Death Cab for Cutie & Opinions on Usher

Death Cab for Cutie has gone from indie obscurity to having the #1 selling album in the country. Tune in to hear their discussion with Jim and Greg and performance in front of a live audience.

Death Cab for Cutie
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One of the oldest songs in the book continues to be more expensive. But, that should change according to George Washington University Law professor Robert Brauneis. Brauneis, who is the Co-Director of the Intellectual Property Law Program at the university, recently published a paper on whether or not the song "Happy Birthday to You," still holds a copyright. As of now, Sound Opinions and anyone else who plays the song, has to pay for that right, but Brauneis argues that Warner Music shouldn't be able to make a copyright claim. So, will this paper bring "Happy Birthday" to the masses for free? Unlikely says Brauneis; until the royalty fee outprices a lawyer's fee, people will continue to pay up.

Death Cab for Cutie

Jim and Greg are always fascinated and impressed by bands that are able to emerge from out of the underground fairly unscathed. The major label system today isn't always such a friendly place for bands to navigate, particularly those that have a sense of integrity. So, when given the opportunity to have Death Cab for Cutie, a true indie rock success story, on the show, Jim and Greg were excited. Then add an audience of about 200 people and a beautiful theater space -- the show really couldn't ask for anything more. Lead singer Ben Gibbard, who many listeners will know through his side project The Postal Service, explains that the band has been really lucky. They spent 10 years growing and growing, with their last album going platinum. And their latest Narrow Stairs debuted at #1.

Ben Gibbard, Chris Walla, Nicholas Harmer and Jason McGerr treated Jim, Greg and the audience to a number of live songs. You can hear all their tracks on our website.

Here I Stand Usher

Here I Stand (Deluxe Version)

Usher, one of the reigning kings of R&B, has a new album out called Here I Stand. This is the fifth album for the crooner, and the first since he has gotten married and had a child. How do Jim and Greg like the more mature Usher? Jim appreciates his take on an old art form. It isn't radical, but refreshing, especially compared to some of his raunchier counterparts. Greg wishes Usher had a stronger identity and relied less on his collaborators. But, both critics think Here I Stand is worth a listen and give the album a Try It rating.


It's rare that Jim and Greg look to their children for critical expertise, but Jim was recently impressed by his 11-year-old daughter. While practicing for her school's Broadway revue, she noted that The Coasters' version of "Yakety-Yak" is far superior to that in Smokey Joe’s Café. And indeed, she is right. Jim chooses to add the 1958 song to the Desert Island Jukebox. He explains that songwriter Jerry Leiber of the team Leiber and Stoller thought of the song as "a white kid's view of a black person's conception of white society." Pretty heady for a doo-wop song, and perfect for desert island contemplating.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!