lørdag den 26. november 2011

The art of destroying art

Let me ask you faithful readers of the internet a simple question.

Do you know this guy?

No? What if I told you that he was a rather big name in the music industry - so big, in fact, that it is practically impossible for you not to have heard at least one of his songs, if you, or anyone that you have ever met even for a brief period of time, has owned a radio or television within the last two decades. Still doesn't look familiar?

That guy up there is Martin Sandberg, aka Max Martin, aka Lucifer the Unholy Eater of Souls. He is the songwriter responsible for
a whole slew of immensely successful hits, ranging from the atrociously bad (most of what the Backstreet Boys made, including Quit Playing Games With My Heart, Long As You Love Me, Backstreet's Back), to the... well, equally bad hits from people like Britney Spears, Katy Perry (pretty much every single hit she's ever had) and etc. Basically, if you've ever had any annoying song in your head, chances are good that Max Martin was the son of a bitch behind it.

Max Martin, seen here in his original form.

If there was ever one thing Max Martin was good for, it's that a quick look at his track-record within the world of songwriting actually leads to physical evidence for the claim that "all music sounds alike these days", since most of it was written by the same damn guy! But annoying as he may be, and as much hatred as you may have for him, at least you have to give the man credit where credit is due - he knows how to write hits. Granted, most of them seem to be recycling the same corny subjects, lazy rhyme-pattern and basic melodic structure, but at least he writes songs that try to have some sort of meaning in them. That's more than you can say for certain other people in the industry.

It seems that within the last few years, a trend has started rising in the world of music, and it's actually quite simple. Apparently, some time ago, presumably in the lab of some evil Bond-villain's underground volcanic lair, it was discovered that the best way to gain attention in this world was not to be smart, funny, relatable, or even posses any hint whatsoever of having any sort of talent; no, the best way to get noticed was to make no goddamned sense at all!

A tradition practiced for many years.

Admittedly, it would seem that this has been a trend for countless years by now. A quick look at any music-video from the 80s tends to suggest this, but the important thing is to remember that in the 80s, everyone was crazy, so therefore it kind of made sense in some weird way for everyone to behave like malfunctioning androgynous robots. In modern times, however, while we do still have epic amounts of horrible fashion trends (a few years ago, it was pointy shoes, now it's skintight jeans), at least there's a certain standard for how crazy one can get away with looking before someone calls the cops. Except if you're Lady Gaga, apparently.

See, if Lady Gaga wasn't a world-famous singer, but just some random woman walking down the street, looking like she does, she'd be in the loony hospital before she reached the nearest supermarket. But because she's famous, it's "special", "trendsetting", and not "completely fucking idiotic" which is what I would've preferred to call it. The worst of it is, that I could've lived with it if dressing like the worst Batman-villain ever conceived was just her calling in life. But it's not. This whole unholy-offspring-of-a-fashion-designer-and-an-escaped-mental-patient-look, is nothing more than an act, a persona that she and a handful of other people created for her shortly before her career took off, after years in the music industry without being able to break through. It's not that she was a terrible singer beforehand, she was just remarkably unremarkable. But add a little bit of insanity to the mix, and suddenly she's a superstar.

Notice the difference?

But getting to the point of this article, I'm not even too upset about the fact that personas, even transparently fake ones, are more important to most people than the music behind it. After all, the world is full of suckers, and since we're all suckers for something (like all other guys, I'm gonna' go ahead and say "sex" here), I can let this one slide and vent my frustration whenever I hear some poor schmuck talking about how "original" and "daring" Lady Gaga is for expressing her "true self", rather than talk about how "greedy" and "faker than a two-dollar Gucci bag" she is for expressing her "corporately designed money-grubbing phony self", as I would've preferred to call it. Strangely enough though, no one ever checks with me first in regards to what I prefer to call things...

But here is where the cookie so insidiously crumbles. You see, after a while, Lady Gaga decided that you can't just look crazy, and not play the same part in your music. And that's where things got really bad.

Eschewing any notion of lyricism and common sense, she started naming songs after unknown people she may or may not have banged (poor Alejandro), inserting random non sequitur references to Lebanese people (which, alongside with the Alejandro thing, had me worried for a while that she might be stalking me), and finally, she just gave up using words altogether. This amazing revelation, that songs don't even need real words to become popular, was an astounding breakthrough, that led her to write such captivating lyrics as "Rah, rah, ah, ah, ah / Roma, roma, ma / Gaga, ooh, la, la /".

