Thursday, March 31, 2016

Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 30th, 2016



Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 30th, 2016

Check out the top 10 NBA Plays from Wednesday night.

Julius Randle the Injury Forsaken Rookie w/ a miraculous game-winner over D. Wade's Miami Heat in the midst of the Los Angeles Lakers — D'Angelo Russell vs. Nick Young's video/phone-taping fiasco

NARDWUAR — Odd Interviewer May Actually Be The Greatest Interviewer In Music History


Who the Hell Is Nardwuar?
You've seen him interviewing your favorite pop stars and rappers on YouTube. But where did Nardwuar come from?

Imagine you are a famous rapper. Now picture a bespectacled man bearing a rictus grin in a tartan pom-pom hat charging toward you while holding a camera, microphone, and bag of indeterminate contents. Do not run. Nardwuar is upon you. And he wants to talk. Loudly.

Nardwuar the Human Serviette, born John Ruskin, is a wide-eyed, over-enunciating Vancouver native. For years, the Canadian punk musician and longtime public access fixture has interviewed—in a tweaking, impossibly exuberant tone—pop, rock, and metal musicians (He’s also chatted with Mikhail Gorbachev and Crispin Glover). But it wasn’t until he discovered rap that Nardwuar became an Internet phenomenon. Nardwuar’s strategy is a clever one—he comes bearing gifts, typically items that somehow relate to the life and art of his interviewees. Pharrell, after being presented with a rare copy of his first recording, called the interview "one of the most impressive I’ve ever experienced."
Reactions have not always been so warm. Nardwuar, if he can keep a person from wandering away baffled, ends every interview with a call-and-response: "Keep on rawkin’ in the free world! Doot doola doot doo..." to which his subjects are meant to respond "Doot doo!" Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Ghostface Killah all obliged. Jay-Z did not. Odd Future’s Hodgy Beats snarled, "Bukkake." Nas interrupted him with "You are a fuckin’ psycho."
"The way I approach interviews, basically, is inspired by Arsenio Hall," Nardwuar says. "I did not realize how cool Arsenio Hall was. Now when I do an interview, [I know] there are questions that need to be asked."

Two weeks ago, Nardwuar was truly in his element at the South by Southwest Music Festival. In the span of a week he recorded four interviews, all with rising rap stars: Action BronsonDanny BrownA$AP Rocky (and the A$AP Mob), and Kendrick Lamar. What’s glaring about all four of those interviews is how at peace all each of the artists appear to be with the very strange man asking questions while handing them unlikely gifts that somehow relate to their childhood. Which, clearly, means that the world in on to Nardwuar’s shtick. And they like it.

Nardwuar, whose interviews average hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, is also a musician in the band the Evaporators. Their new compilation album, Busy Doing Nothing, features legitimate acts like Andrew W.K., Franz Ferdinand, and Kate Nash covering songs by classic Canadian punk bands. "I have been trying to get on the David Letterman show," says Nardwuar. "I have rejections letters dating back to the early ’90s." America, let’s change this. Doot doo. — Sean Fennessey | GQ

Celebrity Interviewer Nardwuar the Human Serviette Discharged From Hospital Following Stroke — Billboard



Letter of Recommendation: Nardwuar the Human Serviette New York Times



TEDxVancouver - Nardwuar - Do It Yourself!


Punk Rock Journalist Nardwuar the Human Serviette wants to take you on a journey into his do-it-yourself world of investigation and adventure. Through hard work, meticulous preparation and a tremendous passion for finding out interesting facts and tidbits, he sets the stage for unexpected situations and spontaneous reactions. It is an upfront and unconventional style that has resulted in verbal attack, physical threats, desertions, and some the most insightful and genuinely engaging conversations with the biggest names in music and popular culture you might ever witness.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Q&A: Sir David Attenborough — The Voice Of Nature


Why David Attenborough thinks evolution is "one of the great dramas in the history of Earth"

To millions of people, Sir David Attenborough is literally the voice of nature.

As the writer and narrator of Planet Earth, Life, and dozens of other acclaimed documentary series, he provides soothing voiceovers that have described everything from the flights of majestic birds to the mating rituals of hedgehogs.

