About Craig Chaplin

I am a film student and aspiring Editor/Director of Photography at Niagara College in Canada. I like films, music, books, pop culture, video games, writing, pretty much any sort of mass media or mass culture or entertainment. You can find me on Tumblr (takenintune.tumblr.com), Twitter (twitter.com/craigmchaplin), or at my blog (blog476.wordpress.com), or failing that, I'm probably shouting something frivolous to nothing in particular. Just listen real hard.

Mixtape 476: WU LYF – Heavy Pop

WU LYF – Heavy Pop

This song is the sound of the last party of summer, a bittersweet second farewell to your hometown. The spotlights shine down, the pool sits open and unused while the liquor sits open and finished. Friends have come and friends have gone, and you feel like everyone you’ve seen over the last few months have stopped by. People you didn’t even know were acquainted have hugged, and shaken hands, and promised to meet up again next year. You’ve been wished well and wished well in return.

This isn’t the sound of the last day of high school, or the last day before college. There’s wisdom, there’s a certain world weariness. Less excitement, less unknown, more inevitability. There’s a knowledge that you’ll never see some of these people again. Sure, some will stay in your life for a while longer, some forever, but there are no misconceptions that you’ll “keep in touch”, or “talk everyday”. There’s a few hugs, some handshakes, and a knowing goodbye.

This is more in the vein of my tumblog, Taken in Tune, where I write something inspired by a song I loved in a more freeform way. I felt like Heavy Pop warranted this sort of entry, but I still felt like it, being new and fitting with the theme, belonged on the summer mixtape (though it’ll likely close it when all is said and done). If you enjoyed this, I urge you to check out Taken in Tune, because there are some things I’ve written on it that I’m very proud of. On the other hand, if you hated this and would rather I left this sort of thing on my other blog, feel free to leave a comment saying so.

Regardless, song number five of the summer mixtape for 2011, the:

Mixtape 476 – 2011

…is Heavy Pop by WU LYF.

1. The Dean’s List – Dear Professor

2. Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

3. Jim Jones and Girl Talk – Believe in Magic (ft. Lloyd)

4. Cults – Oh My God

5. WU LYF – Heavy Pop

Overlooking at Super 8

It’s been a week or so since I saw Super 8 in the theatre, and it’s given me a chance to really think about my feelings about it. I’d love to see it again to be sure, but living in nowheresville, Canada makes that premise a little bit more difficult. Driving an hour to see a film usually means I’m watching something new, but I digress.

Basically, I loved Super 8. I absolutely loved it. The kids were pitch perfect, the story was well paced and the action was consistently entertaining. The way JJ Abrams conveyed a complete love and reverence towards both the craft and medium of film was brilliant. Coming out of the theatre, I couldn’t see how I could possibly like any movie this year more than this one.

What I’ve realized since is that I may have turned a blind eye towards some of the major flaws of the film. I’ll try to be vague, but spoilers for Super 8 follow.

My primary problem came with the end of the film. I really felt like the characters had no real impact on the final act. On one hand, the kids have a direct impact within their own storyline (even when it crosses over with that of the alien), but ultimately fail to contribute in any way to the driving plotline of the entire film. While the discovery, and eventual liberation, of the alien/monster may only be a MacGuffin upon which the actual story is built, the way in which the alien storyline is resolved still felt forced.

Similarly, the resolutions of some of the relationships seemed forced. While the way in which they were portrayed (especially between the father and son) was still believable (and still managed to pull an emotional response out of me. That final, unabashedly Spielbergian, shot, looking into space, was pure magic), there was really no moment to me that the father really “got it” in regards to who his son really was. I guess I can believe that their relationship was strengthened due to the events of the film, and I can understand the desperation and unconditional love going into finding them at the end, it still seemed like nothing was really changed. The relationship between the two father characters seemed rushed, as well. Once again, I can buy the whole “shared experience” angle, but how Joe’s father can make a complete 180 that way seemed dubious, at best.

