Recent comments

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 3 days ago

    I think calvinandhobbes has a point tbh: one can easily absorb the meaning of the lyrics in relation to the vocal performance/music, thus making the vocal performance/music more powerful, and then be under the impression that the lyrics ultimately didn't matter because you weren't consciously analyzing their quality. So the confusion here is that the lyrics were essential for an understanding of the music, but at the same time the quality of the lyrics didn't contribute to the rating at all. AfterHours keeps bringing up the "monotonous spoken word" example, but what of the opposite: Van Morrison singing about nonsense that completely contradicts the emotions in his vocals? AH seems to think it wouldn't be that important, but I'm quite sure it would be because it would be like messing with the ecosystem. You can still enjoy the music, but since the lyrics are out-of-place and grating, they will be a problem because instead of guiding towards the emotions in the music, they're an unnecessary nuisance, and thus may even be obscuring the themes of the music and affecting your overall perception. There's no actual emotion in sound itself: you, the listener, are the one who extracts "emotion", whatever that is, from the music, depending upon your past experiences and associations. So if Van Morrison sings about cat food, you would be impressed by his vocals but at the same time be amused because you can't feel the same way about cat food as he does, and you'll probably think that it's just a joke.

    Anyway, the impression I've gotten is that you two have actually the same criteria (that it's not necessary to read lyrics carefully) but are needlessly complicating the argument.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 4 days ago

    Okay, I'm undecided (only one listen), but will probably give it another shot or two. Curious what Scaruffi ends up thinking whenever he gets around to checking it out.

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   1 week 4 days ago

    Yep, agreed. Your article inspired me to finally add a line in mine that mentions the correlation.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 4 days ago

    You keep running into the same mistakes that I already pointed out in your argument, and that's why it's hopeless. Once again you cannot isolate the lyrics and point to their worthlessness standing alone as proof that they are not worth a lot in the context of the music. And it is obvious from my list that I like music with few or no lyrics, yet you keep bringing up that argument. Obviously music does not need lyrics to be good: look at my list. What makes the conversation hopeless is not our difference but your inability to engage with the difference.

    There would be an enormous drop in Astral Weeks's rating and you would know it if you did not permanently associate the concepts in the lyrics with the way he is singing those lyrics or the way the musicians are playing their instruments. What matters is your final emotional experience (not the one that the singer is strictly suffering himself), and that comes largely from concepts that the singer can't telegraph to you just through dramatic expression alone.

    You must think it is illogical to talk about the lyrics in relation to the music, and that is why you keep trying to isolate them. Let me explain why that is not illogical. Think of a chess game. If I tell someone that I lost because of the opponent's queen, I am suggesting that the queen did something in the context of the game. I am not even suggesting that the queen was powerful. I am not talking about anything about the queen itself or evaluating the queen's merits. Similarly, if I say "I downgraded Songs of Leonard Cohen because of the lyrics," I am not suggesting anything about the lyrics by themselves. I am saying something about the lyrics' function in the context of the music. If the lyrics do not create something great in partnership with the music, then it is the lyrics' fault.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 4 days ago

    I've already explained my position a few times, simply and concisely. If you're not convinced it doesn't really matter. It is totally okay if you listen differently as long as it works for you. I've never said I didn't listen to the lyrics or that they had no worth. I did say that their emotional impact alone is marginal and that my position is simply: the emotions and concepts of the work are far more prevalent in the expression/performance than they are in the lyrics themselves. One could easily prove this by reading the lyrics of Astral Weeks spoken-word, monotonously, without any attempt to dramatize the words, and with the same musical accompaniment backing that as in the album. And see the rating plummet very lowly. It would suddenly be the worst album of Morrison's career, despite the best lyrical content. This can also be seen very easily in wordless or foreign and many choral vocal performances, and the like, which have no (or marginally) less emotional impact than lyrically understandable ones.

    Morrison's vocal performance is far more singular a voice, nuanced and emotional than any Mariah Carey performance I know of so that comparison doesn't really work, though fundamentally, I agree that there would probably be some lowering of rating if he were dramatizing something completely ridiculous (even though I don't think he could do it in the first place), and I don't think it would be as significant as you seem to.

