Music

American Hustle

I watched “American Hustle” last night. Christian Bale is a dead set rock star. He is the most versatile actor I have seen. He plays American characters better than American characters. He even gained 19.5 kg for the flick and who can forget his ghost/wraith like appearance in “The Machinist” where he lost 27kg.

What a top supporting cast in Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Smart and Robert DeNiro. DeNiro was at his best in his small cameo. He was menacing, especially when he broke out the Arab talk to the fake Mexican sheikh.

Great movie and a lot of funny scenes like when Cooper’s character goes to town on his FBI boss. That is a WTF moment especially afterwards when the boss is confessing to the Prosecutor the events and whole confession gets hijacked by Cooper into setting up the sting that his FBI boss was against. And we never got to hear the end of the ice fishing story.

The other star of the movie is Director, David Russell.

Silver Linings Playbook was a surprise to me. It was funny but real in a way and it kept you interested through the whole thing. Even though it was essentially a romantic comedy, it didn’t really come across like that at all.

American Hustle did the job as well. When looking at both flicks now, I think the key part are the characters in these movies and how all of them are eccentric in a way, none of them could really be seen as normal, there is something about them that makes them all complicated and nuts.

Jennifer Lawrence was the funniest in this flick though, she was a complete nutter but she knew exactly what she was doing. There is the aluminium foil in the “science oven” scene and the Amy Smart toilet confrontation. Add to that the scene when she sells out Christian Bale to the mob, and afterwards convinces him to thank her for it.

Russell is on a hit streak. He has followed up a “The Fighter” with “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle”. In a world where here today and gone tomorrow is the new paradigm, Russell has stuck around by delivering the hits.

Russell is building a reputation like Tarrentino. He has his own style and own way of making a movie. With his hit ratio, he is able to draw in whatever talent he wants and like Tarrentino he is proving that whatever actor/actress he chooses their stocks go up a notch. Russell’s next flick is “Legacy of Secrecy” will star Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. The JFK assassination gets another cinematic round. Will it be another hit for Russell.

In “The Fighter” Bale stole the show again as the ice addicted older brother of Wahlberg’s character that just couldn’t shake a drug habit and in the end it cost him his boxing career. It’s got some WTF scenes in that movie as well like how scared he was from his mum and when she went to one of the drug houses, Bale gets freaked out and jumps out of the second story, landing on a couch and walking away with a limp.

Bale is one of those actors that is outputting movies. He first came to my attention in “American Psycho” released in 2000. It was a small budget film that tripled its return. Reign Of Fire and Equilibrium came next in 2002. Reign of Fire had a $50 million budget and it made money, while Equilibrium didn’t make money however it was my favourite. I love the whole dystopian society theme. It cost $20 million and returned around $6 million.

In 2004, “The Machinist” hit the market along with a very thin Christian Bale. It was another small budget movie (costing $5 million and returning $9 million).

From when “Batman Begins” came out in 2005, Bale’s star has risen with each movie. There is a mix of big budget movies and low budget movies. The big budget movies returned profits and some of the low budget movies are hit and miss. In eight years, up until 2013, Bale churned out 15 movies. You see, he gets it. It’s about being in the public eye, however musical artists still don’t get it.

Along with the record labels, they keep releasing an album every two years only to see that album disappear from the conversation after six weeks. Of course some albums hang around longer than that. Volbeat, Five Finger Death Punch, Skillet, Killswitch Engage, Avenged Sevenfold and Shinedown are a few bands that come to mind.

Just because everybody is still doing it the same way, that does not mean an artist can’t break the rules. But the music business is lost in the past, shackled by legacy. Always screaming for laws to get passed to protect their business models. However, the actors get the modern paradigm, even though the studio heads don’t.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Semi Obscure Bon Jovi Songs – Part 3

Bon Jovi are consistent ticket sellers, because the Generation X’s want to go. Some want to remember their youth, while others want to contemplate who they once were and who they have come to be and what a long twisted journey it has been to today. Along the way, music has been the soundtrack to many lives. Continuing on from the Semi-Obscure theme, here is the third list of songs from Bon Jovi that fail to get the attention they deserve.

