Genre of the Week: Cordula Grün by Josh

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Each country has its own one-year wonder, a song that is (one of) the most popular for the whole year and is the trademark of its own culture. Most of these one-hit wonders that is popular during the year are produced by up-and-going musicians, many of whom fade into the background after the hit has past.

We’re hoping that the musician Josh will be the one in the minority. Born and raised in Vienna, this musician was getting a start in his musical career when this one-hit wonder came out in 2018 entitled “Cordula Grün,” a story of a love affair with a person bearing this name.  The rhythm and story go together like bread and butter, resulting in the hit reaching the top five in Austria and Bavaria (in the category of Volksmusik), whereas it has been in the top 30 in Germany.  This unique pop song will more likely get some accolades in the next year, but for this year, it has earned the honors of being the Files’ Genre of the Week. Enjoy and feel free to comment on this unique song:

 

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Genre of the Week: Kiss My A** by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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OK Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Genre of the Week is not just another music piece, but one where there is a combination of classic music, accapella, and swearing involve.

Yes, there is swearing involved.  Most unexpected is from one of the world’s most renowned musicians, who during his time, managed to find a rather creative way to tell a person or more where to stick it.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had already accomplished more at the time of this piece than any of his fellow European counterparts of his time. He had created his first piece at the age of five and became a musician at the Salzburg Court at the age of 17. Yet some historians of Mozart have found that the gifted musician was very restless and disgruntled during his time and decided to travel. He moved to Vienna in 1781 where he composed most of his 600+ music pieces before his untimely death in 1791 at the age of 35.

This piece, whose original in German was entitled “Leck mich im Arsch,” was considered one of the first music pieces that introduced profanity. Written in 1785 but published after his death, his piece was for the Salzburg court, where he was expelled four years earlier during his visit in Vienna. Little was known as to why it happened, but this six-part men’s chorus piece was Mozart’s revenge for what had happened. But this was written at the time where insults had class but was not welcomed in the high-class society.  In today’s society, it would be considered the “cola-light” version for there are heavier music versions out there- mainly in rock music, but also in films and in communication.

However, this piece would be a creative way of sounding off on the people who deserve to be kicked out in an elegent, creative and musical way. And so, here is the Files’ Genre of the Week, entitled: “Leck mich doch,” by the rocker himself, Amadeus. 🙂 Enjoy! 🙂

 

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Genre of the Week: Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson

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Sometimes when we see something we don’t like we bash the person doing it. Sometimes we counter with our own actions that can be put down by external factors. Sometimes we look in the mirror and ask ourselves who we are, what we are capable of doing for the good of onesself and others as well. Each of us has a gift to make others happy, no matter what it is- hobbies, jobs and spending time with family and friends, maybe even meeting or reacquainting with people. Sometimes when the situation gets extremely difficult to handle, we need to look back and think carefully what has worked in the past, can we use our experiences in the past for our present situation to help others in the future or do we just simply blow it up and start with a clean slate.

Sometimes we just need to look at ourselves and the environment around us and find creative ways of bettering both.  Michael Jackson produced this song Man in the Mirror in 1988, looking at the situation we were facing and the changes we need to make to help others. The problems seen at that time are still the same and getting worst in the present. This is compounded by the fact that we have leaders who encourage the public to indulge in perverted acts of hatred, trolling and attacking others for even mentioning the problems facing our countries today. The act of dividing our countries, destroying families, friendships and relationships is also killing us on the inside, alienating ourselves from our own real identities. Almost all of us (even I myself) have been guilty of this, no matter how often and to what extent. Yet when we all take a look at ourselves and the situation affecting us all, each of us should see the inner potentials we have to turn the situation around, unite to put an end to the destruction we’re witnessing before our eyes, and reforge relationships with the people we hurt the most, relatives, friends, partners and even strangers. I learned this recently as I had to confront myself with an unwanted past but profited more than what I expected. Except the person affected gave me the gift of what I’m capable of doing for the good.

