Video Wednesday: dPad

Yeah, I’m on the fence about the iPad, too. It’s really sleek and elegant, but it’s not going to replace my laptop or iPhone. The device sits in between both of those products, trapped in a weird (untapped?) no-man’s land of electronics. It doesn’t fit in your pocket like the iPhone….yet it still runs on the iPhone OS. It accesses the Internet with Wi-Fi…but some models can use a 3G connection. Come on, iPad, make up your mind!

Anyway, if I end up buying one, the app below is the first thing I’ll download.

Video Wednesday: Mission Secret Neon

So here’s the plan. I roll into a packed party wearing grey sweatpants, dirty sneakers and a stained hoodie. I look like a total slob and nobody wants to talk to me. I’m the weird kid who nobody invited and shouldn’t be there. A friend of a friend, a relative you don’t see very often. “Are you going to the gym after this?” some guy asks me, high-fiving his buddies. I ignore them all.

A little after midnight the party really gets going. I wait in line for the bathroom. When I get inside, I text my accomplice: Alpha to Cobra, initiate phase two. Then I wait. Everything’s going according to plan.

Suddenly, all the lights go out. It’s a blackout. The power line has been cut, but the DJ equipment has been (secretly) attached to a back-up generator. Sneaky, right? People don’t know what to do. Is the party still going? Are we going to dance in the dark? Maybe we should just call it a night….

Then the bathroom door swings open and I run out into the middle of the dance floor. I’m a fucking hero because I’m wearing one of these:

Video Wednesday: Grandma’s Vocoder

Auto-tune, I’m sorry everyone hates you these days. Blame T-Pain. Or Kanye. Or anyone else who went a little vocoder-crazy during our collective five year bender.

Sure, you take the human element out of singing. But thanks to you, I never have to listen to anyone sing off-key. Besides, every other instrument gets mastered and processed during post-production. Why should vocals be treated differently? I’m on your side.

Video Wednesday: Vintage MJ

It doesn’t get much better than this.

Michael Jackson’s last studio album, Invincible, came out in 2001. (His penultimate CD? 1995.) Before Jackson’s 2009 death, he was known to many young people as “that guy who used to be black…but now he’s white and doesn’t have a nose.” But when he died it was like the whole world got a slap across the face. I couldn’t walk more than three blocks without hearing his music blasting through an open window. It’s not a criticism; I’m as guilty as anyone for going on a summer-long MJ binge. But here’s the thing: eight years is a long time without an album. Is there any other musician/actor/artist who could step away from his craft for nearly a decade and have the same post-mortem effect on our culture? I don’t think so.

During the two months following his death, my inbox was flooded with countless MJ remixes, re-edits and mash-ups. Most of them felt rushed, as if every bedroom producer knew MJ songs were going to be hot for a month and tried to cash in by brewing a pot of coffee and staying up all night figuring how to make MJ even more club-friendly. “Thriller” was the most popular choice, probably because the melody is so infectious and recognizable. I had to wade through a lot of garbage to find some good stuff to listen to.

The Chus and Ceballos remix below is a nice progressive house version of the song. Still, it feels a little incomplete, as if the duo had something else ready-to-go and decided to add the “Thriller” melody at the last minute. (Maybe it’s more a matter of taste, because I’ve always felt that all progressive house a) is very similar and b) only sounds good if you’re at a club with loud speakers and tons of bass.)

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Michael Jackson – Thriller (Chus and Ceballos Remix)

Laidback Luke’s remix sounds very, erm, Laidback Luke-y, with clean syncopated drums (does anyone do this better?) and a structure that keeps the song fresh by constantly changing rhythms and melodies. He never repeats the same section twice. The song doesn’t valley and peak, it just keeps changing gears.

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Michael Jackson – Thriller (Laidback Luke Remix)

This Herve song is, as per his usual style, filled with bouncy bass and and stuttered vocals. Actually, this came out long before Jackson’s death and I’ve been listening to it for some time. Still, I wanted to post it for anyone who doesn’t have it.

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Herve – Cheap Thrills

I’ve spent all morning listening to various re-interpretations of “Thriller.” You know what? I still prefer the original. Hearing the melody without getting the fun sing-along “Thriller! Thriller night!” chorus is unsettling. Nobody can best the King of Pop. Some songs are just too good to mess with.

Video Wednesday: Disney Disco

Disney’s given us a lot of great animation over the years: Pinocchio. Fantasia. The Lion King. But I recently stumbled across the following and, well, I haven’t been this excited about a cartoon since I saw the trailer for Toy Story 3.

Here’s the backstory: in 1979 Disney tried to cash in on the popularity for all-things disco by releasing an album that included both disco-fied Disney songs and Disney-fied disco songs. Their plan worked; the album was a hit and eventually sold enough copies to be certified double platinum. It’s out-of-print now, but if you’re dying to listen to “Macho Duck” or “Watch out for Goofy!” in their entirety, all the songs are available on iTunes.

Disney also released an accompanying seven-minute animated Super 8 reel set to music. Watch a brief history about that video (and the video itself) below. (Hat tip to my friends over at Retro Thing for producing such a great piece.)