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Music’s 3R’s 9.29.12: Sobriety, “Fat”-Shaming, And The Joy Of Lindsey Stirling

September 29, 2012 | Posted by Sean Comer

Welcome To The Sean Cave
Welcome to the latest chapter in “Whose 3R’s Are They, Anyway?”, the column where there are no points, they wouldn’t matter if I did award them, and we’ve swapped out a tall guy and short, bald Canadian for a 5’10” Phoenecian with Edge’s circa-retirement hair.

I’m Sean Comer, and over the past couple months, I’ve sprung up a few times here on 411mania as Jeremy Lambert’s Bad Movie Review Club podcast co-host and a last-minute fill-in for Monday’s Top 5 Greatest Female Singer-Songwriters. Henceforth, though, I’m honored as a longtime reader of the site’s several Zones to be taking the reins of scraping the bottom of the cereal box for the decoder ring.

First, though, I have to cop to a minor error in the aforementioned Top 5 contribution.

In the article, I referenced a personally much-adored lyric from Tori Amos’ “Josephine.” Unfortunately, I experienced the pratfall of trying to put an article together in 30 minutes: my memory jumbled a few words, but not so much so as to alert my proofreading eye that I’d flubbed it. With my thanks to my dear friend Scarlett for bringing my attention to it, the proper lyric is “In an army’s strength, therein lies the denouement.”

Shocked as I am that Ari Berenstein didn’t call me on it first, I offer my apologies to Scarlett, Ari, and anybody else who caught the error but remained – for 411 commenters – uncharacteristically quiet.

That being off my chest, here’s the week that was, babies….

Lady Gaga and “Fat”-Shaming: Behold, the many fucks she gives!:
Sit down, and do shut every known species of fuck up. This is indeed in the right for a reason: because she made a more defiant stance more admirably than the ponce heading up this week’s Ridiculous entries.

It’s actually getting to be a mildly depressing song to which verse after verse after verse keeps being needlessly tacked: the actually reasonably talented Gaga sees some degree of David Bowie/Madonna/Grace Jones-ish creativity drizzled in uproar over her image. This time, though, it was the revelation that her label, Universal, reportedly tried landing on her with both feet over 25 pounds she recently added to a once-tight, trim frame. As her label decreed she swear off her comfort foods while ordering Born This Way Ball tour outfits that would better flatter her new curves onstage, the formerly bulimic Gaga explained that she put on the weight through frequent, indulgent eating at her father’s New York City Italian restaurant.

“I used to throw up all the time in high school, so I’m not that confident,” she said in a radio interview earlier this week. “And maybe it’s easier for me to talk about it now because I don’t do it anymore. I wanted to be a skinny little ballerina but I was a voluptuous little Italian girl whose dad had meatballs on the table every night.”

Here’s the thing I have to give Gaga: to describe the “addicted to approval” and “obsessed with attention” difference, I’d remind that elephants are grey, but not all grey things are elephants. Kanye West and Chris Brown might be two of the clearest, walking, talking embodiments of the “love or tantrum” ultimatum.

Gaga? She often gives the lowest measurable quantity of fuck whether anybody approves of her behavior or not – as long as people notice, period. Hey, this is a site with a huge wrestling community, so let me compare accordingly: whose crowd reactions made for a tougher WWE go of it – Rob Conway or Dwayne Johnson’s “Rocky Maivia” days?

She might draw that spotlight in ways that make eyes roll, but once it’s on her, she sometimes makes a good point: it’s ridiculous to really call her “fat” when she in truth now just looks “ordinary” – OK, at least in terms of her physique. Sure, the bra-and-panties ensembles aren’t so flattering onstage anymore. Fine. But if she’s fat, would anybody dare call Christina Hendricks or Sofia Vergara the same?

Lindsey Stirling’s New Music Video, Album:
If you’re not already exploring this vivacious young violinist, you’re missing one of the next refreshing artists propelled by YouTube.

A 2010 contestant on the fifth season of America’s Got Talent who Sharon Osbourne told “needs to be in a group,” Stirling’s sewing of violin virtuosity with lithe dancer’s grace and mesmerizing electronic elements of hip-hop and dubstep has cultivated a dreamlike sound experience that’s honestly best experienced via her “lindseystomp” YouTube channel.

That said, she recently released her self-title debut album on iTunes and her latest music video to make the Internet curse that MTV and VH1 have forgotten what truly complete mastery looks like. For her “Elements” clip, she’s partnered once more with videographer devinsupertramp to evoke a Fantasia-esque dance through wind, water, fire and earth.

Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra – Theatre Is Evil:
Looking back on this past week’s Top 5, a comment or two suggested that Dresden Dolls pianist/singer and branching-forth soloist Amanda Palmer should be considered an all-time great. While I admire and share the enthusiasm as a long-time fan, nothing but time will bestow that status upon her.

That being said…behind a staggering $1.2-million Kickstarter campaign, she just might have put together one of (if not THE) best album of the year so far in Theatre Is Evil. I won’t belabor you all by merely parroting Jeremy Thomas’ thorough and glowing review. Longtime aficionados of her songwriting know that she can take a commonplace lover’s quarrel and imbue it with every piece of a heart breaking beneath what a passerby would see on the surface. In the Dresden Dolls’ “The Jeep Song,” it was lines like “I try to see it in reverse/It makes the situation hundreds of times worse/When I wonder if it makes you want to cry/Every time you see a light-blue Volvo driving by.”

On Theatre Is Evil, it’s “We are standing on the corner, and you’re throwing down the gauntlet/it is not a life decision, we just need to pick a restaurant.”

Its instrumentation is a stylistic departure from the surprisingly full cacophony of the Dresden Dolls’ piano-and-drums duo of “Brechtian punk cabaret” but there’s still the meat of Palmer’s husky-voiced, raw-nerve resignation to how “true love” can, indeed, fail. This is the album everybody whose gold-standard of contemporary lovelorn taking stock is Taylor Swift needs to hear, but may not be ready to understand.

Beach Boy Mike Love Wins At Dickery:
Oh, Mike. Mike, Mike, Mike…prepare for the rude awakening of your life, sir.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer released a statement this week that founding Beach Boys Al Jardine and BRIAN F’ING WILSON are at the end of their road on the band’s current touring roster. Paste Magazine reported Sept. 26 that David Marks, who joined in 1962, won’t be welcomed back either.

“The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band,” Love’s statement indicated.

That’s news to Wilson, who’s far more the icon of the band and author of its original lineup’s finest hours than almost anybody else.

“I’m disappointed and can’t understand why he doesn’t want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys,” Wilson said.

Who knows what bug is up Love’s ass, but to say the least, it’s a slap in the face to Wilson, Jardine, Marks and fans to curtail this rare cohesion of the premiere Beach Boys lineup so abruptly and seemingly unilaterally amid such a long-awaited reunion once thought to be fairly unlikely.

Billie Joe Armstrong Toes Line Between “Punk” And “Infantile Pratt”:
No matter how much you may disdain Justin Bieber, don’t champion what prima-donna Green Day ass-hat Billie Joe Armstrong pulled.

At last weekend’s Clear Channel-sponsored iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas – which almost deserves its own “Ridiculous” entry for sounding like a parody of a corporate-radio festival name – a supposedly intoxicated Armstrong threw himself a conniption fit when he stopped playing “Basket Case” mid-song to play a new one, only to be told he had to be offstage in 60 seconds.

Let’s set aside that Satan himself shat Justin Bieber into existence in the hopes he could seduce music writers’ souls through their hatred for the little git.

Almost immediately after the incident, Armstrong smashed his “punk” credibility – what was left of it – by voluntarily entering rehab. But that’s not where the “ridiculous” truly reaches a fever pitch.

It’s not like being given the “wrap it up” sign should’ve come as a shock – after all, Green Day took the stage 30 minutes late. Wouldn’t have been a big deal, were Green Day headlining the gig with nobody waiting to set up after them.

No, that would’ve been Rihanna the band was trying to accommodate. Had Armstrong decided not to call an audible, he probably could’ve at least rounded out the show with a Green Day favorite.

That aside…spare the “I’ve been doing this since 1988″ sob song. Usher, who preceded Green Day’s set, has been at it since 1987.

Alas, “punk cred” has a finite shelf life. Even an act as far along as Green Day can continue aping the sound, and maybe even keep sustaining itself on the nostalgia vibe. But there comes a definite point wherein “free-spirited youth” passes into “petulant desperation.” There’s a good reason efforts at resurrecting the Sex Pistols or even Operation Ivy following a single energetic album were few and far between.

That’s because Lydon gets it: he’d rather be remembered “as he was” than as some sad, strained nostalgia act. Armstrong needs the wake-up call that the act is wearing thin for a grown man with a wife and family that can be publicly embarrassed that he feels the need to try this hard.

And that’s all there was. Thanks for tuning in to make me feel welcome. Thanks to Larry Csonka and Jeremy Thomas for this opportunity. Thanks to Jeremy Lambert and Samer Kadi for being two fine fellows that pushed me the first few steps into 411mania’s door. Follow me @247Sean on Twitter. Until next time, I’m Sean, and I’ve come to grips with that fact.

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Sean Comer

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