DAMNED

It has a soul like funky blues groove very similar to what Lenny Kravitz was putting out. It is a Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi composition. The theme of the song didn’t resonate with the audience. Jon Bon Jovi was a married man, with children, so when he sings a song about having a secret love for someone, it just didn’t sit right. However, the vocal melody is strong and the music is great, he just needed better words.

“These Days” from 1995 is a very misunderstood album, released in a very confusing time. Hard/Glam rock as we knew it was dead, Grunge was fading and alternative rock was rising, along with a form of industrial rock/metal. Death Metal was at its peak, black metal was rising and thrash as we knew it was more or less non-existent with all the thrash bands delivering commercial sounding albums.

So while a lot of Bon Jovi’s counterparts (the ones that were not broken up) released heavier sounding albums, Bon Jovi went the opposite and released a slower and reflective album, furnished with a few rockers and a lot of ballads. Two things are evident throughout “These Days”.

One is the blues and the other is the Americana style of music made famous by Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Hank Williams and so on.

LOVE IS WAR

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. Of course it sounds like “You Give Love A Bad Name” because Jon tried really hard to create the same vibe and the same kind of hit. Is that a bad thing? Maybe. Maybe Not. Even “Bad Medicine” sounds like “You Give Love A Bad Name”.

“Love Is War” deserved to be officially released. If you haven’t heard it, go to YouTube, the unofficial streaming service. You will find it there. It has just over 29,000 views. The numbers are nothing compared to the “hits”.

Coming into the “New Jersey” writing phase (which at one stage was the “Sons Of Beaches” writing phase), 9 million copies of “Slippery When Wet” were sold, between 1986 and 1988 in the U.S. The pressure was on to repeat “Slippery When Wet”.

I know my silence tears you up inside
You built a fortress for your hurt to hide
You think you’ve won, but it’s a tie
’cause nobody wins a war of pride

It is the stand-off, where it is better to agree than disagree and both sides believe they have come out on top.

I’D DIE FOR YOU

“Slippery When Wet” was a monster of an album. Carrying three dead set classics, it was easy for the other songs to get missed. “I’d Die For You” is written by the Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child song writing team.

While, “Livin On A Prayer” and “You Give Love A Bad Name” took all the glory from this song writing team, the deeper cuts on side 2 are not to be ignored, especially the fan favourite “I’d Die For You”.

It’s got that Judas Priest “Breaking The Law” guitar line. Did anyone pick up on that? Remember my catch cry, progress is derivative.

Today, people are always telling me to lower my expectations and accept albums that are nowhere near as good as what came before. When something connects with me, it rekindles my faith in music.

The Night Flight Orchestra did that in 2012, with “Internal Affairs”. Protest The Hero did that in 2013 with “Volition”. Evergrey did that in 2011 with “Glorious Collision”. Machine Head did that in 2007 with “The Blackening”. Motley Crue did that in 2008 with “Saints Of Los Angeles”. Dream Theater did that in 2009 with “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” and One Less Reason did that in 2010 with “Faces and Four Letter Words”. Great music that makes you want to live forever, just to see what comes next.

That’s the power of a hit record and there was no bigger hit than “Slippery When Wet” in the Eighties for rock and metal music. Also a “hit” is not something that an a record label rep markets to death so that it can chart for a month or two and is then forgotten. No, a hit record infects the soul, like a virus that can never be treated. It lives with us forever.

As Robb Flynn sang in “Darkness Within”, “Pray to music, build a shrine, worship in these desperate times, fill your heart with every note, cherish it and cast a float.”

That is the power of music and that is the power of “Slippery When Wet”. On YouTube, “I’d Die For You” is a cult hit. The fan’s have taken the song and made their own film clips, lyric videos and so on. Add all the views together and you get close to 2 million views.

Jon Bon Jovi wasn’t married in 1986, when “Slippery When Wet” was released.

I’d die for you
I’d cry for you
I’d do anything
I’d lie for you
You know it’s true
Baby I’d die for you

Is he singing “I’d Die For You” to his future wife?

