Tag Archives: youtube

Ship My Pants! Is Kmart Being Smart?

29 Apr

A little blue humor with your blue light special?

Blue siren similar to those used by Kmart for the blue light special

Original photo by DoppioM via Flickr

I remember being in a Kmart a hazy handful of times in the ’70s seeing a blue siren flash after an announcement over Kmart’s intercom. It was exciting, and an obvious gimmick to get some quick attention while having a little fun.

Something similar is happening now with Kmart’s latest ad campaign, dubbed “Ship My Pants.” Highlighting the retailer’s offering of in-store shipping, excited customers riff about shipping their pants, drawers, a bed, and… you get the idea.

I love some wacky wordplay, so I’m naturally a fan of the ad. I don’t know that I’ll be shopping at Kmart any more because of it, but I’ll definitely be smirking the next time it happens, or maybe even the next time I drive by a store.

It reminds me of the “Make 7up Yours” campaign from the ’90s…

I noted the similarity to Kmart through Twitter, and they acknowledge the connection.

My take away is that, although this might be a bawdy approach, it gets us discussing the brand when there was absolutely no chatter before. It’s getting a boatload of press – positive, even – which was precisely what it was intended to do, so kudos to Kmart’s PR team for deft handling. In the case of Old Spice, this did get me interested in the product, and it will be interesting to follow Kmart’s business as consumers start to, um… ship their pants.

What do you think? Can you recall a similar campaign? Would this make you more or less likely to shop at a Kmart or similar advertiser? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Adrian Peterson Orange Peanut Awesomeness

31 Jan

I love it when real life and entertainment collide for humorous effect, and social media is especially great for that.

My favorite example of this lately is Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson’s now-famous post-game confession of his passion for orange peanuts.

This comes courtesy of Bad Lip Reading. If you haven’t seen their full set of YouTube videos, your life is not as rich as it could be.

Culture Jamming? Orange Peanut!

The best part of this is when Peterson was presented with a real-life orange peanut at an autograph session. And he was a great sport about it. Look at that smile.

Adrian Peterson Orange Peanut

Image via tchrox

Importantly, as USA Today notes, “The craftsmanship on the peanut is spot-on.” Excellent.

What do you think? What’s your favorite example of real/online/entertainment world convergence? Have you ever participated in culture jamming? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Your Own Personal Grammys

27 Jan

Are your favorite performing artists underrepresented for their work? Does the mainstream “best of” not reflect your tastes? Then make your own awards. This is my blog, with my completely biased opinions – The Grammys, this is not. That said, the rsmithing.com music awards for the past year go to…

Best Video: MelodysheepHappy Little Clouds

I interview the mastermind behind Melodysheep, and all-round cool dude, John Boswell, here.

Best Concert: Beats Antique, Cat’s Cradle, May 4, 2012

I recount how I discovered Beats Antique here and document another of their gigs here.

Best New Artist: How To Destroy Angels

It’s atmospheric Nine Inch Nails with a female voice. Totally works.

Best Comeback: Quicksand

The band’s breakthrough album, Slip, is a certified classic.

Best Shoutout to Me: Garbage

One of my favorite bands featured my artwork in a promo video. Full story here.

Album of The Year: Deftones, Koi No Yokan

The Deftones‘ enduring talent surges ever forward.

Best Electronica: Photek, KU:PALM

Photek came back after many years with a sparse-yet-rich new record.

Best Topical Humor: CollegeHumor, Look at This Instagram

Thanks to Sarah Khanna, food blogger at butteredup.com, for turning me on to this. I think.
What do you think? What were your best musical moments of the past year? What other categories would you include? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Who’s Been Commenting?

28 Dec

A great reward of blogging is making connections with professionals whose work I respect. Here’s a look at some recognizable figures commenting at rsmithing.com in the past 12 months. Check out the posts to see their remarks:

Mack Collier

Mack Collier

Mack Collier commented and said thanks in my post, Blogchat: Sundays on Twitter. As a strategisttrainer and speaker on social media, Collier helps companies better connect with customers. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time has helped businesses of all shapes and sizes better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. [Mack’s Site]

Neil Strauss

Neil Strauss

Neil Strauss commented a couple of times on my post, Last Book Read: Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead. Strauss is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and also writes regularly for The New York Times, having repeatedly made its bestseller list with books such as The Game, Emergency, and Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead. [Wikipedia]

John Boswell

John Boswell

John Boswell generously answered my questions in this post: Interview with MelodySheep and Symphony of Science Mastermind. Boswell is the artist behind autotune projects Symphony of Science and MelodySheep, gaining international recognition and millions of YouTube views for his inspiring musical tributes to Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross and Julia Child, among others.