Now 89 years old, he's still at it, with his latest series — Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates — premiering tonight on the Smithsonian Channel. In it, he tells the 500-million-year story of how a group of small, wormlike aquatic creatures evolved into every fish, bird, amphibian, reptile, and mammal alive today — including humans.



During his recent visit to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History to premiere the work, I spoke with Attenborough about the new series, the uneven quality of science television in general, and his viewers' changing relationship with the natural world. I can confirm his voice is even more enchanting in person. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Joseph Stromberg: In the US, when you tell a story about evolution, it inevitably brings controversy — we have an ongoing, very public debate between evolution and views of creation influenced by the Bible. Does that worry you?

David Attenborough: Well, yes. I'm disturbed when people abrogate rational thought. I'm not suggesting that all thought has to be evidence-based, and you may have different philosophical views on things, but if there is a story that has material evidence and you deny it, you're denying your own intellectual process.


"Humanity is a very, very ingenious species. After all, an American president once said, 'Within 10 years we're going to put a man on the moon.'"

You don't have to necessarily say, "This proves that the Bible is wrong." And you certainly don't have to say the New Testament is wrong. But you can say, "The Old Testament involved some myths, because people didn't have the evidence back then. Now we've collected the evidence. Here it is."

Joseph Stromberg: Right now, with the development of HDTV, you're able to bring nature to viewers more vividly than ever before. At the same time, the average person is more alienated from nature than ever. How does this affect your work?

David Attenborough: I think it puts a great deal of responsibility on television. Humans, as you know, are part of the natural world, and we depend upon it completely — every breath we take, every mouthful of food we eat, comes from the natural world.

But the natural world is in great peril. In a democratic society, in order to do something about that, it requires the people telling policymakers to do so. It requires people understanding the costs of not doing anything — if we don't, the temperature's going to rise, sea levels will rise, more parts of the world will become desert, we'll have increasingly extreme weather, etc.

But if, as you correctly say, people are increasingly cut off from the natural world, there's less of a chance to understand it. So that's a huge responsibility for broadcasters. We ought to be keeping people in touch with the natural world, and we can do that through nature programming.

Joseph Stromberg: How'd you come to this realization?

David Attenborough: Well, when I started doing this work, I wasn't thinking about it at all. I made nature programming because I couldn't imagine enjoying anything else quite as much. And back in the 1950s and '60s, to most people in the natural sciences it seemed that the natural world would always be there for us. Who ever thought humanity could extinguish a species?

Then the evidence began to mount. The awareness that human beings, out of sheer carelessness, were exterminating other species began to arise among a certain section of the scientific community. And I was involved in that.

But then soon afterward, we realized it was even bigger than driving certain species extinct. It was whole communities and species, and vast areas of the world being devastated, and the seas being polluted.

Joseph Stromberg: Do you think that as a species we'll be able to solve this?

David Attenborough: Humanity is a very, very ingenious species. After all, an American president once said, "Within 10 years we're going to put a man on the moon." Even now, that sounds like an impossible task. But it was accomplished.



Is it impossible that such a person couldn't say, "In the next 10 years we're going to double how much power we get from the sun"? At any given moment, the sun is emitting 5,000 times more energy than humanity uses in all forms of power. Five thousand times. And you're going to tell me you can't double how much solar power you produce?

There are problems, of course. One is that we haven't got the devices to store it properly. But that's a piddling problem compared with putting a person on the moon. So let's solve it. If we did, we wouldn't have to worry about the carbon we were emitting, because no one would bother to dig it out of the ground in the first place.

So it can be done. But that doesn't mean we can sit back and wait and see if it'll happen. People need to be energized.

What put a man on the moon was that we were fighting the Soviet Union. What we're fighting now is tougher to visualize. So maybe the answer is that the people who see the problem firsthand — perhaps they can make films about it.

Joseph Stromberg: What made you decide to tell this story about our evolutionary history now?

David Attenborough: It's one of the great dramas in the history of Earth. And we've just recently pieced together so much of it.

