10 Essential Music Movies

1. A Hard Days Night (1964)— Starring the Beatles. What would it be like to be the biggest pop band in the world? This film gives a fairly accurate depiction. It’s also notable for film techniques that would revolutionize the world of promo films and music video, and giving the Beatles their own archetypes that they would be saddled with for much of their career (John- the sarcastic one. Paul- the cute one. George- the quiet one. Ringo- the funny one). It features snappy smart dialogue and a killer soundtrack with all original Beatles songs.

2. Gimme Shelter (1970)— Starring The Rolling Stones. A documentary by the Maysles Brothers of the Rolling Stones’ 1969 American Tour. The 1969 Tour was supposed to be an epic welcome back for the Stones who had not played the US since 1966 and instead became a symbol of the death of the 60s and hippie culture. Much of the film focuses on the tragedy at Altamont Speedway and the most memorable moment is Mick Jagger watching the playback footage of Meredith Hunter getting stabbed to death in front of the stage. Also notable is the footage of the Jefferson Airplane and the Keith Richards attempting to make the crowd chill out. Very moving film.

3. This is Spinal Tap (1984)— Starring Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer. A classic mockumentary of famous hard rock and prog bands in the 70s and 80s that was a little too realistic for many bands of that era (Jimmy Page, Steven Tyler, and Eddie Van Halen thought it hit a little too close to home.) The movie was mostly ad-libbed and much of the plot points and quotes have become legendary (“Turn it up to 11”). Before you go through airport security, always remember to take the cucumber out of your pants, by the way.

4. Purple Rain (1984)— Starring Prince. Prince aka “The Kid” is a musician in Minneapolis, MN and comes from a troubled family life. The movie focuses on this, as well as his romance with Apollonia, his sweet motorcycle, the color purple (naturally), and his rivalry with Morris Day of the Time, who is genius in the antagonist role. Prince isn’t the most natural actor but you are treated to a bevy of performance footage of Prince in his peak of sexiness and popularity.

5. Don’t Look Back (1967)— Starring Bob Dylan. D.A Pennebaker follows Dylan around the U.K during the height of his fame. Dylan was not thrilled by this documentary, but it features many classic and influential moments, like the music clip of “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, Dylan’s complicated and enigmatic relationship with the press and in his reluctant role as a celebrity. Also features memorable cameos from Donovan and Joan Baez (not seen in flattering lights, unfortunately).

6. HEAD (1968)Starring the Monkees. The first of many collaborations between Bob Rafelson and Jack Nicholson featured The Monkees as a symbol of manipulation by Hollywood and the pop culture climate of the time. The Monkees effectively killed their career with this film and sometimes appeared giddy to do so. The movie pioneered many film and editing techniques and has grown to be a cult classic that is routinely taught in film school and shown on the big screen even in 2012.

7. Monterey Pop (1968)— Starring Various Artists. Shot by D.A Pennebaker. Woodstock gets more acclaim these days, but Monterey Pop was the first big music festival dedicated to pop music and features many bands in the blissful period of their careers when they were just taking off and times were groovy (Janis Joplin, Hendrix, The Who, The Jefferson Airplane). Monterey Pop is notable for also featuring one of Otis Redding’s first concerts in front of a primarily white audience and also being his last filmed performance before his death in late 1967. The documentary also captures the summer of love in all of its glory, with some amazing crowd shots that give a good perception of what it was like to live in California at that time.

8. DIG! (2004)— Starring The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols. A documentary of two Portland, OR bands that are lead by two charismatic frontmen (Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor-Taylor) that have a love-hate friendship and competitive musical relationship. You’re probably thinking, why do I want to watch a documentary about two mildy successful indie rock bands? Well Anton is a total self-destructive weirdo that gets jealous of the more slickly commercial Dandys and watching The Brian Jonestown Massacre implode is highly entertaining. Both bands are great and highly underrated if you ask me.

9. All You Need Is Cash (1978)— Starring The Rutles. A parody of the Beatles with probably the most impressive list of comedian co-stars in history, most of whom are plucked from the glory days of SNL (The Rutles originally started off as a skit on SNL). Also features genius cameos by George Harrison, Mick Jagger, and Paul Simon. The Rutles’ songs were so expertly crafted to sound like Beatles songs that Neil Innes got sued. Whoops. Cheese and Onions!

