Monday, December 27, 2010

Favorite Songs of 2010

Well it's time for my annual report of my favorite songs of the year as well as album of the year.

I am well aware that this type of post is very "high-school paper"ish but bear with me, I like to write about my music and it gives me an excuse to create a list and pop culture people love lists.

So here goes. My top songs and album of the year for 2010.

A few brief notes. To be one of my songs of the year, it doesn't have to be a song released in 2010. It just has to be discovered by me in 2010. These are songs that took up a significant portion of my listening this year. For better or worse.

6. "Derezzed" by Daft Punk. From the Tron Legacy Soundtrack.

It's no secret that I am a very big fan of Daft Punk. Many of us have been waiting for a LONG time to get our hands on some new material. Their last album "Human After All" has grown better with time but overall, it was a bit of a let down. The combination of Daft Punk and Tron seemed too good to be true. And after listening to the final soundtrack, it's largely hit or miss, but I'll take it.
"Derezzed" was the single and is Daft Punk at their finest. It's a shame more of the soundtrack didn't have this soul to it.

5. "I Walked" by Sufjan Stevens from the album "The Age."

I'm not a big fan of Sufjan Stevens but I somehow got a hold of this song and I think it's vibe and lyrics are killer. Plus I always like the combination of electronic music with general pop/rock. I can't say I was a huge fan of the rest of the album but this song struck a chord.

4. "Tres Brujas" by the Sword from the album "Warp Riders."

When it comes to simple, heavy hard rock, The Sword has it down to a fine science. "Freya" is one of my all-time favorite hard rock songs and this album produced more great tunes. It's not quite on the level of "Freya" but it's hard not to headbang like it's the early 1990s to this one.

3. "Alejandro" by Lady Gaga from the album "The Fame Monster."

I know I'll get made fun of for this one but I've always said that I'll never lie about the music I like. Good pop music is good pop music period. And this is good pop music. Take away all the weird outfits, bizarre behavior and just listen to the song. It's catchy and beats everything else in mainstream pop music world right now.

2. "The Best One Yet" by Black Eyed Peas from the album "The Beginning."

I can't help it. This song is catchy and I listened to it a lot this year. Sue me. If you tell me it isn't catchy, you're lying! The stupid Dirty Dancing song has really made people think this album is worse than it really is.

Favorite Song of the Year: "I'm Not Your Toy" by La Roux from the self-titled album.

Great song. It's very easy to listen to but has more of a soul to it than some of the other pop songs out there. The sound of the synthesizers gives it a retro 80s feel while Eleanor Kate Jackson's voice is so unique with it's high pitch and emotion. This song is a perfect example of why it is important NOT to use auto tone with a voice, even if the actual music is electronic. The emotion is much too important.

Album of the Year: "La Roux" by "La Roux"

This album came out of nowhere and snatched up my 2010 album choice last minute. Like I said earlier, the album had been out for a while but I would just read the great reviews and never buy it. Well I finally got it and not surprisingly, it's awesome.
It's a great mix of 80s synthesizer with some great lyrics and songwriting. All of the songs are great in their own unique way. I'm glad it showed up because I was probably going to have to give album of the year to the Black Eyed Peas and while i like that album, it was going to be hard to give it album of the year.

So there you have it. After looking back, I can say that 2010 was the year I found pop music again. Now whether or not that is a good or bad thing. I don't know, but that's what happened.

Happy listening!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

DVR isn't the Enemy

After working for years in media research related to TV advertising, there has always been one question that I am asked about on a regular basis.

"How are Digital Video Recorders (DVR) affecting commercials?"

It's a very legitimate question, as we know, much of the talk revolving DVR is the ability to skip through the commercials.
I've helped my teams with many objections such as:

"Nobody sees my commercial because they are skipping through it."

"People are not watching the program live anymore so how is my commercial going to be relavent?

"Viewers don't flip through channels anymore, they simply look at the guide."

These are all great questions but after a few years of watching DVR come to fruition, It's effect on the normal 30 second commercial will not be the weapon of media mass destruction many think it will be.

In a survey done by Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, 62% of those surveyed said they had used DVR technology at some point.

Scarborough tells us that Louisville falls right in line at 63%

That is a high percentage and it will continue to grow, but in that same survey, many said that if they didn't have DVR, they probably wouldn't even be watching. They would be surfing the internet or reading a book instead. There simply isn't time to analyze what and when a show is on.
So in one sense, it is keeping our viewers engaged in Television and Nielsen Research agrees. This year Nielsen announced that Americans are spending more time watching TV each day than they ever have, and DVR users watch more TV than those without.
So we have our audience, we just have to continue to make sure we can reach them to the best of our ability as technology continues to emerge.

