Stuff I Like - The Smithereens

Yes, I didn't get a post up yesterday. Yes, I am going to put up two video heavy posts in a row. No, I do not care. This is music and you should have it in your ear holes.

The Smithereens! They are a band! They are an excellent band! You will click on these videos! You may dance! I'm not gonna tell you how to live your life!

You... will also probably make fun of the 80s/90s fashion. Look away from the 80s/90s fashion. Just enjoy the music.

..or the 90s video effects. Ignore those too.

...or the time they made a video with Jean-Claude Van Damme. A shirtless, open-vest wearing Jean-Claude Van Damme.

...man, the 90s. Man.

Stuff I Like - Professor Elemental

I've liked steampunk since before I knew the word; I didn't know about guys like K.W. Jeter, Tim Powers or James Blaylock when I was a kid, but I knew H.G. Wells was chasing Jack the Ripper in a time machine, and that was rad as hell. It's something I've been interested in as long as I can remember, but I never thought that steampunk and music went together.

Then came The Professor.

Professor Elemental arrived on the scene with "Cup of Brown Joy," almost certainly the first hip-hop song about tea ever devised by humans. He's since released three albums, as well as a few others in his non-steampunk persona of just plain Elemental. They are all worth your time.

And since we are all about the positivity this month, the Prof's tunes are well suited to the topic at hand. (That does not sound like a sentence. I am very tired.) Anyway, a great deal of the Prof's songs-- the ones that aren't about zeppelins or octopi-- are about self-acceptance, celebrating our differences, and how to behave on the Internet.

Professor Elemental's music can be found here, as well as most places you buy music online. More information on the man himself is at his home base. But come on, the man was on Phineas and Ferb, you know he's all right.

Stuff I Like - The Works of Jim Steinman

Let's begin with this: I don't know how to write about music. I don't have the vocabulary for it. I can't tell you anything about leitmotifs or bridges or anything, and I'm not 100 percent sure those are even music terms. If writing about music is dancing about architecture, this is gonna be a guy clumsily doing the cabbage patch because that's the only move he knows.

Having said that, let us discuss Jim Steinman.

Jim Steinman is a composer, lyricist, and producer. If you recognize the name, it's probably because you've seen it on the cover of a Meat Loaf album; Steinman made his name writing all the songs for Bat Out of Hell. Since then, he's written and/or produced any number of hit songs, all of which share one deciding factor; they are so far over the top they defy gravity.

I mean, come on.

There are a few things you can usually expect from a Jim Steinman song. It will usually be about young love, doomed love, or a combination of the two. Chances are there will be a choir. And it will almost certainly be longer than the average single, usually longer than 4 minutes, often longer than 5. The version of "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" on Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell is twelve, that's twelve, minutes long.

There's a reason Michael Bay was the director for the video. (Sidebar: I always wondered if David Fincher got pissed when Bay blatantly lifted all those shots from the "Jamie's Got A Gun" video.)

A Jim Steinman song has its lyrics in all capitals, italicized and in bold font, with three exclamation points at the end of every line. Every song sounds like it could be used as the soundtrack to a superhero movie, which is what happened when "Original Sin" became the theme to The Shadow.

It's not for nothing that at one point, Steinman was working on a Batman musical. Nor that the covers of his albums are done by artists like Richard Corben and Boris Vallejo; that's what he does, creating music that is more epic than epic, turned up as loud as it can go. (Look, I told you I was bad at writing about music.) All I can say is, I like it. I like it a lot.

My personal favorite has gotta be "Nowhere Fast" from the Streets of Fire soundtrack; it starts off with that badass beat and just builds and builds, and I love the lyrics. "And I don't know where I ever got the bright idea that I was cool, so alone and independent, but I'm dependin' on you now." Awesome.

("Holding Out for a Hero" was a close second.)

Apparently in fall 2015 the team supreme is reuniting for Meat Loaf's Braver Than We Are; I'm already looking forward to it.