I’ve now recorded 52 episodes of my weekly hour-long podcast. I’ve dropped one every Thursday (with perhaps two weeks off for Thanksgiving and Christmas) since a year ago.
My podcast currently has 30 questions that I ask my guests. (They’re listed in the link above.) The show is dually entitled, “The Funny Indian Show Podcast” and “The Tangent Show.” The latter has a double entendre, indicating that we go off on tangents and that I’m a tan… gent.
Since we do veer away from the questions or take one and run with it for minutes on end, we don’t always cover them all. And that’s fine. The questions start relatively easy and then become more difficult. The idea isn’t to stump my guests but rather to banter with them and then try to shed some light on the things in this world that I’m trying to figure out.
Someday, I’ll probably do an episode in which I provide my take on the questions. But for now, I thought it’d be neat for me to take them one-by-one on this blog. Here’s #1.
I redid the numbering of the questions and may even do so again. But for now, this is question two (and yes, sometimes each question contains multiple queries within it). Here goes:
2. What kind of music do you like? Which artist or album speaks to you? What’s your ish?
( “Ish” is slang for “sh*t,” i.e., what’s the stuff that you really love?)
As it is for many people, music is something that is near and dear to my heart. I once recounted my Record of Records, which detailed every album I had loved throughout my life (reprised below). Despite its length, it routinely gets a surprisingly high number of hits.
Many comics are failed (or to put it nicely, “aspiring”) musicians. One difference between a comedy and a music show (concert) is the crowd will do a musician’s job for him and sing the song. Lucky. Comedy audiences don’t do that for us.
I could go on and on in this post, as well, as it’s such an expansive topic. But allow me to provide some quick lists, sprinkled with some commentary. So, this represents 10 ways to answer the question: What kind of music do you like?
- Song: “Stairway to Heaven”
- Album: The Wall
- Act: The Beatles
Most Generic Answers to These Queries
Rajiv’s Above List
Seriously. Those are some fairly unoriginal answers. There’s a difference between “best” and “favorite,” the former implying a consensus and the latter one’s personal taste. It just so happens that I tend to agree with a lot of people who would provide these same replies.
Here’s an interesting paradox: “Stairway to Heaven” is the best song ever but is not Led Zeppelin’s best song.
I went through a two-year period from senior year of high school through freshman year of college during which time I listened to LZ just about every day. As such a die-hard fan, I must say that my favorite LZ song is “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” My Beatles kick wasn’t as long as my Zeppelin one, but it was more intense. The Fab Four then displaced Zep as my favorite act.
The Wall is simply perfect. I love The Dark Side of The Moon, as well, but The Wall is sublime. You know how a lot of potheads have listened to Dark Side and watched The Wizard of Oz at the same time to see if they match up? And the same thing for Wish You Were Here and 2001: A Space Odyssey? Well, I simultaneously played The Wall by Pink Floyd and Off The Wall by Michael Jackson and… nothing happened. Guess they canceled each other out.
2. The Last 10 Songs I Matched on Shazam
I use the iPhone app, “Shazam,” a lot. When you hear a song, you open up the app, hold up your phone, and within seconds, the program tells you the title and artist. They need to make the same thing for people, because I forget their names all the time. Wouldn’t that be great? Someone you just can’t remember is walking towards you. You snap a picture and within seconds… “Oh, hey, Rob!” Somebody invent that. Call it “Who Dis?”
- “The King and All of His Men” – Wolf Gang
- “Perfect Strangers” – Deep Purple
- “Help Yourself” – Sad Brad Smith
- “Take Over Control” – Afrojack feat. Eva Simons
- “Pumped Up Kicks” – Foster The People
- “Tonight Tonight” – Hot Chelle Rae
- “Fake Plastic Trees” – Radiohead
- “99 Problems” – Hugo
- “PS., I Love You” – Curtis Mayfield
- “Silver Lining” – Rilo Kiley
3. My Pandora Stations
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Ray Charles
- Bruce Springsteen
- Jai Ho
- Blink 182
- The Killers
- TV on The Radio
- Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, & Sammy Davis, Jr.
- Van Morrison
- Beastie Boys
4. My Current iTunes Playlist
Ever since my old iPod crashed and I stopped using Limewire & switched to iTunes, my iPod isn’t quite as up-to-date. But for me, this is a fairly typical – and embarrassing – list. Two Shakira songs? Really?
