pop music

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Carl Wilson, Max Greenfield, Moby

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Carl Wilson
Guests: 
Max Greenfield
Guests: 
Moby
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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How We Decide What's Good... and What's Bad: Carl Wilson on Celine Dion and the Nature of Taste

Carl Wilson is a music critic. His job is to tell people why certain music is good, and why other music isn't. You could call him a tastemaker. But he started to wonder. How does taste even work? To find out, he immersed himself in the music, life and fandom of Celine Dion.

Wilson is the author of Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste, a reissued and expanded version of the book he published in 2007. It's about Celine and her bestselling album from 1997, but more importantly it's an exploration of why we like some music and hate other music. Wilson's journey made him question how we place value on art, and has affected the way he approaches his work in music criticism.

He talks about Dion's Quebecois background (and why it matters), how she and her music relate to "coolness," and why experiencing a Celine Dion concert in Las Vegas helped open him up to her true appeal.

Looking for Rich Juzwiak's "Celine Dion is Amazing" compilation video mentioned in the interview? We'll save you a Google search.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends Summer Reads

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, to talk about two new books that recently hit the shelves.

Her first recommendation is a thriller called The Fever by Megan Abbott. The novel explores what happens when teenagers in a small Northeast town get hit with a mysterious illness, which tests teenage friendships and the strength of a family.

Kellogg also recommends a memoir about a girl and her father. It's not your typical father-daughter-bonding tale. Maria Venegas writes about reconnecting with her estranged father in Bulletproof Vest: Ballad of an Outlaw and his Daughter.

You can find Kellogg's writing in the Los Angeles Times or on their blog, Jacket Copy.

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Moby on "My Way" by Sid Vicious: The Song That Changed My Life

Moby is one of the most successful electronic musicians in the world. But he didn't start fiddling with synthesizers and drum machines as a kid -- he was studying classical guitar. Then, his world changed with just one song.

Moby tells us about the song that changed his life, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" as performed by Sid Vicious.

Moby's newest album is called Innocents.

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Max Greenfield Explains: What Makes New Girl's Schmidt Tick

Max Greenfield stars as Schmidt on FOX's series New Girl. His character is so sweet and enthusiastic in his bro-y-ness, you can't help but love him. Schmidt is frequently shirtless, occasionally naked, and never less than transparent in his striving.

Schmidt was a breakout role for Greenfield, and before he got it, he would read audition lines with his wife, who happens to be a casting director. He talks about how she can be his toughest critic, how he and Schmidt are most alike, and how mispronouncing words like "chutney" came to be part of Schmidt's essence.

New Girl just ended its third season on Fox. Both the show and Greenfield's role have been submitted for Emmy consideration.

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The Outshot: East Side Story

You probably know what a low rider is. But what do you know about low rider oldies? Jesse talks about the perfect music for driving low and slow.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ronnie Spector, Fred Schneider, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ronnie Spector
Guests: 
Fred Schneider
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

It’s the time of year when Bullseye focuses on what truly matters during the holiday season: great interviews with fascinating people. Celebrate with the Bullseye Holiday Special.

Girl Group Legend Ronnie Spector on Christmas, John Lennon, and a Perfect Coiffure

Ronnie Spector was the lead singer of the 1960s girl group The Ronettes. Along with her sister and cousin, she sang on five Top 40 hits, most notably Be My Baby, which still gets regular airplay on oldies stations.

But when it comes to her recordings with her ex-husband and producer Phil Spector, it might be the holiday songs off A Christmas Gift for You that remain closest to our hearts.

Spector spoke with Jesse in 2010 and explained that Christmas has always been a part of her life. When she was six years old, she sat on Santa’s lap at Macy’s and fell in love with everything about the holiday. The Ronettes recorded “Frosty the Snowman,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” and “Sleigh Ride” for the album and, since their release in 1963, all three songs have become holiday classics.

Spector talked to us about puzzling over Santa's journey to her NYC apartment as a kid, going on stage at the famed Apollo Theater as an eleven-year-old, and knocking on doors with The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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Andrew Noz on Holiday Rap: Outkast and Gucci Mane

Holiday songs don't have to all be Dean Martin or Michael Bublé. Hip hop critic Andrew Noz stops by the show to suggest a couple of rap songs that will be perfect for your holiday party.

The first is Outkast’s Player's Ball. It was originally recorded as a Christmas song for the LaFace Family Christmas album and with a few tweaks, it was repurposed as the group’s debut single. Then, Andrew says you should check out Gucci Mane’s Weird. It’s a great track that features a whole bunch of weird lyrics that allude to Christmas.

You can find Andrew Noz on Pitchfork, the Fader, or check out his blog at Cocaine Blunts.

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My Brother, My Brother, and Me Give Holiday Advice

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of your most pressing holiday quandaries. They take on Dickensian fairs, lazy gifting, and the perfect playlist for your holiday party.

If you’ve still got questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

This segment originally aired in December 2012.

