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Tag Archives: Christina Aguilera

An Open Letter to Final Papers

5 Dec
Can't tell if she is stressed about finals or just got fingered by Wolverine.

Can’t tell if she is stressed about finals or just got fingered by Wolverine.

Okay, this has gone far enough.

You can ask anyone I know, I am a man of my word. When I lose a bet to my friends, I pay up. When I promise my older step-brother that I’ll do his chores if he would please just finally tell me what a dingleberry is, I do his chores. And I recognize that you and I made a pact a few months ago. I told you that I would write you, and Mephistopheles was there, and then we went on this crazy flying journey; it was eerily like the story of Faust.

Being that I am a man of my word, I will do as I have promised. I will go to the University Library, check out a bunch of giant books with frayed covers, and leaf through them to find keywords and phrases that will assist me in writing you in the most bullshit-heavy manner possible. But not before I give you a piece of mind. So here goes.

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Album Review: Extreme Measures’ “Extremities”

6 Sep

It's rumored that Sherman Ave's own Ross Packingham was the leg model for the album cover

Some say that Radiohead’s Kid A was the most important album of a generation. Other music aficionados declare that the Beatles were the best band or that Sam Cooke was the best singer modern music ever saw. These debates have raged for years and will continue far into the future, but nobody doubts that all of the aforementioned artists look and sound like tone-deaf taintfaced 12-year-olds playing “Louie, Louie” at a midday suburban block party when compared to the debut album Extremities by the renowned a cappella group Extreme Measures.

Founded four years ago by Dan de la Torre, Extreme Measures follows in a long line of successful, talented, and unbelievably peppy a cappella groups here in Evanston ever since the Northwestern University School of Music dean Peter “That dude who won’t stop belting Journey covers in Burger King at 1 am each Saturday” Lutkin popularized a cappella in America with the founding of the A Cappella Choir in 1906. Extremities is the exquisitely angelic culmination of a year of recording by the group (with production by Ben Lieberman), and is the greatest thing that my ears have had the good fortune to hear since “Born to Run” on vinyl. Featuring covers of acclaimed artists like OneRepublic, Gavin DeGraw, Yellowcard, Christina Aguilera, and the Backstreet Boys, Extremities has the power to transport you to a wondrously magical time in your life — right around 6th grade — and keep you there until the album finally ends, an experience you won’t soon forget.

The enchantment starts right from the beginning.

There are certain moments that occur right at the opening of truly great music: the rimshot before Dylan launches into “Like a Rolling Stone;” the riff of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” that channeled every conceivable emotion of a generation; and that moment when the beat finally drops in Beethoven’s 5th Symphony all immediately come to mind. But the opening line of Extremities, a cover of Yellowcard’s “Breathing,” is so stunning that it immediately warrants consideration as one of the best album-openers of all time. In the first few bars, Extreme Measures already establish themselves as the most illustrious a cappella group in America since four insufferable pricks from Yale first donned tuxedos and formed the Whiffenpoofs — who incidentally only have the second-most obnoxious name among a cappella groups at Yale.

But what makes this album so bewitchingly radiant is the caliber of the rest of the tracks furnished by Extreme Measures. Stunning and sublime songs like “Brand New You,” “I Don’t Want to Be,” and “The Call” all exhibit more pop sensibilities than if Hall & Oates got together with Huey Lewis to cover Rihanna’s discography. Each of the ten songs are probably catchier than the hypothetical musical lovechild of Michael Jackson and Will Schuester, and any random song you select will display more technical virtuosity in a three-minute auditory frenzy of delightful harmonies and resplendent melodies than John Coltrane could ever hope to produce in an entire gig. The vocal percussion is ravishing, production on the album is supurb, and the vocals mesh in only the most tantalizingly mesmeric combinations that make your heart (and groin) go pitter-patter.

Clearly, upon my first listen of Extremities I experienced a slight tingle in a particular extremity of my own. But multiple listens of the album can prove invaluable, providing a deeper sense of the true meanings behind Extreme Measures chipper vocals. In “The Voice Within,” for instance, the line “dum dum dmmmmmmm da da” subtly hints at a hidden darkness lurking in the hearts of man, which we all feebly try to cover up by surrounding ourselves with material goods and unsubstantial romance, while in “Ignorance” the interplay between lyrics about how much Hayley Williams likes change and more incomprehensible lines like “sjaw dot du chaut jot sjaw dot du chaut jot” evoke the inner turmoil that can arise in your soul when former loved ones start treating you like a stranger.

