Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rebecca Black is Rock and Roll

Before anyone gets all up-in-arms about that statement, take a breath and finish reading what I'm saying here.  First off, I know this has nothing to do with the super-glamorous world of voice over nor the numerous people now involved in voice over posing as coaches to make money because they no longer make money as a "voice artist."  I happened to be awakened this morning by local radio pundits debating the merit and effect of young Rebecca Black and her viral song, It's Friday.

The first fact they mentioned that hit me between the eyes like a sniper's bullet was that the video has over 64 million views.  Let that one sink in.  64 million.  Not only that, her song, simple as it is, has been in the iTunes Top 30 for a month.  Folks, she's 13 years old.  Her song and video were financed by her parents.  They did this because she asked them to.  It cost about a grand.  She's making huge bank on this.  People, that is rock and roll.

See, back in the days before autotuners, Pro Tools, and copyright infringement, there was Rock and Roll.  Guys like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, and Bill Haley.  There were girls like Wanda Jackson, Leslie Gore, the Crystals, the Shangra-Las, and the Ronettes.  What did they all have in common?  A song and a desire.  It caused people to love it or hate it; very little in between.  When Elvis sang on TV, you didn't see his hips.  When Little Richard wailed "we gonna ball tonight," he wasn't talking about dancing.  Hell, the term Rock and Roll was used by the original bluesmen (like Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, and Muddy Waters) as a euphemism for sex.  Rock caused problems.  Rock crossed color barriers.  Rock turned parents' stomachs.

So what happened?  I'll tell you what happened; the 70's.  I'll go one better, "Prog Rock" happened.  Suddenly, bands discovered drugs (I know that most of the guys and gals I mentioned above were drunks, hop heads, and pill poppers, but they never took trips to "The Center of The Mind")  and rock turned into one big navel gazing exercise.  Now I appreciate Pink Floyd, Genesis, and their ilk, but they didn't represent the rebellion and the "Hey gang, let's make a record!" spirit of rock.  Worse, they led to the 70's.  The 70's gave us Journey, Boston, Kansas, and Satan's own favorite. . . Styx (if you thought I was going to say Kiss, HA!).  Some of you (anyone?) reading that last sentence are likely saying to yourself, "Hey, I like (insert name of lame band here).  They did, (insert name of super lame song used in any one of a number of Adam Sandler movies here).  I love that song!"  Let me guess, you chose "Don't Stop Believin'" mainly because it was used in the last episode of "The Sopranos."  You lose.  That episode was lame; the song is SUPER LAME; it was written by a talentless hack who happens to be a Giants' fan; and the powers that be decided to torture Dodger fans by playing it during the bottom of the 8th at all home games.  That has LOSE written all over it.

But I digress. . .

The point here is this:  Those bands brought rock to it's nadir.  The bottom.  Hind teat.  Styx and the like ushered in the era of Corporate Rock.  An era when rock was judged by chart success, concert tickets, and hair.  When songs like "Blue Collar Man" pushed better songs off the air, rock died.  Face it, rock radio died in the 70's.  How many times must one hear "Money" by Pink Floyd on one's life?  Ever heard, "See Emily Play" by the same band?  Didn't think so.  While I'm at it, the next idiot who plays "Sweet Home Alabama" on a juke box when "Simple Man" is available will get my full and vengeful wrath.  Luckily, the decade was saved in 1978 by The Ramones.

The Ramones were four guys from Queens who made the trek to Manhattan on a regular basis to play bars like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City.  They wrote songs about teenage fun, horror movies, sniffing glue, pinheads, Rockaway Beach, and a girl named Sheena.  Their songs were never longer than 3 minutes.  They wore black leather jackets, ripped T-shirts, and tight jeans.  Their names were Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and (insert name of current drummer here), and they all had the same last last name; Ramone.  Rock radio wouldn't play them.  Rockers mocked them.  Parents were afraid of them.  Kids (like me) loved them.  They were the embodiment of what Rock was and should be.  Four guys who could barely play their instruments banging out rhythms on their chewing gum and putting kids into a sweat.  They had a song and wanted to sing it.  They had no A&R man guiding their "singles."  No record company breathing down their necks pressuring them to sell thousands of tickets and fill arenas.  They were, by far, more influential than any other band to come out of the Punk era.  They were likely the most influential band ever, outside of four other guys from a Northern England town known for shipbuilding and soccer.

