12 July 2014

+JMJ+

Children's Programme "Fake" Band Smackdown, Round 4
(Revisit Round 1, Round 2 Round 3A, the Intermission, and Round 3B)

Now we come to everyone's favourite part of my smackdowns: the part where I run out of things to say. =P I'll just officially declare that Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution were the winners of the last little face-off, and then turn the final vote for the greatest Children's Programme "Fake" Band over to you. So which shall it be?

vs.
Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem
vs.
The Monkees

Both bands put up such a good fight in every round that I think this is too close to call. The last time we had a race this tight, we were "watching" the finals of the Weird "Al" Yankovic Song smackdown. I kind of wish we could call this a tie! (Actually, no I don't. LOL!) While I do have a favourite between them, I leave the final decision up to you. Let me know in the combox which "fake" band from TV deserves the Shredded Cheddar crown.

Those who are voting for June/July Giveaway entries already know that the Rafflecopter is after the jump. But what you don't know is that I have one more surprise . . .

A Children's Programme REAL Band! =D

As we near the end of our a six-week-long celebration of fakery, it's nice to give some behind-the-scenes musicians not just praise, but also credit. Until I started this smackdown, I hadn't known that Fred Rogers used live musicians for Mr. Rogers's Neighbourhood--but now that I do, I realise that I should have guessed that he would! He was a talented musician himself, after all! And he would agree with a musicologist friend of mine that if you have a choice between playing records on a stereo and hiring live performers, you should always go with the live performers . . . for art's sake.

Now, I'm not too crazy about the above clip, in which he so casually breaks the illusion behind his own show. It reminds me of the time Big Bird "crossed over" from Sesame Street, and Rogers wanted Caroll Spinney (the actor/puppeteer behind inside Big Bird) to remove his costume on camera and to explain how it "worked." Spinney refused because he wanted to preserve children's sense of fantasy . . . and Rogers compromised by allowing Big Bird to appear only in the "make-believe" segments, while he himself talked about adults in costumes who were just pretending, during the "real-world" part of his show. Oh, well . . .

If you were here when I posted the Punk Catholic Thought of the Year in defense of Santa Claus, then you know where I stand on the blurring of fantasy and reality in the education of children. But that was in the context of "cultural plays"--not of mass electronic media. Perhaps the rule needs some revising? I'll think about it some more and hope that that I'll be able to expound on the idea next week, when I shall also announce one winner for the smackdown and one winner for the giveaway. Good luck to everyone who has entered!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

31 comments:

Paul Stilwell said...

The Monkees. They make me happier.

That was just a HORRIBLE thing for Fred Rogers to do! I want to say, "That's so Protestant!"

I don't regard it so much in the same vein as "breaking the illusion" but betraying your form of communication and hence, betraying communion, which is a very real thing. It's double-faced. It's cold. Again, not because the viewer is having his illusion broken but that which was grown and garnered between Mr. Rogers and the viewer (a very real thing), or rather, the form (or matter) by which the viewer has had something good and true and beautiful drawn out of himself, has just been patronized and condescended to - in the very act of Rogers treating the viewer with respect by showing the studio-works! Or in the very act of Rogers making sure the viewer hasn't made his show into an idol - who knows! It is, after all, just dead celluloid! LOL!

I think to myself: what if Mr Dress-up (Ernie Coombs) had done that? It's interesting because Coombs featured puppets aplenty on his show, in which he and the other characters would do puppet shows with stories - a play within a play sort of thing. Using a studio set and created persona to engage in play-acting as play-acting.

Same thing with Rogers: it would be totally unnecessary to show the "behind-the-scenes". For bloody sake.

Rogers should have known better!

cyurkanin said...

ELECTRIC MAYHEM :) Hard to believe how those felt puppets could elicit such emotional responses in me then and now. And though they were "literal" creations of Jim Henson, the Muppets were actually much more human than the Monkees, who were created by sweaty-palmed producers in a shag-carpeted Hollywood television studio. I have many fond memories of the Monkees and their car knows no rival, but I remember them only as a consumer looking at or listening to the products being marketed to me, not as "real" endearing friends.

Bob Wallace said...

Poor chile. You missed out on so much with the Monkees. I do hope you feel differently about the Beach Boys.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Stilwell -- I thought that letting us meet the musicians was lovely. But right after, when Mr. Rogers walked past the table with the miniature neighbourhood, it was a sucker punch to the mouth. He hadn't prepared us for that!

There were a few more paragraphs to this post that I took out because I thought they would unfairly influence the vote. =P They'll be back next week. For now, I think it's safe to muse that one reason I didn't like Mr. Rogers's Neighbourhood (I have so much fun writing it like that, by the way =P) as much as some other children's shows with puppets is that he was very literal about the fantasy.

Now excuse me while I look up Mr. Dressup and see if there's something else I have to thank Canada for! =P

Christopher -- Jim Henson and his team were something else! I don't watch Sesame Street any longer, but the older episodes and the original Muppet Show were really magical. =) Of course, I have to put in a good word for The Monkees. When I was a child, they could make me bust a gut laughing. The music stands up, too.