There were some very difficult gaps — such as the exact origin of the birds — but the Chinese fossils, which have only been available for the past 20 years, gave us so many answers. We'd previously been trying to tell the story primarily with European and American fossils, but that did leave some very, very difficult questions. And the answers were there in China.

Joseph Stromberg: You've done so much work on ecosystems and life forms that exist, vividly, right now. How much harder is it to tell stories that happened millions of years ago?


David Attenborough: Well, the challenge is, of course, bringing things to life, and telling a story in which the characters are bits of bone, or rock, or computer images. It's a great challenge to capture this story with the material available.

But it's fun. If it were easy, why bother?

Joseph Stromberg: Do advances in computer technology make this sort of thing easier to do?

David Attenborough: Absolutely. We couldn't have told the story in as much vivid detail were it not for computer-generated imagery. CGI is now of a quality that would have been unimaginable years ago.

I remember decades ago, I did a series on paleontology and fossils, and there was going to be one episode entirely about dinosaurs, because that's what laypeople think is most exciting.

"If people are increasingly cut off from the natural world, there's less of a chance to understand it. So that's a huge responsibility for broadcasters."
And the standard of dinosaur reconstruction for film was so poor, it was almost comic — they were little cardboard figures. So I decided I'd tell the whole story of dinosaurs without any images at all.

Now you can tell that story in so much more detail. And the computer imaging is absolutely convincing. Jurassic Park, 20 years ago, was pretty good, but we've come so far since then.

Joseph Stromberg: The quality of American science television is very uneven — we have some great stuff, and then things like Discovery Channel's Megalodon, which basically invents the existence of an extinct shark. Do you think this sort of thing is a problem?

David Attenborough: Well, I think television as a whole has a responsibility to tell true stories. I don't suggest that every network has the same responsibility — just that within the whole medium, someone, somewhere has to tell the stories.

At the BBC, we have rather different incentives. We're not supported by advertising. So there's a responsibility, and an opportunity, and I'm happy to say that I think we live up to it. I've spent my whole life there — I joined in 1952. Sure, the BBC has always done popular things, but it also has focused on telling other sorts of stories that are often ignored.

The Rise of the Vertebrates is a successor to another program, the Rise of the Invertebrates. Nobody had told that story — about trilobites, and that sort of thing. No one had told that at all. — Joseph Stromberg | Vox

Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 21st, 2016



Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 21st, 2016


Check out the top 10 plays from Monday's NBA action.

Andre Drummond's rip-roaring  game-winning tip-in, "ROAAARRR-rrr-rr!"

Monday, March 21, 2016

Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 20th, 2016



Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 20th, 2016

The best of the best from the Association on Sunday's Top 10 plays.

Jabari Parker w/ a mountainous dunk!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 19th, 2016


Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 19th, 2016

Check out the Top 10 Plays from Saturday night's action in the NBA.

King James w/ an aerial assault — monstrous reverse "behind-the-head" dunk!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 18th, 2016



Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 18th, 2016

Check out the top 10 plays of Friday night's action with the Top 10.

Russell Westbrook absorbs a hard elbow-to-face foul from Jerami Grant but delivers a facial annihilation while Grant ends-up breaking his kneecap! #WTF #Retribution

Friday, March 18, 2016

Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 17th, 2016



Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 17th, 2016

Here are the Top 10 Plays from Thursday's action in the Association.

Chicago's Bobby Portis w/ a monstrous dunk after coasting from end-to-end against the Nyets!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

China's Skateboarding Revolution


China's Skateboarding Revolution

Skateboarding on the streets in the U.S. is tough. Cops bust you, people yell at you for being on their property and old guys certainly aren't pumped to see you skate. In China, it's different. For over a decade now, pro skaters have been traveling across the globe to visit China for its lax attitude on skateboarding and it's ever-expanding array of new skate spots.


With this influx of pros from the West comes a burgeoning skate culture among Chinese youth. We travelled to Shenzhen, a staple in the international skate scene, to explore China's role in the present and future of skating.

