Willy for Music Video of the Year 2009

Other than the radio, the key way people are exposed to new music right now is through music videos. The music video can be a tricky art form to pull off. You have to reflect the content of the song, but without illustrating every lyric (unless that’s an effect you are going for). You’ve got to create a unique style for the artist, but also make them look good and have it fit with the rest of their image. The main thing it needs to be is memorable. This year’s Willy for Music Video of the Year goes to an artist whose videos are nothing but memorable, and one video in particular of theirs. The award goes to…

Lady Gaga’s video for Paparazzi is a 7 minute epic tale of the fall and rise of a betrayed diva. More costume changes than you can count, teams of dancers and crazily high production, this is a video that really sums up Lady Gaga’s persona. That includes the strong sense of overblown irony that seems to inhabit Lady Gaga’s image an music. Very few artists could pull off an introduction to a music video more than half the length of the song itself, with all the dialogue in Swedish, but it seems to work for Lady Gaga.

Honorable Mention: Bad Romance- Lady Gaga

Willy for Live Artist Of The Year 2009

Live Music. The way it is truly meant to be heard. A great studio album is a brilliant thing, but it is only when a band can pull off that sound and atmosphere live that you know they are truly a good band. A band becomes a great live band when they can add something more when you see them in person. This years Willy for Live Artist goes to…

Green Day

One of the leaders of the 90s pop punk movement, singing songs about masturbation and being an outsider, Green Day had pretty humble beginnings for stadium filling rockers. But that’s what they have become, a true stadium band, following in the footsteps of bands such as Queen, The Who and Guns n’ Roses without a hint of irony. Being able to replicate their new high production sound live is impressive enough, but when combined with a killer stage show, they make most other live bands look like they aren’t trying. Audience participation, video screens creating a plethora of stage scenery and enough pyrotechnics to shame a metal band. What’s not to love?

Honorable mention: Muse

Archive Review: Foo Fighters- Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace

"I appreciate the warning guys, but did you have to ruin a wall?"

(This was originally written in September 2007)

First things first, I’ll answer the questions all Foo Fighters fan will automatically ask about this album. Is it better than “The Colour And The Shape”? Is it as good as “The Colour And The Shape”?

For those who don’t know, “The Colour And The Shape” is widely regarded as the best Foo Fighters album and, unfortunately, the answer to both of these questions is no. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good album. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace builds on what was started in the Foo Fighters’ double disc album “In Your Honour”, condenses it, and in some ways improves it. That album had one disc of full on Rock power, contrasting completely with another of Acoustic contemplation.

“Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace” takes that formula and squeezes it down onto one disk. What this doesn’t mean is that you get mismatch of the two styles, in fact, in some ways it’s pleasing to hear songs go back to the classic Foo Fighters formula of “Soft Verse, Loud Chorus”, but with a new folksy, acoustic twist on the soft verses. Let me explain by going through the songs individually:

The album opens with the first single of the album, The Pretender. This is pure Foo Fighters. A soft guitar riff plays under Dave Grohl’s hypnotising vocals, before building to a stomp along intro to the rest of the song. The chords drive through like a sledgehammer, and then they dive into a stadium rock chorus that deserves a screaming crowd singing along. This is the Foo Fighters doing what they do best, and is a perfect opening to suck you into “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace”.

Following this is Let It Die. This starts of like something from the acoustic disk of “In You Honour”. It starts with just an acoustic guitar and Dave’s vocals, but it slowly builds towards something greater. Half way through the song, everything changes. An electric Guitar stomps through, changing the mood of the song completely. After the powerful bridge, the song starts to flipflop between it’s acoustic opening and it’s pounding middle, then the two styles merge into a powerful, melodic ending. This is one of the best songs on the album.

Next comes Erase/Replace. This is a full on, driving, scream your lungs out Foo Fighters song. Unfortunately, it’s not much of a singalong. It’s powerful and energetic, but it’s not very memorable.The main part of the chorus is the repetition of the title, and I can’t imagine myself singing Erase/Replace along with the band.

