PopCornucopia is all about free associative pop culture tidbits as they strike my fancy, just like kernels of corn exploding into fullness at a random and unpredictable pace. And of course, the cornucopia is the horn of plenty.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Warwick Chiaroscuro

Lately, for a fix of female-driven retro pop soul, my pick is Dionne Warwick. Her best tracks (of the ones I am familiar with) often have a great contrast of lush, shadowy musical arrangements--often peppered with percussive piano--against her pure and light vocals.

Here is a really fine example of that:

I have long loved that tune and the Bacharach-David penned body of work she put out, but the song that is really making me hit the repeat button is this lesser known HDH gem:

It was sampled (sadly to inferior effect) by Usher:

I've always thought Usher was sort of a second rate singer who got by on abs and dancing. Though this choice of sample might reveal some savvy (or producer's savvy) on his part. Of course, Simone has some other thoughts on Usher Raymond IV that are pretty dead-on which you must read if you don't already enjoy her(and Gaby's) blog.

Finally, as a member of the Pre-psychic-friends-network Warwick Appreciation Society, I'd like to proffer the original Walk on By, one of her earlier and most well-known hits.

But you should also check out Stanley Turrentine's truly excellent jazz reworking. I searched a bit for a free link to listen, but failed. Nonetheless, it's worth the effort to take the track for a spin if you can get your hands on it.

Sure, there's the latter day hits like Deja Vu (which is a sorta guilty pleasure of mine) and her collabs with Stevie Wonder, etc. But the older stuff is the real ish.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dutch Wax/Is That Jazz?

So much love for Yinka Shonibare. One of my favorite artists ever. I just finished reading this great interview with him. Please check out his work. His explanations are so much better than anything I could write about it.

Like here's what he says about artifice and art:

To be an artist, you have to be a good liar. There’s no question about that. If you’re not, you can’t be a good artist. Basically, you have to know how to fabricate, how to weave tales, how to tell lies, because you’re taking your audience to a nonexistent space and telling them that it does exist. But you have to be utopian in your approach. You have to create visions that don’t actually exist yet in the world—or that may actually someday exist as a result of life following art. It’s natural for people to want to be sectarian or divisive. Different cultures want to group together, they want to stick to their own culture, but what I do is create a kind of mongrel. In reality most people’s cultures have evolved out of this mongrelization, but people don’t acknowledge that. British culture in reality is very mixed. There’s a way in which people want to keep this notion of purity, and that ultimately leads to the gas chambers. What I am doing may be humorous so as to show the stupidity of things. But at the same time I understand that the logical conclusion of sectarianism is Auschwitz, or the “logical” in its starkest manifestation. So even though these works are humorous, there’s a very dark underlying motivation.

Here's one of my favorite pieces of his, Vacation:


As the article linked above mentions, the variant uses of Dutch Wax print fabric in his work draw on many different meanings as he re-contextualizes them, often in Victorian/Colonialist reimaginings. Not only is his art aesthetically stunning, and the craftsmanship is impeccable, the depth of the work--at once visually arresting, sociopolitically provacative, wryly playful, with his unmistakable artistic signature--is truly special. Plus, I find his work to be immediately accessible and interesting, which so many estoeric and boring artworks ( or the manner in which instutions present them) lack.

Note: The title of this post plays with Gil Scott-Heron's film entitled Black Wax/Is that Jazz? The latter part (an afterthought of the main film) of which you can watch here. It also deals with compartmentalization of genre, artistic nomenclature, and the problematics of purity. Might Shonibare and Scott-Heron have anything to say to one another? I wonder...

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Winter Blue

Here's a little bit of melancholy for the coldest season:

And a little pick-me-up, my favorite holiday song ever:

Finally, one reason I wished I was back in SF for the holidays (other than my family, of course). Dammit Anoop, why are you there when I am elsewhere?????? Backed by the Glide Memorial choir, too? Way to make me homesick Mr. Desai.

Consolation prize: Christmas in Paris with the dearest of friends! No complaints, really.

Merry Holidays everyone! And mucho mucho love.