†††

The Real Story Behind Powell Peralta’s Skull and Sword Logo The Ride Channel

•  •  •




Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 16th, 2016



Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 16th, 2016

Count down the top 10 plays from Wednesday night.

DeAndre Jordan skies from the heavens for an alley-oop dunk from Chris Paul

The History Of Metroid — One Of The Greatest Video Game Series Ever


Once Upon A Time...

...I -along w/ almost each & every kid who grew-up in the 90s was a Nintendo video game fanatic! Honestly, I didn't know any one of my childhood friends who wasn't into playing Nintendo and collecting what seemed as an infinite production of games. 

Similar to how sneakerheads camp-out days and nights to get their hands on the latest pair of kicks, I remember gamers who use to fight & claw over some of the elite titles that the NES had to offer. 

Being a toddler, my collection of games was solely based on the financial resources of my parents...my Mom & Dad hated Nintendo! They hated the fact that I use to spend hours upon hours / days & weeks glued to my 13" inch television screen — instead of burying my head into books, completing homework in a timely fashion and help around the house w/ chores.

I remember being a video game addict — playing Super Mario Bros. for 5-7 hours straight...playing until my fingers-bled...playing until my thumbs became swollen...playing until my neck became stiff. My Mom would scold, "You are going to be blind when you grow-up!"

Undeterred from my Mom's prediction, I continued to play and play and play (even when I was sleeping) — my Mom caught me doing "Nintendo air controller" during my sleep!


Since I grew-up in a lower-to-middle class household, I wasn't able to get all the classic games that I wanted...in fact, I didn't have many of the expensive ones a.k.a. top-tier games: Legend Of Zelda, Adventures Of Link, Metal Gear, Castlevania, Contra and Metroid (est. $50-$60 USD).

Unfortunately, my family would only allow me to purchase second-tier titles (second-rate Nintendo games) that were usually -ON SALE- and I did my best researching video game magazines i.e. Nintendo Power, in order to find hidden gems that turned-out to be ultimate classics (ex. Bionic Commando, Jackal, Karnov, Fester's Quest, Rygar and Megaman 2 (est. $30-$40 USD).

During my adolescent years, I also remember swapping games w/ your childhood buddies. As immature as it may seem today, I remember how difficult it was trying to trade video games back then! "Trade" meaning — letting your friend hold YOUR game while he let's you borrow HIS game for a certain allotted time (usually a week or so).



You both promised each other to take care of the video game like it was your own (no dropping it, no spilling juice over it, no messing-it-up for whatever reason)...lending your game for a week or two was like the ultimate sacrifice and you pray that your friend would keep his end-of-the-bargain.

Conversely, he's lending you a game -that you're fiending to play, and hopefully beat as well...and so, the feelings were typically mutual.

One of the games that my cloudy THC-damaged brain do remember was an incredibly adventurous game known as Metroid! It was one of the greatest games I have ever played and it redefined the word, "Expansive!"



Metroid (NES) and Super Metroid (SNES) were both revolutionary video games that put gamers into a solitary non-stop world of action and epic adventure.

It is -by far, one of the greatest video game concepts, revolutionary graphics and memorable series ever created — it was a video game that I didn't want to give back to the owner until after I could finally say, "I beat Metroid!"

~ The End ~



The History of Metroid - Part 1

The first major heroine in gaming history. Lets dive into the story of the fearless bounty hunter, Samus Aran.

Games covered in Part 1:

• Metroid
• Metroid II: Return of Samus
• Super Metroid



The History of Metroid - Part 2

We take a look at how 2D Metroid has improved, and Samus' transition into 3D.

Games covered in Part 2:

• Metroid Fusion
• Metroid Prime
• Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
• Metroid: Zero Mission


The History of Metroid - Part 3
The finale. With almost 3 decades of history...here's hoping the Metroid franchise won't stop!

