Wait, What? Artists Can’t Release New Music Unless It Goes Viral On Tik-Tok?

by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

This is something that can’t be true, right? Pop stars are being told by their management that they can’t release new songs until they go viral on Tik-Tok. That is just crazy, crazy for real for real.

Just nuts.

I mean, who’s to say this or that song is going to go viral on Tik-Tok in the first place? It doesn’t seem to serve anyone. It’s a lose-lose situation. But here we are.

What The Fuck, Ariana Grande?



by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Let me get some things out of the way. First, I’m a pretty big Ariana Grande fan. Second, I think she’s gorgeous. But I also have two eyes and know she’s gotten significant work done on her face recently.

What bothers me is, we’re all going to ignore this as if it hasn’t happened. But here’s the proof. Here is the Ari I remember:

Ari 1.0

And here is the new version of her face that kind of blows my mind:

Wow. Just wow. She looks totally different. She’s still hot as hell, but it’s unnerving because she no longer looks like the person you think of when you think of “Ariana Grande.”

And, best I can tell, there’s been pretty much zero mention of this transformation in the press.

Oh well.

Charli XCX Is Cool


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

The reason why I like Charli XCX is she’s sex positive in a way that reminds me of Madonna (etc) way back when. It used to be that female vocalists would run around without any clothes on. I’m old now and I miss that vibe. Charli XCX reminds me of that.

LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 18: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Charli XcX attends The BRIT Awards 2020 at The O2 Arena on February 18, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images for Bauer Media)

I like her music, too, but she wears her sexuality on her sleeve in such a matter that it’s like, “Finally, a pop singer who’s willing to not be a prude.” It’s weird — at least to me — how all the major female vocalists these days a extremely modest compared to what they used to be.

Madonna, for one, made a whole career out of exploiting — and exploring — her sexuality in a very public fashion. I mean, the woman did come out with a book called “Erotica,” for Christ’s sake.

Anyway, it’s all moot. It’s not like the good old days of my youth are ever coming back — with female vocalists or anything else. But I do enjoy Charli XCX being something of a throwback.

‘Bad Art Friend:’ #Lyrics To A #Pop #Rock Song


I’m just letting off some steam, like I always am whenever I write lyrics. I have no idea what I’m doing, but writing lyrics really quick is a lot of fun and is very relaxing.

Bad Art Friend
Lyrics by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner
please give credit if you produce or perform

bad art friend
bad art friend
bad art friend

here I am styling
all the while you’re dying
to tell me about your deeds
to help the sick
you won’t give up
until you get in your lick

in the end
you’re nothing but
nothing but a
bad art friend
bad art friend
bad art friend

I try my best
to avoid your serve
but you’re too good for me
and not even my swerve
can avoid your demands
that I tell you all I know

(bridge)
it’s too good to be true
the things you do to woo
you think I’m a hack
with no talent or class
but I know that’s not so

in the end
you’re nothing but
nothing but a
bad art friend
bad art friend
bad art friend

We Stan A Queen — We Have Got To Talk About Halsey’s Very Exposed, Very Dark Areola On The Cover Of Her New Album


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

By Apple Music, Fair use.


I find myself becoming a Halsey fan because of what I’m hearing on her latest album. It’s not perfect — it seems all over the place thematically with the only the holding it together is Trent Reznor wants to remind us that he was in NIN. Ok, we get it Trent.

The first time I saw the album’s cover on Spotify, I did a double take — was it possible I was seeing what I was seeing? A reproduction of a very famous piece of art that involves a baby and a very exposed, very dark areola? I’m very pleased with this image because it’s interesting and it doesn’t treat us like children.

If nothing else, it will get her stans to look into some art history to find out why they’re seeing something so mildly provocative. Motherhood has only made Halsey more attractive. She’s a real babe in her more buxomly itineration.

But the album itself is really, really good. I just wish Reznor was a bit more adept in its production. The whole thing is a mess. It derivative production on individual songs occasionally takes away from how great the album is as a whole. A few of the songs are real bangers (bops?). Being new to Halsey the singer as opposed to a celebrity I barely know anything about, I continue to be taken aback by how beautiful and unique her singing voice is.

Not to sound TOO much like a dirty old man, but I continue to struggle with why someone like Dua Lipa has not “accidently on purpose” given us some T&A. She’s a real stunner and it’s weird that 30 years after Madonna ran around naked we’ve grown more puritanical. Maybe she’ll do it in the Hollywood movie she’s set to star in soon.

Let’s Talk Halsey (& NIN)


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Thanks to Spotify, I’ve found myself obsessively listening to Halsey the last few days. I’m surprised how good she is as a singer and song-writer. Her latest album, “If I Can’t I Have Love, I Want Power” suits my middle-aged white male musical sensibilities quite well.

LOS ANGELES – MARCH 14: Halsey attends the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Awards on March 14, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Glenn Francis/Pacific Pro Digital Photography)

I do have one quibble, though — a number of the songs sound….vaguely derivative? But the only reason why they do so is my age. If you were the intended audience of a young tweener girl, you would never catch one song’s reference to NIN. There’s so much NIN drifting through this album that I wonder if Trent Reznor is her producer. (I checked: HE IS. Which explains why I keep hearing NIN musical cues throughout the album.)

I will note there’s a little bit of Tori Amos dripped into this album, too.

