POP your heart out.

Goldfrapp-Number 1

So I was at Macy's yesterday, looking to update my sufficiently hipster doll wardrobe, and this Royksopp video came on, giving me a slight shock. I mean, you know the mall's favorite songs--so then, I stand there, frozen for a few minutes, until the song passes on and is replaced by James Blunt, followed by the Pussycat Dolls or the Black Eyed Peas or something like that...I was relieved. The world is still right side up enough! And then, just as I get ready to move away from the TV and stereo surrounded area...I hear this oh so familar riff.

These synths, aching, one after the other. Waves and waves, swallowing the one before it. The drumbeat, the electronics, kicking into gear. I dare to look up into the video screens--and there it is. Goldfrapp, in all their glitz and glamour and glory. The sexy beats and convincing vocals, the silky lyrics melting with Alison Goldfrapp's voice, the disco sliding and swirling in harmony, and the combination of it all! And the song, it's screaming, begging to be played louder. The sort of twists that requires glittering platform heels and ruby red lipstick. A mirror and a flashy wardrobe. And those three minutes and twenty-five seconds are really all you need, even at a place as unlikely as a department store...

The Novel*: All Families are Psychotic-Douglas Coupland
The Song: Of Montreal-Psychotic Feeling (via Fluxblog a while back)

Douglas Coupland, once again, and this family and novel is bizzare. Everything that could go wrong for each of them goes wrong, and the insane characters fall into even worse, inexplicable situations. The family is trying to get together for the first time in a long time to celebrate their only successful, one handed daughter/sister Sarah, who's about to be blasted off into space. Most of the family has some sort of fatal disease, and embarks on a dizzying quest to, uh, deliver the genuine letter from Prince Williams to Princess Diana. As before, Coupland's characters are wild and unpredictable, each with a personality that threatens to explode and eat away the pages.

There's plenty of dark humor and scenes of dialogue that sticks out, but the situations the family manages to get themselves into are enough of a treat (for instance: the mother of the family has HIV from her son when her crazy ex-husband tried to shoot her son, the bullet passing through the son, hitting her, and transferring the disease). It's a fast paced, action filled, surprising novel with plenty of fun.

And of course, Of Montreal seems the only suitable band with this glittering, shiny piece of indie pop space fantasy. The echos of the chorus, and the non stop squealing, circling guitars...the psychodelic riffs and love sick lyrics...amazing.

*New format for the book talks! Just to keep those of you who could not care less about books entertained, now (hopefully) every completed novel shall also feature a song!

The Strokes--Juicebox

I know I'm probably going to piss off a bunch of my readers, but--can't you just hear the System of a Down totally metal guitar riffs and the crazy solos in this song? And yes, that riff varied to several degrees is quite persistent and easily stuck-in-headable after a while, and to some extent the song is plenty catchy and definitely rock 'n' roll, but then...is it really anything fresh and wonderful? Anything to gawk and love over? But then again, The Strokes (and garage bands in general, really) tend to get on my nerves and become frustrating. So, what's better to wrap up the week, then this?

Well, okay, many other things. Like, I could have done: Any Coldplay song. The bad: self explainatory. The good: Your life will feel much, much longer than it actually is. And you won't ever have to take sleeping pills again.

Hey wait, that is a good wrap-up! It's been surprisingly difficult to find the bands that are terrible yet strangely good, but I had fun writing these (variety is always fun, isn't it?). Quality shall return next week, although you sure can look forward to more exciting themed weeks in the future!

Hawthorne Heights-Ohio Is For Lovers

I hate Hawthorne Heights. I mean, I really, truly despise this band, their music, and everything they stand for. Every time I hear their name mentioned (especially with an over positive response attached), I cringe and die a little bit inside. I want them to cut my wrists and black my ears so that I'll never be subjected to this sort of torture again.

And, yet, I can sing along to the whole song.

