Shut Up, Dude: This Week’s Best Comments

Shut Up, Dude: This Week’s Best Comments

The 65th annual Music’s Biggest Night™ is happening at the Arena on Sunday and we will have to report on it, so I hope you will join us. It’s my daughter’s birthday that day and she does not want me to work so we’ll see how that goes. If you’ll need some liquid courage, you know what to do…

Take a shot if:

  • Trevor Noah makes a TikTok joke
  • Trevor Noah makes a Kanye joke
  • Trevor Noah makes a Ticketmaster joke
  • There are more than three Paramount+ commercials
  • Someone throws food at Harry Styles
  • Machine Gun Kelly wears something wacky
  • Taylor Swift mouths along to every song from the audience
  • Beyoncé thanks Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
  • Someone mispronounces Måneskin

Down the whole bottle if Jack Harlow wins Best Rap Album.


Saint Nothing
Score: 17 | Jan 30th

Meanwhile, in the UK…

A much loved Hot 100 #2 starting a nine week run at the top, the longest running number one for twelve years. It had leaked to and been played on BBC Radio 1 by Zane Lowe towards the end of 2005 and was later used in television advertising for the station, leading to it not only becoming the then most downloaded song in British history but the first to top the singles chart before its physical release.

Posted in: The Number Ones: Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day”
Score: 17 | Jan 28th

Marquee Moon was a game changer for me. A stone cold classic that bridged the worlds of CBGBs art punk and 70s radio guitar heroics but was better than both of them. The best debut album of all time and a rare cult record that would be held in even higher regard if given greater exposure outside of punk and indie circles. RIP.

Posted in: Television’s Tom Verlaine Dead At 73
Jalapeño Finn
Score: 18 | Jan 30th

Yesterday, after listening to “Bad Day”, I went outside on a good sunny day (not too many of these around here) and ran into our cat Jalapeño Finn, who always looks like he is having a bad day. Finn was staring at me, sitting on the back of the old Ford pickup, I believe he was communicating to me “When are you gonna get this old thing going and take me for a ride around the block?” But I knew what Finn really wanted, the CBD catnip from a local cannabis dispensary. I didn’t get the truck started, been several years since that happened, but we had a good day, anyway. Poor Finn, he had to listen to me attempt to sing, “Oh you neeeed a blue sky holidaaayay……”

Moral of the story, no criticisms from me on “Bad Day”, just listen and let the music be the guide, and enjoy the day, bad or good.

Posting another “Bad Day’ song

Posted in: The Number Ones: Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day”
Score: 19 | Jan 26th

I will write my own review of it right here baby:

As most SG commenters know, I am full of shit and I also love Billy Corgan way too much. I have for a really long time. Every public mistake, every shitty album, every embarrassing quote, I’m here for it, baby. I love Billy. I love his massive ego and his thin skin. I LOVE his awful voice. I love TheFutureEmbrace. (Really!) Billy is basically the rock n roll Trump but way more pale and actually able to admit that he’s bald. (I could go way further with this Billy/Trump analogy but it is actually way too depressing to think about how accurate the comparison is so I had to stop). I have Pumpkins’ music in my soul and I will never stop listening to him even if he did block me on Instagram (he really did!).

It’s tough being a Billy Corgan fan. It’s even tougher being a Billy Corgan fan who missed the Pumpkins’ heyday. I didn’t get to live the cool Billy Corgan era. I got to live the “Billy on a rollercoaster” era. My first new Pumpkins album was Zeitgeist. Zeitgeist is a very bad album and it is also possibly the most inaccurately named album of all-time because rock albums w/ strangely metallic backing vocals (not metallic like music but metallic like someone yelling into an aluminum pipe) produced by Roy Thomas Baker in 2007 were definitely NOT the zeitgeist. (Maybe if Billy made an album w/ Timbaland but someone beat him to it. I love that album, too.) I remember my math teacher burning me a CD w/ the new Pumpkins’ single “Tarantula” on it and I still remember the sinking feeling I felt in my 17 year old soul as I sat listening to it through my cassette tape adapter in my 1988 Chevy pickup.

I will defend Zeitgeist and most of his other 21st century things because I’ve listened to them so much that the hate and cringe has curdled into a fondness. Look at Billy, reuniting the Pumpkins! Look at Billy, making an electronic solo album! Look at Billy, making an album where Tommy Lee plays the drums! Look at Billy, working with Rick Rubin about 30 years after working with Rick Rubin was cool to do!

And finally, look at Billy, making Christian rock!

Zwan has more Jesus on it than a wafer in an altar boy’s mouth in 1972 Boston. Almost every song alludes to Jesus at some point. It is the cliched “white guy gets existential dread and turns to God” cranked up to Corgan levels. And you know what?

It’s fucking awesome.