Bob -- The Beach Boys? Oh, you mean that new boy band from England! Yeah, I think they'll steal the crown from The New Kids on the Block one day. =)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Before I forget again . . .

NoelCT voted for The Monkees on Twitter!

Brandon said...

Wow, this is a hard one. At first I thought it would be Electric Mayhem, then I saw that it was "Daydream Believer", which made me change my mind. Then the Electric Mayhem one turned out to be a good one, too. After going back and forth indecisively, I think I will go with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

Angie Tusa said...

It's definitely a tough choice, but I'm voting for Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

The Monkees have some really great songs, but their attitudes taint things for me. They are an interesting story, but ulimately not one of my favorites because of it.

The Muppets on the other hand, have only really slipped off course after their original creator died, and even that was more toward mediocre rather than sour. Zoot and Janice have always been some of my favorite minor muppets too.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Brandon -- Daydream Believer is very strong, isn't it? I knew from the beginning that if The Monkees made the finals, I'd have to use that song to make the case for them! And then I was happy to find an Electric Mayhem number that showed them to be worthy contenders as well. Thanks for your vote! =)

Angie -- What I know of The Monkees' real-life story has been disappointing. That's probably why I've been sticking to the music. Please let me know when you write your posts about them!

My favourite Electric Mayhem member is Floyd. =)

Angie Tusa said...

My post actually went up this past Friday. :) http://angietusa.com/?p=1865

Itinérante said...

I really liked both... but I think I will choose Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem because they have a translation of their program in other languages ^^

I had an idea the other day about songs in languages we do not know (I just love languages), how much are we able to get the message without knowing any words, just the tune and video and I thought it would be cool to have a song in Tagalog for example and two options for the theme, one that is the right one and another one wrong and see if the audience is able to guess it right...
It's just a silly idea and maybe needs a lot of work/time but I wanted to suggest it here because you do a great job with both languages and songs!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Angie -- Thanks so much for the link! As you know, I've already commented, but if you hadn't told me about it, I might have dithered for another week before finding out that the post was up. =)

Itinerante -- That's an interesting idea! It reminds me that last year, I was describing what has been called "the Philippines' favourite karaoke song" to someone else in this combox (who may or may not remember), but not saying the title because he wanted to guess. I said, "The melody is really happy and upbeat, but the lyrics are about a girl who isn't treating the guy right." (Other clues in case you want to guess, too: it's a soul song from a British group that became a huge hit in the 1960s.) I wonder if someone who doesn't understand English would pick up on the undercurrent of exasperation in the otherwise happy song.

Later this week, I'll be including a Filipino song in a post. Come back on Thursday and let me know what you think. =)

Maybe I'll also try your idea on Friday. I hope that everyone else is okay with playing that guessing game along with us!

Itinérante said...

I am sadly not very familiar with the sixties English soul... I know the very basic rock ones like the Beatles and the rolling stones... but I am curious to know what that one was!
This reminded me of the song ra ra rasputin. I used to think it was such a happy nice song about him and I thought it was odd and did not make sense (I didn't speak English until very late adolescence years) but then when I was able to understand the lyrics I said ohhhh that is deceiving!! As in the music leads you to think something and the lyrics something else... (I had a similar situation with a song in Spanish that I thought was a wedding dancing song but was someone lamenting the death of his lover... I guess if I learn more languages I will be surprised just as much!)

I will be looking forward for the Thursday post! And thank you so much for wanting to try this for me! ♡

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

It's Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations. =)

Can you think of a French song that misleads non-Francophones? Let me know the title, so I can listen to it and tell you what I think. You may have a good laugh. ;-)

Itinérante said...

Ohhh I know it!!! Fill me up buttercup ♫♪

Okay let's try this (sounds promising hehe):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IY1fNs0Tps
What do you think it would be about =)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

This little game reminds me of a student I once had who was really good at guessing the premises of movies from their instrumental scores! I'm not even half as gifted as she is, but I'll give it a shot.

The song you've linked seems happy and energetic . . . but also a little bit serious. I'm going to guess that the singer is recounting a romantic experience that didn't turn out the way he wanted: it didn't leave him bitter, though--just more philosophical about matters of the heart.

Well, how is that? Are you laughing? LOL!

Itinérante said...

Wow you are good! It is about a woman telling a man to take flowers go on a mountain and wait and whistle for her come so he goes and whistles and whistles but she never comes!

http://lyricstranslate.com/fr/siffler-sur-la-colline-whistling-hill.html

mrsdarwin said...

All right, don't close voting yet, because here I am, casting mine for Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. I think they combine the best of all the worlds here: the fantastic element of cartoonistry, the real-time movement of the human bands, and the musicality to carry the day. Plus, Muppets.

I have to say that as a child, I always enjoyed when Mr. Rogers would take trips around his studio, so it doesn't bother me that he showed a little behind-the-scenes action.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Itinerante -- Yay! =D This is fun. What else have you got? LOL!

Mrs. Darwin -- The whole Muppet Show was something special, which we haven't seen the likes of since.

I loved Mr. Rogers, too, and really liked it when he took us along to see the real world and to learn how things work. But I don't think make-believe was his strongest suit. Then again, look who I'm comparing him to! There is simply no one else in Jim Henson's league.