This band is the very definition of what it's like to make terrible music. It's not even produced lifeless repetative "corporate rock", it's going on to a whole other level. I mean, aside from the lyrics--the most cliche, sickening, uninspired lines I think I've ever heard--the "singer's" inability to perform anything resembling real singing, the forced, weak screaming, there's the fact that they're actually popular, that there are thousands and thousands of fan boys/girls out there adoring everything they do.

So, why the post? Is it really possible for them to be "good" if I hate everything about them?

Instead of looking at the merits of the music (none), maybe you could look at the appeal. Instead crying over the band's forced, produced, emotionless emo efforts, maybe you could hear the undertones in the song. The pretty pop guitars, the chorus with just the right amount of "hardcore" but enough catchiness to get stuck in your head for days. Instead of making fun of their fake lyrics, look at the fake real emotions. Like every scene kid on Myspace, there's the despair, the crushing blow of being apart from your love, the perfectly constructed fake everything along with this whole movement.

And maybe, maybe, if you listen to the song enough (to the dismay of your friends, family, anyone unforunate enough to suffer through your non-stop Hawthorne Heights spell), you'll be able to put that headache threatening to blow off your head to the side and concentrate...and maybe you, too, will see, why a band like this gets the attention they do. And why, they're so terrible, ear splitting, head smashing terrible that...in a twisted, weak, way, they're the perfect band you love to hate, and listen to at the same time.

Watch: Panic! At the Disco--I Write Sins Not Tragedies (mov)

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In case you haven't already heard, Panic! At the Disco is the new Fall Out Boy. Or My Chemical Romance. Or The Used. Or whatever. It's only natural that Panic! At the Disco would want to establish their new xscenexcredx by producing a music video making fun of their peers, as well as slightly more subtle digs at Kelly Clarkson and elaborate costumes and bad make-up in general. Now, the question of whether they're ripping off Pink with her pointed fingers at "Stupid Girls" or whether satire is the new originality, only time (and wasted effort) will answer.

Panic is of course another perfect rendition of this whole whiny emo pop punk vocals with cute doe eyed white boys being morbid and clever with polished produced catchy hooks ect ect. trend thing. There is no way to judge whether they're for better or for worst--I mean, even the semidancableness of the songs by all of these bands are similar! I do know that the video is filled with drama and pretty images, contrasting ideas and people, a wedding, fake dead people, people dancing in fake ballroom style ala "Helena" from My Chemical Romance, clowns, smudged and cheap horror film style powdered white faces and red powdered lips...and a general sense of pop chaos.

And yeah, the story is not exactly the basic broken hearted emo story but where "the groom's bride is a whore", and yeah, it's the sort of get stuck in your head melody that you love to hate, but with a high enough dose of self aware irony and sarcasm, Panic! At the Disco pulls it off to a level where you can laugh at it, singalong to it with your hipster veil pulled tight, and maybe realize what exactly it is about these bands that every teenage boy and girl across the country is loving so much--and manage not to hate the band, or yourself, for involuntarily liking it. Even with that strong sense of irony...

So, we kick off the official "So Bad It's Good" week and more to come.

The Contortionist's Handbook-Craig Clevenger
Verdict: must read.

The emotional, twisted background of our main character...the genius mind games he plays, the identities he goes through--he's a contortionist, meaning, he can copy anything and create new lives in a flash, with all the details perfect, and analyzes the psychologists sent to analyze him...overdosing to escape his "godspitters", crazy headaches that apparently have no cause, getting out of it with his brilliant mind.

Everything about this novel is written and done with such skill, and wit, and dark humor. It's amazing, knocks you speechless and plays with your mind material. Brilliant.

Kite Flying Society-Groundflower

You're walking through a forest, with padded meadows and pastel flowers bobbing in the wind along the side of the dusty, tiny path. The sun beams through the soft leaves of the trees above and soaks on your skin. Warm and comforting. And in front of you, the path opens to a tiny, cuddled cottage. The flowers and trees, the forest fades behind you, and the cottage glows with a bright, pastel light. And then this song starts. And everything looks, sounds, and feels oh-so-pretty. The light, bobbing rhythm of the acoustic guitars, the soft, cutesy backing vocals, the soft and fuzzy everything coming together, presenting a perfect, frozen moment in time. Simplicity and this breezy track, and the scene snatched from a little girl's fairy tale dream, and it all blends together. And there's nothing more beautiful than all of these moments, and telling you that yes--spring, love, and wonderful times are coming.