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The B-52s' Fred Schneider on Christmas Music, Wacky Poetry and Creating a Signature Sound

There are few bands that better define outrageousness than The B-52s. And there is no greater symbol of that group's outrageousness than Fred Schneider. As frontman for The B-52s, he’s crossed a Georgia drawl with a unique style of talk-singing in songs like Love Shack and Rock Lobster.

In 2010, Jesse sat down with Schneider to talk about the holidays. The vocalist had just recorded a new Christmas album with his band The Superions. The album is called Destination… Christmas! and features several goofy holiday songs like “Fruitcake” and “Crummy Christmas Tree”.

Schneider tells Jesse how he comes up with his nutty lyrics, why he decided to write poetry in college and, most importantly, how to compose holiday songs on the fly.

This segment originally aired in December 2010.

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The Outshot: This Christmas by Donny Hathaway

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tells you about his absolute favorite holiday song. He puts it on every year, and explains why you should too. Take a listen to This Christmas by Donny Hathaway.

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Special Credits

Be sure to check out these holiday classics, also in this week's show:
Father Christmas - The Kinks
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) - Darlene Love
I Hate Christmas - Oscar the Grouch
Down On Christmas - Stompin’ Tom Connors

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Stephen Merchant, Co-Creator Of Hello Ladies and The Office

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Stephen Merchant
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg
Guests: 
Myq Kaplan

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Why Stephen Merchant Can't (And Won't) Please Everyone

With the debut of the original U.K. version of "The Office", the show's co-creators Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais helped usher in a new era of awkward realism in comedy television.

Merchant began his career with a plan: a day job in radio, with plenty of time in the evening to do stand up comedy and other projects. But once he met Ricky Gervais, a series of events led to creation of the pilot episode of The Office, and you might know what happened from there.

Merchant is a connoisseur of honest, uncomfortable, this-is-what-real-life-unfortunately-sometimes-feels-like moments. He's translated this talent into a stream of hilarious television series. Working with friend and regular collaborator Ricky Gervais, Merchant has created and written for Extras, Life's Too Short, and The Ricky Gervais Show. His new comedy, Hello Ladies, was inspired by Merchant's dating misadventures and his own stand up comedy.

Merchant tells us about creating the cultural colossus that is The Office, the comfort he finds in being a "historian of comedy", and the real life worst date he's ever had.

Hello Ladies premieres Sunday September 29 on HBO.

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Carolyn Kellogg Bets On Adonis for Nobel Prize and Recommends Jonathan Lethem's "Dissident Gardens"

Carloyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend some best bets from the world of literature.

Next month, the tight-lipped Nobel Committee will be announcing their annual prize for literature. Kellogg has her money on the Syrian poet Adonis, a major figure in Arabic poetry for the past fifty years. A collection of his poetry, Adonis: Selected Poems, was translated by Khaled Mattawa.

Carolyn also recommends Jonathan Lethem's new novel about multiple generations of political revolutionaries in New York, Dissident Gardens.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog .

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Myq Kaplan: Meat Robot

Comedian Myq Kaplan wants your advice on a problem that his "friend" is having.

His recent stand-up album Meat Robot is available now.

The Outshot: Why "I Want You Back" Is The Greatest Pop Song Ever

There's really only one way to prove "I Want You Back" is the greatest pop song ever: listen.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: The Directors of "Doin' It In The Park" And Mary Roach

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bobbito Garcia
Guests: 
Kevin Couliau
Guests: 
Mary Roach
Guests: 
Shirley Caeasar
Guests: 
Sean O'Neal
Guests: 
Alex Dowd

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

Doin' It In The Park: Pickup Basketball with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau

Kenny "The Jet" Smith was an All-American at North Carolina, first round NBA draft pick, and two-time NBA Champion with the Houston Rockets. And yet, his favorite basketball memory? The first time he was allowed to play ball on the "big court" by his apartment in Queens when he was 15 years old. Such is the power that pick-up basketball holds for New Yorkers.

Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau are the filmmakers behind Doin' It In The Park, a passionate and beautiful new documentary about New York City's street basketball culture. One summer, Bobbito and Kevin jumped on their bicycles and set out to play basketball in 180 of NYC's more than 700 public outdoor courts, and talk with the diverse array of people who play there.

They talk to us about meeting the legendary playground figures, learning the history of the parks, and immersing themselves in the unique styles of play that can only be found on New York courts.

Bobbito Garcia (aka Kool Bob Love) is a street ball player and hip hop DJ. He co-founded Bounce Magazine and has been playing basketball in New York City's parks since 1973.

Kevin Couliau is a professional outdoor basketball photographer and film director. He's been playing basketball since age six.

Their film Doin' It The Park is touring the world, and is available for direct download on their website.

Click here to listen or share Doin' It in the Park with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau on Soundcloud

Shirley Caesar on The Song That Changed My Life: "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow"

As a little girl growing up in North Carolina, the gospel song "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" inspired Shirley Caesar to keep trucking when times were tough. But it wasn't just a stirring piece of music. Just a few years later, that same song catapulted her from anonymity to national tours and a career of over sixty years (and counting).

