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“Ska” Thing, Anyways? Essay, Research Paper

Do you know what ska is? If you are like most of the other people I have encountered over the years, you most likely don t. When I tell people that my favorite type of music is ska, I usually receive a lame comment such as, Um, is that some band or something? It is hard to say exactly how many times this has happened to me, but it must be over a hundred! Through this essay, I hope to clarify people s mixed thoughts and ideas on what ska is.

To begin, here is a little history lesson on the subject of ska. During the 1940 s and 50 s, many Jamaicans adopted the American big band and rock sounds which they mixed together with their own reggae styles. As legend has it, a man was recording a track in a recording studio when the music caught the manager s attention. He exclaimed, Hey! Play that skavoovie sound tune again! Thus, the name ska was born. Over the years, such classic ska bands as The Heptones, Desmond Dekker and The Rude Boys emerged from the streets of Jamaica. In a way, ska has been coming in waves. Ska s first wave occurred in England when Jamaican immigrants teamed up with the English skinheads to create a slow, rocksteady beat in the late 1960s. During the 1970s, a second wave, known as two-tone, emerged in England with more of a punk attitude. A few bands from this era in the history of ska include The Coventry Automatics, The Specials, Madness, The Beat, The Selecter and The Bodysnatchers. The symbol, still used today, for second wave ska is a black and white man, named Walt Jabsco, in a black and white suit dancing with black and white checkers around him. During the late 1980s and into the 1990 s, the newest form of ska, the third wave, arose. Today, ska is fueled by strong horn sections and the unmistakable tinky-tinky guitar rhythms. The third wav has been highly influenced by punk speed and reggae beats. For the most part, third wave ska songs are lively, upbeat and fast-paced with lyrics tending to be on the happier side.

Over the last five years, I have become a huge fan of ska… When I was in the seventh grade, I began listening to a band called Reel Big Fish. I can still remember the first time I saw the music video for Sellout, how great it was! Before Reel Big Fish, I hadn t the slightest clue as to what ska was, nor had I ever heard of it. In school, I found a friend who shared my views on how awesome ska was and he acquainted me with many other ska bands such as Goldfinger, Spring Heeled Jack, Operation Ivy and others. My love of ska grew and grew and grew until the ninth grade when I somehow liked the edginess of punk more than ska. By the end of ninth grade, that phase soon passed and I found myself back listening to ska. Several of my favorite ska bands now are Catch 22, The Hippos, Goldfinger, Voodoo Glow Skulls, The Mad Caddies, Kemuri (a Japanese ska band), The Pilfers, Big D & the Kid s Table, Five Iron Frenzy and, of course, Reel Big Fish. Not to say that I have anything to bring me down, but I believe that ska is what keeps me going and what keeps me in high spirits. I just hope that my love of ska never fades away someday.

After writing this, I hope that I have clarified people s ideas and thoughts on ska, and maybe even influenced you to listen to my favorite music genre. Although you will most likely not find ska on the radio, television or news, it can readily be found all over the internet using such programs as Napster or be found in your local music store. Anyways, ska has been around for over half a century and now it is here to stay.

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