By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
This year, Flying Lotuss Cosmogramma was likened to a symphony, and Miguel Atwood Fergusons Suite for Ma Dukes saw a full release. Recent years have also seen Damon Albarns opera Monkey: Journey to the West and Adam Theiss Hip-Hop Symphony. These classical forms are inspiring a lot of exciting materialmaybe 2011 will be the year of the dubstep concerto.
Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, Telephone: a song about a young girl in her 20s whos too busy to text her friend or talk on her cell phone; based on informal observations walking around the city, this immediately moves it into the realm of science fiction.
The years most dispiriting trend: redefining genres so they reflected the listeners own cramped tastes. When critics praise Janelle Monáe or How to Dress Well as great r&b, or Ariel Pink as a terrific update of late-70s studio-rock, you know they havent listened to a note of contemporary r&b, or assume that standing the proper distance from the microphone signifies the acts polish. The critical success of Monáe, How to Dress Well, and Ariel Pink actually showed the contempt with which r&b and studio-rock were still held by indie-leaning listeners, years after the Neptunes supposedly made things easier for them.