1. Just uploaded PopOff! Monday Music: God Save Queen to Mixcloud. Listen now!

     

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  4. The Queen And King: Did Their Stature Pop?

    The internet is awash with rants and raves and trolls and super fans, and it only seems to get more pronounced each year as the divides grow in people. And while it is all more or less personal opinion how can one separate “opinions” from real studied criticism? This isn’t a new question but I found it coming to the fore recently when I was putting together the featured artist episode on Madonna and Michael Jackson and their merits in music and their legacies. It seems despite all the tabloid myth surrounding the King of Pop he has weathered much better than Madonna, at least in the US. Abroad Madonna is doing just fine. Maybe this is because he has passed on and thus now his mythology begins. Madonna however, at least in the on-line forums seems to be in a career nosedive (ignoring booming concert and album sales worldwide). The word is out that Madonna’s work post Music has no longer been that of a woman fully in charge of her direction but an artist attaching themselves to what’s hip (i.e. Timbaland for production duties on Hard Candy and a duet with Justin Timberlake).

    Sure, the Queen paid her dues to get there. But I find myself agreeing with the sentiment that she should be making more mature albums and not trying to be a Like A Virgin girl in a Ray Of Light Body. I admit I was sort put off by the title of one of her recent singles, “Girl Gone Wild”. Listen, your highness, you’re not a girl anymore, own it! Be the badass woman you were meant to be, join Cher’s “Woman’s World”, not to suggest Cher ever released anything “mature” and not pure dance pop. Madonna, what made you relevant was not who you cozied up to be hip but being the woman who, “Wanted to conquer the world”.

    Michael on the other hand despite his torrid tabloid empire seems to be experiencing an on-line rebirth, his later albums/singles getting new and positive reappraisal. People are asking more frequently, “What were his best non- hits”. DJs are spinning parties where they throw in a lot of minor hits and non-singles. Though most people in the US don’t know that much of what we panned in the 90s the worldwide market loved as is often the case with our icons. Case in point, Earth Song went #1 in 15 countries and was his biggest hit in the UK. While songs like Who Is It, Blood On The Dancefloor, They Don’t Care About Us, and Stranger in Moscow are all now starting to be seen great recordings worthy of the King of Pop Legacy whereas before it was Thriller, Off The Wall, and then Bad (in that order) that defined him. Even his Invisible album is talked about with a new reverence, like we just didn’t “get it” on the first round like most people don’t get Trout Mask Replica on their first date with it, if at all. Is this some sort of societal guilt being played out because we all got so swept up in the court cases and weird tabloid spectacle instead of focusing on the great music?

    Now, Madonna managed to make a spectacle both artistically and in the tabloids and somehow merge them to come out on top back in the late 80s and 90s. It was a scandal when she played Eva Peron, but hey, Gloria Estefan passed on the role. Still she got a vocal coach and sold it. She sold everything she did, even the controversial Ray Of Light. While many claim it is a load of thievery, most others see it as the crowning achievement of a mature woman in full power. But now I see posts about her being a hack, about her sampling without credit (which, come on we’ve all know about that for years and she isn’t alone), her awful movies, and her music which no longer sets the standard in the pop world but follows the lead. Despite the sales and her sold out tours. And I have been seeing a lot of “Worst Madonna Songs” posts. And I should clarify that these are just random Google searches of Madonna that brings up these topics while the same random Google search of MJ brings up the aforementioned “underrated” threads. And again Madonna is still with us and Michael is not even though MJ still seems to release new music despite being six feet under.

    But what I find the most peculiar in all of this is my own reactions. With Michael Jackson I felt like I was now free to like what was once deemed bad, no pun intended. I felt like shouting, “See, I was right “Who Is It” is a great song!” It was almost like a vindication. I even liked some of his posthumous stuff like, “Behind The Mask” and “Hollywood Tonight” despite my feelings about making money off of dead musicians who can’t give consent.

