Awarding Thievery

Based on my series 10 Bands You’ve Probably Never Heard, I’m sure it’s fairly obvious that I’m not a big fan of pop music. I never listen to music on the radio, and I couldn’t care less about Katy Perry or Rihanna’s latest. Yawn.

I have Kanye West’s latest album from 2013, Yeezus. I’ve tried listening to it more than once and it’s absolutely awful. Black Skinhead is the only almost listenable song (I can almost listen to the whole thing before skipping it). The whole album is so auto-tuned that I’m not even sure that Kanye West is a real person and not a robot.

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I also have Nas’ penultimate effort, Life Is Good, which for some reason, brings all the background noise to the front and drowns his voice entirely. Who did the mixing on this? It’s terrible. Why are the violins louder than his voice?

I have the latest Daft Punk, too, which swept the Grammy Awards in 2013. I admit that Get Lucky is a catchy song, but it’s also predictable and a far cry from the sound that made Daft Punk famous in the first place.

I bring forth these examples to prove that I do, in fact, try to listen to popular music; I just find it boring and so auto-tuned as to be unrecognizable as a human voice.

I didn’t watch the Grammy Awards last night, but I heard about them this morning. It seems that they were swept by Sam Smith. His song, Stay With Me, that raked in all that Grammy bling, including Song of the Year, was partially stolen. Sam Smith acknowledged it when he agreed to pay royalties:

The settlement reportedly included a 12.5% writing credit to both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne (ELO). The song’s credit on the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) now lists Smith, Petty, Lynne, and Jimmy Napes as the chief songwriters.

Smith said, “I am 22 and I’ve never heard the song.” He’s never heard a multi-platinum song that has never stopped getting radio play, has been covered 20 times by everyone from Pearl Jam to Johnny Cash, and used in everything from presidential campaigns to sports arenas in the more than 22 years it’s been around.

The Grammy for Song of The Year was awarded to Jimmy Napes, William Phillips and Sam Smith, with no mention of Lynne or Petty, either by Sam Smith or the Recording Academy.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Bill Freimuth, the Recording Academy’s senior vice president of awards, said this before the show:

Since Lynne and Petty did not do any new writing for this work, we are considering their original work to have been interpolated. Lynne and Petty will not be considered nominees nor will they be considered GRAMMY recipients, should the song win. Rather, they would be given certificates to honor their participation in the work, just as any other writers of sampled or interpolated work.

Meanwhile, Tom Petty has never won a Grammy for either Song of the Year or Record of the Year, and Sam Smith now has more Grammy awards than Tom Petty has won in his entire career.

This is hardly the first time that a major American awards show has congratulated plagiarism.

If you’re familiar with this blog, at this point, you’re probably going to want to roll your eyes, since I’m going to talk about my favorite example of awarding thievery, The Departed.

I watched that movie in 2006 not long after it was released. As I was watching, I had a strange sense of déjà vu that I had seen it before. It took about 30 minutes into its tedious 151 minute run-time to realize that The Departed was, in actuality, one of my favorite Hong Kong movies, Infernal Affairs.

Infernal Affairs has a better cast, it’s shorter (by 50 longass minutes) and best of all, it’s original. I’ll take Andy Lau or Tony Chiu Wai Leung any day over Leonardo DiCraprio. Most of you probably have no idea who they are even though they’re hugely successful Hong Kong movie stars.

Let’s strip all the best acting, picture, editing, directing, etc. awards, and just deal with the thievery.

The Departed won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and it was nominated for the best screenplay at the Golden Globes where there was zero mention that it was adapted from Infernal Affairs. It also won or was nominated for best screenplay at twenty other awards shows, out of which, eight of them don’t mention that it was adapted from another source at all. Over 40% of its writing awards and nominations fail to mention that it was not original and it already existed as another movie released only four years prior. But, that movie wasn’t in English, so I guess it doesn’t count.

The Departed‘s writer William Monahan contributed 50 unnecessary minutes which dragged things out by adding lots more ‘splaining, because Muricans are dumb and couldn’t possibly follow a plot unless we’re spoon fed. There was little mention of the movie’s real writers, Alan Mak and Felix Chong, who by the way, won a ton of Asian awards for their original writing, but none in America.

