What do we like? We like the cars that go boom, or at least the girls who sing about them. We also like Biz Markie, BDP, Heavy D, and Public E, so we're taking a look at a very specific time period in rap history: 1988 and 1989. Kirk was in college, getting drunk at parties and dancing to Salt-N-Pepa records. Paul was practically a toddler, and never got to watch "The Arsenio Hall Show," because it was on past his bedtime. So they have different perspectives.
Kirk takes the wheel as “Music Raygun” goes back in time to the 1970s, when everything was bright and shiny on the outside, but sort of washed out and profoundly bleak beneath the surface. That's right: It's our disco episode. There’s Travolta, “Dance Fever” and, of course, a “Soul Train” line. That’s all to be expected. Less expected is… Ethel Merman? And don’t worry; we also sit through “Disco Duck.” Yeah. We do that. For you. All this, plus a fish saves the city of Pittsburgh.
We're going home, back to our respective hometowns. Paul is presenting the music of Rhode Island, and Kirk visits his old stomping grounds in Cleveland/Northeast Ohio. Both areas spawned bands with a working-class, blue-collar aesthetic, but that’s where the similarities end. Rhode Island provides the alternative and punk rock, while Cleveland brings the smooth pop and R&B. Then again, those differences probably have way more to do with our respective tastes than the regions where we come from.
For the first time, we’re focusing our attention on one instrument: the saxophone. This has been a long time coming. When we first discussed what topics we wanted to have on the show, “saxophone” was Kirk’s immediate thought. There’s lots of smooth jazz and pop here to make him happy, but there's also some punk rock to keep Paul satisfied. We learn what’s wrong with the greatest pop sax solo of all time, and we spend 20 minutes talking about just one Kenny G video. Strap in.
Katie Willert is back! She's co-hosting while Kirk is on vacation. As promised during Katie’s first appearance on “Music Raygun,” she and Paul devote this episode to a legendary artist whom they love: Harry Nilsson. Nilsson never performed live, but he was creative with his projects on record, on TV and in movies, and there’s lots of cool video of him to look at. He was a true weirdo, a deeply troubled man and a tragic figure. So there’s both laughter and honest-to-God tears in this one.
We always say every episode of “Music Raygun” features a particular music artist, concept or topic. Well, we lied to you about that. Because this time, our topic is... no topic. It's the first "grab bag" episode. We each chose a few of our favorite videos that, frankly, defy categorization. But they’re too good to ignore just because we normally make a themed podcast. We’ll watch a dance contest, a domestic dispute, and the most coked-out band in the world. Also, Paul convinces Kirk to like punk.
Kirk is really happy whenever he gets to talk about one of his top five, possibly top three favorite bands ever. We’re talking about Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike (and Ralph and Johnny). It’s the long-planned New Edition episode. And that means we also have to cover the whole New Edition family tree. That means Bobby Brown, Bell Biv DeVoe, New Kids on the Block, Another Bad Creation, Heads of State and more. N.E. has been around for almost 40 years, so there's much to discuss.
We’re joined by the fantastic Katie Willert, who’s here to share with us (and you) some of her favorite songs and videos. You know Katie from Cracked's "After Hours," the Upright Citizens Brigade, Funny or Die and and many other comedy things. We know her because we all used to work together making Internet stuff. Katie’s picks include Roxy Music, Talking Heads, HAIM and more. We also take a special look at some of her own musical comedy sketches. Plus, a future episode topic is decided upon.
After a very brief hiatus, "Music Raygun" has returned. Kirk is back from vacation, and it’s time for us to turn our attentions to yacht rock, an admittedly nebulous, non-specific music genre that was roughly codified by a comedy web series circa 2005. So, aptly, there are some comedy videos in this one, like sketches from “SCTV,” “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” and “Documentary Now.” Plus Christopher Cross, Steely Dan, Toto and more. Basically, we find Michael McDonald everywhere we turn. And that's a great thing.
We’re celebrating just a few of the coolest, baddest-ass and most revolutionary women in rock. A fictional band refuses to put out. A real band throws a used tampon at an audience. And the Plasmatics scare the bejesus out of Kirk. We take an all-too-brief look at the riot grrrl movement, Tina Turner’s ‘80s legacy, and more. Honestly, we barely managed to scratch the surface of this topic. But what we do talk about extremely kicks ass. This is dedicated to Liz Phair on her 50th birthday.