Let’s Talk Sparks, Adam Driver and “Annette”

Here is the lyric video for “So May We Start” by Sparks featuring Simon Helburg, Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, featured in the upcoming film Annette.

Annette, directed by Leos Carax and written by the band Sparks (brothers Ron and Russell Mael), will premiere July 6, 2021. It will also open the Cannes Film Festival the same day. The film stars Driver and Cotillard as a stand-up comedian (Driver) and his wife (Cotillard), a world-famous soprano. Their life takes a turn when their daughter, Annette, is born with a unique gift.

Adam Driver (born 1983) first gained recognition for a supporting role on the HBO comedy-drama series Girls. From there, he went on to appear in supporting roles in films like Lincoln and Inside Llewyn Davis before finding his greatest fame for playing the role of Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

Sparks consists of brothers Ron and Russell Mael and have released twenty-five studio albums, with a ever-changing cast of band members and musical styles. Their biggest hit single “This Town Aint Big Enough For Both Of Us” peaked at #2 on the UK singles charts in 1974. Since then, Sparks have continually experimented with pop music even as the landscape of music shifted around them. Their 1979 album No. 1 In Heaven (produced by Giorgio Moroder) has been considered by many to be a seminal synthpop album. They have named as an influence by such different musicians as Beck, Flea (of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), Morrissey (who even wrote to a British music magazine as a teenager praising a Sparks album), New Order and Kurt Cobain.

Sparks performing (miming) “This Town” for a TV appearance in 1974. Russell on vocals, Ron on keyboards and glaring at the camera and audience. In order to establish himself different from other flamboyant keyboardists of the era (think the cape-clad Rick Wakeman of Yes), Ron Mael chose to look as non-rock as possible, and added a Chaplin-esque mustache. Allegedly, when Sparks appeared on “Top Of The Pops”, John Lennon saw Ron’s mustache and exclaimed “Look, Yoko, it’s Hitler on the telly!”

I mentioned No. 1 In Heaven earlier and the biggest hit from that album was “Beat The Clock”. After a period of instability, Sparks reinvented themselves as just a brother-duo and with the help of Moroder, concocted a great dance album with incisive lyrics.

Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos was an early fan of Sparks and lent her vocal talents to “Cool Places”, one of Sparks’ few US hit singles. It’s funny to me because they keep singing about how they want to go to these supposedly cool places but they don’t know where they are.

A consistent thread in the story of Sparks is periods of instability. After their early-mid 80s, it would be nearly a decade before they would enjoy success again when the hit single “When Do I Get Sing ‘My Way'” reached the UK charts some two decades after “This Town”. This video is a great story in itself. The easiest thing to do would have been for these two guys to call it quits and stop talking to each other. But they didn’t. They stayed at it. And they made another great dance number (although a very sad one). All you need to know about this song is in the title: when do I get to sing “I did it my way”? When do I get to feel like Frank Sinatra felt when he sang that song?

Lil’ Beethoven from 2002 is simultaneously the band’s densest yet most sparse album. After a period of experimenting with the dance genres of the period, Sparks went in the other direction and literally sang “I am the rhythm thief/gay goodbye to the beat” and then got rid of the beats. It’s filled with keyboards, strings, and vocals. But just those things. It’s only really until the last two tracks that other traditional rock music elements are brought in.

After the critical success of Lil’ Beethoven, there began a reappraisal of the band’s catalogue and career. The band continued to work and a new generation began to discover them. One band that was influenced by them was Scottish band Franz Ferdinand (“Take Me Out”) and over a period of years, they developed an full-length album project called FFS.

Annette, directed by French film director Leos Carax, is Carax’s first English-language film. The project was announced in November 2016 but shooting was pushed to August 2019 due to casting changes and Driver’s commitments to filming the Star Wars movies.

What More Can I Tell You?

It’s all gone. Four years of writing. Hundreds of thousands of words. All gone. I deleted the vast majority of my blog posts today.

It’s possible that some of the wrestling-related stuff got archived and that’s fine. I think I’m done writing on here. I’ve kept a few select pieces up, but nothing too personal.

I don’t want to write these anymore. I just don’t have anything else to say. It doesn’t matter what I think about anything that doesn’t pertain directly or even indirectly to me. I want to be on social media less, while I’m at it. Facebook is a useless website. Twitter occasionally pukes up something interesting but it feels like I’m just throwing bulletins into a hole. I’ve aged out of Tiktok, Snapchat, Discord, etc.