Go watch Infernal Affairs and tell me it’s not a better movie. I’ll disagree every time. To be fair though, perhaps had I not known what was going to happen in The Departed–a supposedly new movie when I watched it–before it happened, I might not hate it so much. It was the last Scorsese movie I ever watched.

End of The Departed rant.

So, yeah, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear that Sam Smith won a ton of awards for a song already written by someone else. Nor was I surprised to hear that he didn’t even acknowledge Tom Petty or Jeff Lynne (who was there) any of the times he was on stage accepting awards. Disappointed, yes, but not terribly surprised.

It seems the American public doesn’t care about creativity or originality. Most people don’t even know that a lot of their beloved pop idols’ songs–starting with Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time all the way to Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off–were actually written by a 43-year-old Swedish dude. Max Martin has written more number-one hits than anyone besides Lennon and McCartney, plus, 58 top ten hits in the United Kingdom and 51 in the United States, yet no one knows who he is.

A middle-aged man wrote Katy Perry’s I Kissed A Girl and no one cares.

Kinda puts a different spin on it, eh?
Kinda puts a different spin on it, eh?

So, y’all go on with your popular stuff. Buy yet another pale, unoriginal imitation. I’ll keep listening to bands who write their own songs and watch movies you’ll probably never see until they’re remade into Murican English for no goddamn reason. Just keep on leaving Tom Petty and me out of your celebrations of theft and unoriginality.

6 Things American TV Shows Should Stop Doing


I don’t have cable and haven’t had for about eight or nine years now. I have a digital antenna, but I’m too lazy to hook it up, so I don’t even get network television, which means I missed all of the Olympics. I don’t even know who won.

Anyway, I haven’t watched American television in a very long time. I’ve recently been into watching television shows, because they allow me to not watch television while watching television. The result of getting an iPad is that I have the TV on in the background while I’m doing something else. You don’t generally have to pay all that much attention to television shows.

I’ve been watching foreign shows, a lot of them BBC, like Copper (BBC America), Ripper Street, Whitechapel, Sherlock, the Aussie show, Underbelly, etc. But, I’ve watched all of the newer non-American shows I can find and most of the older ones, too. It’s either watch all of the ninety different versions of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple or find something else, so that leaves American television. Sigh.

I will say that some American television isn’t half bad. I’ve even watched some American shows that made me put down the iPad, like Game Of Thrones, Sons Of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, and Hell On Wheels, but the good shows are few and far between.

This is a list of a few things I’ve noticed about American television that they really should stop doing. There are spoilers, but they’re all contained in the examples. If you are worried about spoilers, don’t read the example bit.

The “Oh, shit! We’re canceled!” cliffhanger

Canceling shows seems to happen a lot with American television. Television shows are expensive and studios are greedy. If shows aren’t making enough money right now, they get canceled, regardless of whether they’ll be a hit later or not. Television is a business like any other.

The problem is that these shows are canceled mid-season. Instead of building story arcs over the course of a season or the entire show, they can only write in bursts of fits and starts, because they never know when they’ll be canceled. It sucks for us, the viewers, because it means the writing is compromised.

Imagine you’re writing a novel. You’re about 2/3 through it when someone tells you that you only have one day to finish it. Oh shit! You can either choose to sloppily wrap it up in a few pages, not at all the way you wanted to, or you can choose not to compromise your artistic integrity and leave a cliffhanger… forever.

Example: Firefly


Fortunately, Firefly was able to have a feature-length movie to wrap it all up, but it just wasn’t the same. The show ended with a confusing wimper and that’s unfortunate, because as far as sci-fi television shows go, aside from the terrible title song, it was one of the best.

The “Oh shit! We thought we were canceled but we’re not” weird-ass storylines

Imagine you’re writing that novel again. You’re about 2/3 through it when someone tells you that you only have one day to finish it. Oh shit! So, you wrap it up as best you can. Then, that same someone tells you that you can finish writing it after all. Hooray! However, you’ve already written the compromised ending and you’re not allowed to change it. You have to start from where you left it and continue. Uh, what?

