Classic Corner: Mellow Gold and Independence Day

Classic Corner: Mellow Gold and Independence Day

By Cole Altmayer and Mandi Hall, copy editor and executive features editor 
Mellow Gold displays creativity, whimsicalness 
Despite what the Grammys and Rolling Stone would lead you to believe, straight-laced, fedora-wearing Beck Hansen isn’t a very good artist.
I should know, I’ve seen the guy live. He’s lost it. No, not his mind (It’s arguable if he had one to begin with). He’s lost his touch. He’s basically become diametrically opposed to the scruffy homeless folk star he was in the past: he’s up there with the Foo Fighters now as just another predictable and shallow radio rock act.
That’s why I praise Xenu for the fact that I can go back and dig up his early 90s output and instantly be hurtled back through space and time: to a place where washing your hair wasn’t quite in vogue, and having a Bjork song blaring from your Walkman wouldn’t get you quite as many funny looks.
Beck’s 1994 debut studio album “Mellow Gold” is easily his crowning achievement, wrapping hip-hop, country, and psychedelia all together in a neat little anti-folk package.
The album opens up with arguably his most popular song, the slacker anthem “Loser.” If I have any problem with “Mellow Gold,” it’s that “Loser” sort of lures the listener into a false sense of security, as the rest of this album is exponentially weirder than its hit single. Other than the stream-of-consciousness lyrics that are half rapped and half sung, it’s a song that wouldn’t feel that out of place at a frat party if someone managed to steal the AUX cord from Chad and his friends. It’s quite the earworm, with an easygoing drum rhythm and a psychedelic guitar riff floating along lazily in the background.
“Mellow Gold” doesn’t start getting too out there until the fourth track, “Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997,” a song that feels shrouded in mystery yet also too-close-for-comfort. The whole album gives off a strong vibe of a sweltering summer afternoon, or maybe even an impenetrable fever coupled with the wildest dreams someone could ever imagine. “Whiskeyclone” is perhaps the sweatiest song on the album, which could be both a bad thing or a good thing depending on your appreciation for raw atmosphere in music.
Beck turns up the heat, and the funk, on the tracks “Soul Sucking Jerk” and “Beercan.” Both of these songs walk the blurred line between freak folk and dance music, which is a line that I didn’t know existed before I started listening to this era of Beck. “Beercan” specifically is sung all in a strange permanent falsetto that gives the song an eccentric hillbilly vibe, like it’s out of a family-friendly remake of the movie “Deliverance.”
Nitemare Hippy Girl” shows Beck’s more sensitive side via a leisurely paced folk song, with a dash of irony thrown in for good measure. Actually, it’s probably quite a bit more than a dash. No one but Beck would croon about a girl being a “melted avocado on a shelf.” Whether that’s supposed to be an insult or a compliment? The jury is still out.
Beck’s new album, “Colors,” has no chance of being as memorable or as whimsical as “Mellow Gold.” The two lead singles, “Wow” and “Dreams,” feel like the musical equivalent of chugging a thermos full of mayonnaise in one shot: in layman’s terms, they’re awful. But hey, at least his output from “Mellow Gold” to “Modern Guilt” left us quite a few wonderlands to get lost in.
FAVORITE TRACKS: Nitemare Hippy Girl, Truckdrivin’ Neighbors Downstairs, Beercan
 
For Liberty and Justice for all
Aliens are here, hovering in their fifteen mile wide spacecrafts over many major cities around the world.  Unsure why they’re here, people from around the world differ on whether to attack immediately or welcome the aliens to our planet when each spaceship blows up the entire city below it in one fell swoop.  
There’s only one choice now: it’s war.
This scene is featured in the 1996 film Independence Day, a fantastic movie about the determination of humanity and men in their finest hours.  With great special effects for the day, amazing performances by all the actors, and a gripping plot, it’s easy to see why this movie is considered a classic.
Our cast of characters include David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), a satellite technician, Steven Hiller (Will Smith), a marine pilot who dreams of going into space, Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman), the US president thought to be a bit of a wimp, and Russell Casse (Randy Quaid), a crazy Vietnam pilot with three children.  
These four start the story on opposite ends of the country, but eventually their paths all cross to help defeat humanity’s greatest enemy thus far.  However, each of them has their own problem they need to solve in their everyday lives, and it’s brilliant how everything comes together for the final big fight.
Director Roland Emmerich does a great job of conveying an eerie feeling through his cinematography.  The aliens cause such enormous destruction right away, instantly killing millions.  No warning, no message.  Nothing.  It’s especially chilling to watch the camera pan over a fallen and broken Statue of Liberty surrounded by fire from the still raging explosions.
The explosions in this movie are absolutely phenomenal, with still among some of the best CGI fire in film despite it being made in 1996.  The director used small scale models of many of the buildings to actually blow up and make it look more realistic, making more miniature buildings than most are willing to put together for a movie, and the payoff is obvious.  
The story is fast-paced, the tense scenes and action sequences have you rooting for our main characters, and there are many quotable one-liners sprinkled in throughout the overall smart dialogue.
However, this movie, while having great depth to their male characters, lacks a bit when it comes to the females.  There’s one strong woman who manages to save her son, but other than that, the women don’t do all that much.  However, this doesn’t really make the movie any less entertaining.
It does have a nice touch of humor and sadness along the way and probably one of the best speeches ever to grace the big screen, given by President Thomas Whitmore.
When it comes down to it, Independence Day is an inspiring and generally uplifting movie about all of humanity banning together to fight a common enemy with something for everyone to enjoy.