April 21st, 2004

Wedding day

Screw Blender (the magazine, not the appliance)

This morning emjay42 posted a link to a USA Today story about Blender Magazine's feature listing the 50 worst songs ever. Blender.com doesn't have that story on their website yet, but they do have last May's feature on the 50 worst bands ever. They list quite a few bands I'd purposely forgotten about, but I feel the need to defend my poor taste:
  • Blind Melon: Blind Melon was one of the better bands of its type to enjoy success in the early 1990s, but a short time later alternative/grunge more or less died and Soup, their second (and arguably best) album failed commercially. Lead vocalist Shannon Hoon died of a drug overdose in 1995, and the band lasted a few more years, releasing a third album, Nico before parting ways. Anyway, Blender lists Soup as Blind Melon's worst album, but they have no idea what they're talking about. It's fantastic, and a great buy its present bargain-bin price. If you like that kind of music (admit it -- you used to).

  • Oingo Boingo: These guys never had any enduring chart-smashing hits, but their music was both extremely experimental and extremely listenable at the same time. The article gives a brief nod to the fact that before they were Oingo Boingo, the rock group, they were The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, a performance art troupe. I get the feeling that the folks at Blender couldn't get around the pretensions associated with the phrase "performance art," or maybe they just didn't get the movie Forbidden Zone. At least they concede that Danny Elfman has come into his own with his soundtrack work.

  • Crash Test Dummies: Their first two albums (The Ghosts That Haunt Me and God Shuffled His Feet) had some of the most accessible art-rock this side of David Byrne. God Shuffled His Feet was a surprising commercial success, due to the single Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm, one of their weaker songs representative of neither the album or the Dummies' sound (and it's still a pretty good). Admittedly the band's later endeavours were absolutely abysmal, but the first two albums still ride the fence between smart and straightforward without being haughty.

  • Emerson, Lake and Palmer: ELP is probably the best-known of the second wave of progressive rock bands, and they milked their popularity for all it was worth, churning out several pompous, self-important albums. I attribute their early-70s success to the fact that it coincided with a time when everybody was swimming up to their eyeballs in chemical refreshment. Still, despite all the chaff, there's a lot of good stuff in ELP's catalog, and when they're brilliant, they're really brilliant. Brilliant enough to warrant putting up with Keith Emerson's ego. Blender has chosen Love Beach as ELP's worst album, and I can't speak to this. Nobody I know who likes ELP has worked up the courage to buy a copy of Love Beach because we can't get past the Hairy-70s-band-tribute-to-The-Beach-Boys cover photo.

  • Rick Wakeman: Rick Wakeman was just as much a part of the pretentious prog-rock scene of the 70s as ELP, and became most famous for adapting classic novels as concept albums. He employed the same "damn, I'm good" attitude as ELP, but I like a greater proportion of his work. Blender calls the soundtrack from Ken Russell's Lisztomania his worst album, and I'm not sure what to say about that. The music and the movie are far too over-the-top to be taken seriously, and that was definitely a deliberate choice. I used to try to convince evil_jim and Tick that they should watch that movie. I wonder if I still have my copy... Um, back to Rick Wakeman, a few years ago he released Return to the Center of the Earth, a followup to his adaptation of Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. The music is fantastic, and it's narrated by Patrick Stewart. How cool is that?

  • Yngwie Malmsteen: I quite like Mr. Malmsteen, but I can see why he's on the list. His name's too damned difficult to pronounce. No wonder he didn't get any serious radio play -- "This is KQAL FM, I'm Johnny Dangerously, and that was... uh, Yuh-- Yaw.. Yih... Ih... Ing...Yin... gwee... Malmstein. Steen. Yin-gwee Malmsteen. Nnngwai? Yingwee. I think."

  • Mick Jagger: I'm indifferent to Mick Jagger (both his solo work, and The Rolling Stones), but he simply doesn't belong on this list. 'Nuff said.

Ah, well. Now I'm all pissed off about Blender magazine. Anyway, on a totally different topic, the mob has spoken, and The Tale of Rhubarb Bunnywing will have a traditional 2D adventure-style interface. I'm a little worried about how the visuals are going to look. This type of game is going to require more animation than I've done in the past, and I'm not a particularly good artist. I'd like to do it all myself, though. I promise -- absolutely -- that the graphics will be high-resolution and will not look like this:



That's a scene from Mole, a game I've been "working on" (read: guiltily ignoring) for Russian Underware since late 1998. One of these days I'll finish Mole. Seriously. One of these days, man. I'm just waiting for the right one.
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