The B-52’s – The B-52’s

Raised on the 80’s version of The B-52’s and their Cosmic Thing album, I wasn’t prepared for their debut album to be what it was. As lighthearted as it was lyrically and musically, there wasn’t much that was for me on this album.

In the late 70’s, it sounds like they were doing less traditional, more intentionally wacky music and it’s just…a lot. Sometimes there’s straight-up shrieking or imitation dolphin noises and, though it’s somehow melodic, it’s nothing I would choose to listen to repeatedly if it weren’t part of this project.

The album’s Wikipedia helps to give the style a little more context in better wording than I could come up with. I’m not a surf rock aficionado, so a lot of the nuance here is lost on me. I can’t even make sense of the Rock Lobster video – not that I’m sure that’s even possible or a worthy goal at all. And I’m not down on intentional nonsense as fun! It kind of reminds me of early Nickelodeon interstitials. But I don’t really connect with that style, it’s not something I could peacefully zone out to or conversely, get hyped up on (the music more so than the video style.)

The final track was an adaptation of “Downtown.” It’s listed as a cover but it’s so different from the original as to be almost unrecognizable. I don’t even really know what to say about it, other than it was a fun trivia fact to find out for an album that inspired more confusion than excitement for me.

I dug up a remastered video of Planet Claire which features some fun dancing, some hair…choices. Also, speaking of hair choices, I’m not sure why there are two Rock Lobster videos but this one is a pure live performance and the haircuts alone make it worth checking out.

I have to imagine, if you like jam bands or saw them live, it would be a completely different experience. They sound as fun as they ever have and I’m glad I spent some time with this album to get some weird history on a weird and fun band, but I’m also glad to move onto something else.

“Classic” Music

Rolling Stone Lists

Without reposting the entire list in full, I think I’m going to start with the Rolling Stone-curated list of 500 Greatest Albums and 500 Greatest Songs of all Time Lists to conquer the classics I feel like I’ve missed. On the music page, I’ll list my goals and progress, once I have at least one review up.

I know their lists are hardly progressive and there aren’t many genres represented, but I’m using these lists only as a jumping-off point. After selecting the music I was most interested in from both lists, on a giant nerd spreadsheet, I then used a randomizer to pick the albums and singles to explore first. I figured, the less choice I had, the less dithering there would be. Only once I’ve made my way through these lists, then I’ll allow myself to look further into other genres and hopefully more inclusive “best of” lists.

First up will be The B-52’s self-titled debut and The Shangri-La’s singles: “Remember (Walking in the Sand),” which I don’t think I’ve ever heard and “Leader of the Pack,” which I definitely have – a lot.

Grammy Winners & Nominees

Reaching back to the first annual Grammy awards, I discovered the disturbing fact that Ella Fitzgerald and Ross Bagdasarian (the Chipmunk song guy) won the same amount of awards – three each. I’m fully bewildered.

For these, I’ll listen to as many of the nominees as I can bear but honestly, I’m not a huge 50s/60s music fan and I’m not going to force myself through anything I truly hate.

AMA, Brit Awards, and ARIA Winners & Nominees

I never really think about the American Music Awards until they happen and some of their categories are confusing. Are they like the People’s Choice Awards of music? Whenever there are categories for “favorite” instead of “best,” I feel kind of suspicious. Anyway, I’ll be starting following the AMAs by mixing in music from 1974 into the mix.

I’ll also be following the BRITs from 1977 and the ARIAs from 1987. Their nominees are available so, interest and time permitting, I’ll give them a look too. Why not?

Billboard Music Award Winners & Finalists

The Billboard Awards started in the 90s? They’re the last of the big-three awards (with the Grammys and AMAs) so I figured I’d include them rather than going through every weekly top 40 chart and driving myself completely insane. Besides, Billboard updates their own Hot 100 Spotify playlist that I can follow for current music. But this post is about classics!

Since the Billboard Awards are chart, sales, and airplay-based, they have finalists, rather than nominees, so that’s why I’ve made that distinction. However, I can’t find any lists of finalists for the 90s edition, so I’ll pick those up as they become available.

Special Consideration: MTV VMAs and Eurovision

As sketchy as the nominations and winners for the MTV Video Music Awards may be (like the Kids’ Choice Awards, I’m pretty sure they award those willing to show up, right?) the winners of the VMAs have always been a snapshot of the zeitgeist of their time. I’ll be watching the videos as much as I’ll be listening to the songs, so that’s why I’m considering this a special consideration. It won’t be a playlist I can easily throw together. I’ll be starting with the first ones which aired in 1984.

Along those same lines, I’ll be delving into the Eurovision Song Contest. Ever since I became aware of it, I’ve loved it. Often cheesy, weird and fun, the show is the best part of the experience. As I did with the lead up to the Oscars, I will be delving into each category, or country in this case, and watching as many of the finalist competitions as I can. In the lead-up to the ceremony in May, I’ll be posting links as I find them. I may start to look into the past awards, but all of the fun is really in watching the performances, much more than enjoying the music itself. It all depends on what old broadcasts and videos are readily available. I’m not going to go crazy tracking these down.

To sum up:

This feels like a sprawling mess of a start, but it’s a start nonetheless. I’m sure it was really sexy and fun reading about my methodology, but I had to get my thoughts together about this. Plus, this post is a great, albeit verbose, link-dump so I can easily reference all of the awards and “classic” music categories I’ve identified.

I’ve already started listening to The B-52’s album mentioned all the way at the beginning (and not having the time of my life), so I’ll be posting about them relatively soon!