Mike Sager

Mike Sager

Mike Sager said thanks for my quick post inspired by his writing, From Music and Words into Movement – The Fun of Art. Sager is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. He has been called “the Beat poet of American journalism, that rare reporter who can make literature out of shabby reality.” [Wikipedia] In thirty years as a journalist, writer at large Mike Sager has immersed himself in the lives of pit-bull fighters, heroin addicts, Tupperware saleswomen, and an actress named Roseanne. [Esquire]

Jay Baer

Jay Baer

Jay Baer stopped by after I reached him on Google Plus to weigh in on my post, How to Talk About Social Media In Business: 5 Points, Video Interview. Baer is a social media strategist, author, speaker and President of Convince & Convert. Founder of five companies, he’s worked with over 700 brands (including Nike, Cold Stone Creamery, Sony, ExactTarget, and ConocoPhillips) since 1994, including 25 of the Fortune 1000. His blog is ranked among the world’s top marketing resources, and was named #3 social media blog in the world by Social Media Examiner. [Wikipedia]

Alexis Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal noted his use of contrast in my analysis of his work: Contrasts Make Connections. Madrigal is a Senior editor at The Atlantic, author of Powering the Dream, and has previously contributed to WIRED, covering science and technology as a contributor to the Wired Science blog. [Twitter]

Also engaging via brand representatives were McDonald’s Corporate in: Fast Food and Fast Lessons in Public Relations and, as a bonus from 2011: Delta Airlines in my post, An Airline Gets it… Right?

What do you think? Have any well-known figures or organizations commented on your work? Have you ever had any brushes with celebrity? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Beats Antique in Photos

8 Oct
Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique in Sihlouette, backlit in front of a screen onstage.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique – silhouette

This weekend I caught one of my favorite bands these days, Beats Antique, in concert for the second time this year at the Orange Peel in Asheville, NC.

Flyer, ticket and marquee of Beats Antique gig at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC

Flyer, ticket and marquee of Beats Antique gig at The Orange Peel in Asheville, NC

As I’ve mentioned previously, their music is a perfect blend of exotic Eastern sounds, modern electronica, and of course… killer beats.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique Dancing at the beginning of a performance

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique dancing at the beginning of the show.

These are some choice photos from the gig I took and edited via iPhone, using apps like Photoforge2 and Hipstamatic to boost the atmosphere.

Beats Antique performing onstage, in black & white.

Beats Antique: Sidecar Tommy Cappel (left), Zoe Jakes (center), David Satori (right)

Full disclosure: their PR team, The Confluence Group, emailed me asking if I’d be willing to post something about the show, which I probably would have done anyway. I’m just flattered to have been asked and am happy to promote a great act.

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique in atmospheric lighting

Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique in atmospheric lighting

Click on any of these to see at full size, along with more Beats Antique photos I’ve taken.

Zoe in costume with antlers and flowing dress

Zoe in costume with antlers and flowing dress

Pick up the band’s music at iTunesAmazon or direct from the group on their Bandcamp page.

Chandelier at Beats Antique Gig

This chandelier was part of the band’s stage gear. I like chandeliers.

See also: Beats Antique tour dates. Definitely a fun show worth checking out if they come near your town.

David Satori in a duck mask

David Satori, in the spirit of duck, in full duck mask gear. Things get crazy toward gig’s end.

Beats Antique links: Official Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Soundcloud | YouTube Store
Either a Kracken, or a giant squid

Always in touch with the animal world, the band unleashed the Kraken for an encore.

What do you think? Do you take photos at concerts & edit them later? What do you think of Beats Antique? Is there a similar band worth checking out? Let us hear from you in the comments.

My Best Concert Ever: Bauhaus

21 Sep

The best concert I’ve ever seen was Bauhaus at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. [setlist] [discussion] I’ve always been a big fan of their music, yet they broke up long before I was old enough to go to concerts. So I only had references from others’ experiences, and the occasional glimpse of a video to experience anything resembling a performance.

Note: although embedding has been disabled by request on all these videos, they still play at YouTube and are definitely worth checking out. Just click that “Watch on YouTube” link.

Going to see the band after they’d reunited was not just a personal thrill, but the show itself was absolutely phenomenal. Their performance was right on, and Peter Murphy‘s remarkable voice only seemed to have gotten better with time. The lighting and set design were breathtaking, yet intimate and appropriate for this band and their dramatic aesthetic.

Bauhaus In Concert = Chills

It gives me chills just to think about it now, and I still have frozen in my brain, and probably will forever, images of every song as they came to life before my eyes – these pieces of music which we’re so compelling-yet-mysterious now happening in front of me and a room full of 1000 people. The experience was an electric, hair-raising religious one.

