Michael Jackson, P.Y.T.

Here’s today’s song of the day. Michael Jackson’s Pretty Young Thing from Thriller. For all Michael’s recent problems, the fact remains he was absolutely amazing in his time. Thriller, Off the Wall and to a lesser extent, Bad are still phenomenal albums.

I like the quasi-funk backing on this song. Groove it.

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Michael Jackson - Thriller - P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)

Oh, and tomorrow is Halloween; you know what that means.

Whither TV Themes?

It seems the television show theme song may be dying, or so says this cribbed AP article I ran across in a last.fm user’s journal.

It’s not really surprising, given that show running times are increasingly crunched as the networks try to crap ever-more ads into the broadcasts. And stylistically, many show producers may be trying to “set trends” by breaking away from the decades-long practice of including a show theme.

Then there’s the current practice of using an existing pop song as the show’s main title, as Ed did with Foo Fighters’ Next Year and CSI does with The Who’s Who Are You. That, I say, is an artistically cheap cop-out. If a show wants to omit a theme so it can fit 30 seconds more drama or a couple more ads into its run time, fine. I can respect that. But to borrow someone else’s caché and hope that it rubs off on you stinks of artistic desperation and gives off a whiff of the pathetic. Of course, that doesn’t include established acts that compose original music for TV, as Nerf Herder did with the Buffy theme.

The thing I’ve not seen discussed anywhere though, is how a good, memorable, unique TV theme can add to the appeal of, and build the brand/character of show. The article mentions how hearing the theme to Cheers and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air stirs up nostalgia and memories. But what it doesn’t talk about is how those themes (and related underscore) helped to complete those shows’ universe, filling in the missing atmosphere that dialogue and staging could not. A good TV theme song helps a show build a relationship with its audience and adds to its longevity.

Cheers, Fresh Prince, Night Court, The X-Files, Hill Street Blues, Star Trek, Bonanza, The Simpsons, MacGyver, The A-Team… heck, even Growing Pains, Full House and The Facts of Life. Those are all examples of shows with great theme songs that have endured. In fact, most of those shows still have an active fan base today, partially due to their engaging music.

So, this brings the question: have there been any good, memorable, original theme songs in the past five or so. I must admit that I don’t watch much of the television these day, so I can’t speak for most of the newer shows. Futurama had a nice one and I liked the one for Angel, but both those are late-90s compositions. What’s good today?

p.s., in case you’re wondering, the best tv theme song of all-time is Hawaii 5-0.

It’s Gonna Be Tight. A Tunequest Update

tunequest graph 061029

Here’s the latest data from my tunequest performance. I’m fairly confident at this point that I will beat the life-of-project trendline as shown above. The question at the point is whether I will out-perform it enough to actually meet the goal of listening to all ~14,200 songs in my iTunes library by the end of the year. For this graph, the right edge represents the last week of 2006. The blue line is total songs listened. The redline is the number of songs per week. The black line is the trendline/projection.

When isolating just the past few weeks’ worth of data, the trendline is more optimistic.

tq_graphcloseup061029.png

The small red line above is this past weekend and the long one is the end of the year. Using data from the past six weeks, we see a trendline that ends just before the year runs. Unfortunately, this graph tops out about 200 songs short.

Of course, these conditions hold true with the usual caveat that my library size is subject to change. But I don’t expect any major fluctuations in the next eight weeks.

Stereolab – Puncture in the Radar Permutation

Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night

While it is a song with an incomprehensible name Puncture In The Radar Permutation from an album with an incomprehensible name Cobra And Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night, here’s the song that got me hooked on Stereolab. It’s a song with several movements, beginning with a haunting tension that mounts to a climax around 2:20. Then it totally breaks down and melts that tension with super-smooth percussion, which persists until about 4:25, when the strings bring it to a graceful coda.

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June Christy & Stan Kenton – Shoo fly pie

june christy

This song never fails to put a smile on my face. Coming at you from 1945, here’s June Christy singing with Stan Kenton and his orchestra on the song Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy.

It’s full of jazzy soul. Enjoy.

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shoo fly pie at itunes store

Happy Birthday iPod

Well, today is the 5th birthday of the iPod. Hooray! Time to pack the little guy a lunch and send him to kindergarten. Seems like only yesterday he was a mere 5 gigabytes tall. Now look at him: about 80!

And he’s much more talented now. I remember being smilingly proud the day he shuffled his first playlist, lo those years ago. And now he’s out there playing games and showing off his pictures and movies to people and making new friends everyday. Brings a tear to my eye.

Yep. iPod is all grow’d up. Happy Birthday iPod.