The Great Canadian Road Trip: Song #41/250…Blame Brett by The Beaches

A 92 year old lady, her dark-haired son and a ceramic nurse doll sit on a bed in a nursing home room.
My mother and me in her nursing home after she was safely moved in. The doll is named Nurse Joanie and serves as a reminder of her career as an R.N. #MomsAreEverything

NOTE: It has been approximately three months since I last created a post on WordPress. At that time, I had no idea that real life was about to make my music posts seem irrelevant to me, but that is what happened. The full version of this story will be given a proper airing at a future date. But for now, what happened was that I received a phone call out of the blue one Saturday afternoon in May informing me that my 92-year-old mother had fallen and broken her hip. She lives far from where I do. Her fall ended her ability to live independently which meant, among other things, that she could no longer live in her apartment and that she would require constant care from that point forward. That necessitated two different trips down from Ontario. The first was to clear out her apartment and find homes for her possessions. It also meant finding a permanent nursing home for her to live in. The second trip was more to check in on her and see if there were any adjustments needed to her living arrangement in her new location. Fortunately, as you can see from this photo, my Mom is rallying. She has taken to being cared for and has willingly relinquished the burden of looking after herself on her own. Her hip has healed nicely, and she is scooting around the nursing home in her wheelchair as if she was a driver in the Indy 500. All in all, things have stabilized and life is unfolding again as it always had. At least until the next phone call.

For now, that means that I can focus on my writing again and my love of music. So, with that in mind, let’s get back to it, shall we?! Here is today’s latest, greatest Canadian song…”Blame Brett” by The Beaches. Let’s go!!!!!

Like many major cities in the world, Toronto is made up of a patchwork of established neighbourhoods. Each of these neighbourhoods has its own unique history, culture and lifestyle. One of the more idyllic of these in Toronto is an area known as The Beaches. This neighbourhood is home to almost 20,000 residents and sits at the eastern end of the city. The neighbourhood comes by its name honestly. The Beaches community encompasses four different beaches, as well as numerous major parks, shopping districts, restaurants and houses with unique and colourful exteriors. The area is known for its Jazz Festival, the many outdoor patios and cafes that abound, as well as a marked Bohemian attitude that sets it apart from the rest of the city. It should come as no surprise to learn that such an artsy, laid back, geographically beautiful area would give birth to arguably Canada’s hottest rising band, The Beaches. As I type these words, the band The Beaches owns the #1 hit song in Canada with “Blame Brett”. If there was any song worthy of being crowned as the Song of the Summer this year, “Blame Brett” is it.

The members of the band, The Beaches. Four young woman named Eliza Inman-McDaniel, Leandra Earl, Jordan Miller and Kylie Miller.
The Beaches: Eliza Enman-McDaniel, Leandra Earl, Jordan Miller and Kylie Miller.

The Beaches band is an all-girl affair made up of two sisters and two friends. Jordan Miller handles lead vocals, as well as bass guitar. Kylie Miller plays lead guitar. Leandra Earl plays keyboards and rhythm guitar. Finally, Eliza Enman-McDaniel is the band’s drummer. Initially, the Miller sisters, along with Enman-McDaniel, formed a band in 2011 as teenagers called Done With Dolls. Right from their earliest days, these young women set out to make music on their terms. They wrote their own songs and arranged their own music. Even while still in high school, Done With Dolls began making a name for itself in the Toronto music scene and was chosen to write a theme song for a teen TV show called Really Me. Not long after that, Leandra Earl became involved with the band. The group decided to rebrand themselves as The Beaches in honour of the part of Toronto from which they grew up.

The Beaches have had a fair amount of success in the early stages of their career. Their debut album, Late Show, was produced by mentor and role model Emily Haines of the band, Metric (as well as the famous Toronto area musical collective, Broken Social Scene). From this album came two hit singles called “Money” and “T-shirt”. The latter song went all the way to #1 and helped The Beaches to earn their first Juno award for Breakthrough Group of the Year. The following year, The Beaches earned their second Juno award…this time for Rock Album of the Year. In between award shows, the band opened for everyone from The Glorious Sons to the legendary Rolling Stones.Being an all-girl band that plays a brand of pop-rock helps The Beaches to draw easy comparisons to another all-girl band known as The GoGos. You can read all about The GoGos from a previous post here. But, for now, know that The GoGos were the very first all-girl band who wrote and arranged their own songs and managed to have a #1 hit song. Their combination of stage presence, musicianship and determination helped propel Tne GoGos all the way into The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Bands such as The Beaches owe a debt of gratitude to The GoGos for blazing such a trail for them to follow. It wasn’t easy for The GoGos to break into the male-dominated world of rock n’ roll back in the 1980s and it isn’t necessarily any easier today for The Beaches. However, having such strong role models as The GoGos, along with Emily Haines, has allowed The Beaches to find the confidence to write songs about things that matter to them and to perform them with strength and conviction. The song “Blame Brett” is a good example of this.