Zwan is the only thing Billy has done in the 21st century that normal people could like. Billy couldn’t be this breezy again and he fucking LIVES in Chicago. Listening to it today I still can’t believe how HAPPY he sounds. It’s insane! This is a dude who complained to Kim Thayil about success when he was super successful! This man could take a 75 degree Sunday w/ a book in a hammock and turn it into squirrel poop.


Billy genuinely sounds like he’s having a blast and the music reflects that. It’s jubilant and celebratory and even the ballads ache sweetly. It has bangers. It is fun. It is everything Billy is not.

Lyric and Settle Down and Honestly have skyscraper hooks that he hasn’t been able to write since. (There are no hooks on Atum and there are still two more parts. Ugh.) Baby Let’s Rock! and Yeah! manage to be both thrilling and laidback. Ride a Black Swan chugs in U2 fashion. El Sol has some embarrassing lyrics but it works. DOF kicks ass. This is a dude with the pressure of being in a huge band off of him and it works. It works so so well. He even calls back to the Pumpkins on the fucking epic title track AND IT IS WAY MORE PUMPKINS-SOUNDING THAN ALL THESE 2000s-10s-20s PUMPKINS’ ALBUMS.

So naturally it had to end in a flaming plane crash.

I ran out of characters for this comment but hey, I tried.

Posted in: Mary Star Of The Sea Turns 20
Score: 20 | Feb 1st

For me, it’s been a tough ride through the Soundscan era. The average quality of the Billboard #1s improved a bit once we got into the rhythmic era of the 2000s, but I’ve still just been giving a lot of 5s and 6s, rarely coming across songs I had any real affection for. Today’s #1 marks a turning point, the moment when US chart-toppers more frequently started to converge with the dance-pop that was topping charts in Europe (and which I actually liked). I know it’s technically 2 years too early, but I might even describe “SOS” as the first Obama-era #1, because we’re going to get a lot more songs in this style over the next 10 years, and I’m going to be giving out a lot more ratings like today’s 9/10.

Posted in: The Number Ones: Rihanna’s “SOS”
Vivek Maddala
Score: 24 | Jan 30th

Unlike Tom Breihan, I wouldn’t dismiss “Bad Day” so quickly. While there’s nothing at all groundbreaking (or in any way innovative) about the song compositionally, it does use familiar musical devices in satisfying ways. Here are some of them:

(1) The song’s chorus melody features repeated patterns, with its pitches and rhythms forming something of an ostinato-like figure, while the chords change underneath. It’s the repeated pattern that forms an accessible hook — one that can easily implant itself in your brain. However, the moving harmony that undergirds it keeps it from feeling monotonous. To wit, check out the melodic notes and rhythms on the lines “…You had a bad day / You’re taking one down / You sing a sad song just to turn it around….” It’s a banal diatonic melody that stays strictly in Eb (with no deviation), but it still resonates emotionally because of what’s happening in the harmony.

(2) What is happening in the harmony? The chords in the chorus begin with a standard pop I-IV-ii-V progression, which is familiar and pleasant enough. But after the first two cycles of this, we get a lovely progression that descends stepwise from the 6th scale degree (C minor), and it works because of the inversions in the second and fourth chords: Cmin, Gmin/Bb, Ab, Eb/G, Fmin7, Bb. The Cmin to Gmin/Bb chord change possesses a rich, poignant sound reminiscent of 19th-Century European Romanticism — and specifically, of composers like Chopin and late-period Beethoven. (It’s the vi to the iii in first inversion.) As the progression continues, the Ab–>Eb/G–>Fmin7 chord changes invoke classic Elton John (as inverted chords are one of Elton’s trademarks as a songwriter). Tom Breihan mentioned that Powter sounds like Elton in the bridge, but that’s not the only connection here. Chord inversions might seem incidental or unimportant, but because they’re inherently “unstable” (as opposed to chords in root position), they imbue the passage with a sense of momentum. They create a subtle yearning to resolve.

(3) The bridge is worth examining because of the unusual key change. Prior to the bridge, Powter hangs on the ii chord (Fmin7) for an extra bar, temporarily implying the ii will substitute for the V chord that we’ve been trained to expect. It’s a variation of “prolongation” — a musical device found in Schenkerian analysis. But instead of returning to the familiar pattern, he modulates up a half step to F#Maj, making that the new key center. This is surprising given that F# is a minor 3rd above our previous key center, Eb. It should sound jarring, but it doesn’t because the F#Maj is a Neapolitan chord (bII scale degree) relative to the Fmin7 that Powter just used in his “prolongation.” Then he proceeds to ping-pong back and forth between this F#Maj and BMaj (the IV chord in the new key center). In order to return to the original key center, Eb, he pivots to its V chord, Bb, using the “common note” method. (“Common note” is one of several elegant ways to achieve a key change, and pivoting to the V chord of the new key center makes the modulation sound not only natural, but inevitable.) Well done, Powter.