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   1 week 4 days ago

    Yeah just different ways of saying that artists should 1) "say something" using their aesthetic as their language), 2) say it in a compelling way, 3) and also be abstractly compelling (some might value the third one more or less than I do, all else equal). To your point, what I didn't mention is that the first two require an emotional conviction to come across most effectively (even when the concept itself isn't an emotion per se) or at least some sort of "will".

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 4 days ago

    He's confused then too, most likely about semantics. I'm going to make one last attempt to explain my position and that's it. If I am still wrong and you want to convince me you'll have to provide good arguments (which you haven't done). That email doesn't clarify anything for me; it only confirms your position for you.

    Your fundamental mistake is that you think the song "Astral Weeks" for example has all its emotions embedded in the music. That is only because you have listened to it a gazillion times and long since associated the lyrical content with the music and the singer so that the emotions click without your having to keep track of the lyrics. You have removed the meaning from the lyrics, which were important in the formation of your understanding of the song, and injected them into the recognizable voices. Because it takes longer to process the words than recognize the voices you have come to overrate the voices for their unmistakable resonance. This is also how you think of concepts: you attach emotions to them. For example the concept of "anti-racism" becomes some angry emotion. When you experience racism you feel the emotion which contains the arguments against racism in expedited form. But if the concept created the emotion then the concept should get some credit as well, even if the musical or cinematic language is the one dramatizing it. All you have to do is admit that "Astral Weeks" would be significantly worse if he were dramatizing something completely ridiculous. Then the drama would be empty despite being equally intense, as the drama in a Mariah Carey song is.

    The lyrical themes in Astral Weeks are not embedded in the music or in Morrison's vocals, and they are inherently emotional (not as much by themselves as with the music as a synergistic element). If the different instruments can create an experience greater than the sum of the parts there is no reason why the words and the music can't do the same. Your logical mistake is that you assume that isolating lyrics and then judging them (out of context) proves they are not valuable in the context of the music. Isolating the drums or the strings would also give you squat. Yet they are important as a member of the team. In the context of the music, the entire passage that ends with "To be born again" is emotional in a way that delivering that passage the same way but as "To be dead again" would not be. And what would account for that difference? The lyrics. Furthermore, if the lyrics were about plungers and dirty bathtubs I would not be thinking "Could you find me? ..." at the same time. The music and Morrison's delivery despite being the same would not urge me to think that anymore. The delivery would either naturally shift to conform to the lyrics or stay the same but become ironic: either way it would morph, doing so in relation with the lyrical content.

    People want to answer "no" to the question "Do lyrics matter?" but it's not a fair answer. It's also not a fair question: the question wants to be heard as something like "Should I read the lyrics carefully?" Of course that answer is no.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 4 days ago

    I also changed my mind about A Umbra Omega. It's off my list, I doubt it'll return.

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   1 week 4 days ago

    Thanks for posting this. Its well thought out. Ive been considering adding a bit more about "degree of concept" into my criteria page just to express it as a focal point, however, the degree of conceptual significance seems to only be a byproduct of "expressed emotional conviction" + "ingenuity" so I'm not sure its worth adding as those two seem to be the foundation for everything else.

  • List of Oscar nominated actors and actresses by date of death   1 week 4 days ago

    Available on Netflix for the ten last
    Bold means Oscar nominated role
    Bold caps means Oscar winning role
    * means recommended movie

    - Where Is Parsifal?, 1984
    - Make Mine Mink, 1960



    - The Forger, 2012
    - The Walker, 2007
    - Diamonds, 1999
    - Ready to Wear, 1994 *
    - All I Want For Christmas, 1991
    - How to Marry a Millionaire, 1953 *

    - The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, 2014
    - Lee Daniels' The Butler, 2013 *
    - The Big Wedding, 2013
    - The Face of Love, 2013
    - World's Greatest Dad, 2009 *
    - Old Dogs, 2009
    - Shrink, 2009
    - August Rush, 2007
    - License to Wed, 2007
    - Man of the Year, 2006
    - RV, 2006
    - The Big White, 2005 *
    - The Final Cut, 2004
    - One Hour Photo, 2002 *
    - Bicentennial Man, 1999
    - Jakob the Liar, 1999
    - Patch Adams, 1998 *
    - What Dreams May Come, 1998 *
    - GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997 *
    - Deconstructing Harry, 1997 *
    - Flubber, 1997
    - The Birdcage, 1996 *
    - Jack, 1996
    - Jumanji, 1995
    - Nine Months, 1995
    - Mrs Doubtfire, 1993 *
    - Toys, 1992
    - Dead Again, 1991 *
    - Hook, 1991
    - Awakenings, 1990 *
    - Good Morning, Vietnam, 1987 *