It makes for some pretty damn confusing viewing. You have all your characters going their separate ways and saying goodbyes, only to have the next episode act as if nothing had happened at all. It’s like waking up hungover and naked next to your roommate and choosing never to speak of it ever, but we all know it happened.

Example: Leverage


When I had the flu, my sister gave me this one to watch. It’s pretty good. It’s suspenseful, dramatic and funny. It goes a little top-heavy on the interpersonal relationships for my liking, but there’s enough other stuff in there to keep my interest. Halfway through season 3, they were informed they were canceled. Then, they were told, they weren’t canceled after all! Move along. Nothing to see here!

This push me/pull me destroyed the flow of the show and ruined the whole season. The worst part is that, towards the end of season 3, they really were canceled, so they had to do the weird wrap up again and it’s awful. I’d recommend watching seasons 1 & 2 though.

The ridiculously obvious product placement

I don’t mind unobtrusive product placement–characters usually have to drive some sort of car or drink some sort of beverage. That’s not the kind of product placement I’m talking about though. I’m talking about the kind where they weave it into the show. When characters stop talking about the plot and talk about the awesome features of the new Toyota Prius, that’s a problem.

If you’re not a car salesman, have you ever had a conversation that went something like, “This roomy, newly designed Toyota Prius, rated Car & Driver’s best hybrid, has voice activated GPS”? No, if you really were in a Prius talking about the GPS, you’d say something like, “Awesome GPS on this thing.” You wouldn’t mention what kind of car you’re in because the person you’re talking to just got into the car. They had ample opportunity to notice it was a Prius from the outside and nobody cares what Car & Driver thinks unless they’re car shopping.

Example: House Of Cards remake


Netflix’s House Of Cards remake is a commercial-free commercial. It was about as covert with their product placement as a ninja decked in a lighted, bright red Coca-Cola suit with bells wearing squeaky clown shoes, and one of those hat headlamps while singing the Coca-Cola jingle through a megaphone. That is to say, not very subtle at all. No self-respecting ninja would do that.

This is no way to ninja, son. image from
This is no way to ninja, son.
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Plus, the original House Of Cards is way better. The writing is better. The acting is better. The story is better. The characters are delightfully evil and there is absolutely no product placement. Boooo on the House Of Cards remake. I didn’t even care enough to finish season one, let alone watch season two.

But, the House Of Cards remake starts off as a pale imitation of the original and never gets any better. It’s the kind of show I don’t even care enough to finish watching. If it’s stupid from the get-go, it’s really not harm-no foul since I’ve made a minimal investment. That kind of show doesn’t irritate me as much as another kind–the gradual decline into stupidity.

The gradual decline into stupidity

Premises are hard to maintain. Most television show synopses are a sentence or two. It’s how they sell it to the studio. It’s the same sentence you see on Netflix or IMDb that makes you want or not want to watch it.

The problem is, a lot of shows don’t really have much substance beyond the original premise. They may have a season or two written or in the works, but beyond that, due to the “Oh shits” mentioned above, they don’t really know where it will go. If somehow, they manage not to get canceled, to keep from being repetitive, they have to venture into stranger and stranger territory, farther away from the original synopsis.

Because shows with viewers make money, they can’t just cancel them when they have nothing left to say. Instead of going out with a bang like Breaking Bad, they just keep flogging that dead horse and it gradually devolves into stupidity.

Example: Bones


This show starts off kind of far-fetched, but the science and characters are interesting enough to make me continue watching it. The first couple seasons of that show are actually rather good. There’s a good balance between drama and funny.

Then it gradually gets dumber. They turn one of the main characters into a cannibalistic killer, yet he keeps coming back. They replace him with an ever revolving cast of characters, none of whom are as good as the original character. They break up a couple with three sentences worth of discussion and then bring them back together. There are comas and dream sequences.

Dream sequences really are the death knell for any form of entertainment. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road starts with a dream sequence if that’s any indication. Bones just slowly got so dumb I couldn’t watch it anymore and that’s a damn shame.

The Slaughterhouse Five

You read the synopsis for a show and think to yourself, “Alright, that seems like something that might be reasonably interesting to not watch while ipadding.” So, you start watching it. It goes along like the synopsis for a while, and then it takes a Slaughterhouse Five turn.