The song most likely to be the second single from the album is Long Road To Ruin, if only because it’s mentioned with The Pretender on the sticker on the album’s box. In complete contrast with the previous song, even the verses of this song are really singable. It also carries the first guitar solo of the album, and like many other songs, this deserves to be played live.

Come Alive is a song that wouldn’t seem out of place at all on the second disc “In Your Honour”. This is one of the pure acoustic songs of the album, well half of it anyway. Like all good Foo Fighters songs it builds to a powerful climax, and the second half uses electric guitar to make this build all the more powerful. By the end, the song blows the listener away like a freight train.

Stranger Things Have Happened starts with the sound of a Metronome being wound, and then it ticks away throughout the song. The song seems to have been recorded recorded live with just Dave Grohl, an acoustic guitar, and the ticking metronome. It’s a simple song, but this simplicity is its biggest asset. It has that raw, live energy that can only come from, well, a live recording. The odd thing is, it isn’t hard to imagine this being transposed over to a storming stadium rock song, and belted out to a screaming audience.

The next song, Cheer Up Boys (Your Makeup Is Running), is a formulaic Foo Fighters song. What I mean is this song is probably the closest to the “Soft Verse, Loud Chorus” idea that Dave Grohl has known since his days in Nirvana. It’s nothing special, but it does what it sets out to do well.

A bluesy riff kicks off Summer’s End, which then goes onto a very melodic verse and chorus. I could imagine this as another single, but it is nowhere near as likely as Long Road to ruin. This song also has the second guitar solo of the album, and a singable chorus. It’s a great example of the style of “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace” as a whole.

A muffled count in opens Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners, an folsky instrumental piece. It’s a fun song, and it’s great to hear the Foo Fighters doing something different. It has echoes of the famous “Dueling Banjos”, and the squeak of the guitars lets you know this is another song that was recorded as a whole, live in the studio.

Statues is a beautiful song. It’s simple, but features a wide range of instruments from a squealing electric guitar to an accordion. The lyrics are also rather simple, and this seems like a “lighters in the air” sort of song to sway to and sing along with.

But, Honestly is a lot like Come Alive and Let It Die, in the the way that it starts of mainly with acoustic guitar, and then builds to a driving electric climax. The first half of the song isn’t actually that interesting, but when it gets to the middle, and begins to build, it improves very quickly. It starts to sound epic, and you get that “hell yeah, this is gonna be good” feeling as it builds. Yet another song that need to be played live to be at its best.

The final song of “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace”, Home, bothers me a little, but I’ll get to that later. It’s a soft, emotional song that features Piano heavily. The thing that bothers me is the chorus. When it starts, I can’t help but have the feeling that I’ve heard it before. Not that they’ve ripped off another band, I jut feel that they’ve ripped off themselves. I still can’t work out what song it reminds me of, but there’s a definite link to a previous Foo Fighters album in the chorus. Other than that, the song is a good, chilled ending to the album.

There is also a bonus track called Once & For All [Demo]. This sounds like a classic Foo Fighters song, like something off, yes, “The Colour And The Shape”. I’d like to hear more of this, maybe it will end up as a B-side to one of the singles.

In conclusion, this album needs to be played to a stadium full of screaming fans in order for it to be at it’s best. A few songs wouldn’t fit in to that format, but I’d love to see them try.

Post Script:

This is a very old review, I’m not overly fond of the style, but I thought I would repost it here, for the sake of completeness. Over time, my opinions of this album have shifted slightly, so let me give you a quick gist of where I stand on it now:

This is Foo Fighters playing it safe and padding out their catalogue. There isn’t a bad song on this album, but that doesn’t mean any are particularly amazing either. This is a worthy addition to the Foo Fighters repetoir, but that’s all it it is, an addition. It won’t change your opinions of the band, for better or for worse. If you like the Foo Fighters, it’s worth getting. If you are just getting into them now, I’d recommend buying “The Colour and The Shape”, “In Your Honor” or now you would most probably want to look at their new greatest hits collection. I won’t be reviewing it as a whole, but I may give a quick once over to the new tracks “Wheels” and “Word Forward” once my current batch of reviews are out of the way.