(4) In the final chorus, Powter makes a change to the aforementioned descending chord progression that starts on Cmin. Instead of moving down stepwise diatonically in Eb, he moves chromatically: Cmin, B+ (augmented), Eb/Bb, Amin7b5 (or A-half-diminished), Ab. This creates a heightened sense of drama and allows him to inject the “blue note,” Gb, which he bends up in his vocal melody on the B augmented chord. It’s the kind of thing you might do when playing a guitar solo over a passage like this and it’s a marvelous way to conclude the song.

(5) This is an important one… coming in the next message.

Posted in: The Number Ones: Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day”
Score: 25 | Feb 1st

So, today’s my birthday (lots of trips around the sun), and my gift is getting a #1 song I actually remember! It’s gonna be a great day!

Posted in: The Number Ones: Rihanna’s “SOS”
you beautiful bastard.
Score: 26 | Jan 28th

Such a massively important figure. Alternative rock doesn’t exist without him, and neither does indie.

73 is too young. RIP to a giant.

Posted in: Television’s Tom Verlaine Dead At 73
Score: 27 | Jan 29th

they may have lost the gig, but they have earned honor, which is eternal

Posted in: Indie Supergroup Who Is She? Dropped As Seattle Kraken House Band After Dissing Jeff Bezos In Amazon Arena
Score: 34 | Jan 30th

Rage and hatred are not sustainable states of being, they can really take a toll on those who carry them for too long. I think the greatest thing about art is it’s ability to contain the uglier aspects of being and allow people to work and move through them. Creating that kind of art is no easy feat and often people don’t appreciate the gravity of that. I think it is so beautiful that Nick Cave has been able to find some grace though all the hardships he has faced and I am so thankful that he continues to create art that resonates so deeply.

Posted in: Nick Cave Responds To Fan Who Misses His Rage And Hatred: “Things Changed After My First Son Died”


Laura V Albert
Jan 28th

Hi Phil!

I appreciate your looking at Zwan’s Mary record. I think it’s a classic, and Black Swan is an emotionally exuberant piece which I wish would be played by Corgan again.

I wanted to let you know, Billy Corgan knew JT LeRoy was an avatar at the time of our interview, and he fully protected me. Like me, he was someone who had survived abuse – and he was mocked for talking about it, specifically in Spin. So it was important to him that his interviewer be someone who came from a similar landscape. He did not care why I needed to disguise my voice, disguise myself. He simply understood that I needed to do so, and that was enough for him. He’d read my work and he recognized what I was expressing, the truth and humor and sorrow in my books – which were always sold as fiction.

When you write that the interview was ”written, hilariously, by literary con artist JT LeRoy,” I would suggest to you that the interview was actually rather poignant, and that to call me a con artist is to take on the dominant culture media language of that era – a language which arose when I was outed as the writer behind the pseudonym JT LeRoy. 

That was over 15 years ago – our understanding of trauma and creativity has progressed since then. I am sure you have updated your way of using language to express gender fluidity, as well as your understanding of the language of identity and how it continuously evolves in order to allow a deeper understanding of ourselves.

JT LeRoy is now understood as a literary artist. There was no “con” – unless you define all art and fiction as a con. A recent article in Bomb explores this:

Corgan certainly did not feel conned by my interviewing him. It was actually his stipulation that he would do a new Spin article ONLY if JT LeRoy was assigned to interview him. Again, this is with his full knowledge that I was JT LeRoy. He knew that I understood his having come from abuse and what that fosters. In a previous Spin interview, Billy risked being vulnerable and talked about what he had experienced as a child – and then he was cynically accused of using that to sell records. This was at a time when few if any major rock stars were exposing their underbellies of trauma. There was no language for it, and so the dominant culture did what it tends to do: funnel everything into a capitalistic motive – you are saying this to sell records. It was horrible and cynical and cruel. And for all the fans who recognized exactly what Corgan was exploring in his lyrics and felt their pain being expressed, this kind of observer bias in the media, refuting the experience, was devastating.

Corgan’s lyrics are heartfelt. They are not manipulated to go with a cultural swing. He is often ahead of the curve, and by having JT LeRoy interview him, we both were free to express the ways we felt masked and unheard in our art.

Again, that’s not a con, that’s clarity. 

In the intro for my Spin interview, I wrote: “Corgan and I first collided in cyberspace, on a Beyoncé Knowles chatboard. We exchanged heated emails arguing who was better suited to woo our lady of veneration.”

(This was an agreed upon bit of humor – who doesn’t love Beyoncé?) 

“Eventually, we stopped thumping our chests long enough to admire one another’s peacock tail. We decided I would be the lone trusted chronicler of his tale, for Corgan felt burned by the press. Even when he first talked about his traumatic childhood, in the most vulnerable of terms, he was accused of exploiting his past to sell records. But me? I know the authenticity of my friend’s heart.”

And this was the ironic truth of the situation. I know the authenticity of my friend’s heart. And he knew mine! 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Yours, Laura Albert


Posted in: Mary Star Of The Sea Turns 20

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