A Villainous Return to Music

Queens of the Stone Age’s latest album entitled, “Villains” is the dream soundtrack to your hellish disco fantasy.

The phrase “dancing with the devil” takes on a very literal sense with their seventh album, released on Aug. 25, 2017. The hype preceding this release was not only a result from the band’s four year hiatus since releasing their now landmark album “Like Clockwork.” The hype was mostly surrounding the fact that the entire album was produced by “Uptown Funk” musician/producer extraordinaire, Mark Ronson, whose pop musical connotations seem antithetical to those of Queens. Although hardcore Queens fans may see this collaboration as nothing short of sacrilege, I found the fusion of Ronson’s funk vibes with Queens’ twisted hard rock a unique concoction that freshens Queens sound without discarding its intoxicating eeriness.

Ronson’s influence is mostly present in the album’s uptempo and intermittent synth-esque riffs that are impossible not to dance to. Songs such as “The Way You Used To Do” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” are the most obvious examples of this given their unforgiving, upbeat and villainously cool nature. Along with “Domesticated Animals” and “Fortress,” Queens created a musical quadfecta that still holds their signature darkness and hypnotism, but now with a builtin dance party.

The intense guitar riffs combined with the sultry cadence of frontman Joshua Homme make listening to the album a fun act of mischievousness and dark indulgence. Although some of the songs fall short in sharpness when compared to the aforementioned quadfecta, ie “Hideaway” and “Head Like a Haunted House,” the whole album is a successful attempt at rebooting the band’s sound without entirely dismissing their brand.

Personally, I think “Villains” is a great album that missed the “perfect” mark by a very small margin. But, who really cares if it’s perfect or not when the music makes you feel so darn cool? 

The Night Josh Tillman Came To San Diego

The opening act had just finished and now the crowd started to inch closer to the stage. Weyes Blood was the talented singer-songwriter who had to preface the night before none other than Father John Misty aka Josh Tillman.

Once the lights dimmed, the usual cheers were thrown at the stage as the band came out. And in his very own dramatic fashion, Father John stepped out. He opened with the title track of his newest album “Pure Comedy,” in which the lyrics speak of the trials of man and their inability to get things right in this troubled life. With lines such as “…Where did they find these goons to lead them? What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?…” Josh certainly wasn’t pulling any punches with the current issues plaguing our society.

After the first few songs and once the stage was clouded with fog, he continued to power through his songs. I turned to my friend to tell him that he was going through his setlist fairly quickly. I thought perhaps Josh had been going through some sort of sickness. Shortly after I made my observation, in his congested talking voice, Josh confirmed that he was “a brittle, sick and decrepit man,” telling us he was on medication but was still excited to be performing for us.

Towards the end of the set, Josh played one of his most popular songs “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” from his debut album “Fear Fun.” Its instantly recognizable guitar introduction and drums got everyone in the theatre excited, as what most crowds do when hearing their favorite songs. Everyone immediately pulled out their phones.

“YEAH! PULL OUT YOUR PHONES! RECORD IT ON YOUR PHONES!” yelled Josh as he continued to play the intro for the song. It was an obvious jab at the crowd for only wanting to experience things through their phones. I had mine out. I’m not not about to document this great song. Josh even knows this is the song that put him on the map in the first place.

He ended the show with a song titled “Holy Sh*t” off of his sophmore album “I Love You, Honeybear.” He exited stage left. And that was it.

Thanks, Papa John.

Vulgarity in Latin Trap

Latin trap has become extremely popular in the past few years. Artists like Bad Bunny, Anuel AA, Ozuna, Arcángel and Bryant Myers have been able to attract large audiences, frequently collaborating with each other, as well as with other Latin trap artists. Creating hits that become widely popular, they have reached hundreds of millions of views on YouTube and a similar amount of streams on Spotify.