This brings me full circle to Rebecca Black.  She is more Ramones than Journey.  I get the irony of my "autotune" statement, because her voice is obviously over modulated and produced.  The real reason she is Rock and Roll is seen in her success.  Her song is short, catchy, fun, and makes grown-ups squirm.  Is it stupid?  Hell yes, but so was "Beat on the Brat," and Saint Bono and that overrated bunch in U2 covered that, didn't they?  Does the song get on your nerves?  No more than any rap record does already.  And believe me, there is more Journey, Styx, and Kansas about current rap music than there is Ramones about it.  Rebecca is all about her song and having people hear it.  Did she do it for the money?  Don't know.  Did Rage Against the Machine do it for money?  Answer; YES, but no one seems to hate them for it.  Did she do it for fame?  Again, don't know and don't care.  When Will Smith's obnoxious, overly-precocious daughter is allowed to torture us with tales of whipping her hair back and forth, I gladly welcome Rebecca and her warbling about the end of the week.  A girl, her song, and an audience. . .THAT, people is Rock and Roll.

Besides, I dare you to listen to her song and not sing it on the day that proceeds Saturday.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Privacy v. Anonymity

Interesting article forwarded to me by the good folks at Voice123. As the information age continues to expand at Big Bang proportions, how much do we, as users, sacrifice in the name of "information." Certainly, Google knows who we are and what we look at, but what they share and who they share it with involves our privacy.

We like suggestions when we begin a Google search; we hate spam. This article tries to rationalize the line drawn by search engines to protect us, and keep themselves profitable.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


The webinar on saying no is Monday the 28th, not Tuesday the 29th.

As the kids say, "My bad."

Say No? Whaa?

Join in and find out why a VO talent might actually say no to a job.

I can think of one reason; they want to pay you $50 to read "Pride and Prejudice" cover to cover. The sad part is many VO noobs are willing to do it.

Listen in on the 29th and find out what the pros say about saying "No!"

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Sad Reality of Voice Acting

This is an excellent article on the truths of voice acting. I have a feeling a ton of people who have recently flooded the market (me included) are going to be dropping out very quickly. Thank goodness I have a couple of day jobs to sustain me. If I had to rely solely on VO work to make a living, I'd be the burger flipper with a great demo.

Sad to say, as I have written before, there are far too many making $1,000's of dollars on the hopes and dreams of potential VO talent. Boot camps, "inner-circles," and unscrupulous "coaches" are getting fat on starry-eyed newcomers. I, for one, am keeping my pocketbook closed to these latter-day Levi Strauses (get it, it's a gold rush metaphor. . .not a great one, but a metaphor nonetheless).

Enjoy! Thanks to Dave Courvoisier

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Christian Pastor Fired For Making Sense

This article is not about what I thought it would be about. This minister gets the boot for questioning the outdated belief that souls will be subjected to eternal torment if they're not Christian.

Check out the part of the story where someone claims Gandhi is in hell. This guy is all for the message of love and acceptance over hell and damnation, and many Christians can't handle it.

Religion just cracks me up.

Thanks to Dan John for first posting the link on FB.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"The Secret?" Get to Work!

I like what Aziz has to say about "get rich quick" and "think it and it will happen" schemes. Basically, those who work the hardest have the best luck. I believe Thomas Jefferson said that first, but you get it.

Many look for shortcuts to the easy life when the shortcut just leads to more disappointment and mounting credit card debt. By the way, I called BS on "The Secret" many years ago. Many of their authors, speakers, and "mentors" all got their wealth by finding enough suckers who were willing to part ways with their money to hear cliches like, "keep your eyes on the prize," or "go the extra mile" without offering any real advice or solution.

This blog seems to agree with the basic philosophy of my blog.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick and Easy Way to Generate Keywords

This is a great tool to maximize your SEO by generating keywords that work. A quick tip to drive traffic to your sites through effective copy editing.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting More From Linkedin

I don't know if I should share this. The advice seems so easy and powerful, that if everyone starts doing it, then what? We all can't come up as #1 on a Linkedin search. But still, this is great SEO advice.

I, for one, am going to use these tips and see where it leads my business.

Monday, March 14, 2011

What The Life of a VO Talent Has Come To

I like reading Paul's blog (it's connected to many other good blogs and sites) for his open and honest takes on the world of voiceovers. Here, he gives a tongue-in-cheek treatment to the types of jobs VO talents are taking these days.

I should say, I like his blog even though he got a gig I auditioned for recently. But, such is life in the VO universe!

Happy reading.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ISDN: Should it Stay, or Should it Go

Everyone in the VO biz should know about ISDN and what it is used for. The question is, "Do I Need it now?"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Vocal Warm Ups from The National Theatre

Got this from my friends at Voiceover Universe. A great series of voice warm-ups including breathing, resonance, and articulation. Good for voice actors, teachers, attorneys, announcers, salespeople, and anyone else dependent on his/her voice for a living.


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Booshaka League

Here's the original blog post from Dave Courvoisier's blog. Apparently Booshaka has hit a few snags, but still presents interesting possibilities for internet marketers and social network abusers.

Welcome to Booshaka!

Got this tip from Dave Courvosier via his blog. A good way to keep up with what's trending on Facebook.

Surprising Facebook can't tell you what's trending on Facebook.

I'll link to Dave's blog where I got this from.