When the album comes to a close with “Sound of Silence,” you will probably be left with only your thoughts about the astounding beauty you just experience and a pool of your own urine — an unfortunate side-effect of aural pleasure as powerful as that produced by Extremities. Luckily, this predicament can easily be cured by purchasing more copies of the album. Scientific studies have already determined that owning a copy of Extreme Measures’ Extremities will make you five times cooler, six times more intelligent, and last at least 12.78 minutes longer in bed.

OVERALL RATING: Drip drip drop there goes an eargasm

Extremities by Extreme Measures can be purchased from iTunes HERE.

Girl Talk at Congress Theater

8 Mar

Gillis gets his mashup on at the Congress Theater

Girl Talk. Say the name and you’ll invoke either confused stares (you mean when two girls have a conversation?) or swoons. For all those who are sane and awesome, the primary response is definitely swooning and awe. And at his concert Saturday night at the Congress theater, good old Gregg Gillis, a.k.a. “Girl Talk,” did not disappoint his loyal legions of followers.

Lessons learned at Girl Talk:

Gregg Gillis truly is a god among men.
Sitting through the first two opening acts was worth it just to hear Gregg push buttons on a keyboard. There are very few people who can legitimize the pushing of buttons as a talent, and he is one of them. Girl Talk played a bunch of his newer mixes from “All Day,” but kept things lively by not just using samples the audience would have heard before. Instead he mixed things up, keeping the dance party fun and bumpin’. (In many cases, quite literally bumping. But I’ll get to that later.) His remix of “Shout!” was probably one of the best things ever — the sold out theater thought nothing of crouching onto the disgusting, beer-covered floor and “gettin’ a little bit softer now.” Nothing would have made me touch that floor unless Girl Talk commanded me to. Also, for those with some PITTSBURGH PRIDE, there was a quality remix of Black and Yellow that personally melted my heart. (Girl Talk is a Pittsburgh native, suckas. Interestingly enough, so is Christina Aguilera.). Gregg even whipped out some classics, like a mix of “Jesse’s Girl” with “BUT I’D RATHER GET SOME HEAD” thrown in. Good stuff.

We assume that the same person who did Kanye's "All the Lights" video was also responsible for Girl Talk's lighting

The visual elements were also sick. The constantly changing lights behind Gillis on stage were absolutely insane. (Also a quick shoutout to the opening act who had a scene from The Room incorporated into one of his songs.) The audience was frequently barraged with artillery raining down from the sky — balloons, confetti, etc. — which only made the show even more fun and chaotic.

Overall, Girl Talk kept things funky fresh and superb. His ability to make hipsters flail their arms and dance wildly instead of headnodding is unchallenged. Ain’t no party like a Girl Talk dance party.

Grow a pair. Or pregame harder.
The only problem with Girl Talk concerts, quite honestly, is the crowd. Back in the good old days, when Gregg was performing at smaller venues in Pittsburgh — Mr. Small’s, this is your shoutout — the crowd was fun and goofy. If you wanted to climb on stage with your friends, it was pretty easy. Everyone respected your dance space. One time, on stage, Girl Talk announced he wanted Taco Bell. So he got some — and then upon leaving, bouncers handed out burritos to everyone. Girl Talk had ordered Taco Bell for everyone in the audience. Nowadays, it’s not as personal of an atmosphere. As a chica barely over five feet, I can (and do) get my shit wrecked by pushy high schoolers, which, while embarrassing, is mostly just annoying.

Sweaty-bastard overload

The crowd at the Congress was particularly rowdy. Getting to the front row basically required a willingness to never let your feet to touch the ground, instead simply being pushed violently from side to side. It was a feeling similar to being hit with tsunami waves simultaneously from all sides. So that was unfortunate. This phenomenon leaves the audience members with two options: either accept the imminent crushing of infinite sweaty bodies, or push back. Or a perfect compromise: go to the side a wee bit, still dance intensely, but avoid being elbowed in the face about twenty times. And then just go to town and not give a crap about who you hit with your own elbows. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, people.

The Verdict:
Prepare to get extremely sweaty, pushed around by high schoolers who think they are cool and moshers who are a little desperate for human contact. Did I get sweaty? Yes. Did I have drinks spilled on me? Yes. Was it fucking awesome? YES.

Alison Decker