I was never a totally goth kid growing up, although I did appreciate the music and style. I was more into metal and punk than new wave or alternative when my musical tastes were forming, but I’ve always appreciated many types of music. The unifying factors I do appreciate most, however, are creativity, skill at craft, and overall dedication, all of which Bauhaus and my other favorite bands have in abundance.

What is your best concert ever? Is there a band you would like to see but haven’t yet, or may never get to see? What would be your fantasy best concert? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Interview with MelodySheep and Symphony of Science Mastermind John Boswell

23 Aug

MelodySheep autotune creator John Boswell’s musical magic: Bruce Lee, Bob Ross, Mr. Rogers & More

John Boswell

John Boswell, aka MelodySheep, aka Symphony of Science

To say John Boswell grows ideas in the garden of his mind is at once an understatement and yet highly appropriate. As you may have seen on CNN, Forbes, NPR, or especially YouTube, Boswell creates infectiously catchy pop songs from such unlikely sources as Julia Child, Billy Mays and  Yoda – all through the magic of autotune technology and his incredible talent for musical montage.

The results are simultaneously hilarious, touching and highly enjoyable, as evidenced by the millions of views his videos have been racking up lately. I recently asked Boswell a few questions about his process, and his responses follow. Do yourself a favor and check out his full catalog, available for download at MelodySheep.BandCamp.com.

rsmithing: How did you get started in music, and what instruments do you play?
John Boswell: I started off as a keyboardist and turntablist for a metal band in high school – definitely an unorthodox way to begin, but I learned basic music theory and how to combine different elements of music, both of which paved the way for the work I do today. I play mostly piano and guitar but dabble in a handful of other instruments, like mandolin and accordion.

rs: Have any of the subjects of your videos seen them, and what have their reactions been?
jb: A few of the figures I have used in my videos have been in touch with me, and their reactions have been entirely positive. I think what I am doing can be considered a mostly positive endeavor to begin with, and it’s always fun to see yourself given the remix treatment.

rs: What’s been your favorite composition so far?
jb: It’s hard to pick a favorite piece of my own, but the Ode to the Brain video is definitely near the top. It was a blast to make and I learned so many things in the process, which is always a plus. The music came together really well too, which gave it all the right ingredients for a solid video.

 

rs: Happy Little Clouds got a million views in one weekend. What’s it like to get so much attention so fast?
jb: It’s always great to get the sort of recognition that the Bob Ross video got, and I always appreciate the comments coming in and love hearing people’s reactions. Attention spans on the Internet are very short though, so once one big thing is happening it’s crucial to think about what is going to be next and how it can be different and better.

rs: Which composition has been the most challenging?
jb: The most challenging video thus far was most likely the Bob Ross remix. His quiet voice and tendency to mumble, combined with the constant sound of his brush on the canvas, made it hard to isolate good vocal samples. Luckily he was philosophical enough to provide enough clean quotes to use in the song.

 

rs: Why did you go with a pay-what-you-like model, and how’s that going for you?
jb: I believe music should be available free to those who want to listen but cannot afford. There is still enough generosity in this world to make pay-what-you-want worth it to artists, although there has to be a critical mass. Anybody who works hard enough can reach that point, as I have demonstrated.

rs: Anything else you’d like to add?
jb: Bruce Lee video is coming next week!
rs: AWESOME! (rsmithing = long-time Bruce Lee fan)

UPDATE, 8/28: And now, Bruce Lee:

 

A big thank you to John Boswell for answering my questions. Check out his stuff here:

What’s your favorite autotune mix? Who would you suggest for John’s next project? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Tide Turns Tide with PR

7 Jun

Tide Turns Tables with PRI love it when fiction and real life intersect in clever, funny, or serendipitous ways. I especially like seeing that happen to the mutual benefit of everyone involved – including the public at large – in terms of culture jamming.

That’s what happened this week with Tide and The Onion. The publication ran a faux story on a product that doesn’t necessarily translate perfectly to social media releasing a “cool new viral video.” About… detergent? You get the joke.

Tide Turns Tables on The Onion

It just so happens that the actual company noticed this post and, in what must have been a Herculean effort of corporate teamwork, crafted a brilliant, self-aware response. And they even publicized it via a promoted tweet. Here’s the video and The Onion’s response.

I hope other corporations can enjoy and learn from this as an example of PR done right. Keep the funny videos coming, Tide.

What do you think? Was this the right move on Tide’s part? Have you heard of the story elsewhere, or does publicity like this actually amount to anything? Let us hear from you in the comments!

P.S. I really love embedding tweets. That’s awesome, Twitter.

iPhone Video Editing: The Black Keys Live

27 Mar
The Black Keys, Charlotte, NC 3.24.12

The Black Keys – Charlotte, NC, 3.24.12. Shot & edited with my iPhone.