- “Runaway” – Kanye West
- “Into The Mystic” – Van Morrison
- “Give Me One Good Reason” – blink-182
- “Going Away to College” – blink-182
- “Dumpweed” – blink-182
- “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” – Lauryn Hill
- “Might Just Let It Go” – Jack Johnson
- “Cupid’s Chokehold” – Gym Class Heroes
- “I Like That” – Richard Vission & Static Revenger feat. Luciana
- “I Rep That West” – Ice Cube
- “Exit Music (For a Film)” – Radiohead
- “Ready Steady Go” – Paul Oakenfold
- “Can I Have It Like That” – Pharrell feat. Gwen Stefani
- “Let’s Get Retarded” – The Black Eyed Peas
- “Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira
- “What’s Luv?” – Fat Joe feat. Ashanti & Ja Rule
- “Carry Out” – Timbaland feat. Justin Timberlake
- “Blow The Whistle” – Too Short
- “Mahi Ve” – Kal Ho Naa Ho
- “Headsprung” – LL Cool J
- “Waka Waka” – Shakira
- “Shut Up” – The Black Eyed Peas
- “Marjaani Marjaani Kasame” – Billu Barber
5. My Favorite Karaoke Songs
I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. I did take a few singing lessons in December as it’s something I always wanted to do. My problem is what is known as “pitch perception.” It’s just very difficult for me to stay in-tune. I can hear it (and was on-key for most of my years playing the viola in the Dorkestra) but I have a hard time replicating it. However, I’ll karaoke like a Filipino. Unlike dancing, I don’t need a drink quota to do it, either. Just gimme a mic. The last time was a few weeks ago on Fire Island, about 1.5 hours from NYC. I did several of my favorites, some of which I can actually halfway sing and some that are so ridiculous to watch me attempt that I just have to do them. I’ll let you try to picture which falls into which category.
- “I Think I Love You” – The Partridge Family
- “Teenage Dirtbag” – Wheatus
- “Runaway” – Kanye West
- “Without Me” – Eminem
- “The Way I Am” – Eminem
- “The Gambler” – Kenny Rogers
- “Bawitdaba” – Kid Rock
- “We Didn’t Start The Fire” – Billy Joel
- [Any Popular Rap Song circa 1989*]
- It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
- Bust A Move – Young MC
- Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice
- Wild Thing – Tone Loc
- U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer
6. Favorite Music (According to My Facebook Profile)
When people ask me what kind of music I listen to, I used to love to respond with “country and rap,” because those were the two people didn’t mean when they tried to be eclectic and answered, “everything.” That doesn’t really work anymore because:
- While Rap is actually a subset of Hip-Hop, hardly anyone calls it that these days.
- Everyone listens to hip-hop.
I would say my tastes are rather wide, though. And I think that as long as an artist is good at whatever s/he’s attempting to do, it can be good. Ke$ha, Britney Spears, and Justin Bieber make great pop. They’re not Chopin. And they’re not trying to be Chopin. Comedy is whatever makes you laugh. Music is whatever sounds good to you.
Stuff I Hate
Just as there’s a difference between “best” and “favorite,” and between “enjoyment” and “appreciation,” there’s a difference between “sucks” and “overrated.” The Black Eyed Peas have an almost magical ability to release alternatingly good and terrible tracks. But I’d never say they suck. Anyone that big doesn’t SUCK. Your friend’s garage band sucks. The Black Eyed Peas are overrated. Nickelback is good at what they do. Which is sucking.
Honestly, Nickelback makes Foreigner look like Led Zeppelin.
I don’t tend to listen to anything too hard-core, whether that’s heavy metal or rap or industrial (although I went through these phases). I don’t hate it – I just don’t really have a Virgil on stuff like that.
While I’ll intermittently listen to stations such as Bluegrass and Opera just for fun, I don’t know a ton about them. The genres I know well enough to hate are: most techno (especially trance), a lot of R&B (the great stuff is great but people like Anita Baker put me right to sleep), and most of all, Smooth Jazz. I’m not talking John Coltrane or Louis Armstrong, who obviously rule, but that elevator music crap with names like Watercolors on XM/Sirius Radio. I’d rather listen to Satanic Death Metal.