“Blame Brett” is a breakup song, of sorts. It is about the reaction that some people have to having their heart broken. When such a thing occurs, it is not uncommon for the heartbroken person to lock up their heart to protect it from future pain. Once their heart is secure, relationships become more superficial which often means more sexual. “Blame Brett” is a battlecry that warns all potential suitors what the ground rules are now. As lovely and interesting as any of the band members of The Beaches may be, we are not to make the mistake of falling in love with them because they are not in the mood for love themselves. They have been there and done that and are now on the prowl for pleasures of the flesh. They make no excuses for this attitude and caution against casting aspersions in their direction because, after all, it is all the fault of a guy named Brett who broke one of their hearts. “Blame Brett” is as catchy a Pop-Rock song as I have heard in quite a while. It mines much of the same ground that Taylor Swift regularly writes about but spares us the melodrama in the process. The girls also give a hometown shout-out to the men of the Toronto Raptors with a line that declares that as of now:

“Done being the sad girl

I’m done dating rockstars

From now on only actors

And tall boys from the Raptors…”

I am reasonably confident that “Blame Brett” is going to be the song that propels The Beaches into the mainstream. It is a terrific tune that plays as a feminist anthem. To my mind, it is only a matter of when, not if, this song is featured in a movie or television show and ends up at #1, not just in Canada but around the world as well. The members of The Beaches have done very well for themselves so far and have a very bright future ahead. I applaud their willingness to speak out about matters that are important to them and to do so without calculation and marketing being at the core of it all. The Beaches appear to be a well grounded, very talented band. If this is your first time watching/listening to them sing, then you are in for a treat. They are terrific! I am including two videos for the song “Blame Brett”. The first is the lyrics video (which will help you understand the song and the message it conveys). The second video is the official video release. It will help you get to know the four members of the band. It is also the video which reminds me most of The GoGos. I hope that you enjoy them both.

Thanks for reading. It is good to be back writing for you. As always, I enjoy reading your comments so feel free to reply below with any thoughts you have about this band, the song, The GoGos, all-girl bands or anything else that you may have on your mind. Until then, take care. See you again soon.

The link to the lyrics video for the song “Blame Brett” by The Beaches can be found here.

The link to the official video for the song “Blame Brett” by The Beaches can be found here.

The link to the official website for The Beaches can be found here.

The link to the official website for the Toronto neighbourhood known as The Beaches can be found here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2023

The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History: Song #470…Black Sheep by Metric (sung by Academy Award Winner, Brie Larsson) from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (KTOM)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #470: Black Sheep by Metric, as sung by Academy Award Winner Brie Larsson from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to Scott Pilgrim vs the World.

My daughter, Leah has a best friend. She and her best friend used to hang out a lot in person. Then Covid-19 appeared and now, the girls mainly meet via the phone. When they chat, they usually chat for a long time. A year ago, when we first went into lockdown, we were very, very strict about staying close to home and, as a result, we were starved for news from the outside world. So, whenever Leah finished with a phone call, we would ask her questions about her friend and her friend’s family…just so we could find out how other folks were coping. The conversations went something like this:

Me: So, how’s your friend?

Leah: Good.

Me: What’s she been doing to keep busy?

Leah: Not much.

Me: How is she liking on-line school?

Leah: It’s ok, I guess. We didn’t talk about it.

Me: Ok then, what did you talk about for over an hour?

Leah: Our universes, mainly.

Then Leah would sigh, roll her eyes and say, “Never mind, Dad. You wouldn’t understand anyway.” And she would walk away.

So, today’s song choice is my attempt to understand my daughter and her bff’s world….their “universes”. Here goes.

In recent years, storytelling has evolved. In the past, when you read a book, you got the story that was told within its’ pages and then you were finished and moved on to the next book. If you saw a movie, you saw the film, usually in a theatre, you ate your popcorn, let the story wash over you and then, at the end, you grabbed you coat and went home. The same can be said with songs, too. In essence, storytelling involved contained worlds or tales told exclusively within a given space. As consumers of the stories, we understood the parameters involved. But then, along came franchises such as Star Wars and Harry Potter and with them, a new way of telling stories called “Trans Media Narratives”.