...Here is a crazy thought. What if DVR actually helps advertisers?

Live is still the preferred method for viewing
  • 76% of all viewing is still done "live" even when a DVR is in the home, with sports programming especially.
A break is not a bad thing
  • Viewers like the breaks. The phone rings, they need a chip re-fill, or another beer. Taking a break during a show gives viewers the chance to catch their breath. Even in playback mode, 40% of commercials are still fully watched.
No flipping the channel or leaving the room.
  • When in playback, viewers don't change the channel to watch other shows during the break or leave the room near to the extend that they used to. And people have been doing that for years!
The DVR user is a captive viewer

  • When a viewer is fast-forwarding through commercials on their DVR, they are focused on the screen. We've all done it. You don't want to miss a portion of the show, so you watch closely to make sure you stop fast-forwarding at the right time. Companies are beginning to leave their name and logo on their commercial longer so it leaves an impression. If the creative is strong, viewers will regularly stop fast-forwarding and rewind to watch the commercial. I do it all the time.

DVR isn't the threat. It still records programming at specific times and has a focused viewer with their eyes on the screen during the commercial break. It is nothing that creativity and adaptation can't fix.

Now as for Internet based TV.........

Sources: Nielsen Media Research. "How DVRs are changing the landscape. 2010.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Working with the Honda Dream motorcycle

I have been helping my Dad restore a 1960s Honda Dream motorcycle. Today was the fun process of painting all of the necessary parts. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mashup King Strikes Again

You wouldn’t think that Miley Cyrus’ song “Party in the U.S.A” and the hardcore rap group M.O.P.’s “Ante Up” would particularly go well together, but when you actually hear these two songs mashed together as one song, the sound surprisingly feels comfortable.

Welcome to the newest album “All Day” by the one man group “Girl Talk” AKA Gregg Gillis.

Gillis has been making or “modifying” music sinc

e his first album “Secret Diary” in 2002.

SO what makes this so unique


His entire album consist of samples from existing songs, modified and combined with each other to great a new type of song. I know your first reaction is probably like mine.

What a rip off!

but after giving it a decent listen, there is something slightly addictive about it The uncanny way some of these songs mash together is very fun to experience. It helps that a lot of the songs are well known hits from past years, so the album actually takes on a second role as a type of “game” trying to guess which songs the samples are from.

“All Day” is Gillis’ most ambitious album to date, clocking in a 70 minutes long. If you sit through the entire album, you will be exhausted by the end. It never lets up and pummels you without a break for the entire 70 minutes.

That’s my number one cri

tique. It would be nice if he could occasionally slow things down a bit. At the end of the day it will totally wear you out, but if you are trying a dance party, this album will be sure to get it going.

Whether you like it or hate it, It’s very unique, and a sure fire hit if you a planning a party in the near future.

A few of my favorite mashups from the album:

  • Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” on top of Ludacris’ “Move Bitch”
  • Cyndi Lauper’s “Time after Time” on top of Young Dro’s “Freeze Me”
  • Phoenix’s “1901” on top of Ludacris’ “How Low.”
  • Neil Diamond’s “Cherry, Cherry” on top of Crooked I’s “Everythang”
  • Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” on top of Young MC’s “Bust a Move.”

So how does Gillis get away with all of this supposed copyright infringement?

Thanks to Fair Use laws Gillis is able to sample the songs without the threat of getting sued. (For now).

In another break from the norm, Gillis made his album available as a free download on his website

His site crashed several times on November 16th when he released “All Day.”

So give the album a listen. After a while it may seem a little to frantic but it’s fun to listen to for a while, and if you need some good music to jog to, I guarantee this will give you some extra miles.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Practice makes perfect

Do you play a musical instrument?

If so, how much do you practice? How long did you have to practice and perform the “Grunt work” before you could start playing pieces efficiently?

If I decided to learn to play guitar today, I wouldn’t be playing the songs I want to play by tomorrow. I’m going to have to learn my notes, practice my chords, and memorize them. If I consistently practice every day for an hour at 5 P.M, in a few months I’ll be better and will be at a level where I will begin to play some quality songs.

But I have to practice consistently or I won’t be playing guitar as well as I could be.

If I skip practicing a couple days, try to cram it all in at one time, or worst of all, not practice at all for an extended period of time, I’m not going to be the player I want to be.