AND--Kite Flying Society is a San Diego band. Can you say, yay?

East River Pipe-Crystal Queen

There's a real early Flaming Lips feel to this song, from the hazy, lo-fi vocals to the buzzing guitars and tripped out lyrics, like if this was a movie, everything would be in three bright colors, and the images would flash by so quickly that it would leave you dizzy, except that dizzy in a fuzzy, slightly frantic, confused way. The tangle of the seemingly unamped guitars and keyboards, and the general intimate in a flashy way and off beat lyrics really brushes the song together for this short, crystalized package of spacey effects and pretty melodies, and the crystal queen that is the creation of East River Pipe.

The Veronicas-When It All Falls Apart

I'm not in the most energetic, romantic, sappy V-Day mood today, but when it comes to broken hearted, girl pop rock love ballads, there's nothing like a good, healthy does of Australian twins The Veronicas to revitalize my mood.

Where to begin about this song, or even The Veronicas in general? They're amazing. Combining the best of all sorts of pop and faux rock, Avril and Kelly and bits and pieces of Robyn, the major key structure of any pop song, with the lost, aching verses of an empty life, the dramatic terrors of it all, not to mention the instantly catchy and stuck in your head chorus! "Everything is effed up straight from the heart..."

If you are in the spirit for happy, romantic things, however, there's is...ah, what the hell. My romantic spirit is shot to death by the absurity of the whole occasion. Maybe next year, then...

The Arrogants´╝ŹDon't Die Before Your Day

Oh my god. Indie pop. Twee. This picture from Cute Overload

Lead singer Jana's voice, mellow, sweet, dreamy, the lush guitars--the acoustics! The rhythm! The somehow clashing distortion balancing off even better! The Flaming Lips-ish synths and effects!--the charming lyrics, the love sick, somehow emotional melodic opening notes, the lost, searching, landscapes of fear and that sense of loss, so open and separated--and okay, a little different from their usual cheery melodies and pleasant twinkling pop ballads, but still so beautiful--and every other adjective and noun and the soft edged verbs and whatever (all.in.lowercase.) associated with love and cuteness and twee and indie pop and sweetness and rain...

Grab their latest album, You've always known when best to say goodbye for only $7.50 along with a DVD. Or, if you're all about the digital, grab the rest of the tunes digitally for four bucks from their site. Sets you in the perfect mood for the lover's day tomorrow!

And yes, I'm aware that this post did go up way early and how I'm definitely not posting the new Flaming Lips despite how much I seem to enjoy it.

Book Talk 8: High Fidelity--Nick Hornby
Verdict: don't miss it!

Top five things you should know about me reading this book:
1. I know, I'm way late in on this. But, better now, than never. Right? Right?
2. No, I didn't manage to read two books simutaneously, it's just that I got lost during all the 100 post craze and lost the time to post.
3. Yes, it's Nick Hornby again, and now I can see why the other book couldn't really compare.
4. It was really hard to put down. I finished it in two days, and I really love the layout of the chapters and the like. You'd think something like that wouldn't matter, but considering my thing with design and CD art and the like, it's natural that I care about the way my books look, too.
5. You've probably read the book way before I did and know all about the main character's record collecting, sorting, pop music loving, record store owning, elitist sounding, relationship failing, list making hobbies and why this is written in the form of a list, and why this book is amazing, and so I have nothing more to say then: read it at all costs.
5.1 I haven't seen the movie, although now I'm curious. Is it any good? I know I liked Fight Club the book better than the movie, although both were very good.