7. My Modes
I don’t really have moods. So, when a song comes on and I just like it, I’ll usually listen to it. It more depends on the “mode” I’m in. Usually…
- Reading/Thinking – Classical (in the vernacular; baroque and romantic are fine, too); Jazz (anything without words)
- Cleaning – Upbeat, fun stuff like the Beatles or punk (The Ramones, Weezer)
- Driving – Mashups like Girl Talk
- Raging (in the traditional sense of being pissed off; not partying): Eminem, NWA, Metallica, Tupac, and appropriately, Rage Against The Machine
- Balling – Hip-Hop
- Bawling – Any of the songs on The Definitive Sad Songs List
8. YouTube Playlist
I have an unfinished YouTube playlist of the coolest songs I know. Just tracks that I think are dope. Pull it up at work if you’re bored.
9. My XM/Sirius Presets
I’ll list them by # Channel Number – Name: Description (Notes, if applicable).
- #3 – 20 on 20: The Latest Pop Music and More (how I stay “hip”)
- #5 – ’50s on 5: ’50s Pop Hits (how I stay “hip,” referring to the body part)
- #9 – ’90s on 9: ’90s Pop Hits (*)
- #11 – KIIS: KIIS FM Los Angeles (how I stay connected to my city)
- #26 – Classic Vinyl: ’60s and ’70s Classic Rock (my “ish”)
- #33 – 1st Wave: Classic Alternative (to me, “alternative” is a philosophy, not a genre, but hey)
- #36 – Alt Nation: New Alternative Rock (how I stay in-touch w/ the hipsters)
- #44 – Hip-Hop Nation: Hip-Hop Hits (how I stay hip-hop)
- #45 – Shade 45: Eminem’s Uncut Hip-Hop Channel (tribute to my fave hip-hop artist)
- #46 – Backspin: Old Skool Rap (when rap was rap)
- #47 – The Heat: R&B Hits (for the ladies, whose hips don’t lie)
- #99: Raw Dog Comedy: Comedy Uncensored (my stuff actually plays on the other one, but hey)
*90s on 9 – The ’90s were not as good as the previous three decades. I’d say music peaked in the ’60s (probably in 1969) and has steadily declined since. But I like ’90s on 9 more than ’80s on 8 and ’70s on 7 and ’60s on 6. (Not sure what this past decade was called. The Naughts? The Oughts? I just called it “today,” because FM mix stations said they played “the best of the ’80s, ’90s, and today.”) Why do I like ’90s on 9 the best then, if I think the preceding decades had better music? Because I started listening to music consistently in 1985. So, I missed half the decade. I know pretty much all songs that came out on the radio since ’85, so there’s nostalgia attached to just about every ‘90s song. There was some crap in the ‘90s, though: If that was Better Than Ezra, I’d hate to hear Ezra.
10. Record of Records
As I mentioned above, here’s the list of albums that influenced my life, starting with the year I listened to them. I kept track only thru 2000.
- 1982: Michael Jackson – Thriller
- 1983: Various – [Country Compilations]
- 1987: The Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill
- 1988: ABBA – The Singles
- 1988: Various – Cruisin’ Classics
- 1990: Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock: It Takes Two
- 1990: They Might Be Giants – Flood
- 1990: Depeche Mode – 101
- 1991: NWA – Niggaz 4 Life
- 1990: MC Hammer – Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em
- 1991: R.E.M. – Out of Time
- 1991: Simon & Garfunkel – The Concert in Central Park
- 1991: Metallica – Metallica
- 1991: Metallica – …And Justice for All
- 1991: Steven Wright – I Have a Pony
- 1993: Dennis Miller – The Off-White Album
- 1993: Denis Leary – No Cure for Cancer
- 1993: Pink Floyd – The Wall
- 1993: Led Zeppelin – [The Box Set]
- 1993: The Jerky Boys – The Jerky Boys
- 1993: Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle
- 1994: Garth Brooks – The Hits
- 1994: Various – The Soundtrack of American Graffiti
- 1994: Various – Forrest Gump The Soundtrack
- 1994: Weezer – Weezer [Blue]
- 1997: The Beatles [All]
- 1999: Fiona Apple: Tidal
- 1999: Various – Classical Music for People Who Hate Classical Music
- 2000: Dave Matthews Band – Before These Crowded Streets
There’s a question I’m thinking of adding to my podcast for comedians:
If your comedy were music, which genre or artist would it be?
My answer: The Beastie Boys
Master lyricists. Witty. Self-deprecating. Broadly appealing. If you answer “The Beastie Boys,” to “Who’s your favorite group?” you’re the coolest in the widest number of circles. That’s my theory. And that’s my aspiration. And hopefully not my failure. Ha.