Music Pick: Mad World

This week’s pick is actually two versions of the same song– Mad World.

The original is by ’80’s pop rock duo Tears for Fears, and sounds exactly like you would expect an ’80’s pop hit to sound. Synthesizers and percussion, and a pace meant for dance.
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Music Discovery in the Age of Shazam!

It used to be that I heard a song on the radio, or in a cafeteria, or in the soundtrack of of a movie and I would have to file it away for years until, serendipitously, I would discover the origin. This was before Google (or B.G.). Life was different back then.

I had hundreds of songs filed away in my head. You couldn’t just walk around humming the tune to everyone you met, on the off chance that they could identify it. The tune was was killing you, eating you alive. And gradually, you would forget parts of it. Then all of it. It was such a good song, but you would never find out what it was.

You couldn’t just hum it to everyone you met. I mean, you could– but good luck keeping or making friends:

Me: I remember a few words. It goes like ta-daa ta-ra-raa so much, tu-ru-ru in the la-di-da.
Person: Do I know you?
Me: Ok. Maybe you know this one. It goes tu-du-doo, I’m a ta-li-daa.
Person: Sir, step away from my ear.

And so on.

I used to go on multi-decade searches for songs that really caught hold of my attention. Then, the world changed.

Now, I hear a song on the radio and I can immediately go to the radio station’s web site and see what’s playing. Or if I can’t get to the internet, I just remember the radio station and time of day and look it up later.

Or if it’s on a radio station that doesn’t have an archive, or if it’s playing in a coffee shop, or (more likely) if I’m impatient, I can just hold the-greatest-app-in-the-history-of-mankind Shazam up to the speaker. And Shazam will tell me the name and artist. Even works for obscure Hindi songs. Just the other day, I discovered “Sarki Chunariya re Zara Zara” by Himesh Reshammiya and filed it away in my head as a song I never want to buy.

Or if I just remember a snippet of a tune, I can hum it to Midomi. And Midomi will (some times) tell me the song. Or I can google the lyrics. Or if it’s playing in a movie, I just go to IMDb’s soundtrack listings.

After that, it’s a short trip to to listen to the whole song and, if I want, an even shorter one to eMusic or iTunes to buy it. The path from discovery to contentment has never been quicker or more pleasurable.

Music Pick: Hombre Lobo by Eels

More than a decade ago, I had fallen in love with “Novocaine for the Soul” by the alternative rock band, the Eels. It was one of my favorite tracks on my “MTV Alternative Nation: Volume 2” (or was it 1?) audio cassette! I kind of lost track of them over the years, though I have caught a couple of their songs (“My Beautiful Monster” and “Cancer for the Cure”).

Now I’ve rediscovered them with their latest album: Hombre Lobo. This is a short album, only four tracks, but each one of them is great. Especially “Beginner’s Luck” and “That Look You Gave That Guy“.

That look you give that guy, I wanna see,
Looking right at me.
If I could be that guy, instead of me,
I’d never let you down.

Music Mondays is a regular post where I feature new music that I’m listening to.

Bollywood Roots: Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuchh Kahaa

This is the second video in my new series “Bollywood Roots” on tracing the roots of influences in Bollywood music:

One thing worth clarifying: I’m not trying to identify naked copies. Copied tunes are a dime a dozen and frankly, are uninteresting. What I am interested in is tracing culture and influences. When I see a Hindi music director take a snippet of a 19th century Irish song and turn it in to a modern hit, I think that is talent. You may not. But I hope you recognize the difference between this kind of an inspiration and the Pritam-style note-for-note Korean copies.

In any case, here’s the story in the video above:

This time, the search has been 11 years in the making.

The song is “Na Bole Tum Na Maine Kuchh Kaha” from Basu Chatterjee’s “Baton Baton Mein”: starring Amol Palekar and Tina Munim. The music was by Rajesh Roshan, sung by Amit Kumar and Asha Bhonsle with lyrics by Yogesh.

I had no idea this song had any older roots than the 1979 film until 1995 when I was watching Die Hard: With a Vengeance and the tune plays throughout the film. Once more, I had a case of a western version of an Indian song appearing after the Hindi version. Clearly, the song had older roots- but I had no idea just how old. I was about to be surprised… 11 years later. It was this military beat with an orchestra playing the tune which is the main part of the Hindi song: (Read More)

Music Pick: Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer

AC Newman‘s “Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer” is one of the most fun songs of 2009. Newman is one of the main songwriters for The New Pornographers. The song is extremely catchy. It’s from his second solo album, Get Guilty. And I just need to hear it once for it’s beat to get stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

This is part of a regular feature where I highlight new music I like. On Mondays.