Despite this, and a few other small gripes (the way characters would be alluded to and introduced, seemingly only to be cannon fodder to create a false sense of danger towards the main characters, for example), none of these problems came up while I was watching the film. The things I absolutely loved (the relationships between the kids, the filmmaking aspect, the mystery, etc.) completely outnumber the minor issues (that are mostly nestled within things I loved).

I guess this sort of turned into a review, so I’ll end by saying that Super 8 is absolutely worth watching, watching again, buying, and watching again. It may end up being my favourite film of the year (though I haven’t seen Attack the Block yet). It does some things wrong, but it’s all wrapped within such a great package that it’s incredibly easy to overlook them. The scene near the end (to avoid spoilers as much as possible) when the kids are running through the town is enough, by itself, to recommend this movie.

I don’t want this to seem like a middling review, either. My intent is to demonstrate that a) Super 8 is not a perfect movie, but that b) the flaws don’t even begin to make me love it any less. I’m glad I waited to post this, because it let me get some sort of a perspective on my feelings, but I don’t think my enthusiasm has been tempered at all. If anything, I want to rewatch it even more. Please, drive-in, bring this to Perth soon.

Mixtape 476: Cults – Oh My God

You wanted a summer pop song? Here’s your goddamn summer pop song.

Cults – Oh My God

I like this for a lot of the same reasons I like Arcade Fire’s Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), the vocals have an airy way of marching along without giving you a chance to breathe.

The whole song shimmers under the light of the sun, constantly propelling forward with no real regard for where it will end up. The song is anchored by a rolling rhythm section and crafted by the singer.  Out of nowhere you find yourself falling into the chorus, headfirst into a wall of sound, wondering how any part of the song could be catchier than another. Somehow, though, the chorus sticks in your head.

I had a tough time deciding which Cults song should be added to the mixtape. There are so many catchy, wonderful songs, including the previously released Go Outside, and You Know What I Mean, which I almost chose thanks to the last chorus alone (I’m a sucker for singing an octave higher), not even including the verse, which uses the tune from Where Did Our Love Go by The Supremes. Oh My God is just so good that I had to go with it.

Song number four of the summer mixtape for 2011, the:

Mixtape 476 – 2011

…is Oh My God by Cults.

1. The Dean’s List – Dear Professor

2. Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

3. Jim Jones and Girl Talk – Believe in Magic (ft. Lloyd)

4. Cults – Oh My God

Mixtape 476: Jim Jones and Girl Talk ft. Lloyd – Believe in Magic

I want Girl Talk to produce every song ever.

Seriously, the man can take any song, mix it with any other song (or three), and make it sound awesome. In this case, he takes a sample of Honey Cone’s “Want Ads”, wrings it out, and let’s Jim Jones do his shit, plus a little Lloyd for a chorus on the single (which makes it a little more of a song than an experiment).

The lovechild of Pitchfork.com’s “Selector” series, Jim Jones and Girl Talk team up, along with Lloyd on the chorus, to craft one hell of a little ditty.

Jim Jones and Girl Talk ft. Lloyd – Believe in Magic

(Yes, I realize I’ve been a little hip-hop biased so far this summer. That should be remedied soon enough.)

Anyway, song three of the summer mixtape for 2011, the:

Mixtape 476 – 2011

…is Jim Jones and Girl Talk’s Believe in Magic (featuring Lloyd)

1. The Dean’s List – Dear Professor

2. Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

3. Jim Jones and Girl Talk – Believe in Magic (ft. Lloyd)

And here is the original pitchfork.tv video, which is also pretty goddamn awesome.

Mixtape 476: Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

Alright, so I’ve got a new idea, a new format, I guess. Instead of saying “this song is awesome” or “this is the song of the summer” forty two times this summer, I’m just going to make a mixtape (so to speak, this is the internet after all), and then “release” it as a zip file when it’s done. So this way, you can grab the songs you want, or grab the whole thing once it’s all done and assembled into a nice little package.

ANYWAY, back to business…

Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

Nicki Minaj. I know what you’re thinking: “but Craig, why would you like Nicki Minaj? You’re a male, you’re usually snarky towards the mainstream, you don’t like popular music (usually), you’ve never liked a female rapper before, why would you start now?” and so forth.

