Whistle in the wind
September 22, 2021

Moyzé - a special "name-tune" from Ethiopia

An interesting article in The Conversation about an amazing phenomenon from Ethiopia and Papua New Guinea where people, next to their names, also bear "name-tunes". These names aren't words, they're rather a wordless melody, given to children and recognised throughout the community to refer to one person alone. In Ethiopia, it's exclusive to 45,000 Oyda people from the southwest of the country. This “name tune”, or moyzé is most often whistled, but it can also be sung to a series of non-meaningful sounds different for each name tune. In one small region of Madang Province in northeastern Papua New Guinea, about 15,000 people across three language areas (Nankina, Domung and Yopno) also employ name tunes, which they call konggap. Yopno konggap differ in performance style from the Oyda moyzé, since they are either simply whistled with no use of the hands, or sung on a series of open vowels (like “a-o-a-o-e-e-a”). However, konggap and moyzé are strikingly similar. Both moyzé and konggap are unique to every individual, and generally bear no relation to a person’s given name, which is often shared with other community members. The tunes in both traditions use similar pitch ranges and last 1-4 seconds.

Being in a band called The Vaccines over the past year was "not as frustrating as you would fear, or hope maybe" - band's Justin Young says in The New Cue interview. "I think a name - forgive the pun - but the name is kind of an empty vessel or an empty vial that a band fills and I think most people aware of The Vaccines existence, I hope by this stage in our career, we're more than just a word or a phrase. And so you get the odd dad joke and I think we're slightly more difficult to Google at the moment. The weirdest thing is for people that have never heard of us. I'll meet people I'll tell them the name of our band and they'll go, 'no way, really? That's so clever, well done!' And I’m like, 'no, no, we've been called that for 10 years'” - Young explains. The Vaccines have released their new, conceptual album 'Back In Love City' with the central emotion of "technicolour, really, and that language is quite reductive when trying to describe how a certain emotion feels. I think social media and the way we've been connecting over the last 18 months has made that even more sort of binary and I think music is as close as you can really get to somewhere like 'Love City' is coming from, because you can put on a pair of headphones and feel whatever it is".

"The first songs to express personal emotions and individual aspirations appeared more than 3,000 years ago in Deir el-Medina, a village on the west bank of the Nile. By seeming coincidence this was also the location of the first successful labor protest in history, when artisans launched a sit-down strike that forced 'management' - Ramesses III in this instance - to increase grain rations. Is it just by chance that a major musical innovation and a historic expansion in human rights took place in the very same (and tiny) community?" - music writer Ted Gioia asks in his great article about the connection of art and activism.

“The name British Sea Power had come to feel constricting, like an ancient legacy we were carrying with us” - the alternative British rock band said, announcing a name change to Sea Power. “We always wanted to be an internationalist band but maybe having a specific nation state in our name wasn’t the cleverest way to demonstrate that” - the band added. Sea Power also announced a new album 'Everything Was Forever', and shared a single from it called 'Two Fingers'.

"It’s delightful that there are still questions Siri and Alexa can’t answer, and that people argue fervently about rock lyrics from more than 45 years ago" - LA Times writes in an article about the Internet argument over a Bruce Springsteen lyric. The song is 'Thunder Road', it begins 'Born to Run', the 1975 album that made Springsteen a star, and it's the opening lyrics - “The screen door slams, Mary’s dress waves”, or is it "sways"? The problem is, Springsteen isn't sure himself. In the original album gatefold design of 'Born to Run', the lyrics are printed “Mary’s dress waves”, but on page 220 of his best-selling 'Born to Run' memoir, Springsteen says “‘the screen door slams, Mary’s dress sways’ — that’s a good opening line”. Or maybe Boss just doesn't want the story to end, as he admits in his Broadway show: “I come from a boardwalk town where everything is tinged with just a bit of fraud. So am I. I’ve never seen the inside of a factory, and yet, it’s all I’ve ever written about… I made it all up”. Springsteen's longtime manager Jon Landau settled the matter in the New Yorker - “The word is ‘sways. That’s the way he wrote it in his original notebooks, that’s the way he sang it on 'Born to Run', in 1975, that’s the way he has always sung it at thousands of shows, and that’s the way he sings it right now on Broadway. Any typos in official Bruce material will be corrected”.

“Proud to report that a New Zealand mother has named her children Metallica, Pantera and Slayer. She told me, ‘It’s not easy raising three of the heaviest bands'” - New Zealand documentary filmmaker and actor David Farrier shared via a newsletter article. The daughter named Metallica had a middle name of 'And Justice for All' (no mention of baby named Pantera's meddle name being Cowboy From Hell). In New Zealand, there are no restrictions on naming babies after bands or albums.