Anyway. If you were too young to know The Downward Spiral, you would never catch how Reznor is plagiarizing himself. His influence is so noticeable in the album that it’s at times rather distracting. But Reznor is a great producer and the overall product is exceptional, given how shitty most modern music is. I applaud Halsey for picking Reznor and Atticus Ross to produce what is otherwise a pretty mainstream pop rock album.

Anyway. I really like this album. The thing about Halsey is she has an extremely unique vocal sound. Her voice really sticks out for how unique it is. It’s like that one hot chick in college you knew who had stunning eyes — Halsey’s unique voice is her greatest strength because of its distinct personality.

It does seem as though we may be slowly, in fits and starts, drifting towards what I call “Rona Rock.” This would be the traditional pop rock that dominated the charts for about 50 years. It died out about 20o8-ish. It would be cool if it came back. It would make me so happy.

One way for that to happen would be for some sort of girl supergroup to be formed with one of its members being Halsey.

‘Rona Rock:’ I’ve Seen The Face Of Pop Rock And Its Name Is Olivia Rodrigo


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I’ve written at length about this before, but Olivia Rodrigo’s release of her album “sour” has me thinking about it again — now that the United States is getting out of the pandemic, maybe it’s time for pop rock to return.

I call this neo-pop rock, “Rona Rock.”

Let me give you some context. There are millions of old farts like me who love rock that has a beat and you can dance to. Maybe a few dozen million. And, at the moment, they are forced to listen to “classic rock.” Not a lot of new pop rock is coming out and that which is coming out is almost exclusively Miley Cyrus doing covers of old pop rock songs.

Sour is so close to being a traditional pop rock album. It still, however, lacks the edge of a true pop rock album. It’s more a POP rock album. So it seems to me that of all the popular acts out there that Rodrigo is the most likely to come out with an album produced by someone like Butch Vig of Nirvana’s “Heart Shape Box” and the band Garbage.

In fact, I would go so far as to say if Rodrigo did go that route that a lot of GenZ people would experience a significant amount of musical future shock. They wouldn’t know what hit’em.

There is another, safer, direction that Rodrigo could go that would be almost just as good — the Nelly Furtado option of teaming up with someone like Timbaland. The album they did together is one of my favorites of the Before Times when some form of pop rock still existed.

And, yet, I doubt this will happen in any way. It’s too risky for an established act to make such an abrupt break with existing musical tastes. If my dream of “Rona Rock” is going to happen, it’s going to happen because a pop rock song becomes unexpectedly popular on Tik-Tok.

Deconstructing Phoebe Bridgers’, ‘Kyoto’


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

Ok, as always, I’m extremely late to the party with a new artist. This time, it’s Phoebe Bridgers. The one song of hers that I love, love, love is Kyoto. But to my ear, there are a number of other songs floating around in this one song. So, let’s go through them, shall we?

First up, The Velvet Underground:

Then, add in a little bit of The Polyphonic Spree:

And, lastly, throw in Paul Westerberg

It’s rare that the influences of a song are so stark to my ears. But those three songs together and you get this:

Lyrics To ‘Arni’s Resistance:’ ‘Nothing Is Real’


I have no idea what I’m doing. But it’s a challenge to at least try to fit lyrics to music. Techno is good it’s easier to find instrumentals of it on Soundcloud.

Nothing Is Real (But The Way You Make Me Feel)
Music from Arni
lyrics by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner
please give credit if you produce or perform

nothing is real
nothing is real
nothing is real
nothing is real

but the way you make me feel
but the way you make me feel
but the way you make me feel

Bridge
your look is hard as ice
making me strive more
to warm you in the night
to end this blight of hate
because nothing is real

but the way you make me feel
but the way you make me feel
but the way you make me feel

Mixed Media — The Significance of Music In This Novel


by Shelt Garner
@sheltgarner

I have no idea what I’m doing with this novel. I’ve been working on it for about three years now — so long, in fact, that the era it was meant to rant about is over — and the one constant has been I want music to be an important part of the storytelling process.

It’s so important to me that I’ve come up with a rather elaborate — if intuitive — reason for music to be something that ties the hero and heroine together on an emotional level. And, really, the only thing I worry about when it comes to this aspect of the story is not everyone will know the songs I reference simply from their titles.

This is a novel, not a screenplay I’m writing, after all.

But I’ve gone out of my way to use songs that are either so well known that the average person wouldn’t have to look them up or their titles are pretty much self-explanatory in the context of how they’re referenced. At least, that’s what I’m thinking about as I pick songs. I see this novel as something of a High Fidelity meets The Girl Who Played With Fire in how important music is to the progression of the plot. And given that I’m writing this thing with “woke Park Slope moms” at the forefront of my mind, I’m hoping that will be something the audience really gets into.

The more I grow consumed by developing and writing this novel, the more I continue to allow myself to be the “delusional” phase of development. I am finally, however, allowing myself to admit that at a minium I’m not going to embarrass myself with this novel if I just keep going and do the hard work.

The musical aspect of the novel is one that I’m including because of how personal this novel is. What gets me is I’m throwing myself completely into this novel and it’s not even meant to be literary — it’s just meant to be a fun thriller that uses subtext to rant about the Trump Era.

But the Trump Era is (hopefully) over and, as such, I have to use the Lady Bird Gambit to keep it relevant. Yet I have to admit that even though I feel some serious existential angst about any of this, I feel as though maybe, just maybe, things are going to move a lot fast with this novel.