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Pop Culture Reflection: Beat Boxin’ Pioneers

1 Jan
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My props to the beatbox

One perk about growing up in the 80s is remembering and appreciating beat boxin’ skills from hip hop pioneers like The Fat Boys, Police Academy actor and comedian Michael Winslow and rap icon Doug E Fresh.

My description of human beat boxin’ is anyone who can create or mimic the sounds of a drum machine (a.k.a. beat box ) through vocal percussion. This is one of the coolest skills that I think anyone could have.

The Fat Boys were a popular hip hop trio in the mid 80s.  They covered the song Wipe Out and had a popular music video for it and they also filmed a comedy called Disorderlies in 1987. I loved this movie as a kid and my favorite part of the movie was when they sing Baby You’re a Rich Man.  Darren Robinson known as the human beat box of the trio was simply amazing to listen to and watch in his beat boxin’ action. Robinson sadly passed away in 1995 but his pioneering role in beat boxin’ lives on.

I also remember the first time I watched Police Academy and listening to all of the insane noises Michael Winslow could mimic with his mouth. He could even sound like a guitar and that blew me away as a kid.

My whole beat box reflection triggered after watching a recent episode of the The Arsenio Hall Show which I have been tuning into ever since Hall made a come back with his classic late show.

The show featured Doug E Fresh beat boxin’ and making his signature clicks sound that only his tongue can make. So many artists have covered his classic hit Lodi Dodi and it really doesn’t get any better than that song which sort of sums up the 80s beat boxin’ era for me.

Beat boxin’ has made a comeback with newer artists who are more in the spot light now than their 80s pioneers like Kenny Mohammed or french beat box great Alem.

My heart still hangs on to the 80s time of beat boxin’ and hip hop, after all it’s what I grew up listening to.

Below is a link from Adam Mcnasty You Tube channel showing my favorite beat box legend clip from the movie Disorderlies.

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Pop Culture Reflection: Less Overplayed Christmas Songs

11 Dec
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Sharing my favorite Christmas ornament and song lyric

Christmas songs become inescapable from hearing all day in December whether it’s blasting from the radio at the workplace or in malls and department stores.

During my holiday shopping I enjoy when I can hear the less overplayed gems such as: God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Barenaked Ladies with Sarah McLachlan,  So This is Christmas by John Lennon,  Mele Kalikimaka by Bing Crosby and The Chanukah Song by Adam Sandler.

I still have my favorite’s in the classic Christmas hits even though I know I’m going to hear the songs cycle through the radio five times throughout the day like: Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee, Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano and The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole.

An article from Yahoo Music this week featured the top 20 most downloaded Christmas songs and it was an interesting list with the number one being,  All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey.

Despite what gets overplayed, I like listening to the Christmas classics and the updated versions  because it gets me into the holiday mood.

Here is a link from RoadCaptinEntertain’s You Tube channel for my favorite traditional Christmas song.

Pop Culture Reflection: Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song

27 Nov

My nostalgic mood for reflecting on 1994 has focused on my holiday music favorite,  Adam Sandler’s Chanukah Song.

I remember when I first watched him perform it on Saturday Night Live (SNL) in 1994 and laughing at all of his clever list of jewish celebrities.

The song is close to being 20 years old and I love how it has grown into this holiday tradition.

Of course I like his other comedic songs and more appropriate this week would be his Thanksgiving song. But I think the Chanukah Song has become his best well-known holiday favorite.

I also enjoy how Sandler has added lines and made revisions to his celebrity list throughout the years.

I always look forward to hearing what he has added and this year he added that its Thanksgivukkah, which is referencing how Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah are on the same day.

According to an article in Miami Herald the two holidays will not occur on the same day again for more than 70,000 years.

I have linked a live version from Happy Madison You Tube channel of Sandler’s holiday hit.

Pop Culture Reflection: Sweatin’ to the Oldies Some 20 years Later!

9 Oct

While out shopping, I noticed the 20th anniversary editon of Richard Simmons Sweatin’  to the Oldies workout dvd was on sale.

Spotting that dvd came at a perfect time for me since I’m trying to shed a few pounds and I do not regularly workout.

Of course I bought it since I have always liked Simmons and his eccentric fitness personality.