To that I say, how the fuck do you know so much about me? I’ve written, like, 3 posts, I don’t have that much personal info, and, ostensibly, we don’t know each other.

Beyond that, however, you’re right. I usually don’t like the most popular songs, I’m usually snarky and bitter towards the mainstream (is it because I’m jealous that they have gallons, literally gallons of success, while I blog for free on the internet? …maybe), and I usually don’t enjoy female rappers.

BUT, holy shit, this time it’s different. I’ve changed, I swear. That first time I heard Nicki Minaj’s verse on Kanye West’s Monster, I pricked up my ears. This chick had talent. Sorry, she had talent. She rapped with a sort of ferocity that is missing in music today. She has an anger in her rapping, but marries it with an ability to turn a phrase with the best of them, and a pop sensibility that I can get behind.

Speaking of pop sensibility, that floaty background, accented with the attack of the kick drum, the processed guitars, the synths, it all gives the song a light summer sound without feeling frivolous. It all contrasts so well with the drive and, again, ferocity Minaj brings to every verse, easing into a pop chorus. It’s never too much of a good thing, and leaves you wanting more.

Even when the chorus is little more than replicating the sound of bass coming from a car stereo (the “super” bass, I suppose), it retains something that pulls you in. Even when the track falters at the bridge, the chorus steps forth again, reminding you why you were enjoying the song so much in the first place.

Then, the song just sort of…ends. And you restart it, because holy shit, those verses, man.

So, song two of the summer mixtape for 2011, the:

Mixtape 476 – 2011

…is Nicki Minaj’s Super Bass.

1. The Dean’s List – Dear Professor

2. Nicki Minaj – Super Bass

Get your camera, baby

The Dean’s List – Dear Professor

The Dean’s List – Burn it All

It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to proclaim a “song of the summer” early on, then to revise this prediction at least three to four times before I go back to school the next year. Last year ended with Cee-Lo Green’s Fuck You, which ended up being a pretty damn good pick, but started with something that even I’ve forgotten about by now, so who knows.

Regardless, I’ll throw my preliminary hat in the ring with The Dean’s List, and their song Dear Professor, off the genuinely enjoyable mixtape “The Drive In”

The song samples If I Die Young by The Band Perry, which is a perfectly…tolerable song in its own right…but tweaks it in such a way to create a bed on which they can actually craft a pop song.

ANYWAY, The Dean’s List manages to find something new in the chorus, turning a sombre song about dying young (obviously) into a joyful refrain for college life, parties, and generally enjoying the frivolity of youth. What better song for the summer?

The production is flawless, the flow is supreme, and the sound is fresh. Song of the summer (for now): The Dean’s List – Dear Professor

The Dean’s list is made up of Sonny Shotz, DJ Mendoza and Mik Beats, whose differing approaches to music create a fresh approach to the rap game, with a solid pop sensibility and a surplus of talent.

Also included is Burn it All, another standout from the Mixtape. I honestly would not be surprised to see these guys tear up the charts in time. Or, failing that, at least get the cred and recognition Wale and KiD CuDi are getting right about now.

www.itsthedeanslist.com

Until next time, houseguests, it’s been a pleasure.

The Wow Factor

A little update here to get the word out about Storage Wars, one of the more enjoyable new shows on TV right now.

Storage Wars is a show about four auction hunters who buy foreclosed storage lockers. The premise sounds pretty dumb, but the fun really comes out of watching the characters bidding against each other, and seeing the treasures that come out of these old lockers. Each of the four, Barry the Collector, Darrell the Gambler, Dave the Mogul and Jarrod the Young Gun (along with his wife Brandi) have such distinct, over the top personalities that one can’t help but be sucked into their stories each episode.

Also, rooting against Dave is so much fun. The guy makes such a great villain.

Storage Wars is in its first season, with 17 episodes so far.

Tonight is a 5 hour marathon starting at 5 EST, with a bonus new episode at 9:30. Storage Wars usually airs new episodes at 10:30 on Wednesdays.

As an aside, exactly how popular is Storage Wars? It could be building up steam already, but it’s worth a watch if you haven’t checked it out yet.