Archive for April 12, 2013


Swedes prefer streaming to downloading

Sweden is home to a vibrant community of file-sharing activists, but it is also at the forefront of a global recovery in music sales driven by streaming music services such as Spotify, AFP’s Sören Billing reports.

Legal downloading sites like Apple‘s iTunes Store were once thought to be a panacea for the global music industry, providing an alternative to illegal download sites like Sweden’s Pirate Bay.

But if the high-tech Scandinavian nation is anything to go by, music downloads could soon be as obsolete as CDs or vinyl records.

iTunes’ success has been modest here, with the vast majority of consumers preferring to stream songs rather than owning them on a hard drive.

Last year, 2012, was the best year for music sales in Sweden since 2005, with 63 percent of revenue coming from digital sources, according to data from the Swedish Recording Industry Association (GLF). Out of that, 90 percent came from streaming services.

“Norway and Sweden are similar in that a large part of music revenue comes from streaming, and in that both countries have seen strong growth,” said Ludwig Werner, managing director of the Swedish chapter of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

Other countries, including Europe’s largest economy Germany, still derive most of their music sales from CDs, he noted.

With income still lagging the heydays of the early noughties, when file-sharing began eating into results, Werner said it was too early to tell if the music industry was out of the woods.

Last year’s sales of 943 million kronor ($148 million) in Sweden was up 13.8 percent from the previous year, but well below the 1.55 billion registered in 2002.

The Swedish turnaround has been driven by two events: In 2009, the Ipred law came into effect, giving copyright holders the right to require service providers to reveal details of users who share files, paving the way for legal action.

Also contributing to a rise in legal music sales was Spotify, the digital media juggernaut launched by Swedes Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon in 2008. The streaming music service still counts Sweden as one of its most successful markets.

“We do see a similar trend (for sales) across the Nordics, but primarily for Sweden and Norway where the penetration for streaming services is very high,” spokeswoman Marine Elgrichi said.

According to the company, the 1,000 kronor that a paying Spotify user spends on music per year is twice that of a user who downloads songs.

Asked about the criticism levied at the digital music service for how it compensates artists, Elgrichi said it pays 70 percent of revenues back to record labels and collecting societies, who then pay the artists.

Last spring, Spotify had paid out a total of 1.6 billion kronor. At the beginning of this year that amount had doubled.

“To double that figure in under a year shows the huge strides we’re making,” Elgrichi said.

Tom McAlevey, founder of Radical.FM, a Swedish music streaming start-up modelled on US-based Pandora Internet radio, said streaming music services would create “the most lucrative era the music industry has ever been in.”

According to his own calculations, between 100 and 200 plays on Spotify earns a record company the same amount of money it would make from a download.

“After that it’s just pure profit. No one’s buying anything a second time on iTunes,” he said.

“It’s going to be the most lucrative thing ever because you get paid forever,” he argued.

Artists’ criticism of streaming services like Spotify was beginning to subside as they were “starting to understand the math,” he said.

The rise of streaming music is already affecting how record labels operate. With more people discovering new artists through shared playlists and “tailored” radio stations like Pandora that predict what kind of music the listener wants to hear, there’s less need for costly advertising campaigns to
promote the performer.

“Previously most of our marketing activities were tied to paying for exposure,” said Robert Litsen, an executive at Swedish-based Cosmos Music Group.

Promotional campaigns for a singer or a band were now more focused on “what you communicate” rather than “how much you’re willing to pay,” he added.

Others believe it could shift the industry’s economic cycle away from the traditional spike in CD sales before Christmas.

“With less focus on the Christmas market, we can spread out the releases of albums at different times, when artists have more of a chance to stand out,” the managing director of Universal Music Sweden, Per Sundin, said in a recent report from IFPI.

Prior to the controversial Ipred law, Sweden was at the forefront of file-sharing activism, and in 2006 fans of the website Pirate Bay formed the Pirate Party to campaign for copyright reform.

But party leader Anna Troberg said she didn’t think the crackdown on file-sharers was behind the music industry’s newfound success.

“I think it’s because they’ve finally begun using new technology to their advantage, rather than trying to fight it,” she said.

Spotify was a good alternative for “chart music”, but finding the sort of niche acts she listened to herself was harder, Troberg noted. Read more about the story here: http://bit.ly/122rkig

AFP/The Local/nr 

“People call me a director, but I really think of myself as a sound man.” –David Lynch, quoted in Michael Chion’s David Lynch

David Lynch‘s electro-pop album Crazy Clown Time has left a lot of music fans and critics scratching their heads. But, looking back at the filmmaker’s long history of re-purposing pop music in his films and other work, it’s possible that Crazy Clown Time is one of the least strange moves that the veteran film director, meditation guru, coffee entrepreneur, and amateur weatherman has made in his entire career.