There are a million things going in culture and politics and a million other people who can do a better job encapsulating those events and commenting on them. I have been just another voice in the Greek chorus, wanting to be the lead. That’s not where I belong.

It was therapeutic, so it served it’s purpose. I went back and looked at each one as I deleted them and I saw how much I have changed as a person. I was a little sad at the person I used to be, but I’m proud at how far I’ve come.

I have no idea when I’ll write if I decide to do it again, but I’m comforted in knowing that my voice will not be missed.

I Took A Greyhound To Spend An Evening With Christian Vander and Magma

Let’s go back in time. March 26, 2016. A different time in American history. Donald Trump (remember him?) had a ten point lead on Ted Cruz in the Republican Presidential Primary. Hillary Clinton (remember her) had a seven-point lead over Trump. A Clinton victory seemed inevitable, as the former Secretary of State would ascend to the highest office in the land and become the first female President. David Bowie died in January. Prince was still with us. It was my thirty-eighth birthday.

I sat on a Greyhound bus headed from Louisville to Chicago. I was on my way to see a French music group called Magma.

When I first heard of Magma, it was Matt and Rafe showing me a video of them playing live in 1977. If you watch this video (forgive the quality), you’ll see the drummer playing like a man possessed and looking extremely crazy. He is a gift that keeps on giving.

That drummer is Christian Vander, and he is the leader, main composer and sometimes lead vocalist of Magma, a band that has a rotating cast of members with Vander as the only constant. There is no point in me posting a picture of the band because the lineup changes so often it’s ridiculous.

I have no idea how to explain what they sound like. If you have the slightest interest in what they sound like, check out their 1973 album Mekanïk Destruktïẁ Kommandöh, I am going to say it is part rock, part jazz, part space opera. The band itself describes it as “Zeuhl”. Magma sings in a language they made up called Kobaïan. Sigur Rós also sing in their own language (Hopelandic) but Magma were doing it about twenty-five years before them. I am not saying Sigur Rós was influenced by Magma because they sound nothing alike.

After some investigation, I ended up liking this band. An extremely crazy drummer leading a jazz/rock/opera band singing songs in a language they made up? Sign me up.

For what it’s worth, the studio version of “De Futura” is really good. It’s so good Death Grips sampled that shit. Trigger warning: This song is seventeen minutes long.

But what sealed it for me was their 1975 live album Live/Hhaï. The title track is one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard. It has brought tears to my eyes. Listen to the violin on here. Anybody who can do that has earned my fandom. Trigger warning: this song is nearly nine minutes long and has violin on it.

Music like this is why I was willing to take a Greyhound bus to Chicago to see Magma in 2016. The opportunity was literally once in a lifetime. I think Magma’s last U.S. appearance was 1973. Since Christian Vander was sixty-eight years old in 2016, I figured this would never happen again. There were problems though. My car, a 1999 Lincoln Town Car, would never make it to Chicago and back. Also I couldn’t afford a ticket due to my fixed income.

Luckily, my friend Rafe came through. He got me a ticket and a round-trip bus ticket. Now it was up to me. A ten-hour trip to Chicago with a long layover in Indianapolis and an eight-hour trip back to Louisville. I spent about three hours total in Chicago and most of that was at the venue.

Magma played came out, three vocalists, a guitarist, a bassist, and two keyboardists. Then Christian Vander, the man himself. One of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Drummers. Granted, they put him at #100 but it counts. They played a total of FOUR songs. The first two, Theusz Hamtaahk (Kobaïan for “Time of Hatred”) and Mekanïk Destruktïẁ Kommandöh, were about thirty-five minutes apiece. I want to make something clear: this is not a jam band. They did not wank off for any of those thirty-five minutes. That was a tight performance. There might have been spots where people were allowed to solo but there was a structure to everything and Vander had it all under control. It was dizzying to see. Nobody in the crowd sang along as it would be impossible.

The next two songs, Zombies and Kobaïa were ten and seven minutes a piece. I had hoped for “De Futura” or “Hhai” but I couldn’t complain with what I was given. Concert concluded, I got into an Uber and went to the bus station for my trip back to Louisville. It was the most unique concert of my life, which says a lot given I saw the Boredoms in Chicago on my thirtieth birthday.