Games covered in Part 3:

• Metroid Prime Hunters
• Metroid Prime Pinball
• Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
• Metroid Other M

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Phil Tippett: Oscar-Winning Hollywood Animator Behind Star Wars & Jurassic Park



My Life In Monsters: Meet the Animator Behind Star Wars and Jurassic Park

Phil Tippett is the Oscar-winning stop-motion animator and designer behind some of the greatest fantasy creatures and sci-fi set pieces in cinema history. From his humble beginnings as an alien patron in the iconic Cantina sequence from 'Star Wars: A New Hope', to pioneering stop-motion techniques used throughout 'Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi', to seamlessly merging practical animation and CGI in Jurassic Park and beyond.


In 'My Life in Monsters', VICE chronicles Tippett's legendary life work, illustrating the process behind his greatest creations, the emotional hardships of transitioning into Hollywood's digital revolution, and completing his return-to-form, stop-motion opus with the brutal, dystopian 'Mad God'.

PHIL TIPPETT
“The Phil Tippett Legacy”


    Phil Tippett
    Movie director
    Phil Tippett is an American movie director and a visual effects supervisor and producer, who specializes in creature design and character animation. — Wikipedia

See How the ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Stop-Motion Sequence Was Created — Slash Films




Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 15th, 2016


Top 10 NBA Plays Of The Night: March 15th, 2016

Check out the top 10 plays from a six-game Tuesday night.

Aaron Gordon drives, cuffs the rock and goes up & under for the reverse slam of the night!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

James Veitch's Hilarious TED Talk About Spam Mail



This is what happens when you reply to spam email | James Veitch


Suspicious emails: unclaimed insurance bonds, diamond-encrusted safe deposit boxes, close friends marooned in a foreign country. They pop up in our inboxes, and standard procedure is to delete on sight. But what happens when you reply? Follow along as writer and comedian James Veitch narrates a hilarious, months-long exchange with a spammer who offered to cut him in on a hot deal.


“Sick of receiving so much spam, Veitch took matters into his own hands and decided to reply to every junk mail he received. An ingenious, enjoyable tale of scamming the scammers.” — The Independent


Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Secret Sneaker Market — And Why It Matters | Josh Luber | TED Talks


The Secret Sneaker Market — And Why It Matters | Josh Luber | TED Talks

Josh Luber is a "sneakerhead," a collector of rare or limited sneakers. With their insatiable appetite for exclusive sneakers, these tastemakers drive marketing and create hype for the brands they love, specifically Nike, which absolutely dominates the multi-billion dollar secondary market for sneakers. Luber's company, Campless, collects data about this market and analyzes it for collectors and investors. In this talk, he takes us on a journey into this complicated, unregulated market and imagines how it could be a model for a stock market for commerce.

Kong from theKONGLIST w/ his prized Air Jordan 16 (XVI) Original Gingers (Light Ginger / Dark Charcoal – White) 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Revenant | "A World Unseen" Documentary | 20th Century FOX


The Revenant | "A World Unseen" Documentary | 20th Century FOX
Inspired by true events, THE REVENANT is an immersive and visceral cinematic experience capturing one man’s epic adventure of survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit. In an expedition of the uncharted American wilderness, legendary explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team. In a quest to survive, Glass endures unimaginable grief as well as the betrayal of his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy). Guided by sheer will and the love of his family, Glass must navigate a vicious winter in a relentless pursuit to live and find redemption. THE REVENANT is directed and co-written by renowned filmmaker, Academy Award® winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel).



In Theaters - December 25, 2015 (Limited); January 8, 2016 (Wide)

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Screenplay: Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu, based in part on the novel by Michael Punke
Producers: Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, James W. Skotchdopole, Keith Redmon

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

BABE Of The WEEK 2016: Week 10 — January Jones


theKONGBLOG™'s BABE Of The WEEK: Week 10 of 2016 — January Jones


  • Born on January 5th, 1978
  • Worked at a Dairy Queen while attending high school at Roosevelt High School in Seattle, WA
  • At 16, took on extra courses and graduated from high school early in order to embark on a modeling career
  • Like ex-boyfriend Ashton Kutcher, she is a former Abercrombie & Fitch model
  • Originally auditioned for Peggy Olson on Mad Men, a role that went to Elisabeth Moss, until series creator Matthew Weiner quickly wrote a bigger part for Betty Draper especially for her
  • In 2009, became a spokesperson for Oceana — an international organization dedicated to protecting the world's oceans, and their campaign to save sharks


January Jones, Her Own Feminine Mystique The New York Times


What’s on January Jones’s Vanity Table?Vanity Fair



Oh, Betty! — GQ







DID YOU KNOW? January Jones was born in the month of January, but was actually named after January Wayne, a character from a Jacqueline Susann novel.



