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411 Fact or Fiction Music 12.07.12: Gotye, The King of Spotify

December 7, 2012 | Posted by Joseph Lee

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Welcome to another edition of Fact or Fiction: Music. I’m your host, Joseph Lee.

This week we have David Hayter against Chris Bell.

Round 1
1) Lady Gaga would not be a good choice to play Amy Winehouse. Chris Bell: FICTION.

I’m not interested in seeing a movie about Amy Winehouse at all. Her death was tragic, but she is not exactly a music legend and the story of a musician battling addiction has already been told, and about better musicians (Brian Wilson, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Jim Morrison, etc.). Furthermore, I’m not aware of anything in Amy’s personal life that really makes her life that interesting. As a person, she did not live long enough to even have her own arc, let alone one interesting enough to sustain a film. That being said, I certainly don’t see why Lady Gaga couldn’t play Amy Winehouse. The little I’ve seen of her as an actress was entertaining and she just might make the movie odd enough to make something about it interesting. Plus, since I’m not really a fan of her music, I also get to rejoice if she makes a mess of the whole thing. It’s win-win.

David Hayter: FICTION.

Now assuming the directors are picking a musical star and not an actor then I’d endorse Gaga’s selection. Now if they are considering credible actors then by all means pick on those instead, but if we’re looking at the musical world Gaga is just about perfect. Physically she’s adaptable enough to pull off a convincing Amy with a Hollywood make up and design team, but more importantly she has the musical chops. Gaga is a former jazz musician and has an astounding classical vocal. She’s committed herself to pop songwriting, but scower the web and you’ll find her wheeling out her deep rounded jazz voice from time to time.

Amy will be a challenge for anyone who isn’t trained in vocal imitation. She’s got a proper London accent and a deep, hiccuppy, and occasionally skittish vocal. Presuming Amy’s film won’t be a white wash love in (and that’s a big if) the actor will probably have to portray extreme emotional distress and the throes of substance abuse. No untrained/untested actor is likely to pull this off, but if your going to pick a pop star, why not go Gaga.

Score Card: 1 for 1
Round 2
2) You enjoyed the Killers’ new song “I Feel It In My Bones”.
Chris Bell: FACT.

Okay, first of all, this is a joke. As such, it is funny as hell. I enjoyed this for the same reason that I enjoy The Darkness and Electric Six. They are talking about something utterly silly while taking themselves far too seriously. The uber dramatic 80’s power pop build and those longing stares directly into the camera are brilliant. This is the musical equivalent of British humor. It’s right up my alley. This is a perfect modern Christmas song. Rather than doing their own version of a tried and true classic, the boys are having fun with the medium and I respect that. I’m not a huge Killers fan, but this is maybe the most fun I’ve had listening to them.

David Hayter: FACT.

The Killers commitment to releasing Christmas Singles is admirable. Over in the UK we often complain about how the X Factor has killed the Christmas no.1 race, and it’s refreshing to see a band that is not dispirited by low sales. While I think this is one of The Killers funnier efforts in video terms at least, it’s not their catchiest Christmas track (that honor belongs to “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”), but it raises a smile – and that’s the point.

Score Card: 2 for 2
Round 3
3) 50 Cent’s “My Life” makes you eager to hear his new album Street King Immortal. Chris Bell: FICTION.

If I want to hear someone mumble like a stroke victim, I’ll listen to Pearl Jam.

David Hayter: FICTION.

Ever since 50 Cent’s publicity stunt album challenge to Kanye West in 2007 the central conceit of Fiddy’s career was exposed. He’s a pop rapper with a smooth voice whose success is defined not by what he says, but by how many records he can sell and how many hooks he can create. After his career began to slide, he became a hugely successful, if occasionally shameless, entrepreneur (a smart move), but if he is to restore his former glories he needs to write hits.