I put myself through the most strenuous road trip of my entire life to hear the strangest music I will ever hear. I wish I had a tape of it. This is the fortunate thing about the era of streaming audio that I can listen to Magma whenever I want or that I discovered them in the first place. I still remember feeling like I was one of the youngest people in the building, not counting staff. It’s like most of these old men had waited forty years for this opportunity where I had only waited a few. Sitting to my left was an elderly gentleman who told me his first concert was The Who at his high school gymnasium in 1967 with Ted Nugent and The Amboy Dukes as opener. “Before Ted went crazy”, he told me. On my right sat a college exchange student from Southeast Asia who was attending her first concert ever. Magma? First concert? What a choice!

If I could recommend anything I would suggest 1973’s Mekanïk Destruktïẁ Kommandöh, 1975’s Live/Hhaï, 1976’s Üdü Ẁüdü, and 1977’s Attahk. Expect high-pitch scat singing, operatic vocals, punishing repetition that is almost militaristic at times and some of the best musicianship you will ever hear. Does this kind of life sound interesting to you? Attahk is the least characteristic of the album I’ve mentioned, with a greater emphasis on soul and funk, more based on song-based format instead of long-form composition. In some ways, it’s the one I come back to the most.

The Last Seven Minutes – from Attahk (1977)

Christian Vander formed Magma in 1969 after experiencing a vision of humanity’s spiritual and ecological future that disturbed him, according to Wikipedia. I called him extremely crazy earlier but what else do you do when you see the world falling apart? What would you do? This is what he chose to do. I think he chose wisely.

Now it is 2021. I am forty-three years old. Christian Vander is thirty years older than me. It is a vastly different world than it was five years prior. I am absolutely certain Magma will never perform in the U.S. again. I am incredibly thankful for that moment and that concert and for Rafe getting me the ticket to see them live when we had the chance. I will never forget it as long as I live.

The Best Albums Of An Entirely Made Up 2020

What a year, huh? I mean, so much to talk about! And what a year in MUSIC! So much to celebrate! This is the time of year when you see these end-of-year best-of lists for albums, and inevitably you’ve never heard of most of these things. In fact, you probably only heard one new song. . . “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. And the only album you heard was Fetch The Bolt Cutters by Fiona Apple. Neither of those things are on this list this year but these entirely made up entries are and rest assured they have no basis in reality whatsoever.

Cim Jarrey, Cim Jarrey I

The post-prog rock of the controversial Phoenix, Arizona’s Cim Jarrey flowers all over their debut album, the first in what is purported to be a multi-part sci-fi epic about the last white man on a post-apocalyptic desiccated Earth. Some people think “Moisture” is a blatant Residents ripoff. Other people think the album’s subject matter is panders to the alt-right. Quite a few people hate the band name. 

Sonic Youth, Dryer

That band you pretended to enjoy in the ’80s and ’90s has been rebooted to be to pretended to be enjoyed by your children now. Much like Ghostbusters, Sonic Youth is now all women. Dryer is a sequel to 1995’s Washing Machine, regarded by all as the best SY album. Everyone in the band is named Khloe. Best track: “Klimb That Mountain”.

IAMAKAT, onlyfans (12″ single)

They didn’t release an album but the debut single by Brooklyn experimental dance music duo IAMAKAT is an indication of where the genre is headed. The daughter of a New York Times Magazine writer and her DJ boyfriend, their first and so far only song is empowering with its’ refrain of “SEX! WORK! IS! REAL! WORK!” over sputtering slippery beats. It is unlikely they will ever record together again.

Black Twitter Wikipedia Page

The most relevant cultural force in America is social media and the most thriving part of social media is Black Twitter. If you tap into the angular strains of Black Twitter, you will be “sipping the tea” and going “Yassss Queen” in no time. But if you’re a confused, agitated Caucasian, where to start? Why not check out the non-musical Wikipedia page about Black Twitter? At least it’s not Scottish Twitter. 

Approaching, Untitled 

Perhaps the best shoegaze-funk band to come out of. . . England, probably since. . . I dunno. . . that other band you probably heard of.  Were they a funk band though? I mean. . . they played a something kind of funk music but they were a rock band. I dunno. All I know is that shoegaze is automatically cool and especially if it comes from England and funk is always great unless Jamiroquai plays it. So there. Listen to Approaching. 

