Just testing if this still works.winter

Alice Nine Rainbows
(Shows Tokyo Street Fashion)


After reading Tricia Rose’s excerpts from Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, it reminded me of the show, on MTV, America’s Next Best Dance Crew. I knew that break dancing originated from Black communities but not Hispanic. But what caught my attention as I watched America’s Next Best Dance Crew was that the dance crews are a lot more ethnically diverse. You don’t just see Black and Hispanic crews dancing, you see Caucasians, Asians, and Middle Easterns break dancing as well. Another thing I found interesting was that the crews that win are mostly Asians. Of course the show isn’t all about break dancing, and some crews are a pretty good mix, but you can see that Asians are practicing hard and supposedly out performing Blacks and Hispanics, even though they weren’t the ones who came up with this dance style.

And apparently Europeans are also getting into the scene. In 2008, there was a break dancing competition (I’m guessing a World Wide Competition) where in the finals; Russia was the winner, competing against South Korea. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9T9xtnuXIA&feature=related) But the year after in 2009, South Korea came back victorious (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKr5vw-Xa7g&feature=fvw ). I was talking to my friend a while ago about break dancing and he mentioned to me that he wanted to go to Korea (he’s Chinese). I asked what his reason was and he told me it was because of the huge break dancing scene that they have there. I was pretty surprised since I thought that break dancing was mainly done in the U.S. But apparently the popularity has also reached internationally. When Tricia talked about rapping, the way she described it made me appreciate it more. You really have to be skilled to rap continuously with the right beat and flow. I forgot how competitive rapping could be and how stressful it is to try and outdo your component.


Before I even started reading the essay, I was questioning myself why Richard Dyer would be writing an essay in defense of disco. I never really listen to disco music and I don’t know much about it, maybe because of the generation difference. But the only thing that comes to mind when I see or hear the word disco is the movie Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta, colored lights, a disco ball and people dancing on the dance floor. So when I started reading the first paragraph, I was surprised Richard Dyer mentioned that disco was a part of gay culture and it was frowned upon because people associated it with capitalism! I can’t say much about the gay culture in different genres of music since I’m pretty clueless in that area. But when it comes to capitalism in different music genres I’m pretty sure rock and roll, hip-hop, pop, and etc. also have ways of making profit in their fashion and accessories.

He seemed pretty biased when comparing disco and rock music. I was also shocked and confused when he mentioned “…..no matter how progressive the lyrics and even performed by women, rock indelibly phallo-centric music.” It’s true that a lot of rock music is about sex, but not all rock music is about that. It also depends on what type of rock music someone is talking about, because their lyrics can also be clean. Another thing I found interesting was how he talked about disco music being more passionate and involves the whole body while dancing rather than dancing to rock music which according to him, is centered around the phallus.


In the 1940s, out of jazz music bebop was born. Its rapid tempos, dissonant chords and melodic lines, and extended improvising solos were not meant to be danced to; rather it was meant to be listened to and concentrated on. Some African-Americans wanted bebop to be more complex and intellectual instead of jazz, which they thought was watered down music that was heavily influenced by Whites. So in an attempt to break away from the Whites and stick closer to their original roots bebop was formed. Racism that was present even during WWII had also played a big role in the creation of bebop and the meaning behind the music. When bebop started people saw changes in the black community, in terms of fashion and places they would hang out.

One thing that surprised me in the article was that jazz was looked down upon by some of the more “sophisticated” African-Americans who were much more proud of bebop. I find it strange and at the same time understandable that African-Americans had this feeling. Bebop was originally taken and created from jazz, which also originated from African-Americans. But because of the white artists and producers who want to popularize this genre, the sound was altered and “diluted” which had shown popular demand within the white population.

Near the end of the article, there was a part where someone says “If you’ve got enough money and can afford to play for yourself, you can play anyway you want to. But if you want to make a living at music, you’ve got to sell it.” I felt that this statement was pretty accurate. When artists want to make it big and gain millions of fans, they need to make some or a lot of sacrifices and conform to what the producers/record label think will sell. Recording, selling, and marketing music is not cheap. Unless you’re really lucky and the music that you want to produce is really popular, you’ll be a slave to the record you’re signed to.

