Marc Hogan
Des Moines, IA

I’ve never spent enough appreciable time in the suburbs to sincerely comprehend what Arcade Fire are trying to get at in their album—at least, not on a legitimately personal level. But what I do remember is that living in the old prewar heart of the city as a kid—when almost everybody in the movies and on TV occupied nice, clean suburban neighborhoods that revolved around shopping malls and high school parking lots—made me suspect that I was disconnected from something bigger and more supposedly universal than what I was living through. So maybe that’s why I can’t entirely connect with the themes of The Suburbs—that, and “Rococo” acting as further evidence that anti-hipster contempt is the last refuge of the self-righteous/self-conscious. But it sounds good enough as oversize anthemic rock that I wouldn’t mind this replacing John Hughes as the go-to fantasy of teenage angst in the sprawl.

Nate Patrin
St. Paul, MN

All hail the Don Draper of rap
Courtesy Def Jam
All hail the Don Draper of rap


Pazz and Jop 2010
Rise of the Douchebags
Kanye West and James Murphy turn their private flaws into public triumphs
By Zach Baron

Never Forget
Cee Lo Green sums up 2010 in two little words
By Rob Harvilla

Little Pink Polos for You and Me
Wallowing and/or reveling in social anxiety with Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend
By Eric Harvey

The Wayward Crucifixion of M.I.A.
On the dodgy, opportunistic, truffle-fry-fueled campaign against both Maya and Maya
By Charles Aaron

Leave Chillwave Alone
In defense of the nostalgia-steeped genre Ariel Pink both invented and abandoned
By Simon Reynolds

Attack of the Singing Rappers
On Drake, Nicki Minaj, B.o.B., and the art of the debut-as-pop-crossover
By Clover Hope

The Great Gay-Pander-Off of 2010
Katy, Nicki, Ke$ha, P!nk, and Gaga taste the rainbow
By Rich Juzwiak

The Internet-Rap Atomization
Odd Future, Lil B, Wiz Khalifa, et al. build tiny kingdoms, and rule them
By Tom Breihan

Justin Bieber, Twitter Casanova
The Most Popular Boy in the World rules the only voting bloc that matters: pre-teen girls
By Camille Dodero

Stuff We Like
Rick Ross Lies, the Rolling Stones Plunder, And Taylor Swift Triumphs

The Personals
Industry Woes, Cultural Theories, Polite Suggestions, and Calls of Bullshit

Of course, the knock against the suburbs has always been that every house looks the same. So when at first people had trouble distinguishing The Suburbs’ songs from each other, it felt like a little bit too much thematic consistency. However, as anyone who grew up in the suburbs could tell you, once you get inside the houses—even the ones with the exact same floor plans—they’re all totally different, compelling, and usually weirder than you could have possibly imagined. 

Jim Connelley
Glendale, CA

I adore the idea of Vampire Weekend; their reviews are almost as fun to read as their albums are to listen to. I prefer Contra to the debut because Ezra Koenig (and in the exceptional “Diplomat’s Son,” Rostam Batmanglij) fleshes out scenarios, lyrically and vocally. They’re on to something: the intersection of fashion, homoeroticism, and memory. And as fun as these tracks are, unease is part of the aftershock, too. Koenig’s narrators, way over the threshold of adulthood, evaluate situations whose complexity is beyond their education. Since even Contra’s songs boast the airiest of textures, losing patience with Vampire Weekend is part of the package: The lightness and brevity of these songs frustrate my attempts to pin them down. Intersections aren’t full stops.

Alfred Soto
Miami, FL

In their shared commitment to demolishing binary oppositions (East/West, Black/White, Us/Them), Vampire Weekend, Das Racist, and Titus Andronicus constitute what I like to think of as the “second wave of college rock,” one that’s absorbed the post-structuralist theory so prevalent on the ’80s campuses that birthed R.E.M. et al.

Jonah Wolf
New York, NY

One of the scariest developments of the past year has been the rise to the mainstream of a loose collective of overwhelmingly white reactionaries, defined by a self-contradicting hatred of East Coast elites, a complete inability to understand nuance, and an irrational fear of losing their dominance over a deeply flawed and somewhat scary cultural narrative. I’m talking, of course, about Vampire Weekend haters. Last year, I had fun cutting and pasting the identical criticisms of Avatar with those of Titanic in 1997. This year, I did the same with Vampire Weekend and the criticisms of the Beastie Boys circa 1986.

Ethan Stanislawski
Bloomington, IN

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