MY GUITAR LIES BLEEDING IN MY ARMS

Do you wanna know what is the difference between Bon Jovi and the wannabes? The delivery. We had no doubt that Jon Bon Jovi had lived his stories. This is the power of rock and roll. It doesn’t have to be heavy, or fast or bluesy. It can be a slow-moving ballad. It can be a sound. The title is a take on the George Harrison classic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

You see, when done right, music brings us together. It touches something that can’t be described and that is the essence of life. And others are out there also feeling that same connection. That is why we become fans.

I can’t write a love song the way I feel today
I can’t sing no song of hope, I got nothing to say
Life is feeling kind of strange, since you went away
I sing this song to you wherever you are
As my guitar lies bleeding in my arms

It is a depressing song dealing with a conflicted front man.

“Keep The Faith” was classified as a failure by the critics and the press as it “only” moved 2 million copies. In 1992, thousands of other bands would have moved heaven and earth to have sales of 2 million.

He tried out his “Jambco” record label that also released records from Billy Falcon and Aldo Nova. That venture was also classed a failure. The records from both Billy Falcon and Aldo Nova didn’t really click up the sales either and Jon Bon Jovi played important roles in both of them, as a song writer and as a producer. So hearing this song come out of him in 1995, it resonates.

ONLY LONELY

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and David Bryan.

This is back to an innocent time when musicians were not so much wannabe fame and money mongers, but musical fanatics. You can hear the New Jersey synth sounds in this. The Bon Jovi VEVO channel has this song at 1,251,542 views. Other channels have lyric videos and their own fan clips, plus live performances.

The bottom line is this; it is a fan favourite. Like “I’d Die For You”, could it be about someone in particular.

“Only lonely — I can’t stop hurting you
Only lonely — but I can’t stop loving you
Only lonely — how much pain does it take”

THE PRICE OF LOVE

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi.

The Jon Bon Jovi of today portrays himself as a winner, whereas in the Eighties and early Nineties era he revealed his inner turmoil and demons and we loved him for it because we identified!

“We live, we learn, we lie
For the price of love
We kiss then say goodbye
For the price of love”

Aint that the truth. It’s like the movie “Groundhog Day”. We relive what love is until we get it right.

WITHOUT LOVE

“Without Love” is written by the Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child song writing team.

When a person is singing about finding a person that loves them and not being able to keep it, then they would rather be without love.

“I see my life
There’s some things I took for granted
Love’s passed me by
So many second chances
I was afraid
But I won’t be afraid no more”

Fear is the biggest killer of dreams and hopes.

BURNING FOR LOVE

It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora. When I hear this song, it reminds me of Muse as the progression is very similar to the progressions that Muse employs.

As with all of the earlier stuff, Sambora goes to town during the lead breaks, showcasing his abilities as a melodic shredder. He never went too over the top, always focusing on enhancing the song, instead of enhancing his ego.

RIVER RUNS DRY

It is a Jon Bon Jovi and Desmond Child composition that begins as a derivative version of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” which was also copied from a certain French band called Tarkus that opened up for Led Zeppelin at one point in time. Remember, progress is derivative.

SAVE A PRAYER

No one knows this song even exist, but they should. It deals with the theme of saving a prayer for when a person needs it. To save a prayer for when a person has gone through some bad moments.

Did you ever feel like you were drowning,
did you ever feel betrayed by a kiss?
Did you ever feel like you needed somebody,
would you feel alone in a world like this?
Did you ever feel like you needed shelter,
did you ever laugh when you wanted to cry?
Did you ever dream about evolution,
don’t you ever feel like your living a lie?

Jon gets the words right and nails it. Who hasn’t felt any of the above emotions and feelings?

Oh, Whoa, too many children grow up blind to the truth.
I say, Oh Oh, Oh, Oh,
say a prayer for me,
I’ll save a prayer for you.

We live in an age where everything is at our fingertips. Don’t take everything that you read as the truth. Investigate and research it. Come up with your own conclusions.

After re-reading all of the above, I noticed that i have subconsciously sequenced the songs into an album format. So I set up a playlist, put on the headphones, kicked back and enjoyed this special Bon Jovi album.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Unexpected Slow Metal Hit

We live in a world that is all about the NOW. Music quickly comes and it quickly goes. Look at all the Top 10 Lists or the Charts for each week and you will see that it is a different list each week. There is just so much new music coming out at the moment and people are just churning it up.