Gospel singer, eleven-time Grammy winner and pastor Shirley Caesar on the song that changed her life: Thomas A. Dorsey's "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow".

Pastor Caesar's newest album is Good God. She continues to tour nationwide.

Click here to listen or share Shirley Caesar on "The Song That Changed My Life" on Soundcloud

The AV Club Recommends: "Immunity" by Jon Hopkins and "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu"

We are joined this week by two critics from the A.V. Club -- news editor Sean O'Neal and film editor Alex Dowd.

Sean recommends a listen to Immunity, the new album from the UK-based electronic music producer Jon Hopkins.

Alex suggests watching The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu, a fascinating documentary compiled entirely from state-sanctioned footage of Ceausescu's brutal reign as dictator of Romania. The movie is out now on DVD.

Click here to listen or share The AV Club's Recommendations on Soundcloud

In One End And Out The Other With Mary Roach

We eat food every day, but for most of us, our exposure to it is confined to the input and output. In her new book Gulp: Adventures On The Alimentary Canal, the bestselling science writer Mary Roach shares some hilarious, enlightening tales about the beginning, middle, and end of this journey, and all of the grossly fascinating science that goes along with it.

Plus, we'll talk about eating dog food and the REAL story behind Elvis' death. Yes, we went there.

Mary Roach has tackled the science behind death, sex, space travel and more in five other books, which can be found here. If you can't get enough of Mary (we definitely can't!), check out this past interview about her last book, Packing For Mars.

Click here to listen or share Mary Roach and "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal" on Soundcloud

The Outshot: Prince's "Dirty Mind"

Prince is one of the rare artists whose name has become synonymous with an entire era of sound. Jesse explains how Prince's 1980 album Dirty Mind was the turning point in his career, marking a transformation from musician to music god.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Shane Carruth of Upstream Color and Rodney Ascher of Room 237

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Shane Carruth
Guests: 
Rodney Ascher
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Emily V. Gordon

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.


Video Games with The Indoor Kids: Ms. Splosion Man and BioShock Infinite

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, co-hosts of video game podcast The Indoor Kids, join us to share their favorite new releases. Their first pick is Ms. Splosion Man, an imaginative platformer newly available on iOS. (Think Super Mario meets spontaneous self-combustion.) For a lengthier experience, check out BioShock Infinite, which (literally) takes the first BioShock to even greater heights.

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Upstream Color Director Shane Carruth on Creating Cryptic Cinema

Nearly ten years have passed since the release of writer/director Shane Carruth's first low-budget film, a complex time travel movie called Primer. Film fans are still obsessed with teasing out the intricacies of the story, about a time-travel machine and the men who engineered the machine. But within that story, there are emotional and ethical struggles that keep the audience riveted -- a quality that's become a hallmark of Carruth's small but powerful filmography.

Carruth wrote, directed, starred and composed all of the music for Primer, and he had the same all-consuming roles in his new film, Upstream Color. The movie is just as difficult to explain as his first. Upstream Color's two lead characters seem to have a shared experience of bodily manipulation, and cling to that sameness because they have nothing else. The movie delves deeply into identity and loss, and comes through with a powerful emotional experience.

Shane Carruth joins us to talk about the upsides and downsides of independent filmmaking, why plot summary doesn't always get to a movie's heart, and the best James Bond movie that will never be made.

Upstream Color is in select theaters nationwide. The film is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and on demand on May 7.

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Comedy: Kyle Kinane Goes on a Fast Food Adventure

Kyle Kinane had a problem. He was craving fast food, but he'd had a little too much to drink. But he found a solution. It involved a little bit of ingenuity, a wallet's worth of cash, and a very patient cab driver.

This clip comes from Kyle Kinane's latest special, Whiskey Icarus, which is available as a digital download or a CD/DVD. He'll be performing at MaxFunCon 2013 in late May.

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Director Rodney Ascher Opens The Door On Room 237

Stanley Kubrick's movie The Shining made a huge cultural impression. It's a classic horror movie about the psychological tolls of isolation, the dissolution of a family, the Holocaust, and how Kubrick helped fake the moon landing.

Wait a second. The Holocaust? Moon landing? Yep. The new documentary Room 237 features increasingly eye-widening theories about the hidden subtexts of The Shining. Movies often inspire intense debate over authorial intent, but Kubrick's known perfectionism and deliberate filmmaking often take this discussion to another level.

Room 237's director Rodney Ascher sits down with us to discuss some of the film's more creative theories, as well as whether or not there's such a thing as too much interpretation.

Room 237 is out now in select theaters nationwide and available on video on-demand.

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The Outshot: The Grand Tour by George Jones

Pop music is usually for young people – what better audience is there for short, simple, high-energy music? But what does pop music sound like when it grows up? To answer that question, Jesse takes a look at a song by George Jones, called The Grand Tour.

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