Book Talk 7: Shampoo Planet by Douglas Coupland
Verdict: read, for a full dose of pop culture and character insanity

Oh, wow. So choked full of pop culture references, MTV, waves of fasinating characters reflecting various bizarre non-stereotypical stereotypes (crazy hippies, spaced out fantasy/sci fi geeks, French babes with bash to burn, ect. ect.), and descriptions and story telling of the strangest sort of beauty, with a lost, wavering confusion and so, so many similes and metaphors and anecdots relating one thing to something totally different with perfection, witty and funny, with dialogues bringing characters to life and radioactive landscapes and gigantic malls with ice cream. Yay, great!

Okay, so living in San Diego puts me a couple of hours after the NYC4EVA bloggers, but I've managed to stay away from winner's lists and I'm going to try and provide commentary--gasp!--for the first time, ever, in The Bubble Death's short history, as a second celebration of that lovely 1-0-1! Yay! Enjoy this group of blabbing while you can and look forward to an improved (read: edited) version tomorrow.

8:00 PM
WTF? Animated Gorillaz aren't dressed as fancy as they could be--and they're performing with live Madonna? Someone slap me. I must be on some sort of acid trip. Damn, these animations are not half as hawt looking as the video. Who thinks of this sort of crap?

...on second thought, maybe the animations are fitting compared to the real performers--way to completely kill your indie fan base, Gorillaz. Ah, Madonna, you working the pole just makes up for it. Nice leotard--that's all I've got to say. ANd, nice sychronized dancing. 90's pop love, indeed.

YAY FOR KELLY! First award of the night! <3<3<3

Coldplay dances funny. And manage to sound utterly terrible and uninteresting, as usual.

Mic check over soundsystem ("you okay with your mic?")--during country pop band's performance, in a robotic monotone cell phone tester voice. Unremarkable performance, but for that, we're loving it.

Speaking of country, it doesn't even exist anymore. It's all pop with acoustic guitars and twangs. Pathetic.

U2--definitely not a rock band.

Ziggy Stardust is glamxcore

Let's count the official thank you's on Kanye's gigantic list: God, mom, L.A., U2...to be continued.

Because of you, Kelly, the Grammys are suddenly worth watching. That dress, though, needs a little lightening up. We still love you!

U2--definitely not a rock band--hey, how did they win best rock album? Well, at least it's not Coldplay.

Kelly again! Yay!

Poor Gwen, another award snatched from under her nose. I can't blieve Jay-Z and Linkin Park can actually win stuff. Talk about terrifying...

Oh boy. Joss Stone has got to change...that many stripes and colors just doesn't work out, as in, at all.

Okay, blond mohawks and that GWAR get-up was so American Idol last night.

OMG my ears just broke it's Linin Park and Jayyyy-Z! Live!

10:30 (something)
So Kanye goes all out and Gwen gets robbed again. I'm losing interest...more tomorrow, then!

Wow. I can't believe it's been that many posts, already. It's been 70 songs, three mixes (should I do more of these again?), 99 posts (not counting this one), ten books, more or less mentioned (six this year, so far), one novel written, and lots of words for this blog. I was planning on a big, happy, long post with lots of celebrating songs, but instead I'm going to leave you with another, classic shuffle mix, hopefully with better words than before I'll be sure to filter out and mention songs already loved and such.

The 100th Post Shuffle Mix (c)

1.Elliott Smith-Happiness Oh, Elliott Smith. The singer-songwriter of all singer songwriters, the king of tortured artists and shy indie kids, the genius behind the whole depressed, melodic acoustic guitars and my-voice-is-beautiful-with-those-chords-and-you-must-worship-it, ironically, singing, tinkling strings, stinging our hearts with his take on happiness...why don't you just stab us now?

2.Jimmy Eat World-Just Tonight Now, now, could this be any more perfect? What's a classic Bubble Death post without a fair share of Jimmy (and co. est. 1995). Memories, of picking up that record, stepping into a world of beauty and rocking guitars, of jumping riffs and solos as background noise, the anger, the bitter resentment "I'll give you anything but you want pain", the classic Jimmy vocals and the storm of crashing drums, guitars, beating off to that final moment, that ringing feedback, that amazing pop-rock-fake-emo-ness of the whole, gigantic, song.