Fresh Dressed — Fashion Documentary



Fresh Dressed Documentary

Synopsis: Fresh Dressed chronicles the history of Hip-Hop Urban fashion and its rise from southern cotton plantations to the gangs of 1970s in the South Bronx, to corporate America, and everywhere in-between. Supported by rich archival materials and in depth interviews with individuals crucial to the evolution of a way of life--and the outsiders who studied and admired them--Fresh Dressed goes to the core of where style was born on the black and brown side of town.



'Fresh Dressed' Is Everyone's Ticket Into Hip-Hop's Style History — Complex


Nas-Produced 'Fresh Dressed' Documentary Chronicles History of Fashion in Hip-Hop Hypebeast





NIGHTLIFE FACTOID: Promoter Kong from theKONGLIST helped ignite a trend to dress down — as club patrons were forced to wear button-down/collared-shirts, pants, and shoes in the mid-2000s

"Fashion is an 'stylistic' outer-expression of your 'unique' inner-self..." #KONGFUSION
theKONGSHOP™

Friday, March 11, 2016

Phil Collins And His "In The Air Tonight" Legacy

Does Anybody Still Loathe Phil Collins? (Even ‘In the Air Tonight’?)


For many who were blessed to enter adulthood during the 1980s, it seems as if that decade will hover over us forever, its synth-pop bleats and recycled doomsday sound bites accompanying us into the twilight. Today, that feels truer than ever, as we all welcome back a familiar face: Phil Collins, the amiable sprite of pre-Internet pop. (Both the fairy-tale and computer-graphics definitions of “sprite” apply.) Emerging from semiretirement, Collins is launching a multimonth campaign of remembrance. He’s reissuing eight of his solo albums, including the four blockbusters — “Face Value”; “Hello, I Must Be Going!”; “No Jacket Required”; and “ … But Seriously” — that blanketed the 1980s, selling a combined 24 million copies in the United States alone and generating seven No. 1 singles. He has announced that he’ll record new music and launch a tour. Come October, he’ll publish his autobiography.

Phil Collins in 1986. CreditTony Mottram/Getty Images
It’s good timing. For many, many years, Collins was pegged as the embodiment of bloated, Boomer dad-rock, with waning album sales, a jazz big band and weak covers of Cyndi Lauper and Leo Sayer songs. Lately, though, he’s been the subject of countless revisionist think pieces in which writers valorize his technical gifts as a drummer for the prog-rock pilgrims Genesis, emphasize his collaborations with Brian Eno, identify him as the secret patriarch of hip modern trends or express their incredulity that older generations ever denigrated the man’s output in the first place. How did this successful, gifted musician ever become such a whipping boy? Why were his treacly ballads and mild toe-tappers picked out as the ultimate symbols of consumerist vapidity? Was it just the cheap envy of older critics — so unlike today’s enlightened listeners, with our democratic embrace of pop that surgically strikes the pleasure centers of the masses? These windmill-tilting arguments have been trickling out steadily in recent years, following the lead of hip-hop tastemakers and Collins fanboys like Questlove and Kanye West. These days, you speak ill of Phil at your own risk.