Advertising is very similar. Ultimately you want to see increased sales, but you have to build up to them. Your message and advertising has to stay consistent as you “practice for those increased sales.”

The media world is so fragmented and there are so many messages bombarding viewers, it takes time for them to see your message, learn who you are, and put you top of mind.

…And just like practicing the guitar, your advertising has to be consistent and steady. If you practice the guitar for 5 straight hours on your first night, you won’t be playing classical guitar the next day.

The same with advertising. If you devote all your advertising to one short time period, you won’t see the maximum results right away.

The worst thing you can do is to stop practicing all together, then the only sure thing you do know is that you will not become the player you want to be.

Here is the lesson. To successfully learn how to play a musical instrument, you have to have a planned out, consistent practice routine. You can’t skip days, cram, or stop practicing.

Same thing with your advertising. You need a planned out and consistent message campaign. When you have that and you stick to it, the results will come.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What exactly is time off?

Warning, I'm typing this "off the cuff." Not internal "checker" is not turned on so take that for what its worth.

I've been thinking lately. What is "time off"? What is a weekend off supposed to be? Is it a day where you have nothing to do? If you spend and entire day off at the park and visiting relatives does that still count as time off?

Those closest to me know that I can be a bit of a prick when it comes to my time off. I want my Sunday off to consist of NOTHING planned. I can literally wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night having had nothing planned to do.

What I'm finding out is that when you have a full day of absolutely nothing planned, it's nice but its not as rewarding as getting out there and socializing at a park or taking a road trip. The human brain needs stimulation and interaction. Too much time alone gets depressing.

That's why I never complain about going to work because while it pays the bills, it also keeps me active and interacting with others out there. If I didn't have that, what would I do?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Favorite Album of All-Time

Well after more than 10 years of never really knowing for sure and having new music and albums come and go, during my drive to Lexington this morning I finally made up my mind about what my favorite album of all-time is.

I have a lot of albums I really like but I have never been able to pin down which one is my definitive NUMBER ONE favorite. But that is no longer a problem because this morning my mind was made up.

...But before I spill the beans, here are some honorable mentions. Keep in mind these albums are not just albums I "like." these are classics in my book.

3rd Runner Up

Metallica: "Black Album"

A true classic. The Black Album was responsible for me entering my teen years. Although it didn't really take place during the album's actual release date, it was the album that propelled me into my teenage years. 1998 and 1999. My favorite story is being stuck on a ride at the County Fair because the lap restraint would not unlock. I was stuck with my ear about 2 feet from a giant speaker piping out "Enter Sandman."
I bought the album the very next day.

2nd Runner Up:

Tool. "AEnima"

This band is weird but I love them and this album has been a favorite of mine since 2000. Maynard's voice is so unique and his lyrics are amazing. Their videos may be a little far out but I can't criticize somebody for being different!
I always thought it was funny how religious groups went after Marlyn Manson even thought he was doing nothing more than getting publicly. At the same time you had Tool with REAL far out beliefs on religion, many which were more threatening and nobody paid attention.

1st Runner Up

Daft Punk: "Discovery"

I was up early one morning and the weird Japanese anime video for "One More Time" was shown on MTV. I'm not a big fan of anime or anything but something about it just grabbed me. The next day I saw the album in the mall and bought it figuring I would a least like a few songs off of it.
Almost 10 years later, the CD is still sitting out in my truck being listened to at least once a week. It's the catchiest, best dance/electronic album ever. Some purest say it sounds too much like disco but who cares. It's great. Go buy it.

I can't embed it but watch the video that got me hooked here.

...And now for my favorite album of all time.

Weezer: "Blue Album"

This album is perfect.

It was one of the first albums I got which steered me into the world of rock. My cousin Andy and I got it roughly around the same time. I remember singing "Undone, the Sweater Song." as a confused 13 year old.

I still listen to this album all the time. Not only are they the most catchy, well-written pop songs ever, but the mixing and production is so perfect. I've yet to hear an album that gives it's guitars the "Crunch" sound this one gives them.

Every song is a must listen, and what can we say about "Say it Ain't So."?

I remember ploying through that song on the video game "Rock Band" when it first came out. (I can sing it really well).

...And of course I haven't mentioned the behemoth that is "Buddy Holy" and the Happy Days music video they made.

It's a great album and today I make it official. As of right now, it's my favorite album of all-time. Nobody should be with out it. Here are some highlight below.


Buddy Holiday

In the Garage (live)

Only in Dreams

Undone: The Sweater Song