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March 22, 2010 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-03-22

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, March 22, 2010 - 5A

Who really writes songs?

"Be vewy vewy quiet. Im hunting Wattatas,
Matt Damon gets chaotic

There's something about the
term "songwriting" that
has always remained a bit
enigmatic to me. Just what exactly
constitutes a
good songwrit-
er? Where does
end and "music" c
begin- or is
there essen-
tially no legroom
between these-
two concepts? JOSH
Can an album BAYER
sound like a
dream and still
be a piss-poor example of good
songwriting? These are just some
of the things I wonder when I'm in
bed practicing my neuroticism.
Perhaps the inclusion of the
root "songwriting" in the elusive
"singer-songwriter" term can shed
some light on the matter. When one
hears the word "songwriter," it's
tough not to imagine the prototypi-
cal image of a lyricist strumming an
acoustic guitar and singing along
poetically. Thus, it seems safe to
conclude that original, colorful lyr-
ics are a cornerstone when it comes
to good songwriting.
But what about Elton John?
While the Rocket Man certainly
seems to be suspended in the eye
of pop culture history as one of the
greatest songwriters of the past
few decades, the fact stands that
he didn't write the lyrics to the,
vast majority of his songs. Bernie
Taupin was the man behind the
curtain, feeding John lyrics that he
subsequently put to music.
So how much of a blow does
this deliver to John's legacy as a
songwriter? If you see songwrit-
ing as primarily a form of personal
expression, it certainly seems like
John would lose a few points here
- how strong of a personal connec-
tion can you have with your music
if the content essentially belongs to
someone else? But if you hedge your
vote on pure pop genius and chest-
clearing, honeybun melodies, John
is right there at the top.
One of the other cans pf worms
that always gets popped open

while d
the son
For inst
note yo
an ange
in unisi
of stero
writer b
sends c
ocean o
that reli
a crutch
at Hear
wall bei
ever sin
tric gui
on a bas
For a
the line
lutely n
tion on
phic tho
beat bo)
is deter
ping ps
one cou

iscussing the essence of power of the final product is all that
gwriter is the role of post- should truly matter.
tion and sonic gadgetry. So what about musical artists
ance, isn't a chorus pedal who don't even write their own
basically takes whatever melodies? Inan increasingly digital
u play and explodes it into world, music comprised exclusively
lic choir of guitars singing of samples from previously exist-
sn) the musical equivalent ing songs has become more and
ids? Shouldn't a true song- more common, especially in the
be able to write a song that realm of electronic music. But does
hills up your spine without this mean that the words "DJ" and
ng on a jaded-sounding "songwriter" are mutually exclu-
f reverb? sive?
,I can name many a band Sure, I hear a "mash-up" like the
ies on studio wizardry as Jay Z-meets-Linkin Park "Numb/
h. Without the daydreamy Encore" remix and feel like there's
:amber haze obscuring their about zero artistic integrity rattling
-laced brand of sanitary around in there. But good sample-
k, The Pains of Being Pure based music goes light-years
t would sound about as beyond simply squishing together
as it actually is. But to put a two radio singles for optimal block-
tween sound production and buster appeal.
iting is to deny the fact that Pioneers like DJ Shadow and J
nship and technology have Dilla treat sampling like a meticu-
a tag-team relationship lous scavenger hunt, masterfully
ce the invention of the elec- colliding disparate ideas from
tar - Jimi Hendrix simply all over the snap of music his-
t have reinvented rock'n'roll tory to open up lush sonic spaces
njo. that didn't exist before. How is it
not songwriting to contort Nir-
vana, symphonic composer David
Axelrod, hip-hop super group
ton John and Gravediggaz and the background
synthesizers from the movie "Blade
Shadow have Runner" - among other assorted
n in samples - into a dynamic, seamless
omethmng in composition?
From a classical standpoint,
COnnlon. songwriting is indeed a totally
separate animal from production
and effects pedals. And it's true
n artist like Ariel Pink, that head-trippy studio engineering
between production and will never replace tight song struc-
iting is fundamentally turing and a kick-ass melody. But,
stent. While his music is regardless of what the word "song-
ally "lo-fi," there is abso- writing" actually encompasses, all
othing gimmicky about his I know is that it's silly to have to
production values. The mentally undress "Just Like Honey"
sciously garbled produc- from its reverb-drenched overcoat
his songs is so metamor- in order to accurately assess the
at, with every washed-out song's quality. In this world, to me,
x and wavery sound pan, it what you hear is what you get. And
sounds like Pink's world if you like what you hear, then it's
iorating around him, drip- probably a good song - or at least
ychedelically against his good sound.