I’ve always loved rock concerts and live music. One of my first concerts was Mötley Crüe at the nearest coliseum as a young metalhead, and I documented the event with my trusty Kodak Disc camera.

As more evidence of that device’s role in digital ancestry as a forerunner of today’s tech gear, I now document shows with my trusty iPhone 4, using its 5-megapixel camera and HD video recording capability. It’s absolutely mind-blowing, the quality of video this thing produces from a live show, even from the nosebleed seats, where I caught The Black Keys over the weekend.

I’m no Scorsese, and there are plenty of higher-quality videos from this show, but being able to record the event as I remember it and highlight the dramatic parts for later enjoyment – and then share that online… without even reading an instruction manual… it’s just magical for a music lover.

Have a look at what I whipped up in an hour – even though I was watching from high in the stands, I’ve tried to add some dimension with edits, pans and transitions, highlighting the best/most dynamic visual moments.

iPhone Video Editing: The Splice App

All transitions, titles, sound fades, pans and zooms were done with the iPhone using the app, Splice for the editing. It’s fast, intuitive, and great for producing a quick highlight reel. Some reviews say it’s unstable, but I haven’t experienced any of that. Within minutes of downloading it and tapping on a few buttons to see what they do, I was making a decent compilation video with titles, overdubbed music and transitions. I do not work for or promote Splice; I’m just wowed by this kind of technology.

I first got turned on to iPhone video editing by way of a mobile video contest sponsored by a local art organization (SECCA). I decided to enter just to see what I could create with minimal effort. Here’s my experimental entry for that : Skull Chant Blues.

This, Too Shall Soon Be Primitive

Disc

The Kodak Disc

The Disc was great back in the day, and I’m sure 30 years from now something will be around to make the iPhone look obsolete (remember when bag phones were impressive?), but for now, it’s a gratifying experience to put together a quick video in minutes that matches my memory of an awesome show.

Bonus: Also saw some Fun. this month:

What do you think? Could you see yourself using a smartphone for video editing? What other uses do you see for this technology? Have you ever edited video via your smartphone? If so, what app(s) do you prefer? Are you active on YouTube, Vimeo or other networks? Share your links and let us hear from you in the comments!

Beats Antique: Tribal Fusion Electronica Awesomeness

29 Feb

I discovered Beats Antique through Pandora Internet radio, and after liking every song of theirs I heard, I checked the band out and discovered they are the real deal. The group blends electronica with traditional Mid-Eastern percussion and melodies (and live bellydancing). And they are my new favorite music.

Video: Copyright 2011, Tom Couture Photography

I’ve always been a huge fan of percussion. I’m not a drummer, but I play I mean set of air drums to most any song. And generally speaking, things like shakers, gamelans, hand drums, and especially the tambourine (think: power pop 16th notes) have always appealed to me greatly, though my main instrument is bass guitar. Percussive effects are one of my favorite elements of electronica, but it’s even more amazing live – there’s a primal energy that’s in our DNA from when our cave dwelling ancestors beat on logs around a fire and danced around. And yet another super-cool thing about Beats Antique is that they’re real musicians, not just an electronica act. Check out the group breaking it down acoustically:

Beats Antique Acoustic - Opens in New Window

Video: Copyright 2011, Relix 

Compare the above “unplugged” performance to the actual studio version to fully appreciate the awesomeness – they don’t miss a note or beat.

Bellydance Music and Beyond

What I especially dig about Beats Antique is their blending of traditional percussion with unique instrumentation, along with melodies evocative of caravans traversing the desert or incense wafting through spice market stalls. But it’s not exactly “world music.” Nor is it simply electronica, and it definitely isn’t rock. Whatever you call it, Beats Antique definitely grooves, and makes for some excellent bellydancing accompaniment, as evidenced by the group’s dancer, Zoe Jakes.

Beats Antique Live at the Fillmore, Denver

Beats Antique Live & Selected Tracks:
rsmithing’s YouTube Playlist – Click To View

Beats Antique is on tour right now, and I’m happy to have scored my ticket to see them at the Cat’s Cradle in NC in a couple of months. In the meantime, I’ll be blaring their beats and melodies through my headphones and in the car at every opportunity.

UPDATE: Instagram Brings Fans to Gigs!

May 4, 2012 – Just wanted to point out how social networking and visual art-by-way-of-blogging (and the Facebook) can promote the art-music experience of Beats Antique. Show tonight. Blog review to come…

Beats Antique Facebook Instagram

Click to view Instagram post referenced here.

David Satori

And I met David Satori before the gig. Cool dude.

 
What do you think? Can you name other examples of traditional sounds blended with modern beats? What new music have you discovered lately? Or what are you listening to at this exact moment? What’s the last song played on your iPod/Zune/8-track? Let us hear from you in the comments!
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