Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Ben Folds, Vanilla Ice, and the End of the World as We Know It

Alpinekat - The Large Hadron Rap
A couple weeks ago, a friend passed along a link to this awesome rap about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) built under the France-Switzerland border by CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). The world's largest particle accelerator has been under construction for over 10 years with a cost in the billions of dollars. It's designed to accelerate protons at energies of 7 trillion electron volts along a 27km underground circular tunnel in order to produce high speed particle collisions, the results of which will produce new unseen particles including (possibly) the Higgs boson which is uh... um... ok, I don't really know. This catchy rap puts it all in layman's terms and it's still sails quite a bit over my head, but it definitely helped me understand the hows and whys of the LHC a little more.

Stunning hi-res images of the LHC and its components can be seen at The Big Picture, a Boston Globe photo blog that should be a mandatory subscription for any RSS feed reader. Also check out their pics of the Olympics opening ceremony, recent volcanic activity, Tour de France '08, a stunning royal funeral procession in Bali, and wildfires in California. They're like the Planet Earth of photojournalism.

The Large Hadron Rap was written and performed by Kate McAlpine (AKA Alpinekat), a science writer who works at CERN. Her MSU site has the full lyrics and an mp3 of the isolated vocals for potential remixers. The beats were provided by Will Barras, who Kate describes as her "Ben Folds 'producer with computers'"... a Rockin' the Suburbs reference if there was any doubt as to Ben's appeal within the nerd community. Speaking of Ben and whiter-than-white rapping, I stumbled upon this oddity on eMusic last week:

Former Fat Boys - Ice Ice Baby (Ben Folds Remix) ["originally" by Vanilla Ice]
It's a cover of Ice Ice Baby rapped over a looped sample of Ben Folds Five's Brick. Of course, the original rap used an unauthorized sample of Queen & David Bowie's Under Pressure, settled out of court by the copyright holders. It took years of vigorous mental training, but I can now listen to Under Pressure without a even a moment's thought of Vanilla Ice.

Ben Kweller - BK Baby [originally by Vanilla Ice]
Ben Kweller, one-third of The Bens alongside Ben Folds and Ben Lee, also covered Ice Ice Baby with this awesome acoustic take, one of my favourite all-time covers. This is literally my 5th most played song in iTunes.

Vanilla Ice - Play That Funky Music
This is from the same album as Ice Ice Baby, which I'm sad to admit I did own on cassette. I was 7 when To the Extreme came out...I surely didn't buy it, I don't remember asking for it, but I had it nonetheless. Vanilla Ice ripped off another artist with more unauthorized sampling of Wild Cherry's Play That Funky Music, which led to a lawsuit and $500,000 in damages. Tsk, tsk, Vanilla!

Majosha - Play That Funky Music [originally by Wild Cherry]
Pre-Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds played bass in a band called Majosha who released one EP and one album before breaking up in the late 80's. Some of the tracks such as Video, Emaline, and Kalamazoo would later be re-recorded by Ben Folds Five or solo Ben.

Ben Folds Five - Amelia Bright (live)
One of my favourite Ben Folds Five songs was actually never released on any of their albums, fortuitously saved from obscurity by a wonderful bootlegger at a 2000 concert in Scranton, Pennsylvania (insert your own Office reference here). I like to think that a studio recorded version exists, locked up in the Sony vault to be released someday... now I finally get my wish. Kind of. Darren Jessee, former drummer of Ben Folds Five and co-writer of a few songs including their break-out hit Brick, fronts his own band Hotel Lights whose self-titled debut came out in 2006. One week ago their follow-up Firecracker People was released, which includes a newly recorded Amelia Bright. Can't wait to hear it!

Back to science news for a minute... The Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to start up September 10th to do its thing. So in just about 2 weeks, the world may cease to exist... just kidding, probably. I like this headline from Science Daily: If The Large Hadron Collider Produced A Microscopic Black Hole, It Probably Wouldn't Matter.

"It's Krusteriffic, Johnny Unitas. But is my upper lip supposed to bleed like this?"

The microscopic black holes that might possibly be produced would, if they appear at all, only exist for a nano-nano-nanosecond, so says some Important Physicist. Yes, very re-assuring. Coincidentally, this Friday is the 11th anniversary of the Judgment Day that didn't happen. Let's hope the LHC doesn't become self-aware and destroy humanity.

Great Big Sea - It's the End of the World As We Know (And I Feel Fine) [originally by REM]


a Tart said...

ooooh many thanks for the Ben Folds track! and I love your posts, always so interesting, xoxoxoo

Kurtis said...

Fong, you are a great big nerd. I love it.

Fongolia said...

Ack, secret's out! But don't think I don't know about your nerdy pursuits, Mr. Disney... we should hang out more often. When's Lost back on?

Mathurin Star said...

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Will said...

Glad you liked the LHC Rap... re. your Vanilla Ice links, I actually did a mash-up experiment last year, to see what would have happened if, instead of the Queen sample, Robert Van Winkle had used an unauthorized sample of Mr Walkie Talkie's "Be My Boogie Woogie Baby" (which was the theme tune of a 1980s UK kids' TV show about motorbikes called "Kick Start"). The result is here: Be My Boogie Woogie Ice Ice Baby. I think my remix treats Mr Ice's musical legacy with the respect it is due.

Fongolia said...

Ha, that's way too funny! Thanks for that and the LHC Rap. Well done. Vanilla's musical legacy is a joke that just never really gets old.

Jeff said...

Thanks for posting Amelia Bright.

I had tickets to that Scranton show, but my girlfriend caught the flu.