This isn’t intended to be a complete list of David Lynch’s musical ventures, as a number of music videos, Lynch-penned compositions, and other collaborations have been left out. Rather, consider it a smattering of some of Lynch’s strangest, presented in chronological order.

Feature artwork by Cap Blackard. Read more the review here: http://bit.ly/1527Ddf

“In Heaven” from Eraserhead (1977)

Lynch’s history both as a musician and as a feature filmmaker begin here withEraserhead. Following several mostly animated short films, Lynch received a small grant from the American Film Institute to begin what would become his first full-length movie. Filmed piecemeal from 1971 to 1976, it was met with mixed reactions at festivals, but early championing from famous fans including David Bowie and Charles Bukowski helpedEraserhead become one of the midnight circuit’s most popular movies.

The various musical performances in Lynch’s debut come courtesy of the Lady in the Radiator, a charming, tumor-cheeked woman who appears to Henry in visions at several points in the film. The most famous of these is her performance of “In Heaven” (famously covered by The Pixies), a simple, yet creepy, little song written by Peter Ivers at Lynch’s request. (In another segment, The Lady in the Radiator performs a memorably stomach-turning dance where oversized sperm creatures drop from the ceiling and are squished under her feet.)

Sting’s scantily clad space prince in Dune (1984)

“I met David [Lynch] and I loved him. He’s a madman in sheep’s clothing, and I just felt I had to do the movie because I know he’s going to do something extraordinary.” -Sting inRolling Stone Magazine #403, September 1983

“I didn’t even like the film, I don’t have a clue what it was about, it was very confusing.” – Sting to The Courier Mail, July 1985

Following the cult success of Eraserhead and the critical acclaim of his Academy Award-nominated Hollywood debut, The Elephant Man, Lynch was pegged to direct a big-budget adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic, Dune. (Lynch had recently declined George Lucas’s offer to direct Return of the Jedi.) Lynch’s grandiose vision forDune would have resulted in a three-plus-hour film, which the studio cut down to a still-grueling 137 minutes. While more than a few distinct Lynch-isms survived the chopping block, the film that arrived in theaters was a convoluted mess and wound up being a huge commercial and critical flop.

“In Dreams” from Blue Velvet (1986)

Lynch bounced back from Dune with the smaller, more personal Blue Velvet. A mystery set against the dark underbelly of small-town America, Blue Velvet earned David Lynch his second best director Academy Award nomination and resurrected Dennis Hopper’s career with his turn as Frank Booth, the movie’s unforgettable gas-huffing villain.

Teenage sleuth Jeffrey Beaumont finds himself in way over his head when the dangerously unpredictable Frank Booth takes him along for a wild ride. Frank takes him to the home of his “suave” drug dealer, Ben, who lip-syncs Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” into an electric light. This sends Frank down an emotional roller coaster and prompts one of the most terrifying scenes in the movie.

“Blue Velvet” from Blue Velvet (1986)

Though far less disturbing than Dean Stockwell’s performance of “In Dreams”, Isabella Rosselini’s nightclub performance of Bobby Vinton’s “Blue Velvet” has become one of the film’s most iconic scenes. With her sensual allure and an evening of song, beleaguered nightclub singer Dorothy Vallens pulls the young Jeffrey Beaumont irrevocably into her dark world.

David Lynch initially brought in Angelo Badalamenti to serve as Isabella Rosselini’s voice coach for this scene, but wound up finding one of his most frequent collaborators in the composer. (Badalamenti appears as the piano player in this scene.)

Julee Cruise – Floating Into the Night (1989)

Rights issues prevented David Lynch from using a This Mortal Coil cover of Tim Buckley’s “Song to the Siren” in Blue Velvet. Unable to find another song that conveyed the same feelings, Lynch penned the lyrics to “Mysteries of Love”, which composer Angelo Badalamenti set to music. Lynch asked for a singer with an “ethereal” voice. Badalamenti suggested Julee Cruise, whom he had met in a theater workshop. The results play in Blue Velvet over a sweetly emotional dancing scene.

Industrial Symphony No. 1 (1989)

Following the success of Blue Velvet, The Brooklyn Academy of Music approached David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti to produce a 45-minute stage production to open their New Wave Music Festival. The pair agreed and put the entire show together in just two weeks, creating imagery to pair with several of the songs they’d written for Julee Cruise.