3.Belle & Sebastian-The Stars of Track and Field Now no one's going to believe me when I say all of this came up on shuffle! Automatically! I had nothing to do with the fact that the first three artists to pop up are among my favorite artists, ever, and the fact that I adore this song to pieces! The classic Belle & Sebastian sound, all warped up and blended into this one song, all the anti-athletic, the bookish, quiet boy in the back of the class, all the sweet homely girl becoming a star, every belle and soft guitar, padded vocals and soothing horns, pounded into this one epic track of beauty and such a graceful awkward situation.

4.Junior Senior-Hip Hop a Lula If this were an actual mixtape, I'd be breaking one of the toughest rules. This sudden transition, from quiet and cutesy indie pop into ecstaic dance pop happiness, this energy, this crank of the volume and movement, this hip hopping, feet moving, hip shaking, lip mouthing the lyrics wrongly without caring, the tinglings and collective beats, the definite confidence and partybility present in these short minutes...it's pure entertainment.

5.Bloc Party-This Modern Love Ah, Bloc Party. Now here's a band I could comment on all day long. Overrated? Overhyped? Just right? Instead of arguing over the indie cred of the band, I'll step away to the music. The 80's (surprise, surprise?) keyboards, the soft, not so dancable but very cleverly done overdubbing vocals with that echoing effect, like a true pop song, revealing the soft, romantic side of these dance punk new comers? Or just a ring of what they could be, or what they're doing wrong, or the...you know, I think I rather give up on explaining.

6.The Decemberists-On the Bus Mall I don't even want to post this song because I'm sure all the hipsters and yupsters already own the CD and don't need one more blog post about another acoustic, story telling, love/hate Colin Meloy vocals, thudding, fanned out guitars and leading up to the choruses, with just that much more sound, that much more power, that much more theme and body to the already rather good song that, honestly, is impossible to write about in an interesting matter. Next.

7.The Unicorns-Tuff Ghost The only reason this track warrants an upload and "On the Bus Mall" doesn't, is because I can tie in the already broken and disappeared Unicorns into the up and blossoming Islands, and also, because writing about weird, fantasy inclined, effect and bass heavy indie pop is just something rather refreshing, no matter how many times you do it. I mean, just listen to those creaks and whines in the guitars! The cute spelling of the song title! The dangling verses, the crash of the chorus! All the better to remind us of a gem of a band long gone, and to be super hyped about Islands (which features two ex-Unicorn members, and which I didn't know about upon seeing them with Beck)

8.The Pixies-Oh My Golly! There is nothing I can say about the Pixies that hasn't already been said. They are amazing. They are inspirational. They are noise of the highest class, dirty grunge indie rock, alternative rock, 90's, crashing, thundering, powerful--but still so catchy, still so wonderful with their lingering melodies and choruses, still so brilliant in almost everything they do.

9.Of Montreal-My British Tour Diary I feel like I've already written way too much about Of Montreal...but damn it, why do they have to pop up? I think my media player is against shuffling up anything new. This must stop. I mean, as delightful and clever as their lyrics are, as glittery and dancable, light hearted and spirit rising, absurd and fantastic, bouncing and prancing, as clappable and sometimes even air-guitarable, this must stop. Just...after one more listen.

10.Kelly Clarkson-Behind These Hazel Eyes Okay, so I had to pick this last one. I had to end on my own terms, with my own song. With the beloved Kelly, with the beloved rawking guitars, with the beloved pop genius, with the beloved broken hearted, strong willed, mud straddled, high toned, perfect pop song. Yes, "Since U Been Gone" was amazing, too, but did it have this desperation? This emotional stress cranked up to 11, the polished finish, the shiny and clean exterior, barely straining the monster inside--too. much. bitterness. And, way, way, too much brilliance to leave out.