10. 8 Mile (2002)— Starring Eminem. Released at the peak of Eminem’s critical and professional success, 8 Mile gives a semi-autobiographical look of his early life and a realistic glimpse of battle rapping. It also has many strong supporting performances, and Eminem reveals himself to be a good dramatic actor. In my opinion, it has a lot of similar theme and parallels to Purple Rain. The movie’s theme song “Lose Yourself” won Eminem an Academy Award.

Advertisements

Bad Song Requests

I’ve been a DJ for over six years now, and I feel like it is finally time to make a public service announcement for the benefit of DJs and dance club enthusiasts everywhere. I have compiled a list of the most common, most annoying, and most bizarre song requests that I get when I DJ. In preparation for this list, I have also informally consulted with my fellow DJs in the Lawrence and Chicago area and we surprisingly were in agreement on most of these terrible requests.

Most Requested Songs
Every time we DJ, we get requests for one or all of the following: Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Prince. Most often we get those requests right after playing one of the songs by the aforementioned artists, and I’m sorry dancers, but I am not playing two Madonna songs in a row. Inevitably it’s a frat boy that requests Michael Jackson, and it tends to be “Thriller”, which is a good song, but I will only play it on Halloween. No exceptions. When it comes to Madonna, I am not playing Like a Virgin, so don’t bother asking. She has way better dance songs.

Annoying Requests
Almost every time we DJ, we get requests to play Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” We usually have a pretty solid gay following on our dance nights, but the usual suspect of the Abba request tends to be a girl who is celebrating a birthday or there for a bachelorette party. I’m not going to be too harsh on Abba, they have some decent songs. I do not believe “Dancing Queen” is one of them. That song also is not very danceable, especially on a weekend night when we’re in the middle of a banging hip hop set. And you know what, I’m never playing an Abba song when I DJ. It’s never going to happen. Can people please stop requesting this stuff?

It seems like lately people have been requesting Girl Talk a lot. PLEASE DO NOT ASK A DJ TO PLAY GIRL TALK.
A) Most DJs hate Girl Talk.
I find Girl Talk to be an offensive use of sampling and I do not understand why someone would want to hear snippets of a shitty 1980s Steve Winwood song mixed up with a shitty Billy Idol song, or whatever the hell Girl Talk does.
B) Girl Talk is a bunch of crappy song snippets mixed together. Who wants to listen to that when they could just hear the whole song? Why do I want to hear 8 seconds of a badass Lil Wayne/Birdman song mixed with a shitty song when I could just play the whole Lil Wayne song by itself?

It’s All About Timing
DJing is usually a progression throughout the night. Good DJs tend to have a general plan of action for the night, usually beginning with music that’s chill, slower, and essentially good for people to talk over while they get drunk. DJs usually save their absolute bangers for the end of the night. If the bar closes at 2am, you can expect the DJ to play their absolute jams from 12:45 to last call. Therefore, I will not be playing your Ludacris request at 10pm. I will not be playing “Back That Ass Up” for your drunk ass at 9:45pm right when I get to the bar and set up. Those are songs we save until the absolute crowd peak at 1:15 am. Why would I waste a good song on three drunk people early in the night?

On the flip side, if it is 1:30am and we only have three songs to play before the night is over, I am not playing Al Green. Most likely, I played Al Green much earlier in the night when it went with the rest of my set.

There is a method to our madness when we DJ. Most DJs, unless they are specialized and only play Northern Soul or African funk or House music or what not, end the night with songs that they known are proven crowd pleasers. A lot of these songs tend of be of the dirty hip hop variety. Please do not request Culture Club at 1:40am, because Culture Club is a terrible request and it does not fit in with the Spank Rock/Trina/Salt-N-Pepa booty shakin vibe that is obviously happening right now.

And Finally…
-I will not play Britney Spears. Showing your breasts to the DJ in order for them to play your Britney Spears song will not help your case.
-I am not playing the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. I had someone request this last time we DJed. WTF?
-We have retired M.I.A’s “Paper Planes.” We will possibly bring it back around 2015 for nostalgia purposes.
-If you are obviously attending a weekend DANCE PARTY, please keep in mind that we are playing songs to DANCE TO. Therefore, requesting Yello’s “Oh Yeah” (aka the song from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) is just bizarre.
-Not all 80s songs are created equal. We love requests for hot 80s songs, like “Pull Up To The Bumper” or “Nasty” or “Genius of Love”. We do not like requests for bad 80s music, like Belinda Carlisle (are her songs even danceable or memorable in any way?), Milli Vanilli, or 2 Legit 2 Quit.