2020 Honorable Mention List

Chunk Harrington & Boot Hooper – The Cattlemen, Vol. 1

Chase The Other Rapper – I Was Going To Send You A Link To My Favorite Pornhub Video But Then My Mom Got A Job

Obligatory LGBTQIA Placeholder Album Goes Here – lorem ipso facto “uplifting”

Bleedy – Demos for Avril Lavigne 

Army Of Fists – Meat Justice

Scott Bakula – Back To Bakula

Smokey & Marmalade – Live via Zoom Call

Baaaaayyyyybaaaayyyyyy – Toxic Masculity, The Mixtape

FEMINISM – Nice Tits

Burning Lava Corporation – An Orgy During A Funeral Where Everyone’s Wearing Blackface

Viper – I wasnt trying but you listened to it anyway

Some Music Reviews I Will Confess To Writing

 

Live_AlexHarveyalbum

The Sensational Alex Harvey BandLive! (1975)

Tracks 1-5: Perfectly acceptable 70s glam rock sung by a middle-aged man.

Track 6: LITERALLY THE BEST PERFORMANCE OF THE SONG ‘DELILAH’ EVER AND IF TOM JONES HAS A PROBLEM WITH THAT, TO HELL WITH HIM!

Track 7: Dunh-nah-nah-dunh-nah for a quarter of the album’s running time until the lead singer stops the music to talk the audience.

I guess you had to be there. Three-and-a-half stars.

Queen_News_Of_The_World

QueenNews Of The World (1977)

This is their stadium rock album? This is the album they conquered the world with?

Take “We Will Rock You” and “We Are The Champions” out of the picture and what do you have? A grabbag of stylistic diversions: Reactionary punk, flamenco guitar, cocktail lounge cabaret, a tender piano ballad or two, one-take English blues, and whatever the hell “Get Down, Make Love” is.

They can’t get away with doing all this if Freddie Mercury isn’t versatile enough to sell each and every one of these genre experiments. For example, Roger Taylor sings the relatively straightforward “Fight From The Inside” and it’s a bathroom break of a song.

News Of The World is not Queen’s best album (that would either be Sheer Heart Attack or A Night At The Opera) but it is indisputably their sixth album.

Three-and-a-half stars.

Madonna,_debut_album_cover

Madonna – self-titled (1983)

This is the only thing I will write about Madonna.

Her debut album came out when I was five years old. She has been famous for basically my entire life. Some of my earliest musical memories are the songs on this album and I resent her for it. Now I am a middle-aged man and this poppy fluff from nearly forty years ago is still here. It refuses to go away, already.

Highlights: “Lucky Star”, “Everybody”, “Holiday”

Lowlights: My wasted life

Five stars.

comingoutoftheirshells

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Coming Out Of Our Shells (1990)

This is less a review of a promotional tie-in album than a tale of youth disillusioned.

Like many kids in 1990, I was a fan of TMNT. I played the video games, watched the movies and had the action figures.

When I was a boy and I found out about this album, I was under the impression that I would hear the voices of the people from the cartoon or the movie.

I listened to this album once and only once. I didn’t get to the end. I was disillusioned to NOT hear the voices from either the cartoon or the movie on the album. Plus the songs sucked.

Upon further research, I just learned that this was a tie-in for a concert tour. Dear God.

This wasn’t my first bad product tie-in. I saw Mac & Me. I saw The Wizard with Fred Savage. I got plenty of cheap doodads from fast food joints that came with my meals. But this one burned me good. Fool me once, Pizza Hut and TMNT, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again. A half-star for the childhood learning experience. 

Odb_-_nigga_please

Ol’ Dirty Bastard N***A Please (1999)

This is less an album and more an anti-drug advertisement, as it reeks of cocaine paranoia. The second half of this album feels like being in a room with someone stoned out of their mind, subject to their mood and whims and tantrums. They start out being fun to be around but then they turn on you and get scary while you try to appease them to deescalate the situation to keep things from getting violent.

“I Can’t Wait” is a jam.

No rating.

Fiona_Apple_-_Fetch_the_Bolt_Cutters

Fiona AppleFetch The Bolt Cutters (2020)

More like Fart The Butt Cunters, amirite.

Three stars.

Review: Eurovision Song Contest (The Story Of Fire Saga

Last night, I watched the new Will Ferrell film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix. I mostly enjoyed it. There’s the short review.

