Presentation on theme: "MUSI 3104 W12 Hardcore, Later Pop. Vancouver and Victoria were especially important in terms of Canadian influence on punk and hardcore (as opposed to."— Presentation transcript:
MUSI 3104 W12 Hardcore, Later Pop
Vancouver and Victoria were especially important in terms of Canadian influence on punk and hardcore (as opposed to the ultimately more insular Toronto punk scene). So our quick look at Canadian hardcore and industrial is going to focus on that region. DOA formed Vancouver, The leader, Joey Shithead, is one of the legendary early and ongoing activist/hardcore people, along with Jello Biafra. D.O.A. may or may not have been the first to use the term "hardcore" (with the title of Hardcore '81). Early D.O.A was very influential in pioneering the style. They were also a major factor in the increasing politicization of punk. D.O.A. consistently combine the most radical kind of politics (e.g. "Smash the State") with deliberately juvenile stuff (e.g. autobiography called I, Shithead). YouTube: D.O.A. "World War 3" (1980) D.O.A. "Slumlord" (1981)
Nomeansno are from Victoria, formed as a trio in Not political like DOA -- tending more towards surreal and/or cerebral. Their music shows clear influences from progressive rock, and sometimes to a degree jazz as well. Notice the similarity to Voivod here, and in general the way Nomeansno moves Canadian prog-like activity into yet another genre. Differences aside, they were similar to D.O.A. in combining a kind of punk aggression with a sort of reflexivity and self-deprecation. Between the two of them, these bands did a lot to set the tone for Canadian hardcore. YouTube: Nomeansno "It's Catching Up" live in Groningen (1989) Nomeansno "Two Lips Two Lungs And One Tongue" (1991)
It's also worth knowing about the legal challenges brought against Dayglo Abortions (also a Victoria band) and Fringe Product by a Nepean police officer in Since Canada's obscenity laws were passed in 1959 this was the first time they had been applied to a record label. The band and label were cleared of the charges in 1990, but the incident was a major factor in the demise of Fringe and the Record Peddler regardless, consider... Seizure of key business documents, incorporation papers, etc. Loss of distributors, record pressing services, and other business partners due to the nature of the charges. Opportunistic non-payment by nominal still-partners. Legal expenses.
Skinny Puppy are from Vancouver, formed This was almost the same year as Ministry (1981), and although Skinny Puppy were a little less popular they were still crucial players in the move from industrial as an underground experimental music to industrial as a slightly more mainstream and often more dance- oriented music. Skinny Puppy "Smothered Hope" (1984) YouTube: Skinny Puppy "Deep Down Trauma Hounds" Live (1987)
One important thing to note: Skinny Puppy were on Nettwerk, along with Sarah McLachlan. We've already talked about Nettwerk, but it's also worth noting that the label had a distinctive design aesthetic which was applied across stylistic differences, and which was somewhat influential internationally in terms of late 80s and early 90s design. Overhead: Skinny Puppy VIVISectVI Cover (1988) Overhead: Sarah McLachlan Vox Cover (1989) Overhead: Delerium Semantic Spaces Cover (1994) Overhead: Ladytron Runaway Cover (2008) Notice how this design aesthetic, among other things, seems to anticipate the current neo-victorian, steam-punk look.
One other punk-related style could be termed "power pop" (or less elegantly, "proto alternative rock"). The Pursuit Of Happiness were from Toronto. They were never a major success outside of Canada, although they did draw some notice partly because they were produced by Todd Rundgren. "I'm An Adult Now" was initially banned by MTV, later they relented. Note: an earlier recording and low budget video had been a local hit and a popular video on MuchMusic, which led to a bigger contract and to this second version. YouTube: The Pursuit of Happiness "I'm An Adult Now" video (1988) Certainly, there is something mildly subversive about this song, but not in the usual "protest" sense. What then? Considering all of the other examples above, it's worth noting that many Canadian bands of the late 80s and early 90s were noteworthy partly for the way they combined subversion/danger with humour.
One area of popular culture where Canadians were widely regarded as innovators in the 1980s and 1990s is comedy. So it might be interesting to look at some Canadian parodies of popular music from this period. Youtube: SCTV "Gordon Lightfoot Sings Every Song Ever Written" (1981) DVD: SCTV "Perry Como, Still Alive" (1981) (Vol. 2 Episode 88) DVD: SCTV "The Fishin' Musician with The Plasmatics" (1981) (Vol. 2 Episode 89) Wayne's World: Opening sequence with "Bohemian Rhapsody" (1992) In what ways do parodies like this comment as much on a Canadian context/experience as they do on the music being parodied? And what might they be saying about the relationship of Canadians to these musics?