'Green Zone' can't match the
Iraq War-movie grandeur of
'The Hurt Locker'
Daily Arts Writer
In the wake of the "Hurt Locker" tsunami
that recently swept this year's Academy Awards,
it's difficult not to compare the
breakthrough film to war mov-
ies released since then. Enter
"Green Zone," an eager con- Green Zone
tender stepping into the Iraq
War arena. In contrast to the At Quality 16
unnerving tranquility of war- and Showcase
ravaged Iraq "Locker" portrays, Universal
"Zone" depicts a different side,
full of chaos and deception. But
apparently that chaos is contagious, as "Zone"
falls apart quickly despite its thrilling qualities.

The film begins with a flash of light and an
explosion. Pandemonium descends upon an Iraqi
household as men and women rush to safety.
Director Paul Greengrass wastes no time getting
the action started and the adrenaline pumping.
The scene then switches to Chief Warrant
Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon, "Invictus") as
he leads his troops under sniper fire to an aban-
doned warehouse in the middle of Baghdad. The
city has spiraled into anarchy as looters and
raiders storm the streets. Heeding the civilians
while still making their way inside, the Ameri-
can troops eventually secure the building, only to
discover something ugly. The warehouse is com-
pletely empty.
"Zone" is about the investigation of the
rumored weapons of mass destruction program
in Iraq. Despite a seemingly dry subject material,
Greengrass proves he can still maintain the same
level of suspense and thrill his "Bourne" movies
are famous for. Fans may rejoice upon seeing the
familiar use of the first-person, shaky camera.
This technique helps to create the fast-paced,
engaging momentum of the movie.

-esque vocals. And while
id argue that Pink is an
phsrig ather than a clssic
iter, I feel like the visceral

Bayer is sampling 'Rocket Man'
for his new metal mash-up album. To
stop him, e-mail jrbayer@umich.edu.

What?'Pokemon'is evolving 'Panic' with stop-motion

ManagingArts Editor
One part remake, one part
upgrade, a billion parts awesome,
HeartGold" *
and "Pokemon
SoulSilver" take Polo n
what could be H
the best games HeartGold
of all time and and SoulSilver
make them
even better. The For Nintendo DS
games master- Nintendo
fully hearken
back to simpler times, back when ,
there were a mere 251 Pokdmon to
catch, while still offering expan-
sive, challenging and downright
cute gameplay for those who like
having nearly 500 critters to cap-
ture. And if it weren't for that damn
Pokdwalker, the new games would
be as close to perfection as gaming,
may ever come.
"HeartGold" and "SoulSilver" Don't be foole
are remakes - or rather, evolutions
- of "Gold" and "Silver," the Game simplicity fo
Boy Color titles from the days of game, giving
yore (1999). This was back before the first 25
things got too complicated. There the Elite Fou
was a manageable amount of Pokd- opens up ti
mon, there weren't a bunch of crazy featuring th
items with overly specific uses
and the Dark and Steel types were
still novelties. "HeartGold" and
"SoulSilver" keep much of this

and hallucinogenic drugs

By NICK COSTON seat beneath the theater's mighty
Daily Arts Writer chandelier and maybe he'll notice
the Apple corporate logo in the
The Michigan Theater is a lower right corner of the other-
beautiful venue at which to watch wise blank screen. That's odd.
a film. It's cav- When did Apple start making 16
ernous, it's *** mm film projectors? Then he'll
majestic and it's see a DVD menu, in French, as
the kind of the- A Town an invisible hand scrolls through
ater that makes Called Panic some French options. Lire. The
its visitors think screen goes dark.
whatever they're Tonight at the When an image returns to
about to see will Michigan the screen, it's the beginning
be art of the Zeitgeist of something that is not quite
highest intel- a film, not quite a cartoon, not
lectual order. quite anything except perhaps a
In a museum like this, what else shrimp taco-fueled nightmare.
would the projector show? Lately It's funny, at times, but mostly it's
the marquee outside the Michigan just bizarre. More importantly,
has read "A Town Called Panic." "A Town Called Panic" is every-
It's a Belgian film that screened at thing it wants to be; no aspect of
the Cannes Film Festival last May. its production can be claimed as
By pedigree, it appears to be an unsuccessful, because its only
appropriate feature for an opera goal is quite clearly to be as weird
house like the Michigan. as possible. The only question is
But a curious theater guest whether a prospective viewer has
will buy his ticket and find his ingested enough drugs to want to

see it.
The absurdity of "A Town
Called Panic" is matched only
by its brevity. At barely an hour
long, the film is digestible if noth-
ing else. In that short span, the
A trippy Belgian
film infiltrates
the Michigan
film tells the tale of housemates
Horse, Cowboy and Indian. Those
are their names. Their neighbors
are farmer Steven, who can only
scream; Madame Longray, a sexy
piano teacher horse on whom
Horse has a crush and, of course,
Postman. Most of the voices are
See PANIC, Page BA

or the first half of the
g players access to only
1 Pokdmon. But after
ur are beaten, the game
o an expansive world
e oodles of monsters to

which players are now accustomed.
Of course these games are not
pure remakes, even for the first half.
The player receives the requisite
running shoes early on, making for
See POKEMON, Page 8A


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