Of course, there are specks of truth and falsehood on all sides of the argument. The image of Collins as an innocuous Everyman — a modest, even self-deprecating sort — is an especially interesting myth; the fact is that Collins has been, and continues to be, a combative, attention-seeking dude with an A-list ego. After earning an Oscar nomination for the title song from the 1984 film “Against All Odds,” he complained loudly that he wasn’t asked to perform during the awards ceremony, and told a Rolling Stone reporter that Stevie Wonder, the eventual winner, received positive consideration “because he’s blind, black, lives in L.A. and does a lot for human rights.” (Collins went on to compare himself favorably to Bruce Springsteen, saying that everything Springsteen does “is typical of him. … But I think I have too many styles to single one out.”) And during the Live Aid benefit concerts in 1985, he managed to pull the most privileged-celebrity move in a field crowded with them, crossing the Atlantic by Concorde so he could perform twice — as well as duet with Sting, sit in with Eric Clapton and play drums for a reunited Led Zeppelin. After the Zeppelin show, which everyone involved seemed to consider a disaster, the guitarist Jimmy Page trashed Collins for being unprepared while Collins implied that Page was drunk and that Robert Plant wasn’t able to sing his parts.

Plenty of stars make such petty, indulgent displays, though. The bigger problem, for Collins, was an undercurrent of sentiment that began to grow during the ’80s: the perception that Collins was a rock star who couldn’t rock, and a pop star who was far too happy idling in the middle of the road. Catchy but contained, his music was beloved by people who didn’t actually listen to much music. And as a result, his songs were everywhere — along with close-up photos of his expressionless mug, which featured prominently on all his albums, posters and ads. It was hard to avoid hits like “I Missed Again,” which made feeble use of the legendary horn section from Earth, Wind & Fire. Or Collins’s slickly goofy version of the Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” which came off like well-intentioned glee-club karaoke. Even during the ’90s, his ’80s tracks remained a constant radio presence.

Some Collins-loathing went beyond the pale. The punk-era critic Julie Burchill is alleged to have called him “the ugliest man since George Orwell” and suggested that he looked like he had a stocking mask permanently pulled over his head. (Unfair — though it is notable that a balding, unfashionable chap with character-actor looks rode a music-industry push to stardom in the video era.) After Collins won an Academy Award for best original song for his work on the 1999 Disney film “Tarzan,” “South Park’s” Trey Parker and Matt Stone aired a rudely hilarious spoof of the singer. (It may have been relevant that his song beat out “Blame Canada,” from “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut.”) And when Collins moved to Switzerland in the late 1990s — ostensibly to live with his Swiss-born wife — the Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher criticized him as a tax exile.

That’s where a 2011 Rolling Stone article found him: depressed, divorced and alone in Switzerland, his wife and kids having left him for Florida. He showed off a vast collection of memorabilia from the Alamo while ruminating on absentee fatherhood, alcohol abuse and his three failed marriages. (A report that he had ditched his first wife via fax, which he has strongly denied, still gnawed at him.) “I sometimes think I’m going to write this Phil Collins character out of the story,” he told the magazine. “Phil Collins will just disappear or be murdered in some hotel bedroom, and people will say, ‘What happened to Phil?’ And the answer will be, ‘He got murdered, but, yeah, anyway, let’s carry on.’” He added: “I’ve had enough of being me.” I distinctly remember paging through the story one night while taking a late-night subway home from work, and thinking: “Man, this is one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever read. Poor guy, maybe he did deserve better.”

Afterward, though, Collins decamped to Florida to be near his kids, moving into Jennifer Lopez’s old mansion and, eventually, reconciling with his ex-wife. These days, he’s even feeling spry enough to include new artwork with his album reissues: Each one features him recreating his cover pose from the original. What happened to the “I’ve had enough of me” bloke? Despite the ongoing debates among music geeks — Is he an adroit drummer but banal songwriter? A puny singer but master melodicist? — the truth, as usual, lies between the extremes. And though it may get lost in the chatter, there’s one very good reason we care in the first place.



Ba DA ba DUM ba DOM ba DOM BOOM BOOM — that’s why. Track 1, first solo album: “In the Air Tonight,” and the drum fill that spilled through arenas for decades with its 21-gun salute of despair and defiance. The song’s cavernous, brooding atmospherics somehow encapsulated and suffused the ’80s: druggy mania and comedown; sex laced with fear and death; capitalism tickling your fancy and burying you up to your neck; the almost cartoonish specter of global annihilation; technological unease; white suits; fluorescent everything; and an unquenchable, cinematic emptiness that either evoked the end of history or a dodgy batch of cocaine. It was sublimely disorienting, a mirror image of the times.

