Brooklyn, New York
Spending the '90s scrubbing themselves with the Brillo pad of irony, U2 successfully removed those embarrassing stains of sincerity and naive passion. Now, its job done, the irony has been ditched too. And so, finally, the band's cleaned up enough to make a pretty good album. Believe you me, they'll never do anything as callow as "Sunday Bloody Sunday" or that Martin Luther King song again.
Brooklyn, New York
And Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out is all emotionally squishy, impressionistic ballads that resonate on third listen as potently as anything they've ever howled. You knew they were romantics, but this is their first really Romantic album, divining an almost overwhelming sense of grace and peace from the simplest chord changes.
Married love reflected coolly in tunes you have to let yourself listen to or you just won't hear them. Kinda like married love.
Santa Barbara, California
Floating like the ghost of Billie Holiday and stingin' like fly-grrrl poet Ntozake Shange, Jill Scott conjures more wisdom and feelings about the man-woman thing than 100 Terry McMillans. All the while she's scratching cute little Cupid behind the ears with one hand, her other hand is drifting below the belt-line equator of a satyr.
Rick de Yampert
Daytona Beach, Florida
If Jill Scott doesn't become a hip-hop household name in the tradition of Erykah Badu, there's no justice and there should be no peace.
Los Angeles, California
All Hands on the Bad One is not only the anti-Chocolate Starfish but the anti-Kid A. It's a slumber party with Dorothy Parker, Joan Jett, and Gloria Steinem, at which everybody talks politics and nobody gets a makeover.
Like PJ, like Jimbaud, Sleater-Kinney are erotic politicianschampagne campaigners who stay on the road even after the election is over. Passionate and witty and lecherous and funny, they shake their fists at the Suits (incl. that "Male Model") and the Audience and all Great Expectations and their own need for same.
If Aimee Mann were a short, pudgy, balding Jewish guy from New York, she'd be Paul Simon.
Little Rock, Arkansas
On Supreme Clientele, the crispy Condoleezza Rice burner earner spit the sticky green Rickles pickles.
Coming from a cool vamp whose whole career has been an attempt to disappear, Lovers Rock makes Sade sound like some stateless, invisible world-music iconCaetano Veloso hiding in the wallpaper.
No songs by U2, Nick Cave, or Will Oldham were beatified during the making of Merle Haggard's If I Could Only Fly.
Shaking it to "B.O.B." is like mainlining caffeine, but "Ms. Jackson" wins because of those fractured beats, Andre 3000's "Oooh" on the chorus, and the best lyric of the year.
"Stan" remains my single of the yearof the past few yearsfor that viral Dido melody, the smart epistolary conceit, the casually enjambed-on-it versifying, and the complex, compassionate "Leader of the Pack"-meets-The Mark David Chapman Story narrative. (Yes! Compassionate! Homophobes have hearts, too! Even for the lonely fan-boys who crush out on them! Isn't this all terribly confusing?!)
Saugerties, New York
"B.O.B." is the song of the year; the only everything-all-the-time-bomb that could give Beck a run in the Postmodernism Doesn't Suck sweepstakes. Sounds: Kraftwerk via Bambaataa. Beats: Photek via Tag Team. Guitar: courtesy of Prince's Hendrix. Chorus: like a prayer. Plus it has a cool dance that goes with it. The fact that "urban" radio couldn't love it is a testament to the staying power of the thug, but doesn't approach Modern Rock radio's cowardice. "B.O.B" didn't fit the desperate format for no reason but skin color. And that's the most shameful thing about music this year.
Brooklyn, New York