Music

Everlasting KISS: The Branding of the World’s Most Commercial Band

Sandra Canosa

More than 40 years after their initial formation in New York City in 1973, the band KISS is still living – and selling – large. Since their misleadingly-named “KISS Farewell Tour” in 2001, the group has toured consistently nearly every year, performing over 450 concerts in stadiums and amphitheatres across North and South America, Europe, and Japan; their merchandise sales alone within the same 15-year span topple $500 million.

Jazz Legend Ornette Coleman Dies at 85

Bill Trott

Coleman's motto for his music, often uttered before starting his performances, was "I'd like to go out in space tonight." He would then launch into music that broke the limits of conventional bars, keys, chord changes and harmony. Coleman so divided jazz musicians, critics and fans that in his early years some musicians at jam sessions would leave the stage during his solos.

Remembering the New York Dolls: Rock’n’Roll Goes to Camp

Sandra Canosa

But the Dolls were also tougher, sloppier, and more aggressive than any of those ‘60s rock bands had dared to be, a rambunctious brawl of electric sound that strongly foreshadowed the punk revolution of the later 1970s. Songs like “Looking for a Kiss” and “Trash” dealt with subjects like heroin and drug addiction with an almost perverse nonchalance; watching them perform live, as Nick Kent described it, was “almost as if Donny Osmond ditched his brothers, started taking downers and grew fangs, picked up with a bunch of heavy-duty characters down off 42nd Street and started writing songs on topics like premature ejaculation.”

How the War Over Streaming Services Changed the Music Industry

Angelo Franco

When Taylor Swift’s 1989 album became the only record of the year to reach platinum level, that was the second biggest news in music of 2014.  The most important news of the year in the industry came when Swift pulled her entire catalogue from the popular streaming service Spotify one week after the release of her album.  The move, more so than spark a heated though admittedly civil battle between Swift and Spotify, has opened the gates to a debate about the future of the music industry. 

The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Paradox: Bruce Springsteen and Sincerity

Sandra Canosa

But Springsteen is of course no schoolchild, and no stranger to the tradition of the protest song. He openly idolizes Guthrie, and in the early days of his career was often billed as “The New Bob Dylan.” His rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” contains all the original verses, and it’s slow, grisly, and obviously pained. He knows it’s no patriotic celebration song. So what kind of promises are we talking about here? Surely it’s not the promise of a long and well-populated line for the government dole.

Bob Dylan and the Holy Grail: Basement Tapes Officially Released After 47 Years

Benjamin Wright

While recovering from the crash, Dylan spent some time in Woodstock, New York, joined soon after by other members of his band, the Hawks – Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson – the group who would soon become well-known simply as “The Band.” In those months of his absence from the public view Dylan and the Band recorded over 100 tracks in houses in and around Woodstock.

Can Music Survive Without the Teenybopper Fangirl?

Sandra Canosa

To an outsider, the gathering of Beliebers in such large proportions can be dizzying, if not downright menacing: strange words to ascribe mostly prepubescent girls in the awkward middle stages of growth spurts, hormonal changes, and corrective braces and eyewear. But the apparent strength of their allegiance to Justin – whose music and lyrics are mostly innocuous, if not downright dumb, to most grown adults or “serious” music fans – is what is most disorienting. The communal desires, the vast groupthink, and the worship of a (false?) idol smells of blind consumerism at best and fascism at worst. 

The Opera Industry’s Struggle to Remain Relevant

Angelo Franco

In the fall of 2013, the NYCO filed for bankruptcy. The demise of this major opera company has prompted a series of questions regarding the status of opera as an art form within the modern community, its relevancy, and contributions to society.  While there seems to be a general consensus that opera is struggling, there is discord as to what the industry can do to salvage its future, or if there is anything it can do to begin with.  

Satan, Saturn, and Rock’n’Roll: The Mythology of the 27 Club

Sandra Canosa

Alan Wilson of Canned Heat, Pete Ham of Badfinger, Pigpen McKernan of the Grateful Dead, Kristen Pfaff of Hole, Chris Bell of Big Star, and Amy Winehouse have all passed in the midst of their prime, at age 27. Some comprehensive lists span 50 names or more. It is an uncanny fact that more musicians seem to die at age 27 than at any other age – one that, since Cobain’s death in 1994, have sent conspiracy theorists reeling. 

Exploring Seattle’s Thriving Music Scene

Kaitlin Ebersol

It’s no wonder Seattle has been dubbed the “City of Music.” A small town, geographically isolated from mainstream record industries in New York, Chicago, and LA and steeped in the independent spirit of its northwest settlers, Seattle eventually gave rise to an innovative and wholly unique musical scene. In the late 60s, it gave the world rock legend Jimi Hendrix. In the late ‘80s, its underground hardcore punk and heavy metal influences fused to create grunge, made popular nationwide by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. As the ‘90s gave way to the aughts, it became a launching pad for a host of indie rock bands (think Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie, or The Head and the Heart).

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