Not to mention I got hit with nostalgia since I totally remember the Sweatin’ to the Oldies commercials.

I was only nine years old when the commercial for Sweatin’ to the Oldies 2 came out but I remember it well with Simmons flying down holding balloons shouting, “I’m flying.”

Back then I use to wonder how people became so fat as I started out a skinny kid!

Little did I know my adulthood would be filled with yo-yo dieting and that I would one day revisit Simmons advice on exercise and nutrition!

Simmons states in the interview portion included on the dvd that he created this fun and easy routine so that anyone could do it.  Also, he didn’t agree with traditional workout videos that show fit instructors doing moves that are hard to keep up with.

I related to him when he talks about his struggle with dieting as an overweight teen and how he would lock himself in his room and dance to his favorite songs.

He also stated in the interview that he liked comedy and considers himself a bit of a court jester since he feels everyone is a king or queen. This is one of the reasons he wears the sparkly tanks and dances around shouting with his lively personality.

Sweatin’ to the Oldies is easy to do and I love that he features people of all shapes and sizes working out with him.

I think Simmons definitely carries out his passion and does not care what anyone thinks of him.

I remember watching him as a guest on David Letterman a few years ago and he was getting heckled for his flamboyant personality and signature candy striped shorts but he seemed to take it with a grain of salt!

He has a great official website where you can follow him on social media outlets and buy his products.

This past summer he released a new music video called “Hair Do,” which I listened to and thought it was catchy and funny!

I am glad Simmons is still going strong motivating people to lose weight and I wish him longevity and prosperity to always keep his mission going.

I linked the commercial that I remembered as a kid from Lugnutsoldcrap You Tube channel, enjoy a flash back.

Pop Culture Reflection: Former Bears QB and Super Bowl Shuffler Jim McMahon

4 Sep

My pop culture reflection goes to former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon. He was one of the big fun-loving personalities to come from the Super Bowl XX team during the mid 80s!

The first word that pops in my head when I see McMahon is, “Outrageousness,” as stated from the Honda Scooter commercial he did in the 80s.

According to an article from the Huffington Post, the 1985 Bears are  one of the greatest teams in NFL’s history. Even though it has been 26 years President Obama decided to host them for their formal White House visit in 2011; the team never got to have the traditional visit due to the 1986 space shuttle Challenger explosion.

I had to do a wiki search to get the exact year but the Chicago Bears recorded a big rap hit in 1985 called the Super Bowl Shuffle.  Of course McMahon is one of the rappers referring to himself as the, “Punky QB!”

I think that rap was so clever and successful and it obviously made its mark in pop culture.

I was reading a CBS sports article that mentioned McMahon’s recent appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. McMahon talked about his health issues with dementia and the $765 million settlement reached in the concussion lawsuit filed by former NFL players.

I was sad to learn he has suffered so much with his health and that he had even contemplated suicide! I think the lawsuit settlement did seem to shine a ray of hope for him.

I remember that Honda Scooter commercial he did because it was one of those commercials that aired a lot in the mid 80s.

The commercial held my interest as a kid because of the fast-moving clips of McMahon in different outfits, making silly faces and of course his sunglasses.

I especially liked when he said, “Wasn’t that fun.”

I use to even repeat it with him sometimes.  (nerdy kid that I was)

From my perspective watching him in those 80s commercials as a kid, he just seemed like this cool sports guy who had fun on a Honda Scooter and liked eating Taco Bell.

I linked commercials below after I happily found the Honda one from Commercials818 You Tube channel and I found a link to the Taco Bell one from Jason Harder’s You Tube channel.

Pop Culture Reflection: Remembering 80s cartoon theme Fraggle Rock

21 Aug

When a kids show has a catchy theme song you know it will linger in your mind. I remember the Fraggle Rock song lyrics like it was yesterday:

“Dance your cares away, worry’s for another day, let the music play, down at Fraggle Rock!”

After a recent conversation I had about The Smurfs 2 movie, I then started thinking about cartoons from the 80s that I watched like, The Jetsons, Gem, Transformers and for my pop culture reflection, Fraggle Rock!

I will always remember this show for it’s fun and catchy theme!