Thus, this genre, with its great popularity and mass amount of listeners, obviously has a large platform. Yet, the genre is controversial amongst some people, particularly feminists, as this music is known to have vulgar and explicit lyrics about women and sex, as well as the glorification of drugs, money and weapons. If you put any song on by one of the artists mentioned above, or any other Latin trap artist, the lyrics are going to stand out. It is atypical for a song in this particular genre of music to not talk about the numerous sexual conquests of the men rapping the songs with explicit descriptions and to not objectify women, who are usually described for their bodies and their sexual performance.

When the wildly popular Colombian artist Maluma, who sings pop and reggaeton, dabbled in the genre of trap, there was immediate outrage. Maluma’s “Cuatro Babys,” which features Puerto Rican trap rappers Bryant Myers, Noriel and Juhn, was released in October 2016, and started great controversy. Particularly, the song was criticized by mothers whose children listen to Maluma’s music, as well as feminists, who described the song as being misogynistic and sexist.

The song basically discusses how he is in love with four different women, and can’t decide who to choose. His dilemma arises from the fact that they’re all good in bed and all four of them are always more than willing to satisfy him in the bedroom whenever he calls them. Essentially, these women are all at his disposal, and he describes in great and explicit detail their sexual encounters. As Yolanda Dominguez wrote in a Huffington Post opinion piece soon after the song was released, “It describes them as simple, interchangeable bodies that are at the service of the limitless, unrestrained and uncontrollable sexual desire of boys.”

Maluma is an extremely popular artist and has a very impressionable young audience of mainly prepubescent girls, thus the controversy makes sense. Yet, if a fan of Latin trap were to listen to the song, this song would not really stand out to them, in the grand scheme of this genre. Because, such lyrics are extremely common in Latin trap. Women are constantly described in such explicit manners, and are objectified in these songs.

Thus this begs the question: is Latin trap a deplorable genre of music that glorifies the portrayal of women as mere sex objects? And by listening to this music, is this in turn supporting these men’s views and perpetuating this idea that women should be viewed in this manner? Or, on the other hand, is Latin trap, and its lyrics, which describe street life and the artists’ perspectives from living in the hood, as Alejandro Pino, a scholar in cultural studies, describes it: a direct product of an entire culture that objectifies women in the first place? Are these artists merely just rapping about their personal experiences, and these lyrics are a mere social reflection of a cultural problem?

Featured Image can be found here.

 

How I Saw The xx at The Observatory

After tickets for The xx show at The Observatory sold out in 20 minutes, I found myself at a loss. A friend and I had been wanting to see them for awhile now, so when the weekend of Sept. 23 approache, we were determined to finally make it happen.

For those of you who do not know who The xx are, think back to Project X. That’s right. In addition to the movie’s famed “Heads Will Roll” A- Trak remix, The xx’s “Intro” was used to close out the film. The band consists of three members: Romy, Jamie and Oliver. Together, the three of them create sweet, sweet indie pop sounds.

As we stood between the bar and the entrance to The Observatory, my friend and I had to painfully hear songs such as  “I Dare You” and “Say Something Loving” through the walls. We couldn’t take it anymore. So, we did what any self-respecting fan would do – we just snuck in.

I am not writing this in hopes that you will sneak into Observatory shows or give you a “how to” guide – that is not my intention. But, desperate times call for desperate measures. With the help of an old yellow receipt in my purse, some tape and a heck of a lot of confidence, my friend and I flashed our makeshift wristbands and booked it into the crowd. We were in, SUCCESS.

After hearing songs such as “VCR “and “Shelter,” we were hooked. The performance was amazing thus far, but then the Jamie xx solo happened. Jamie not only played his hit song, “Loud Places,” with his bandmates, but continued on as he freestyled his way to his new remix of the group’s song, “On Hold.” The crowd went absolutely nuts when Jamie’s bandmates then came out to perform the full song.

I have been to many shows, but I have never witnessed a crowd like that one. It was truly amazing to be part of something so magical – applause and cheers went on for 3-5 minutes at a time. It was evident that although small, the venue was packed with loyal fans who could not contain their love for the British trio. If you ever get the chance, even if you are not familiar with The xx, I 100 percent recommend seeing them play anyways (buy a ticket).

KCR College Radio does not endorse unpaid entrance into shows.