The defining musical style of the state of California largely depends on who you ask and what their allegiances are. Is it the West Coast hip-hop that came out of South Central LA in the late ’80s and early ’90s, which blended racial consciousness and gangsta rap in a way that’s never quite been duplicated since? Is it the SoCal punk scene, from X to Black Flag to the pop- and ska-tinged punk that dominated the ’90s? How about the Laurel Canyon sound that blended folk and rock, and spawned some of the greatest albums of the early ’70s? Or the classic rock of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury in the ’60s, as led by the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane? Or maybe it was the dripping-with-excess hard rock and hair metal scene that took shape on the Sunset Strip throughout the 1980s. And what about The Beach Boys and the generations of surf-pop imitators they spawned? When we heard that Best Coast was releasing an album called California Nights this week, we got to thinking: What’s the quintessential California sound? Our list of quintessential California albums is an attempt — or 30 — to answer that …Read More
Red Hot Chili Peppers
This week, the big topic of conversation among music fans is whether the chorus of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” sounds enough like Tom Petty’s 1989 hit “Won’t Back Down” to warrant the 12.5 percent songwriting credit recently awarded to Petty and his co-writer, Jeff Lynne. Copyright infringement as it applies to songwriting plagiarism goes beyond merely how a song sounds, and if a songwriter even intended to copy the work of another. The field has become more and more litigious in recent decades, and to an outsider, the situation can look a bit creatively limiting. Sometimes people do go to court and win, but many big cases settle out of court on the basis of subconscious plagiarism. What a scary landscape to live in as a musician — being responsible for inadvertently copying someone else’s work you’ve never even heard.
There is probably a very specific kind of person who is legitimately upset that the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers did not play their own instruments during their performance with Bruno Mars at Sunday night’s Super Bowl halftime show. I’m not sure who that person is, exactly, because I’m not sure who, in 2014, consider Red Hot Chili Peppers to be on the cutting edge of rock music. But that person is upset this week, because they could tell that the band were doing little less than performing the Rock Band version of “Give It Away,” pretending to play musical instruments along with a prerecorded track.
Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are set to take the Super Bowl halftime stage later today. Both acts have a shared funk vibe, so the pairing isn’t as crazy as it initially sounds. Indeed, Mars is an unorthodox choice for a headliner being a relatively new artist, but the Hawaiian-born singer has been performing since he was a child and comes from a musical family. Having a truckload of hit singles and a Grammy also helps. The Red Hot Chili Peppers will surely provide the rougher-around-the-edges, rock yang to Mars’ pop music yin. It could be disastrous, or we could be pleasantly surprised. Either way, there’s alcohol to help us through it! Play along with our drinking game, below.