Friday Face-Offs: Firework — WINNER!

“Pied Beauty,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

Friday Face-Offs: Firework – 2nd Place

Confession time: I’ve never been able to get into dubstep. I associate it with baggy-backpacked weirdos dancing in a low, scooping motion while wearing those super-double-wide blousy blue jeans. (Dubstep originated in London, the inscrutable metropolis where people dance to music you only hear about 20 years later — “Really? You guys used to dance to the sound of trains colliding underwater?”)

For dubstep people, the sine qua non of sine qua non-ism is the bass drop:

Many dubstep tracks incorporate one or more “bass drops”, a characteristic inherited from drum ‘n’ bass. Typically, the percussion will pause, often reducing the track to silence, and then resume with more intensity, accompanied by a dominant subbass (often passing portamento through an entire octave or more …).

Okay, I do like bass drops. I like any music that gets quiet and then relaunches itself with redoubled force. Who doesn’t? It probably has something to do with when we were monkeys and had to shake trees in order to get coconuts to fall out of them: You’d shake the tree, and then there’d be a quiet beat where you’d wonder if there were any coconuts left in the tree, and then suddenly there’d be coconuts falling every which way and you’d feel a surge of energy and optimism.

Now listen to this video. Listen closely. Access your tree-shaking monkey-mind. Can you tell when the bass drops? Because, LOL, it’s really, really subtle.

Seriously, (1:02) made me laugh out loud:

Head nodding very hard much? Because that beat is sounding pretty weak. Small amount of coconuts falling out of the sky, LOL. And yes, it sounds incredible through a good stereo system. Believe me, I made sure of that.

Basically, if you tried transcribing that bass drop to musical notation, you’d have to draw a five-dimensional explosion moving sideways through time.

So first I listened to the song, and I was like, “Well, obviously that bass drop is the toughest thing I’ve ever heard, but I wonder if actual dubstep people like it?”

Let’s check the youtube comments. Umm … are the dubstep people feeling that drop very hard? Umm, LOL, I’m not sure. From the comments:

At 0:50 – 1:00 I was getting ready to jizz for the drop,and well…anyone got paper towels?

The drop sounds like a transformer orgasm!

its all about that feeling when the drop sends shivers straight through your spine!!!!!!

Bassdrop = child birth.

My favorite comment:

0:00-1:02 — “Oh, I bet this isn’t even going to be that great, just some guy that thinks he knows what dubstep is.” 1:03 — I cried, like, literally.

FRIDAY- FACE OFFS!!! Get those coconuts!!!

Okay guys, the winning video is next. Please promise me you’ll watch the whole thing. You will not regret it, I swear to you. Please just watch the next video!

Friday Face-Offs: Firework – 3rd Place – TIE!!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have a TIE for third place!

This video makes me really happy, what can I say? “Firework” only has four chords, but somehow this version has 10,000 chords. And you have to love that. And one other thing you have to love is the guitarist’s complete existential breakdown at the end of the song.

Oh! And one other thing you have to love is the unholy light shining through the bedroom door.

Now, as for our other third-place winner …. not much to say, other than: “Attention Merriam-Webster Dictionary Company, it is time to revise the definition of ‘Smooth,’ since it has obviously been updated for all time by these four gentlemen in their cramped basement, especially the guy in the orange shirt, who should probably have his own separate dictionary devoted entirely to him.”


Guys, I think it’s fair to say I have an ironic sensibility. I’m a product of my culture, and ever since reading Richard Rorty’s “Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity” I’ve believed that an ironic worldview is the one that makes the most (moral and aesthetic) sense. But the one thing I love more than irony is the complete lack of irony. And that’s what this video is all about! And that’s why I’m fuckin’ loving it for all time!!!

From the youtube comments:

this has just made me rape the replay button..

i have been teased and ridiculed since i was twelve,

i am sixteen now and it hasnt ended, people still make fun of me,

i was raped when i was twelve and after that, people called me all sorts of names, telling me it was my fault..i started cutting my wrists thinking that no one cared, my mom wanted to send me away, because she thought i was sick, (mentally). Hearing your beautiful voices sing this song, makes me feel hopeful for tomorrow. Thanks

That’s what I’m talking about.

FRIDAY FACE-OFFS! Even brighter than the moon. Now, get ready for the next video — the 2nd place video — because it is about to get soooo heavy up in here.

Friday Face-Offs: Firework – 4th Place

First of all, I didn’t realize that energy-drink companies had actually started producing humans, but there you go. Second of all …. best camera tripod of all time??? Third of all, check out the girl on the left at (0:20), when she doesn’t know the words and just goes “luh-luh-luh,” THEN gets momentarily obsessed with her hair (like “OMG I’m gonna be on Friday Face-Offs!”), and THEN gets back on board for the chorus! THAT is how winners roll in the moment.

I also have to mention this video, because it’s visually stunning, in a weird way. It looks like a Terrence Malick movie. Or a Rothko painting rotated 90 degrees:

I have this painting of St. Francis of Assisi by Francisco de Zurbarán taped to my laptop, and this video kind of has the same vibe for me … reverent and ineffable and ominous.

Friday Face-Offs! “You’ve tried the rest, now try the best.” Three more videos to go!

Friday Face-Offs: Firework – 5th Place

I’m having a hard time choosing between all the “Firework” drums covers, so let’s have a smorgasbord.

First, this guy:

Rocking the big-ass Gretsch kick drum! Enough with all those tiny-ass tubular kick drums that look like floor toms lying on their sides — my man is bringing the big ol’ Bonham kick.

