Boneyard Media

Archive for the ‘Childhood Corruption’ Category

Kiss Krunch cereal

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

kissbanana  kissboxback

This product didn’t exist, but a perceptive artist/promising marketer concocted designs for 12 different flavors and a special edition platinum box. You shouldn’t put it past the free-spending Casablanca label to have tried something like this, though. After all, they cheerfully green-lighted the unprecedented expenses for manufacturing the Kiss band members’ four simultaneous solo albums in 1978. And the tendency of both the label and the band to merchandise with no regard to age appropriateness was without parallel.

Ron Weisner on Madonna

Monday, November 10th, 2014


P. 176-77: “The first show [of the 1985 ‘Virgin Tour’] was at the Paramount Theater in Seattle… An hour before the show, I went outside to get a breath of fresh air. As I stood near the theater’s front entrance, I watched car after car pull up and drop off several young girls, all dressed in their Madonna-like sleeveless tops, studded black gloves, and dangling necklaces. The majority of the other attendees were a mother or a father with their kid in tow. I’d guesstimate that 75 percent of the audience was under the age of fifteen – some accompanied by their parents, some not – and the other 25 percent was gay men.

“When the show started, the kids went nuts, screaming and screeching as kids are prone to do. I don’t know if this was in reaction to the kids’ reaction, but Madonna got raunchier than I’d ever seen her… while saying the filthiest stuff you can imagine. As she extolled the joys of masturbation, I scanned the crowd, taking in the adults’ shocked, appalled expressions…

“After the show, I tracked down Freddy [DeMann, Weisner’s business partner] and asked him ‘What’re we doing here? Is this how we want to be represented? Do we want to be associated with some girl who thinks it’s okay to finger herself in front of a roomful of junior high schoolers?

“Freddy scoffed, ‘They loved it! Madonna’s going to be huge!…”

P. 178 [discussing dissolving his partnership with DeMann and splitting up their clientele]:  “We went down the roster, and when we got to Madonna’s name, I said, ‘You can have her. You belong together.’  The second those words left my mouth, I felt like a huge, vulgar, surly, masturbating-on-stage weight had been lifted from my shoulders.”

Whistling Disco: Your 2011 Summertime Jams

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011


When I was a teenager in the ‘80s, the current hits of the day always aired at swimming pools, arcades, malls, grocery stores, and theme parks. You didn’t need your radio carefully tuned to the Top 40 station to hear contemporary hits. As an adult who now takes his own kids to these places, 85% of what I heard this summer were hits from the ‘80s.

If public background music targets adults so aggressively nowadays (at least in my neck of the woods), I wonder how kids are hearing current hits. Do they listen to Top 40 with more premeditated determination than my generation ever did? Are they sneakier about it? Are chart positions today swayed by an even smaller segment of the population than before? Are the dance clubs that cater to late teens and twenty-somethings now the primary venues for Top 40 exposure? Is it TV that’s introducing kids to these songs? Someone should get empirical about this and let me know how it turns out.

I can at least talk about some of the hits themselves. What follows is a quick skim through all 23 titles to have roosted in the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot 100 between June 1 and August 31 of this year. I’m no mathematician, but I’ve listed them according to popularity in terms of chart positions and weeks in the Top Ten. I’ve gone out of my way this summer – which is what it requires for an adult – to take these songs in along with their accompanying videos. I’ve done this by keeping my ears glued to the local Top 40 station (avoiding mornings) and spending unrecommended amounts of time on YouTube.

Before getting started, allow me to touch upon six trends I’ve noticed in this year’s summertime hit parade:

1) Eurodisco: At first glance, the term might seem dated and out of context, but I can’t think of anything more accurate to describe the frenzied, Ibiza-friendly sounds that presently make “rock” and “R&B” seem like far more badly dated terms than “Eurodisco.”

2) Workhorse 4-bar chord sequences: Hit songwriters of today and the audiences who support them are very happy with refrains consisting of four repeating measures with four chords, each one assigned to an entire measure. The “With or Without You” (U2) template (“wowy” is what I call it) is among the most popular. The plodding persistence of this 4-chords per 4-measures in 4/4 time approach to songwriting (Adele’s “Someone Like You” is only the latest) is partly responsible for giving everyone over thirty the impression that their own teenage soundtracks were somehow innovative and/or Gershwin-esque.

3) Gap rap: As I put it once before, “gap rap” is a “longstanding musical feature unique to radio and music video in which ‘clean versions’ of (mainly) rap songs contain non-vocalized gaps in place of rude language. The effect is that of a rapper using a very cheap microphone cord.” An aura of defectiveness, in other words, accompanies all gap rap tracks.

4) The Katy Perry/Lady Gaga/Britney Spears corruptathon: The three biggest female singers of today are currently competing to see who can kill your preteen daughters’ childhoods the fastest. In their defense, they may be merely attempting to affirm that they are not, in fact, preteens themselves.

5) Whistling: The sound of whistling, either actual or synthesized, appeared in enough songs this summer to qualify as a full blown (so to speak) trend. Who started this? What does it mean? Does it prophesy the revenge of the “tweeter” after the long reign of the subwoofer?

