Thursday, May 17, 2007

Rick Dees and His Cast Of Idiots, "Barely White (That'll Get It Baby)" (1977)

I intend to use the blog mostly to discuss songs I like, but this time I wanted to call your attention to this forgotten flop single from the creator of "Disco Duck." Ostensibly a parody of a certain R&B singer, with the Caucasian-American Dees performing both the egotistical seducer and his reluctant female prey in mock "black" accents, it manages to be at once incredibly offensive and totally unfunny... a magic combination. It's definitely worth a spin just to hear how ill-conceived and clueless an attempt at humor can be: the concluding watermelon reference is jaw-dropping.

The thing that strikes me, though, is that Rick Dees, a working DJ at the time the song was released, emerged unscathed from the experience, and is working in radio to this day. (The song was banned, allegedly, though I can't believe it would have gotten significant airplay in any case.) Thirty years later, one-time Dees competitor Don Imus was tossed out on his ear for racist comments which were rather milder and unpremeditated: unlike Imus, Dees wrote, recorded, released and distributed his song with the knowledge and consent of his corporate masters. Now make no mistake, I'm glad Imus is no longer on the radio, and I hope he never comes back. But why do you think the reaction is so different today than it was thirty years ago? Because we've become overly sensitive and quick to take umbrage? Hardly: in 70s terms, the disc was offensive to anyone who wasn't a George Wallace voter. Because there are no more significant examples of racism left to confront? Guess again. Because the opportunists who've been annointed by the media as "spokesmen for the African-American community" are more interested in cheap stunts than any meaningful attempts to critique the prevailing power structures? You're getting warmer.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

"That Summer Song With The Huge Guitar Hook" (1999?)

Is anyone working on a search engine that identifies a scrap of melody? Let's say with a piano-like interface where you tap in a melody, it plays back to confirm you entered it right, and then it searches a database? I would use a site like that constantly. For years I've been trying to find a song that was all over the radio in the summer of 1999 or maybe 2000. I think it was a one-hit wonder, a pop-rock band with a guy singer, and the hook went more or less like this:


Catchy as viral meningitis, as I recall. I might want to pick up their album, if I knew who they were...