Travis’ Two Cents (In Five Parts)

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Hello again.

I’m Travis Holcombe. I’m a new(ish) DJ here at KCRW and you can catch me on the air on Tuesday nights at midnight~3AM (which is technically Wednesday morning). This is my regular blog post where I ramble about whatever pops in my head.

Let’s go!

1) The Black Keys have a new album coming out on December 6 co-produced by Danger Mouse. To promote the release of the new album, entitled El Camino, they’ve released this hilarious video starring Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad, Mr. Show)

The video gives absolutely NO indication of what the record will sound like, but it’s worth a minute of your life.

2) Rebecca Black better watch out! There’s a new entrant into the Worst Song of 2011 contest I didn’t know we were having.

Meet Heart2Heart.

They have something to do with Lance Bass, who my sources tell me once had something to do with music. When H2H isn’t egregiously ripping off the Basement Jaxx font (which isn’t the first time this has happened) and going to the salon for K-Pop hairdos, they make really awful music. Granted, I’m not the target audience for a boy band, but as you’ll see below, this video is filled with parody-level ridiculousness. I did a little research (on Facebook, natch) and the lead singer is 23, which makes the whole thing waaaay creepier. HAPPY EARLY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!

I have a feeling this might be some kind of plot to make music sooooo bad that it gets attention on the internet and becomes viral for being terrible. If that is the case, mission accomplished; I’m posting about it here and devoting 20% of my column to it. Rebecca Black is a millionaire — there’s definitely a business model in there somewhere. #SMH

3) This is only tangentially related to the item above, but there was a really interesting article last week in the Freakanomics blog based on the idea of “flipping”. It’s a short article, so I’ll let you read it yourself, but if you’re ever worried about getting caffeinated coffee instead of the decaf you ordered at a restaurant OR you live in constant fear of being attacked by tigers (really), you should check it out.

4) If China does indeed overtake the U.S. to become the dominant world superpower, it won’t be on the backs on their singers.

I don’t have cable, but I do pick up a butt-load (yes, that’s a standard form of measurement — look it up — why it’s two hogheads, of course) of UHF channels. The cool thing about the UHF channels in Los Angeles is you get a glimpse into what televised entertainment is like in nearly 40 countries without ever having to leave the comfort of your living room. It’s remarkable times we live in these days.

Anyway, I’ve come across a reality singing competition shows a couple of times on one of the Chinese UHF channels. It’s like the Chinese version of American Idol or X-Factor. They mostly sing ballads and they’re mostly not all that great, but it’s always interesting on these kind of shows to see how you’re scoring matches up with the panel of experts.

I’m not sure if this show, Blossoming Flowers, is one of the shows I’ve watched, but it’s not altogether dissimilar. The singer here, Zhang Jiaojiao, does a fair job of keeping up with Nicki Minaj — let’s face it, most native English speakers can’t keep up with the rapid fire cadence (though some little British girls can). And she’s also doing the song live, which only raises the difficulty level.

But, let’s be real; we can keep making excuses, but the bottom line is that it kinda sucks. This poor girl is trying so hard to keep up with the lyrics and maintain her breath control that she can barely register any of Nicki Minaj’s outsized personality into the song. Not to mention she may be a little on the tone deaf side when she gets to the hook. I’m not saying our reality music contestants are much better, but I think Simon Cowell would agree Ms. Jiaojiao should have picked a song with a lesser degree of difficulty. For anyone who likes to diss Nicki Minaj on the merits of her talent, I think this video illustrates how skilled Ms. Minaj really is.

5) After leaving everyone hanging on whether the rumors were merely “Fools Gold”, earlier this morning in the UK, Stone Roses frontman Ian Brown has given confirmation to “What The World Is Waiting For” — a Stone Roses(I Am The) Resurrection“. Okay, I probably went overboard by about two song titles on that one…The Stone Roses are getting back together. This is good news.

— Travis Holcombe