The world of music instantly stood up and took notice, and not long after, this tradition was taken to new levels when Aura Dione came out with the song Geronimo, which featured this gem of a chorus:

"Ahhhhhh, ahhhhhh
Ge-ge-e jo jo uh lala, hmm, let's go, Geronimo!
Ahhhhhh, ahhhhhh
Ge-ge-e jo jo uh lala, hmm, let's go, Geronimo!"

Aside from killing me a little bit on the inside every time I hear it, this song has also made me realize something. We humans, as a whole, are either plain stupid, or we are all too careless to give a shit about anything, making words like "quality" and "making sense" seem like esoteric beings that drift in and out of existence whenever we need to use them in an argument about how it makes no sense that The Situation's abs are of such high quality when he doesn't work out half as much as Pauly D.

Pictured: The future of art.

At this point, I'm not even here to fight the good fight and try to reclaim the world of art for all of us who can't count our IQ on our fingers and toes, because it's pretty much a hopeless cause. Really, I'm just happy that I'm so closed off to the outside world, that I had to Google Jersey Shore to find the name of a cast-member that wasn't Snooki.

fredag den 11. november 2011

Here's a fun fact that you may or may not know: I am like most people. Sure, my awesome-to-normal ratio is way off the charts, as I happen to be not only a nerd, but an extremely cool one at that - think Dolph Lundgren, but without the whole super-Nazi Aryan bodybuilder look. And the black belt in karate. And the degree in biochemistry. And the money. All that god damn money... Nonetheless, I'm still pretty damn awesome, but even so, I am no superhuman. I come with the same physical limitations and vulnerabilities as everyone else, which means that when a person spends the better part of three hours coughing their lungs up straight into my face, I am very likely to catch the same freaking disease that he or she has.

So, as of today, I am thinking about a career in germophobia.

Because nothing says "cool nerd" like a stylish surgical mask.

Now, when I say "career" in germophobia, I don't mean that I want to study or try to cure people who are afraid of germs. I want to become one of them. I want to be overly cautious about every single little thing that might infect me with any kind of disease whatsoever. I want to get hysterical and shout obscenities at people who cough in my immediate vicinity. And most importantly, I want to never ever ever get sick again in my entire life. Not even a little bit.

You might say that I am exaggerating a bit too much. I say that I'm not exaggerating enough.

At the risk of sounding preposterously devoid of insight or reason, let me ask you a question: How many people do you think really want to get sick? Not counting kids who want to get out of going to school, I've calculated the result to be approximately around the value of a big fat zero. The reason is obvious; being sick sucks. There are no upsides to it whatsoever.

Aside from hot nurses, of course.

I realize that I am just stating the painfully obvious, and at this point your throat and fingers are probably sore from scrolling downwards and screaming "get to the point", but fear not, I'm getting to it.

Often times in childhood, every kid asks either themselves or a grown-up the question: "When will I be a full-grown adult?". We often ignore this as an inconsequential inquiry, a question that has no real or definitive answer, because it's more of a transitional event that happens over time - but the fact of the matter is, that every now and then, one can be so lucky as to find oneself in a situation where you realize that you are now, entirely, unequivocally, and fully grown up. And today I had that happen to me. And why was that?

Because I don't have time to get sick!

Taking sick-days is at this point no longer a luxury or stress reliever for me; in fact, it is quite the opposite. If I'm sick for just a day, then that whole day is wasted. I may lose out on going to work, which means I don't get paid for that day (due to it being a part-time job at a bar); I may have to stay home from school, which is certainly not something I'd ever complain about, if not for the fact that schools keep track of your absence, and if you reach a certain percentage, your ass gets tossed out of there faster than Jazzy Jeff after cracking a joke about Uncle Phil's weight.

Pictured: The educational system at its finest.

I also can't really make music, I can't go to the gym, I can't enjoy spending time with my girlfriend, and I can't even enjoy a good meal. Basically, being sick turns me into that apathetic emo kid that can't do a freaking thing but complain about the eternal suffering of existence. And nobody likes that guy.

