Mr. Bill George Presents

Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Be A Society Hero

In Music, Video Games on May 11, 2009 at 10:32 PM

I have a headache, and do you know why? I don’t know what the word “hero” means anymore. No, this isn’t a long, political filibuster about the way things were in the good ole days; it is a call to action for all of us to just say no… to rhythm based video games.

Wait, did I really just try to put down the multi-zillion dollar industry that has been created by the game Guitar Hero? You’re damn right I did.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning the whole organization but I am saying enough is enough. Do you people realize how close we were to getting a Guitar Hero: Prince? (Prince had the dignity to decline and say kids would turn out as well adjusted individuals if they played actual instruments.) But I guess it makes sense, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was a huge hit, the only thing it was missing in my mind was unlockable wheelchairs and walkers for Steven Tyler to use as he shuffled around stage. But enough about my dislike for Aerosmith, I’ll try and spell out it out for you a little more clearly.

Since 2005 when Guitar Hero burst onto the scene there have been 8 games that have come out with 3 more due out this year. Not including the Rock Band franchise which people still pretend is somehow different or more advanced than Guitar Hero, that’s around 1.6 games every year. That’s faster than MADDEN people! I do believe that the fine folks who program these games know that they are running out of room to make these games because in the 2009 lineup is a game called Band Hero. Probably up after that is Group of People in Close Proximity Making Noise Hero, or is that just another name for Aerosmith? Burned.

Basically what I’m driving at is that our whole media industry is far too consumed with reproducing something until its returns are so diminished that it ends up in the bargain bin at Dollar Tree. Don’t believe me? Toy Story 3 is in the works (I know it’s in 3D MrBillGeorge, relax), a new Beverly Hills Cop, a new Jurassic Park, a new Rambo for God’s sake, he (*spoilers*) DIED in the first book. Somewhere the carnage must end.

But there is in fact no end in sight. Activision is coming out with DJ Hero, which I’m absolutely sure will spawn a line of niche games in this vein. Maraca Hero, Slide-Whistle Hero, Nails on a Chalkboard Hero: Aerosmith, Triangle Hero and people will probably eat it up.

I put it to you America, play these games, but don’t discuss that Buddy Rich style drumming got you through ‘Hot For Teacher’ on drums. Be a society hero, go out, socialize, bang on a real drum or two, you just might find that not everything needs a USB port to be worthwhile.

May Madness: ‘Idol’ Final Four

In Music, Television on May 1, 2009 at 1:18 AM

I’ve put this off long enough. I have got to sound off on American Idol now that we are down to the final four. But first let me say, yes, I watch American Idol. I know it’s all filler/garbage during elimination nights, the product placement is atrocious and Paula is intolerable. But the talent this year is fantastic, the songs are fun to listen to, Simon is still the man and the drama of who goes and who stays is irresistible. So let’s get right to it:

ADAM: Has my vote. By far the best performer/entertainner and most innovative. He is a phenomenal talent. His song selection (minus that little Ring of Fire mishap) has been impeccable. More specifically, his renditions of Tracks of my Tears and Mad World were some of the best performances the show has ever seen.

That being said: he may not win. For a few reasons. 1. Many people think he already has it in the bag so they don’t put in the effort of voting (like myself). Which is why I think he was in the bottom two this week (unless that was just a producer’s way of ratcheting up the excitement). 2. Stuff like this has got to scare FOX when they consider the prospect of him becoming the new mascot of their highest rated show.

KRIS: Consistently good. I really like Kris’ voice and his song choices. He was the best and bravest during disco week without a doubt. He is my second choice and I would not be surprised one bit if he won and I’d be okay with that. The reason his chances are better than Adam’s is that he is more marketable. He has a broader appeal, a more soothing presence and a clean look. But he’s weak in terms of charisma and personality. So it’s a tossup. He is talented enough to be the next American Idol, without question (I mean if Taylor Hicks can win…). Then again, he was in the bottom three this week, for what reason I do not know.

ALLISON: The youngster is my third choice. She has always been a strong contender but her problem is her limited range. All her performances blend together for me. While I’m listening to her I’m impressed but it’s easily forgettable. She hasn’t proven she is a unique artist, as Kara would say. Also, she’s a bit too similar to Kelly Clarkson. America needs something fresher than that, which has been proven by her recent visits to the bottom three. But she will certainly shine this week with the rock and roll theme.

DANNY: The guy with the dead wife. I’ve only heard this secondhand but apparently his dying wife’s last wish was for him to compete on Idol. If someone wants to confirm that be my guest, but it explains part of why he gets so many votes. I think he’s a fine singer, but who makes up his audience? What demographic would buy his albums? Ultimately, that’s what FOX wants: to sell albums. And Danny is not a lock for that if you ask me. I hope sympathy votes don’t sway America too heavily, at the end of the day this is a singing competition. And, great as he is at times, the other three are all better.

BOTTOM LINE: There’s more talent among these top four than a lot of previous Idol winners. If you never watched or gave up on it like I did, I suggest you give it another shot. At the risk of sounding corny: it’s good, wholesome entertainment. A fun diversion from life to escape to. And, at the very least, something to blog about.

Susan Boyle Is Overrated

In Music, Television on April 20, 2009 at 4:39 PM

Yea I said it! Someone had to say it!

I grant you, the crazy cat-lady turned international darling is a darn good singer. But she’s being talked up as if she has the voice of God. Now if God were to release a CD, I might get it. Boyle? Not so much. I’ve heard her sing ‘I Dreamed a Dream,’ and on Larry King she did ‘My Heart Will Go On.’

Both songs I like (the former more than the latter) but I’ve also heard them both done better. I would never trade my International Cast Recording of ‘Dream’ for hers. And that makes me a problem for the media because they are in the business of selling CD’s. Synergy baby, synergy.

My mother noticed the headline of this article when I was writing it and immediately said, “You’re such a killjoy! It’s her story that’s amazing.” And that’s exactly my point: they’ve already got my mom! She’ll probably end up buying a CD because of this ‘amazing story!’ Which is precisely what they want!

Am I being an insensitive, cynical jerk who should be ashamed of myself because I can’t just let this poor lady have her fifteen minutes of fame without trying to diminish her accomplishment (which far surpasses any of my own)?

Yes, yes I am.

Now, do I think Susan Boyle is some kind of financial mastermind behind this whole thing? No, she is probably legit. But that doesn’t mean others aren’t trying to cash in on her appeal. And in doing so they are using artificially exaggerated language to describe her talent.

The problem is that now, a new contender as entered the ring. I saw a recent CNN headline about this other kid in the same competition. They are calling him a ‘young Stevie Wonder’ and now it’s his turn to steal the news cycle for another week (and inevitably sign a record deal).

My point is: there are a lot of great singers in the world, so exactly how long are we going to keep glorifying these talent show stand-outs?