For my topic I was thinking of writing about how Western music has greatly influenced Japanese music. Through that influence the Japanese became less timid and more expressive through their music and wardrobe. In response to the new music being made, their fashion has also changed and is a big part of their culture. I’ll probably focus mainly on Japanese rock and pop music, since it might be too much to incorporate reggae, jazz, metal, ska, hip-hop, etc.

The Lomaxes

During the 1930’s John A. Lomax had decided to record America’s folk-song tradition, and with the help of his son Alan as his assistant, they traveled around the United States trying to find and record folk music. Of course this is a good way to help preserve a part of America’s history and culture, but their idea and tactics of obtaining these recordings were selfish and abusive towards the musicians. The Lomaxes were searching southern prisons hoping to find music that wasn’t tainted by commercial music, trying to stay as close to traditional music as possible. That is where they found “Leadbelly” (Huddie Ledbetter) an African-American musician who had the sound they were looking for. But ironically, the Lomaxes were only searching for and recording folk songs that they, themselves, thought were traditional American folk music. They filtered out all the music and recorded all the ones that fit into their own criteria of what folk-songs should sound like. They also chose by determining whether or not it will be popular for a large population.

Racism and stereotypes were also involved when the Lomaxes publicized Leadbelly’s music. Leadbelly was actually a nice and gentle person, but because of his past, he was made to look like a violent criminal who didn’t care much about others. The Lomaxes wanted to market this image to make a profit. People were drawn in by this image and Leadbelly became more popular. Even though the Lomaxes wanted to preserve and record traditional folk music, in a sense they ended up being more commercial and became money hogs. There were also a lot of restrictions/limitations for the musicians. The Lomaxes told them how to play their own music and refused to let the Leadbelly alter his own music. When they would have disagreements, John would threaten Leadbelly and say that future shows will be dropped if he doesn’t do it their way.

It’s kind of shocking to hear that music producers would go as far as threatening and maybe using violence to get what they want. It’s sad to see this behavior at such an early stage in the music industry. I’m sure that musicians in this present day are also dealing with the same issues and many injustices. It must be extremely frustrating to be told what to do and being restricted from expressing your own feelings and personal style.

In 2001, after the event of 9/11 sadness and anger broke out and President Bush had decided to send the U.S. military to Iraq “to search for weapons of mass destruction”. Anger towards the terrorist had people support our last President’s decision. Of course some people were against the idea, but nationalism was high at this point and people just wanted to get revenge without thinking much of the consequences that we might face in the future. Years passed, the fighting never stopped and we never found “weapons of mass destruction”.

In 2007, the Foo Fighter came out with their 6th album called Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace. The album was released under the label of RCA Records. The song “The Pretender” became extremely popular and was a big hit. The band consists of Dave Grohl (lead vocalist and guitar rhythm), Taylor Hawkins (drummer and backup vocals), Chris Shiflett (lead guitarist) and Nate Mendel (bassist). In an Interview with XFM Radio station, Dave Grohl hinted that the song was about political unrest and “people not getting what they’re promised” (songfacts.com) but he would rather have people interpret the song in their own way. Composing this song was much different then the other songs on their album. They had only spent a day to put “The Pretender” together while the other songs on their album took weeks. Even though this is considered main stream music, the song has a deeper political message that people have to interpret.

In the beginning of the song it starts out softly and slowly with only the guitar playing/picking and Dave singing:

“Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend
Keep you in the dark
And so it all began”

Coming into the first verse, the drums start to beat and the electric guitar come in. This time the music picks up in volume and he continues singing in a louder voice:

“Send in your skeletons
Sing as their bones go marching in… again
The need you buried deep
The secrets that you keep are at the ready
Are you ready?