Virtually everything you need to know about Phil Collins’s importance and his persistence within pop culture — how he managed to influence music from M83 to Kanye West’s “808s & Heartbreak” to chillwave to tropical house to Rihanna’s “Anti” — can be found within “In the Air Tonight.” The man nailed a moment precisely: the ’70s’ transmogrification into the ’80s, and the bewilderment that ensued. And he teased us with something more, somewhere in the murk.

The sound is ingenious, nodding to Collins’s work with Brian Eno. A Roland CR-78 drum machine burbles out a pillowy, plip-plop rhythm under an ominous wash of analog synth chords. We wander through a blighted dreadscape with the singer, a man bitterly betrayed by love’s “pack of lies” — in this case, Collins is writing about first wife, Andrea, who left him in 1979. He glares into the void, chanting — “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh Lord” — sounding both adrift and methodical, and nearly possessed. But what’s coming? He says that he has “been waiting for this moment” for all his life, but what moment is he talking about? Is he seeking revenge, or just to be released from the spiritual anguish of abandonment? It all remains elusive.

That showstopping tom-tom detonation — now known as the “magic break” — derives its impact not just from brute force, but also, like most pop-music revolutions, from a mistake. When Collins accidentally played his reverbed drums through the microphone that producers use to talk back to musicians in a studio, the result was a startling ka-pow, which the producer Hugh Padgham heightened by suddenly “gating” (cutting off) the sound to achieve a dizzying effect; it’s like being rocked by a jab that flicks out of nowhere and disappears just as quickly. There’s technological invention all over the track: Collins’s voice was run through a gizmo called a limiter, its parameters carefully set so his words seemed to slide in and out of focus. He also used a vocoder, at times, to sound even more like an unearthly soul.

Just as crucial, the magic break gets its power from arriving more than three minutes into the song — right around the point when we would typically be subjected to a clichéd sax-solo lap dance. Seemingly out of nowhere, the drums hit like a hail of plastic bullets, and the chorus is cut free to ascend to yet another stage of emotionally wrecked spectacle. Considering the era, it’s hard not to imagine millions of wayward wastrels inhaling their last bits of powdery lint in an attempt to join the swelling wave. In the video, Collins’s face distorts into glowing, jagged yellow, pink and green shapes on a teal background, as if passing through a hazy neon portal; it’s no surprise that the song has played over more than one film scene set in the decadent ooze of a strip club or the queasy blur of streetlights at night.


“In the Air Tonight” was a power ballad in a fresh and different sense. There were no screaming guitars or baroque piano or swooning strings, like in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” or Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” Instead, the song sneaks up and overwhelms you with a rippling emotional force guided by synthesized, alien sounds. Perhaps people make fun of it reflexively so they don’t have to endure that process — see, for instance, the air-drumming shtick so often adopted by fans, and memorably spoofed by a guy in a gorilla suit for a 2007 Cadbury ad.

Granted, Collins dined out on this creative breakthrough for the rest of the decade, occasionally recapturing the same bleakly dramatic magic. There was the desolate stadium cry of “Against All Odds.” The mournful, pulsating resignation of “Take Me Home.” The dark, soul-pounding empathy of “Man on the Corner” (with Genesis), or the twinkling, almost baleful meditation “Long Long Way to Go” (featuring Sting). His pop hits could contain hints of the same cleverness — as on “Sussudio,” when he remade a sharp, up-tempo Prince groove with his own dorky bravado. But none of it makes a case for his career like that single track, or even that single drum fill.

Collins clearly went after stardom full-bore, but even he could tell when he had become overexposed — his management eventually asked MTV to play his videos less. Still, this guy who could’ve passed for a pleasant-enough cabdriver infiltrated our mass consciousness forever, as the unlikely ’80s reference point for decadent temptation and gnawing regret. Maybe he didn’t find that feeling he’d been waiting for all his life, but it’s still lingering in the air, 35 years later. — Charles Aaron | NY Times
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...