I did a wiki search to find out who wrote the song and it was written by Philip Balsam and Dennis Lee.

I loved watching Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies and afterwards I would wait for Fraggle Rock to start so I could rock out to that theme song!

I linked the clip from Retrowhiztv You Tube channel.  Please enjoy and sing along to one of my favorite childhood memories.

Pop Culture Reflection: Rock on Andy Griffith

3 Jul

I bid massive tribute to the great Andy Griffith for being a gifted actor and musician! I’m a huge fan of his music and of course of The Andy Griffith Show. My heart sank reading the headline that he passed away this week at age 86.

This past year the music world lost Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Robin Gibb from the Bee Gees and Beastie Boy’s Adam “MCA” Yauch. There would be too much to say about each of these iconic artists in one post, but I feel that Andy Griffith deserves special recognition for bringing music and two hit shows (Andy Griffith and Matlock) to the entertainment world.

In regards to The Andy Griffith Show you had a cast of warm hearted characters that I enjoyed watching and I looked forward to the music performed on the show.

Most of the songs that I have heard on the show exposed me to a catchy side of bluegrass and gospel music that I didn’t appreciate before.

In an article from the Music Industry News Network website, Rodney Dillard, guest star as one of the Darling boys featured on Andy Griffith states:

“Andy Griffith became more than an icon. He represented American family values and has given comfort and hope in these uncertain times. He gave The Dillards (The Darlings) an opportunity to be part of this. Andy was kind, generous and patient with an inexperienced group of pickers from the Ozark Mountains. Andy Griffith’s impact on the world will last forever.” Read full article here

One song by the Darling family played during the Andy Griffith episode titled: “The Darling Baby” called There Is A Time  deserves praise for being the most beautifully written song by The Dillards.

As a hard rock fan, I rarely listen to country or bluegrass music but The Dillards carry that progressive mix of country and rock. The vocals for There is a Time are by Maggie Peterson and the song has so much meaning in few words.
My favorite line from the song is:
“There is a time for us to wonder when time is young and so are we.” 
Griffith remains an inspiring figure for me with his folk and gospel music style. I hope that in this day our culture will still appreciate an icon like him. He played a great warm-hearted character as Sheriff Andy Taylor and his show shared beautiful gospel hymns.
“TV Land, meanwhile will focus on Griffith’s small-screen career — specifically, his long-running “The Andy Griffith Show.” TV Land will air marathons of the series on Wednesday, July 4 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., as well as July 7 and July 8 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” stated from an article on MSN. Read full article here

When I watch The Andy Griffith Show I value the moral lesson in each episode and I cannot say that about today’s sitcoms. Griffith’s rich singing voice paired with his light acoustic guitar strumming, and delivered by his humble character Andy Taylor is talent that will live on.

Check out the link from Bluegrass Preservation You Tube channel to watch the clip for There is a Time.
 

Pop Culture Reflection: 90s Era and First album I bought on CD

21 Feb

I set my radio to the classic rock station and caught the beginning of the song Poison by Alice Cooper playing. Great song from the album Trash!

It also happened to be the first album I bought on compact disc back when I started converting from cassette to CD.

The song flashed me back to the mid 90s when I opened my Aiwa sound system CD player for Christmas ’94. I remember being so eager to start buying CDs.

Trash is a short and sweet album with 10 rockin’ tracks with guest vocals by artists like Bon Jovi. The album has the whole cheesy glam rock late 80s flavor but it carries a consistent flow and remains one of my favorite albums.

I loved the song Poison and I remember watching the music video on MTV when I was in fourth grade.

I always loved the end of the video when the temptress woman stands in the doorway dressed like Alice Cooper then she lifts up her head and takes her wig off revealing her blond hair and takes a sip from her wine glass.

But off to the side the real Alice Cooper is standing there holding up a tiny bottle of Poison.

Nice lil’ gotcha at the end showing her that she did not conquer him! It is cheesy and lame but I loved it.

I definitely over played Trash with my then brand new Aiwa system.

I also remember doing this silly experiment by attaching the sub woofer to my CD player and then turning it up to max volume! (80 watts) Then I would grab the stereo remote hit pause and then stand outside my bedroom doorway and hit play.

