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Raging Strings: The Verve vs. Smashing Pumpkins

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[Welcome to a new series on the VSQ Blog called "Raging Strings." Each week, we'll highlight two pop and/or rock songs which include strings, and we'll ask you to vote for your favorite.] The Verve had their '90s hit with "Bittersweet Symphony" and one of many Smashing Pumpkins' hits during that era included "Tonight, Tonight." Strings are crucial to each song, but which song uses strings better? Let us know below and leave a comment telling us why you prefer one over the other.

The Verve, "Bittersweet Symphony"

Smashing Pumpkins, "Tonight, Tonight"

Did you side with Billy Corgan? Check out the VSQ's tribute to Smashing Pumpkins:

Available now at VSQ's online shop, iTunes and Amazon

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The Separation of Art and Artist

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Not that it matters in today's political climate and economic crisis, but a few days ago, President Obama reiterated that he thinks Kanye West is a jackass, this time on the record. But an important thing to note is that he was initially complimenting West on being “very talented,” an important nuance found in the way we all develop our music tastes. I know there are millions of fans who would agree on the “very talented” part, he does sell records after all, yet I also have a feeling that a good chunk of those same fans would readily agree to the “jackass” comment as well. The music is what matters most to many of us, personal conduct and compatible personalities be damned. I can enjoy the work of all sorts of people, even the occasional jackass, loudmouth, or jerk. It's the age old separation of art & artist, the mythical line between what someone does and who someone is. By now, we've all decided where that line stands. Every Twitter outburst, political statement, TMZ arrest and media controversy poses a question to every fan: Is this enough to ruin their music for me? Speaking for myself, if I were to remove all the destabilizing elements from my music library, it would be cut in half. And that's just because the personal conduct of the other half is a big question mark. The truth is that everyone – whether they be Eric Clapton or The Arcade Fire or Smashing Pumpkins – has been personally unlikeable at one point or another. It's a reminder that everyone has the potential to be the worst, and it's an exercise in accepting the complexity of human nature. No one is defined by a single (or even a couple) of acts, and everyone is unlikable to someone, somewhere. We learn to respect the line in order to hold onto our tastes and our enjoyment. We have an opinion on the art, and an opinion on the artist, and never the twain shall meet. But some people really like to push it. Creative people can afford to be disasters. They're not policemen or politicians. It doesn't matter, really, if we're talking about music or comedy or film. Human nightmares are abounds everywhere, and some of them are even really talented. If your enjoyment is not tied to any personal fantasy about what a great buddy an artist would be, then in a coldly pragmatic way, it's illogical to cast off an creator for their personal conduct. It's illogical, but also very tempting, and purely human to do so. Despite the presence of that specific angle of reasoning, it's important to know when to drop the line. At some point, in moments so outrageous, it's important as a social function to let people know that there are consequences to how they use their public influence and image. Few people get by on purely talent alone, and in worst case scenarios, society will let their public figures know when the weight of their skill is overpowered by the weight of their unlikeability. It's important as a watchdog functionality to reward goodness and punish badness. Of course, things get even hairier when we're talking about separations within art itself – “I like this voice, or this beat, or this production, but boy do I hate the very idea of this song.” We saw a lot of this reconciling in the blogosphere last year when everyone tried to rationalize their personal politics with their fandom of the shock-jock style antics of Odd Future. It takes some mental agility, but it's not impossible, and certainly not uncommon. But it presents an even tougher, more nuanced approach to where to place the line: how do you articulate that you don't like what a song represents, but really like the song? Is that just the permeating seductiveness of pop music? There's never a broad one-size-fits-all answer to these kind of things. The line and separation are different for everyone's comfort and sensibilities. Sometimes it's an extreme zig zag, or a wild scribble. Every new outburst or controversy or statement that makes waves reminds me of the old adage, “Never meet your heroes.” It's better to maintain a non-image of a person, or an idealized one, than to have it utterly trounced.