In 2008 Katty Perry released her hit-single 'I Kissed A girl'. "For as groundbreaking as it felt to hear a woman explicitly singing about being with another woman then, it would take another 13 years for a man explicitly singing about being with another man to appear on the charts — enter Lil Nas X’s 'MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)'" - The Pudding goes into the history of same-sex lyrics in pop songs.

“The hatred shown towards me from the creators of the Simpsons is obviously a taunting lawsuit, but one that requires more funding than I could possibly muster in order to make a challenge” - Morrissey writes on his website after a Simpsons episode which parodied the former Smiths frontman. "The worst thing you can do in 2021 is to lend a bit of strength to the lives of others. There is no place in modern music for anyone with strong emotions … In a world obsessed with Hate Laws, there are none that protect me” - the singer says. Morrissey satirised during the episode 'Panic on the Streets of Springfield', in which Lisa Simpson becomes obsessed with a fictional band called the Snuffs and befriends its frontman, Quilloughby.

British label behind the xx, FKA twigs, Arlo Parks, Sampha, and many more, has changed its name from Young Turks to just Young, as Uproxx reports. Founder Caius Pawson explained that, when he named the label after a Rod Stewart song in 2005, he had been “unaware of the deeper history of the term.… and that the Young Turks were a group who carried out the Armenian Genocide”. The label will also donate an undisclosed sum to the Armenian Institute in London.

Country singer Morgan Wallen got pretty much cancelled after using a racial slur (toward a white friend) taking "what was too far of a public step in what had largely been a possibly too narrowly divided space", Medium explained in an essay. "Regarding the first of what should be many reparational steps, Rissi Palmer offers a concise yet definitive proclamation. 'White people lost the privilege to use the n-word the moment that they enslaved and hung Black people. They don’t get to say it. They don’t get to say it for fun or with an ‘a’ or ‘er’ at the end. It’s simple. White people just can’t say it anymore'”.

"The common thread between those I spoke to about making music or writing in the midst of grief was that the art became a tool to make sense of the trauma. It was not made 'great' because of the pain but instead became a method to begin to understand what they had been through" - Welsh indie-rock multi-instrumentalist The Anchoress (real name Catherine Anne Davies), writes in the Quietus about the idea that it is great pain what is needed to make great idea. She has also started her career with that idea, but nos she believes there's a way out of it - "rather than chase down the 'chaos' of our adolescent 'dancing stars', under the illusion that it might make us burn brighter, write better, I’ve come to learn that we should instead acknowledge those deep scars that they leave upon the body of our lives so that we can in time turn our gaze once more towards the light".

US country music star Morgan Wallen has been removed from more than 400 US radio playlists after a video emerged of him saying the n-word to a friend, Variety reports. In the footage, reportedly filmed by a neighbor last weekend, the 27-year-old Nashville star is seen saying goodbye to some friends and using the racial slur. Wallen, who is currently one of the biggest country stars in the US, and had a No. 1 album in the US for the past three weeks, has apologized - "I'm embarrassed and sorry. There are no excuses to use this type of language, ever. I promise to do better".

A nice little story in the Washington Post about a Paul O'Sullivan from the US who searched for other Paul O'Sullivans on the internet, sent friend requests to some, only to find out there were others who were music-lovers. The four of them - two from the US, one from the UK, and one other from the Netherlands formed a band 2016, and in December 2020 they released an EP 'Internet Famous: A Retrospective'. Didn't really have much of a choice about their name - The Paul O'Sullivan Band.

Guardian started a pew podcast Reverberate about the power of music, about the times when a song really did make a difference and when music sparked a moment. They started the podcast with a story about a song at the center of Hong Kong’s nascent pro-democracy movement. Listen to the podcast - here.

"The changing of the word ‘faggot’ for the nonsense word ‘haggard’ destroys the song by deflating it right at its essential and most reckless moment, stripping it of its value" - Nick Cave wrote on his blog after BBC announced that Radio 1 would be playing an alternate version of The Pogues' 'Fairytale of New York'. With this change "it becomes a song that has been tampered with, compromised, tamed, and neutered and can no longer be called a great song. It is a song that has lost its truth, its honour and integrity".

World is not enough
November 03, 2020

Grammys change name of world music album category

American Recording Academy is changing the name of its best world music album category to best global music album, reflecting a change, rather an evolution in the world. The renamed Grammy will be announced on November 24 and given in February 2021. The Academy sees the new term as "a more relevant, modern, and inclusive", symbolizing "a departure from the connotations of colonialism, folk, and ‘non-American’ that the former term embodied while adapting to current listening trends and cultural evolution among the diverse communities it may represent”, Billboard reports. This year's Best World Music Album winner was Celia Angelique's 'Kidjo'.