For example, I didn’t get a chance to get into the new Trivium album because a week later, I had the new Protest The Hero album and that has taken all of my attention.

However, there are always songs that sit on the outside. Songs that the artist or the band didn’t believe could be a “hit” (I use that term lightly) or a song that should be used as a promotion tool.

But they didn’t count on the fan choices. The fan that today has the power. The fan that could pick and choose what track they could listen too.

Killswitch Engage released “As Daylight Dies” in 2006 and it is there cover of “Holy Diver” that proved to be the sleeper hit. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. it has 6,136,523 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see it has 9,013,222 views.

Alter Bridge released “One Day Remains” in 2004. “Open Your Eyes”, “Find the Real” and “Broken Wings” followed as promotional singles. However it was the metal heavy “Metalingus” and the moving ballad “In Loving Memory” that the fans selected as the hits. Don’t believe me, check out Spotify. “Metalingus” has 3,362,193 streams and “In Loving Memory” has 2,690,909 streams. Still don’t believe me, go on YouTube and you will see that “Metalingus” has over 5,500,000 views from all the combined channels and “In Loving Memory” has over 6,000,000 combined views.

In 2011 Trivium got blasted for the “In Waves” album, however the title track is their biggest so far. On Spotify “In Waves” the song has 3,038,061 streams. On YouTube, the Official Video on the Roadrunner Records channel has 3,423,215 views and a live version of the song on the Trivium Official channel has 2,767,455 views.

Volbeat broke through in the U.S on the back of “Still Counting”. The song was released in 2008 on the “Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood” album and on 21 July 2012 “Still Counting” was the number-one song on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks US chart. Go on Spotify and it has been streamed 19,779,202 times. Go on YouTube and count the views from all the various channels. They add up.

Bullet For My Valentine led the promotional campaign for their “Temper Temper” album with the song “Riot”, however the fans didn’t care about that song as much as they cared about “Breaking Point” and “Tears Don’t Fall (Part 2)”.

As much as Dream Theater is trying to promote the current version of the band, they can’t escape their past. The Spotify Top 10 of Dream Theater has the 9 songs from the new self titled album (that proved to be a dud), plus “On The Backs Of Angels” from the previous album. However if you go on YouTube the fans don’t care about the new album currently. “Wither”, “Pull Me Under” and “Another Day” still get the attention.

This is very different to Avenged Sevenfold, who have people very interested in their new album. In addition, all the other media outlets and bands that are talking about the album, all they are doing is adding to the legend of it. Hail To The King I say. “Shepherd Of Fire” is doing the rounds on my iPod.

Protest The Hero have led the promotional campaign of their new album “Volition” with “Clarity”, “Drumhead Trail” and “Underbite” however, it is “Mist” and “Skies” that is getting the conversation.

The market place today isn’t about the hit song now. It is about new songs vs old songs. Metal and rock songs are always late bloomers. There is no formula as to why certain songs resonate more than others with fans.

I like the story about how Dave Mustaine assisted Stryper in selecting their lead off single from the “No More Hell To Pay” album. They had a different song choice for the lead single and changed their minds after they had a chat with the Megadeth front man. Dave told them that his favourite track is “Sympathy”. This made Michael Sweet change his mind for the lead off single. That track is listed as Number 11 on the album and to be honest it is a kick arse song.

Sure, back in the day when the record labels ruled, they would employ a scorched earth policy to market a band and the lead off single and naturally we would bite as we had the time to invest and there was nothing really else out there.

YouTube and Spotify play a big part today in transforming a song into a phenomenon. Television also plays it’s part. Look at all the hit shows and they all have a section where a certain song plays and it conveys the emotion of the scene that no other music can.

Sons Of Anarchy comes to mind here, especially at the end of Season 2, when the song “Hands In The Sky (Big Shot)” from Straylight Run played in the epic last 5 minutes of the final episode.

Look at what Breaking Bad did for “Baby Blue” by Badfinger.

My wife was a fan of Grey’s Anatomy and because of that show she got into Snow Patrol (“Chasing Cars”) and The Fray (“How to Save a Life”).

In the end all artists need to do is create great music. The fans will latch onto it eventually.

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