Emily J. said...

The Monkees are SOOO much better than the newer fake television bands like the Wiggles and Doodlebop, if they are even still around. Scary stuff. But Muppets are multi-generational favorites, hands-down. I have to vote for them in honor of many happy memories of watching the Muppets, Hee-haw, and Lawrence Welk at my grandparents' house on Sundays.

I also have to support Mr. Rogers's backstage visit. Learning how things work was part of the show that I remember liking. It still seems kind of imaginary anyway, like the back stage scenes on Saturday Night Live - remember the Steve Martin dance through the audience and beyond?

On another note, 35 years ago, my mom didn't let us watch Sesame Street because it was too fast-paced, and she read something about it encouraging hyperactivity. Meanwhile, slow and methodical Mr. Rogers was ok.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Thanks for chiming in, Emily. =) Just to clarify, I was charmed by Mr. Rogers's musicians. But when he oh-so-casually threw in the table of miniatures like that, it was too much. I can't help contrasting this decision with Jim Henson's rule that whenever children were backstage at the Muppet Show studios, they should never be shown the puppets lying lifeless in a box. Breaking the illusion by showing the puppeteers was one thing; doing it by making the puppet look "dead" was another.

I didn't really watch Saturday Night Live, but that reminds me of the time Eddie Murphy hosted the MTV Video Music Awards: he kept jumping off the stage and wandering around the building, and even left the building at one point!

Bob Wallace said...

You didn't know Build Me Up, Buttercup?

You have so much to learn...

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Itinerante knew Build Me Up, Buttercup; she just couldn't guess it from the description I gave.

Paul Stilwell said...

Funny you should mention Eddie Murphy...I mean, after Mr. Rogers and all. LOL!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I had to look it up! LOL! As I said, I never really watched SNL . . . though I did catch Jim Carrey's In Living Colour sketch. I think Murphy did it better. =P

Paul Stilwell said...

Yes, back in the early 90's we thought Carrey was hilarious. When I watch him now I just find him really annoying. I think Murphy's is better because he's not trying to do an impersonation.

I was pretty much in the same boat as when you state: "I think it's safe to muse that one reason I didn't like Mr. Rogers's Neighbourhood (I have so much fun writing it like that, by the way =P) as much as some other children's shows with puppets is that he was very literal about the fantasy."

Exactly. I distinctly remember just not being able to "get into it" when he did the puppet shows. I watched his show and was always more or less interested (I especially liked it when he went visiting other places, like factories) but his show never held the place for me that it did for so many other kids. For me that place was held by Mr. Dress-Up (with Sesame Street coming up second - oh, but then there was Fraggle Rock). My favourite thing about Mr. Dress-Up was watching him draw.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

So I went on YouTube and I found this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6pwYpTjhdI

It seemed so spontaneous--as in non-scripted. I could believe that Mr. Dressup and the puppeteer were told that they had a certain amount of time to complete the sketch and then were allowed to improvise their way through it. At first I wasn't surprised that you liked watching him draw, but there's also more to his drawing than just drawing, isn't there? If I lived in his neighbourhood (Ha!), I'd always be asking him to draw stuff for me!

Sadly, local networks started syndicating Fraggle Rock only when I had entered my "Too cool for that" stage. =P I'll have to catch up with it the way I'm doing with The Monkees now!

Sheila said...

Mr. Rogers was always my favorite! I think he could get away with a lot more realism than other shows because he himself WAS real -- he was exactly what he was on the show. So you never felt bad about this or that "unreal" thing, because you knew the heart of the show was real.

I must admit, I didn't like the Land of Make-Believe as much as the rest. The puppets are great -- the live actors are SO fakey! I commented to someone a year or two ago that I wished Mr. Rogers had been one of the live actors, and they told me he was behind working the puppets. I feel silly that I didn't know that! No wonder the puppets seem so real compared to the people.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

For me, the Land of Make-Believe segments were the least memorable. And if I may be a little more contrarian, I also didn't really enjoy Mr. Rogers's field trips around town or his studio. (!!!) What I adored, however, were the heart-to-heart talks in his home, when he'd discuss his grandparents . . . or his first pet . . . or divorce. I will always love him for those.

Itinérante said...

Enbrethiliel, I was driving yesterday and I heard this song and I thought about you:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiKj0Z_Xnjc

What do you think it is about?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

In the spirit of our challenge, I didn't watch the video but relied entirely on the music!

There's something weary and a little frustrated in the lead singer's voice that makes me think of the "rat race" of the modern world. He goes to work every day, feels bored, gets his paycheck, feels better, buys stuff he needs and wants, feels even better, goes back to the daily grind . . . and so on. But since the chorus is more uplifting, perhaps he is finally breaking the cycle!

So how did I do? =D

Itinérante said...

I totally can see how your interpretation goes with the tune, totally perfect but the topic is much different, it's about not having real fathers, or fathers that are away... and he is asking himself where's his dad...
http://thelyricstomyheart.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/stromae-papaoutai-lyrics-translated-to-english/