I’m finished making sense
Done pleading ignorance
That whole defense
Spinning infinity, but
The wheel is spinning me
It’s never ending, never ending
Same old story”

At this point the music begins to build up, the tempo increases and it’s like a small explosion. Dave’s tone becomes more aggressive and he’s questioning the government saying in the chorus:

“What if I say I’m not like the others?
What if I say I’m not just another one of your plays?
You’re the pretender
What if I say that I’ll never surrender?

What if I say I’m not like the others?
What if I say I’m not just another one of your plays?
You’re the pretender
What if I say that I’ll never surrender?”

Dave stops singing for a second and you hear the drums beating again with the guitar picking. The tone/tempo goes back down it’s not as aggressive and it goes into the second versus:

“In time or so I’m told
I’m just another soul for sale… oh, well
The page is out of print
We are not permanent
We’re temporary, temporary
Same old story”

Then the music picks back up and he goes back to the chorus. After the chorus he goes into the third verse, he sings in a lower and softer voice . The beat starts out constant and it slowly builds up. This time he’s addressing the listener and asking who they are, and it’s like your conscience is talking to you:

“I’m the voice inside your head
You refuse to hear
I’m the face that you have to face
Mirrored in your stare
I’m what’s left, I’m what’s right
I’m the enemy
I’m the hand that will take you down
Bring you to your knees

So who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Keep you in the dark
You know they all pretend”

Here we dive right back into the chorus but with another line “Keep you in the dark you know they all pretend” sung slowly in the background. At the very end he screams out to the listeners, asking:

“So who are you?
Yeah, who are you?
Yeah, who are you?”

and the song ends abruptly.

My interpretation of the song is that the government is keeping secrets from the public and they are just using us to do whatever they think will benefit the country, even though it’s really harming us. Here we have our friends and family being sent into the battle field, with a chance of death. We can’t pretend that the war isn’t hurting us physically and emotionally. Our country spends billions of dollars on the war and after years of fighting nothing has really changed. Hundreds of people have died, yet the government still sends more soldiers in to try and “control and stabilize the situation” in Iraq. There was a few times where the President had promised to pull back our troops, yet the date keeps getting pushed back.

The Foo Fighters are trying to get people to think things through. Is sending more of our troops really going to help? Or are we just hurting ourselves even more? Who are you and what’s your stand?


Sing365.com. 2000-2007. 17 Feb 2010 <http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/the-pretender-lyrics-foo-fighters/4caf2c72e565515a4825732d000b872d>.

Songfacts.com. 17 Feb 2010 < http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=9773>

Wikipedia.com. 16 Feb 2010 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foo_Fighters>

Racial politics had played a heavy role in the early years of jazz. Even though jazz was originated from African Americans, Whites were the first to record this new popular music. A good example would be The Original Dixieland Jass Band (ODJB), an all white group, who became the first band to make a recording of jazz music. “It was the work of white musicians; black performers were rarely invited into the recording studio at this time” (pg.101) It’s sad to see that the ones who come up with this new style of music aren’t recognized by the white public.  Jazz had begun to change from its original form once it was recorded in studios. It’s disappointing to see that music had to change because of commercial purposes and the limited recording technology that was present at this time. Because of the imperfections of the phonograph, sounds from loud percussive instruments had to be removed since the recording stylus couldn’t record it without having the sound become distorted. The restrictions of time when recording at a studio also altered the way jazz was intended to be. It was more formal and strict rather than loose and improvised. This commercialized version of jazz was intended for a white audience. I was actually pretty shocked after reading about the jazz age. I didn’t realize how undermined African Americans were at this time when it came to jazz music. I’ve only really listened to Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra. I didn’t realize that Louis Armstrong was one of the lucky few blacks that had the opportunity to record their music and become widely known. It seems we’ve come a long way from racial politics in the past to the present. I know there’s probably still some favoritism when it comes to the music industry, since it’s rare that I see minorities as popular artists in America. So It makes me wonder if minorities (in the music industry) are being treated similarly to blacks in the 1900s (although not as severely). Are they given the same opportunities as the majority or are they just not taking it?

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