Presented only twice in November of 1989, the original production starred Cruise, as well as Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern, with whom Lynch was currently filming Wild at Heart, and Michael J. Anderson, who would go on to fame as the diminutive, backwards-talking Man From Another Place in Twin Peaks.

“Love Me” / “Love Me Tender” from Wild at Heart(1990)

David Lynch juggled a wide variety of projects in the late 1980s, perhaps the quickest to get off the ground being Wild at Heart. Within six months of being given a copy of the Barry Gifford novel that served as the film’s source material, Lynch had wrapped shooting on an adaptation that strongly showed the filmmaker’s bizarre stamp and contained more than a few less-than-subtle allusions to The Wizard of Oz.

Starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern as Sailor and Lula, outlaw lovers on the lam from both law enforcement and a contract killer, Wild at Heart calls back to Elvis Presley’s acting career without once actually vocalizing the singer’s name. Nicolas Cage musically breaks into songs made famous by Presley at two points in the movie: first in a version of “Love Me” that Sailor sings to Lula after pummeling a kid senseless in a bar fight and second (and even more bizarrely) in a rendition of “Love Me Tender” that’s sung under the credits.

“Just You And I” from Twin Peaks (1990)

It’s not surprising that two of the strangest musical moments in Twin Peaks come from David Lynch-directed episodes. Early on in season two, James and Donna, friends and classmates of the late Laura Palmer, and her near-identical cousin, Maddie, gather to record a ’50s-style pop song. The song isn’t mentioned before this moment and isn’t referred to again, making the almost-random, three-minute performance one of the most inexplicable, yet surreally sweet, scenes in the show.

David Bowie in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me(1992)

Ratings for Twin Peaks took a serious plummet in the second season, as a move to a Saturday evening time slot and the resolution of the central “Who killed Laura Palmer?” mystery caused viewers to lose interest. Following the show’s cancellation, Lynch announced he’d signed a three-picture deal with French company CIBY that would include a spin-off prequel. The world of Twin Peaks would live on for one more feature film, despite several of the show’s lead actors declining to be involved.

David Bowie, an early fan of Lynch’s Eraserhead, appears in a very brief cameo as a disappearing special agent with a laughably terrible Southern accent. Bowie filmed his role in just a few days while rehearsing for his Tin Machine tour, and only this scene survived into the film’s final cut.

“Sycamore Trees” / “Questions in a World of Blue” from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was a critical and commercial flop in the United States, perhaps because of its near incomprehensibility, particularly to those who hadn’t invested almost 30 hours in the TV show’s many threaded plotlines. To fans of the director, however, it could be seen as his most hallucinatory and surreal film since Eraserhead.

Many of Lynch’s trademarks are quite visible throughout, including his penchant for including on-screen singing. The first is a short appearance by “Little” Jimmy Scott, a jazz vocalist with a distinctively high voice caused by a rare genetic disorder that prevented him from reaching puberty, singing “Sycamore Trees”, a new song by Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti.

The second is an in-film performance by Lynch’s frequent musical collaborator, Julee Cruise, singing the Lynch and Badalamenti composition “Questions in a World of Blue”, which would later appear on her sophomore album, also produced by Lynch.

“The Mr. Peanuts Song” from On the Air (1992)

On the Air was one of two short-lived television shows from David Lynch and his Twin Peaks co-creator, Mark Frost, following the success of that series. Starring several of the smaller-role actors from Twin Peaks in the lead and filmed with much of the same crew, the old-timey throwback to 1950s live variety programming flopped in the ratings with only a handful of episodes making it to air.

While possibly one of the least Lynch-esque projects he’s attached his name to, On the Air played in the same world of innocent nostalgia that was turned on its head in films likeBlue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. Several pieces of music are fit into the show-within-a-show’s variety format, one of the most memorable being “The Mr. Peanuts Song”, sung by one of the show’s leads, coming to the aid of a disgraced puppeteer.

Michael Jackson’s Dangerous teaser (1993)

David Lynch directed the introduction to Michael Jackson’s Dangerous: The Short Filmscollection, and as far as 90-second pop music commercials go, they don’t get much Lynch-ier than this. Featuring flickering lights, industrial noise, and a dancing dwarf, this little-scene video packs a lot of directorial trademarks into a small amount of time.

Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Ramirez as porn stars inLost Highway (1997)

Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor had reached out to Lynch previously to direct one of his music videos but was unable to pin down the filmmaker. Impressing producers with his work on the Natural Born Killers companion soundtrack, Reznor was approached to reprise that musical compiler role for Lost Highway as well as composing a few original pieces of music for the movie. The final result was released on CD in advance of the film’s opening and featured tracks by Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, Rammstein, and The Smashing Pumpkins.

