Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Shut Up and Play the Hits

Guest post by Christian Betancourt, guitar player and dual major in Performance/Jazz Composition, Class of May 2017.

Shut up and Play the Hits (DVD 5263-5265) is a musical documentary showcasing the unexpected disbandment of the popular band LCD Soundsystem. The band is characterized by a unique mixture of rock, punk, disco, dance and funk; all of these come together to form a wacky and energetic style. We experience the events that lead up to the final concert through the eyes of James Murphy, the band’s singer & frontman.

Right at a very successful point in the band’s career, James decides he would quit the band. This decision comes to shock both the fans and the media. This causes speculation about why he made such an unexpected decision. In the movie, we see how James deals with the frivolous routine of the new world without a constant musician/performer career. Then we are taken through several songs from the show and interviews with James. Near the end, we finally come to the somewhat disappointing conclusion that James quit simply because he was having a midlife crisis and wanted to do something else in life besides the band. Additionally he also tackles the idea that both artists and sportsmen are defined by their single biggest failure, rather than their success, and uses that as a partial explanation of why he quit.

Although the documentary is very personal and visually stunning, it struggles to define its own identity, given that it constantly switches between simple dialogues, videos of live performances, and insights of Murphy’s cold new life as a retired musician.Viewing is highly recommended for all fans of LCD Soundsystem.

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