And I think when we listen and watch this video, it will give ourselves an incentive to stop what we are doing, ask ourselves who we are and what we can do better; even if it means looking into our inner-selves to see what gifts we have to help others. Sometimes it goes beyond looking into one’s mirror but talking to and forgiving someone from the past.

So as an incentive:

fast fact logo Although he was named singer of the decade in 1990 for his hits in the 70s and 80s, the King of Pop devoted most of his time in the last two decades of his life exposing the problems affecting our society, which included racism, war and poverty and environmental destruction, be it through his songs or his work in the Michael Jackson foundation. Unfortunately, his life was cut short tragically, as he died of a drug overdose on June 25, 2009 at the age of 51. A detailed biography of one of the members of the original Jackson Five can be found here. This song wins the title of Genre of the Week for it focuses on the issues we are facing today but on a larger scale. We need to know what gifts we have and what we can do to tackle the issues at hand, before they grow out of control.

 

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Living in a World they didn’t make, by Janet Jackson

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Our next Genre of the Week focuses on gun violence and takes us back to 1989. It was at that time that one of the members of the Jackson family released a powerful album containing songs that focused on social aspects. Janet Jackson started her career with the rest of her siblings in 1973, yet went solo in 1986 with her first solo album (and third overall), Control.  Her breakthrough came with Rhythm Nation 1814, which was released in 1989 and won six platinums, garnered 12 million Dollars in sales and made it all the way to number 1. on the Bilboard charts in the US. It was the first album where songs reached number 1 in the Top 40 Charts for three straight years, and it was the first where seven songs made it to the Top 100.  It is considered one of the most iconic pop music albums in history, with a mixture of rhythm and dance but also some slow dances. The album focused not only on themes of love and dance, but also social issues, which included drug use, domestic dispute, violence,…..

and guns.

While Janet managed to get seven songs into the Top 100, this song deserves to win the Flensburg Files Genre of the Week, even if the song was produced almost 30 years ago. Entitled Living in the World They Didn’t Make, Janet takes us to a school where memories are left over after a shooting incident that happens on school grounds. Children playing on the playground- gone. Teachers helping other- gone. Neighborhoods and families- shattered. All of these ring a bell to the problem with gun violence and the school shootings that have plagued the US as of late. While some have refused to talk about it, when looking at the March on Washington that happened on 24th of March, the theme of gun laws, school violence and issues that have led to people taking it out with the guns have been brought forward to those who want to see change and will not rest until it happens, regardless of who is representing each state in Congress and is running the country at the White House.

Gun violence was the issue upon the song’s release and is still the issue to this day. Listen to the song and ask yourselves, how can we put an end to this madness without having the teacher march around with a machine gun in the classroom.

This Genre of the Week song is for the kids at Parkland who took courageous steps and brought this up front and personal on Capitol Hill. Keep strong, be stronger. Eventually those who resisted will listen or cave in. You will have it your way soon. ❤ 🙂

 

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Shadow of the Day: A Tribute to Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

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Where have all the rockers gone? Our idols whom we’ve followed faithfully and shown our support for them and their songs sincer our days in high school are no longer with us. Those who had plenty of years of life left in them decided to cut it short. Drug abuse, family problems, taxes and the law, the paparrazi and the media chased them from the mike (microphone), erased their abilities to create and export their songs, causing them to disappear without a trace.

But with one question: why?

After losing Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots), and Chris Cornell (Soundgarten) among many gift musicians, we’ve lost another singer in Chester Bennington from Linkin Park.

And he was only 41 when he hung himself.

A father of six children, Chester and other members founded Linkin Park in 1996 and gave alternative rock a new face with a mixture of rap, electronic rock, metal and lyrics that looked at the domestic issues that he and others faced in life. Being a member of Generation X, this generation served as the bridge between the Baby-boomer generation- which grew up on platinum records, Vietnam, sex-drugs-and rock and roll, as well as Billy Joel- and the younger generations of today, who are self-absorbed but self conscience, want to experience everything but are “Holly-go-lightlies” eating breakfast at Tiffany’s, and are well-informed but digital natives spending time buried in their Smartphones. It was also the same generation that has suffered from tumultuous times, having survived two major financial crises, 9/11/2001, and rapid changes to our own environment, while being sandwiched between the two generations, not having a chance to live the dreams we wanted to, working to make ends meet and not even thinking about retirement.  All of these aspects, which resulted in the fight to find one’s identity and deal with all the personal issues in life were the themes of the songs he and Linkin Park produced in the almost 20 years the band has been together.