Will Ferrell plays Lars, an Icelandic man with childhood dreams of entering and winning the Eurovision Song Contest. His Abba-inspired, elf-worshiping friend Sigrit (played by Rachel McAdams), joins him in a local band called Fire Saga. Lars’ father (played by Pierce Brosnan) is a widowed fisherman who is routinely embarrassed by his son.

You could probably make a complaint about Hollywood casting. Ferrell and McAdams are supposed to be lifelong friends, but there’s a ten-year age difference in real life. Ferrell looks closer in age to Brosnan (who’s fifteen years older than him) than to McAdams. It only works because everybody does good in their roles.

Through a series of random, unlikely events, Fire Saga become the Icelandic representatives for the annual Eurovision song contest. This is an actual event that is held (exempting this year because of covid-19). As a musician, I found the musical parts of the movie are the most satirical. It’s amazing to see all these different countries represented from all over the world, each with their own unique culture, language and folklore. How do they represent themselves on an international stage? By trying to sing a middle-of-the road pop song in English. These songs are almost indistinguishable from one another. The only thing that makes them interesting is the performances which border on Cirque du Soleil at times.

The movie is a bit more kindhearted than I might have expected from Ferrell, possibly because there’s more of an affection for the subject of the movie than there might be if he were younger. I won’t say it’s a great or even good movie, but it’s breezy enough that you’ll forgive its’ dead giveaways and plotholes.

Frank Zappa Albums as dril Tweets

drilzappa

 

The late rock star/composer/guitarist Frank Zappa (d. 1993) and weird twitter account dril aren’t for everybody but the people love them think they’re the pinnacle of their respective mediums.

Zappa did not live to see the instantaneous, random online world but one might imagine he would have thrived in it. By himself and with his band the Mothers of Invention, he released over fifty albums in his lifetime. I decided to describe them using dril tweets. If you can think of a better way, you do it.

It’s not a definitive list but that’s okay. Art is subjective. There is no God.

FreakOut! Freak Out (1966)

FrankZappa-AbsolutelyFree Absolutely Free (1967)

Zappamoney2 We’re Only In It For The Money (1968)

Verve_Lumpy_Gravy Lumpy Gravy (1968)

Frank_Zappa_-_Uncle_Meat Uncle Meat (1969)

Frank_Zappa_-_Cruising_With_Ruben_&_the_Jets Cruising with Ruben & The Jets (1968)

 

Hot_Rats_(Frank_Zappa_album_-_cover_art) Hot Rats (1969)

 

Burnt Weeny Sandwich & Weasels Ripped My Flesh (1970)

The title track to “Weasels Ripped My Flesh”, the second most inscrutable Zappa album.

 

 

Chunga’s Revenge, Fillmore East – June 1971, Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels, and Just Another Band From L.A. (1970-1972)

Video below: Zappa with his two fat sons Flo & Eddie on lead vocals

 

Waka/Jawaka & The Grand Wazoo (1972)

Frank-Zappa-Overnite-Sensation-1973-cover Over-Nite Sensation (1973)

Apostrophe_(') Apostrophe (‘) (1974)

Video below: Zappa and the Mothers singing “Stinkfoot”

 

Roxy & Elsewhere & One Size Fits All (1974-1975)

Zappa_Bongo_Fury Bongo Fury (with Captain Beefheart, 1975)

cook

Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa: two bearded intellectuals

Zappa_Zoot_Allures Zoot Allures (1976)

 

Zappa_in_New_York Zappa In New York (1978)

Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt & Orchestra Favorites (1978-1979)

Sheik Yerbouti & Joe’s Garage (1979)

Fan-made video for “Dancin’ Fool” from Sheik Yerbouti

 

Tinseltown Rebellion & You Are What You Is (1981)

Shut Up ‘N Play Yer Guitar & Frank Zappa: Guitar (1981, 1988)

Frank_Zappa_-_Ship_Arriving_Too_Late_to_Save_a_Drowning_Witch Ship Arriving Too Late To Save A Drowning Witch (1982)

“Valley Girl” from Ship Arriving…, a duet with daughter Moon Zappa (his only Top 40 song)

The_Man_From_Utopia The Man From Utopia (1983)

London Symphony Orchestra & The Perfect Stranger: Boulez Conducts Zappa (1983-1984, 1987)

Zappa_Them_or_Us Them Or Us (1984)

Zappa_Thing-Fish Thing-Fish (1984)

I know I posted that tweet already. Here’s “The Mammy Nuns” from Thing-Fish, the most inscrutable Zappa album.

