Briefly, in the '70s and '80s, the pop-influenced Countrypolitan style dominated not only country music charts but pop music as well. Johnny Duncan had three #1 singles in the late '70's and several other top tens. However, like most of the artists from the tail-end of the Countrypolitan era, he dropped completely off the charts when the neotraditionalist sound exploded thanks to some guy who's now considered the greatest country singer and performer of all time.
However, considering Duncan was one of the most popular artists in mainstream country for a few years right when I was old enough to pay attention, he was one of a handful of artists who grabbed my attention and defined my early taste in music, such as it was.
Many of Johnny Duncan's songs not only connect thematically, but sequentially. This isn't really surprising considering the narrative themes employed by country music at the time, but Duncan's distinct interpretation of the Countrypolitan sound set his songs apart to start with. It also helped that Duncan was the most frequent partner of the Queen of Collaborations and Country Music's #1 Bridesmaid, Janie Fricke. For instance, listen to Stranger followed by Thinkin' of a Rendezvous:
You can stick She Can Put Her Shoes Under My Bed and It Couldn't Have Been Any Better directly between those two songs and just fill the story out a bit. Like everyone else in the '70s and '80s, Duncan's songs were obsessed with cheating, although he left divorce to other artists. However, my favorite Duncan was Jo and the Cowboy, which goes back to the beginning. You can throw it into that story sequence, but only with some imagination.
I've been waiting for signs that Countrypolitan is coming back into vogue, but I suspect it's a genre that's dead and gone. As a musical genre, it was largely appreciated only by a subset of GenX. In fact, there was an extremely small effort to revive the sound about ten years ago (right on schedule) by such popular acts as Lambchop and HEM. While the influences were there to some extent, both bands moved on quickly. At the time, Countrypolitan, at least the last few years of it, was derided by "classic country" and "country/western" fans for its Nashville Sound influences and pop sensibilities. Country music seems to have always had a strong instinct to launch the successful crossover artist to great heights and just as quickly abandon them in shame. It's a shame there's never been any real move to embrace those country artists who fell before George Straight's mighty acoustic guitar and traditional style.
The title will be, apparently, Macross Delta; and the producers are currently conducting a public audition to find this series' songstress, ala' Megumi Nakajima the seiyuu for Macross Frontier's Ranka Lee. The series is set in 2067, 8 years after Macross Frontier.
My great shame as a devoted Macross fan (coming to the series via Robotech, as so many American kids did) is that I've never finished Macross Frontier. I don't mean I haven't watched the movies yet; I have tried to watch the series repeatedly and haven't made it past the third episode. While the setting is wonderful and fits well into the Macross universe, I don't like any of the characters. Regardless of the plot, the character arcs are as predictable as a harem anime. They're all caricatures. It feels like the writers just went with tropes and stereotypes. Consequently, I have to struggle to make it through each episode and have no interest at the end to start the next. That's usually a sign you're not enjoying your viewing experience. Beyond that, Macross stories after the first have tended to drop more subtle story elements while building up a couple of the simpler concepts. As dopey as the "victory-through-music" plot of Robotech and Super Dimensional Fortress Macross was, there was also a reasonably realistic and complex love triangle and themes of duty, honor, loyalty and respect. Subsequent Macross stories have focused more on the music as a parallel plot element (i.e., there has to be a lot of music because it's Macross, so we have to have some kind of band or talent show that runs the entire length of the series) and the love triangle is the primary plot element, with all plot complications related to whatever mysteries surround the musical heroine/heroines, and how will our hero not care about the sudden and disturbing revelations. All of the other plot points are replaced with A) one or more telegraphed, arbitrary deaths, and B) more love triangles for the supporting characters. Any mention of the nobler qualities of the human psyche are handled fleetingly and cynically, if at all.
Side Note, and caveat: I haven't watched all of Macross Frontier, as I mentioned, so this may not be at all accurate. However, I've wondered recently if the sudden drop-off of interest in Macross Frontier the past couple of years has anything to do with increasing interest and support of the Japanese Defense Forces, even in popular culture (i.e. KanColle). Frontier, like earlier Macross properties following the first, dispensed with the military (the United Nations, as all anime military was for a long time) as a hero vehicle and turned to vigilantes and mercenaries. In fact, the military is more likely to act as a minor villain or at least a hindrance. It will be interesting to see if Delta returns to something like the original role of U.N. Spacy given the popularity of the J.D.F. at the moment. (further note: I was going to include a link or two illustrating my claim, but I am having some bizarre internet problems and half of the websites I try to visit won't load today. You're welcome to search for news from Japan. Understand that by "popular" I don't mean people are celebrating the Defense Forces in the street or anything like that; but there has been a change in the Japanese perception of its military's role in the world, along with an increase in the amount of trust the Japanese people are willing to place in their military leaders. Don't rely on western news sites for confirmation; they're clearly baffled by the idea of citizens supporting their military, let alone trusting someone with a rank.)
Videos below the fold. This is the kind of thing I actually spend a lot of time thinking about. Anyway, in the full post is a list of songs/videos found on Youtube. One can flowchart through these songs explaining what they all have to do with each other. This flowchart also, incidentally, explains the point in time when New Age and Synth Pop started transitioning to a new sound. If you're a fan of 80's music, none of these songs is a prime example of, I guess you would say, the fundament of what people think of with the 80's sound. However, most of this music represents a point at the sharpest part of the curve into a new style. In that, these songs are the most extreme marriage of Synth Pop, R & B and and Hip Hop. Well, in the context of the times, anyway.
Brickmuppet shared this a few weeks ago. Not remarkable unless you like the song, but the timing and arrangement is good. Reminds me that I ought to try finishing Asobi ni Iku Yo someday. I just don't like harem anime, no matter how it's presented.
I've seen bits of this one before, but not all of it. Or rather, I think I've seen this same concept before. This particular video was done in the last few years.
And now for something completely different:
Incidentally, I have suspected for a while and just now confirmed that the twitter feed to the right is still not working.
Nothing special for Christmas, other than the two videos I've already posted. Maybe I'll think of something later today. So, Merry Christmas, everyone!
Bored With Me. "Finding Something To Do" by Hellogoodbye; anime is Chuunibyou
Synthetic Heroine. "Turn Me On" by David Guetta with Nicki Minaj; anime are Ghost In The Shell (mostly or all from Stand Alone Complex) and Chobits, Metropolis, with Angelic Layer, Divergence Eve, Casshern Sins, Je Taime, King of Thorn and Mardock Scramble.
Thorns and Roses. "Not Giving Up on Love" by Armin Van Buuren with Sophie Ellis Bextor. Anime is Revolutionary Girl Utena. I've tried to watch this show repeatedly and just can't get into it, although I should like it, at least on paper.
Boxxed. "Oh No!" by Marina and the Diamonds, anime is Maria-holic. This one is so good that I got the series and will watch it soon. Great song, too.
Ride or Die. "We Own It" by 2 Chainz and Wiz Khalifa, anime is Redline. By all accounts, this movie is horrible and breathtaking. My oldest daughter was completely captivated with the visual and wants to see the movie. This video is in 1080p; might be better to just stick with it.
That's it for now. Unless you want some more Equilibrium or Alestorm.
Phenomenal flash mob performance by the U.S. Air Force band at the National Air and Space Museum. The performance is Bach's 32nd known cantata BWV #147 Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring along with Joy To The World. This is a tremendous performance. Astonishing.