It’s The 20th Anniversary Of Michael Jackson’s Most Controversial, Savvy, And Personal Album: ‘HIStory’

Went through a bit of nostalgia reading this article about Michael Jackson’s release of ‘HIStory’ 20 years ago – an album that ultimately went on to sell 30 million copies. There are so many directions we can take in discussing the obstacles he faced in changing not just music, but the world itself. To keep it short, one of the biggest surprises for me in reviewing this album release was how much backlash “They Don’t Care About Us” received. It’s incredible to think that MJ’s cry against racism immediately led to the world pointing the finger AT HIM, deeming him the racist.

My quick take: when the world doesn’t want to speak about the truth, it’s easy to turn the truth on its head, and make up a defensive lie. One would like to think that MJ was able to overcome it all, but alas, ‘HIStory’ wound up being one of his last great works – perhaps speaking to the detrimental power that opinions, hurtful words, and crowd mentality can have on one’s psyche. In defense of “They Don’t Care About Us,” Michael stated the below in a NY Times interview…somehow, it feels like he could say it today and it would still ring true:

“The idea that these lyrics could be deemed objectionable is extremely hurtful to me, and misleading. The song in fact is about the pain of prejudice and hate and is a way to draw attention to social and political problems. I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone. I am the skinhead, I am the Jew, I am the black man, I am the white man. I am not the one who was attacking. It is about the injustices to young people and how the system can wrongfully accuse them. I am angry and outraged that I could be so misinterpreted.”

Case of the Mondays – Grammy Edition: Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul McCartney ‘FourFiveSeconds’

There’s quite a bit to say about the Grammys this year, but it’s Monday, so let’s just try to make it through the day.

This week’s Case of the Monday song is inspired by Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney’s collaborative performance at the Grammys. Whether you loved or hated Rihanna’s cake dress at the Grammys, we can at least all thank God she still has talent.

‘FourFiveSeconds’ is a creative song – bared down to the vocals, and only supported by a few guitars that strum a riff as opposed to a melody. It’s the type of song however, that if you first heard it on the radio (i.e. without visuals), you might think to yourself…”yea, it’s an ok song.” Rather, it’s Rihanna’s passion during the performance that takes it to the next level. I mean seriously, she’s moving around as if she really is about to explode, which isn’t what would be implied by the simple musical backdrop. The world loves the song, as shown by it racking up ~19 million views on YouTube in just 6 days (!). Passion does go a long way in music.

Now I’m FourFiveSeconds from wildin’
And we got three more days ’til Friday
I’m just tryna make it back home by Monday mornin’
I swear I wish somebody would tell me

By the way, it is Monday, so unfortunately, we have four days til Friday. But it’s ok, we can only move up from here.

Want to Highlight Artists on Your Campus/Surrounding Area? Write for Bars and Chords!

Well, graduation season is just about over and it’s finally time for the class of 2013 to embark on a new journey. Running along with this theme, what better time than now for a mini-revamp of Bars and Chords?! Over the past year or so, this site has mainly focused on highlighting music artists currently enrolled at Columbia University. From upcoming shows in NYC, to new EPs, and other publicity, it’s been all about CU. But with new readership from states everywhere, we think it’s about time to heed to requests and include emerging artists from other cities/universities.

Here’s where YOU come in. Whether you’re a college student at a university, or a recent grad who loves to discover new music, you can be involved as a writer for Bars and Chords. Write album reviews for artists on your campus, update readers on upcoming shows in your city, or simply share some underground music that you’ve been listening to, and believe others should hear as well. It’s a great way to stay on top of your music, plus you get to improve writing skills. If you’re interested in hearing more about this opportunity, please email

And for all the readers out there who just want to keep reading, keep checking in on the site! It’s about time we all discover some real music. Enjoy the summer!

Some advice for CU Artists: Move the Crowd!

Now that I’m back from China, I’ve taken the past few weeks to check out a few shows and see what’s going on with artists on campus. I have to say, I’m quite impressed with both old and new. From new songs to entirely new EPs and albums, my iTunes playlists are blowing up. However, after attending a few shows, I feel that I need to share some advice with artists…that is, you need to MOVE THE CROWD!! You know, Will Smith and Jazzy Jeff “I Wanna Rock Right Now” style.

We’re in collegeWill Smith and DJ Jazzy Jeff, right? That means students go to shows to release some stress (esp. at Columbia), have fun, and hear some good music. Most artists have the good music part figured out, but the artists that really stand out are the ones that relate to the audience. How, you ask? Eye contact, call-and-response (you know, Taylor Simone style), reaching out to the audience…literally. Have you ever been at a concert, and the artist screams “Now, wave your hands back and forth like this!” All of the sudden, the crowd moves in sync – a certain energy spreads across the room. Everyone “vibes” together, as if the music unites us. That’s what we need in college. If you’re a rapper and the crowd is quiet, break out a freestyle. If you’re a jazz artist, make sure your instrument is heard in a solo. You’re in a rock band? Make everyone stand up. Impress, impress, impress. Do something’s a live show, and we’re in college. It’s all about fun..right? Engage with the audience, and your show will be that much better.

Have an upcoming show that no one knows about?

Or maybe your mom does, but still…beginning April 23, 2012, we will be posting information about upcoming shows in New York City. So if you’re a musician in a band, and no one is responding to your Facebook invite (besides your mom), be sure to email with the event name, date, featured artists, location, and price. You can also like us on Facebook and post the info on the wall.

For music lovers, be sure to check back on the website in 2 weeks to see what’s happening in the city!

The Search for Artist of the Month

Attention all Columbia University music artists and bands! In celebration of the new website, Bars and Chords is beginning its search for the best artists on campus to feature as artist of the month. Every month, beginning April 23rd, a new band will be featured on the website. If you are interested in being featured, like us on Facebook and post your music. You may also post a link to your website, or email Criteria for each artist will be based on music quality and popularity, so get your friends to like your post on our Facebook page! Each artist of the month will also have the opportunity to be featured as a permanent artist on our website. Good luck!