Slaughterhouse Five is my least favorite Vonnegut book. I sum it up with “…and suddenly, ALIENS!” and “Bah.” Unlike the gradual decline into stupidity, a Slaughterhouse Five show is a sucker-punch. It starts off one way, then takes a turn into the supernatural, paranormal or otherwise odd with no warning.

Example: Alias


The IMDb synopsis for Alias: “Sydney Bristow is an international spy recruited out of college and trained for espionage and self-defense.”

The Netflix synopsis for Alias:Jennifer Garner redefined armed and dangerous in this spy series as a double agent CIA operative on a mission to destroy a global crime syndicate.”

Seems like a spy show, right? She’s a double agent spy. Alright then. Do you see anything in there about 500-year-old prophecies, body doubles, mechanical hearts, immortality, angel-like figures, pulling strange things from tubes implanted in her while she was missing for two years during which her boyfriend got married to someone else?

No, you don’t. This is not a spy show. It’s a dumb show where dumb things happen. Had I known it had preternatural elements up front, I might not have minded, but there is no mention of that tomfoolery. It sucker-punches you into strange and hopes you don’t mind.

Her best friend and roommate is killed and replaced with a body double and Ms. Superspy doesn’t even notice. If some other person pretended to be my best friend without any of her memories and personality, I’d notice and I’m not even a paranoid double agent who’s trained to notice things like that. Some spy you are, honey.

I only made it through the first season and a couple of episodes from season 2. I can only imagine what happens in season 5. I would be willing to bet that there’s an episode where “…and suddenly, ALIENS!” happens. Bah.

The romance that drags on forever

For some reason, shows about spies, dead bodies, forensic science and science fiction, hell, even shows about mass murderers (I’m looking at you, Dexter) all feel the need to have a love interest. Why? Why do we need love interests in everything? Love isn’t really interesting. Science is interesting.

I tolerate all the interpersonal drama from television shows because real life has interpersonal drama, but never once, in all my years on this planet, have I ever seen mutual attraction take five or six years to pan out. If two people like each other in real life, they tend to do something about it. They don’t drag it out for half a decade before they even kiss. They make with the bang bang and either get married or break up. It’s really rather simple.

Examples: Bones, Alias, Firefly, etc.

Why is it that these shows feel that it’s okay to drag a potential romance through every possible mud puddle along the way from characters living out a romantic fantasy while in a coma (Bones) to waking up two years later to find your boyfriend thought you were dead and got married to some other hooer (Alias)? Real life doesn’t work that way and if it does, it’s an anomaly.

I realize that part of the reason some people even watch these shows is because they like the unfulfilled chemistry between characters and that would be lost if they got together, but really, people, dragging out flirtation over a decade is dumb. Get a room already.

All images in this post are from IMDb.

Tattoo Trends That Should Stop

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The worst trend in the 00s that has continued into the 10s was everyone, and quite literally, their mother, getting tattooed.

Tattoos should be personal. They shouldn’t be part of a trend. Seriously, when did trends in tattoos become a thing? Tattoo trends shouldn’t be a thing. Tattoos should be completely personal and completely you. You shouldn’t get one just because your favorite celebrity has one. You should get one because it means something to you. Today, I’m going to talk about my least favorite tattoo trends.

Author’s note: I’m not sure why so many of you care what I think and troll me on it. I’ve had a bunch of strangers call me out, because people should be able to get any tattoo they want. You know what? I AGREE. This post is about trends, as in people getting tattoos just because they’re trendy. I have no problem with people getting any tattoo for personal reasons. That’s pretty much what I said in the previous paragraph, but no one reads intros I guess, so I’m spelling it out here.


White guy sporting a tribal tattoo. Image from
White guy sporting a tribal tattoo.
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Otherwise known as the frat tat because it was most common among young, white college boys. Fortunately, you see less and less of this lately, but there’s still a ridiculous amount of people walking around with gigantic ugly-ass tribal tattoos. Unless you are part of an actual tribe, like Polynesian, Maori or Yakuza, don’t get a tribal tattoo.

