for Neil Young as an artist. But as a device I can’t pretend it doesn’t look a bit like a Toblerone.” And he has a point.

pono

I don’t know, it’s not too bad. I guess I could get used to it. What do you guys think? Are you interested in getting one in October? Will there be a drastic difference in sound quality and overall listening experience or will it simply be a waste of money? It’s a cool concept either way.

 

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.

My (tentative) Top 10 Artists

Here’s my list of my top ten artists. Other than the top three, the rest of the list will probably change within the next month. The order, that is. The bands themselves are pretty solid.

1. Queens of the Stone Age

I remember hearing “Little Sister” for the first time when I was in elementary school. The rest is history. Sweet, undying, unfaltering history.

2. Metallica

I don’t really need to explain this one, do I?

3. Coldplay

Coldplay has helped me through some rough times.They make me cry more than any other band. Don’t know if that’s bad or good, but hell, I love ’em.

4. Them Crooked Vultures

I don’t know if this is fair or not because they only have one album so far. But I mean, the band is made of QOTSA’s Josh Homme as vocals/guitar, Led Zeppelin’s bassist John Paul Jones, and Dave Grohl on drums. The album is absolutely incredible. There isn’t a song I don’t love by these guys. 

5. The Tragically Hip

Road Apples is one of my favourite albums of all time. 

6. Led Zeppelin

‘Cause, come on.

7. Black Sabbath

Refer to #6. I don’t want to say how many times I’ve listened to the entire Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album on repeat.

8. Arcade Fire

Refer to #3. They also make me cry uncontrollably. I’m seeing them in August at Rexall, so that should be interesting. 

9. Matthew Good

Also refer to #3. I’ve seen Matt Good three times and each time was absolutely unreal.

10. Our Lady Peace

‘Cause Raine Maida. Also, when Superman’s Dead is on, I lose it. Clumsy is amazing.

I had the worst time of my life making this list. I can’t commit to anything. But yeah, this is what I finally came up with. I was fighting for a spot for The Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam and Muse but in the end, it just didn’t happen. Like I said, this list will probably look different in a few months, except for the top three. Those three have always been the top three and will always be the top three, without question.

What do you think? Who’s in your top ten?

 

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.

“It’s a Long Way to the Top if You Want to Rock and Roll”

When it comes to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ACDC said it best. It takes 25 years after the release of an artist’s first debut album for them to become eligible to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And that’s a long, long wait. If I had started a band when I was first born, which is a stupid analogy but just go with it, I’d still have to wait five years to be just eligible. And the wait alone isn’t guaranteed to get you in. You have to demonstrate some contribution to the “development and perception of rock n’ roll.”

This year, Nirvana joins a list of artists who were immediately inducted in their first year of eligibility. The list includes Led Zeppelin, Neil Young and Elton John.

A lot of artists will be eligible for induction within the next five years.

The Notorious B.I.G. will be eligible in 2019; his debut album Ready to Die came out in 1994.

Outkast will also be eligible in 2019. Their debut album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (yeah, I dunno) came out in 1994. They’ve won six Grammys so far.

Weezer will ALSO be eligible in 2019. Their debut album Weezer came out in 1994, along with seemingly all the other debut albums in the world, ever known to man.

Dave Matthews Band will be eligible in 2018. The group’s first album Remember Two Things came out in 1993.

Dr. Dre will be eligible in 2017; The Chronic came out in ’92.

Rage Against the Machine will be eligible in 2017. This makes me extremely excited because I loved their debut self-titled album, even though it came out in ’92, before I was even born.

2Pac will be eligible for induction in 2016. His debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, hit the shelves in ’92.

Blur will also be eligible in 2016. Their debut album Leisure came out in late 1991.

PEARL JAM WILL BE ELIGIBLE IN 2016 and if they aren’t immediately inducted, I don’t know what I’ll do. Ten came out in ’91.

Smashing Pumpkins will be eligible in 2016. Gish came out in ’91.

Hole will also be eligible in 2016. Pretty on the Inside came out in 1991. Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain could be reunited.

Green Day will be eligible next year. 36/Smooth came out in 1990.

Oasis’ Definitely Maybe came out in ’94, making them eligible for induction in 2019.

Beck will be eligible in 2018, 25 years after the release of Golden Feelings in 1993.

Radiohead will be eligible in 2018, 25 years after the release of Pablo Honey in 1993.

Just to quench your thirst for knowledge, here’s a list of all the Rock and Roll inductees so far since 1986.

What do you think? Will any of these artists get inducted immediately or at all?

 

All Images Courtesy of Google Images.