Francesco Zappa, Frank Zappa Meets The Mothers Of Prevention & Jazz From Hell (1984-1986)

Frank_Zappa,_Does_Humor_Belong_In_Music Does Humor Belong In Music? (1986)

Zappa_Broadway_The_Hard_Way Broadway The Hard Way (1988)

You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore, Volumes 1-6, Playground Psychotics & Ahead Of Their Time (1988-1993)

Frank_Zappa,_Make_A_Jazz_Noise_Here Make A Jazz Noise Here (1991)

Zappa-best-band-2 The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life (1991)

Frank_Zappa,_Yellow_Shark The Yellow Shark (1993)

Video: “G-Spot Tornado” from The Yellow Shark. Zappa conducts the Ensemble Modern in his last public appearance, September 1992.

Frank_Zappa,_Civilization_Phaze_III Civilization, Phaze III (posthumous, 1994)

 

I’m Tired, Aren’t You?

I’m tired.

oligarchy

It’s not going to happen. Oligarchy will continue to prevail. Oh, but I can dream! Fair enough. Don’t forget to put a quart of motor oil under your pillow so the oligarch fairy shows up while you sleep. When you wake up, BIG SURPRISE!

Nice roses, socialist.

guillotine

Yes! Let’s get them! Guillotines for billionaires! Let’s drag them out of their mansions and chop their heads off. Security will be lax so it should be easy to get in. No guard dogs or armed response whatsoever. And it’s easy to get a guillotine. I don’t know anybody who doesn’t have one. They’re practically like AR’s.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc. We’re never using any of these things ever again. The billionaires will be brought to heel!

You hate to see it. And I am here for it.

rttosupport

It’s amazing how a teenager with Asperger’s can expose the raw nerves of our divisiveness just because she’s a climate change activist. This “RT to show your support” got 80 retweets and hundreds of likes. I’m sure Greta Thunberg felt all of that support.

Greta said “You took my childhood away” at the United Nations.  So this person shoots back with . . . other children have it worse in impoverished nations? Also children should be seen and not heard. Slam dunk!

The two main thoughts I had when I was sixteen were “I’d like a girlfriend and I want people to stop picking on me.” So if a kid is a climate change or gun control activist, fine. If a kid is an anti-abortion activist, I don’t like it but I’m not gonna yell at them. Unless it’s a boy.

Fuck you and your whole family, Clinton.

nickmullen

This could be racist.

corybooker

chuckecheese

You decide.

I feel like the ship is going down but maybe you don’t. Just don’t wish and hope for things to get better and then not do anything to follow up.

Who’s The Cutest Girl In The World?

(Update: Since I published this Maki Itoh has clarified her surname is spelled with an “h”, ending debate among fans and causing the guy behind the DDT English translation account to “turn (his) back against the Japanese government”. I want to thank him for his advice and assistance.)

It’s been a long time since I last wrote about Japanese wrestling so I think I’m overdue. I’d like in this edition to write about the self-proclaimed “cutest girl in the world” who has become a cult sensation. She is cute, as in adorable. She is also a unstable mess of a human being. Yes, even for pro wrestling.

ito2

Maki Itoh sings her own entrance theme on the way to the ring, all dressed up like Little Red Riding Hood. She also claims to have gone in debt spending the equivalent of $8000 U.S. to make her face smaller. It doesn’t appear to have worked and she’s not happy about that.

Maki Itoh asks the crowd “Who’s the cutest in the world?” to which the crowd replies “ITOH-CHAN!” No one wants to see what happens if they don’t say that. She gives the finger to opponents who are beating the hell out of her.

ito

 

She rams her own head into the turnbuckle post out of frustration. When she loses big matches (which is often) she tends to steal the microphone so she can rant and cry hysterically and then sing a capella version of “Ultra Soul” by B’z while limping in great pain back to the backstage area. She is slowly learning English but all the wrong words first.

Maki Itoh is 24 years old and has been wrestling for less than three years. Before that, she was an idol performer, learning how to sing, dance, and charm an audience. That training is part of her origin story as a wrestler.

(If you don’t understand, look up “Japanese idol” on Wikipedia because I don’t have the time or ability to explain it succinctly and I’d prefer to concentrate on Maki Itoh.)