Dream catchers

Miley Cyrus and her dumb dream catcher tattoo. Image from
Miley Cyrus and her dumb dream catcher tattoo.
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Unless you are part of the Ojibwa Nation, don’t get this tattoo. It seems most common among young, white girls. Haven’t we stolen enough from Native Americans? Must we turn their culture into dumb tattoos as well?  Thanks, Miley Cyrus.

Bows on thighs

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Otherwise known as an easy way to pick a stripper out of a crowd. There are few other tattoos that make you look as trampy as this one. The worst part of this tattoo is that women who have it feel the need to show it off all the time by wearing ultra-short shorts and skirts. This is not cute.

One word statements

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Really? You need a reminder to breathe? Your body does that automatically. Unless you are on life support, breathing is an autonomic function.

Any other statements that can be summed up with one word, e.g. love, believe, live, strength, hope, etc., should be easy enough to remember without having to tattoo them on your body. Just sayin’.


Quote Tattoos Tumblr_24
Did this guy really get Whitesnake lyrics tattooed on him forever?

Having writing on you sucks, because people want to read it. Unless you enjoy people grabbing you and trying to read it–and they will just grab you–don’t get words tattooed on you. Besides, getting someone else’s words tattooed on you seems rather gauche, but maybe that’s just the writer in me talking.

Chinese characters

In case you can't read that, his tattoo says, "At the end of the day, this is an ugly boy."
In case you can’t read that, his tattoo says, “At the end of the day, this is an ugly boy.”

You know how many Chinese people there are? As of 2012, there were 1.351 billion Chinese people in China and that’s not counting people of Chinese descent in the rest of the world. That means that there are at least 1.351 billion people who can read your tattoo while you probably can’t.


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This is one of the oldest tattoo designs. The swallow tattoo was a symbol used historically by sailors to show off their sailing experience usually tattooed on the chest, hands or neck. According to legend, a sailor tattooed with one swallow had traveled over 5,000 nautical miles (9,260 km) and a sailor with two swallows had traveled 10,000 nautical miles (18,520 km).

Unless you are a sailor, this is a dumb tattoo for anyone to get since it’s got fuck all to do with anything if you’re not a sailor.


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Like the swallow tattoo, this is also a nautical tattoo showing off your sailing chops. Popeye had two anchors on his forearms, because he was a sailor. Unless you are a sailor, this is a dumb tattoo because it has fuck all to do with anything if you’re not a sailor.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have a badly drawn anchor tattoo on my ankle. It was done by my boyfriend in the tattoo shop where he worked on one slow, drunken afternoon. My boyfriend was a piercer, not a tattoo artist and it shows. It’s my worst tattoo.



As Tyler Durden wisely said, “Sticking feathers up your butt doesn’t make you a chicken.” Tattooing wings on your back doesn’t make you an angel or a bird or a plane or whatever else it is that you’re trying to symbolize with wings. Those wings will not make you fly. If you’re going to get wings tattooed on you, get the rest of the animal as well.

Finger tattoos

You got a mustache tattooed between your fingers so when you hold your index finger under your nose, it looks like you have a mustache! Aren’t you so clever and original! Except not…

screenshot of image seach for "mustache finger tattoo"
screenshot of image search for “mustache finger tattoo”

Not cute, not clever and so very much not original. Is that a child with a tattoo near the bottom right?

Tattoos on children

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Image from

Speaking of child tattoos, I don’t care who you are, don’t ever tattoo a child ever. You do realize that will be there forever and they’re not done growing yet, right? Personally, I don’t think anyone under the age of, say, 30 years old is capable of getting a tattoo they’ll be happy with forever.



Portrait tattoos are awful. Even if they’re done well, they’re awful. Most of them are not done well. When they’re awful, they’re really awful, like the picture above. Skin has a tendency to move and sag as you grow old. In a few decades, that ugly baby will look like a melting ugly baby. Don’t get a person tattooed on your person. If you really want to permanently put your child on your body, tattoo their name.


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There’s no way that tattoo means anything other than decoration. Decorative tattoos are fine, but whenever I see one of these, I can’t help but think it’s sad. You could tattoo literally anything and your imagination extends only to a piece of jewelry.

Dollar signs

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image from

Specifically tattooed on the palm of the hand. These tattoos are the gold chains and spinning rims of today. It’s not clever. It’s not original. It’s materialistic and dumb. I cannot stress this enough, people, that will be there forever.

