Author Archives: Alan Cross

Fighting al-Qaeda with Hip-Hop

December 27th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Even by the evil standards of other al-Qaeda franchises, the thugs in al-Shabaab are extreme.   Killing, intimidation, piracy and extortion are all in a day's work for these people.  But there are those in Somalia and Kenya that refuse to back down.  

From the Guardian:

Shine Ali doesn't scare easily. If he did, he would not be with his band in a basement studio in Nairobi, rapping lyrics that challenge the Islamist rebels who control much of his homeland, Somalia – and whose reach extends deep into the Kenyan capital.

Ali is well aware of the risks he is running. Three years ago, members of the al-Shabaab group broke into his home in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighbourhood and shot him.

More Music from the Inbox

December 27th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Finally!  No more Christmas music.  It's safe to once again walk into a store and not be subject to music so sickly sweet that you risk going into diabetic shock.  

Fortunately, though, there's relief.  Juliette Jagger has once again sorted through all the music submissions (see link at the left) to offer up these recommendations.

The Wife Says: Bring on The Hunger Games

December 26th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Only a tidbit about The Hunger Games could rouse me out of my turkey tryptophanic-induced post-Christmas languor.

T-Bone Burnett is producing the soundtrack and a companion album for the movie based on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel.

The first single, Taylor Swift’s "Safe and Sound," was released over the holidays and shot to number one on iTunes. It’s moody and a lot more mature than the rest of her stuff. The Decemberists and Arcade Fire also have also collaborated with Burnett on songs for the movie.

Sheet Music? Not a Good Business to Be In

December 26th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

A hundred years ago when the concept of recorded music was still science fiction to a lot of people, sheet music--printed arrangments of popular and classical tunes--ruled.  That industry was analogous to what we later saw with the recorded music business.

Over the decades, though, fewer and fewer people (outside of those taking music lessons) bothered with sheet music.  The peak of the market was 1934 when 25,000 pieces were sold every day.  It's been downhill ever since.

And the UK Xmas #1 Is…Not Nirvana

December 25th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Since the 1950s, the UK has had an inexplicable fascination with which song finishes at #1 on the singles charts on the last chart leading up to Christmas.  The last decade has been dominated by Simon Cowell wretchedness, only to be interrupted by Rage Against the Machine and "Killing in the Name" in 2009.

This year there was a grassroots campaign to push Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to #1 in time for Christmas in honour of Nevermind's 20th anniversary, but that fell flat.  Instead, the winner is "Wherever You Are" by the Military Wives Choir.

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