With clear-cut pop artists, we can return to one of the themes we raised in our discussion of the early Tin Pan Alley material -- what is the relationship in each case between specificities of a Canadian identity and the homogenizing tendency of pop culture? Gino Vannelli is from Montreal. Studied music at McGill, and had roots in R+B scene. Like Paul Anka, he is one of the very few Canadian performers to be an out-and-out sex symbol. Overhead: Gino Vannelli Gino Vannelli "I Just Wanna Stop" (1978)
Bryan Adams was born in Kingston and also lived in Ottawa for a while, then his family lived overseas for a time. By the time he was a teenager his permanent base was Vancouver. In 1978 he hooked up with songwriter/producer Jim Vallance, who had earlier been with Prism. His first self-titled album came out in 1980, and he started to appear on the Billboard charts in His commercial breakthrough was "Cuts Like A Knife" (1983). Adams had enormous success from the mid-1980s to the mid- 1990s on all fronts: with solo material, with songs written for others, and with movie music. Consider his image as well as his music: T-shirt, jeans, sneakers, mid-tempo pop/rockers. Similar to Bon Jovi and others who split the hard rock/pop difference in the later 1980s. Overhead: Bryan Adams early-80s look Bryan Adams "Cuts Like A Knife" (1983)
The "big success" question relating to both Gino Vannelli and Bryan Adams: does Canadian popular music have to be this generic to be hugely successful? We should also mention the controversy surrounding Waking Up The Neighbours (1991). Because the album was co-written and co-produced with a non- Canadian (Mutt Lange), it did not qualify as CanCon. Adams made some very harsh comments about the CRTC and CanCon regulations as a consequence. That year, the CRTC changed its rules to be more flexible about accepting collaborative work.
We're going to look at Anne Murray and Rita MacNeil as a pair, which is why we're coming to Anne Murray a bit late. Anne Murray is from Springhill, Nova Scotia. Originally intended to be a phys-ed teacher, but caught the attention of a CBC TV producer who set her up as a singer on a local show, where she eventually met a producer who connected her to make her first solo album for Arc Records. Attracted Columbia's Canadian division, and her first hit for them was "Snowbird" (1970). She dropped out for a while around 1975 to start a family, but then back with major hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She retained a very strong following within Canada, and was certainly one of the "official" Canadian pop stars in the 1980s and 1990s (CBC specials a large index of that -- Wikipedia describes them as "countless"). Anne Murray "Snowbird" (1969) Overhead: Anne Murray Snowbird Cover (1970) Overhead: Anne Murray Greatest Hits Cover (1980)
Rita MacNeil is from Cape Breton Island. Started as a folksinger around 1971, and had many indie years doing that before signing to Virgin and having her first major hit. She quickly became very popular internationally in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Rita MacNeil "Flying On Your Own" (1986) Overhead: Rita MacNeil Flying On Your Own cover (1986) So why might I have chosen to do Anne Murray and Rita MacNeil as a pair, image-wise? On that front, do they also relate back to someone else of major importance we looked at much earlier? What might they represent relative to a TPA-like view of the marketplace?
Celine Dion is from a small town close to Montreal and a large working class family. She was being heavily promoted by the age of 12, and by 1983 had gained a following in France and Japan as well as Québec. Overhead: Céline Dion La voix du bon Dieu Cover (1981) At 18 she underwent a major image transformation: sexier clothes, capped teeth, plucked eyebrows, English lessons and English- language repertoire, etc. Explicit bid for a more generic and less "good girl" image that could help make her an international star. Became one of the definitive pop divas of the 1990s and remains a major star. Overhead: Celine Dion Unison Cover (1990) Overhead: Celine Dion Celine Dion Cover (1992) Celine Dion "Where Does My Heart Beat Now?" (1990)
In 1990 Dion turned down the Félix Anglophone artist of the year award. There is also the accent controversy -- around 1992 she stopped using it. So did Celine Dion get completely transformed into a generic pop star? Or are there elements of her work and look which still link back to her local origins and/or to other Canadian traditions?
Shania Twain is from Timmins. Performed for years around Timmins to support her family, mostly pop material but some country. After her first solo record, teamed up professionally and romantically with Mutt Lange, a successful mainstream rock producer (already mentioned above). Her breakthrough album was The Woman In Me (1995), which was a multi-platinum hit. Twain drew some criticism for the image and for the merger of country with pop/rock elements, but was a major commercial phenomenon. Although clearly noteworthy for the pop/country/rock fusion, she also stood out for her independence: writing and co-writing her own material, forging ahead with a style that originally rubbed a lot of traditionalists the wrong way, flaunting a highly sexual image, especially in videos, while at the same time claiming the role of wholesome family person. YouTube: Shania Twain "That Don't Impress Me Much" Video (1997)
We might choose to read Shania Twain as representing another interesting kind of relationship to TPA and pop aesthetics. On the one hand she is clearly part of the "new country" phenomenon, and her work also fits into the general appearance of a third-wave feminist attitude towards sexuality among many female 1990s artists. So to some, that looks like commercial co- optation. On the other hand, she is doing this in a strong leadership role. So criticisms about watering down traditions or selling out identities lose some force. This, combined with the fact that she often goes out of her way to assert her Canadianness, creates an interesting dynamic.
In the mid-1970s the children's performer as such, and children's music as an industry category, were fairly new. Earlier children's music had tended to be an occasional side activity for composers and performers who weren't otherwise specialized that way, or a component of a more general show like Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers' Neighbourhood (both of which started in the late 1960s). Raffi Cavoukian was born in Cairo to Armenian parents. Moved to Toronto when 10. Started performing in folk coffeehouses in the early 1970s, and made his first children's record in Singable Songs For The Very Young. It sold around 300,000 in Canada, and was also very successful internationally. It is still seen as a benchmark children's record, and as the record which launched the category of children's music as it exists today.
Raffi "The Bowling Song" (1988) What is it about Raffi's work that was seen as so revolutionary in the area of children's music? There were other Canadian children's performers of note in this generation besides Raffi, especially Sharon, Lois & Bram who formed in So while it might be pushing things to say that they style was entirely of Canadian origin, there was still a clear leadership role played by Canadians in its emergence.