The simplest way to understand the term, “Trans Media Narrative” is to accept the notion that stories are now being told in ways that extend beyond the pages of the books they are in or the movie screen they are on. These stories are expanding and coming at the consumer from multiple media formats. Think of Harry Potter, for example. Initially, this was a series of books about Harry and his friends and the dastardly, Lord Voldemort. But, as time has gone on, the world of Harry Potter has expanded into differing formats such as interactive websites, theme parks, graphic novels, new books have emerged that came directly from the original series (such as “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”), new movies have been made, new characters have been given attention and have seen their storyline developed and on and on it goes. The end result is, the original world of Harry Potter, as told via the book series, has expanded and grown and is available to be explored and enjoyed in many different ways by fans and consumers alike. In this way, the world or “universe” of the original series has grown much richer and deeper.

Today’s song is a case in point. Scott Pilgrim vs the World was released as a movie just over a decade ago. It was based on the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels series. The movie takes place in Toronto. The scene depicted in the video for this song takes place in a real Toronto music venue called Lee’s Palace. Anyway, the Scott Pilgrim “universe” exists in graphic novel form, in video game form, in movie form, in song form and much more. Scott Pilgrim vs the World has been labelled as a “cult classic”, which is code for “not a commercial success but, beloved by true fans”. Word of mouth recommendations have elevated this movie in the same sort of way that the camp classic Rocky Horror Picture Show has risen above its meagre beginnings.

The plot line of Scott Pilgrim vs the World is that Scott, in order to date his heart’s desire, must first defeat her seven evil exes. The format for these confrontations is a Battle of the Bands at Lee’s Palace. One by one, Scott Pilgrim defeats the ex-boyfriends. In this video for “Black Sheep”, the ex-boyfriend is the guitarist named Todd, whose super power is Veganism. Like I said, the movie is campy and silly but, it is cool and cutting edge at the same time. In this video, you will see how multiple media formats are integrated (music, movies, graphic novels, video games, even choreographed fight moves like those seen in movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.)

“Black Sheep” is sung in the movie by Academy Award winner, Brie Larsson. *(The movie also stars Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza and Michael Cera, among others). In real life, the song is from a Canadian band called Metric. In the movie, all of the bands in The Battle of the Bands were, in fact, real bands like Metric. Metric is lead by a talented lady named Emily Haines. This band has a string of hits in Canada and are great live. *I will include a live performance of this song by Metric in the comments section. As an added bonus, every time Metric posts a video of them playing, “Black Sheep” live, the first comment in their comment box is always the opening line that Scott Pilgrim uses in the video you are about to see, which is about Todd, the guitar player. Look for it in the Metric video. Fans of Scott Pilgrim always smile knowingly when they see it.

Anyway, Scott Pilgrim vs the World is beloved by fans of the story for a reason. They can enjoy this movie in more meaningful ways that you probably will because they have explored the graphic novel series, the computer games, the interactive websites, they have read the fanzines and so on. They are immersed in a “universe” that has many layers and realms to it. So, as you watch the video for “Black Sheep” do so in the knowledge that this is merely one scene in a multi-layered world that you are more than welcome to dive in and explore.

As I end this post, I hope that I have come close to describing what Leah and her friend discuss when they talk together on the phone. Whether I have captured the essence of their conversations or not isn’t really that important in the long run. First of all, I am over-the-moon with happiness that Leah has found such a good person to be her friend. As we all know, having true friends is like finding treasure. As a Dad, I want my girls to surround themselves with good people. Leah is off to a good start in that sense and I am pleased. Chat your heads off, Leah. It is all good.

But, in the larger sense, I believe that “trans media narrative” storytelling has implications for how we, as people, interact with the world of information in which we find ourselves. We live in a time of small soundbites and short tweets. When, in fact, this rich, layered way of storytelling exists, as well. As educators, it behooves us to move beyond the teaching of story structure and of framing the understanding of narratives as being simply that a story has a beginning, a middle and an end. That is no longer proving to be the case. We are alive in a time of prequels, sequels, origin stories and so much more. Our openness to understanding nuanced stories is far greater than ever before. So, when you watch, “Black Sheep” please understand that whole worlds or universes are contained within this one song. To understand that is to revolutionize how you think about the information you consume. In simpler words, there is potential for your mind to be blown. Red pill or blue? The choice is yours. Good luck.

The link for the music video for “Black Sheep” by Metric as sung by Brie Larsson in the Motion Picture, Scott Pilgrim vs the World can be found here. ***The lyrics version can be found here.

A live version of Black Sheep by Metric can be found here. *Watch for the “Todd” comment in the video’s comment section.

Metric has their own website that can be reached by clicking here.

I will close with a shout-out to my own daughter, Leah. She has her own blog and writes about YA books. Her website can be reached by clicking here.

***As always, all original content contained within this post remains the sole property of the author. No portion of this post shall be reblogged, copied or shared in any manner without the express written consent of the author. ©2021