James Bond theme songs ranked best to worst

James Bond actorsJames Bond has been a cinematic icon for almost 60 years. No other film subject has had such an enduring presence, yielding new movies every few years. And what makes a successful James Bond theme song? The music should convey a touch of mystery, seduction, excitement, danger. There’s also room for a touch of humor. While the Bond films have tried on a variety of styles over the years—cabaret, R&B, rock, pop, adult contemporary—the most successful have felt integrated with the movie, stimulating the imagination. Here’s my take on ranking the 25 theme songs to date. Continue reading →

Porn Rock and the Origin of Explicit Labels

"Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" lable for porn rockOnce upon a time, music did not carry “Explicit” warning labels. Then something happened in 1985, one of those moral panics that periodically sweep the U.S. The panic in this case was “porn rock,” the nickname given to racy or violent music that became the subject of Congressional hearings. Tipper Gore, wife of Senator Al Gore, had bought her 11-year-old daughter the album “Purple Rain.” The movie and accompanying album by Prince had come out the year prior, both becoming mega hits. But when Tipper Gore heard the song “Darling Nikki,” which describes a woman masturbating to a magazine in a hotel lobby, she was appalled. Continue reading →

What music looks like: the magic of Chladni figures

A Chladni figureYou’re probably familiar with oscilloscopes, which make the wave patterns of sound and music visible. Far less well-known, however, are Chladni figures. Discovered at the beginning of the 19th century by Ernst Chladni, a German-born Hungarian physicist and musician, these patterns reflect vibrations on a flat surface like a metal plate or a drum head. Sprinkle fine grains of sand or salt on such a surface, and the grains will align into beautiful patterns that shift as the pitch changes. Continue reading →

Should a publishing administrator handle my royalties?

Publishing administrator companiesIn a post last year explaining music publishing, I weighed the pros and cons of having a publishing administrator collect your mechanical and performance royalties. Music distributors like CD Baby and TuneCore offer this feature, but there are also dedicated publishing administrators such as SongTrust. I decided I would conduct a limited experiment to determine if it was worth it. Now I have the results of that experiment. Continue reading →