American DJ and electronic musician The Black Madonna has changed her moniker to The Blessed Madonna, following online pressure, including a Change.org petition. After the change, The Blessed Madonna (real name Marea Stamper) said "The name was a reflection of my family’s lifelong and profound Catholic devotion to a specific kind of European icon of the Virgin Mary which is due in hue. People who shared that devotion loved the name, but in retrospect I should have listened harder to other perspectives". She continues - "My artist name has been a point of controversy, confusion, pain and frustration that distracts from things that are a thousand times more important than any single word in that name".

"Lady Antebellum has used their wealth and influence to intimidate and bully me into submission without offering any real recompense for appropriating my name. It is now clear that their apologies, friendly texts, and playing on my love of God were just insincere gestures aimed at quieting me. Well, I will not be quiet any longer" - blues singer Lady A said in her statement about her fight for her name with the pop-country band. She added - "it is absurd that Lady Antebellum has chosen to show its commitment to racial equality by taking the name of a Black woman, particularly in this time when we are reminded every day to 'Say Her Name'. It is one more demonstration of what continues to be taken away from us in the present".

Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers wrote an honest and nice essay for the NPR about his band's name, inspired by Lady Antebellum's name change, and what a band's name means in general. A pleasant read; here's a snippet: "Our name was a drunken joke that was never intended to be in rotation and reckoned with two-and-a-half decades later, and I sincerely apologize for its stupidity and any negative stereotypes it has propagated. I'm not sure changing it now serves any higher purpose, but I'm certainly open to suggestions. In the meantime, you're welcome to just call us Lady DBT".

Nashville country trio Lady Antebellum have changed their name to Lady A, alluding in their letter to fans to recent weeks of Black Lives Matter protests across the United States and the world, New York Times reports. In the United States, the term antebellum, which comes from the Latin for “before war,” is generally used to refer to the antebellum South, pre-Civil War, and can be seen as a way of romanticizing plantation life while overlooking centuries of black slavery. The band said it took the name when it formed in 2006, as a reference to the “‘antebellum’ style home where we took our first photos”.

A great little indie label One Little Indian - home to Björk, the Sugarcubes, Olga Bell, Cody Chesnutt, and more - has changed its name to One Little Independent Records, Flood Magazine reports. Label's founder Derek Birkett decided to change it this week after receiving an “eye-opening letter from a Crass fan” that made him feel "equally appalled and grateful to them for making me understand what must be changed”. He apologised "to anyone that has been offended by the name and the logo“ and admitted he recognises "now that both contribute to racism and should have been addressed a long, long time ago”. Birkett is making donations to organizations such as Honouring Indigenous Peoples Charitable Corporation and the Association on American Indian Affairs on behalf of the label.

Madame, what's your category again!?!
June 11, 2020

Grammys kick out "urban" in one category, add "urban" in another

Lizzo

The music world is in the middle of a process of kicking out the word "urban" as a denominator used to describe music of black origin, because, as Tyler, the Creator said, "urban" is “a politically correct way to say the N-word to me”. Grammys joined the trend, but it turned more than clumsy. A category formerly known as Best Urban Contemporary Album lost "urban" and became Best Progressive R&B, with Latin Pop Album becoming Best Latin Pop Or Urban Album. Vulture says these changes are just simply wrong - "rectifying these long-standing and persistent issues requires much more than switching a few words around, and thinking deeper than semantics... Until the Recording Academy takes stock of its house, the Grammys will remain a holistically damaged and toxic institution". NPR is much more direct - "On the surface, these seem like clumsy name changes... But their introduction points to larger, systemic issues for an organization that has long struggled to acknowledge and celebrate music made by artists of color".

The Black Music Coalition, a newly formed organization comprised of Black music industry executives from the UK, have published an open letter calling for immediate action to end systemic racism within the music industry, IQ Magazine reports. The signatories made five requests in the open letter: mandatory anti-racism and unconscious bias training for all non-Black staff; setting aside an amount of money each year to support Black organisations and projects; career development opportunities for Black staff and addressing the lack of Black staff in senior positions; replacing the term ‘urban music’ with ‘Black music’; establishing a task force that reviews the company’s diversity and equality goals.

Stereotype City
June 08, 2020

Republic Records drops the term "urban"

One of the most powerful record labels in the US, Republic Records will stop using the word "urban" to describe music of black origin. The company, which is home to Drake, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj, Post Malone and Taylor Swift, says it will no longer use the term to describe "departments, employee titles and music genres". "We encourage the rest of the music industry to follow suit," it added. Republic didn't announce any other term to replace it with. The term is often considered to be a generalisation that marginalizes music by black artists.