“Funny” tattoos


Have you ever heard a joke more than once and still thought it was funny? Well, imagine having a joke tattooed on you forever.

The tramp stamp


Otherwise known as lower-back tattoos. It’s sad really, because it doesn’t matter what you tattoo there, it’s trampy. You could have “grandma” tattooed there and it will still make you seem like a ho bag. The only way having your lower back done isn’t trampy is if it’s part of a larger piece.

Face tattoos

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Otherwise known as the “I’m unemployed” tattoo. Unless you are a circus performer or a tattoo artist and it doesn’t matter whether you have crap on your face, or you are part of a culture, like the Maori, where face tattoos are a thing, don’t get your face tattooed. It’s not cute. It doesn’t make you look like a rebel. Only a small percentage of people think it makes you look more attractive and those people probably have crap on their faces, too.


I’m sure there are more trends out there I’d like to bitch about, but I think I’ve bitched enough for today. What’s your least favorite tattoo trend?

Where Is The Scary?

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I suppose I am officially old now. You know why? Because I don’t get the next generation’s music.

There was a time, most of my youth, when I spent the vast majority of my free time searching for new music. Finding new awesome bands I’d never heard before was like a hobby or a part-time job. I still search for new music, but not as obsessively as I once did. Nowadays, most of the new music I find is from artists I’m already familiar with, have ties to artists I’m already familiar with or are in genres I’m already familiar with. There’s a lot of familiarity there.

I have incredibly diverse taste in music. A lot of people say that, but I really mean it. I have over 30,000 tracks in my library from nearly every decade, genre and country on earth. Some of it is sung in languages I don’t even speak, but I sing along anyway. Sorry for mangling your language, Japan.

This morning, as I was on my way to work, I heard an interview on the NPR with the guy from The Shins and Danger Mouse who just finished a new album. As I was listening to snippets of this new music interspersed throughout the interview, it struck me that it’s not scary at all.

While I’m not commenting on the music itself, it seems derivative to me. There’s nothing in there that is scary. They use synthesizers for crying out loud. Synthesizers are not scary.

I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell I’m even talking about and I’m not sure I can really voice it effectively anyway, but I’ll try.

I would expect, since I’m no longer in my 20s, that I would find the next generation’s music to be terrifying, because throughout the entirety of the 20th century, that’s what happened.

Older people in the 1920s were horrified by flappers with their short hair, short skirts and weird dances.

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The older generation in the 1950s was appalled by Elvis Presley’s gyrating hips.

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Parents were terrified of their teenagers’ weird Beatlemania obsession.

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Those same Beatlemaniacs were horrified by Woodstock.

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Hippies didn’t understand heavy metal. Disco was scared of punk. Punk was weirded out by death metal. And so it goes.

This is what I listened to when I was a teenager. This is my generation, the generation of 80s hardcore…

A new, faster, more aggressive breed of metal…

And rap that was so in your face that people would lock their car doors if you played it next to them.

My parents were pants-shittingly terrified of the music coming from my radio and I guess that’s what I’ve been waiting for. I’ve been waiting to become the old-fashioned adult who is terrified of the music that kids listen to these days, but in all these years, it hasn’t happened and I’m not sure why.

The 80s were about pushing boundaries in every genre. The 90s were about grunge and alternative. The 00s were just the greatest hits of the previous century: swing dancing came into fashion again along with day-glo 80s colors, grunge, and even hippies made a comeback. It’s now four years into the 10s and I’m still waiting for the next genuine and original trend to emerge.

Granted, it’s hard to be scarier than hardcore, thrash metal and gangster rap, but where is the scare? Where is the music that makes me feel old because I just don’t understand? Where is the latest new–not derivative, but genuinely new–type of music?

It could be that it’s out there and I’m just not looking hard enough, but there’s nothing scary, or even all that original, about Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Pitbull, Beyoncé or Pharrell. And this auto tune bullshit has to stop. There’s not a single pop tune in the last five years that I’ve heard and thought was blow the doors off awesome and/or pushed boundaries.

Or am I just too old to get it? Younger generation, you’re not scaring me with your music; you’re boring me. Kids these days. Get off my lawn.