The talent agency that groomed her to be an idol judged her looks to be insufficient and fired her. Itoh, not wanting to leave the world of entertainment behind, re-emerged in an unlikely way via the all-women’s promotion Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling (TJPW). Unfortunately, her rejection by the talent agency made her neurotic and insecure. To make things even worse for her, TJPW added a group of singing idol wrestlers called Up Up Girls (Puroresu) to the promotion a few months after she debuted.

Up Up Girls is a well-known Japanese idol singing group that has partnered with TJPW to form their own version of the group that starts each wrestling show with a song and dance routine. The wrestling version of Up Up Girls also competes in matches. Sometimes they compete against Itoh. Sometimes there is trouble.

In order to bolster her self-esteem, she formed her own group called Itoh Respect Army which consisted of her and basically one other girl, Mizuki.

Eventually she broke up the Army because she was jealous of Mizuki winning more matches and being better than her at wrestling.

And that’s the other thing. As popular as Itoh is with TJPW and with fans of wrestling online, she’s still not a great wrestler. Let me put it to you this way: imagine one of the guys from One Direction getting fired from the group and deciding his best way of staying in entertainment was to join a wrestling company.

How good could that guy possibly be after two years of training? That’s essentially what Itoh is, a former idol singer/dancer turned athlete/performer. She’s done well considering where she came from but pro wrestling is very hard to do even if it is a form of entertainment.

I think that combination of being the underdog and laying it out there for all to see is what has endeared her to fans. Defiance in the face of certain defeat. She’s outclassed by superior wrestlers but she gives them finger anyway and refuses to give up. The opponent has to keep beating on her until she can’t get up anymore.

Besides, there’s always the next match and another chance for victory. And she definitely gets her fair share of wins. Especially against those cursed Up Up Girls.

Recently, she had a Twitter AMA. It went well.

itochan3

 

itochan1

itochan2

itochan4

I don’t think we should take life advice from a neurotic 24-year-old pro wrestler who seems to be flirting with nihilism and financial domination. But that’s just me. Let’s at least wait until she gets a few more years of life experience and a better grasp of English. And she has a good point. . . give me money.

No, not her. Give me money. I’m not the cutest in the world. Not even close. I could use the help.

 

February 2021 UPDATE: Since I published this in 2019, she has won her first TJPW singles title, the International Princess Championship. She held the title for seventy-eight days. She also won the DDT Ironman Heavyweight Championship multiple times but that’s less interesting since everything from a small child to wild animals to food to inanimate objects have won the title (the current champion is a copy of The Young Bucks’ book “Killing The Business”). She will participate in AEW’s Women’s World Title Eliminator Tournament, which will expose her crazy ways to a larger audience. Obviously, she got better somewhere along the way.

Notable People Who Have Been Known To Sleep Naked

  • Tyrese (actor)
  • Alan White (Yes drummer)
  • Marina Abramović (performance artist)
  • Alan White (Oasis drummer)
  • Janet Jackson (singer)
  • Roy Wood, Jr. (comedian)
  • Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson)
  • Daniel Craig (actor)
  • Victoria Sun (topless girl from “Too Many Cooks”)
  • Ted Cruz (U.S. Senator)
  • Kenny Omega (pro wrestler)
  • Ariana Grande (singer) *
  • Pewdiepie (????)
  • Kenny Smith (basketball player and analyst)
  • Bo Burnham (singing comedian)
  • Gina Carano (MMA fighter and actress)
  • Rob (from Rob & Big)
  • Big (from Big & Rich)
  • Perry Caravello (Windy City Heat actor, gay activist)
  • Lil’ Boosie (rapper, pundit)
  • Susan Faludi (feminist (????!) and author)
  • Hitoshi Matsumoto (comedian and TV presenter)
  • Eric Andre (actor and journalist)
  • George W. Bush (43rd President of the United States)
  • Roger Taylor (Duran Duran)
  • Skeletor (from Masters Of The Universe)
  • Jeff Ross (comedian, roastmaster)
  • Uma Thurman (actress)
  • Santa Claus (self-explanatory)
  • D.H. Lawrence (author, Lady Chatterley’s Lover)
  • Peter Steele (Type O Negative)

* Some sources dispute the nudity of Ms. Grande’s sleeping habits as it is well-known that she rests in a vat of vanilla lotion. This is pure hogwash. Whether one sleeps in sheets, vats of lotion or even layers of bubble wrap, it does not make them any less nude. Leave Ms. Grande alone.