Category Archives: music

No, children, Bruno Mars did not invent funk music


You know, I don’t often feel like there’s this enormous generational gap, but when people talking about “Men’z Night” apparently know of only one funk musician, that honestly troubles me. (And don’t get me started on the “Bruno Mars + Daft Punk” thing–kids, you do realize that Daft Punk is retro, correct? They’re like, Daft Punk, The Retro Music Group. It’s their mission statement or something.)

So, I figured I’d do a little musical tour of the world of funk. Most of these songs came out before Bruno Mars was even born–OMFG!!!! And if you like Bruno Mars, you’re about to get very happy!

Begin at the beginning: This is why James Brown is famous.

Sly Stone was another pioneer. (Yes, he’s probably high.)

This is not Bruno Mars + Daft Punk. Nor is it ripped off from Snoop Dogg (many hip-hop artists sample funk songs!). It is George Clinton–this is a later song of his but Clinton kind of rounds out the trifecta of Funk’s Founding Fathers. (ETA: RC in the comments made me feel remiss about not including the older “Flashlight,” so check that one out; like “Atomic Dog,” you’ve heard it even if you haven’t.)

The Gap Band! This is the first funk song I remember hearing on the radio! Check out them spangles! No, seriously, take careful note–disco and funk were popular at around the same time, so there was a lot of overlap. Also, note the cowboy hats and truly awesome fringe. (They were from Tusla.)

Can’t leave out Rick James!

Remember way back to last year, children, when some guy named Prince (or maybe something else, that was a little confusing) died and everyone (including Bruno Mars!) got all upset? Think of Prince as Old Bruno Mars, OK? A popular musician who was very, very into funk, Prince kind of moved funk away from that heavy early-1980s sound.

(That video is a lot funnier than I remember.)

There you go! If you want further entertainment–well, let’s just say funk attracts some real characters and leave it at that.

Let’s get Dean mad about something else!


Shame on me, but I’m kind of loving how PISSED Dean is about the bullshit allegation that “Where U At” (from Show Me the Money) is plagiarized from “I’m the One.” These things are basically always crap, of course, but Dean’s been awesomely breaking down every aspect to PROVE exactly how dumb this is.

He keeps posting and deleting to Instagram, so it’s hard to capture this in all its glory. Soompi got most of the first two posts, but they missed the bit where Dean actually spelled out the chord changes (luckily a fan copied this to Twitter)

Dean also posted a video showing the differences between the songs.

Now he’s got another new post up because someone contacted the producer of “I’m the One,” who said (this is an exact quote) “Nope” to the charge.

Go, Angry Dean, Go!

These are cool


These are a couple of years old, but they popped up on my Google alerts today for some reason.

The second one takes a little while to get going, but it works. With both songs I like that the person didn’t just layer the vocals over another track and let’s hope to God they fit (or worse, just fade from one song to another and back again). Apparently they had to isolate out the vocals, too, so kudos to them for putting some work into it.

(And of course if I’m talking about mash-ups, I have to include my fave:


See, they’re very strict!


When Korean hip-hop artists tell you to sing along, you’d damned well better sing along! They mean it!

(Also the 1:40 mark cracks me up. Zico gets the most leverage out of the least stripping of any performer I have ever seen.)

The reason I was traveling this time was because I went to my 25th college reunion (yes, I have been out of college longer than most of you have been alive, I know). Among my classmates are Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes of Pink Martini, which is an amazing group and a big favorite of my family.

(For the record, I’ve heard Thomas play piano like that in the dark. He’s quite something.)

Anyway, Thomas and China were very generous with their time and talent at the reunion, which was awesome, but it was funny to me how long it took an American audience to start singing or even just clapping along. Let’s just say that audience participation has been waaaaay less optional at the Korean shows I’ve been to!

ETA: I shall add that the MOST exciting celebrity at the reunion was definitely this one!

Exciting to me, that is. As you might guess, successful surf dogs are really, really calm….

I can’t say I have too much sympathy


So, I updated my earlier post about “That Song that Sounds a Whole Lot Like ‘Toy’,” but I wanted to do a new post about it because it’s a little interesting.

According to this (via @Veryhensemguy)

The guy bought the beat here thinking it was legit. Where he loses my sympathy is the whole bit where he’s not taking it down now that he knows he was scammed, I guess because he’s hoping to get cursed at in Korean on all his social media for the rest of time.

So what did he buy? This:

It was put up on YouTube FOUR DAYS after this song!

Keep in mind that the top song is ALSO being sold commercially!

So, you know, if you took the time to thumb down or report “That Song that Sounds a Whole Lot Like ‘Toy'” on YouTube, be sure to take a minute to do the same for “That Other Song that Also Sounds a Whole Lot Like ‘Toy'”–especially because they’re probably doing this to a LOT of artists….

ETA: I’m putting this here in hopes it shows up when people Google this asshole–RYANSAGE.NET IS A SCAM. Read his disclaimer: You will pay Mr. Ryan Sage hundreds of dollars for music he does not own and you cannot use. MUSICIAN BEWARE!

Commercial use


The YouTube video of “That Song that Sounds a Whole Lot Like ‘Toy'” was pulled down, which seems like a tacit admission that proper protocols were not observed when it was made. And one of the Korean fans has managed to get through to Poptime, so it seems like Seven Seasons is definitely going to know about it.

(Original Tweet here. And thank you!)

The thing that could potentially make this really expensive for the guy is that it’s a commercial release–“TStSaWLL’T'” (a.k.a. “Megafon”) is on iTunes and Amazon and Google Play and Spotify and God only knows what other retail outlets. That makes its a very different creature than a mixtape using an unlicensed sample from “Toy,” which would likely not be a big deal.

Notice something interesting? When it comes to classifying as song as a commercial release, it doesn’t matter if it makes any money. The mere presence of “TStSaWLL’T'” on retail sites is enough to make it a commercial release. Has the song sold not a single copy? Did the guy actually lose money on it? It doesn’t matter.

I have seen this concept repeatedly confound newbie writers. You tell them that they are making a commercial release when they self-publish a book, and they tell you:

  • “I haven’t made any money from this!”
  • “This isn’t a commercial book–it’s literature.”
  • “There’s not a publishing house involved. It’s just me.”
  • “I’m fine if I don’t make money–this is really a passion project.”

Nobody cares!!! Are you putting your work up for sale? Yes? That’s enough! It’s a commercial release now, and nobody gives a fuck about the rest of it.

The thing is that, at least in the United States, the holder of the copyright on something has certain rights regardless of how the property is used–but they often distinguish between what’s called personal use and what’s called commercial use.

So, let’s say there’s some cool clip art out there, as well as some bitchin’ fonts, and you have used these time and time again to advertise your church’s bake sale or your school club or whatever. You never had to pay for any of this artwork, and that was never a problem–you’ve never even had to think about it.

Because you were engaged in personal use.

Try slapping that shit on the cover of something you’re going to sell, and suddenly there’s a whole bunch of problems. There’s all this small print about “commercial licenses,” and if you don’t pay it any mind, lawyers send you nasty letters and you have to pay a bunch of money.

Do I think that kind of slippery-slope thing is what happened here? I have no idea–maybe the dude thought that Korea is so far away that no one could possibly figure out what he’d done! (It’s not like they have the Internet there, right?) (ETA: We know more now.) But a lot of newer artists do kind of have trouble wrapping their brains around the fact that the arts are commercial–these are businesses and industries, and you can’t get away from that no matter how bohemian or small-time you are.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a commercial artist, if you’re putting it up for sale, the law thinks that you are one–and it’s important to know that.