Articles by Rachel L. Newman
I have been a reluctant Twitterer for a while now (though, for the record, I am trying to be better about it). I do check my Twitter feed each day and am amazed by how much (and as often, how little) people can say in 140 characters. Certainly, we live in a culture of sound bites, but Twitter takes this to a whole new level. Amidst the thousands and thousands of grammatical crime scene tweets, shoot-from-the-hip happenings tweets, re-tweets, twitpic tweets and glorified email forward tweets are some real creative gems. It is these gems that keep me tuned in to the incessant stream of information and make the sifting through worth it.
In the wake of recent legislation allowing the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry, a variety of smokeless tobacco products are hitting the market. A few e-varieties promise a comparable experience without the stink and stigma of the earlier models. But will smokers find any of these alternatives up to snuff?
Anyone who’s seen me flail at Guitar Hero understands - even encourages - my reticence to play Rock Band. In spite of my enthusiasm, intense concentration and true desire to rock out, I once performed so poorly that a kind friend suggested to the room that “perhaps the signal isn’t getting through.” That, combined with the overt disappointment and head-shaking from the animated characters on-screen put me off the game. I must say, however, that for the opportunity to play some Beatles Rock Band, I would again risk such embarrassment.
Music has played an integral role in branding since commercial radio welcomed product advertisements in the early 1920s. During the past two decades, popular music has evoked consumer emotions around brands and, more recently, has been used to reach specific market segments. When executed smartly, music can truly change the way consumers view brands and products. However, when used willy-nilly, music can expose a brand’s confused and clumsy search for self.
Although I am a novice knitter, I have a yen for yarn. I love to go to knitting shops to peruse the different colors, textures and sizes of the skeins. I imagine myself a master at the craft, fashioning jaw-droppingly gorgeous and unique scarves, hats, gloves, socks and sweaters out of sustainably harvested, hand-dyed Peruvian wool. The reality of my current knitting ability limits me to monochrome scarves and fingerless hand warmers but, still. I can dream. The popularity of knitting, and crafting in general, has been on the rise for a few years, so it’s always cool to learn about knitting retailers that are taking a new and different approach to brand, aesthetic and voice. Enter the cleverly named Wool and the Gang.
It all started with Freedom Rock. Since I saw those hippies extol the virtues of the good ‘ol days of war, protest and going to jail, I have been a huge fan of infomercials. Their sheer showmanship and exaggeration suck me in like so many Smart Mops and make me laugh with joy like so many women using Wrap, Snap & Go! hair rollers. An original type of long-form advertisement, the infomercial tells stories of wonder and amazement as intriguing and impossible to resist as ye olde carnival barker beckoning “Step right up! You won’t believe your eyes!” Sure, carny. Here’s my ha’penny. Show me what you’ve got.
Trent Reznor is known in the music industry for being a risk-taker, musically and technologically. Though a critically acclaimed artist, Reznor has led an enigmatic existence, and his dark, electronic musical style conjures images of drilling down into and exploring outlying areas of a mysterious abyss. It's a natural fit, then, for him to feel at ease connecting with his fans in the virtual world.
Karen O, lead singer for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is like a modern Siouxsie Sioux in this video for the band’s single, “Zero,” off of the new album It’s Blitz!
Somebody call Eve Ensler, because it looks like the Vagina Monologues are becoming the Vagina Dialogues.
It’s always weird when a once genre-defining band comes back after a hiatus. The risk of the new material potentially marring one’s view of their original material is pretty high, let alone the pain of seeing once-held pop idols embarrass themselves on the global stage (I’m looking at you, Boy George. Oh, and you too, Madonna. Oh, and you too Pet Shop Boys). Enter Depeche Mode.