It was during the first build-up (1:00) that I started to worry about the fate of that ride cymbal. He’s getting so into that build-up, beating up on that snare so hard, I was like, “That poor ride cymbal is about to get demolished.”

(1:15) I was right. As always. (I’m really good at predicting whether a drummer is about to go completely ape-shit during a song’s chorus, and I’m especially good at knowing exactly which drums and cymbals are in for a rough ride. Somebody please tell the Macarthur Foundation about this amazing talent of mine.)

But as much as I like watching ride cymbals getting knocked around the room, my favorite moment in this video is (2:39) — watch his face. That is the face of a young man finally realizing just exactly how freakin’ hard he is rocking.

Next we have this young woman:

For me, it’s all about (0:50 – 0:55). When she reaches behind her, you know she’s turning the music up.

Umm, I wonder if any shy emo-boys at her school are in love with her very much? “I really like the color of your drum set. Do you want to maybe, like to, umm, go record shopping at the college town 80 miles southeast of where we live? Or maybe we could just study for Ms. Lambert’s trigonometry test.”

Then there’s this fellow:

I was sad that he did the first build-up on cymbals instead of on the snare. I was thinking, “Oh man, why waste such a great crescendo on a bunch of swishy-swashiness?” Well, I guess he heard me, because the next build-up is preeeeeety bad! (2:00) Arrggggh why weren’t his toms mic’d???

And now, our final drum cover. It’s grown-up time.

I know, I know: He makes bad build-up choices. He just messes around on the cymbals instead of whippin’ ass on the snare. But really, how are you not loving this guy? This guy is the guy you want in your band. Practice scheduled for 3:30? “I’ll be there at 3:15.” Also: “Do you guys mind if I play my balls off for three hours and never break a sweat? Because that’s kinda my style.” Look at how freakin’ focused the wear on his snare drum is. He’s hitting it in the exact same spot every time. HE DROPS A DOUBLE-KICK-DRUM INTO “FIREWORK,” FOR GOODNESS SAKE, WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE CROWN HIM THE KING OF ROCK & ROLL ALREADY???

Friday Face-Offs: Firework – 6th Place

Well guys, it took a while, but I finally found the coolest person on the internet.

SPOILER: “Firework” by Katy Perry is comprised of four chords, and they’re all pretty standard chords, and you might even be familiar with them from other pop songs. (Sorry to burst your bubble, all you jazzheads who were hoping to see a bunch of diminished ninth fraction-chords.)

Anyway, after watching this video, you no longer have any excuse not to play “Firework” at your next campfire/hootenanny/John Zorn tribute band rehearsal.

I’m not gonna lie — this is how I learned how to play “Firework.” So sue me, I have a horrible ear and I can never tell how the heck all those crazy pop-kids make their wacky music!

Anyhoo, this woman is totally lovely and charming and I think she should be president of America for at least 1,000 years.

Friday Face-Offs: EACH ONE, TEACH ONE.

Friday Face-Offs: Firework – 7th Place

Celtic harp time!

Oh I’m sorry, did you not like that particular Celtic harp version of “Firework?” Okay, then, try this one:

Now can I ask my question about harps? How the hell do people learn how to play them? Seriously. Harps have like 100 strings on them. They have more things to keep track of than any other instrument. It’s crazy.

People think trumpets are so great, and so hard to play: “I can’t believe how talented Wynton Marsalis is, playing the trumpet.” PLEASE. Look at a trumpet:

How many buttons does a trumpet have? Three? Wow, three whole buttons to press! How will I ever keep track of all those buttons? If a trumpet was a harp, it would have 100 buttons and be the size of nine tubas welded together. Harps are crazy and anyone who can play one is a musical genius. And a firework. You know I’m right. THE END.

Friday Firework-Offs! Next video coming up soon …

Friday Face-Offs: Firework – 8th Place

BOOM! Fireworks exploding every which way!!! Fireworks made out of HEAVY METAL, that is!

I think my favorite thing about this video is the right-hand sector of the quadrant, where the guys just stand around looking like total bad-asses for 90% of the video, while their harder-working doppelgangers over on the left-hand side do all the work.

Oh, and also how rocking it is. Especially the singer. I think he’s singing “European metal style.” Seriously, this is good and you should listen to it so as to expand your horizons:

FRIDAY FACE-OFFS! Baby, you’re a firework.


Friday Face-Offs is BACK!!! Enough pencil sharpening, enough restaurant-show recapping, enough Relationshaping … let’s do this!!!

I’m still feeling guilty about the last Friday Face-Offs. Yes I have read everyone’s feedback. “Replay” was not the best choice for a FFO. From now on, I will only choose the most butt-kickin’ jams to celebrate!

To that end …


This week’s song is “Firework” by Katy Perry. Listen to the original here:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am still in the midst of the long, torturous process of making my peace with Katy Perry. But I can’t let my unresolved issues re: Ms. Kerry’s oeuvre and sensibility blind me to the fact that “Firework” is a pop masterpiece. (How many hit songs have the confidence to let the drums completely drop out for multiple measures? That’s balls.) A few months ago I was at a bar with some friends and everyone was dancing to pop hits and then “Firework” came on and everyone started jumping up and down and singing along and I was like, “Ohhhh shit, we got a stone jam in here,” and it was really fun. And also I think the song is about how when you’re a teenager and everyone’s giving you shit, you should just believe in yourself and explode lightning out of your chest and live your life however you want. I can get behind that message. (For teenagers only, though, not for adults. Adults have to be normal.)

Anyway, it’s a great song and I’ve got some incredible cover versions lined up for you, so yes I am the best blogger! Thank you, thank you!