One More Night was the last album released by the band before Bennington’s death, having been in stores since May of this year. However, if there is one song that best describes his legacy, it is this one, Shadow of the Day, which was released in 2007 from the album Minutes to Midnight.  Produced with keyboards and guitars, the song reflects on a person’s life and the need to move on. It’s walking into the sunset honoring a person and his work. Yet at the same time, it also means the rise of the next sun and the start of a new day with a new sheet of paper to draw or write about.  This song definitely reflects on Chester’s life, leaving us with questions of why it had to end the way it did, when he left a legacy as one of the best singers in his time. It does leave a question of what happens next, and who will be able to fill in his shoes, just like we have to with our other heroes who had followed before that.

Especially when the sun rises again…….

 

 

Our condolences to members of Linkin Park and the family of Chester Bennington on this unexpected loss of a great singer, who left us with songs we will listen to for years to come, and a legacy that will be difficult to outdo. God bless you……

 

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Genre of the Week: Jack and Diane by John Mellencamp

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This genre of the week looks at a customary that celebrates the initiation of children becoming adults. In Germany, we have what is called Jugendweihe. First established in 1852 by Eduard Balzen, Jugendweihe is mainly a non-Christian event where a child is officially initiated into adulthood come the age of 14 years. Prior to that, the youth can participate in events that focus on history, culture, politics, work, sexuality and independent living, just to name a few. By the time a child reaches the age of 14, celebrations take place, marking the initiation into adulthood; some organized by the Humanist Association of Germany and the Association of Worker Welfare, others by the schools and families. The youth has a first-hand experience at what adult life is like. The only exception is of course, driving. That happens 5-8 years later- much later than the youth in the United States. There, having a driving license and a car at the age of 16 marks the beginning of the stage to adulthood, which ends by drinking legally, five years later.

I kid you not on this one, especially as I’m an American expat! 😉

Jugendweihe runs parallel to its Christian form, known as confirmation. For church-goers in the United States and in some pockets of Germany, confirmation also marks a stage going into adulthood. Yet with confirmation, regardless of which religion, it is the third and final stage in being united with Jesus Christ as well as being part of the religious denomination, after baptism and the first holy communion. It is the first of two graduation ceremonies in America’s schools, where the names are announced and the blessings and sacraments are given. The second is of course, high school graduation, where the diplomas are received and the graduates proceed to move into a new chapter in their lives.

While confirmation usually occurs at a fixed date by the churches of different denominations, Jugendweihe usually occurs at different times between March and June. The dates vary based on the projects and schedules issued by the schools, the aforementioned associations and lastly, the families of the child who is going through the initiation. Still, as a general rule, the age of 14 is the magic number signaling the departure of childhood into adulthood. It is the third most important phase in a child’s life after Zuckertüten Fest and the Graduation from Elementary School going into one of the three forms of high school in Germany.

A while back, I was asked by my students if there is an English equivalent to Jugendweihe. We do but in Christian terms but really, without a name. That is unless you listen to John Mellencamp. 😉

Jack and Diane was produced by the rock singer in 1982, and it focuses on the two main characters growing up in a rural community in America. While they develop differently going from boy and girl to a man and woman, they fight to stay young as long as they can, yet they soon realize that they are becoming adults and pursue their dreams together. The scenes in this video are typical of American culture during that time, yet you can find similar ones in Germany as well, with the discotheks, soccer, hanging out in shopping centers and even biking down trails and bikeways. In either case, this Genre of the Week looks at Jugendweihe from a musician’s point of view. One could go as far as proclaiming Jugendweihe as Jack and Diane Day in English! 😀

Still, I don’t think it would go down that well because of its age and the cultural differences. 😉

Or would it?