5) Winks to the ’80s: Most of these songs contain a synth hook, melody, drum pattern, sample, or chord sequence that middle-agers will say sounds especially familiar. This is likely because contemporary hits are targeted to, and in many cases created by, kids who have subconsciously developed an ear for their parents’ ‘80s music, continually airing as it does in public spaces. (All of the short sound samples place the current hits alongside the ones they salute.)


Sunday Service: The Cowsills – “Where Is Love” and “II x II” (1970)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

The opening number of this clip features Cowsills mom Barbara, who passed away 24 years ago today, along with daughter Susan and son Bob. (PS: The blonde woman is Nanci Roberts, Bob’s wife at the time.) The Cowsills, in case you don’t know, were a family group with a handful of big late sixties hits and even more handfuls of Tiger Beat features. They were actually supposed to be the TV family we now know as the Partridges, but when they objected to the intended replacement of real mom Barbara with fake mom Shirley Jones, the whole thing fell through.

This entire clip comes from a Cowsills appearance on the CBS Playboy After Dark TV variety show, which ran from 1969 to 1970, and it really sticks in my mind for a few other reasons:

– This family group with considerable preteen market appeal – labelmates with the Osmonds during “wholesome entertainment” advocate Mike Curb’s tenure at MGM – happen to be performing on Playboy After Dark. (Then again, they’d already sung the opening theme for the first season of Love, American Style, the kind of saucy prime time show parents didn’t let their kids watch.)

– Little Susan is uber adorable, and brother Barry (RIP), taking lead vocals on “II x II,” is uber cool and has rock star written all over him.

– “II x II” is the gospel-tinged title track of their gospel-tinged 1970 album (which is also their best). So not only is the family band playing the Playboy Mansion, but they’re also gracing it with gospel music. When the Playboy Mansion crowd is shown clapping along and occasionally holding up two fingers, then, they’re flashing the familiar hippie peace sign that, in this case, also doubles up as a token of gospel solidarity. Take us up Lord, two by two, to Thy Playboy Mansion in the sky, sayeth they. Must be the early 1970s, sayeth we.

Song ID: The Syndicate of Sound, “Brown Paper Bag” (1970)

Friday, September 26th, 2008


San Jose’s Syndicate of Sound had three charting singles, each one a killer. Their first two were the classic strum-a-thon “Little Girl” and “Rumors” in 1966, while their third one, “Brown Paper Bag” came out on Neil Bogart’s Buddah label during the tail end of his bubblegum experiment in 1970 (1910 Fruitgum Co, Ohio Express, etc). And what did they prepare for the preteen crowd? A loveable Creedence-tinged stomper about hard drinking.

Syndicate of Sound – “Brown Paper Bag” (1970)

Song ID: Boomtown Rats – “I Don’t Like Mondays” (1979)

Monday, February 26th, 2007


During my three years in junior high school in Salt Lake City (1981-1984), they marched all students into the auditorium one time each year to watch a 45 minute pop music show. I’ll bet all junior high schoolers in the area during those years saw the same three assemblies/shows, each of which featured a brief “don’t do drugs” or “don’t drop out” message. The shows were:

1 – A rock group of frizzy-haired characters called “Freedom Jam.” They dressed in Revolutionary War suits like Paul Revere and the Raiders and played a whole bunch of covers, mostly from REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity album. Their keyboardist, who looked like a member of the Bus Boys, would bend over impossibly far to the side when it was time for a solo. At least half the school behaved as though this were a real rock show, leaping out of chairs and high-clapping.

2 – A guy and girl duo with British accents. The guy stood behind a synth console and occasionally picked up an electric guitar after he got the loops going. The girl sang and skank-danced and reminded me of one of the female Jetsons. The only songs I remember them doing are “Tainted Love” and “I Love Rock and Roll.”

3 – A one man band synthesizer/karaoke guy also with a British accent. He may well have been one half of the duo from above. He had a microphone headset and regularly stepped away from the console and gesticulated along with the lyrics he sang. The only song I remember is “I Don’t Like Mondays.” He spent quite some time on the song’s back story, telling us about the girl who went on a Monday shooting spree, which now strikes me as strange. And I’ve never been able to hear that song since then without thinking of him in his headset, fluttering his fingers in the air to the Telex machine inside his head.

(Not posted, because the song’s on my don’t-mind-if-I-never-hear-again list.)

Song ID: The Knack – “Good Girls Don’t” (45 version) (1979)

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007


It’s 1979 – I’m ten years old and I’m at the drugstore with my mom. We run into my friend and his mom. He shows me what he’s just bought with his allowance money – the new single by the Knack. I end up going home with them and we listen to both sides of his 45 over and over and eat Zingers for the rest of the day.

I’m linking to the clean radio version here, with the line that ends with “chance” instead of the one that ends with “pants” and the line that ends with “place” instead of the one that ends with “face.” I prefer this one to the intolerable Get the Knack album version because the thought of singer Doug Fieger salivating over a minor happens to creep me out. (He’s the guy second to the far right and he’s always reminded me of a leering cop show character who ends up in handcuffs before the closing credits roll.)

The Knack – “Good Girls Don’t” (45 version)