I would do this just to feel my windows and entire room vibrate from that bass! I don’t know why but it felt so cool even though I never would need to listen to anything at that ear splitting volume.

I also played certain songs that made no sense to play loud with bass, like I would pop in Chris Isaak’s album San Francisco Days and listen to the song 5:15 which was a very mellow song!

I guess I just liked hearing how any song sounded on that system!

I tried to recall what my first official download was when I got my MP3 player but I’m not sure since I downloaded a bunch of songs at once.

All I can recall is that Supersonic by JJ Fad and Wheel in the sky by Journey were in that block of my first downloads.

Farewell to my 90s memories when transitioning from cassette tapes to CDs was the latest trend and owning a bulky multi disc changer CD players was cool even though it took up the whole corner of your bedroom.

Check out the link below from Retro Time TV You Tube channel for Alice Cooper’s music video for Poison.

Pop Culture Reflection: Where Have All My Music Stores Gone?!

16 Dec

I’m reminiscent of my record store experiences, but local music shops are fading away while online stores like iTunes have stepped in.

Like the rest of the high tech world I also download and purchase new music from iTunes or Amazon.

I still want the hard copy cd when it comes to certain bands; R.E.M holds this priority. (note my previous two blogs dedicated to them)

I bought R.E.M’s definitive collection the day after its’ release date and realized that I had to go to either FYE or Best Buy just to find a store with a decent music selection.

The good independent music stores just aren’t surviving anymore at least not in metro Detroit.

My favorite local music store was Wherehouse Music (This was how the store really spelled their name it’s not a typo) unfortunately it closed several years ago but it was my go to place for music.

I would head straight to the used hard rock and punk sections at Wherehouse and search albums.

I loved this section because of course it was a way to build my collection cheap and you could listen before you buy.

I would pick out certain albums with cover artwork that interested me and I would check it out.

This method is how I stumbled into loving the band Pennywise.

I remember seeing their logo on the back of somebody’s shirt from an MxPx show and thought it looked cool so while I was skimming the used section at Wherehouse my eye caught that familiar Pennywise name again. The album I saw was About Time and the price was only $4.00.

The picture was of an alarm clock strapped to dynamite on a mustard yellow background.

I grabbed it up and instantly loved the fourth track “Every Single Day.”

From that album purchase I went on to watch Pennywise perform at the next Warped Tour and since then I have bought all of their other albums and I have went to a lot more of their shows.

Today stores like Target or Costco are not places I can go to and linger around the music section and they also do not supply the vast genre selection to allow me to discover underground and local bands in the way a music shop such as Wherehouse did.

I also upgraded most of my album collection from cassette tapes to cd from the used section at Wherehouse.

There were other local shops around that I less frequented like Flipside Records, Rock-A-Billy’s, Record Time and Hot Hits. Now all of those stores have closed except Flipside Records.

Buying my last official R.E.M album from Best Buy certainly was not the same experience of when I use to buy a new R.E.M release from a music store. Instead it felt like a quick errand of run in-grab the album-let the clerk ring it up-done.

I miss buying a new album from Wherehouse’s midnight sale special.

I am now left with memories of those early music store sales.

I remember when R.E.M released Reveal around 2001 you could get a special edition booklet but it was limited. I wanted to buy it early to ensure I got the booklet.

So right at midnight I stood outside of Wherehouse Music excited to pick up the new album. When I went inside the store there was a long line of people and at first I thought all that fuss was for R.E.M.

Wishful thinking on my part instead the big line of people where there to pick up Lateralus by Tool! Here I thought people were finally coming to their senses about R.E.M.

Turns out I was the only person who was there to pick up Reveal.

As I waited I overheard the guy in line behind me ripping on R.E.M’s performance from the Tibetan Freedom Concert and how lame Michael Stipe was for wearing eyeliner and a skirt.

The irony was that this guy had on a green t-shirt for the band Live, and the lead singer of Live is a major R.E.M fan and it was R.E.M.’s music that inspired this band.

Of course I didn’t say anything to the guy about his shirt but I did shoot him the look of death before I proudly requested my copy of Reveal.

I know It’s outdated to still want to buy cds but It’s the experience that is missed and my Wherehouse Music memories are golden to me .