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{ Category Archives } Popular Music

Pop, Rock, Hip-hop, etc.

Music and Lyrics

I saw Music and Lyrics on the airplane a few days ago. It’s cartoonish in the usual Hollywood romantic comedy way. Hugh Grant’s character (Alex Fletcher) especially is too much of a chameleon, changing color from pathetic to sexy to serious at the plot’s convenience. But it’s true enough to the music and has enough […]

Tagged movies, pop music, songwriting

Coffeehouse goodbye

A few weeks ago my 8th class full of songwriting students met in the Duke Coffeehouse on east campus to sing their final-project songs. It was a final for me, too—my last significant act as an instructor at Duke—and it was a great way to close things out. I don’t remember the event ever going […]

Tagged Duke University, pop music, songwriting, teaching music

Operatic ambition and operatic reality

A few days ago that most incisive of gossip columnists, Opera Chic, had a little thing about Rufus Wainwright’s operatic ambitions, which are pretty high-flown (“My dream is to compose three operas that will be performed for the next two centuries”) but also seem to come from a sincere attachment to the genre. It’s refreshing, […]

Tagged Greensboro Opera Company, Henry Mollicone, opera, pop music, Rufus Wainwright

Going to town with “Going to a Town”

I’ve had it on my list for a while to look into Rufus Wainwright’s music. The time finally came late last week, when Roger Bourland posted a YouTube clip of “Going to a Town,” Wainwright’s new single. Bourland started his blog in connection with a freshman seminar on Wainwright’s music he was giving at UCLA. […]

Tagged music analysis, pop music, Rufus Wainwright, songwriting

The badness of the best and worst

I’ve just been talking to a colleague in another department about a statistical analysis of Beatles chord progressions that he’s doing. I could go on and on about the pitfalls of that, but I won’t. He’s doing it to illustrate a statistical technique, so he’s not pretending to be coming up with the grand theory […]

Tagged polls, pop music, rating and ranking, rock, The Beatles

Something so right, but what?

We had an amusing little discussion/debate in my songwriting class today. I brought in 2 recordings of Paul Simon’s song “Something So Right”—the original (from There Goes Rhymin’ Simon) and Annie Lennox’s (from Medusa). Lennox’s rearrangement is fairly radical—she exchanges the roles of the bridge and chorus in the original. I like to spend some […]

Tagged Annie Lennox, Paul Simon, songwriting, teaching music