    But the opposite was true for Madonna I felt like somehow I got it wrong. Somehow I, a musical elitist, got it wrong and Madonna is not the Queen society deemed her. I really liked Ray Of Light and I really liked much of Madonna’s 80s and 90s work but all the negativity with examples and evidence, made me a little down. As if they were attacking a friend. And when I went to back to revisit the songs and albums I felt like on some level I was now preordained to now hate much of what I heard. I didn’t but the option was always there in the back of my head waiting for me to take it.

    And yet these are two artists whom I have no real passion for one way or another. I am not part of the fandom or unfandom. So why all the emotion? Why the attachment? Why does it sting to hear that Madonna’s star may be falling? I remember being shocked early on in my teens to learn she didn’t write her own songs much of the time. I felt cheated. But back then I didn’t understand songwriting vs. being a performer of songs. I was also raised on a lot of artists who did write their own material so I assumed most people just wrote their own lyrics. Now, I don’t feel cheated per se, I just feel like she could have done better by me/the fans in the last ten years. LOL! It sounds crazy to say that and almost as crazy to say that I think her latest single “Turn Up The Radio” is a return to her roots. But I am I still waiting for her to mature in her musical content. Maybe I also am hoping that she will prove all the nay-sayers wrong again with some kind of real big artistic stamp, some bold move on the level of sailing a statue of yourself down the Thames. Look Madge, your fans will still dance their asses off to your new songs at clubs even if they prove to be more mature an adult themed.

    I think it’s too late for Madonna to have a legacy/mythology built on a death that came too soon even if she passes tomorrow so she needs to build that legacy on more mature work that wows critics while also filling the dance floor. Not a comeback but a rebirth and reinvention.

    But I am afraid that she doesn’t have to prove anything and that could be part of the problem; the club kids will still dance their asses off to her new singles because she is Madonna The Queen of Pop and many show loyalty to the royalty no matter what, and expect nothing better of them even when one of them shows up to a recording session with Freddie Mercury with a llama in their entourage.

     


  5. PopOff! Throwdown Thursday: Come On Up To The House

    This Tom Waits classic gets two country reworks, a stripped down version by Sarah Jarorz and a more sing along get together version by Willie Nelson. Whose house are you coming up to, vote below.

    Tom Waits


    Sarah Jarorz


    Willie Nelson


     


  6. PopOff! Throwdown Thursday: Border Radio

    The Blasters get their straight ahead bar rock ‘n’ roll turned into some sweet breezy country thanks to Kelly Willis and Bruce Robinson. Which radio are you listening to, vote below?
    The Blasters


    Kelly Willis and Bruce Robinson


     


  7. PopOff! Throwdown Thursday: The Promise

    Here is one of my favorite 80s new wave gems that got the very smart and moving country rework by the GREAT Sturgill Simpson. Which one did you fall for, vote below!

    When In Rome


    Sturgill Simpson


     


  8. I’d hate to what kind of slippery slope this would cause if any big name like Google or Amazon owned .Music or ,Art or .Dot Science we all know how words effect people’s views of these things. WEhy is this a big deal? Well just imagine some climate change denier owning .science!
     

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  10. Saturday Song Showdown: Beat It/Eat It

    A big hit for Michael and the parody that broke Al into the mainstream, which one defeated the other? Vote below. Michael Jackson


    Weird Al - Eat It


     
PopOff! Is a pocast/blog run by your host Bear and it is dedicated to celebrating music in all it's facets and forms through and anythijng goes mentality. Aside from featuring tons of music (generally related to a theme) it will also feature editorials and reviews as well as topics for discussion (moderated by me).

If suggesting a song for Monday Music please include title and artist. And make sure you check out the theme for that week, it may be cars or it may be celebrating Waylon Jennings and his buddies. Musiccasts are posted 1st and 3rd mondays of the month on mixcloud.

If suggesting a Thursday Throwndown you must include at least two versions of the same song and at least one version has to have been a top 40 hit on some chart somewhre. Non-English tracks a very welcome on throwdowns and in such cases traslations and song info are really helpful.