Welcome to another Off Notes weekly round-up of the best the musical internet has to offer. This week is a real pop-music sandwich–we spent Monday morning huddled around the coffee machine dissecting the Superbowl halftime show and this afternoon have been considering how we feel about the Grammys (largely meh, though we like that they’ve become so performance-based!).
What we’ve been reading
- As one does when trying to process fraught relationships, we turned to Google to tell us how to feel about “Music’s Biggest Night”. Tom Barnes at .Mic delivered a pretty compelling argument about how the Grammys are irrelevant, bad for music, and backwards-looking. But that’s not to say the awards show hasn’t been trying. They’re embracing new media, streaming the telecast for free online, and announcing nominees via Twitter, and Producer Ken Ehlrich’s efforts to put performances, rather than acceptance speeches, at the heart of the ceremony have turned it into one of the most enjoyable awards shows out there. But, at the end of the day, it’s hard to top The Simpson’s sharp commentary on the subject…
- We were all pretty big fans of the Katy Perry, Missy Elliot, Lenny Kravitz halftime show at the Super Bowl this weekend. But our favorite reflection on the big game wound up being about the national anthem! Popbitch put together an incredibly well-annotated look back at how every singer for the past 25 years has embellished upon “The Star Spangled Banner” and made it their own. So jealous we didn’t think of this first! [Popbitch]
- I love when Jimmy Kimmel makes people read mean tweets. This week’s Music Edition 2 did not disappoint. [JKL on Youtube]
- Last thing about pop stars: Madonna released her new music video on Snapchat. This industry is bonkers. [Billboard]
- The New York Times produced a tear-jerking mini-documentary on the power of music, profiling a teacher and student in a Chilean mining town whose lives intertwine over a shared love of the language of sound. [NY Times]
- I guess adorable, musical, South American families have been another theme this week, because we also found this:
- There are four million songs on Spotify that have never been played before, not even once. Forgotify has set out to change that. [Forgotify]
- Talib Kweli wrote a dissertation on leaving the major label system and his attempts to answer the question “how do you monetize cultural relevancy?” [Medium]
- We should have taken our own advice and gone to the Tinnitus show last week–Bjork showed up! [Bushwick Daily]
- I could not tear myself away from this behind-the-scenes clip of Michael Jackson, Cindy Lauper, Huey Lewis, and more recording “We are the World”. Cindy Lauper is wearing a shirt made out of feathers, and it takes her a full five minutes to remove the necklaces she’s wearing because they’re jangling in the recording. [Huey Lewis on Facebook]
- Chick Corea is going on back-to-back tours with Herbie Hancock and Bobby McFerrin! [Chick Corea]
What we’ve been listening to
Here are some of our favorite tunes for your weekend:
- Talib Kweli you say? I will take any excuse to put on this oldie but goodie!
- This chose-your-own-adventure online concert is SO COOL. The Tate Modern has created an interactive performance of Terry Riley’s “In C” performed by Master Musicians from Mali. You can watch from different angles, single out particular instruments, access Tate Modern art, click for pop-up-video-style facts, and so much more.
- We spent all of lunch on Wednesday rediscovering The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute. You should too.
I’m already hard at work putting together pro- and anti-Valentines Day playlists to include in next week’s Off Notes. Please share all of your favorite romantic and/or defiant tunes in the comments below! In the meantime, please enjoy our song of the week — a local access TV commercial deftly transformed into a free jazz masterpiece!