Thank you for reading this far, and for the next 100 posts to come!

Edit: apparently it's Taylor's 100th postdate too! Check out his cover link from Buddy Holly to Sufjan (bleh) Stevens.

A new video sharing site from the cool rebels and promoters of music activism.

Cute Overload (if you don't already know) is adorable and leaves you rather breathless at the cuteness in the world.

QC readers discuss the worst band names. Popular entries: Death Cab for Cutie, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Broken Social Scene.

Best of Bootie 2005! For lovers of mash ups and pop and booty alike (via Boing Boing)

The new Belle & Sebastian is of course really very good. Perhaps a song post shall follow.

Music video cliches? Of course they exist. Notables: car crashes and "ironic place to have a performance"

Clever Something Awful readers nominates for the World's Greatest Dad Awards including the likes of "Most Satisfying Kick in Indie Culture's Nuts" and "Soggiest Album". (Apparently my obviously superior piece about the "Most Annoying Yupster Poster Boy" couldn't beat the "Soggiest album" piece. Sufjan disappoints, yet again!)

Imogen Heap-Say Goodnight and Go

Imogen Heap is an amazing pop artist, with beautiful electro-pop ballads of love and life, and this song, especially (along with "Hide and Seek") blends the rush of her voice and electronica instrumentation, a testimonial to the power of that love who just can't take the hint...the swirling delight, the dizzying spin of emotions--"why'd you have to be so cute/it's impossible to ignore you"--the cling of Imogen's voice, the rise and fall of the verses, with those dancing bells and keyboards balancing the vocals, flashing her smooth and cute in a grown girl kind of way, and then that bridge, the fantasy, the daydreams, rushing and powering together to the fall and rise of the instrumentals, leading again and again to that beautiful chorus and guitar solo, so fitting to express the confusion, the anticipation, and love of the song.

Book 6:Nineteen Eighty-Four-George Orwell
Verdict: it's a classic

For some reason, I never had to read this book in school, but just to ignore this often name dropped, all powerful novel can't happen. So, of course, I checked it out, and now my brain is spinning non-stop with ideas and theories, what power really means, what living really means, what love really means, and what individuality means in a society over-powered by the all mighty and infamous Big Brother. This totally controlled, emotionless, terrifying type society is a familiar vision, presented in anything from Brave New World to This Perfect Day by Ira Levin, but this time the rebel is rebelling against the impossible, and their story--while not the most riveting or emotional, does seem to give the novel credibility as one of those most amazing books of all time type feel. If I tried to analyze anymore, I would just go on forever, so I rather leave off here ...and ponder on my own.

Ben Gibbard-Complicated (Avril cover!)

So this was probably all over the blogs at some point, but I just found it...and can't stop listening to it. You see, I like Avril. I might have mentioned this in the past, but I'm telling you, I definitely, really, non-ironically, like her. Punky tactics aside, she's just another pop girl trying to break the mold. And, you gotta admit, for the teen demographic, back in 2002 (which is also when this cover happened), she's pretty original and brought "punk" onto the lips of wannabe, preppy rebels everywhere. Whether that's a good thing or not is a whole other story. Not to mention the pop/rock classic structures, the bouncy stuck in your head for days choruses, the angsty, punk rock "Anything But Ordinary" type lyrics to stick to every slightly confused teenager's heart, the catchiness and general popness of her despite whatever she tries to be...

But I'm going off. This post is about Ben Gibbard, covering Avril (and you can also see plenty of coverage about Ben), and how delightful and entertaining and charming his little interjections of speech, musings on the goodness of the song, musings on how he doesn't understand its complicatedness, and how even the indie rock sweetheart can't make a pop song sound any less like a pop song, and how Ben should definitely try to channel that "awesome spirit" more often, because there's nothing quite like an indie boi covering a pop girl, thus bringing an original great pop song into the acceptance of hipsters everywhere (see: Ted Leo, Kelly Clarkson).


I like it when you talk to me
Listen, love, buy.
MP3s don't last forever.

songs + words