Coming back to that whole germophobia thing, my problem is unfortunately tied into the realization that I've reached adulthood. I'd love to be able to freak out about every possible contact I make with germs and bacteria, but I just don't have the energy for it. Being grown-up means paying bills, shopping for groceries, balancing a budget, fighting for whatever little spare-time you can have, and spending that spare-time on things to further your own position in life, so that you don't fall behind on those other dues you have. And unfortunately, after all of this, protection against germs is something I don't have the capacity to give a shit about. I'm all out of shits to give. Nothing would make me happier than turning around at a guy who's coughing, and screaming out "MY GOD, MAN, ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL US ALL?!!!" but it's just not possible to fit that into my schedule, with everything else I have going on.

So there is the paradox: Being an adult means I should worry more about getting sick, but because I'm an adult, I don't have time to worry about stuff like that.

If there is a God, he really does have a weird sense of humor, that's for sure.

"Look at those pitiful humans, worrying about their existential conundrums. That'll teach them for killing my son."

He is a vengeful God indeed.

onsdag den 2. november 2011

To pee, or not to pee

Recently, a certain someone in my life came down with a bladder infection. This affected her urinary tract in a way that makes her feel like she has to pee all the time, while being unable to know when something is actually going to come out. Needless to say, this lead to several (hilarious) incidents, that I won't recount here out of fear of getting my ass whooped.

Anyway, all of this got me thinking about our need to pee, and what it means to us.

We certainly all know what it means to R. Kelly.

The human body is a vastly complex organism, comprised of trillions of tiny little atoms that make up the countless amount of cells that come together to form a living, breathing, thinking human being. But our bodies, in spite of being honed to efficiency and excellence after millions of years of evolution, are far from perfect (not counting Gabrielle Union, of course). We have superfluous organs, frequent discharges of waste products (that's a scientific way to say we poop and pee a lot), and a high susceptibility to infections and diseases. And recently, I've been thinking about just why that is.

Now, mind you, I'm no scientist, and I'm certainly not one who would consider himself a grand philosopher of humanity.

I do rock a pretty mean "thinking man", though.

Without getting into the whole God-debate - that's a whole other topic for another day - everyone can certainly agree that nature is far from perfect. Evolution (which, for the record, is only a "theory" in the same vein that gravity is), is an ongoing process that has lead to some pretty strange, and even grotesque creatures, especially in the ocean. So far, the closest thing we've had to the creation of a perfect organism, is that alien creature from those movies about aliens, where they first have to fight a single alien, then a whole lair of aliens, then a third alien which makes Sigourney Weaver flip out and jump into a pool of lava, only to later get resurrected so that she can birth one last alien. I think it was called "That Weird Creature That Came From Outer Space".

In any case, one must wonder how this can be. How come, after millions, even billions of years of evolution, are we among the closest things nature has come to perfection (I'm counting crows, dolphins, and porcupines ahead of us), when we are still so far from it? Why do men have nipples when we can't breastfeed? Why are we all born with tonsils, whose only purpose seems to be to fuck with us until we decide to cut them out? Why don't all women look like Gabrielle Union?

If there was a god, we'd all be dating this.

Perhaps it's just my own sense of perfectionism talking, but if I was running this whole evolutionary show, we'd all be superhuman creatures with model-like features, super intelligence that would make Einstein look like a confused kindergartner who just sniffed half a tube of glue, and of course, also wings, so that we could take to the skies and look down upon all of nature's inferior creations, and shit on them (much like crows currently do to us). So I guess maybe R. Kelly did have kind of the right idea - assuming he believes himself to be superhuman, which, seeing as he has previously stated that he believes he can fly, is probably a fair assumption... But I digress!

Some say that all of these obstacles we face are just a part of life, a darkness to act as a contrast to the light, thus giving us all the more appreciation for it. And while I do believe that it's true that we wouldn't appreciate the sun so much if it wasn't for the rain (and especially the snow... that goddamn snow!), I've gotta' say that I also believe enough is enough. We have wars, famine, social barriers, diseases (such as the horrifically named Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), political scandals, corruption, and much more to worry about pretty much every single day of our lives, and then on top of that, nature designs a virus that goes into our bodies with the sole purpose of messing with our basic ability to urinate? I mean, goddamn nature, when are you gonna' give us a break here? Add a few natural disasters into the mix every year or so, and it seems like we're fighting a freaking war here. I mean, what did we humans ever do to nature to deserve this kind of fate?

Oh wait, never mind...