    - The Ultimate Gift, 2006
    - The Notebook, 2004 *
    - Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, 2002
    - Space Cowboys, 2000
    - Twilight, 1998
    - Maverick, 1994 *
    - The Castaway Cowboy, 1974
    - Support Your Local Gunfighter, 1971 *
    - Support Your Local Sheriff, 1969 *
    - The Great Escape, 1963 *
    - Move Over Darling, 1963 *

    - A Thousand Words, 2012
    - Video Girl, 2011
    - American Gangster, 2007 *
    - Baby Geniuses, 1999
    - Cop and a Half, 1993

    - The Night of the Grizzly, 1966
    - The Sons of Katie Elder, 1965 *
    - Houseboat, 1958 *
    - Sabrina, 1954 *
    - Down Three Dark Streets, 1954


    - Snow White and the Huntsman, 2012 *
    - Made in Dagenham, 2010 *
    - Doomsday, 2008
    - Outlaw, 2007
    - Hollywoodland, 2006 *
    - Paris, Je T'aime, 2006
    - Mrs Henderson Presents, 2005 *
    - Son of the Mask, 2005
    - Unleashed, 2005
    - Vanity Fair, 2004 *
    - Beyond the Sea, 2004
    - Den of Lions, 2003
    - Maid in Manhattan, 2002 *
    - Enemy at the Gates, 2001
    - Hook, 1991
    - Mermaids, 1990
    - Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988 *
    - A Prayer for the Dying, 1987
    - The Long Good Friday, 1980 *

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 4 days ago

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I got a response from Scaruffi on this today that might be of interest:

    I asked him: "Did the lyrics have any impact on your rating for Mother of Virtues?"

    He responded: "No"

    I also recommended he check out A Umbra Omega (despite my own uncertainty of its merits). It will be interesting to see where he rates it.

  • List of Must-Watch Movies   1 week 4 days ago

    Haven't seen either Khuda Ke Liye or Bol. What did you think of Khuda Ke Liye?

  • Films I've Seen of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" (11th edition, 2014)   1 week 5 days ago

    I did it !!!
    On June 20, 2015 I succeeded in my task having seen all the movies in the book. It took me exactly 7 years and 3 months since I bought my first edition of the book. (Eng. 1st Edition).
    In fact, I had seen about half of the movies already back then.
    So now I can die .... (as the title of the book suggest).
    But because there are annual updates and additions of new movies (and I have decided to see them too) the work will continue, although I have no printed book to follow anymore).

  • 100 Favorite Albums of the 1980s   1 week 6 days ago

    Thanks! Yes, Dreamtime Return is one of the great ambient albums, and I agree that it's unappreciated. The album does have a bit of a cheesy 80s new-age sheen that may frighten off some people. But if you look beyond that surface, you'll find some profound, mystical ambient music (especially the tracks Australian Dawn and Looking for Safety, in my opinion).

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 6 days ago

    It was a shaky assertion/supposition at best. If "a lot of the emotion comes from the lyrics" then, you're right, there would be no way it would rate 7.8+. However, after listening to it, I didn't find that to be the case at all (though I'm mid-decision on whether its 7.8+ anyway).

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   1 week 6 days ago

    My only point is that it's far more dependent on the emotional/conceptual delivery of the vocal performance, as opposed to the lyrical content. They are not even remotely similar in terms of importance towards the overall emotional/conceptual significance of the work. The concepts and emotional content is largely conveyed by the performance (95-99%?). If one has an album with just spoken-word lyrics, it is going to be awful (unless there are instrumental aspects that are astonishing or something, then that might make up for much of it). If one has an album where the vocals are wordless -- purely vocals (without any lyrics) -- it can still be one of the greatest of all time, such as Pavilion of Dreams. This also holds up in gazillions of classical choral/opera works, mostly in foreign languages, where one absolutely does not have to understand the lyrics.

    If you agree with this, then I guess we're disagreeing about semantics and little else. Although, a point you mentioned that would contradict that would be your statement about not being able to experience Mother of Virtues as an 8/10 without reading the lyrics, which of course, we'll have to agree to disagree on.

    Regarding your straw man assertions, it's a nice stretch but you're mostly putting words into my mouth and either ignoring or misunderstanding the point.