Be sure to check out:

VSQ Performs Arcade Fire Available at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Smashing Pumpkins

Available now at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Eric Clapton

Available now at iTunes and Amazon

The String Quartet Tribute to Kanye West

Available now at iTunes and Amazon

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Music Mondays: Spring Fever

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We're only five days into the month of March and VSQ has already caught a powerful case of Spring fever! With just three more weeks before Spring officially makes its way out of hibernation, we've mustered together a few of our favorite Vitamin String Quartet "Springtime" covers to keep this fever burning until it's official arrival. 1. Dog Days Are Over - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Florence and the Machine 2. Nine in the Afternoon - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Panic! At The Disco 3. Boston - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Augustana 4. Ocean Avenue - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Yellowcard 5. Today - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Smashing Pumpkins 6. Speeding Cars - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Imogen Heap 7. The Cave - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Mumford & Sons 8. Beautiful Day - Vitamin String Quartet Performs U2 9. Chocolate - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Snow Patrol 10. Do You Realize?? - Vitamin String Quartet Performs The Flaming Lips 11. Pumped Up Kicks - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Foster the People 12. Dare You To Move - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Switchfoot 13. Maggie May - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Rod Stewart 14. Look After You - Vitamin String Quartet Performs The Fray 15. In Bloom - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Nirvana 16. Clocks - Vitamin String Quartet Performs Coldplay

Listen to our "Spring Fever" playlist on Spotify now!

What are some of your favorite tracks that put you into "full spring?" Share below!

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Ex-Smashing Pumpkins Bassist Jailed For Wild Horses

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Former Smashing Pumpkins bassist D'arcy Wretzky has been arrested in connection to an incident occurring in Michigan, where a number of her horses broke free from their pen and ran about town, causing a ruckus. TMZ reported a the occurrence in 2009, where Wretzky's horses busted through their fences, leading her neighbors calling the police. She was ticketed for "Animals Running at Large" but she apparently forgot to pay up. When called in to trial, she managed to miss four consecutive court dates, which led to a bench warrant for her arrest. The bassist was scheduled to be released on Valentine’s Day after a short six-day sentence. Rolling Stone notes that Wretzky left the Pumpkins in 1999 to pursue an acting career with limited success and that she does have a prior arrest in Chicago on drug charges. Here’s an old video of D’arcy in happier times with her former band mates: And be sure to check out The String Quartet Tribute to The Smashing Pumpkins

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Smashing Pumpkins Find a New Bassist

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Once again Bully Corgan is in the news for personnel changes in his current incarnation of the Smashing Pumpkins. This time it’s concerning his newest female bassist. Whether it’s simply his preference, or the need for a female backup vocalist, or maybe it’s just because everyone loves to look at a hot girl playing bass, the newest Pumpkin is Nicole Fiorentino. Announced in the past couple days, Fiorentino has joined Corgan in the studio, and will be joining the band on the road in the coming months. This report comes from the bassist’s myspace page. The new member replaces Ginger Pooley, who left the Pumpkins in March. Fiorentino succeeds original member D'arcy and her replacement Melissa Auf der Maur. She will be playing with the current line up of guitarist Jeff Schroeder and drummer Mike Byrne. The new member does have a long musical history. She played with Brody Dalle's Spinnerette, Louise Post's incarnation of Veruca Salt, and also spent time in bands like Twilight Sleep, Radio Vago and Light FM. Keep an eye on www.smashingpumpkins.com for tour dates and any other random stuff Corgan decides to allow the world to know.

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Billy Corgan Tells All in New Rolling Stone Interview

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In his recent interview with Rolling Stone, Billy Corgin revealed a lot of interesting tidbits. In one snippet, he claims that the days have been rough on him, even claiming at one point that he’d “wake up every morning for a while and think, ‘Go eat breakfast, or go kill yourself.’”

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The VSQ Dinner Party Companion

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The Vitamin String Quartet reinterprets some of the classiest modern songs to play for any of your guests. Start cocktails off with "Champagne Supernova," take part in some great conversation during "How's It Going To Be?" and rejoice at the dining table while the violin, viola, and cello offer melodies of "Just Like Heaven." This instrumental tribute is a must-have for a night of entertainment. Tracklist: 1. Just Like Heaven - The Cure 2. Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova 3. Champagne Supernova - Oasis 4. With or Without You - U2 5. How’s it Gonna Be? - Third Eye Blind 6. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots - The Flaming Lips 7. Today - Smashing Pumpkins 8. Ironic - Alanis Morissette 9. She Will Be Loved - Maroon 5 10. Babylon - David Grey

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