You decide as we dedicate this song to the 14-year olds that have celebrated or are about to celebrate Jack and Diane Day.  Enjoy! 😀

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Born in Seymour, Indiana in 1951, John Mellencamp has been coined as one of the 10 best singers/ musicians of all time in the US by many critics and colleagues. Jack and Diane made it to the top and stayed nr. 1 for four weeks in 1982. That and Hurt So Good came from the American Fool soundtrack, which is considered the best of his 23 albums he’s released since 1976. He still resides in Indiana but in Bloomington. You can find him online by clicking here as well as through World Cafe. An interview on how he’s opened up on music and arts with Forbes Magazine can be found here.

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Genre of the Week: Alternative Für Deutschland by Jennifer Rostock

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Founded in 2007, the band Jennifer Rostock has its origins that are considered unique. It features Jennifer Weist and Joe Walter, both natives of Usedom, located in the German state of Mecklenburg-Pommerania, who were childhood friends and gifted musicians. They later met fellow members Alex Voigt, Baku Kohl and Chris Deckert in Berlin and Werner Krumme while at a music workshop in Rostock. Their style of music consists of a combination of punk, electro-pop and Berlin-rock and since their founding, they have become popular on the German rock music scene, having released seven albums and toured in the German-speaking countries so far; that despite having songs released in German and English.

However, despite their punk lifestyle, they also have a world view on politics and have been engaged recently as more and more people are leaving the traditional German parties of the Social Democrats (SPD) and Christian Democrats (CDU) and joining the far-right party the AfD (Alternativ für Deutschland), whose policies consists of tax relief for the rich, less money for social and health care and banning Muslims and other groups from living in Germany- including stopping the influx of refugees entering Germany. With local elections to take place in Mecklenburg-Pommerania and Brandenburg this fall and on the eve of the federal elections next year, this band has taken an unusual approach to their music style by combining political propaganda and piano and producing a sing provoking the people to think before voting and/or even joining the AfD. Check out this video that was released recently:

Being short and to the point, each statement about the AfD and their policies are presented in an advertised form but with Weist having the confrontational gesture indicating that unless a person wants a brawl, and has the mentality of a Nazi that they should join the AfD, unless they have some time to think about it first and look for other party alternatives. The song is similar to all the campaigns that are going on in the United States, especially between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Speaking from an American expat’s point of view, such a provokative song would go great for people seriously thinking about voting for Donald Trump, whose policies are exactly the same as that of the party led by Frauke Petry- no immigration, expulsion of minorities out of the US, the return to isolation (which would be a first since the 1920s), and having a wall along the Mexican and Canadian border. This in addition to controlling the media and the freedom of speech among the American people. It makes me wonder how Weist and Co. would craft their song in English and address it to the public similar to that what she is doing for her people in the north of Germany. Music is powerful and controls the mind and hearts of those who listen to it, influencing them on what they think and sometimes do. It can be peaceful, but it can present a type of music that is classical but whose lyrics make it unusual and stunning. The AfD song by Jennifer Rostock may be considered a propaganda song supporting the party, but it has the typical German warning that you see in pharmaceutical commercials:

Zum Risiko und Nebenwirkung, lesen Sie die Packungsbeilage und Fragen Sie Ihren Artz oder Apotheke (Talk to your doctor or pharmacy about the risks and side effects of taking this medication)

For this song, which has won the Genre of the Week Awards, the first international Award by the Files, the slogan behind the song about the Alternative for Germany party goes along the following lines (something that voters in Meck-Pomm, Brandenburg and the rest of Germany should consider before going to the polls:

Zum Risiko und Nebenwirkung, lesen Sie über die politische Partei und ihre Agenda und fragen Sie die Experten. (Talk to the experts and read about the political party you are voting for).

Or in American English: Thinking about voting for the AfD? You better know what you’re getting into.

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Should Jennifer Rostock decide to write and sing about Donald Trump, what should go in there? It should be similar to what she sang about the AfD. Go to her website (here) and offer your suggestions. 🙂

 

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