So much of his early success was built on the energy of a Get Rich Or Die Trying mentality that gave his music impetus, “My Life” suggest now that he can no longer claim to need money, his search for direction will provide new direction. That sentiment is expressed on some telling lines (“I’ve never been this confused since I was a kid/Sold like 40million records people forgot what I did”) but Fiddy spits a pathetic minimal number of bars. There’s nothing wrong with getting in and out quick, but his rhymes are tired (entrepreneur and sewer), instead he hopes Eminem and Adam Levine can supply the pop chops. They do in a bland unexciting way, but if 50 really wants to succeed, he can’t phone it in. He took the lead on “In The Club” and if he’s serious about this comeback he’ll need to stand tall and not lean on others (that didn’t work out too well for the rest of G-Unit now did it?).

Score Card: 3 for 3


Round 4
4) You’re surprised that Gotye was the most popular artist of 2012 on Spotify.
David Hayter: FICTION.

Not at all. Gotye is likely to be a one hit wonder in the western world, but “Somebody That I Used To Know” was a huge hit that created a great swathe of interest all around the globe (particularly in the UK), which is important when it comes to Spotify.

Chris Bell: FICTION.

Organic success is always the biggest. You can cram an artist down America’s throat and sell a few million copies, but it’s the musician that gets a fan base outside of the system and can still appeal to a mass audience will be the one that is truly memorable. Now, this isn’t to say that Gotye is exactly a bastion of underground music. He’s a middle-of-the-road Australian pop star. But, middle-of-the-road Australian pop is pretty out there for American radio. Furthermore, it’s pretty difficult for Australian music to make it’s way to the States. No matter how far we’ve gone towards globalization, the systems and cultures are just different here. You may balk at that argument, but start listing Australian music legends and see how many you get before you repeat AC/DC or the Bee Gees. Nonetheless, I’m not particularly surprised. As I mentioned before, I think Gotye does a pretty good job of being interested yet still accepted for ‘prime time’ audiences. It is also easy to forget that Spotify is a service that started in Europe and took a good long while to make its way to the states, so to say that Gotye was the most popular artist on Spotify is not necessarily a statement about his American popularity as much as his global popularity. In that case, it doesn’t surprise me at all.

Score Card: 4 for 4
Round 5
5) You’re ready for a new Coldplay album.
David Hayter: FICTION.

It’s not really a question of my readiness. Coldplay seem to be in a good place, they’re clearly re-invigorated live, and if they are to produce another record it should be on their own terms. They’ve shown that they can maintain their popularity with a long break between records, and in truth, I’ll be ready for a new Coldplay record when they choose to release it.

Chris Bell: FICTION.

Never. I’ll never be ready for a new Coldplay album. When I first heard Coldplay, I likened their sound to rock music dying on a slow morphine drip. I don’t think they’ve gotten any better since then. This is the only band I know that can make a Brian Eno production sound completely uninteresting. Chris Martin is only distinguished as a lead vocalist in how utterly indistinguishable and uninterested his vocal performance is. The only memorable trait of any Coldplay album is the section towards the end where I am reasonably sure the band is actually asleep.

Score Card: 5 for 5
Round 6
6) Rick Ross’ song for Django Unchained, “100 Black Coffins”, was good.
David Hayter: FICTION.

2012 was a pivotal year for Rick Ross. He earned the respect of the rap community and then faltered when all eyes were truly on him. The Rich Forever mixtape was the best work of his entire career, and the album it was designed to promote (God Forgives, I Don’t) failed to live up to the hype. Playing it too safe, the record was strong enough satisfy, but ultimately proved an underwhelming coming out party. “100 Black Coffins” isn’t a bad record, and Ross delivers some quality lines, but ultimately it gets added to the long list of intimidating Rick Ross songs that don’t sound remotely intimidating.

Chris Bell: FACT.

I think this track starts slow, but once it gets going I’m digging it. I’m not a huge Ross fan and the damn echoed chorus drives me a little crazy, but the rhymes are good and I really like the production, particularly the whistling. There should always be more whistling.

Score Card: 5 for 6

Anything you agree with? Disagree with? Sound off in the comment section.


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Joseph Lee
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