Soundtrack contributors Marilyn Manson and bandmate Twiggy Ramirez have brief, almost-background cameos as porn stars in a snuff flick that’s viewed by the characters in one of the movie’s skeezier scenes.

“Llorando” in Mulholland Drive (2001)

“The music has to marry with the picture and enhance it. You can’t just lob something in and think it’s going to work, even if it’s one of your all-time favorite songs. The piece of music may have nothing to do with the scene. When it marries, you can feel it.” –David Lynch in his book, Catching the Big Fish

Initially conceived as a TV pilot that was later rejected by ABC executives, Lynch went back and shot additional scenes to turn it into one of his most critically acclaimed feature films, Mulholland Drive. The unusual production history of the film and the open-ended narrative structure, as well as Lynch’s typically surreal style, make viewing the film a hallucinatory and dreamlike feeling.

In all of the scenes listed here, Rebekah Del Rio’s Spanish, a capella performance of Roy Orbison’s “Crying” (retitled “Llorando”) may be the most haunting. Lynch had originally intended to use this song rather than Orbison’s “In Dreams” for Blue Velvet, but used it here instead after hearing Del Rio’s cover. At a critical point in the film, lovers Betty and Rita visit the mysterious and mostly empty Club Silencio. “No hay banda,” a performer announces; there is no band, yet we hear one. Any further description of this scene would be spoiling it for those who haven’t yet experienced it.

BlueBob (2001)

A music video was released for “Thank You, Judge”, which featured appearances by Naomi Watts and Eli Roth, as well as both Lynch and Neff.

“Sinnerman”, “Imaginary Girl”, and “Ghost of Love” from Inland Empire (2006)

Shot without a script over the course of more than two years with a stable of Lynch regulars, Inland Empire remains Lynch’s most recent film. Here, for the first time sinceWild at Heart, the filmmaker saves the weirdest musical moment for the end credits. The film closes with a Lynch-esque dance number set to Nina Simone’s rendition of “Sinnerman”, including a few of the director’s recurring thumbprints, from the blinking lights to a log-sawing lumberjack.

David Lynch makes his singing debut (without heavy distortion filters) for the soundtrack of Inland Empire, singing two original songs: “Ghost of Love” and “Imaginary Girl”.

Moby’s “Shot in the Back of the Head” music video (2009)

It doesn’t seem that unusual that electronic artist Moby and David Lynch would be email pen pals. As Moby describes it, he would occasionally send Lynch pieces of music that he thinks he would like. In the case of “Shot in the Back of the Head” from 2009 album Wait for Me, Lynch sent the song back with visuals attached to it.

Lynch’s animated music video interpreted Moby’s song as a surreal narrative involving a love affair between a man and a woman’s severed head.

Dark Night of the Soul (2010)

Dark Night of the Soul was a collaborative album written by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse and featured a wide cast of indie rock luminaries in guest appearances, including Wayne Coyne, Iggy Pop, Gruff Rhys, Jason Lytle, James Mercer, Black Francis, Julian Casablancas, Suzanne Vega, Nina Persson, Vic Chesnutt, and Scott Spillane. It included some of the last recordings by Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and Vic Chesnutt before their respective suicides.

A limited-edition version of the set came with a book that included more than 100 pages of photos taken by David Lynch. The filmmaker sang in two of the songs, including “Star Eyes”, which is below set to his accompanying photographs.

In closing…

“Sound is almost like a drug. It’s so pure that when it goes in your ears, it instantly does something to you.” -David Lynch

In the end, when put into the context of a long and idiosyncratic career that’s included its fair share of left turns, an electro-pop album from David Lynch really isn’t a surprising move. Popular music has long played such an integral role in Lynch’s creative output that it may just be the logical next step.

Enjoy Crazy Clown Time, and try to have a good day today.

the hangover 3

The Hangover franchise has all the rigidity of a slasher movie series—you know exactly what’s going to happen each time you go in.  The “wolf pack” will be brought together via some kind of narrative contrivance.  Then, something will go awry, and the group of friends will be sent to some semi-exotic vacation locale and go on a series of wacky misadventures until everything is set right again.  Oh, and there will be some kind of notorious celebrity cameo, and a zoo animal will show up at some point.

Well, the full trailer for The Hangover III is now available, and it lays out the whole plot for us. Read more the review here: http://bit.ly/10ZW6XJ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=96TelFMZwHc

It’s all pretty rote, but Galifianakis and Jeong get some funny moments.  More than anything else, simply enjoy that this trailer signifies the final Hangover film.  At least until it makes a ton of money and another one is released, then another one.

The Hangover III is set for a May 24th release.

 

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