The Beatles Marathon, now in its sixth year, is firmly entrenched as a Columbus holiday tradition. During the annual concert, which takes place at the Bluestone on Saturday, Dec. 26, Joe Peppercorn and a cadre of musicians will perform the entirety of the Beatles catalog in chronological order.
The Beatles Marathon, now in its sixth year, is firmly entrenched as a Columbus holiday tradition.
During the annual concert, which takes place at the Bluestone on Saturday, Dec. 26, Joe Peppercorn and a cadre of musicians will perform the entirety of the Beatles catalog in chronological order, starting with the Fab Four's 1963 debut Please Please Me and wrapping things up nearly 12 hours later with Abbey Road from 1969.
Considering how many pop hits will be performed over the course of the daylong event, Alive thought Peppercorn and Marathon bandmates Jesse Cooper (The Receiver) and Philip Cogley (The Saturday Giant) would be the ideal trio to offer commentary on a handful of the biggest 2015 songs. Here's what the three had to say during a recent afternoon listening session.
Justin Bieber: "What Do You Mean?"
Peppercorn: I hate pan flute in all circumstances.
Cooper: What about [the Celine Dion song from] "Titanic"?
Peppercorn: It might stem from that.
Cogley: I don't know. This just seems really boring.
Peppercorn: It's really boring. This is Justin Bieber? I was expecting it to be this giant hooky thing, but the hook is not big at all. I was really looking forward to hearing this and liking it, but I really don't. Sorry, Justin.
The Weeknd: "Can't Feel My Face"
Peppercorn: I do know this one.
Cooper: How do you know this one?
Peppercorn: In da club. I hear it when I go to the club. I love the Weeknd. This song is obviously undeniable, but it's also very much the most interesting things about him diluted.
Cooper: It's definitely a nod to 1980s Michael Jackson.
Peppercorn: It's an over-the-top nod. You could tell in the studio he was like, "Ah, is that too Michael Jackson?" and then - who is that asshole who writes all the hits? Max Martin or whoever? - you could tell he was like, "No, no. Do that more."
Drake: "Hotline Bling"
Peppercorn: This is another one of those songs I was super excited to hear, because I'm a huge Drake fan and I heard there was a song called "Hotline Bling" and I love that title, and then I heard it and I was like, "That's it?" He's really interesting on his older stuff, where he would be so honest it was almost uncomfortable. This is the opposite of that.
Cooper: All I can think about is those dance moves.
Peppercorn: I have to incorporate some of those dance moves into the Beatles show this year. [Every year] I try to incorporate at least one pop culture reference to date the show. So the year Psy [did "Gangnam Style"] I did [one of the dance moves from the video] during "Get Back," and no one caught it.
Cogley: I don't know what this song is supposed to be doing. It's not like the last one, where there wasn't a lot of content but at least you could shake your ass. This one you can't shake your ass and it's devoid of content.
Cooper: You know [Donald] Trump did [a skit with this song] on "Saturday Night Live."
Peppercorn: Wow. I don't think that would make America great again.
Cogley: I do think this song is really well-produced, like the way the piano sounds and the way her voice sits. It's well done. She has undeniable chops.
Peppercorn: I'm torn because my feelings are that this is really boring, but also if Adele came into this room and sang this for us right now we'd all be crying, like, "Oh my god, this is amazing!"
Cogley: The one thing about this song is…
Peppercorn: You wish it was "Smooth" by Santana?
Cogley: I guess what bums me out most is so many people talk about this album and this song like it's the best thing they've heard in years, and I feel like if that's the state of music, we're in a pretty bad way. The song's about heartbreak, right? But there's no specificity about the heartbreak. She could be writing about anyone's heartbreak. There are some songs about heartbreak I listen to once and I cannot listen to them again because it destroys me. This song doesn't do that.
Kendrick Lamar: "The Blacker the Berry"
Peppercorn: This is the opposite of the Adele song. That Adele song is searching for something to say, like, "Ok, there's this emotion we want to convey," but it never really finds it. With this I almost can't keep up with how many very complicated ideas he's putting out.
Cogley: This one stands head and shoulders above everything else we've listened to.
Peppercorn: Compared with the other tracks, it's shocking what he's doing production-wise. There's free-jazz and all this stuff you do not hear on [hit] albums. Phil and I were talking about this the other day: One of the astounding things about the Beatles is the stuff they were doing at number one. So it's awesome to have someone like Kendrick, where not only is he pushing things forward and making music that's complex, but he's doing it at number one.
Fetty Wap: "Trap Queen"
Cooper: I see a lot of lights on the dance floor. Lasers. Sweat.
Peppercorn: I can feel the guy dancing next to me bumping shoulders and turning to me going, "My tongue is a butterfly!" This is boring. Especially after the last song, which felt vibrant, almost like there was a band playing. With this you can see some dude [fussing with] ProTools.
Courtney Barnett: "Pedestrian at Best"
Peppercorn: This is awesome.
Cooper: She sounds upset about something.
Peppercorn: Good! Have you looked around you lately?! This is edgy; this is cool. I like it. This reminds me of those bands in the '90s. Everyone now feels like they have to try really, really, really hard to show everyone they're trying. In the '90s I remember falling in love with groups like Yo La Tengo and all these other bands where they were mumbling and using these weird vocal deliveries.
Santana (featuring Rob Thomas): "Smooth"
Cooper: Sit back down; quit dancing so much! What is there not to like about this song?
Peppercorn: To be fair, listening to it with the space of 16 years since it came out, his vocal is great. The piano could not sound any worse; it's like a Yamaha DX7 nightmare piano sound. This song is weird. It dominated 1999. It was such a weird moment. I was there.
12 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 26
583 E. Broad St., Downtown