I always find it a little nerve-racking to go to a concert and see nothing but two laptops and a drum set onstage. For some reason, I find it hard to believe that those are the only tools necessary to entertain an audience, least of all a sold-out crowd at Boston’s House of Blues. Pretty Lights, however, are masters of this art form and more than kept their fans happy at their show on November 5.
(Photo: Carolyne.b via Wikimedia Commons)
There is only one true measure of an event’s success at Tufts, and that gauge is sweat. At Tufts, the sweatier, the better, and Passion Pit’s show on Tuesday, October 26 turned the Cage into a veritable sauna.
(Photo: Maxine Builder)
The Sixties: big hair, free love, and protests – those were the good old days. Even if you didn’t live through them, there have been enough movies, music, and your parents’ stories; you get the idea by now.
Wake Up!, a collaborative album from John Legend and The Roots, attempts to channel the “Sixties” spirit of social activism through 10 soul covers. Legend reports that the presidential campaign of 2008 inspired him to create something reflecting the climate of the time. Black Thought is featured on several tracks, but it is possible to miss him. Hip hop-soul synergy sounds awesome in theory, as both genres draw from similar lyrical themes and African American blues tradition. However the collaboration is not completely realized. The MC’s lyrics and delivery don’t have enough spit to resonate over the melodies that pull you from song to song.
Thus, the instrumentals of The Roots carry you onward through your dream journey. But after several songs in this vein, you get to “Wholy Moly,” making you actually want to fall asleep. Legend’s vocals simply aren’t passionate enough to give the song any crescendo, so it just patters out, prompting you to just press the skip button. The same goes for “Shine”, the only original track recorded for Wake Up!.
Legend’s vocals remain problematic throughout the album, especially on “Ghetto Boy”, when Legend sings that he’s seen “such misery and pain.” Yet, the emotion is not believable. Though he has the technical ability to hit some very difficult notes, Legend’s voice lacks the rough edge necessary to give the lyrics any dimension. Original Recording of “Ghetto Boy.”
Ultimately, the lead singer doesn’t give enough to produce actual affect in the listener, so “Wake Up!” will fail to induce in listeners the change to which it aspires. That being said, greats like Marvin Gaye and Baby Huey are difficult acts to follow, so much so that perhaps this project was doomed to fail. The album leaves one question: why must we be so insistent on using the standards of the past to motivate change in the present?
This article was originally published in the Tufts Daily on 10/18/2010.
With the official vote in from the Media Advocacy Board, I can now confidently and legitimately accept the position of public editor. Conceived back in 2008, the public editor position was created to encourage healthy, meaningful campus conversation by having someone outside the Tufts media universe provide critical opinions on what is written, how stories are reported and what crosses the line of community acceptability.
The idea of an ombudsman — an independent, critical entity expressing the views of media audiences — has been implemented by the country’s most popular media. Consider the New York Times, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, even ESPN, all of which have an office that basically calls out their bosses when they mess up. The position of the public editor is a testament to the organization of Tufts media, as well as their strength to truly open themselves up to criticism. Few other undergraduate bodies are willing to do so; in this regard, Tufts is on the cutting edge, and we should be proud.