  • MY FAVOURITE WORKS OF ART   2 weeks 12 min ago

    Great interpretation by Sviatoslav. The piece? It sums up my ambivalent sentiment for Schubert. Probably the best gifted tune writer along with Mozart but quite repetitive at the long distance. It's a very Schumann-like piece. Harmonically quite inconsistent, full of arpeggios and redundant moments.
    Bach only once fell once on this territory, with his Chromatic Fantasy, one of the less consistent work by the greatest composer of all time.
    Anyway, Richter made this listening a marvel. Thanks for sharing it.

  • MY FAVOURITE WORKS OF ART   2 weeks 5 hours ago

    What's your opinion on Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy? Here is a great recording by Sviatoslav Richter:

  • Criteria Used For Evaluating Artistic Merit in Music   2 weeks 6 hours ago

    I have been updating my album rankings to better reflect these concepts and will post them in one fell swoop.

  • 100 Favorite Albums of the 1980s   2 weeks 9 hours ago

    Another really good list, will have to revisit some of these. Glad to see Dreamtome Return so high, it's a truly spellbinding album that often goes unappreciated.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    Your analogy is that the lyrics by themselves cut off from their emotional delivery would be worth very little. I agree. That is a straw man because you are assuming that the lyrics have to be "essentially" good rather than good in relation to other parts in the music. Once you add the emotional delivery back in, the lyrics start mattering because of the new relationship between the delivery and the lyrics. All of the parts have a function in the music and isolating them and then measuring their single emotional impact does not prove how they function in the music.

    Nostalghia is comparable to Taxi Driver and Atomizer because it is about the desire to change the world and the agony of not being able to do so. The drama is not at all the same but they are all about suicide, misanthropy, idealism. I am not looking at the emotions but at the concepts. Obviously I don't think the emotions in Atomizer are the same.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    I was relaying an analogy that is a foundational datum that should lead to a fundamental understanding of the whole concept. You can do the same thing between any degree of emotional delivery vs standalone lyrics. The point is: the difference is massive and not even comparable in terms of importance.

    Nostalghia has little to do with Taxi Driver and almost no relation to Atomizer (some very very vague similarities with Taxi Driver, but cinematically they are hardly comparable. Thematically I guess they are both introverted, psychologically immersed in their environment and do so in great depth -- but their emotions, detail of their themes and techniques/cinematic language employed are very different. Its much more comparable to, say, Wild Strawberries or Eternity for a Day, Sacrifice, or to a lesser extent, Ikiru, wouldn't you think?

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    You are attacking a straw man and it is silly from my point of view. "I'm angry" would not be good lyrics. You can't use poor lyrics to prove that lyrics don't matter. An album full of intense screaming would not be good if all he's getting across is that he is angry. Atomizer is great largely because it is about the individual's relationship with his surroundings a la Nostalghia and Taxi Driver. The fire in "Kerosene" is both suicide and self-immolation, and the impulse of driving to slaughterhouses is both sadism and moral concern. The connection between the desire to follow for superficial reasons and the desire to help the place or the person is explored (Marnie is about this too). The connection between self-hate and improvement, something along those lines.

    And besides you're not connecting with my statement about lyrics not having to be good on their own as standalone poetry for music to be good. So of course blandly stating "I'm angry" is not expected to be artistically good. There is a measurable difference between "I'm angry" and Atomizer's lyrics. I guarantee you if you could measure my brain you would see that the emotional experience would be lower in the absence of my associations of the album with certain social and philosophical topics.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   2 weeks 11 hours ago

    Re: KOTJ lyrics ... the album is amazing because of the batshit insanity of the vocal and band's performance, that they emphasize with a maniacal, "falling all over themselves", religious conviction that they think they are reaching a higher power. It is an extreme insanity of (false) religious worship/conviction. Their lyrics are stupid and just part of the reckless, misguided, volcanic, ideological mess of the whole performance.

    Re: Bringing it all Back Home ... Thanks, maybe Ill revisit it soon. Last listen (a few years ago) was 6.5ish, maybe 7.

    Glad we agree on our consideration of Type O Negative's vocal.

  • Top 10 Movies, Music & Visual Art of the Week (2015)   2 weeks 12 hours ago

    I can't answer this question because I only have an abstract perception of what you like and don't like. I can't yet turn it into words.